The U.S. will never become Greece IF we reject conservative principles and austerity cuts

John Amato makes a good point about the constant threat from Republicans that America is moments away from becoming Greece because of the deficit:

“…after seeing the International Monetary Fund implore Great Britain to ease off its austerity program so their economy could heal, I had a little change of heart. See, one of the only reasons why many countries in Europe have suffered so much after the financial collapse has been because, instead of turning towards Keynesian policies that Paul Krugman has begged for, they’ve embraced the Conservative principles that the UK’s Cameron touted. And that decision ushered in very painful austerity measures upon the people of their nations. The effects of those decisions has been a non-existent financial recovery to their economy and an accompanying nightmare to their population.

[...] If we don’t want to become Greece (which can’t happen, anyway), we should never, ever consider austerity measures or conservative principles. How quickly the world forgets that it was under a conservative George Bush presidency that the global economy collapsed. Why should we ever turn to his acolytes’ beliefs to fix the problem now?”

A bad economy, another recession, high unemployment, suffering — or, in other words, the entire Republican strategy for the 2014 and 2016 elections.

American prosperity hits Greece. Hard.

Greece is on the Road to American Prosperity with new and improved austerity measures!

Greece used to have an extensive public health care system that pretty much ensured that everybody was covered for everything. But in the last two years, the nation’s creditors have pushed hard for dramatic cost savings to cut back the deficit. These measures are taking a brutal toll on the system and on the country’s growing numbers of poor and unemployed who cannot afford the new fees and co-payments instituted at public hospitals as part of the far-reaching austerity drive.

At public hospitals, doctors report shortages of all kinds of supplies, from toilet paper to catheters to syringes. Computerized equipment has gone unrepaired and is no longer in use. Nurses are handling four times the patients they should, and wait times for operations — even cancer surgeries — have grown longer.

Now Greeks will have the opportunity to go bankrupt over medical bills just like us. Isn’t that great?

Call me a socialist, but I’d rather see my tax dollars pay for a universal public health program – like Medicare for everyone – instead of paying for military bases all over the world and perpetual wars. You?

The GOP believes the U.S. should embrace the same austerity measures that are NOT working in Europe

Because there’s an entire world of experience and thought out there that’s completely irrelevant or unimportant to the opinions and beliefs of American Republicans.

IMF Warning: Austerity Does Not Work

The International Monetary Fund, known throughout its history for urging governments to slash their budgets, is now worried that a global round of austerity may trigger a new recession and is urging countries to look for ways to boost growth.

On Monday, the agency warned the world’s leading economies that belt-tightening by governments, companies and consumers has been become so aggressive that the global economy could falter because of anemic demand.

“The immediate risk is that the global economy tips into a downward spiral…. Even in a less severe scenario, key advanced economies could suffer from a protracted period of low growth,” the IMF said. The agency report urged all but the most debt-strapped nations to boost growth through expansive government budget and spending policies or through central bank measures such as lowering interest rates to stimulate the economy.

With austerity measures holding Europe back, and the continent facing another recession, the IMF is offering some smart advice.

American Republicans, meanwhile, believe U.S. policymakers would be wise to embrace the same measures that aren’t working in Europe. (via: liberalsarecool)

You see, all the problems are caused by the jealousy of the hippies at OWS, the poor, and the liberals. The rightwingers just need to “take it back and — problem solved! Giterdun.

Meanwhile in Greece… #OccupyWallStreet #OccupyGreece

Thousands strike in Greece to protest government cuts

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in central Athens on Wednesday, where thousands of striking state sector workers marched against cuts the government says are needed to save the nation from bankruptcy.

Youths broke up marble paving slabs and hurled the chunks of rock at police in full riot gear. The police responded by firing tear gas grenades, chasing the protesters through the square into surrounding streets. (Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

via: nationalpost

America’s unemployed and under-employed: are riots inevitable?

“You have a lot of kids graduating college can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the radio with John Gambling, Friday morning

Riots or no, Mr. Bloomberg does have reason to be concerned about unemployment. He frequently describes New York City as having recovered from the recession more fully than the rest of the country. [...] Recently, though, the difference between New York and the rest of the country is not looking so clear. Figures released on Thursday by the State Department of Labor show that the city’s official unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent in August from 8.6 percent in July, as the total number of jobs declined. (Age groups were not broken out in that report. Statewide, the unemployment rate among 22- to 27-year-olds in the first half of 2011 was 11.4 percent, compared with an overall unemployment rate for people 16 and over of 8 percent.) Continue reading…

Here’s an interesting observation on employment, manufacturing, and the middle class from Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University (via):

Indeed, the manufacturing sector is also where the world’s middle classes take shape and grow. Without a vibrant manufacturing base, societies tend to divide between rich and poor – those who have access to steady, well-paying jobs, and those whose jobs are less secure and lives more precarious. Manufacturing may ultimately be central to the vigor of a nation’s democracy.

The United States has experienced steady de-industrialization in recent decades, partly due to global competition and partly due to technological changes. Since 1990, manufacturing’s share of employment has fallen by nearly five percentage points. This would not necessarily have been a bad thing if labor productivity (and earnings) were not substantially higher in manufacturing than in the rest of the economy – 75% higher, in fact.

[...] The loss of US manufacturing jobs accelerated after 2000, with global competition the likely culprit. …there is an uncanny negative correlation across individual manufacturing industries between employment changes in China and the US. Where China has expanded the most, the US has lost the greatest number of jobs. In the few industries that contracted in China, the US has gained employment.

In Britain, where the decline of manufacturing seems to have been pursued almost gleefully by Conservatives from Margaret Thatcher until David Cameron came to power, the numbers are even more sobering. Between 1990 and 2005, the sector’s share in total employment fell by more than seven percentage points. The reallocation of workers to less productive service jobs has cost the British economy 0.5 points of productivity growth every year, a quarter of the total productivity gain over the period.

Let’s not forget the London riots last month: London’s rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an indifferent political class that has turned its back on them.” — Telegraph | Aug. 8, 2011

Incidentally,  What If The Tea Party Wins | ThinkProgress — 13 things the Teaparty thinks are unconstitutional: 

  1. Social Security
  2. Medicare
  3. Medicaid
  4. Children’s health insurance
  5. All federal education programs
  6. All federal antipoverty programs
  7. Federal disaster relief
  8. Federal food safety inspections
  9. Child labor laws
  10. The minimum wage
  11. Overtime and other labor protections
  12. Federal civil rights laws
  13. The union

And a timely graph from Paul Krugman (via), real income of non-elderly households:

Meanwhile in Greece via Reuters

A man pours a flammable liquid on his body to set himself on fire outside a Piraeus bank branch in Thessaloniki in northern Greece September 16, 2011. The 55-year old man had entered the bank and asked for a renegotiation of his overdue loan payments on his home and business, according to police, which he could not pay, but was refused by the bank. REUTERS/Nodas Stylianidis/

So is rioting inevitable here in America?  I suppose it’s possible that the Teaparty Republicans might decide to work with the President on some kind of jobs bill instead of just fucking around until the Nov/2012 election. It’s possible that people who once earned (or could hope for) middle class wages will come to accept a Rick-Perry-income for the rest of their lives. And it’s possible that if conservatives have their way and continue with this bottom-to-top income redistribution to the nation’s wealthiest (how? see 13 items listed above), that people will continue to be grateful for their paycheck to paycheck (or unemployment check to unemployment check) lives — losing their homes, unable to afford a doctor, never to retire — because at least they’re not Evil Socialists.

The better question might be: when people have nothing to lose, why would they NOT riot?

Rich people pay a lower effective rate than you. Boom. Reality.

Confirmed by none other than Henry Bloch, founder of tax preparation company H&R Bloch: “That’s so baloney. Rich people don’t create jobs. Companies create jobs. [...] You probably pay a higher rate than I do… and yet my income is probably many times what yours is.”

Via: Bob Cesca

Bottom-to-top income redistribution, illustrated

Why are we still having this conversation?

Tax the rich, okay?

Tax the rich, okay? Via

The Coming Global Class War

THIS IS AN EXCELLENT PIECE FROM JOEL KOTKIN IN FORBES about the coming global class war. The reality is that even with education and hard work, younger generations can’t look forward to living better than their parents anymore. The middle-class is being squeezed out of existence as American manufacturing and formerly white-collar jobs move offshore, while labor unions — which in earlier decades set wage and workplace standards for everyone — have been considered the enemy of Capitalists and the GOP for at least three decades (and so have become the enemy of the rank-and-file Republican voter by default). There will be a breaking point.

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War | Forbes:

In the earlier decades of the 20th century working class youths could look forward to jobs in Britain’s vibrant industrial economy and, later, in the growing public sector largely financed by both the earnings of the City of London and credit. Today the industrial sector has shrunk beyond recognition. The global financial crisis has undermined credit and the government’s ability to pay for the welfare state.

[...] Diminished prospects — what many pundits praise as the “new normal” — now confront a vast proportion of the population. One indication: The expectation of earning more money next year has fallen to the lowest level in 25 years. Wages have been falling not only for non-college graduates but  for those with four-year degree as well.   Over 43% of non-college-educated whites complain they are downwardly mobile.

Given this, it’s hard to see how class resentment in this country can do anything but grow in the years. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed as early as 2007 that he was worried about growing inequality in this country, but his Wall Street and corporate-friendly policies have failed to improve the grassroots economy.

[...] Many conservatives here, as well as abroad, reject the huge role of class.  To them, wealth and poverty still reflect levels of virtue — and societal barriers to upward mobility, just a mild inhibitor. But modern society cannot run according to the individualist credo of Ayn Rand; economic systems, to be credible and socially sustainable, must deliver results to the vast majority of citizens. If capitalism cannot do that expect more outbreaks of violence and greater levels of political alienation — not only in Britain but across most of the world’s leading countries, including the U.S.

(via shorterexcerpts)

Something needs to change with all this economic inequality. For those of us who aren’t millionaires, I guess all we can do is hope that the FEMA-built Thunderdomes won’t be so bad. Which is silly, I know, since by the time the Thunderdomes need to be built, FEMA will have been defunded by “small-government” Republicans to free up enough revenue for further tax cuts and subsidies for the wealthiest one-percent.


London riots: are you watching, Republican Party?

This morning’s good news and bad news…

First the good news (for the Teaparty Republicans and the 1% they fight for):

Tax Rates For Millionaires Have Fallen 25 Percent Since 1995 | The Center for American Progress’ Seth Hanlon took a look at new IRS data and found that “as a percentage of their incomes, millionaires are now paying about one-quarter less of their income to federal taxes than they did in the mid-1990s”:

“Millionaires paid an average tax rate of 22.4 percent in 2009, down by a quarter since 1995, when they paid an average of 30.4 percent,” Hanlon noted.

Now the bad news (for the remaining 99% of us):

Average Income Falls To Lowest Level Since 1997 | According to newly released tax data, “U.S. incomes plummeted again in 2009, with total income down 15.2 percent in real terms since 2007.” 2009′s average income of $54,283, which is the latest available data, “was at its lowest level since 1997 when it was $54,265 in 2009 dollars, just $18 less than in 2009.”

Possible solution:

Look in the mirror


Freedom ISN’T free — that’s why we pay taxes.

Via Laura Conaway | Maddow Blog:

In theory, President Obama preserved the possibility of new revenue in the future through raising taxes on the wealthy and closing loopholes. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is on the Twitters saying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that it could happen “is absolutely false. House Republicans will not agree to tax increases. Period.”

Careful watchers of Congress — and this show — will remember that in March, Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee proposed lowering the deficit with a magic elixir of 85 percent spending cuts and 15 percent new revenue. Steely Democrats countered with an offer of 87 percent spending cuts and 13 percent new revenue. Which is how we got to this deal, with 100 percent spending cuts and the hope (or not) of new revenue.


Yes, it really is the Bush tax cuts. Yes, that has contributed to the deficit and income inequality in America.

But the teaparty tells us, “NO COMPROMISE!!” They have been instructed to cut spending without increasing taxes on their donors and corporate masters. How do you negotiate with terrorists?

From Maddow Blog:

President Obama made his case to the American people Monday night, explaining why we’re so much in the red:

In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card.

As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office. To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off. These emergency steps also added to the deficit.

At the heart of all that is the set of Bush tax cuts, including tax cuts for the wealthy, that were billed as temporary but have proved politically difficult to get rid of. Below, the New York Times chart James Fallows says should be included in every discussion of the debt ceiling.

While we’re talking about expiring the tax cuts for the wealthy, don’t forget these facts about the wealthiest 1% vs. the rest of us:

I hope those teabaggers who are riding around on their government-paid electric scooters are really listening to what their chosen leaders are saying and are aware of these facts:

“The top 1 percent now gets almost a quarter of the nation’s total income — a larger share than at any time since the 1920s. The top 1 percent have also received about 40 percent of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts.” — Robert Reich

“Average income went from that $30,941 in 1980 to $31,244 in 2008. Think about that: the average income of Americans increased just $303 dollars in 28 years. That’s wage repression.” — Bill Moyers

Here’s another chart for you:

MOTHER JONES: Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.

What do the teabaggers imagine they’re leaving to their children and grandchildren, again, if their reps in Congress crash the economy next week and the wealthy are never again required to pay their fair share of revenue? Idiots.

Sparta 2011: America is Greece, according to Mitch McConnell

“We have a debt as big as our economy. We look a lot like Greece already. And it’s going to have to have broad impact on every aspect of our society in order to get this problem under control.”Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was unable to identify a single specific concession he’d ask of wealthy people.

Strikers clash with riot police during a demonstration in central Athens Tuesday June 29, 2010. Greek labor unions held nationwide 24-hour general strike to protest overhaul of social security, labor law. The reforms are part of the government’s efforts to pull Greece out of its financial crisis.

credit: Alkis Konstantinidis via nickturse

Budget talks with the GOP, illustrated