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December 10, 2010 / hoopersx

Bizarro America

There seem to be two different realities we are currently living in, the REAL America and Bizarro America.  Here are a few examples:

Bizarro America:

Tax cuts stimulate the economy and create jobs.  Any increase in taxes in this recession will derail the recovery effort and send us spinning into a full-blown depression.

Real America:

10 years of the current Bush tax cuts have shown absolutely NO propensity to create jobs.  In fact, they seem to do the opposite. Just count the number of jobs created during the tax rates of the Clinton administration, then count the number of jobs created during the Bush tax cuts.  This isn’t rocket science.  If you can add and subtract the difference is right there to be seen.  There’s no grey.  The Wall Street Journal back in 2009 showed the hard numbers:

“President George W. Bush entered office in 2001 just as a recession was starting, and is preparing to leave in the middle of a long one. That’s almost 22 months of recession during his 96 months in office.

His job-creation record won’t look much better. The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.

Here’s a look at job creation under each president since the Labor Department started keeping payroll records in 1939. The counts are based on total payrolls between the start of the month the president took office (using the final payroll count for the end of the prior December) and his final December in office.

Because the size of the economy and labor force varies, we also calculate in percentage terms how much the total payroll count expanded under each president. The current President Bush, once taking account how long he’s been in office, shows the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.”

See the total numbers at:

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/01/09/bush-on-jobs-the-worst-track-record-on-record/

So we have at least 8 years of Clinton policy and 10 years of Bush policy (2 years of Obama which is basically the Bush policy) to use in order to draw a conclusion.  The only honest conclusion anyone can draw from this is that higher taxes don’t kill job growth and tax cuts don’t create jobs.  Obama and the GOP’s ascertain that another two years of this policy will now suddenly create jobs is morally bankrupt at best.

Also, as ThinkProgress.org explains, Clinton’s tax rate:

“Of course, far from bringing the Doomsday of which Republicans were warning, Clinton’s policies ushered in the longest sustained period of economic growth in the nation’s history, with 23 million jobs created. Compared to the administration of George W. Bush, the Clinton-era saw more job growth, more GDP growth, more wage growth, and more business investment. Incomes grew under Clinton but fell under Bush, while poverty did the opposite, falling under Clinton but increasing under Bush.”

Read the full article at:

http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/08/10/1993-quotes/

Bizarro America:

We can borrow our way out of a down economy.

Real America:

I don’t know about you but when I borrow money, I have to repay it.  I certainly don’t run a huge amount of debt service and at the beginning of each year take out a loan to pay my kids a bonus.  The idea being that the bonuses I am giving my kids will be taken and used to create more money to help get us out of this hole.  Now while I don’t doubt that in REALLY extraordinary circumstances, this method might work.  Let’s say they take the money and hit the lottery.  BINGO!  No more debt.  Perhaps one of them takes the money and uses it to create the next big widget.  BINGO!!  No more debt.  But here’s the reality that most of us live in:

Chances are pretty good that our kids will go out and by a PlayStation 3 and some games to go with it.  Maybe a case of Monster energy drinks and that money will never be seen again.

Or, in some cases, they will be smart and stick that money in a savings account, never to been seen again with respect to helping with the current budget crisis.  Sure, they may end up being rich down the road, but in the meantime I will have to file for bankruptcy and/or drop dead.

Again, this isn’t complicated.  If you aren’t paying down debt and incurring more, eventually it will fall apart.  One day the bank will come calling and it will all be over.  In the case of the United States, it will be China, Europe and more coming calling.

Bizarro America:

As Americans, we deserve top flight public services from our government.  First rate education.  Second to none infrastructure (highways, roads, etc…).  The best of police and fire fighters.  The Best!  The Best!!  The Best!!  Oh yeah, and we shouldn’t have to pay the taxes require to fund all of this.  Just make it all happen.

Real America:

All of these things cost money.  Now let me be clear, I am very aware of the wasteful spending that goes on in government, be it Federal, State or Local government.  But even that waste is protected by so many special interests that its insane.

First off, let’s talk corporations.  Most corporations make lots of money off of corporate tax loopholes.  This needs to be changed.  But there’s almost nobody in government to take that stand because they don’t want to be taken away from the teat of their benefactors.  As I have written in this space before, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.  Until that happens nothing will change.

Next, lets talk unions, specifically teachers unions.  I for one think most teachers are grossly underpaid.  However, there are a couple of GOP talking points that always seems to be able to bring meaningful reform in eduction to a grinding halt:

“There is too much money spent on the bureaucracy in the schools.  Wasted money that isn’t going directly to the children’s education.  So even if we give them more money they will just waste.  Additionally, the unions are protecting teachers who are either poor to outright horrible instructors.  Why sink more money into a system that is throwing that money at bad.”

To their points, they are kind of right.  To the extent that schools really need to be streamlined and unions need to stop protecting bad teachers.  But that doesn’t mean that doing just these two things will solve the problem.  More money is going to be invaluable to fixing our schools.  Higher, more competitive wages means very smart people who would normally go on to become doctors or lawyers or higher earners will have the option to become educators.  You can’t just keep crying that the education system is broken and not recognize the very simple truth; if paid well, many more excellent candidates will choose to become teachers.

High quality roads.  High quality police.  High quality firefighters, all cost money.  If America insists on all of this then it will have to pay for it, not demand it and then tell the government to get the money for it somewhere else.  Again bureaucracy is part of it.  But we can’t streamline government enough to fix all of our woes.

The reality we have before us is that the only way out of this mess is to be the nation we once were.  A nation that came together in hard times and worked for the greater good.  Sometime over the past 10 years there has been prevailing attitude among the rich that has gained more and more momentum, “If you don’t like being poor, then be rich!  It’s not my fault I have lots of money!  And no, I couldn’t possibly spend all of the money I have but while it’s being offered to me, it will take what I can while I can.”  I don’t believe that about all of the rich.  In fact I think there are a larger segment of them who have their heart in the right place.  But this is the same country that just had to bail out a large segment of Wall Street because they screwed up.  And today, those same people are taking in record bonuses, doing nearly the exact same thing that got them into trouble in the first place, derivatives trading!

Like I said at the beginning of this novel:

BIZARRO AMERICA!

By the way, you can also follow me on twitter, @ www.twitter.com/obamaisfailing

Look forward to your comments!

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12 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Becca / Dec 10 2010 7:26 am

    I am cursed with ADD, so I find it impossible to read anything more than a paragraph..or watch Conan.

    • atoned liberal / Dec 10 2010 9:36 pm

      Hey, what do you have against Conan? I like him and find him very entertaining. I love our host’s comments also. They are entertaining and fact based too. I applaud both of them.

  2. Robert / Dec 10 2010 8:15 am

    Wow, where to start…….another great post.

    I cannot agree with you more. Rather than rehash a lot of what you’ve stated eloquently yourself, I’ll just add a few of my own thoughts here and there. Al Franken gave a very impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate in which he addressed some of the same points you’ve mentioned about the Clinton and Bush administrations. It’s definitely worth watching: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVURyaA9UWY&feature=player_embedded

    Frankly, it’s amazing to me that anyone would continue to buy what the Republicans are selling, given the track record of previous Republican presidential administrations. But they are masters at the game of politics and, like it or not, the Democrats are going to have to improve their game plan if they expect to compete. Like you, I’d much prefer that we get the money out of politics, both in the form of campaign contributions (be they private or corporate) and in the form of lobbying (the other form of corruption), in order to disincentive the “pay for play” aspects of politics. Campaign finance reform is crucial if the federal government is to accomplish anything meaningful in the future.

    Personally, I feel that all citizens should at the very least be entitled to a good education and basic health care. Education is one of the few remaining “equalizers” and one of the few ways people can pull themselves out of poverty. However, it’s pretty apparent that not everyone in this country has access to a good education (or basic health care), and this needs to be addressed. Having spent a lot of time in Asia, I have seen how passionate the East Asian countries are about education and we need to rediscover this passion in our own country, or we will no longer remain competitive. A part of this, I believe, involves education reform.

    I had dinner with a couple of friends tonight, one of whom is a public school teacher. She agreed that the teachers unions have far too much power when it comes to teacher retention. We need to move away from retaining teachers who are not effective simply because they have seniority and instead replace them with more highly skilled (and more highly trained) teachers. A large part of this will involve making teaching an attractive profession, a part of which will in turn involve paying teachers higher salaries. We cannot expect to remain competitive if we don’t have a highly educated populace and opportunities for those people who wish to instead learn valuable trades. Somehow the political will seems to be lacking, however. I had hoped that Obama would have done something to change this, but I’m not holding my breath at this point.

    But you’re correct when you state that this will cost money, and this revenue will have to come from somewhere. Given the present climate in this country, no one wants to pay for a quality public school education, and it doesn’t appear that the upcoming Congress will be increasing tax revenue anytime soon.

    • Atoned liberal / Dec 10 2010 9:51 pm

      You are right. The money will have to come from somewhere, and Obama’s own debt commission already indicated where they want that money to come from. They advocated for a reduction of Social Security, Medicare, and a higher gas tax. All of those will devastate the poorer among us, but that’s not even the worst part. Those fuckers also advocated for more tax cuts for the right. I loathe Obama. He is a republican in democratic clothing.

  3. Atoned liberal / Dec 10 2010 9:48 pm

    Another great post, Hooper. I agree with you completely. All one would have to do is look in the near past to see whether or not these tax cuts would have any effect. The Bush economy was stagnant for 90% of Americans while the top 10% seen their profits, bank accounts, and bottom line grow like no other time in our history. Obama seems only willing to perpetuate the results from those awful times. Did you know Rush, Bill O’rielly, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck all came out in support of this deal? so why should any progressive believe this is anything but a giveaway to the rich and powerful?

    Our government no longer works for us, so it’s time we work to undermine our federal government. I look forward fighting with you in that goal. It’s time we fight for a more fair society for everyone. Obama is public enemy number 1 in my opinion. He undercuts our message while aiding the republicans in their attempt to undermine what we have fought for so long.

    I want you to listen to this guy, Hooper. He and you are birds of a feather. I think you will love him as much as I do.

    Youngturks: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks#p/u/10/xUpH26pzcCI

    • Robert / Dec 10 2010 10:24 pm

      Thanks for the Youngturks link, Atoned. I hadn’t seen that.

  4. Smerdly Butler / Dec 11 2010 8:57 am

    “We can borrow our way out of a down economy.”

    Here we disagree in part. You suggest that borrowing is not effective in restoring the economy to health likening it to a teen buying a PS3 or a lotto ticket.

    I believe money that’s borrowed can be used effectively to help spur the economy by improving infrastructure, education and funding emerging technologies.

    The problem isn’t really borrowing the money it’s sustaining a condition that creates the need to borrow.
    If we stopped spending on two wars, and allowing a significant portion of our tax’s to be sucked down the drain by what could be described succinctly as “A swirling vortex of corruption” ( Fun Fact: Corruption swirls counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere!) then we would likely have a greatly reduced need to borrow.

    An apple a day is healthy, a bushel will make you sick. Cut unneeded expense like war and graft and borrow in moderation only as needed.

    OT: Since you saw my post on Huff Po and replied and I saw your reply and invited you to my blog to read an article where you invited me here to read your article, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to MSNBC News Vine to read another I posted there.

    In other words Hooper “Tag your it!” 🙂

    http://smedleybutler2.newsvine.com/_news/2010/12/11/5627263-classified-media-bias

    • hoopersx / Dec 11 2010 9:23 am

      Thank you for your participation. Before I started writing this I clicked over to your link to reply on your home turf. But when I did, it was the framework but the post area was blank. Maybe it’s on me, I don’t know and would be more than happy to participate on your site too.

      So in the meantime here’s my reply:

      I don’t believe that all borrowed money is a bad idea. I believe that the stimulous money was a good idea and for the most part, I believe it did it’s job. The money I was talking about is the money going to the top 1-2% of earners. I actually would be ok with setting the cutoff with people making $1 million or more. I might lose some followers by saying this but $250,000 really isn’t all that much when factored into the cost of raising a family. It’s a nice living but I don’t believe it qualifies as “rich”. However the tax breaks for these people at $1 million r above do NOTHING to stimulate the economy. That was the example I was making with my PlayStation 3 analogy. I know that borrowing money for the right thing can do a lot to stimulate the economy. But this tax cut package doesn’t focus the money anywhere near what it should. Giving tax breaks to the rich doesn’t stimulate the economy. In fact it has been proven, over and over again to do just the opposite.

      Please repost your link. I’d love to read what you have to say and carry on a quality debate on your site too.

      Thanks for visiting. Hope you will come back and participate regularly.

    • hoopersx / Dec 11 2010 9:24 am

      Oh yeah, TAG, your it! 🙂

    • hoopersx / Dec 23 2010 9:49 am

      Good to see you again Smedley!

  5. Kemstone / Dec 12 2010 10:11 am

    Great post, Hooper. The idea that if the rich get to keep more of their money they’re going to put that back into the economy is an absurd fantasy. Sure, they may create a few jobs here and there–butler, maid, chauffeur–but it’s not like they’re going to use their personal incomes to start building high-speed railroads or electric-car manufacturing plants.

    I’ve been keeping a blog for a few years and I frequently write about the epic failure of Obama. My last three posts were devoted to that topic, and I think you might enjoy them: http://kemstone.com/Journal/

    And you should DEFINITELY check out The Young Turks. When Cenk Uygur goes after Obama, he’s not playing around. He’ll give you the facts and express exactly as much righteous indignation as they call for.

    • hoopersx / Dec 13 2010 8:19 am

      Oh, I know and love Cenk Uygur. I am a Democrat/Progressive. I will go to battle for my party in the face of the insanity of the GOP. You will never find me arguing the GOP side. But when my President takes up the cause for a decidedly GOP position and calls it “compromise”, NO SIR! Compromise, to my mind would have been this:

      Extend the tax cuts for 2 years along with the unemployment extension and such, plus:

      1: A complete overhaul of the tax code. Because the reality is that most of those we are insisting on a raise in tax rates don’t pay a dime anyway. Loopholes, tax shelters and the like mean that nothing is likely to change even if their tax cuts expire.

      2. Campaign finance reform. Until this happens, the tax code overhaul won’t happen. Why? Because the very rich/corporations have no interest in reforming the tax code. They have a sweet deal and why change it? As long as they can throw money at it in the form of campaign contributions and stop any real change… Nothing will actually change.

      Leaving now to check out your blog. Thanks for visiting!

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