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The Jehoshua Novels


Friday Night…, No Sabbath Eve From Don…,

but we do have Bill Moyers on PBS.

Bruce Bartlett on Where the Right Went Wrong from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

BILL MOYERS: Heather McGhee speaks of how the neoliberal economic experience of the last 30 years ”“ including cutting taxes on the rich and waiting for the wealth and prosperity to trickle down — has left her generation of Millennials standing under a spigot someone forgot to turn on. After a few drips and drops, it went dry. So did the very notion of equal opportunity for all. And today we’re living in a country deeply divided between winners and losers. Nowhere is that more evident than in our tax system ”“ so distorted by loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions favoring the already rich and powerful that it no longer can raise the money needed to pay the government’s bills.

Among the people who saw this crisis coming was the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, the supply-side champion who wrote the manifesto for the Reagan Revolution. Bartlett became a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House and a top official at the Treasury Department under the first George Bush. Yet for all those credentials, he is today an outcast from the very conservative ranks where he was once so influential. That’s because Bruce Bartlett dared to write a book criticizing the second George Bush as a pretend conservative who slashed taxes but still spent with wild abandon. The subtitle says it all: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.

For his heresy Bartlett was sacked by the conservative think tank where he worked. Undaunted, this card-carrying advocate of free markets and small government has been a prolific writer for popular and academic journals and has just published a new book: The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform – Why We Need It and What It Will Take. It’s a layman’s guide through the jungle of a tax system that, thanks to rented politicians and anti-tax ideologues like Grover Norquist, enable the one percent to make off like bandits while our national debt soars sky-high. I talked to Bruce Bartlett soon after he had finished his new book.

13 comments to Friday Night…, No Sabbath Eve From Don…,

  • Scott R.

    BILL MOYERS: Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and slowly sink into the sea off the coast of Italy. The passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

    Here at home we are drowning, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which is written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others. The people without means, whose safety net has been shredded, leaving them helpless before events beyond their control, like those passengers on that ship.

    The obstacles facing the millennial generation for example didn’t just happen. An economy skewed to the top, low wages and missing jobs, predatory interest on college loans. These are consequences of government politically engineered by and for the one percent. So is our tax code, the product of money and politics of influence and favoritism, of lobbyists and the laws they draft for politicians to enact.

    So here’s what we’re up against. Read it and weep: “America’s Plutocrats Play the Political Ponies.” That’s from something called “Too Much,” an internet publication from the Institute for Policy Studies that describes itself as “an online weekly on excess and inequality.” Yes, the results are in and our elections have replaced horse racing as the sport of kings. Only these kings aren’t your everyday poobahs and potentates. These kings are multi-billionaires, corporate moguls who by the divine right — not of God, but of the United States Supreme Court and its Citizens United Decision — are now buying politicians like so much pricey horseflesh. All that money pouring into SuperPACs, much of it from secret sources: merely an investment, in the best government money can buy, should their horse pay off in November. All this can numb the soul, and chill the ardor of the most devoted citizen, who’s exposed to the buying and selling of our democratic birthright. But there is an antidote, on our website BillMoyers.com. We will link you to a vision of hope.

  • Scott R.

    for too long now. Wish you were both back on Friday night Don.

  • Don

    …but I hope to resume writing original pieces soon.

    In the meantime, here’s something from Charles Hugh Smith detailing gasoline consumption of late.

    Pretty much looks like falling off a cliff to me.

    PS. Which begs the following question:

    Is oil consumption a more accurate indicator of economic activity than rigged numbers we’re fed?

    If so, by my estimation, we’ve started down the slope of peak oil, and all that entails.

    Still got a couple of sets of harness?

    You may need them.

    I did inhale.

  • hvd

    That chart is one of the scariest things I have ever seen, although it is undoubtedly good for the environment.

  • JustPlainDave

    …with consumption. It does not account for import of gasoline. Given that the consumption of gasoline does not follow this trend line, I would presume that it reflects that other supplies are increasingly being relied upon.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Don

    Has there been an increase in refined gasoline?

    I don’t think so.

    I have heard that imports have fallen, not increased.

    I haven’t done research to substantiate that, but that’s what I read elsewhere.

    ps.

    Quick Google search reveals this.

    I did inhale.

  • JustPlainDave

    …for total motor gasoline I see declines of 4-5% from a year ago. That leads my to strongly suspect that refinery deliveries of gasoline to retailers is not a total proxy for consumption. I see lots of mention being made in the data tables of blenders vs. refiners and lots of footnotes highlighting how ethanol has been treated. All that leads me to the conclusion that things just aren’t as simple as presented by your source.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Don

    It’s Not Just Gasoline Consumption That’s Tanking, It’s All Energy (February 14, 2012)

    excerpt:

    The basic thesis here is that petroleum consumption is a key proxy of economic activity. In periods of economic expansion, energy consumption rises. In periods of contraction, consumption levels off or declines.

    This common sense correlation calls into question the Status Quo’s insistence that the U.S. economy has decoupled from the global ecoomy and is still growing. This growth will create more jobs, the story goes, and expand corporate profits which will power the stock market ever higher.

    I did inhale.

  • JustPlainDave

    I don’t think this is consistent with what it’s being sold as. Decoupled from the global economy I really couldn’t say, but I’m pretty skeptical that this will live up to the maximalist case it’s sold as. I’m sure a sufficient minimalist case will be fitted around the facts in the event.

    In combat one should be very suspicious of painless moral choices. When you are confronted with a seemingly painless moral choice, the odds are that you haven’t looked deeply enough.” ~ Karl Marlantes

  • Scott R.

    interesting discussion you have going here…, and hope to chime in on your Diary post follow up when I have more time this weekend. Right on partner…, write on.

  • Don

    To be honest, I consider it a good thing that gasoline consumption has fallen.

    So much of what we call economic activity is simply consumption, and much of that for non-essentials.

    The point the author makes, and I agree, is that data in the real economy doesn’t jive with economic forecasts and current analysis proferred by mainstream apologists.

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