Thursday, July 28, 2011

What have we learned. . ?


What we have learned in 2,056  years?

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands  should be curtailed lest Rome becomes bankrupt. People must again learn  to work, instead of living on public assistance."

- Cicero - 55  BC

Apparently nothing!



J said...

I have a book to commend: Mancur Olsen's The Rise and Decline of Nations, which was published by Yale in the early '80's. Although this is an economic treatise that expands his research into the formation and effect of groups, it has great implications for political science. The foremost lesson you will take from it is that democracies decline because of the power of interest groups to use government to garner for their respective members a greater share of the production of the society. Jack Kennedy famously asked his generation, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." That has been turned around today. There are no sacrifices, only the scramble to preserve "entitlements" and the big government that distributes them. The Tea Party is sneered at by liberals in the media, but it has a valid mission to save us from ourselves and the greed of our lobbies. It's effectiveness is diminished in proportion to its embrace of Christian right issues rather than its economic message.

Coop said...

Awesome! Congress is useless.
Nobody wants to take responsibility... it's the other side's fault.

Jim said...

I guess some things never change.....but a lot has happened since then. We just seem to revert to being complacent about things. A human trait I guess that hasn't evolved yet.

gp said...

The "Tea Party" is a positive force in the U.S. That's about the funniest thing i've read in ages. They're about one thing above all else: exaggerating the already massive/constantly growing gap between the very wealthy and everyone else in society. The 400 wealthiest individuals in the U.S. now have more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans. And the Tea Partiers want to lower taxes for the ultra-wealthy. Give me a break.

Btw, government debt is a good thing if the money's used to develop infrastructure and improve education. That's a capital investment. Spending $1 trillion/year on the military and on hundreds of billions on profits for private insurance, oil, pharmaceutical companies is just wasted money. But of course the Tea-Partiers never talk about drastically slashing that kind of spending.

Gary Kelly said...

I dunno about America but China seems to have heard what Jack Kennedy had to say.

jimm said...

One thing ive notice over the years, ppl identify with who they want to be, rather than with who they are. Lobbyist and politicians and the wealthy know this, and exploit it to no end.

Tea party, my a**. Close the oil loopholes, country saved!

Gary Kelly said...

I think the question answers itself. Human beings aren't as bright as they would like to think they are. And I suspect they never will be.

Coop said it all. While ever there are two sides to an argument and two ways to solve a problem, the focus will remain on which side has the better solution.

It's like coming to a fork in the road. You have three choices. Take the left fork, take the right fork, or don't take either and spend all your time arguing about which one to take.

J said...

I must take issue with the assertion of GP that the Tea Party is trying to protect millionaires and billionaires. Anyone who has seen the film of their demonstrations knows that they are a middle class, grass-roots organization. Their signs are clever and hand-made, as opposed the mass-produced signs of the trade union demonstrations. This "hate the rich" rhetoric is purely the creation of Obama and his socialist/labor mindset. There are a lot of reforms that should be made to our tax code, but the Tea Party rightly sees this nation's problems as the result of the growth in "entitlements" and government. The Tea Party represents those who have had to bear the burden of supporting the 48 per cent of the American population that pays no taxes and expects the government to pay for their support, housing and health care. And while we're at it, why is it the Republicans who must bear the sole burden of introducing detailed legislation that will resolve the debt problem? The media has yet to criticise the President fonever revealing the details of his plan. All he says is that what the opposition proposes will be vetoed or "dead on arrival" in the Senate.
Despite Cicero's warnings, the Roman republic was replaced by a dictatorship, and the people were placated with bread and circuses funded by conquest and plunder, until hungrier and meaner barbarians destroyed Roman society. Looks like Dr. Olsen was right, and that nothing under the sun has changed.

JustinO'Shea said...

J. . .may I ask a question, please, for my own info?

Are Social Security and Medicare classed as "entitlements"? Persons who are covered by these have been and still are paying regularly into these programs.

Thanks for any clarification, J.


Coop said...


I wish I could believe what you're saying about the tea party. I don't see how their message is all about taxes and the economy.

How much longer am I supposed to hold my nose and vote for a candidate that panders to the Christian right? I'm glad you can.
I'm sick of it.

Richard said...

To answer J's question: because the Constitution requires that revenue bills arise in the House, which happens to be controlled by Republicans currently.

To Justin: yes, they are both entitlements. People were taxed with the governmental promise that they would receive a certain payment at a future date. These payments are not welfare, which is totally discretionary. One can sue to enforce the payment of an entitlement.

JustinO'Shea said...

THANKS, Richard. . .Goood. . .then "entitlements" are not a dirty word as they sound from some peep's pens/ mouths.

Really, then it is a bi-lateral contract. . . .

Thanks for setting my thinking on that. AS I said, listening to some arguments these sound like dirty words, or unpatriotic to strive to protect these rights, etc.


J said...

Compromise is indeed a collaborative effort. While spending bills must originate in the U.S. House, the formulation of the national budget is initially the responsibility of the executive. I know whe've been operating without a national budget for some time now, but the national debt is, as Admiral Mullen said, a grave threat to our national security. Obama has never embraced the sterling recommendations of the
Simpson-Bowles Commission, and has offered no detailed plan for addressing the national debt problem. That is a dramatic shirking of his responsibility to lead the nation. Ask yourself this: Why won't he offer the details of his plan? I think we know the answer. If he does he subjects it and himself to criticism for being the socialist statist he truly is; and he is every inch a political animal. It is easier for him to criticise and blame Republicans in Congress for the shortcomings of their plans, but my Dad always said that those who criticise must often bear the responsibility of suggesting alternatives. I'd be quite surprised if Obama ever offered a detailed alternative for anything.
As for Social Security and Medicare, they definitely are entitlements. We know that they were managable when life expectancies were only to age 68. People who are 65 now live well into their 80's, and the medical care to sustain them costs an astronomical sum. The obvious solution would be to raise the retirement age to 70 or more, at least for those who are relatively young now. But greed and demagoguery conspire to stifle sane argument on the subject. So it looks as if Obama, Pelosi, et al. are hell bent to turn the US into another Greece. When that happens I'll be heading to Gary's country, or New Zealand, where the currency is stronger. Please don't suggest I support any of the Christian right that is trying to hijack the Tea Party. Despite these efforts the main Tea Party organization has as its sole mission the reestablishment of the nation's fiscal health. It sure looks like that is becoming a fool's errand.

Gary Kelly said...

In order to get a better understanding of all this high finance stuff, I did a bit of Googling, and found this on Wikipedia:

The United States has one of the widest rich-poor gaps of any high-income nation today, and that gap continues to grow. In recent times, some prominent economists including Alan Greenspan have warned that the widening rich-poor gap in the U.S. population is a problem that could undermine and destabilize the country's economy and standard of living stating that "The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself".

Here's the URL:

It strikes me as odd that Oz has one of the world's top standards of living (#2 behind Norway) as well as a robust economy that is (according to the pollies) "the envy of the developed world" and yet still offers its citizens generous "entitlements" such as free or heavily subsidized medical care.

If Oz can do it, why not the US? Or am I missing something here?

Richard said...

Gary, the income of the top 400 people in the U.S. is equal to the combined of the bottom 150 million in our country. Quite a gap.

JustinO'Shea said...

OMGGGG. . . .

Richard, THAT is OBSCENE!!! Talk about injustice. . . And how do we stand against the rest of the world?

Wait, wait. I don't want to know!

Coop said...

The IRS (tax collectors, for those not in the U.S.) seems more concerned about American people who make mistakes on their taxes because they can't understand gibberish translated into pig latin. The Americans who hide their money off shore to avoid taxes are good people, I guess.

I'm an advocate for a flat tax. For every dollar you make, you're taxed so many cents. It doesn't matter who you are.

Art Darwin said...

In the US the supreme court ruled that corportions may spend unlimited money to defeat candidates not in tune with their aspirations to escape taxes and environmental regulations. One big American corporation pays 1,000 lawyers to do nothing but mine tax laws for loopholes and consequently pays NO tax on profits. Weird or what?
And apologists for the very wealthy prattle that four percent of the richest pay 40% of total income tax revenues. The poorest therefore should be glad they do not have any income on which to pay taxes? I think that is not true.