Give me your White, scared and wealthy
by johnny venom, Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 11:42:53 PM EDT
Tonight the Republicans nominated their candidate for President. We heard them all speak. They pulled no punches, that is for sure. Yet it isn't what they said that intrigued me, it's what they didn't say!
The Republican Convention in one second.
One could summarize the whole three days with these lines:
- John McCain served in Vietnam, got shot down, and became a POW
- Terrorists could still strike us, watch out!
- The Democrats will raise all your taxes, and you will lose your livelihoods.
- Energy independence will come at the tip of a an oil rig drill.
- Cutting spending on social programs equals freedom.
- Liberals love to kill babies.
- Oh...and John McCain was a POW.
So many concerns yet no real answers
Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let us talk about money issues. We all know what the GOP stands for, hence why I always refer to them as Swindler's Inc, and that isn't including all the thieving this administration has done! But I still wanted to hear what they would do on the economic front. How would they bring back manufacturing jobs? What about investing in our republic's decaying infrastructure like bridges and levees? What about real tax relief for the middle class? Medicare and Social Security, any mention on that because you can bet your ass if nothing is done they will have an economic impact! What would they do about real energy independence? Last but not least, how about healthcare?
Watching the convention, if I were to compare the substance of what was said to a Thanksgiving turkey, this would be one thin bird. Now I didn't expect the lesser-knowns go into specifics, but I did hope (ouch, that's a new four-letter word to Palin & Co) that the lieutenants would share what the party would offer on these subjects. Yet all we got were bits and piece using the words we hold dear. When they said "jobs," it was only a one liner that included either topic 3 or 5 mentioned above.
On Tuesday, Fred Thompson, you could tell, wanted to say we were a nation of whiners. He used different words and one could sense that the GOP wanted to be more contentious; remember to them everything is grand and that those who believed otherwise were more or less the enemy. During the speeches, I was answering SMS texts on my mobile and dealing with instant messages on my computer screen from my conservative friends. This was their week and they were gonna let me know about it. Drawing from their "chats," I came to the conclusion that two types of economic crusades were being run by this crowd.
Both were united in the sense that America was having it's own "cold war" between "European Socialists" and "true freedom-loving Americans." Were they sort of diverged (and this is only speculation on my part) is that one was focusing on the philosophical end of it, while the other was dealing with the more tactical end. The former were those who equated freedom to capitalism and being allowed to do what you want to make a buck, so I'll call them the Kudlowites. The second were those who believed in their minds that the system in place was making them money; this was spearheaded by the return of my old nemesis the Plastics Lady.
Like the speeches given the substances of these messages sent to me were, to say the least, beyond vapid. All had that aggressive tone, and were the same slogans but with the some words changed here or there.
"See John, Republicans love America because they believe in markets!!!!"
"Euro socialists will raise my taxes and hurt my family"
"No more government spending on welfare, give me back my money"
And my favorite, though I think he meant something else: "Money for terrorism not healthcare!"
This was of course followed by "Yeah, did you hear Romney?" or "Rudy Rox!!!" and the usual dribble from these people. The Kudlowites did their best to frame this as a grand ideological battle. Both sides would pepper me with questions to which if they bothered to go to Obama's website they would have had their answers.
On bringing jobs back
Judging from the speeches and such, a McCain-Palin Administration would continue to adhere to the same jobs plan that Bush used. That is no jobs plan at all. As mentioned, nothing of detail was disbursed. What was given was that if we lowered taxes even further, those who own small businesses or manage multi-national corporations would hire more Americans. Contrary to that, they, well actually Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, warned that Obama will raise your taxes and that jobs will be cut.
It's odd, yet revealing, how they phrased it. I'm going to have to find a video of it, but if I didn't know better, job loss seemed to be form of retribution instead of a result of tax policy. The GOP still adheres to Reaganomics...or shall I call it Palinomics? Tax cuts equals job growth. That free trade initiatives like NAFTA and with China should be promoted with similar agreements.
Yes, she mentioned China and our addiction to borrowing money from them. But she also said tariffs were a big no-no. She then went on to say that protectionism, no wait it was also Thompson and that one other person, who also noted that we cannot go down this path. They never said why, one of those "do as I say" moments that Republican officials like to do. Palin highlighted how her sister and brother-in-law just opened up a service station, and that if those evil "Euro-socialists" raise their taxes, that they will be forced to fire the high school girl at the register or something or poor Pedro the illegal Mexican they are paying under the table who works on any cars in the garage.
Hold on, I'm wrong, Palin did get specific on where jobs would be created, through pipe line construction! Yes, we now know that "drill drill drill" means jobs jobs jobs to these folks. Ok, doesn't surprise me that they would utilize the need for employment growth with an energy source that is both growing obsolete and dangerous to procure.
Alternative Energy means alternate sites to drill for oil
For every 5 or 6 John McCain POW story or 2 or 3 Iraq/War on Terror story, there was a piece on drilling for more oil. Make no mistake, THAT is the GOP's alternative energy plan! They talk about clean coal, solar and wind, but count how many times they utter the word "investment"? Now count how many times they use that word with terms like "pipeline" or "outer-continental shelf" (ok, you had to be on C-SPAN to catch that one) or "oil rigs" or "drill"? Pretty stark in comparison to what was said in Denver.
I could go on about how McCain would continue these policies, but he has only promoted it in Congress. Here, for once Palin boosters can safely say she has executive experience. She has gone on to promote and push for more pipelines and drilling projects. And there is no doubt, judging from her speech, that she would hold Cheney-esc energy meetings with oil executives. She probably be at the actual ribbon-cutting ceremony when the first drill goes online at what could soon be dubbed "the Former Arctic Wildlife Refuge". Any doubts on this, one simply could go on YouTube and see that it hasn't just been tonight where she's referred to ANWR.
Our opponents say, again and again, that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems - as if we all didn't know that already.
But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines ... build more new-clear plants ... create jobs with clean coal ... and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.
We need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers. I've noticed a pattern with our opponent.
- excerpt from Palin's RNC speech, courtesy of the Huffington Post, 2008.
Maybe I expected too much from her. She did highlight the dangers posed by the current sources of our petroleum. Well, she highlighted how they would be cut off, not so much the environmental impact.
With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.
To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world energy supplies ... or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia ... or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries ... we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.
- excerpt from Palin's RNC speech, courtesy of the Huffington Post, 2008.
When she said that, I received two emails, one from the Plastics lady and then one from the Kudlowites. Both, remarkably managed to link that part to her being capable of becoming Commander-in-Chief. A cold uncomfortable tingle came down my already crooked broken spine. Just the thought of her with the finger on the button raises my stress levels. Yet if one looked at the "risks", which are definitely possible, its also possible to escape such a dilemma.
Regarding the Russians, there are already plans on the table or in the works to build alternative lines from Central Asia through Turkey; I'm pretty sure the folks in Berlin or Brussels or Paris know the situation and are looking for alternative routes. Now onto Venezuela, though Hugo Chavez has threatened to cut off sales of his most prized commodity to us, there is nothing to stop him from doing so and selling to the Chinese. But he won't for several reasons, despite his bluster he needs the money and fast and we're gullible to pay whatever he wants, even if it's in Euros. Secondly, the type of petroleum he sells is hard to refine and only a few nations have the refinery capabilities to handle his type of crude, China doesn't yet nor will have one ready soon. As for Iran and the the facilities in Saudi Arabia, well the former will only happen if we start bombing them and the latter already happened in February of 2006. Saudi Aramco has alternate sites and trust me Bush probably has more resources plowed into securing sites like that than he does an American city! Now Iran, well we already don't buy oil directly from Iran, and I highly doubt they will suddenly stop selling petroleum to the Chinese.
Lets go back to that first part about "American resources" and "American workers." Obviously the Mayor of South Park didn't go into detail except when it came to the pipeline bit. It could be that the jobs will come simply from that. Still, there are no guarantees by these folks on say some energy company using an American engineer to design some solar panel on a CAD system, and then having American workers put the thing together. Yet, during Denver, I heard many folks say that they would make sure it was actually done by American labor.
Very rarely do we here what the GOP will do on these potential energy sources. Here I will give credit to CNBC, they had a McCain spokesperson on their morning show called Squawk where one of the anchors (I want to say Joe Kernin, but not sure) prodded the guy further. The talking head said that promotion of alternative energy would come from tax credits. On McCain's website the plan is like his spokesperson said, alternative energy sources like solar or wind or geothermal would be promoted via tax credits. The same for alternative fuels for automobiles. Tax credits for usage and tax credits for research and development by corporations. Oddly enough, the closest his platform gets to actually having taxpayer money go into something was for clean coal and nuclear power plans, well actually the site says :
Coal produces the majority of our electricity today. Some believe that marketing viable clean coal technologies could be over 15 years away. John McCain believes that this is too long to wait, and we need to commit significant federal resources to the science, research and development that advance this critical technology.
So if you're a budding inventor who has an idea on how to harness solar, unless you want to write off the research on your 1040 form, forget it. Though I'm sure Palin will find a way to reimburse you for the dynamite and construction equipment and Caribou hunters for when you lay that new track of pipeline across Alaska. Or probably cover your costs for any future toxic waste cleanup.
The biggest things that were missing from her speech
If one has the time to go to that Huffington Post site that has the text of Sarah Palin's speech and do a Ctrl-F on your browser, please type in these words for me: Social Security, Medicare, Healthcare, and taxes. I bet your browser found at least 15 on that last one, but zilch on the others. And this is, outside of her being Commander-in-Chief, the scary part of her speech. Well ok, perhaps I'm exaggerating here, but do you not think it's critical that a wannabe Presidential Administration should cover things like this?
I've watched hours of that damn convention, and nary a word was mentioned about Social Security tonight. Neither Medicare or even any kind of healthcare! This speaks volumes as to where the GOP's priorities are (laying pipelines across my backyard and dropping pipe bombs on the Iranians). Both Medicare and Social Security are on the verge of a catastrophic financial meltdown! And the closest thing we got to an answer to this impending dire situation is Mitt Romney warning us about those oh so spooky European Socialists!
To all you out there, if someone big on the Republican totem poll actually did highlight a major point on healthcare coverage or social security please let me know. Because as far as I can tell, it was completely ignored.
Now go onto the New York Time's website which has Barack's speech from Denver, do a Ctrl F and tell me what you find. At least 9 references to Healthcare, and 2 on Social Security. If there was a Medicare one, I didn't find it. But unlike the cloak of invisibility that was placed over the issue at the GOP confab, you know damn well that that was discussed at the Democrat's convention!
As for taxes, yeah, the Republicans will probably cut your taxes, though don't expect to get real relief as the money you save will probably go into paying premiums for health coverage. This is where the two, I think on aggregate level, two parties diverge when it comes to economics. The flow of funds, that is where should money be deployed. The Kudlowites will tell you that one should hand the money back to the tax payer, and reduce the tax burden on everyone. That sounds good at first, I mean nobody likes to see their paychecks cut. The Right looks at it from a revenue point of view, irregardless of expenditures. Pay me first, I'll worry about my expenses later kinda thinking.
Now the Progressives will take the opposite point of view, they want to know before they get their money where it is ultimately going. They want to know the costs first before making their move. Costs like healthcare, housing, interest on credit, food, etc., these are things Progressives think about. The Progressive will think "ok, I got paid my money, but now have to divert some of that towards buying health insurance, towards my retirement, and hoping I can make the rent." He or she will then turn the tables on the situation and utilize the power of bulk purchase for healthcare, thus reducing that cost. The same is with retirement, but the Progressive is mature enough to realize that one has to sacrifice fast fantastic gains for safety of funds and a return that beats out the rate of inflation.
The same is for investments in things like infrastructure. Nowhere in tonight's speech by Palin, nor in any recent major talks by a GOP lieutenant has there been talk of rebuilding our roads or highways. Rail, only if corporation does it and is reimbursed and given a tax credit. Once again, the difference between the Progressive and the Kudlowite. The Kudlowite thinks that it's her or his money, why should it go to anything other than defense and making sure I can sue? The Progressive will think, once more about costs to society and real returns on a longer term scale, that investment in roads and proper education will only have a benefit to the economy.
So it comes down to the realistic and fantasy outlook on costs. Look at their plans for healthcare or energy or any kind of economic growth, it all rests on tax cuts. There is no consideration to business cycles, because for them money handed back will act as some sort of economic Tylenol. Once gain, its Pay me now, I'll worry about the costs later. This is no different than building a large skyscraper on quicksand, you need a strong base at the bottom to keep the upper offices from collapsing. Kudlowites are, despite their claims, short-term oriented folks. They may be able to spot a problem brewing in the Persian Gulf, but they can't seem to figure out little Jimmy in that bad neighborhood will become another statistic.
<sup>Cross posted on The Economic Populist - A Community Site for Economics Freaks and Geeks</sup>