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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Our Catchphrase Society

We all like to use catch phrases in our day-to-day conversations to emphasize a point or to make it more understandable. Unfortunately like everything else, catch phrases can be a tool for deception  and it's often used to simplify matters that usually require more detail.

I'm starting to simplify political situations for my wife, who’s becoming interested in politics,so can get up to speed. Yesterday, she asked me why President Obama said, "You didn't build that" in reference to small-business owners thinking that their success was due only to their initiative and hard work. Of course, that catch phrase was taken out of context because, before that sentence , he had emphasized what most of us already know. We know that we have a collective society, that's taken for granted. We know that a business success is also what doesn't show up in their balance sheets. Government with taxpayer dollars, built the roads, provided the schools, teachers, library, firemen and police officers as support systems for the consumer and the business owners.Conservatives seem to ignore the DEMAND side of the supply and demand economic equation;most seem to think it's all about the job creators. It is but I like to think the REAL job creators are the consumers.

Recently, the free market ideologues changed what they used to call the free- market because it  can’t possibly be called that if we have a central government. I think the consensus now is to call it a" free enterprise" because that enables them to operate competitively for profit with minimal government regulation. I think free enterprise or the free market is just the exchange of a business transaction between human beings. We know from experience, that when dealings are made between a large number of human beings, generally accepted rules, regulations, and principals must be enforced by a third party. The days of the handshake agreement are gone and show me one country that lets the free market go unfettered, and I will show you a country that's doomed. So when you hear the catch phrases like “job killing bills, job creators, fewer taxes, smaller government and crony capitalism," it's safe to assume that those words were conspired to favor businesses over the rest of us. The catch phrases have to be repeated until most of the people think that government is too incompetent to handle anything except defense. They will call those who oppose their philosophy a socialist or a statist. This is an open door to plutocracy.

The catch phrase" 40 to 50% of the people don't pay income tax" is used as an excuse not to raise taxes on the top 2%. It's used to make those who don't have enough money to pay income tax, look like free loaders instead of people, sometimes ,through no fault of their own,who are down in their luck. It's a diversionary tactic. It goes in line with the catch phrases " everyone has access to health care" and " we have the best health care system in the world, as another trick used to make people think that we don't have to do anything about the rising cost of health care because the insurance companies will figure it all out and do the right thing.”Let's pass the pass the plate, the lobbyists are anxious to go home."

The Republicans are successfully dealing deaf blows to unions using the catch phrase “job killing agreements" and enacting” right to work laws" but like everything else it helps businesses not workers. I've never been in the union; in fact, I was against unions for a selfish reason. You see. I was getting union benefits by using the threat of the union. Collective bargaining is just an agreement between employees and companies, but it's been demonized so much that the only viable unions remaining are in the public sector. We all saw what the Republicans governors are trying to do to them. I do agree that the lucrative union pension contracts that were made several years ago need to be renegotiated to reflect today's economy.

That catchphrase “cliffhanger" is being used to describe today's economic condition... I didn’t get to the word “liberty” but stay tuned and I guarantee you, it will come up.


born2Bme said...

You know what? I'd like so see those who don't want government handouts, to have to live with the consequences of no medicare, medicaid, welfare, food stamps, disability, SS checks being sent out for 1 month. Can you imagine the chaos that would cause to local businesses?
And, when I hear people say that everyone can get medical care if they need it, I want to ask that person who pays for it cause it isn't free.
But the number one issue I have with people who say they want less government or a smaller government, I'd like to ask them who they think the government is. Then a simple "you dumba$$, WE"RE the government. The President, senators, congressmen, etc. are our employees. We "hired" them, pay them, and fund their pensions and health insurance. There is no such thing as us agaisnt the government.

Mike said...

Born, it's always been “we the people" we might not have liked torture or the war in Iraq but it was paid for by our collective tax dollars. Some people think we have a Kenyan Muslim president, so they want to take their country back. To what I say? They seem to have forgotten that this financial crisis started and 2007-2008 and not just appear overnight on January of 2009.

People are always put us into this “us against them" and them being the government, as if it was just a giant structure run by robots. Government is more like a clearinghouse for our tax dollars. They all feed at the public trough but they act as though it’s all done by those at the bottom.

President Lincoln had it right when he describes a democratic government (small "d") as being “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” One voter, one vote would be great if it was the only form of political power. It would be great if the government did not have to intervene but without them workers would still be paid way below the minimum wage, voter suppression would be rampant, and lord knows what else. Action or inaction by the private sector, force the government to be the equalizer.... People want less government need to furnish us with a spreadsheet showing us just how many government workers are needed. We can then run it through the Congressional Budget office instead of taking the talking points they been using for the past 30 years.

I Always like to use this illustration to the described the dilemma we are in: Shortly after a very successful couple were married, the wife confesses to a husband that she has $125,000 in credit card debt. The couple does not have enough in savings to cover the debt (our decades of irresponsibility). The husband is not going to walk out of the marriage (default) nor is he going to suggest that they quit eating or taking their medicine (austerity) but he will probably suggest that they get a loan knowing full well it will add to the debt (Keynesian). He goes to the bank and finds out that his house is worth less than what he still owes (our credit debt).... The couple knows that they will have to work some overtime and take a part time job if one is available, to supplement their income (investments in education, infrastructure and innovation) but they know there's no silver bullet out there that will bring down the debt overnight. They also know that they can't continue doing what they have been doing and they can make some cuts in their budget (entitlements and defense spending) and hope that their financial situation improves (growth). It helps that they have a good steady high paying job (our country's reputation and the fact that our competitors are doing worse than we are) so they have a reason to be cautiously optimistic.

dale said...

I would like to enter a little reality into your story Mike…

Shortly, after graduation from the same college, a couple decided to tie the knot. Not knowing anything about each other, they asked their friends what they should do. They loved the materialistic American life, but just did not want to live the life of their parents, because they couldn’t wait to accumulate everything their parents owned after 35 years of matrimony. A wedding would crimp their style, and delay their materialistic dreams. So they decide to live together. They both know of their $125,000 student loans, but they did not know that each had a $150,000 master card balance. But, they were in love and were having a great sex life, so what is a little debt? Why worry, each had an additional $25,000 balance on their new visa card. And don’t forget, they didn’t have to start paying their student loan until six months after graduation. The economy was a little tight after our lovers graduation and with their new degree from the TU Law School they sure wouldn’t take a job under their $200,000 starting salary expectation.

After three months and an additional $28,000 placed on their new visa card, times are tough for our lovers. Uncle Dale, their libertarian/republican uncle, tells them it is time to get to work. He has a job for them at his BBQ stand where he feeds thousands a day fresh steer steaks. Uncle Mike, their eternally kind uncle says, just hang in there, you can file for a hardship student loan payoff through the new Owamy school to community service program.

After a year our lovers are living in high cotton. They have just gotten their government supplied health card. Their student loans have been forgiven by the Owamy Care Act. Lacking money to repay their credit card our lovers have learned there is a special program which assists folks who have been victimized by the evil credit card program. Times are great. Picking up the latest one page edition of the Victoria Advocate the headlines read, “Last private sector company closed their doors last evening, Congress authorizes new Amnesty Program for disenfranchised Immigrants.”

dale said...

The American Dream? How can we make it even brighter for our kids, Mike? These new graduates are concerned about the real state of our nation. But, at least our competitors are in worse shape that us... (?)

Edith Ann said...

You forgot to make them gay AND Democrats.

Edith Ann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dale said...

Now, Now, EA.

This is Mike's story, not Rick Perrys. B)

Mike said...

I read your version of the facts but as expected, you didn't place any blame on those who took $8 trillion dollars of capital out of our financial system. Wall Street came calling, hat- in- hand wanting the taxpayers and to bail them out to the tune of $700 billion or the mob was going to chop off some arms and legs. It's not an exaggeration; we were hours away from financial collapse. We gave it to them without any strings attached and fortunately they paid us back with interest.... Today, their lobbyist will not allow Congress to impose regulations on Wall Street to keep that very same thing from happening again. Republican lawmakers want to repeal Dodd-Frank even as Wall Street continues to thumb their nose at us. I guess you haven't been reading about the Libor scandal, where the big banks gamed the rates for their own benefit before and after the financial crisis. No, that's because you been worrying about welfare, our government and student loans.

After the brink of disaster, I spent many a night reading a very good book titled " Too Big to Fail' detailing what led up to the financial crisis. And for the past 4 years I've read and watched everything that has to do with the financial crisis,so it's not as if I don't understand what's going on. I don't disagree that consumers averaged less than 1% in savings prior to the financial collapse but it's up to more than 5% right now and that's a reason consumer demand is not where it normally is. Of course you know, every dollar put in saving takes a dollar away from consumer spending and inventory stays on the shelf.

Republicans may not be aware of this but it's offensive to keep characterizing those that believe in a safety net, as someone who believes in a cradle- to -grave government assistance program. It's very condescending.

It's very hard for me to take out my crying towel and weep for big business when I can pick up that same Advocate and read about the big CEO bonuses, stock market hovering around 12,000 and knowing that the Fortune 500 companies have two trillion dollars in surplus. Last night I heard how corporations send their intellectual property such and their logo, to the Cayman Islands and pay them a royalty. They then deduct that royalty payment to avoid United States taxes. The Cayman Islands as many other tax havens does not tax these corporations. These tax avoidance legal schemes deny our treasury about $700 billion. How much is that? That's the total of all the tax revenues American taxpayers will pay in until October 31st of this year.

My analogy was terrible because I obviously didn't make my point.

How did the illegal immigration, health care reform and feeling sorry for big business become part of the discussion?

The other day my wife asked me why I was laughing so hard, I told that I was watching a congressional hearing about the proposed cuts in defense spending. The representative from Lockheed was emphasizing all the jobs that would be lost in a stagnated economy. After the hearing, several republican senators started repeating the job losses scenario... Where were these people will we started losing teachers firemen and policemen? Priorities.

Mike said...


Not long ago,I said that the American Dream has become a catchphrase because we now live in a multicultural country which allows us to have more than one version of what that means.

How can we make it even brighter for our kids, is an open- ended question without a definitive answer and so is a state of our nation. You don't believe me; turn on your television set.

I guess you didn't understand what I meant by " our competitors are in worse shape than us." It's obvious that the European markets are worse than ours and now that China, India, and Brazil are moving more people into their middle class; those people will start to demand more pay. The middle class of India and China will start to use more of their natural resources as they demand to have latest electronic gadgets. Countries are still investing in America.

dale said...

I guess I can not use the phrase, "chill". How can a story about a young couple living the neo-American Nightmare of debt be construed into corporate welfare, health care and loss of jobs? All I noted in this "Mike Tale" was a couple kids piling up debt and then getting bailed out. This story just reflects the kinda experience Mom and Dad Mike had with Mike.

In retrospect, Mike wanted the good life. New house, new car, live today and forget the future. And when Mike got a little over extended, your parents got you out of trouble. Unfortunately, parents pass away, and for these kids their new parents is the government. You know, like Mom and Dad Mike did for Mike, "Get in trouble,no problem, we can help you." Sound familiar? Now we just substitute Mom and Dad for Uncle Sam. And the best thing about Uncle Sam, he never tells you "I told you so!"

Mike said...

My fault, it was a terrible analogy because it didn't have to do with a young couple. I incorrectly thought that you would understand what I wrote..Sorry

The young couple was a metaphor for our country during the 2008 financial crisis and the loan was supposed to represent the bailout that we gave Wall Street. Without that bailout, we would have seen 25% unemployment and a financial meltdown which would have had a domino affect.
The reason I've talked about that surprised the husband (our country) received from his wife(wall Street) was to explain that the Obama Administration didn't know how bad the economy was at the time that they inherited it.. They were losing 750,000 jobs a month and GDP was at a -9%. There was no way that the $867 billion was going to set us on a path to recovery. That would just a band- aid but it was all they could get from a reluctant Congress....

"The best thing about Uncle Sam, he never tells you "I told you so!"...Well,then why don't the republican lawmakers want to regulate Wall Street so that doesn't happen anymore? Why won't they even discuss re implementing Glass- Steagall?

I'll do stop using analogies because it just causes confusion....:-)

dale said...

The worst thing Uncle Sam can do is "bail out" a company too big to fail. A poor business decision does not hurt the free market system, rather it strenghtens it. Propping up the poor decision, actually injures the free market system.

Politically, helping the big corporations helped only the politicians and their corporate donators. Had the company failed (causing some ripples in the country) other suppliers will enter the void and supply the demand. The result, imo, a number of small to medium sized businesses which would have started or expanded due to the void created by the "too big" business. The ultimate result, Uncle Sam would loose control of the centralized market system they are trying to create. We sure wouldn't want Uncle Sam and the multi-national companies to loose control, would bw?

I did understand your story. But I hoped you would bight and say, "I, Mike, was never bailed out by my parents or anyone else." And to which I could have said..... gotcha.

Have a good weekend. We will continue the public libertarian/democrat cat and mouse game next week. If anyone else wants to join in catching our "crafty" Mike, please help... he is too smart for me.

Mike said...

Yeah,have a good weekend and I my sympathy goes out for the victims of last night's shooting tragedy...I will be gone for most of the day tomorrow..It's time to re fill the cupboards with supplies from Houston's Costco...I had another blog just about finished but it'll have to wait because as the president said " This is a day of prayer and reflection."..

Edith Ann said...

I did not know you were a Costco shopper! You have been keeping that a secret!

Try the flat pretzel crisps if you haven't already. Those are addicting.

Get you a quart of Promised Land Heavy whipping cream, $2.99. Heaven in a bottle...mmmmmm! You'll figure out something to do with it.

Travel safe!

Mike said...

Thanks for the tips,EA, tomorrow will be our Houston getaway ,we will go to the Container  store and Apple store in the Galleria and a few other places..... I love big cities!