Bob Higgins

What is the Middle?

Posted in Politics by Bob Higgins on November 9, 2012
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OK My friend you’ve given me a lot to deal with but I’ll take a swat at it.

1. I never said Bush actually had the mandate. I’m just saying that is probably why he said that. Obama certainly does not have the same situation to be able to claim a mandate since the Democrats don’t control all of congress.

We can argue all day (and the media mavens will go on for months) whether the President received a mandate. Finally it makes no difference, he was reelected to a second term, picked up a few seats in the Senate, some state legislatures and the Dems received about 12 million more congressional votes than Republicans. Call it what you like. I like mandate.

2. There is no doubt that we hand out too much of the treasury to corporations who in turn hire more people to lobby for more money. It is a ridiculous waste of the public’s money and needs to stop. Unfortunately that would require hiring a lobbyist to try and kill their own job. Not going to happen. True government reform is needed… not just in campaign funding but in the entire system. Term limits that would not allow someone to be groomed to be a career politician who is owned by special interests is a good start. Removing all SuperPACs is another step. PACs can be used but only for issues… not for candidates. You want to run an add about allowing gay marriage or abortion? Great. You don’t run an add saying that Obama is pro-choice or that Romney hates women or gays.

We have term limits, they’re called elections. Remove the polluting power of corporate money and the people will decide who stays or goes without interference. The major problem with term limits is that as these elected officials rise and fall due only to the passage of time the power inherent in the office transfers to unelected staff people and legislative aides who continue on as part of the office furniture and they absorb the power. Within a few cycles we will have a congress answerable to no one but lobbyists and their filthy lucre. Yes, I know, but much worse.

Corporations are not people, money is not speech. Eliminate the absurd ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and super PACS are neutered. I think we have eleven states on board so far to amend the constitution to sweep this dangerous concept out the door.

3. We need to tax everyone in a fair and balanced way… that means that, at minimum, the person making $1M a year should pay the same, at minimum, in terms of percentage of their income as the person making $50K a year. Progressive tax systems only encourage corruption, in my opinion, and that is why all of these loopholes have been created that allow the rich to hide their income while the middle class gets stuck holding the bill.

Taxing everyone at the same proportion of their income is regressive taxation. If I make 1 mil a year and pay a 20% federal tax that leaves me 800 grand to squeak by on. I’ll manage somehow. If I make 50 thousand a year and pay the same 20% I don’t pay my kids tuition or make my car payment or something. The system was made progressive in order to reduce the existence and power of enormously large fortunes which inherently threaten the existence of the state and the well being of the people, as we see all around us. (And please, avoid the term “fair and balanced.”)

The FICA at 6.2% (before the holiday) and Medicare at 1.45%  withholdings are examples. These rates are fair and necessary to maintain the system. What is not fair is the withholding is cut off at $106k. Raise this cap to a point high enough to keep the system solvent for everyone. That’s fair.

Progressive taxation does not cause corruption, the financial ability to legislate loopholes and methods of avoidance, and not fear incarceration does.

4. Spending – While you are correct, they invest in different areas, they both are huge spenders. Whether you are a Republican and you want to spend on the military and wars, or you are a Democrat and you want to increase spending for the poor and underprivileged, we are spending money that we don’t currently have. There is a need for spending in both areas, but we also must be careful not to create a class of people whom expect to be coddled by public monies. In many areas we have created these people… and I’m not talking about a specific race, I’m referring to a specific class of people who have realized they can take advantage of the system. I suggest you check out the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. One of them figured out how to game the system and become “disabled” and all of his kids and now grandkids have gotten on the same deal. Free money and life is nothing but a big party for them. We’ve got to find ways to fix these holes in the system so that we may help out those truly in need while telling the worthless people to take a hike.

Democrats like Republicans spend enormously on defense. We spend more than the next 39 nations combined. This crazy national security state was born in the Truman administration as a reaction to growing Soviet and Chinese power and because two world wars had addicted a large portion of American business to the joys of defense contracts, taxpayer dollars and the ability to use our military for their own dreams of world markets, access to resources, labor and control of populations in their growing empire.

The Welfare Queen story was created by Ronald Reagan out of whole cloth. She didn’t exist then and today serves only as a convenient straw man for the right. Public assistance has been around these parts since, at least, the mid nineteenth century and grew dramatically with the Great Depression because it had to. Wise men decided that it was cheaper in the long run to feed the unfortunate until they could find work than it was to bury all the fucking bodies.

Most people want gainful employment and seek it out. Most people are proud to stand on their own feet and are embarrassed to suffer under the stigma imposed by being on the dole. Are there abuses? Do we have some lazy slobs gaming the system? Yes to both questions. But that problem is solvable with proper vetting and enforcement which requires manpower and money. Most (read, the big ass lion’s share) of the systemic abuse of the public generosity comes from the top, it always has.

We live in what is billed as a “land of opportunity” and the top tier of our greedy opportunists are smart, educated, very crafty, exceptionally corrupt and really hard to catch. It’s that manpower and money thing again, hard to come by when we’re expected to shrink the government down to the size of something we can drown in the bathtub.

5. I appreciate the Democrat’s views socially… no one forces you to have an abortion. My thoughts on the situation is not yours, and vice versa. As far as I’m concerned the government shouldn’t be in the business of marriage either. They can allow for a “union” of 2 consenting adults and allow them the same rights a man and woman have now. Ohio’s law is absurd and does not allow a gay couple to will their property to each other upon death. That is completely against the American way of life that was preached to us ad nauseam growing up. Therefore my viewpoint on the social values of both parties you can understand my point about 2 free spending parties where one’s social views were approved and the other’s wasn’t.

We agree. Neither the government, nor any employer has the right to enter your bedroom, your home, your telephone, your Internet nor any area of your private life without showing cause before a court and presenting a proper warrant. We should not be searching Grandma at the airport and we need to eliminate the word homeland from our language, it smacks of Gestapo and makes us less secure and in the end will leave us with a country worthy only of fleeing.

6. Pet projects was just a point I was making regarding the fact that neither party actually has an interest in reeling in the spending. I have no problem with investment in scientific research in areas that private industry just has no interest in doing. My company has contracts doing scientific research within NOAA. I also know we have to be realistic about what we can change and how quickly we can do this. I also think we should be realistic when it comes to the data… on both sides there is a LOT of misrepresented data. Correlation does not equal causation yet it seems that most of our studies in terms of global warmi… err, sorry, climate change, comes to conclusions based on correlation. More research is needed to get to the bottom of what truly causes the Earth to warm and cool. It has happened many times over the history of the Earth. What caused the world to leave ice ages in the past and warm? What caused the Earth to go back into an ice age? Why was Ohio once part of an ocean? There are a lot of questions out there and I’m just not sold that we can completely blame human beings for being the cause due to carbon dioxide output. Does that mean we should just say f-it and allow companies to pollute the air we breathe? No. We do owe it to the future generations to leave this planet hospitable. I want my kids and my grandkids to have a place to live that is not polluted.

Private industry often petitions, lobbies and begs the government to undertake research on the taxpayers dime to reduce their costs of doing business. Often this is a good thing, sometimes the business of government is business, but only when it best serves the interests of the country and the people not performed purely for the profits of stakeholders.

On Global  climate change we  know, or at least we have been and are being told by the national academies of science of every developed  country in the world (including our own)  as well as 99% of recognized climatologists that human activity is a significant part of the cause of climate change. We are out of time. The only thing we can do is reduce our output of CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases and reduce our usage of the fossil fuels that aggravate the problem. We have known this for three decades. The evidence is not denied by any responsible party and I’m not referring to the Fox News weatherman, some oil or coal company hack, or an adjunct professor of economics at Podunk U who just happens to be on BP’s payroll.

The problem is now beyond solution in our lifetimes, we can only hope to reduce the effects and if we don’t begin to act on a large scale, well …, buy a kite and a beach umbrella. We don’t owe it to future generations, we need to save ourselves. Turn the TV to Long Island, that’s not the future, that’s the NOW.

7. You mention the fact that Congress is “run by guys in Prada shoes and silk neckties.” I could not agree more. That is why I think we have to go and put term limits on these elected officials. Hell, I’d almost rather have a draft for Congress. Then have everyone drafted meet up 4 times a year to go over the country’s “business.” That would certainly be a fundamental change that would get rid of these guys whom are groomed, used, and then given a healthy retirement from those businesses in which they were “regulating.”

I wasn’t referring to elected officials but the lobbyists and the firms that hire them who provide the hundreds of millions of dollars that directly control which legislation gets the support of elected officials. And you know how I feel about term limits.

Conscripted amateurs are probably not a good idea when we’re talking about the passage of laws. I want a carpenter to build a deck, or a baker to make donuts not write complex legislation that affects the health and safety of everyone. If we have plumbers or shoe salesmen who have the talent and knowledge, elect them. Hell, Tom DeLay was an exterminator. Oops, probably a bad example, he nearly exterminated the legislative process with his crookery.

Nor do I want the lobbyists or the corporations that employ them writing legislation to be initialed by some venal congressional hack, which is happening more often then we know.

8. The anti-science argument coming from the Republican party – full agree here as well. It is embarrassing how they are dismissing anything to do with science. That being said, it goes with the quote I posted earlier today:
“20-25% of the country want an evangelical theocracy, 20-25% of the country want a socialist/communist nanny state, and 50-60% of us don’t want either but have no place to go. So we end up splitting right down the middle based on whether we think theocracy or socialism is worse, and the election comes down to whoever can get either 1) slightly more than half of the 50-60% in the middle, or 2) a higher turnout of their base. We’ve had exactly one election since 1988 where the winner got more than 50% of the popular vote and also had a 5% margin of victory, both of which happened in 18 of the prior 23, and no election since 1968 where 60% of eligible voters voted.

The Republican Party’s attitude toward science, its attacks on knowledge, intellectualism, art and literature are nothing new. These were tools of the inquisition, of the Salem witch hunters, of the Nazis, Stalinists, McCarthyites, Birchers, KKK and a litany of of other brutal and authoritarian wacko movements. There can be no bending, no compromise with this kind of evil. It offers only the death of the human spirit. You’re right to be embarrassed by it and I notice that you no longer identify with the party. You’re not the only one.

An “evangelical theocracy” is prohibited by our constitution so it doesn’t matter what they want unless their numbers grow to the point where they can rewrite it. (I need to check my passport.)

Communism and socialism are two very distinct things and I think if you beat the bushes of this country for a month of Tuesdays you’d likely  find more Sasquatch than communists.

As for socialism, we’ve had socialism at our core throughout our history. There are socialist ideas, programs and principles underlying our entire fabric. Lincoln, the father of the GOP was, in his heart of hearts, a socialist. I wont belabor the point but read John Nichols “The S Word.”

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty is a poem written by the American socialist poet Emma Lazarus “The New Colossus.” Horace Greely, Eugene Debs, Walt Whitman, the list is long, famed and respected. If the New Deal’s Social Security wasn’t a socialist program, I don’t know what is. Socialism is not a dirty word. Most of Europe is highly socialized and more successful than we are in most areas. (education, health care, worker rights, longevity, incarceration rates and much more)  The Pledge of Allegiance was written by an American Christian socialist name Francis Bellamy. Call me liberal, call me a socialist, I’ll wear either slur proudly.

Nobody is appealing to the middle. Both sides are captives of their special interests, and right now the democrats’ special interests have more favorable demographics than those of the republicans.”

I don’t think either party looks at the moderates of this country any longer. That is why everyone says they are voting for the “lesser of two evils.” It is the truth… I cannot relate to either party in terms of their spending. I can relate to the social values of the Democratic party. The problem is that if we don’t do something to fix our country’s finances then the social views will never matter.

Jim Hightower of Texas, one of my favorite writers, says that “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”

Where is the middle ground between truth and lies, between right and wrong? We have to decide for the truth and for the right and that takes us out of the middle. There is no moderate position in that sense.

You’ve made a decision to do this on social issues, you moved to the left because you agreed with the fundamental correctness of the position and the discomfort of spinning in the middle like, well like a Mitt Romney. By the end of the campaign he had been on more sides of every issue than there are in Bucky Fuller’s imagination.

We have always been essentially a two party system. In a large sense there is no middle, at least there’s nobody there but a few confused stragglers,  the great undecided. Which side speaks to my humanity, to the health and safety of my family and the people I love. Would I turn them over to the side that screams dog eat dog, every man for himself and races for the lifeboats trampling the weak in the process. I wont, I’ll join the side that says we’re all getting in the damn boats.

I’ve often thought that the idea of the moderate middle was created like some mythical magic kingdom to stifle dissent, an imaginary place where people are somehow protected from the natural ongoing human struggle, not too hot, not too cold, but just right. A good place to sit out the universal brawl.

Sorry the brawl has engulfed the entire universal saloon for a long time, I think we have to pick a side and take our lumps. There are qualitative differences between the right and the left. I’ve lived in the dog eat dog world and it sucks. I want my people around me and I want to help my people clear this saloon of idiots. With skillful dialogue and debate hopefully, but knuckle sandwiches are on the menu if required.

9. I’m not a believer in socialism as a form of government and never will be. There is no incentive to educate yourself or to work hard to get ahead. We already have too many people whom do not work to educate themselves (not just talking about having a piece of paper but actually studying history, reading up on the current events of the world, etc.).

No Incentive. That’s the line used by the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Morgans and centuries of other nefarious robber barons to keep in place a system that subjugates most of the people of the world.

Human incentive doesn’t derive from some arbitrary political system, it comes from within, from whatever is that we call the human spirit or the self. There are many successful socialist, partly, mostly or slightly socialist countries full of motivated people who work every day because that’s who they are. Norway, Sweden, France, you name it are all full of people who work out of their own initiative, their own lust to be useful and productive and enjoy the fruits of their effort.

The worst day of my life was the day when my health took a dive and I was unable to work, something I’d done for nearly half a century since the age of fourteen. Getting up and going to work was my control over life, my opportunity to improve my state of being. Without socialist programs like social security and the VA disability program I’d have to lay down and die because I’m no longer attractive in any employment market.

The right spits on education. Spits. Their idea of education is much like Fox’s idea of news. Propaganda, rote learning, teach to the test, become toilet trained to be acceptable to the corporate world. That’s not education, it’s mind control, an insidious form of preparation for wage slavery.

Education is learning to think, to reason, to communicate, learning how to seek and find information to solve problems both mundane and arcane. Good teachers know this or they know nothing.

Bob Higgins

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