Tag Archives: Trickle Down

Say NO! to House Bill 386 – NH Taxpayers Cannot Pay Big Business’ Bills!

As explained in the write-up from the New Hampshire advocacy group, Citizen’s Alliance, Republicans in the New Hampshire house have put forward a bill, HB 386 that proposes to lower the tax burden for businesses in New Hampshire.

Unfortunately as stated in the write-up below, this “burden” is only borne by the largest and wealthiest businesses in the state.  These businesses most often are not New Hampshire based or originated, but large global businesses.  They will benefit from this cut but New Hampshire residents will have to make up for it.  It amounts to a deliberate shift of income upward and out of the state of New Hampshire and the tax burden downward onto New Hampshire residents.

The libertarian wing of the Republican party loves to cry about the costs of government and the burden on New Hampshire businesses.  But this argument has no basis in fact and instead relies on a myth created during the Reagan years based on the “trickle down” effect that all citizens would supposedly enjoy.

The UK’s The Guardian’s take on the Laffer curve (they suffered Reaganomics under Thatcher) : So the Laffer Says Tax Cuts for the Rich?
Paul Krugman weighs in :  The Laffer Test (somewhat wonkish)
Economist’s View: A forum for economists, this post giving a summary of economist’s general support for the Laffer Curve (hint: there isn’t any) : Laughing at the Laffer Curve

[We aren’t posting those articles in support of the laffer curve or supply-side economics from the Cato Institute or the American Enterprise Institute, or other right-wing orgs which dominate the Google search engine.  Both Cato and AEI are in the forefront of pushing any rhetoric that supports the libertarian ideology of getting the rich richer at everyone else’s expense. Since these “thinktanks” feed most national news stories and provide fodder for pundits, we don’t feel we have an obligation to repeat what Americans have drummed incessantly into their ears by corporate media already.]

As a direct result of upward income distribution, big businesses have grown since the Reagan years far faster and higher than real growth in the larger economy.  They have used that wealth to hire slick lawyers and lobbyists to wager with, bargain with, manipulate and cajole our legislators on the state and national level to push bills that favor their profit margins while screwing the American public.

This needs to stop.  The only way we can stop this is to take action to stop it.

Please read the Citizen’s Alliance summary below.  As it says there will be hearings today on the house bill.  If you can’t make the hearing, please call or write (email) the members of the committee to tell them to stop large corporations from shifting their tax burden onto the shoulders of New Hampshire residents.

This bill is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Now for the skinny from Citizen’s Alliance:

NEW HAMPSHIRE CAN’T AFFORD A $120 MILLION BUSINESS TAX CUT

Reducing the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) as proposed in HB 386 would principally benefit the very largest corporations operating in New Hampshire. According to data from the Department of Revenue Administration for 2012, just 397 businesses – or 0.7 percent of all businesses filing a tax return – accounted for two-thirds of all BPT collected that year. All of those businesses owed more than $100,000 in BPT that year.

Cutting the BPT rate to 7.0 percent would mean that most of the revenue loss would flow to these very large businesses, most of whom likely have operations across the country and the globe. Smaller businesses would see little to no change in the amount of taxes they owe. In fact, more than 48,000 businesses – or 75 percent of businesses filing a tax return – already owed no BPT in 2012.

Cutting business taxes will force other taxpayers to pay for the public services that big businesses use and rely on to succeed. Cutting state business taxes creates a vicious cycle. Lower state revenues mean fewer funds are available to provide aid to cities and towns. That, in turn, puts more pressure on local property taxes.

There will be a hearing in front of the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday 2/17/15 10:30 in Room 202 of the Legislative Office Building.

Sign on in opposition to HB 386 here.

 The proposed business tax cuts would force steep cuts in the public services vital to New Hampshire’s quality of life and its economic future.
  • New Hampshire already faces a substantial budget shortfall in the upcoming FY 2016-2017 budget. Cutting business taxes would only make that problem worse.
  • According to the fiscal note, HB 386 would reduce the business profits tax by roughly $120 million in the FY16-17 biennium and every biennium after that.
  • To put that in perspective, $120 million is nearly one and half times the entire amount of General Fund support provided to the state’s Community College System in the current FY14-15 budget; it is more than three-quarters of amount provided to the University System.
  • In the FY14-15 budget, the Departments of Resources and Economic Development and Environmental Services combined received $67 million from the General Fund.
  • In other words, to afford these tax cuts, you’d have to eliminate these departments almost twice over.
Reducing the rate of the business profits tax (BPT) would principally benefit the very largest corporations operating in New Hampshire.
  • According to data from the Department of Revenue Administration for 2012, just 397 businesses – or 0.7 percent of all businesses filing a tax return – accounted for two-thirds of all BPT collected that year. All of those businesses owed more than $100,000 in BPT that year.
  • Cutting the BPT rate to 7.0 percent would mean that most of the revenue loss would flow to these very large businesses, most of whom likely have operations across the country and the globe.
  • Smaller businesses would see little to no change in the amount of taxes they owe. In fact, more than 48,000 businesses – or 75 percent of businesses filing a tax return – already owed no BPT in 2012.

Cutting business taxes will force other taxpayers to pay for the public services that businesses use and rely on to succeed.

  • Cutting state business taxes creates a vicious cycle. Lower state revenues mean fewer funds are available to provide aid to cities and towns. That, in turn, puts more pressure on local property taxes.
  • These cuts will increase the strain on New Hampshire cities and towns and their ability to maintain safe infrastructure and vital services that are central to our shared economic future. State aid to cities, towns, and school districts has already fallen sharply over the last decade – between FY 2000 and FY 2015, such aid is expected to fall by more than $250 million after adjusting for inflation.

Business taxes are already quite low in New Hampshire.

  • According to the Council on State Taxation (COST), the overall level of business taxation in New Hampshire ranked 34th lowest in the country in FY 2013.
  • COST’s research doesn’t look just at the BPT or BET, but at all the taxes business pay(e.g. property taxes, gas taxes, etc.). It finds that the taxes businesses pay in New Hampshire amount to 4.4 percent of private sector gross state product, below the national average of 4.7 percent and less than 33 other states, including Vermont and Maine.
New Hampshire has enacted numerous business tax cuts since 2010, with an untoldimpact on state finances.
  • Since 2010, New Hampshire has made more than half a dozen changes to either the business profits tax (BPT) or the business enterprise tax (BET), from allowing businesses to write off more of their losses for tax purposes to raising the threshold at which businesses owe the BET.
  • Unfortunately, the state still doesn’t know how much all of these changes have cost in terms of lost revenue. If we don’t know the price tag for changes already in place, we shouldn’t put even more on the state’s tab.
Tax revenue in New Hampshire – including business tax revenue – still has yet torecover from the recession.
  • After adjusting for inflation, total General and Education Fund revenue in FY 2014 was nearly $290 million less than what the state collected in FY 2008.
  • The combination of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax together produced $550 million in FY 2014. That’s 19 percent – or $136 million – less than what they generated in FY 2008, after taking inflation into account.
Business tax cuts are not an effective means of spurring economic growth. Investments in education, infrastructure, and other services are.
  • Extensive economic research indicates that state business taxes, because they are such a small share of business costs, have little to no effect on businesses’ decisions to locate or expand in New Hampshire. Factors like the quality of our workforce and infrastructure are much more important, but New Hampshire won’t be able to provide those if it doesn’t have the necessary resources.
  • As Robert Lynch, Chair of the Department of Economics at Washington College puts it:

 …differences in tax burdens across states are so modest that they are unlikely to outweigh the differences across states in the other costs of conducting business. These other “costs of conducting business” are the most important factors affecting business investment decisions and include the cost and quality of labor, the proximity to markets for output (particularly for service industries), the access to raw materials and supplies that firms need, the access to quality transportation networks and infrastructure (e.g., roads, highways, airports, railroad systems, and sewer systems), quality-of-life factors (e.g., good schools, quality institutes of higher education, health services, recreational facilities, low crime, affordable housing, and good weather), and utility costs.

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The Truth About Taxes

Mark Fernald

Now that Congress has punted most of the tough fiscal questions down
the road for a couple months, we can be sure in the weeks ahead there
will be a lot of discussion about who pays how much in taxes, and what
is fair.

Below is an excellent analysis of the distribution of the tax burden,
state, local and federal. It’s from September, but I just stumbled
across it. To Ezra Klein’s analysis I would add two points. First, the
federal income tax should be progressive because state and local taxes
are regressive. A significant part of federal revenue is distributed
to the states, where those revenues help offset the regressive state
and local taxes.

Second, low income people should pay taxes at a lower overall rate
because the first $10,000 or so of a person’s income is subsistence,
the bare minimum cost to provide that person with food, clothing and
shelter. Assessing income tax on that income could mean that the
government would gain a few hundred dollars in revenue, but the
low-income taxpayer would be forced into starvation or homelessness.
(This a good argument for increasing the personal exemptions from
income tax.)

Food for thought in the coming months.

Mark Fernald

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/09/19/heres-why-the-47-percent-argument-is-an-abuse-of-tax-data/

*The one tax graph you really need to know*

Posted by Ezra Klein
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/2011/02/24/ABifXwI_page.html>
on September 19, 2012

At the heart of the debate over “the 47 percent” is an awful abuse
of tax data.
This entire conversation is the result of a (largely successful)
effort to redefine the debate over taxes from “how much in taxes do
you pay” to “how much in federal income taxes do you pay?” This
is good framing if you want to cut taxes on the rich. It’s bad
framing if you want to have even a basic understanding of who pays how
much in taxes.
There’s a reason some would prefer that more limited conversation.
For most Americans, payroll and state and local taxes make up the
majority of their tax bill. The federal income tax, by contrast, is
our most progressive tax — it’s the tax we’ve designed to place
the heaviest burden on the rich while bypassing the poor. And we’ve
done that, again, because the working class is already paying a fairly
high tax bill through payroll and state and local taxes.
But most people don’t know very much about the tax code. And the
federal income tax is still our most famous tax. So when they hear
that half of Americans aren’t paying federal income taxes, they’re
outraged — even if they’re among the folks who have a net negative
tax burden! After all, they know they’re paying taxes, and there’s
no reason for normal human beings to assume that the taxes getting
taken out of their paycheck every week and some of the taxes they pay
at the end of the year aren’t classified as “federal income
taxes.”
Confining the discussion to the federal income tax plays another role,
too: It makes the tax code look much more progressive than it actually
is.
Take someone who makes $4 million dollars a year and someone who makes
$40,000 a year. The person making $4 million dollars, assuming he’s
not doing some Romney-esque planning, is paying a 35 percent tax on
most of that money. The person making $40,000 is probably paying no
income tax at all. So that makes the system look really unfair to the
rich guy.
That’s the basic analysis of the 47 percent line. And it’s a basic
analysis that serves a purpose: It makes further tax cuts for the rich
sound more reasonable.
But what if we did the same thing for the payroll tax? Remember, the
payroll tax only applies to first $110,100 or so, our rich friends is
only paying payroll taxes on 2.7 percent of his income. The guy making
$40,000? He’s paying payroll taxes on every dollar of his income.
Now who’s not getting a fair shake?
Which is why, if you want to understand who’s paying what in taxes,
you don’t want to just look at federal income taxes, or federal
payroll taxes, or state sales taxes — you want to look at total
taxes. And, luckily, the tax analysis group Citizens for Tax Justice
<http://ctj.org/images/taxday2012table.jpg>
keeps those numbers. So here is total taxes — which includes
corporate taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, state sales taxes, and
more — paid by different income groups and broken into federal and
state and local burdens:
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/files/2012/09/state-local-federal-taxes-income.jpg>

As you can see, the poorer you are, the more state and local taxes
bite into your income. As you get richer, those taxes recede, and
you’re mainly getting hit be federal taxes. So that’s another
lesson: When you omit state and local taxes from your analysis,
you’re omitting the taxes that hit lower-income taxpayers hardest.
But here is really the only tax graph you need: It’s total tax
burden by income group. And as you’ll see, every income group is
paying something, and the rich aren’t paying much more, as a
percentage of their incomes, then the middle class.
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/files/2012/09/total-tax-bill-income.jpg>

That’s really what the American tax system looks like: Not 47
percent paying nothing, but everybody paying something, and most
Americans paying between 25 percent and 30 percent of their income —
which is, by the way, a lot more the 13.9 percent Mitt Romney paid in
2011*.
When politicians try to convince you that half of Americans aren’t
really paying taxes, it’s usually because the real data undermines
their preferred policies. For instance, you wouldn’t look at these
numbers and think tax cuts for the rich need to be a huge priority.
And that’s one reason people who want more tax cuts for the rich
don’t like to show you these numbers.
* Romney’s 13.9 percent rate only counts his federal taxes. He
hasn’t released his state and local returns for 2011, so we can’t
say how that would change his total tax rate. But given the state and
local averages for someone in his income group, it’s likely to
remain well below the 25-30 percent that is typical.

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Blaming the Workers Until the Bitter End: Company has Long History of Not Being the Hostess with the Mostest

Hostess strikers in St. Louis, MO

Hostess strikers in St. Louis, MO

From the Black Commentator

by Jamala Rogers

Hostess Bakeries was recently allowed to close its doors when mediation between the union and the company failed. In St. Louis, the company never really changed its image or racist practices in 40 years. The ITT conglomerate was hit by a boycott back in 1971 from ACTION, an interracial, direct-action protest organization. Because all the ACTION demands were never met, the boycott remained in effect.

Workers prepare Hostess Twinkies for packaging at the Interstate Bakeries Corporation facility April 20, 2005 in Schiller Park. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Workers preparing Hostess Twinkies at Interstate Bakeries in Chicago, 2005.

There were three unions that represent the 18, 500 workers across the country. They are the Bakers, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM), United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the International Teamsters Union. Union workers stood tall and firm in their refusal to be intimidated by the bullying tactics of the company. They now all face unemployment.

When Hostess Brands announced it was seeking bankruptcy (again) in the midst of contract disputes with its union workers, the workers went on strike. To add insult to injury, the company announced it intended to pay $1.75 million in bonuses to 19 of its executives. The company has been in bankruptcy for about eight years of the last decade. It had stopped paying into the workers’ pensions, and decreased health benefits but seemed to be taking good care of its top execs.

Workers striking in Peoria, Illinois

Even as it was throwing the blame of the company’s dismal future at the feet of the workers, Hostess had already given its executives pay raises earlier this year. The CEO’s salary tripled from $750,000 to about $2.5 million. This doesn’t exactly sound like a company in financial trouble. It sounds more like a company who wants to maintain superprofits for the top execs and its shareholders on the backs of its workers.

Back in 1971, a boycott campaign against Hostess and Wonder Bread, led by Percy Green and ACTION, proved to be incredibly successful even without the internet and cell phones. Within a few months, stores had snatched Wonder Bread and Hostess products off their shelves. The protests and subsequent reactions dominated the local news for months.

Strikers in St. Louis, MO

Those brand names fell under ITT which stands for International Telephone and Telegraph. At one point the ITT portfolio included a number of seemingly unrelated industries such as bakeries, hotels, insurance companies and electronics for weapons of war.

The company brought out its few black employees as the front guard of their fight, including its PR man, Sam Wheeler, (former Harlem Globetrotters basketball player), who called the protest “black against black.” The black drivers who received commissions from the sales of the delivered bakery products were encouraged by Wheeler to set up a protest at the ACTION headquarters. The drivers who were misled by the company apparently hadn’t realized an important element of discrimination uncovered by ACTION: that the black drivers’ routes included small black convenience stores while the white drivers got the big grocery chain stores.

Striking worker Joe Locey pickets outside a Hostess plant Friday in Biddeford, Maine. The Irving, Texas, company said a nationwide strike crippled its ability to make and deliver its products. IBC stands for Interstate Bakeries Corp.

Striker in Biddeford, ME

When the company tactic to pit their black employees against ACTION didn’t work, the corporation tapped into its buddies in higher places. Then Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth filed an injunction and conspiracy suit against ACTION. The antitrust suit claimed that ACTION and Colonial Bread were in cahoots with one another to bring ITT Continental Bakeries down. Colonial Bread was Wonder Bread’s competition and it became an unintended beneficiary of the ACTION boycott. It also became a surprised co-conspirator in the AG’s anti-trust law suit.

Strikers in LA

Strikers in Billings, MN

This tactic backfired as well. It catapulted the conglomerate and all its dirty linen into the national spotlight for several years. It put the resources of a peer corporation into action (no pun intended) and forced the state attorney general’s office to settle the suit that there was no wrong doing on Colonial’s part.

The conglomerate became a target of antitrust groups but more volatile was being a target of the anti-war movement that prompted a national boycott of Wonder Bread with the slogan, “Don’t Buy Bombs when You Buy Bread!” ITT‘s ugly ties to the CIA’s topple of the democratically elected Chilean leader, Salvador Allende, were also uncovered during this time.

Hostess workers on the picket line in Columbus, Ind.

Strikers in Columbus, IN

The historical struggle of workers against companies like Hostess is a testament that we must stay vigilant in our efforts to uphold racial and gender equality and pay equity, along with issues of worker safety and product quality. These greedy corporations don’t get better with time. Let’s make sure we are fighting for immediate victories for workers but also for worker security and rights that will endure well into the future.

 

BlackCommentator.comEditorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, is the leader of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis and the Black Radical Congress National Organizer. Additionally, she is an Alston-Bannerman Fellow. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Click here to contact Ms. Rogers.

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The Poor and Low Wage Workers Pay More in Taxes than Romney

cartoon by David Horsey, LA Times

 

 

Article by John Funiciello published in Issue 487 of Blackcommentator.com

Once again, the Republican candidate for president has expressed his contempt for a large percentage of the American people, by claiming that they are “dependent” on government for their very lives and, therefore, will automatically vote for President Obama.

The real wealth of the nation is in its people.

Comments by the GOP standard bearer, Mitt Romney, were caught on tape in Florida last spring and released last week by Mother Jones magazine. In a matter of hours, the comments were seen by tens of millions and caused Romney to call a press conference to explain himself.

What he had said at a private fund-raising dinner was that 47 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax and that they are Obama’s supporters. USA Today his explanatory statement: “The president believes in what I’ve described as a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of the individuals,” Romney said in Orange County, Calif. “I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world.”

By now, it is clear to virtually everyone that Romney doesn’t have a clue about what real Americans’ lives are like. He certainly doesn’t know what it is like to try to stretch a $15,000 annual income and keep a family from starvation. And, he never will. In fact, living on low wages or a low fixed income is one of those weekly miracles that happen and the plight of those millions of families goes unnoticed. Out of sight, out of mind and Romney wants to keep it that way.

The rich are going to be swimming in the same pool as the rest of the country if the whole thing collapses

The GOP, as expressed by Romney in constant campaign rhetoric, wants to reduce the government, so that it never will be able to provide for that 47 percent of the electorate, which likely would never vote Republican. Only the irrational would vote for a party, the main philosophy of which is to cut taxes for the rich and corporations and cut social programs and most functions of government, except for the military and defense. But, books have been written, speculating on why average Americans, who are only one or two paychecks away from needing government assistance, continue to support the GOP platform and its philosophy. They’re out there and they do, indeed, vote Republican.

Democrats are on the horns of a dilemma. They have been subject to the same propaganda from the right wing think tanks and Corporate America for decades and have weakly fought the GOP’s efforts to diminish every function of government at every level. At the same time, they have presided from time to time over a country headed in the same direction, no matter which major party is in charge. The difference is that they don’t sing the same no-taxes-no-social-programs song that the Republicans sing.

For that alone, they have a leg up on the coming election, but this does not leave them in the clear, by any means. Many of their policies on the important issues of our time are much the same as those of the Republicans. These issues include, but are not limited to: global trade, the continuing growth of militarism, the magical vanishing manufacturing base (except for those things that are made by robots), the lack of sustainable and low-cost housing, the food system that is damaging the people’s health, the lack of an affordable universal health system, the staggering cost to students of higher education, endless war, diminishing civil rights, and the continuing assault on virtually every vital aspect of the environment. Other than that, Obama is doing better than the party of Romney.

Many of their policies on the important issues of our time are much the same as those of the Republicans.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, over-the-road big trucks had painted on them something like, “This truck pays $4,467 in road use taxes every year.” That was supposed to show everyone driving a car or pick-up that the truck bearing the sign and weighing some 80,000 pounds was paying more than its fair share to use the roads. A quick check of the “road use” taxes that a car or pick-up truck paid at the time showed that, pound for pound, the car paid about four times what those trucks paid in road use taxes and they didn’t crumble the roads to dust.

So it is with the Republicans and their insistence that the behemoths (wealthy) pay all the taxes, and that there are so many poor and low-wage Americans who pay no income taxes. (We’ll leave aside for a moment that there are giant transnational corporations that pay no taxes and lots of rich folks who pay no taxes, but that’s a subject for another discussion.) The fact is that the poor and low-income wage earners pay plenty of taxes: sales taxes, payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, and endlessly increasing fees for everything from driver’s licenses, to fishing licenses. Low-income Americans pay a much greater percentage of their income than the wealthy or even the middle-income earners.

Somehow, this fact of life has escaped Mitt Romney and people like him, George W. Bush and virtually his entire administration, for example. These are people who are so alienated from the lives of most Americans that they don’t know that the country’s emergency rooms are not universal health care and they are not free.

Thinkprogress.org recently noted: “For example, if you look at state and local taxes, the working poor actually pay a higher percentage of their income in these taxes (all of the other taxes and fees) in every state except for Vermont. (In) Alabama, for example, low-income families (which make less than $13,000) pay 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while those making more than $229,000 pay just 4 percent.”

And, Wealth for the Common Good also noted recently that the top 400 taxpayers (those who have more wealth than half of all Americans) pay lower taxes today than they have in about two decades. Their tax responsibilities have declined sharply in 70 years and, during that time, wage-working men and women have been asked to pay more. There was a time when lawmakers discerned a difference between those who could afford to pay taxes and those who were not able to pay taxes and occasionally, they adjusted the tax code to lighten the burden on the poor. This is not one of those times.

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and most of the Republicans and many Democrats seem to have forgotten that the Democrats once stood for the New Deal (putting people back to work and giving them the means to maintain their living standards, through union organizing), the War on Poverty, and the Great Society.

Instead, at this time, in the midst of a presidential election campaign, the word poverty is barely mentioned. And, if the word “poor” is used, it is to call them lazy, parasites, and a drag on the economy and the national budget. There is no apparent plan from either party to deal with the severe problem of poverty in the U.S. Certainly, there is no plan for the two parties to come up with a plan, and that’s what it takes to solve the problems of a nation that owes its soul to the company store, that is China, Europe, Japan, and several other countries.

Romney doesn’t have a clue about what real Americans’ lives are like.
The right wing (in politics and Corporate America) in this country would do well to hold its tongue when criticizing any of those creditors, because it is people who look and act just like them who have removed the manufacturing base from the country to seek ever lower wages and lower “labor costs.” They are the ones, along with the people they employ in the Congress, who have caused the economic problems, with their constant push for lower taxes for the rich and corporations and the push for rewards for taking their plants out of the country. They have received all of that.

As we have seen, the working class and the middle class, however it is defined, are the ones who pay (remember, they somehow have morphed from citizens into consumers). When they lose their jobs, there’s no one left to pay. How hard is that for the politicians to understand? We’ve had a steady decline of jobs for decades, we have people in mid-life living off their retirement savings, and we have college graduates who might be able to pay off their student loans by the time they are 50 years old.

Like or not, the rich are going to be swimming in the same pool as the rest of the country if the whole thing collapses. Then, they will be seeking out people who have real skills for living, to show them how to do it. Generally, the rich are engaged in enterprises that produce nothing but money and we are beginning to realize that this money is worth about as much as the paper used for printing it.

The real wealth of the nation is in its people. When they are healthy, the nation is healthy. When the people are weakened or sick, the nation is sick. Poverty weakens and sickens a nation and the disparity in wealth in the U.S., at a level not seen in 80 years, has weakened the nation. No one in government at any level seems to be willing to proclaim the danger out loud and, so, the problem is not addressed and the nation is in deep trouble.

BlackCommentator.com Columnist,John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he works with family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. To contact Mr. Funiciello, please go to BlackCommentator.com.

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Pome of the Day

Mamma Romney will give you some…maybe if you play nice
she’ll give you a slice
maybe

INDIA UPDATE

MAMA’S PIZZA

Come to Mama’s Pizza shop

Pizza very nice

Drool at all the things on top

But never ask the price

You can come and stand outside

And smell the mozzarella

If it’s raining don’t forget

To bring your own umbrella

Watch as Mama’s friends go in

Don’t get in the way

If they kick you in the shins

Be careful what you say

Watch out! Here comes Sonny Boy

Did you bring a sheet?

Lie down, let him walk on you

He mustn’t wet his feet

Mama cuts the pizza up

Mama feeds her friends

Will you get some crumbs as well?

Well, it all depends

Were you nice to Sonny Boy?

Did you kiss his tushie?

Were you gentle, full of joy?

He hates it when you’re pushy.

Mama’s pizza, hot and fresh

Pizza very nice

If you bend down far enough

You could get a slice.

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The American Stinker Lays Another Pooper

Hard at work for the corporate agenda.

Stephen McCann a classic plutocrat and contributor to the site American Stinker and the site linked to the magazine, American Spectator, sits on the Stinker pot and performs the rectal birth of a tract so full of lies even the lowest of parasites might have to bring out the lie detector.  Compensated at a rate of a mere 4.5m a year, Mr. McCann gets passive into that very narrow canal of American mogul-lovin’.  Sitting firmly within the top 1%, possibly the top .01% of wealth holders globally, the Australian McCann we’re sure gets a big BFF ranking from the plutocrat class here in the states.

So onto his scribbles from the war room water closet and why we should really give a damn what he says anyway. First off, its worth pointing out that although McCann sits in his house on the near bottom of the globe where our winter is his summer, he seems awfully disturbed by certain sectors of the American population known commonly as the “left”.

Yeah you all you pro-choice, tree hugging, union thug, anti-racist, anti-war leftists, this fine gentleman is fed up with your anti-austerity politics you hear? He’s had it with your desires for justice and equality and wants you to grow up and practice some good old austerity.  Concerned as he is with the deficit in the United States  … er… his portfolio.   He’s sick and tired of “The Childishness of the American Left” and he’s going to tell you why.

The American left is the most self-indulgent, arrogant, and spoiled group of people on the face of the earth.  They live in a nation facing national bankruptcy and societal upheaval — a country presently subsisting on the residue of past economic achievements.  Yet the only things that matter to them are their lifestyles and imposing their self-determined superiority on rest of the American people.

Social upheaval?  Could it be the social upheaval of a population sick and tired of the 1% wealthiest “imposing their self-determined superiority on the rest of the American people”?  Seems to many of us here in the US that once an economic system existed wherein at least there was some hope that a rising tide would raise all boats.  That with the work of the left through government regulation and correction,  social inequities would soon begin to disappear and anyone, a person of color, a woman, a disabled person, could as the old saying goes, capture the American Dream by working on a finally leveled playing field.

But as we all know now, the job of straightening out 300 years of socialized inequality takes some sacrifice from everyone and we’ve had our share of resistance.  Us lefties always do after a while tend to get all misty-eyed and go on about hard to quantify issues such as racial justice, gender equality and LGBT rights, worker’s rights and a clean and healthy planet.   We on the left have known for quite some time that the existing system favors a certain group of people and we have tirelessly pointed this fact out.  Basically many of us figured out after about 5th grade that the Land of the Free we learned about ain’t exactly free for a large portion of the population.

Unlike the minority who upon their birth are cloistered among nannies, private schools, Ivy League colleges and a nice inheritance, the majority of people in this country live quite modest lives.  We on the left selfishly have worked tirelessly for little money (because where do you think money comes from?), to champion causes not particularly popular with the ownership class.

We have repeatedly marched down streets, sat in halls, picketed and boycotted businesses to protest the sending of our young people to die for the myriad wars that benefit only the 1%, protested and worked toward changing injustices from gay rights to women’s rights, from working against racism, to saving the planet from industrial destruction, all in the name of that selfish idea; justice.

Do we have a superiority complex? Possibly, if one equates having a sense of fervent duty to the social contract of humanity; yes possibly if one takes seriously the precept of the prophet of our Christian based culture; “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done Unto You” All this while swarmed by a capitalist campaign of mass consumption, exploitation and greed.  We on the left have worked tirelessly to draw attention to how global capitalism exploitation kills humans and the planet.

But let’s take our lesson from Mr. McCann and hear about his concerns about the debt and the GDP; essentially his global balance sheet shall we?  First McCann draws our attention to an NPR interview:

The true indebtedness of the United States now exceeds $222 trillion.  Appearing on National Public Radio in August of 2011 Professor Laurence J. Kotlikoff of Boston University said:

If you add up all the promises that have been made for spending obligations, and subtract all the taxes we expect to collect, the difference is $211 Trillion.  This is the fiscal gap.  That is our true indebtedness.

Since that interview, the indebtedness has increased by another $11 trillion.

Well it seems the kind professor was making an effort to point out that with falling revenues from tax cuts, funding wars will drain the treasury.  Tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans became all the fashion when Ronald Reagan proved just how easy it is to fleece the American people as long as you lie to them enough.  So easy that H.W. Bush and Bush the Younger have pushed the envelope further not only cutting taxes for their buddies but also borrowing to finance some major military adventures.  So again the professor points out that when the boss cuts your pay, going to Disneyland may not be such a good idea.

But let’s take the boss analogy a step further.  When your boss learns that you’ll  work just as hard on $7.25/hour as you would on $15/hour, especially if he promises you get a ticket to Disneyland, do you think he’ll go back to $15?.  Nope, you’ve just got suckered.  Boss got just as much work out of you for less and what’s more he didn’t bother to tell you he borrowed from your pension fund to pay for those tickets to Disney, what a deal!

Not rocket science, nor a big secret.

Then further down, McCann rails about the GDP versus expenditures.  The fact is, just looking at the GDP fails to consider so many other factors that have caused the largest economic slump since the Depression.  As is detailed on a page here a bit back, McCann doesn’t bother to tell his dear readers that while the GDP has failed miserably, corporate earnings  have multiplied upward for the last three generations, while earnings growth for those who work for a wage has stagnated since about 1979.  Also McCann fails to mention that those who possess high wealth have enjoyed as much as a 200% or more increase in their portfolio value at the same time.

So in summary, tax cuts sent the money into the hands of the plutocrats, cuts in services such as housing, poverty programs, cuts in agency funding, cuts in education funding also sent more money to the plutocrats which for some reason never came back home.  All the while corporations learned that lay-offs reward richly (and thus rewarded their CEO’s thusly), temp labor is a pip and people will work for dogs on mere promises. Add to that the people’s gullibility for tall tales about scary hordes that must be brought down by fancy artillery and young Americans’ lives and you’ve got one heck of a mess.

Now Mr. McCann, being only human can’t help but look a gift horse in the mouth.  As if fleecing the American and global population hasn’t made him rich enough, he’s now concerned about the possible collision of the health of his portfolio with the health of our nation.

Yet these estimates do not include the full impact of ObamaCare, which could add another $17+ trillion.

Now taking away the fact that McCann seems to think that Americans don’t need affordable healthcare like Australians enjoy, let’s just focus on his concern about our fiscal health shall we?  Wait what’s this? All over the internet sites figures keep quoting the CBO and its research that purport that in fact, the ACA will reduce the deficit by $210 billion, not increase it.  So in other words, McCann is either very poorly informed or just telling lies because he doesn’t think we should have public healthcare like his homeland does.  We’d suggest that McCann follow the old rule; those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.  Oh, Australia doesn’t fund healthcare for rich guys, oh well.

On the other side of the ledger: the annual Gross Domestic Product (the value of all economic activity in the U.S.) is $15.6 trillion.  The indebtedness to GDP ratio is a staggering 14.2 to 1 and guaranteed to further accelerate if Barack Obama is re-elected.

See Disneyland borrowed on your pension fund. We explained that already.  Mr. McCann hopes to impress and bamboozle his readers with statistics and figures that really say the same damn thing no matter how you turn them around; the rich guys spent all our money and borrowed to the hilt for whatever our paychecks couldn’t cover.  Pretty simple; you spend more than you making, you going to end up bankrupt.

The United States is not facing bankruptcy, it is bankrupt.  The primary factor that has kept the nation afloat over the past four years is that the dollar, albeit temporarily, remains the world’s reserve currency, thus allowing the Federal Reserve to print enormous sums of money to cover the Obama budget deficits and flood the global market with near worthless cash.  Today it requires $100.00 to purchase the same goods $10.00 purchased in 1950.

Firstly, the Federal Reserve does not print money! Contrary to popular belief, the Fed is not some super-secret club full of special presses stamping out benjis to add to the “money supply” as they please.  So we can dispense with this quickly and move on, please see the following comic made up by the Fed in an attempt to dispel ignorance.

Comparing the value of the dollar today to its value in 1950 is much like picking up

Oh do we need to go back what was good in 1950 compared to today? Like the fact that nearly 50% of American workers were union members? That save for the social inequities that still existed, many people enjoyed a prosperity most young Americans cannot even imagine today.  Taxation was progressive and effective with the top tiers paying as much as 90% of their income, so revenues were high, wages were healthy and what’dya get? A healthy economy!  Infrastructure expenditures were up, employment rose and the standard of living in the US rose for a large majority of Americans above nearly the entire world.

Increased indebtedness due to wars funded on borrowing, money policy that shifted wealth from the commoners to the elites and the resulting bust in GDP growth among the population that depressed revenues and consumption seems an indication of selfishness, but of the leftie kind.

As a further comparison, the total annual GDP of all the countries on earth is $70 trillion.  The American indebtedness alone exceeds that amount by a factor of 3 — which contributes mightily to a world drowning in debt and facing an inevitable debt crisis and financial collapse, which will trigger a massive global depression.

Thanks again in large part of levering of the American economy by the elites on the backs of the working people who have seen their share of the pie steadily decrease even though their production has rivaled other first world countries for decades.

Currently, just 58.4% of the civilian population is employed, as compared to 64.3% twelve years ago.  Factoring in the growth of the population during that period, this drop represents over 22 million Americans unable to find work.  Since January 2009, 74% of all new jobs created in the U.S. were in the lowest-paying sectors of the economy, thereby stifling any chance of upward mobility and growth in median income which has fallen by 9% since January 2009, and average household wealth that has declined by nearly 40% over this same period.  This failure is a byproduct of a tsunami of government regulations, mandates, and taxes which has nearly destroyed the innovation and business and job-creation that made the American economy so vibrant over the latter part of the 20th century.  That innovation has now moved overseas, along with over 7.5 million high-paying goods-producing jobs since 2000.

Another patent lie, since the 1980’s government sectors on all levels have suffered massive cuts and laws that regulated finance, commerce and trade have been modified to favor corporate growth over national growth.  Couple that also with the outsourcing of the white color and blue collar sectors then mix in outflows of investment dollars to those offshore operations and you have decreased consumption within the US market as workers’ buying power decreases,  increased outflows of revenue from the what production remains (as it flows upward and not into worker’s pockets)  into the coffers of tax-free havens, off-shore trusts, third world sweat-shop factories and overall global manipulation of labor, finance and government regulation. Whew and McCann calls us selfish for bitching about it?

The reaction of the self-described progressives to this dire scenario?  Sweep the facts under the rug or ignore them completely, as it appears that the most important things in their lives are the legalization of gay marriage, free contraceptives and abortifacients, worshiping at the altar of extreme and discredited environmentalism, mocking and undermining all organized religion (except Islam), and telling the American people what they can eat, where they can live, what may be taught in their schools, how they must operate their businesses, and what health care they can access.

Au contraire Mr. McCann, while the left has beat the drum of reigning in the cowboy plutocrats, ending the wars, regulating off-shoring, stopping the trade treaties that favor global corporatism and bringing back a truly progressive taxation strategy, the right wing has gone on an endless campaign of distraction by fighting gay marriage and rolling back women’s rights to bodily sovereignty.  We didn’t choose to put these issues front and center, the Republicans did and we have been forced 24-7 to fight these battles on basic human rights, while the economy suffers global moguls continue to rake in the money.

Yes, Mr. McCann we bleat on and on about the importance of an educated and healthy population.  We voice and express concerns about how exploitative capitalism, on which your portfolio and business model relies, has caused irreparable harm the planet we call home.  But we know, worrying about an endangered planet and humanity causes your portfolio to wilt like you probably do when you’ve run out of Viagra in the middle of the deep blue on your shiny yacht after your escort has finished dictating for you.

To the true believers on the left, re-electing Barack Obama is not a matter of what is or is not good for the country; rather, for the majority on the left, the primary motivation is geared solely toward defeating their sworn enemy: conservatives and Republicans, whom many falsely believe are a right-wing horde determined to create a theocracy and impose old-fashioned morality.  But what they fear most from the right is a determination to reinstitute unfettered individual freedom and concomitant economic growth, which would relegate the American left to the back bench of American society.

Yeah we got it.  Apparently McCann seems to have a misunderstanding of American history? We’re not going to the back of the bus as much as the GOP, Tea Partiers and others wish.  In fact, its pretty clear the country is changing and electing a black president only constituted the beginning.

Thus, to them, what the policies of Barack Obama and his radical minions are doing to the long-term fate of nation is immaterial as long as Obama regurgitates his support for the various causes that are near and dear to the coalition that makes up the left.  There are two common threads to the belief system of American progressives: 1) an omnipotent central government controlled by them, and 2) an assumption that there is a bottomless pit of money to be siphoned from an equally bottomless pit of wealth.  But this is not the same nation that experienced unprecedented prosperity from 1946 to 2007.  It is not the same nation in which these narcissists on the left grew up, never knowing national adversity or trauma.

1. Yes, we do in fact represent every single portion of humanity not represented by the guests on your yacht Mr. McCann, yes we do in fact believe that the government’s role is to put selfish pricks like you where you belong — in the palm of our sweaty, hard working hands.

2. We do indeed see a bottomless pit of money — our money that we worked damn hard for that you stole from us through your wrangling and perverting our government to allow you to extract every penny from our efforts and give as little back to us as possible.

And we also know that the national prosperity has been in decline for us ever since your patron saint, Ronnie Reagan took office here and began to strip every single protection from greedy, self centered, hypocritical plutocrats like yourself.   We’ve suffered enough trauma under the reign of the greedy and we’ve had it.

The manner in which these progressives, and their titular leader Barack Obama, are conducting themselves in the current campaign season is indicative of their arrogant and immature mindset.  To the vast majority on the left, this campaign is merely a game played out on the playground of American politics, wherein they childishly engage in name-calling and temper tantrums reminiscent of spoiled brats determined to get their way, regardless of the consequences.

Well, to the vast majority of Americans this playground is ours and its our damn business how we play it out and we’d like it if global moguls like yourself keep your filthy paws out of our political and electoral business.  We are indeed determined to get our way but it seems last we knew, the bamboozled foot soldiers of the plutocracy were the ones throwing the biggest temper tantrums about having a Kenyan born Islamic black man chosen as the president of their whites-only fiefdom.  But like most spoiled brats, you people just refuse to take your marbles and go home to cry to mama, nope, instead you have to put millions into SuperPACS and keep trying to play petty games with our political system to feed your own selfish desires.

It is time to grow up and understand that the America that could absorb all the excessive spending, promises, and left-wing fun and games is no more.  This nation cannot survive on its present course, and if that course is not dramatically reversed, those on the left will suffer as much as if not more than the bulk of the American people they are trying to rule.  History has shown repeatedly that when an overwhelming political and social catastrophe strikes a nation, the people turn against the ruling class, often with a vengeance.  In the United States, that ruling class is presently dominated by the American left.

You’re absolutely right Mr. McCann, the country can no longer continue on this course.  Scientists say if we don’t make radical life style and consumption changes we may not have a planet worth living on in another twenty or thirty years.  History has indeed shown repeatedly that when aristocrats and their inbred offspring are allowed to run things, they tend to make a big damn mess of the house and leave the adults to come and clean it up.  The clean up time has begun and we’re ready to evict you and your lying friends.  Thanks for playing Mr. McCann, there’s a spot in the back of the bus for you.

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Right Under Their Noses

On Monday morning scores of New Hampshire residents traveled to the St. Anselm’s campus to hear the newly minted Romney/Ryan duo speak.  They were in for a little surprise when they found out that actually, their tickets were not meant to get them into the door; they only served to identify them as the people they wanted out.

Like the rest of the Republican platform, Romney and Ryan’s substance lies somewhere within a computer file, within the confines of a paid staffers.  Apparently those staffers figured that having their employers stand before truly curious and inquisitive voters might prove a bit taxing.  And we know how Republicans hate anything that’s taxing; on the wallet or the brain.

The right-wing Union Leader apparently had some good connections for camera shots because the one they plastered all over the Tuesday edition and online made the event look like a Billy Graham revival event.  Responsible journalists would have mentioned that New Hampshire voters were turned away and replaced by Massachusetts bus-ins.  But those of us from New Hampshire know full well that to expect news from the Union Leader is a bit like expecting Ryan to just come out and admit he’s a selfish, brainless prick just like his running mate.

But what the staffers didn’t realize and the story the Union Leader missed was the truly grassroots support they had outside from the newly minted organization Americans for Inequality.  Formed apparently out of the mold of Rockefeller, Carnegie and the Koch Brothers combined, three of their acolytes were on hand to espouse Romney and Ryan’s economics.

Brave enough to just say it.

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What a Damn Mess Indeed…

Excellent article (#130, November 2010) on the Left Business Observer Journal site:

What a damn mess

You were under the impression
That when you were walking forward
You’d end up further onward
But things ain’t quite that simple.
—The Who, “I’ve Had Enough” (1973)

The time seemed ripe for a comprehensive look at the state of the U.S. economy—not the usual a little of this, a little of that approach, but some measure of how it all fits together. It will come as no surprise to most readers that the state is dismal. Not only are the masses doing rather poorly, but even the most orthodox measure of all, GDP growth, is in the tank. But this is not perceived as an emergency in some circles, because the elite is doing very, very well. [more here].

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Ayn Rand Acolytes Have Finally Struck Pay Dirt

Certainly a part of Ryan and Mitt’s undeserving.

After all these years, the debunked pseudo philosopher has finally gotten herself a road to the White House.  Although long dead, her spirit has thrived in the hearts and minds of 15 year old males and selfish plutocrats looking for a way to justify their refusal to clean their rooms or their burning desire to keep their interest and dividends earnings/trust fund/insider trading windfall all to themselves.

Meet Paul Ryan, the newly minted Republican Vice Presidential candidate. Strapped onto Romney’s side like a Rugar onto an aging New Hampshire Libertarian, Ryan is posited as the one who will make Romney human.  Yes, Ryan, the self proclaimed student of the archetypical anti-human, Ayn Rand, will give the public the illusion that someone among the two of them gives a damn about someone besides themselves.

Already the Romney camp has had to decide to stuff down the press’ anxious inquiries into the details of the famous Ryan plan — you know, the plan that Newt Gingrich himself thought was going a little too far? Yeah, that Newt Gingrich, he of the “make mothers drop their babies where-ever to work at McDonald’s” Contract on America Gingrich, no shining Samaritan he. But that little glimmer of empathy made the GOP panic enough to furiously remind Newt that the Big Daddy GOP ain’t having any of that middling concern for old people, children and poor folks.   Ryan’s plan must succeed! Old folks wheel your chairs to the gallows! The time has come for the great sacrifice for Capital!

Can we imagine a world ruled by Romney and Ryan?  A world where insider trading becomes a right, where the sitting president’s offspring will run to hold the highest office in the land year after year? Where Congress won’t have to bother to have session because everyone knows the outcome already — what’s to argue? Where the television shows will blast sitcoms of happy rich people day and night and news casts will consist of lost puppy dogs and the weekly roll-call of prisoners condemned to death?

Can we imagine a world where housing subsidies are cut and a half million people will find themselves instantly homeless? Where the disease stricken or the mobility disabled will be left to hobble or crawl home to die because they can’t buy a hospital voucher? Will apartment buildings that once the landlords received subsidies for become abandoned as they can’t make the mortgage payments for lack of tenants that can pay rent on a Wal-Mart salary?  Will municipal welfare departments shutter their doors, lacking the resources to serve? Food pantries run dry, soup kitchens become over run, having to turn out before the line outside is exhausted?  Will entire neighborhoods turn black at night as power prices soar without subsidies to control them?

Will children who slept in parks, cars, alley ways, abandoned buildings, with no heat, no running water, filthy from the day before, shy away from school? Living with no place to study, with no cooked food to eat, living among a world of prosperity, what message will those children absorb?

Will murders rise as people in the cities fight over scarce resources? Will an armed suburban guerilla warfare begin as the inner city poor turn to the suburbs where once soccer moms plant homemade mines around their pristine three acre plot? Where angry and hungry inner city residents crouch behind mulberry bushes and stinkweed in the summer humidity to wait for the right moment to fire and overtake the house that has a water well and a churning diesel generator keeping the well stocked freezer going?  Will the police state expand, will martial law be called?

Paranoid some? Talk to your neighbors.  Talk to some “preppers”, one underground group among many convinced that the scenario described in the last paragraph isn’t too far off.  Unfortunately, what’s lost is the trajectory of how the nation could get there.  Its in our control, we don’t have to give up and allow defeat to define our future.

Often pundits and other observers remark on the poor memory of the American electorate.  While the poor recall of a politician’s remark or slip of judgment is one thing; to forget our entire human history is quite another.  Only within the last half of the last century did a huge portion of the human population get a chance to know what its like to have a place out of the rain and cold; to know when or where our next meal is coming from — or what it will be; a rat? a discarded piece of bread? a donation from the back of a UN truck?  A lot of that had to do with capital prosperity, but that, unlike the story repeated erroneously among the American public, did not happen naturally by the accumulation of capital alone.  It seems that people assume that the accumulation of wealth and capital assets automatically results in general popular prosperity, as if a natural occurrence as regular and reliable as the sun following the moon.

But the social contract did not fall out of the sky, it is not written in the bark of trees.  What is written in the bark of trees is the struggle of nature, of the universally understood vulgarity of nature that many like to not think about; the live and let live, the kill or be killed.  Paul Ryan’s mentor in spirit Ayn Rand celebrated the brute violence of survival and believed that all humans had attained their highest actualization when they begin to act as if they had no more self awareness than a snarling dog in a pack.

We have the capacity to become dogs; to emulate the most vile and base behavior and return to our mammalian roots.  But with our larger brains that developed the awareness we call “self”; the “I”, also came the awareness that without the ‘you’ — our mother, our father, our brother, our neighbor, that “I” becomes merely a weak, hungry mass of flesh whose worth can only be redeemed by the contribution made to the other — the community who can hear us cry out.  If Romney and Ryan get in the white house and do what they wish, we’ll need more than just a god to help us, we’ll each other and our memory.

Depression Era Daydream – http://seaheff.com/pages/comics.html

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How Trickle-Down Theory is Ruining Our Schools and Closing Our Libraries: Thank You Ronald Reagan

While You Were Working to Make Ends Meet…

Great analysis by Lisa Longo on her blog:

Economic theory is complex. My macroeconomics professor loved to use the “guns vs. butter” analogy. Does a country build its economy by helping the citizenry (supply butter) or by protecting itself (supply guns)? The current argument over whether to raise the debt ceiling and deficit has the same feel to me.

Take the pithy patter that falls from Sarah Palin’s mouth, “To have a balanced trade arrangement with other countries across the world so Americans can have our jobs, our industries, our manufacturing again. And exploiting responsibly our natural resources. We can do that again if we make good decisions.” (emphasis added)

Do you really think she understands the environment, let alone economics? Is there any way to exploit something responsibly?  Here is the definition of the word exploit:”

(click here to go to Lisa’s blog and read the rest)

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