Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “citizens united”

Genocide of the Middleclass – Roger Ingalls

James Carville has just released a new book (It’s the Middle Class, Stupid) and the President is now shaping his re-election rhetoric around helping the middleclass so I feel it is prudent to repost (with edits) one of my earlier articles about the subject.

It is mind-boggling that so many Americans have a god-like fascination with Ronald Reagan. This is the man who set in motion the financial destruction of the middleclass. Unbelievably, a significant portion of Middle America still loves the man. Why? Is it some sort of Battered Wife Syndrome  or is the conservative middleclass too embarrassed to admit that they were duped by the Republican Party?

But, here we are, repeating stupidity. Instead of trying to reverse Reaganomics, conservatives are still trying to enhance it; more tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, more union busting, deregulation and privatization of government programs.

To increase our understanding, let’s review history: today, many Americans believe that middleclass society magically appeared with the birth of our nation and grew over time. This is not true. With the market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, the country fell into economic chaos and floundered under Republican President Herbert Hoover. Prior to that, there were a few rich people, a lot of poor folk and a handful of in-betweeners. Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in March of 1933, quickly launched new legislation and executive orders that would become known as the New Deal.

The New Deal increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, increased corporate taxes, regulated banks and Wall Street, created government programs (social security, unemployment insurance and minimum wage), and created pro-union alliances. FDR’s policies pulled our Nation out of the depression and gave rise to Middle America. In less than a decade, the middleclass would grow to become the largest demographic in the country and the envy of the world—The Great American Middleclass.

From the late 30s through the late 70s America prospered, the Middleclass would live comfortably and we became the undisputed world power. In steps the B-movie cowboy with his traveling show of Reaganomites and the genocide begins. Middle America was forced to save less just to maintain living standards, eventually leading to the necessity of financing their way of life. Wealth transferred from the Middleclass to banks, corporations, the rich got richer and this trend continues today. Wealth disparity now sits at the largest level since the robber-baron days of the late 1800s through the 1920s.

Americans need to act by educating ourselves on what policies actually work based on historic proof. We must not listen to money-influenced mainstream media. We must not let ourselves get polarized (against each other) through agenda promoted by today’s corporate-financed politicians—it’s their tactic to divide and conquer.

Genocide of the Middleclass, begun by Ronald Reagan, must stop. Hopefully the influential power of James Carville will help bring attention to proper change. And maybe, just maybe, the President’s renewed commitment to the middleclass is more than the normal lip-service.

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Is Justice Roberts a Friend to Health Care? – Tom Rossi

Writers, pundits, television reporters, everyone in any kind of media, even those thought of as “liberal,” have all taken Justice John Roberts’ apparent break from the conservative cabal on the Supreme Court at face value. I’m shocked at the lack of conspiracy theories on this and, frankly, I’m bored.

The term “conspiracy theory” is used to instantly discredit an idea by ridiculing it as crackpot-ish. America is in love with the image of the lone, crazed individual, just like it’s in love with rugged individualism.

Fiction, not reality!

And we would love to think that Justice Roberts somehow and suddenly saw the light of reason, that he realized the importance of health care availability or, as Robert Reich said, the importance of the court’s public image. But Citizens United and Justice Alito’s subsequent mouthed denial of any reversal of precedent (at President Obama’s State of the Union Address) make those explanations seem unlikely.

There has been plenty of evidence that Justice Roberts and the other, even more hard-line right-wing ideologues on the Supreme Court bench have taken their marching orders from conservative strategists. In the Citizens United decision, the conservative members of the court took the opportunity to form a new doctrine that far overreached the case that had been presented to it.

Let me be clear about Citizens United and the Supreme Court – the aggravating thing wasn’t so much that the court found for what I or “liberals” would consider the “wrong side.” It was that the conservative wing of the court took a very narrow case with specific issues, and generalized the ruling in an expansive and even illogical way. It was as if they were called upon to rule on whether a runner had beaten the throw to first base and was therefore safe, but they also ruled that umpires could fly kites during the game and that the fans could wear blue on Tuesdays but not Wednesdays.

There is really no explanation for this other than that these justices were granting an unpublished (but obvious) corporate “wish list.” And even though I’ve semi-conflated “conservatives” and corporations, this, along with the outrage of everyday, non-super-wealthy conservatives, showed exactly who or what was being served.

This leads me to wonder about this mysterious decision on so-called “Obamacare.” Could this have been a strategy by conservatives? Could this have been an attempt to tip the scales in favor of Mitt Romney and other conservatives (who all vow to eliminate Obamacare) running for congress in November, 2012?

The following method is somewhat teleological, but let’s try to figure out how such a strategy would best be implemented in this case. It wouldn’t be shrewd to have all the conservative justices side with the legitimacy of Obamacare, that would give it real credibility. Much better to have one wildcat, one rogue justice who split, leaving conservatives in their cherished victim role.

And, in fact, it was Justice Roberts who was to write the majority opinion for this case. How different might it have been if Justice Sotomayor had written it? Or Justice Breyer? Roberts allowed the central principle of Obamacare to stand, the individual mandate, by calling it that dirtiest of words… a tax. In fact, he implied that it was a tax used as a punishment.

Within minutes, the Republicans, Senators, Representatives, governors, and the rare Republican bathroom attendants were crying: “Tax!” “Tax on the middle class!” I can’t say if this was prepared before-hand, or if it was deliberately orchestrated, but it was like the freakin’ Mormon Tabernacle Choir – perfect unison.

I don’t know what really happened inside or outside Justice Roberts’ round little head, but given what he and his court have done so far – followed an astonishingly blatant, conservative activist agenda while decimating the rule of law, I’m suspicious.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Ketchup Turkey and More – Roger Ingalls

I’m a guest blogger on Left Coast Voices and Thursdays are my day to post. Thanksgiving falls on Thursday and I feel like it is necessary to write something that honors this day. But I have nothing. I have no profound or original thoughts.

The only thing that comes to mind is the usual “I’m thankful for this, that and whatever”. So, here we go…I’ll try to make it interesting.

I’m thankful for:

1)      Ketchup because no matter how you cook turkey, it just doesn’t have flavor worth the multiple hours of effort it takes to prepare it.

2)      The Super Bowl Champ Green Bay Packers because it makes me smile, from head to toe, knowing a small town professional sports franchise owned by the community can beat the snot out of teams owned by Big Business fat cats.

3)      Knowing some Americans are finally recognizing the middleclass genocide brought on by the financial copulation between Wall Street and politicians.

4)      The smart and articulate people that are successfully bringing attention to the evils of the Citizen’s United decision made by the Supreme Court. Corporations are not real people and should not have the same rights as real people.

5)      Americans becoming more politically aware and that some are motivated enough to protest. Say what you will about the #Occupy Movement but at least they understand something isn’t right and they are doing something about it.

6)      Thomas Jefferson because without him we would not have a Bill of Rights. I’m also thankful that many of the nation’s grade school students will not receive textbooks written by conservatives trying to write Jefferson out of our history because he didn’t have orthodox Christian views. Without Jefferson, the conservative Christians would not have the right to write these books they’re trying to change history with – how ironic.

7)      Will Allen for turning inner-city food deserts into thriving urban farms that feed thousands of people. Urban farming is the next big employment opportunity.

8)      Occasionally getting ill overseas and experiencing, first-hand, the marvels of universal healthcare. It opened my eyes to the extensive lies told by our politicians just to protect the interests of big business.

9)      Being a senior corporate officer in a publicly trading company. The experience of stock offerings and investor relations exposed me to the unethical behavior of Investment Banks and their supporting partners.

10)  Alon Shalev giving me the opportunity to post on his blog. It has allowed me to vent frustration and hopefully entertain and educate a few people along the way.

I know it sounds like a cliché but most of all, I am thankful for my wonderful, caring and gorgeous wife.

Puts some ketchup on your turkey and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

One Dollar, One Vote. Lots of Dollars, Lots of Votes.

In a series of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the principle has been forwarded that the right to free speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution, also applies to money that is spent on campaign contributions and political advertising. Justice Antonin Scalia even said, during oral arguments in the 2006 case in which the Vermont Republican party sued the state over campaign contribution limits, “When you say, ‘You can’t spend more than this on your campaign,’ you’re saying, ‘You can’t say more than this.’ When you say, ‘You don’t need any more speech than this,’ that’s an odd thing for the United States Government to say.”

In this statement, Justice Scalia, adorable teddy-bear that he is, did a great job of showing just how limited is his typical level of analysis (thin, simplistic analysis is both standard and necessary to the conservative way of thinking).

Laws that limit spending are not made for the purpose of limiting speech at all. They are in place to keep the playing field somewhat level by preventing someone with money from having more “free speech” than someone with less cash. If spending is limited, in principle a rich person would have one voice, as would a poor person.

Spending allows a political actor to reach, and ostensibly convince, more people more effectively. If you and I have opposing views on a measure up for approval in the next election, we can both stand up and shout in a bar or on a street corner, write letters or e-mails, talk to our co-workers, etc. But if I have a big stack of cash lying around, I can put ads on TV and on the radio. I can put up billboards and take out newspaper ads. Of course, these ads would feature slick public-relations-firm-concocted slogans being delivered by a thirty-year-old, smartly-dressed mom from her perfectly clean kitchen. You wouldn’t stand a chance.

As usual, the externalities in this situation are among the most important effects: As I (in my theoretical fantasy role) spend more and more money on advertising, advertising rates go up – until there is no possible way you, my opponent, can pay them (or maybe you can buy one commercial to my ten). This process can eventually make the underfunded opponents of the desires of the rich and powerful into permanent losers. This is especially true if, with my money and influence, I push through legislation that gives me and my empire of corporations an advantage.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission signals the beginning of the unfettered ability of corporations to exercise just the advantage I’m talking about. In this case the Roberts Court took full advantage of the opportunity for conservative activism and went way beyond the scope of the case before it to give exponentially more political power to money.

The decision allows corporations and unions to spend what they please. Some might think this evens it out – unions vs. corporations, but there are two problems: Giving these two entities the same rights to spend is like allowing both Mike Tyson and an eight-year-old girl to put brass knuckles on their fists, under their boxing gloves. In addition, unions do not represent the sum of the opposition to corporations and corporate aspirations. Corporations (with VERY few exceptions) exist solely to make more and more money, not to build “The Good Society.”

Belt yourselves in – we’re in for a steep fall.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com

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The 1981 Epoch: Ronald Reagan’s Genocide of the Middleclass

Staring at the extinction of their middleclass way of life, you’d think Americans would be ‘mad as hell and not going to take this anymore’.

It is mind boggling that so many Americans have a god-like fascination with Ronald Reagan. This is the man who set in motion the financial gang-raping of the middleclass. Unbelievably, a significant portion of Middle America still loves the man. Why? Is it some sort of Battered Wife Syndrome, the ongoing reality-clouding propaganda by Citizens United or is the conservative middleclass too embarrassed to admit that they were duped by Reaganomics?

But, here we are, repeating stupidity. Instead of trying to reverse Reaganomics, we are now trying to enhance it; more tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, more union busting, deregulation and privatization of government programs.

To increase our understanding, let’s review history: today, many Americans believe that middleclass society magically appeared with the birth of our nation and grew over time. This is not true. With the market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, the country fell into economic chaos and floundered under Republican President Herbert Hoover. Prior to that, there were a few rich people, a lot of poorfolk and a handful of in-betweeners. Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in March of 1933, quickly launched new legislation and executive orders that would become known as the New Deal.

The New Deal increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans, increased corporate taxes, regulated banks and Wall Street, created government programs (social security, unemployment insurance and minimum wage), and created pro-union alliances. FDR’s policies pulled our Nation out of the depression and gave rise to Middle America. In less than a decade, the Leave It To Beaver and Ozzy And Harriet society would grow to become the largest demographic in the country and the envy of the world—The Great American Middleclass.

From the late 30s through the late 70s America prospered and the Middleclass would live comfortably. In steps the B-movie cowboy with his traveling show of Reaganomics and the 1981 epoch begins. Middle America starts to save less to maintain living standards, eventually leading to the necessity of financing their way of life. Wealth transfers from the Middleclass to banks, corporations and the rich get richer. Wealth disparity now sit at the largest level since the robber-baron days of the late 1800s through the 1920s.

We need a call to action. We need leaders with intellect and integrity but most importantly we need leaders with the political will of FDR. We need a champion of the Middleclass.

Americans need to act, educating ourselves on what policies actually work based on historic proof. We must not listen to money-influenced mainstream media. We must not let ourselves polarize against each other with agenda promoted by today’s corporate-financed politicians—it’s their tactic to divide and conquer.

Social media can be the great equalizer; we’ve seen its power in the Middle East. We can use it to educate, organize, create an agenda and protest. Once we have an alliance with critical mass, change will come. Here’s an example: use social media to organize home owners to not pay their mortgages for a few months. Even if a portion of home owners participated, the financial institutions would be chewing on the politicians’ asses to find a resolution before the markets tank.

Change is easier than we realize.

Genocide of the Middleclass, begun by Ronald Reagan, must stop.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

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