Friday, December 13, 2013

The Myths on the Right re: Race, Slavery, Apartheid, Social Justice

We've all seen Michele Bachmann making a fool of herself during her disastrous presidential campaign on this topic.

The right is divided on the topic of modern slavery-lite: apartheid. We see this with Erik Rush over at the RWNJ publication WND, as caught by Wonkette. We see it in the right wing support for Reagan vetoing Apartheid sanctions. The right also continues to defend historic slavery as 'not that bad', as we have seen recently in the kerfuffle between Sarah Palin and MSNBC commenter Martin Bashir that led to the resignation of Bashir - but no correction in the position of Palin, who apparently continues to believe false equivalencies between actual slavery, and debt between nations. Bashir's point, however crudely made in his outrage, was that Palin lacked any valid knowledge or appreciation of the historic reality that was the oppression of slavery.

 

And we have seen similar ignorant comments made that slavery wasn't that bad from other figures on the right; it is a deeply revered myth that is completely counter to reality, but remains a tenet of right wing ideology. Here is an example of what drives the right wing mythology, a perfect example of their revisionist history. If you don't think slavery was that bad, how can you think it is right or necessary or important to fight apartheid - or honor those who did? If you don't believe that slavery or apartheid was bad, or worse, that it was good and just, then how can you oppose modern racial inequality or social and economic injustice? From the Wilkens biography of Robert E. Lee, Call of Duty: The Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee, a book that Michele Bachmann extolled during her failed presidential campaign:
Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.
Imagine first the wounds, and then having salt rubbed in them
Apparently this is some people's notion of mutual respect, without animosity.......
That reflects the thinking and the factually deficient revisionist history education of not only Bachmann, but also Sarah Palin.   The historic reality is that our Founding Fathers were the product of the Enlightenment. Knowledge had not advanced under the Enlightenment to present a more accurate and less superficial understanding of race. It was not an ignorance restricted to our understanding of human beings; there was a lack of clarity not only on matters of race and gender, but also about the notion of species and what constituted breeds of animals as well.

The cold, hard, unpleasant reality from our safe position of hindsight is that even the most liberal and educated Founding Fathers -- and for all intents and purposes they were primarily 'Fathers ' - male, and affluent white male at that - accepted the prevailing wisdom that women were inferior and incapable of dealing with weighty matters like voting or holding office, and they were far from confident that people of other races were equal to themselves, and in some cases believed that not only like women they were inferior human beings, but not entirely clear on whether or not people of color were perhaps less than fully human.   Those who opposed slavery did not necessarily see the slaves as their equals, nor did they consistently advocate for equality of property ownership or voting rights for slaves, any more than they did so for women. When Chief Justice Taney wrote the horrible Dred Scott decision in 1857, less than 75 years after the ratification of the Constitution, he wrote that the Founding Fathers believed black slaves were:
"beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
We recognize that Taney was horribly wrong, but as he was born in 1777, he lived through the Revolution as a very young child, but was old enough to remember and understand the issues and mindset surrounding the drafting and ratification of the U.S. Constitution (drafting 787, ratification 1789) and the subsequent addition of the Bill of Rights (drafted 1789, ratified 1791). He was not writing a decision merely from second hand history; he lived in the same era as those Founding Fathers, and was brought up in the prevailing understanding as regards equality between the races and the genders. If we are going to be fully honest, Abraham Lincoln himself did not believe black people were the intellectual equal of white people EITHER. In the famous debate in Charleston, S.C. in 1858, he made the following statement:
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.” “I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 3, p. 146]"
Now, to be fair to Lincoln, he also made the following statement, two months before the Lincoln Douglas debate:
“My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man—this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position—discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.” [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 2, p. 501]"
Even those who in the 18th and 19th century were against slavery were not automatically in favor of full social, economic, or political equality.
They were more in favor of something akin to apartheid, a 'natural order' reflection of racial superiority / inferiority. If you look at their political positions, our fellow Americans on the radical right are still struggling with accepting the full legal, political, social and economic equality of people of color, women, and our fellow men and women on the basis of sexual orientation.   Michele Bachmann, with her usual ineptitude, got wrong who among our founding fathers worked to end slavery - and how hard they did or did not work at that. I had an interesting exchange on a right wing media site (Newsbusters) where a commenter listed as the Founding Fathers who fought tirelessly as 'abolitionists' to end slavery these men who were more appropriately included as Founding Fathers than John Quincy Adams:
  • Aaron Burr,
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alexander Hamilton,
  • John Jay
  • George Mason
  • Benjamin Rush
All but Benjamin Rush at some point in time, owned slaves. (Benjamin Franklin named his two, respectively, King and George.) While they DID all, in some capacity, work to end slavery, they cannot, I would argue, be construed or represented as working TIRELESSLY to end slavery, if in the course of doing so, your approach is "but YOU first", rather than immediate emancipation of any you inherit, and if you don't voluntarily acquire any in the first place. It is far more accurate to assert they were conflicted about slavery, but not rushing - TIRELESSLY - to end it. But even then, opposing slavery did not equate to an automatic or synonymous belief in racial equality.   We still see that thinking on the right; this is an example of the comments on the pros and cons of apartheid :
"Its all very simple. Blacvks have followed the White man all over this World because they realise they need Whitey to survive.Where they have got rid of him then you create a Zimbabwe,Somalia or just about any other African Country you can mention. Thus they sat in their caves in Africa and cast an eye on South Africa and Rhodesia and thought they would like some of that but as ever they want it for nothing.They are not prepared to work for it and neither do they have the ingenuity to build it.Professor Richard Lynn of Leeds University in an academic study found that Sub Saharan Africans have on average intellect scores of 67.In the West anyone with a score of less than 70 is regarded as retarded so that in a nutshell tells you everything."
and
Not thousands, but millions. And millions of illegals lived and worked during apartheid. The reason was because South Africa had lots of job openings, high salaries while the rest of Africa had no work. Apartheid was bad but it wasnt that bad. Aslong as you kept your mouth shut about the government you could live a pretty good life. There wernt people starving and high crime rates and no jobs like there is now in South Africa.
I've seen similar comments on a variety of right wing web sites. It is paralleled by the thinking on immigration that similarly slanders and devalues Hispanics and Latinos as inferior in IQ, and more prone to criminal activity. It's not hard to find similar work that discredits and devalues African Americans. It's totally junk science, but the right loves it, and believes it, because it fits their prejudices and biases against the dread 'other', the 'them' of us versus them. Some on the right actually believe that South Africans were there first, and that it was the indigenous black population who were the interlopers. And there are those who continue to assert that white rule and apartheid were better, because the modern government of South Africa is struggling with some of the same problems that other new nations face (and some not so new), including problems with corruption.   Those who support Reagan's decision to withhold sanctions on the basis of claims of communism among those rebelling against the racism of Apartheid fail to acknowledge both how genuinely horrific the oppression was under Apartheid, but also fail to acknowledge how dependent on the U.S. the White South Africans were to continue that oppression. From the Stanford website on the history of Apartheid:
As the managing director of the South African subsidiary of Burroughs Corporations said, We are entirely dependent on the U.S. The economy would grind to a halt without access to the computer technology of the West. No bank could function; the government couldn't collect its money and couldn't account for it; business couldn't operate; payrolls could not be paid. Retail and wholesale marketing and related services would be disrupted.
The reality is that U.S. corporations were making money from Apartheid - and not just IBM or other tech companies. It was true of Coke, and Ford and many others. Reagan didn't want to rock the boat, and Reagan also benefited from pandering to the racist right that continued than and continues now to struggle with acceptance of real and full equality. Reagan, had he been the great mind that the right claims, could and should have opposed Apartheid, supported sanctions, and further, sought a third alternative to the options of pro-Apartheid or pro-Communism.   ONE of the reasons for Nelson Mandela to be so celebrated as he is, is that HE made the outreach to Americans, in spite of the support that this nation provided to the white South African Government. Mandela had the capacity to think outside the polarized box that trapped Reagan. So long as we have revisionist history, be it old history, of the Founding Fathers, or more recent bogus revisionist history about Reagan, or modern junk science that tries to justify blacks or Latinos or any other group as inherently inferior, the right continues to embrace inequality, and social, economic and political injustice.   We need to fight back, and fight back hard, against that revisionist history AND against the deeply rooted systemic racism and sexism of the right. Until they embrace reality, including non-revisionist history, that accept the remarkable accomplishments of our Founding Fathers without having to re-write who they were into something false and mythic, the right will continue to be pro-disparity, and even pro-oppression. They will continue to perpetuate the myth that inequality is deserved, and that they are the guardians of truth, light, and an America that never existed.

17 comments:

  1. You gotta admit that with Missy, it's very tough to tell when she's NOT just spouting bullshit like a fountain of bullshitness. She really needs to spend more time with the family.

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  2. You think conservatives are racists look in your own party you morons look at the civil rights battles in the sixties democrats tried to stop those and who founded the kkk democrats you people are so quick to jump on the race bandwagon that stop and look within your own party.

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    1. Cory, it is and always has been not a problem of Democrats vs. Republicans, but of conservatives versus liberals in the civil right battle.

      The reality is that it was the Democrats - notably Hubert Humphrey, from Minnesota - who drafted the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. The DEMOCRATS had civil rights, social justice, and racial equality as part of their formal political platform as far back as the second half of the 1940s. The REPUBLICANS NEVER HAVE. The Civil Rights legislation of the mid 1960s passed with overwhelmingly more Democratic votes than Republican votes, with the help of a now extinct group of moderate and liberal Republicans like Everett Dirksen.

      Those moderates and liberals in the GOP were DRIVEN OUT by the conservatives in the GOP.

      Those racists in the Democratic party weren't driven out, per se, by the kind of purity purges that delight the GOP and conservatives, but they happily left to BECOME REPUBLICANS in protest of the Democrats pushing through civil rights legislation.

      The old democratic racists are now YOUR racists on the right. So, NO, there is no need to look at racism on the left; it is the total purview of the right, and really always has been. Racists on the left were DINOS, Democrats in name only. Now they are openly Republican.

      If you'd like me to document that for you, I'd be delighted to do so. Otherwise, cut the crap with the stupid revisionist history. Republicans, with relatively few exceptions, have NEVER been anything but the party of racism, and now are so more than ever.

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  3. Corey,

    LOOK at who the conservative, southern democrats joined following the sponsorship by the northern liberal democrats of the civil rights act... they the consdervatives, joined the Republican Party. Clarly, the party of the secessionist south was the Democratic Party, but even an 8th grade education will let you know the parties essentially swapped ideologies during the 1900's (even the late 1800's for some). The Republicans became the party of busiiness and supressing unions. This meant they aligned with keeping taxes low and wages lower. This plaeyed well to a conservative south which wanted blacks "kept in their place."

    I'm old enough to remember the votes in the 1980's when "Dixiecrats" like Lyndsay Graham voted with Ronald Reagan to limit voting rights and union rights. I remember Strom Thurmond (among many) joining the Republican Party.

    Your comment above is the most simplistic, sound-bite level tripe possible. The folks who are in the kKK NOW and for 30 years, vote for Republicans.s Things change.. you might want to catch up. It's the Republicans who have had significant party figures send out pictures of Obama with only his eyes showing on a black background, it's Rush Limbaugh who called him a "halfrican." Unless you think all blacks are sstupid and don't know who stands up for them or which party will suppoort them, then explain why 90% plus of blacks vote democratic and why the vast majority of black represeentatives are

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    1. There are more important differences between the two parties historically as well. Back in the day of Lincoln, at the very beginning of the GOP, (which was NOT the first party designation under which Lincoln ran for office, btw), the GOP was a LIBERAL party. More than that, it had factions within it that were MORE LIBERAL, notably the Radical Republicans who were even further to the LEFT than mainstream Republicans during reconstruction:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_Republicans
      "The Radical Republicans were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party from about 1854 (before the American Civil War) until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They called themselves "radicals" and were opposed during the war by moderates and conservative factions led by Abraham Lincoln and after the war by "conservatives" (in the South) and "liberals" (in the North). Radicals strongly opposed slavery during the war and after the war distrusted ex-Confederates,
      demanding harsh policies for the former rebels, and emphasizing civil rights and voting rights for freedmen (recently freed slaves)."

      That there were significant groups of people jumping from one party to the other, even back in the 19th century, over race and the conservative/liberal divide is exemplified here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Republican_Party_%28United_States%29

      For the liberal faction of United States Republican Party, see Rockefeller Republican.

      The Liberal Republican Party of the United States was a political party that was organized in Cincinnati in May 1872, to oppose the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant and his Radical Republican supporters in the presidential election of 1872. The Liberal Republican party's candidate was Horace Greeley, longtime publisher of the New York Tribune. Following his nomination by the Liberal Republicans, Greeley was also nominated by the Democratic Party. Greeley was seen as an oddball reformer with no government experience and a long record of vehement attacks against the very Democrats he now called on for support. Greeley was defeated, receiving approximately 43% of the popular vote, and winning only in the states of Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Maryland. Grant received 286 of the 352 electoral college votes.

      The Liberal Republican Party vanished immediately after the election. However, historians suggest that, by loosening the allegiance of liberal elements to the Republican Party, the Liberal Republicans made it possible for many of these leaders to move to the Democratic Party. The others returned to the GOP.

      If you look at the actual history of both parties, consistently, conservatives have been the racists. It is misleading to sort racists form non-racists by party.

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    2. continued:

      That said, if you follow the history of the two dominant parties, and the occasional significant defections into third parties, like the Bull Moose Party, the No Nothings Party, etc., through to the modern Tea Party, it is easier to see that the liberals, as reflected in both congressional votes and party platforms, tended to gravitate away from the GOP to the Democratic party in the latter 1800s and early 1900s.

      The Democrats also dealt with their conservative racists differently, trying to convert them, so to speak, from within the party to change their racist practices, and where the dominant party policy, as reflected in actual party platforms and legislation, was consistently anti-racist.

      It is unfair for the modern conservatives to try to take credit for the voting record of the moderate and liberal Republicans of the late 50s and early to mid-60s, because they did not support those members of their party, but instead actively opposed them as defectors, the RINOs of their day. And the official mainstream GOP actively engaged in race-baiting recruitment of racist conservatives, including the Southern Strategy, and actively continued to support racist legislation and policies, including attempts at voter suppression and other discriminatory racist policies.

      So, please, when looking at who WELCOMES racists, who actively RECRUITS racists, who tolerates racist statements and the introduction and passage of racist legislation, including putting racists in positions of authority within the party, it is conservatives, not liberals. Conservatives CONSISTENTLY, regardless of nominal party denomination,

      Because the moderate and liberal Republicans have been made unwelcome and driven out of participation -- see the purge here in MN as an example, where recent governors were formally excluded from convention participation in the past several years -- it is a fair accusation that the right accepts, tolerates and even actively seeks party membership and leadership from racists.

      If the GOP were to make groups like the KKK and the John Birchers, and Stormfront and other white supremacists clearly and publicly as unwelcome as they have made their moderates, then and ONLY then would it be fair to say that the right is no longer racist. But so long as THOSE people are welcome, and the moderates are not, then clearly the right is pro-racist and those who are not themselves racist are perfectly willing to make common cause with them, and therefore deserve to be lumped together with them, because without that support, the racists would be gone from the right.

      An example, the civil rights act of 1964, drafted by, and the primary sponsor of the legislation, liberal democrat Hubert Humphrey, who had similarly drafted the civil rights plank of the party's platform dating back to 1948.

      Here is the vote on the civil rights act:

      By party and region

      Note: "Southern", as used in this section, refers to members of Congress from the eleven states that made up the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. "Northern" refers to members from the other 39 states, regardless of the geographic location of those states.

      The original House version: (yea / nay, with yeas listed first)

      Southern Democrats: 7–87 (7–93%)
      Southern Republicans: 0–10 (0–100%)

      Northern Democrats: 145–9 (94–6%)
      Northern Republicans: 138–24 (85–15%)

      The Senate version:

      Southern Democrats: 1–20 (5–95%) (only Ralph Yarborough of Texas voted in favor)
      Southern Republicans: 0–1 (0–100%) (John Tower of Texas)
      Northern Democrats: 45–1 (98–2%) (only Robert Byrd of West Virginia voted against)
      Northern Republicans: 27–5 (84–16%)

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  4. let me ask you this why do you suscribe to big government do you honestly believe that we working americans owe something to the non working as a small business the government hammers us with taxes. And how much out of every dollar should you be able to keep. When we conservatives bring up any arguement on welfare or that we are paying to much in taxes people on the left brand us as racist or biggots. I myself am not racist and the majority of conservatives are not racist. There is racism on both sides but they are the minority. But back to my arguement i owe nothing to someone living in new york or california since i do not live there. You cannot tell me with a straight face that big government is not the problem. And to be perfectly honest with you this country is so divided and polarized i truly believe another civil war is on the horizon and i dont think that there is a way to stop it. this fighting back and forth that is seen everyday has tore this country apart. None of these issues are race based it is ideology i dont want to live in a socialist country let people take care of people rather then government, people do it beter and more efficient anyway. I speak from personal experience i was in a motorcycle crash that almost killed me i spent months in the hospital and when i got out i couldnt physicallly work so i applied for dissability and was denied while there is literally a man that lives up the street from me that draws dissability because he is obese. I almost lost everything but i found a job doing something that i could do with my dissability i still cant walk unaided to me there is no excuse that probably 80% of people taking welfare cant work and that is a arguement you will never break with me. now i am part owner in this business and see first hand what the government does to them. So me bitching about the government is justified not racist. i could care less if the president is black white red blue as long as they get out of the peoples way and all of you liberals help them be in the way. It is common sense if i have to pay 80000 dollars a year in taxes do you think i will hire someone or be able to afford it. Your minds will never change untill you see first hand how bad it is going to get our money is useless and china owns us is this the america you want for your kids if you have kids. The debt bubble will burst and when it does the great depression will look like a vacation.

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  5. Corey,

    First, a request. Please use punctuation. It's hard to tell where one sentence ends and the other begins.

    In answer to some of your questions...

    1. Do the "working" owe something to the "non-working?" - This has several layers of answers. Let's start with the easiest layer. Your question is better asked as, "If someone refuses to work, should society be expected to keep them sheltered, fed, etc..?" Short answer, yes, but not how you expect. If there TRULY are people who REFUSE to work, I personally don't want them starving in the streets. It sounds like you do. I'd put up shelters where food is served and give them hand-me-down clothing. I would not give them money, I would not provide them a separate home. I have no idea if you are a christian, but IF you are, then I suggest you familiarize yourself with Matther 25 "for you visited me in prison, you fed me when I hungered, you gave me water when I thirsted- you are the righteous... Thatsoever which you do unto the LEAST of you, you do also to me." Note, it doesn't say the person who was helped was working or not working, was able-bodied or handicapped - it merely makes it clear they were in need. To do something which turns a blind-eye while someone starves, even if the cause is their own mental defect about any need to work - is to be inhuman, and it is morally wrong, without question.

    But your question assumes this is some sort of issue. It isn't, it isn't even close to the issue. SNAP gives money to people with kids, the majority of those folk work. the VAST majority of people on welfare work, and work full time. The VAST majority of those below the poverty line get out of poverty, they don't stay there perpetually. People have a lifetime maximum of 5 years on general assistance of any form. Are you seriously suggesting you think we should through the handicapped into the streets?

    Candidly, it seems as if you see cheaters around every corner. The studies and investigations say that isn't so. There ARE criminals, and the cost a fair bit, but they do not numerically represent anything like a meaningful percentage of those receiving benefits.

    As regards your complaints about taxes and those who are disabled. I'm glad you found work, I'm glad you sought work. It means that society doesn't have to come up with the funds to pay for you personally to stay alive. Your assertion, though, that 80-90% of those who are dissbled a. aren't working and b. could be, is wrong on both counts. The vast majority of people who aren't working are retired, period. The vast majority of disabilities are partial, not total, meaning the person needs to work. Go check the statistics. As well, go look at exactly how much, in disability assistance, we're talking about here.

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  6. Taxes pay for the roads you drive to work, the schools you send you kids to, the firetruck and workers who save your house, the FEMA teams that rescue you from the hurricane or flood, the army which serves in foreign lands to ostensibly preserve the "freedoms" I'm going to bet you are proud of the United STates for having. That tax bill is mostly about three things, the military, Social Security, and Medicare. The latter two programs are funded by separate taxes from your federal or state income taxes. I agree our defense spending is bloated beyond all need, but it is conservatives who have REFUSED to cut this, not liberals. Social Security and Medicare have promises that have to be kept, but that problem is about having a lot of people who are going to retire, not some issue with overspending on support for the disabled. Even so, your business taxes in the US, your effective rate, is lower than that of China, Japan, or most of the rest of the industrialized world (excepting Ireland, Bermuda (which isn't really industrialized) and as I recall, Singapore. The VAST majority of that $80,000/year you are paying is going to everything EXCEPT discretionary spending on disabilities, the EPA and so on. It's paying for a 12 year old war in Afghanistan, it's paying for farm subsidies, etc..

    We cut the tax rate on the very wealthy in half in 1981, since then their incomes have quadruppled. Their tax burden is 40% of all taxes BECAUSE they make soo much. it's not the government holding you down, it's the structure of our society which has shifted profits upward, means the middle class can't buy things (and is dying off), and so taxes go up as fewer people can afford to pay. You have identified a symptom, but you have not identified the cause. You should, it will help you understand the world and people around you.

    Last point, the government is a tool. it is not a bunch of faceless sneaky bastards. The people in the Senate, the President, the Supreme Court, certain political appointees, the US House members, DIRECT what is done by the governmental bodies. If they want to, just as GW Bush DID, they can and do ignore laws, regulatory protections, and the like, or they can, as they are doing now, enforce laws on banks/financial insitutions, to the point where they may impair certain kinds of business. Both can be a problem, but both are reacting to the leadership in place. Blaming the "government" is like blaming the hammer. it's a big hammer, to be sure, but it's still being weilded.

    When you complain about Great Depressions and the debt bubble, please bear two things in mind. The Great Depression, which resulted from margin debt, and an over-inflated market, as well as the S&L bubble in the 80's and the mortgage bubble in the 2000's, was a result of PRIVATE business taking enormously stupid risk. Risk they KNEW would collapse at some point. The US federal debt is where it is because of two things, we overspend on the military and we under collect taxes on the rich (as well as getting too little in tax receipt during economic downturns). Put the US tax rate where it was in 1950, give us a health care system like Germany, put the US tax on the wealthiest back to what it was in 1981 - do ANY of these, and we would not only not have ANY deficits, we'd hvae NO debt.

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  7. I did not say throw the handicapped in the streets to fend for themselves. I myself am partially dissabled, you bring up people that have the ability to work just not the want to we owe them something. Do you honestly believe that after a few days with no food in there bellys that they would just give up, NO they will go do something to get food a natural survival instinct all you do by giving them everything they need to live is enabling them. I said let people take care of other people like what was happening before government stuck its nose in it. There is more oversight when average people take care of it and far far less chance of fraud. And churches have been taking care of the poor and hungry for hundreds of years. The government is good at anything how is the health care working out proof is in the pudding. I am sick of people using the social security by saying it is a entitlement it is not that is really our money or is supposed to be but aour government is so corrupt that it will probably not be there when we need it. This country is treating non contributing people in society better then our vetrans and that is disgusting. I believe if people are truly disabled then they should get some help but all of these social programs are full of fraud there is no real oversight. What ever happened to personal responsibility? It would have been real easy for me a year and a half ago to crawl into a whiskey bottle or drugs and sit collect government money and feel sorry for myself. What incentive to people have to go back to work if they lose there job when the government will pay them for 99 weeks. I would love to hire more people but the government makes it impossible for me to do so, but a women at a brothel in nevada can right off there breast implants something doesnt add up. And do you really believe that if we taxed the rich people more we would have not debt. If you taxed the richest americans 100% of there income it would not service the debt the government has racked up and 8 trillion of that belongs to the man we have in there right now. I am not saying that republicans dont share that responsibilty just the same because they do. Your big government has a spending problem!! You cant even count to 17000000000000 in your lifetime. This madness has to stop and i dont know how you guys can sit there and defend this. The answer to this countries problem is not higher taxes. Higher taxes stunts the growth of the economy. The government takes in the most tax revenue in US history right not and the ol debt clock just keeps on rising. Because when you give them more money they spend more money and thats a fact. You say to put the tax rate back to pre 1981 levels what happen when Reagan took office the economy boomed the 80s were great. "Big government is not the answer big government is the problem" Ronald Reagan. Please answer this question because it will be very telling dont dodge it like most liberals do. How much out of every dollar should you be able to keep for yourself? Give me a percentage 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Or should the government dictate how much money you must turn over to them because if they had it there way it would be 90%. And thank you for actually having a real debate on these issues so many on the left if they do not agree they just demonize so i applaud you for that.

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    1. Cory, the people on assistance, overwhelmingly, are either already working, or cannot find jobs, but are either looking for work, or training for work --- the remaining being children, old people and the disabled.

      This notion that there are able bodied people capable of working who just don't want to is not supported by facts. Study after study shows that people are not in poverty because of drug use or alcohol abuse, etc. They are in poverty because of low wage jobs and an absence of jobs.

      You are not taxed too much, as compared to prior periods of American history or rates of taxation compared with other countries. Rather you and most of American labor are grossly underpaid, with a huge wealth and income inequality.

      The answer is partially to tax the rich more, but also the solution relies on more fair compensation for the overwhelming number of American workers. That has declined, in part, because of the decline of unions. That has declined in part because of the rigging of the system by the wealthy. American production rates have consistently increased, without a compensatory increase in compensation, or even an increase with cost of living.

      Our rate of taxation is actually equal to or lower than the rate in comparable developed countries. But those countries have GOVERNMENT measures which mandate more equality for labor, especially in compensation for workers.

      The way to accomplish that IS through government, just as the way that rigged the system in the first place was accomplished through government. And part of that is raising -- significantly raising - the minimum wage, requiring big companies to provide benefits like health care, and to start penalizing those companies that make out like freaking bandits through tax avoidance and sending jobs overseas.

      To Obama's credit, better paying jobs are coming back under his administration, notably with the improvement and growth in the manufacturing sector -- the first time that has increased rather than decreased, not only in this century but in decades before, dating back to Reagan.

      I would suggest that you take a long hard look at the history of taxation in the United States. Income taxation has ALWAYS, dating back to the earliest years of the founding fathers, been designed and intended as a tax on the wealthy, almost like a luxury tax or surtax.

      The reason for that has always been, from the original design of income taxation in the UK, as a type of tax on the rich ONLY, because the middle and lower economic classes already paid a far greater share of their income and assets in OTHER kinds of taxation.

      So yes, I think we need a progressive rather than regressive tax system, and yes, I'd be happy to begin the redistribution of wealth BACK to the middle class from whom it has been stolen/appropriated/ scammed through unfair legislation. To do that, I'd have no problems whatsoever in returning to the REPUBLICAN level of EISENHOWER.

      http://money.msn.com/taxes/todays-taxes-lowest-in-60-years-karen-aho
      In 1954, as President Dwight Eisenhower rejected fellow Republicans' efforts to reduce income taxes, then at 91% for top earners and 20% for low-income workers, he told the nation, "Every real American is proud to carry his share of that national burden."

      He added, "Some think it is good politics to promise more and more government spending and, at the same time, more and more tax cuts for all." But, Eisenhower warned, "this is one kind of chicken that always comes home to roost."

      At the time, just after the Korean War, the federal public debt stood at $230.9 billion ($1.94 trillion in 2011 dollars), or 60.7% of GDP.

      By 1961, the year Eisenhower left office, the debt had been reduced to a post-WWII low of 44.6% of GDP even with expansion of highways and higher-education funding.


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    2. Pen and I, and hopefully our third blogger, Laci, are more than willing to have this discussion with you. I have a far better than average economics education, Pen works in the banking industry, and Laci is an attorney with a degree in economics from one of the top ranked Universities in the world (technically a triple degree, called a PPE - Political sci., Economics, and Philosophy of Logic). So we each bring an overlapping but slightly different set of skills and knowledge to such a discussion.

      The reason that the right wing has been a disaster in terms of their economic policies is encapsulated in the following, from the same source as above:

      "You want to have taxes at a level so that in booms you're taking in probably more than you need and in recessions you're taking in less, but over time it averages out," said John Irons, the research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on low- and middle-income Americans. "The problem is, the last 10 years we've been on a path of running deficits in both booms and recessions."

      Tax cuts have ZERO effective correlation to job growth or growth of GDP. And contrary to a core belief of the right, government is not the solution to everything, but neither is it the villain they make it out to be, nor is there any evidence that it is 'too large', when you compare government to GDP, both in the past in the US, and to other comparable countries.

      We spend LESS (in terms of government spending) on our people, including health care and education, than other nations do, and have a significantly poorer outcome from what we do spend than those countries do. Our population is our most significant asset. Instead we send an obscene amount on defense spending, including forcing spending on the Pentagon that often they don't even want.

      Poverty has a far greater impact on the success of failure of our children in terms of education and other metrics than things like drug use. I'd be happy to document the study that demonstrates that.

      Meanwhile our conservative politicians want to make that poverty even harsher on the poor, including children, because of a false notion that will result in improvement.

      NOTHING suggests that will result in anything other than making our nation LESS competitive, and therefore LESS safe and secure economically and more unstable domestically.

      And YES, if you like I can document that claim about poverty resulting in worse not better outcomes.

      You want us all to live better? SPEND MORE ON THE POOR, NOT LESS. That might strike you as counter-intuitive, but it has been well proven.

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  8. Corey,

    Mostly, the people who are getting any assistance OUTSIDE of that which is limited by a 5 year lifetime cap, are either elderly or handicapped, which is why I brought it up.

    I understand what you MEAN is that you think there are a lot of able bodied people sitting around collecting checks.. The issue is, Corey, that's false. It isn't happening to anything like a meaningful level.

    Understand, too, that the people on the left (whom you clearly hate) aren't stupid. All of us, ALL OF US, have asked ourselves the question of whether it's right to let people sit and not work. Obviously, no, it's not right, but neither is letting them starve if they refuse to work.

    The thing is, though, that problem is so insignificantly small it's not worth worrying about. YET, the right uses that false image to attack assistance to those who TRULY need help. If 1% of all recipients are cheating (and yes I understand you THINK it's more, but it isn't 80% of the people and not even close to 80% of your tax bill), well if 1% are cheating, WE, us liberals, WE think that we're willing to live with that if it then means we don't cause MILLIONS to go homeless. Moreover, we think it's extraordinarly immoral that we have so much wealth going to so few people. We feel that if pay were more fairly distributed (not evenly, just fairly), there wouldn't be a need for this kind of assistance AND most likely, your taxes would be a bit lower.

    The other thing, though, Corey is this, that tax bill you're complaining about is almost ENTIRELY not about assistance for those who aren't working through disability or assistance programs like SNAP. Those costs aren't even $100b/year of a $3T budget. This means it's about 3% of the federal budget in total, and of course not all of that is going to those who are "cheating." If we said it was 50% cheating (it isn't, but let's just say), that means you're talking about cutting your tax bill by 1.5%. How much is that for you?

    How much more would you make if the middle class made 20% on average per family (including you)? I'll bet it's a helluva lot more than 1.5% of your tax bill.

    With respect to the US citizens having a spending problem.. We spend less, as a government, than we did under Ronald Reagan. I have to assume you were appalled by Reagan, that you understand that the Republicans are FAR FAR FAR worse at running up the debt than are the Democrats, correct?

    As DG said, your problem isn't that you are overtaxed, you pay less as a percentage of your income, much LESS if you are in the upper 5%, than you paid 30 years ago. The issue is, you are grossly underpaid.

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  9. How do you figure that liberals spend less 8 trillion in five years under Obama. Will be more by the end of his second term then every previous president combined and you still blame republicans WOW. I retract my previous statement you cant have a honest debate you guys own this one along with Obamacare which is a huge success in your minds to. Deficit spending was 4% of GDP under carter and dropped to 2.5% under reagan so how again did reagan spend more money.

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    1. Cory, there are problems with the figures you posit.

      Here is a better comparison of the spending and debt of Obama compared and contrasted with Reagan.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/31/charts-what-if-obama-spent-like-reagan/

      Keep in mind that until relatively recently, we were stuck with the horrific, disastrous Bush tax cuts, which drastically reduced revenue. It isn't the Obama spending that is the problem, it is paying for all the debt accumulated under Dubya that HE didn't pay for that is the problem.

      Here is another analysis that makes the comparisons similarly, including adjusting for the difference in the value of the dollar then and now. Look particularly at this graph:

      http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/govt-spending-per-capita.jpg

      and this article that contains it:

      http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/03/19/446990/obama-bush-reagan-government-spending/#

      The only way you come up with your numbers is by not comparing apples to apples, but more asphalt to apples.

      There is a lot of misrepresentation of what the numbers really are, particularly cherry picking, so as to represent Obama as some sort of out of control big government spender. The opposite is true. We should be spending more, not less.

      Austerity in situations like ours does not work. We see it in parts of Europe. We see it here. And we have seen it in other nations coming out of bad recessions, notably in both Japan and Sweden.

      Austerity doesn't solve anything; in fact, it often makes the economic problems MUCH worse.

      The other problem is that when we come out of recessions, and start to accumulate cushions to help maintain stability so that we only have relatively minor periods of fluctuation rather than big booms and busts, the right starts to cut taxes too soon -- and Republicans spend the savings account, AND push for a tax cut too soon.

      That is when and how to reduce the debt -- see the Eisenhower example above. Only when we are NOT in a recession and are fully recovered, AND have reduced the debt, AND have invested in the necessary things like infrastructure maintenance and expansion, R&D, and education, is it appropriate to cut taxes.

      Republicans wrongly claim that cutting taxes produces growth, no matter what the other factors are. That has NEVER proven to be the case in any significant way, much less under adverse circumstances. Those aren't promises, those claims are just lies, used to shaft ordinary people, and give corporate welfare and wealthy welfare.

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  10. Corey,

    You seriously need to check your facts. Please find the actual debt figures below from the CBO. Carter's budget years were from 1977 through 1981, Reagan's were from 1982 thru 1989.

    1989 - $152.6 billion budget deficit

    1988 - $155.2 billion budget deficit

    1987 - $149.7 billion budget deficit

    1986 - $221.2 billion budget deficit

    1985 - $212.3 billion budget deficit

    1984 - $185.4 billion budget deficit

    1983 - $207.8 billion budget deficit

    1982 - $128 billion budget deficit

    1981 - $79 billion budget deficit

    1980 - $73.8 billion budget deficit

    1979 - $40.7 billion budget deficit

    1978 - $59.2 billion budget deficit

    1977 - $53.7 billion budget deficit




    As a percentage of GDP, spending under Reagan was, on average, as high as it has been under Obama OTHER than 2009, and Obama was spending to stimulate the economy (as every last respected economist I've read said HAD to be done) - whereas Reagan was just buying guns. The average under Reagan was 23% of GDP, under Obama, factoring out the 2009 split budget, it has been almost exactly the same.

    In 1981 the total US debt was 26% of GDP, that had mushroomed to 40% by only 1986 as Reagan took the total debt from $1T to $2.7T. In today's dollars, Reagan added more to the debt that any other President outside of Roosevelt during the Great Depression and WWII. George W Bush followed much of the same orbit. He took us from $4,7T in debt to $9.3, but he didn't have, until the end of his Presidency, a global financial crisis to deal with, while Obama did. Obama's annual deficits have fallen from a high of $1.4T to about $680b, the $1.4T figure was 2009 where half the budget was Bush's and much of the deficit spending was for stimulus.

    Seriously, go check your facts.


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