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Fixing America

A forum for discussion of regional topics including oil depletion but also government, society, and the future.

Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Plantagenet » Wed 17 Jul 2019, 15:32:12

asg70 wrote: Last time I checked, unions are dead and we're living in a corporatocracy.


Check again. The situation with unions is more complex then that.

The corporatocracy has mostly succeeded in knocking down unions in the private sector, but they're thriving in the public sector. We have three active unions just here at my university ---one for university faculty, one for staff, and one for faculty at the affiliated community college. Most other public employees in the state of Alaska are represented by unions as well, including teachers, police, fire, ferry workers, and all the government bureaucrats as well.

And some of the largest corporate employers in my state are unionized as well. Small companies aren't unionized, but some big ones are unionized.

Cheers!

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Unions........they still are very important in Alaska
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Tanada » Wed 17 Jul 2019, 17:45:41

Image

Here is a recommendation for you! Declare that the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico together are the 51st state!
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Wed 17 Jul 2019, 19:13:16

^ Works for me!
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Cog » Wed 17 Jul 2019, 21:24:51

2 more Democrat senators. No thanks.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby careinke » Thu 18 Jul 2019, 01:50:29

Cog wrote:2 more Democrat senators. No thanks.


But the flag looks cool.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Ibon » Thu 18 Jul 2019, 07:55:38

There is this graph about Congress having a 20% approval rating but a 97% reelection rate.
Term limits and a strict prohibtion of any congressmen taking a corporate lobby position.

The reason though that all of our wonderful ideas here on this thread will never be inacted is that the
very same congressmen who would have to approve any of these ideas are the very same compromised bastards in the first place.

Good luck with that.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Fri 19 Jul 2019, 05:17:00

Ibon,

That made me laugh. I’ve heard it before, everyone thinks all Congress critters are corrupt, except his.

Here’s another factoid that peers into our souls.

Years ago Men’s Health Magazine did a survey and found 93% of American men rate themselves as above average drivers.

All farts stink, except mine. My shit don’t stink!

LOL, humanity, gotta love it.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 05 Aug 2019, 07:06:09

I’ve a rant stuck in my craw this morning.

The bottom line is in The USA we are great for coming up with things YOU should do to fix MY problem. We also love to find things to shame others and to have emotional outbursts of righteous outrage. Doesn’t work in marriages, won’t work in our culture.

It comes from the recent mass shootings and the knee jerk call for more gun control if not outright bans.

As Neil gets Grasse Tyson pointed out that the mass shootings are small potatoes.

In the past 48hrs, the USA horrifically lost 34 people to mass shootings.

On average, across any 48hrs, we also lose…

500 to Medical errors
300 to the Flu
250 to Suicide
200 to Car Accidents
40 to Homicide via Handgun

Often our emotions respond more to spectacle than to data.


Something like 75% of guns used in felonies have been acquired illegally. Obviously passing more restrictive legislation won’t help, we can’t enforce the laws we have. Look at “the war on drugs”, we have draconian Federal laws in pot possession, these laws don’t help.

Anyone who has had construction job site safety training as head “there are no “accidents” only “mistakes””. That is the message of Personal Responsibility. It is in the construction industry because injuries and deaths affect their workers comp and liability coverage. It gets taken seriously because it costs serious money.

How can we have 250 medical deaths per day? Where is the outrage? Where is the media coverage? My answer is because they happen one at a time, they don’t come out until long after the event, there are no piles of flowers and candle light vigils, there is nothing for media to leverage.

Right now we ban all sorts of narcotic drugs, but our Drs., at least some, are pushing Oxycodin and other addictive drugs. How can this be? Where is their personal liability? This will push for black market sources like amphetamines. Heroine and cocaine are outright illegal but we can’t stop their import. Clearly bans don’t work, the profit margin is too high, even our medical professions succumb.

Humans desire our pleasure centers to be excited, once we find a way to excite them we will do almost anything to repeat that feeling. It’s obvious that drugs can do the trick, but also religion. Get a good tent meeting going and you’ve got a lot of excited receptors running around. Same thing with mass media, they are selling the feel good drug. They give us something, some idea, we can get emotional about, something we can force others to do, so we can get our dopamine high.

The poster child for this should be the abortion argument with the gun argument running a close second. In both cases passions run high on both sides. Each side calls upon some higher power to validate their fervor. What both sides have in common is the high they get from the fight, from attempting to grind down the “other”.

To quell gun violence in the USA, where the vast majority of deaths is drug related in the disadvantaged communities, you need to need to address that we have a permanent under class. That underclass has problems with unwanted/inappropriate pregnancies, poor education, unemployment, drug use, gangs and violence. Want to fix gun violence? Start there. But perhaps even that is not the root cause, the best question. Why is this underclass so persistent in the USA?

And that answer MAY be that we really don’t want to fix anything. We want the fight, the trauma, the rallies, protests, the piles of flowers, the vigils. They give us a reason to get wound up, to get excited, to feel so much superior to “those others”. And maybe that explains Hillary/Donald and not only our political mess but our whole culture. It’s the marital fight scene in “Whos Afraid of Virginia Wolf”, we want that big fucking blow out argument, that over the top screaming match. The rush of righteous indignation. The high, the dopamine, its just soooo good.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Mon 05 Aug 2019, 12:49:54

Tanada wrote:Image

Here is a recommendation for you! Declare that the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico together are the 51st state!

Does that mean the citizens start paying US income taxes, and paying for things like US provided infrastructue repair? Because if it does, it's long past when this should have happened.

But I suppose the current system where they vote to refuse to become a state, don't pay US income taxes, and then have liberals claim the US is evil when there are finite funds to pay for infrastructure repair is far more fashionable, re modern thinking, where government provides something for nothing, and all problems are magically solved. /s
Given the track record of the perma-doomer blogs, I wouldn't bet a fast crash doomer's money on their predictions.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 06 Aug 2019, 11:12:50

Outcast_Searcher wrote:
Tanada wrote:Image

Here is a recommendation for you! Declare that the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico together are the 51st state!

Does that mean the citizens start paying US income taxes, and paying for things like US provided infrastructue repair? Because if it does, it's long past when this should have happened.

But I suppose the current system where they vote to refuse to become a state, don't pay US income taxes, and then have liberals claim the US is evil when there are finite funds to pay for infrastructure repair is far more fashionable, re modern thinking, where government provides something for nothing, and all problems are magically solved. /s


Puerto Rico has held two referendums in the last decade both of which voted to pursue statehood. In the second referendum the 'anti- side knew they would lose the popular vote so they 'protested ' by 'not participating ' and then claim the vote was invalid because they did not choose to vote.

Unfortunately neither the Republican nor Democratic majority congresses of the last decade have done anything to define what steps Puerto Rico must take to be accepted as a state. The way our system works Congress has to lay out the requirements, then the prospective state has to meet those conditions. In the past this often meant a minimum population and an acceptable constitution. For example Utah was denied statehood until they created a constitution outlawing Polygamy.

Until Congress acts there is little point in Puerto Rico voting yet again, after all Congress could set up conditions that would make statehood very unattractive to the population like English is the only official language on all government documents. Right now Puerto Rico has a bilingual document rule like Canadian federal documents have.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Zarquon » Tue 26 Nov 2019, 19:43:58

A couple of comments on this thread:
"IDEA 1 - REPLACE INCOME TAX WITH A PRODUCTIVITY TAX"

Basically, you just invented corporate taxes. More generally, it's about taxing labor vs. taxing capital. Not trying to be snarky here, but I think the debate is older than the steam engine. Who pays for the state, workers or owners?
"...worse than the case you make above because you not only lose the formal income tax of the employee, you lose both the employee and employer portions of the Medicare tax, both the Employer/Employee portions of the Social Insurance tax, and on top of all that money you lose the social benefits..."

It's much worse than even that, because Ole Retired (?) Widow MacGreedy, replaced by a robot (or steam engine), now has only a fraction of her former purchasing power, which hurts the grocery store, the shopping mall, the makers of canned cat food, the shareholders of cat food factories etc. etc. Impoverished populations make bad customers. But lowering the costs of *your* employees is good for *you*, while it is bad for everybody else, including other businesses. Increased productivity is a nice thing, as long as there is somebody left to buy all the stuff. Today, at historically low interest rates, hovering near zero, corporations borrow to buy back their own stock instead of increasing production. Why? Perhaps Widow MacGreedy knows something the majority of think-tank economists don't.
"Um. Speaking of knowledge, that's coffee klatch. (I just looked it up to verify)."

Technically, it's "Klatsch" (German). But feel free to spell it as you like.
"We can learn a lot from Europe when it comes to taxes. They use a Value Added Tax which taxes each step of a product's manufacture and sale. This is a little like the Productivity tax being discussed above"

To clarify, from what I remember that's not how it works. There used to be such a tax (50 years ago) involved in every step of production, i.e. iron ore sold to steel makers, steel to auto parts makers, parts to car makers, cars to customers, with a few percent of each transaction going to the tax man. That lead to strong incentives for car makers to buy the parts makers, the steel makers and the iron ore mine to save taxes. People smarter than me then decided that vertical integration of that kind wasn't the way to go. Today, a tax is still paid, but it works like this:

A load of iron ore is produced and sold for $1000, plus $100 in taxes, which go to the state.

The steel mill pays $1100 for it, turns it into steel and sells it for $1500, plus $150 tax. At the end of the year the steel mill paid $100 in revenue taxes (to the iron mine) and took in $150. It pays the difference ($50) to the state.

The car maker buys the steel for $1650 and turns it into a car that it sells for $2500, plus $250 in tax. At the end of the year the car maker paid $150 in revenue taxes (to the steel mill) and took in $250. It pays the difference ($100) to the state.

Joe Sixpack pays $2500 for the car, plus $250 in tax.

If you add up the taxes paid by the companies ($100+ $50 + $100 = $250) and ask yourself from whose pockets the money comes… you see how it works? It’s hardly a “Productivity tax”.
“Something about government needs to be revamped. Term limits would be a good start.”

Term limits for US presidents were imposed because Republicans were afraid of another FDR - too popular with the unwashed. Be careful what you wish for.
“Declare that the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico together are the 51st state!”

And the UK would be assigned a new number? (Sorry, couldn't resist that one)
“Something like 75% of guns used in felonies have been acquired illegally. Obviously passing more restrictive legislation won’t help, we can’t enforce the laws we have.”


Almost all guns in the US were produced and sold legally before eventually being stolen, sold illegally, getting lost etc. and becoming illegal guns. Legislation didn’t prevent that. Therefore the only place where an effective solution can happen is the factory/place of original sale. And you know what that means. Works well in Japan.
“Why is this underclass so persistent in the USA?”

IMHO it has a lot to do with the very first question you asked in this thread.
Last edited by Tanada on Wed 27 Nov 2019, 09:57:41, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: fixed broken quote
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Zarquon » Tue 26 Nov 2019, 20:21:36

An article from 2009 I only recently discovered:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... up/307364/

Well worth reading (really, read it). An economist arguing that the problem besetting banana republics everywhere is and always was that a bunch of oligarchs (the proverbial 20 or 200 ruling families) own the country, own the political system and then borrow like there's no tomorrow in order to build their business empires. One day their credit is no longer good and the whole thing crashes. Then the International Monetary Fund comes in to fix what the oligarchs had messed up. Most of the pain is felt by those who never had a say in the matter.

He then argues (in 2009, long before the billionaire US cabinet of 2016) that this is what happened to the US. It has become a typical banana republic.

The piece would be easy to dismiss if the author hadn't been chief economist of the IMF.

"Not surprisingly, Wall Street ran with these opportunities. From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits. In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent. In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period. This decade, it reached 41 percent."

41% of domestic corporate profits. I think a lot of people who discuss the US economy by arguing about coal mines and car factories and shopping malls are like the proverbial blind men who can each only feel one body part of an elephant - the trunk, a leg, the tail - and then debate and try to figure out what kind of animal they stand next to.

"Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy."
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Ibon » Tue 26 Nov 2019, 20:59:36

Zarquon wrote:"Of course, the U.S. is unique. And just as we have the world’s most advanced economy, military, and technology, we also have its most advanced oligarchy."


That advanced oligarchy wants us all divided and polarized, distracted and entertained.

And we are all suckers.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Wed 27 Nov 2019, 08:51:26

Zarquon,

On your first post I think you missed the point. At one time production relied heavily upon workers. When you taxed production you taxed the work force. Now with greater industrialization and manufacturing efficiencies the work force is shrinking but production is growing (or so they say, another story). To to continue to tax production you have to follow where it is going. Tax the production.

Relative to your second post, spot on. I can’t verify your profit percentages but it gives me these 2 thoughts.
1- so that’s where all the quantitative easing money went.
2- if the profit is QE money then it clearly is not “real” money. Which means the wealth spread isn’t as big as one would think.

But also there is another book you might like: Wealth and Democracy. I think it’s supports your quote about profits above.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Wed 27 Nov 2019, 11:24:30

IDEA 2

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION REFORMS
Pick 7 unindicted ex-goveners under 70 in a ramdom draw. They get to pick running mate from same group. Pick the best 3 within 3 months. Then do a run off in another 3 months.

IDEA 3

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES REFORMS
Must be CITIZENS between 21 and 65. No felony convictions.
Set it up like the Selective Service, in fact have the Selective Service run it.

In each state a reverse lottery is held, the chosen one then takes a drug test. There can be a few allowable exemptions, a death certificate will do.
Then you serve your 2 years.

At the end of 2 years you are free to go back to civilian life OR you may opt to request permission to stay as a Representative. If you wish to stay there is a vote, simple “stay” or “go.” You can serve a total of 6 terms, 12 years. If the vote is “go” then there is another lottery and the process starts over.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby evilgenius » Sun 01 Dec 2019, 12:13:14

I'd like to see the US experiment with a one percent national sales tax on internet purchases. The intention would be to rebate those monies back to the individual states, as sales tax revenues from brick and mortar went down. The best you can hope for is a rebate to the individual states, as you cannot really expect the Federal Government to become involved in distribution at the truly local level. That probably is best left up to each individual state.

I know this would most likely exacerbate political problems between rural and urban areas within the states, but unless you can prove that something like civil rights are at stake it would be hard to legitimately involve the Federal Government in making those decisions regarding distribution. Many states do have a problem with large city power structure gobbling up available monies for all sorts of projects which rural areas need done. This sort of thing might only exacerbate those inequalities. The trouble is, the individual states need to work those problems out for themselves, so that they have more just systems anyway. Increasing the amount of money might actually prove an incentive to take care of those problems.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby asg70 » Mon 02 Dec 2019, 10:09:18

The root of the problem is the electoral system. Fix that and you clear the way for other fixes. There must be an IQ test of sort which all citizens must pass in order to be given the privilege (not the right) to vote. This should wipe out the ability of flat-earth knuckle-draggers driving the elections towards populist dictators like Trump. Of course, even if there is support for this, people will argue endlessly over the nature of the test. This is because we're so far gone that we can no longer all agree on the nature of the world around us (think creationism and AGW denialism).

Right now we have people jump through more hoops to have a driver's license than to vote, but how people vote has far more impact on our welfare than driving.

Not only that, but we have to find a way to discourage career politicians but to encourage broader participation in public service. Right now the system encourages narcissists and the rich to run for office. The founding fathers wanted things to be more of a grass roots system where joe public put in some time and then someone else replaced them. I don't know how to fix this, maybe something like jury duty or the draft where a certain random selection of people are always called upon to enter politics and then term limits boots them out. But turnover is really key to preventing the power corrupts problem from festering. De-emphasize cult of personality and make it more issue-based.

HALL OF SHAME:
-Short welched on a bet and should be shunned.
-Frequent-flyers should not cry crocodile-tears over climate-change.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 02 Dec 2019, 11:38:24

Well that was sort on thrust on reforming the House.

The can’t see an IQ test, wide open to abuse.

But also not all “smart” people are so smart nor are “dummies” so dumb.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 02 Dec 2019, 13:30:17

As an employer here in 3rd world panama I am familiar with workers rights as well as some of the benefits the government has legislated for workers. To name a few:

Workers receive 4 weeks paid vacation and a 13th month salary

Social security is part of the public health care system. Employee contribution is 11.5% of wages. Employers pay 13.5 %. A worker recently cut his hand and went to the local public hospital for 6 stitches. His copay was $ 1 dollar per stitch = $6

Minimum wages established by industry and job.

Government fixes prices on staples like rice, chicken , beans etc. Example, 5lb of rice costs $2.00

There are very few homeless people visible on the streets of the Capitol or in large towns.

Panama is a poor country and has these policies in place. The USA is a rich country but for many also a 3rd world country all wrapped up in a package that leaves those most disadvantaged hanging in the breeze.

At some point up ahead public policy in support of the poorest members of society will be an issue of national domestic security. But not as long as the public remains pacified and compliant.

Somewhere along the way social protest demanding better legislation for the poor disappeared. The poor in the USA have no representation.

That wont change until the poor start mobilizing in ways to scare the shit out of the rest of society so they no longer feel safe to move about in public spaces.
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Re: Fixing America

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 02 Dec 2019, 14:38:21

Ibon,
The USA was much as you describe just 100 years ago. Shirtwaist factoids, cigar shops, knitting mills, mine workers, seasonal pickers.

What we have, the wealth, is a brief interlude.
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