Thursday, January 02, 2014

Me and Kati (11)

Well, Kati, what with Christmas, New Year’s Eve and all, we have scarcely had time for even a quiet chat. Happily all of that is over, at least for another year. Reflecting back now it certainly was a difficult year for us and the country also.

We managed to get through a whole year without Linda, our strong “house post” for so many years. I wasn’t sure just how we would manage without her, but we did. I now know how to do many things I could never do before: manage the washer/dryer, scrub the floors, use the dishwasher, pay the bills, vacuum floors, even make the bed (my least favorite task). Even worse, are the problems with having to deal with the computer, printer, and phone without Linda’s help. I know, Kati, this doesn’t sound like much, but when you are 80 years of age and unfamiliar with such domestic tasks it’s not as easy as you might think. I can now appreciate how it is that Linda could do in an hour what it takes me a day to do. Better, however, my cooking has improved immeasurably and I have resisted the temptation to take the easy way out, frozen dinners, pizza, and all that. There is, I have learned, an inordinate amount of waste involved when cooking for one person, but it is still worth it. As an aside, Kati, and I don’t want to upset you, but I notice you are getting heavier and losing your beautiful, lithe, shapely cat figure (like me). Perhaps this is an inevitable part of the aging process.

I guess it is fair to say that we had a pretty good year. But you can’t say the same thing for the nation, what with the government shutdown, the constant squabbling over everything, the dysfunctional Congress, the basically racially based opposition to anything President Obama has tried to do to ease unemployment, create jobs, deal with guns and immigration, infrastructure, and avoid a completely wrongheaded war with Iran. While I don’t approve of his drone warfare, his support of Wall Street and Israel, and his failure to prosecute our known war criminals, if he can manage to keep Israel and the Saudis from leading us into another war in the Middle East, he will have accomplished a basically Herculean task. If he could manage to solve the Israeli/Palestinian problem he would have accomplished the impossible, but, of course, this is not going to happen as long as Israel is In charge of our Middle East policy and our Congresspersons seem to think the slow Israeli genocide of the Palestinians is somehow “God’s will.”

There are signs that things may be about to change. The shameful inequalities of wealth seems to have only recently been noted, there are increasing numbers of strikes, the minimum wage is now seriously on the agenda, more and more people will have health insurance (not the best but better than before), the economy seems to be picking up, the deficit is going down, the filibuster is not so easy to abuse as it has been, and maybe, just maybe, some progress might be made on gun control and immigration. But Kati, you know you cannot count on anything happening for sure. Some say, for example, the Republicans may capture control of the Senate, keep control of the House, the full catastrophe. Personally, I fail to understand why anyone, except for a few racist rednecks, would ever vote Republican after their shameful performances of the last five or more years. But, Kati, no one ever accused the electorate of sagacity and they do have a record of voting against their own best interests. Sometimes, my little grey bundle of joy, mischief, and appetite, I wish I was a cat.

The French, God Bless ‘em, may be a nation of romantics, but they are also very practical minded. They are going to tax people who make too much money at 75%. We should do the same, but make it 90%.

If it looks like a Joe McCarthy, talks like a Joe McCarthy, and acts like a Joe McCarthy, is it a real Joe McCarthy, or just a fake?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'the deficit is going down'

'Many economists (perhaps even those who agree with us) refuse to talk about the national debt and government deficits the way we do on this blog. Instead of boldly challenging the assertion that the U.S. faces a long-run debt (or deficit) problem, headline progressives typically do what Jared Bernstein did in his column today — i.e. they pay “obligatory” tribute to the Balanced Budget Gods, thereby reinforcing the case for austerity at some point in the not-so-distant future when we will be forced to to deal with this very bad thing called the government deficit. Followers of my work here and on Twitter know that I refuse to pay homage to the Balanced Budget Gods. Instead, I prefer to shift the burden of proof onto those who contend that the U.S. faces a long-term debt or deficit problem. The first step is to establish that solvency can never be an issue for a government that spends, taxes and borrows in its own (non-convertible) currency. The following quote from the St. Louis Federal Reserve usually does the trick, but this great confession from Alan Greenspan also helps.

Greenspan’s response to Congressman Paul Ryan sets up the correct debate. Our challenge is not whether we can “afford” to make the payments we have promised to seniors, veterans, the disabled, government contractors, healthcare providers, bondholders, etc. (today, tomorrow and into the indefinite future) but whether we will be a productive enough nation to allow the government to make good on those promises without causing an inflation problem. That is the debate we should be having.

Of course, there are many other points that can be made about the role of the government deficit in our economy:

* it’s an important source of private sector profits

* it’s the source of net financial assets to the non-government sector

* it is equal to the non-government surplus, to the penny

* in its absence, a country that runs large, persistent trade deficits, would leave its private sector with large, unsustainable deficits

And so on. I make all of these arguments when I give public talks on this subject, and the response is always the same: Why didn’t anyone tell us this before?

The lesson? It’s okay to deviate from the progressive talking points. In fact, it’s better than okay. People will thank you. Want proof? Here’s a typical response I received just hours ago.

* Don’t Think of An Elephant is, of course, the title of George Lakoff’s brilliant book about messaging progressive values.-Stephnie Kelton, UMKC, NEP Blog

Hi Lew: stumbled across your blog by quite accident. Recently spoke with Judy. She seems to be doing fine. Kind Regards, Steve Iverson