In the heat of the summer start to the Presidential campaign, it’s hard to remember that we’re really still in Winter. That’s in economic terms, as the cycles of the seasons last for years rather than a few months. There’s a good reason people are as angry as they are. This Winter has been long and brutal.
Then again, as Barataria has pointed out before, things are very much warming up. Employment is up like the first tulips of Spring and most of the signs are very positive. But it doesn’t feel that way to many people. As sure as the arrival of Spring often comes with a few storms it seems darker before it all clears up.
Spring is coming. If you pause for a moment and reflect you can feel it. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to just sit around and wait. If you ask any gardener or farmer, Spring is the season with the most work. To get it done, there is no doubt that we are stronger together – that many hands make light work. More importantly, what we harvest is what we plant now. There’s a lot to do, but plenty of reasons to do it joyfully.
Our political system is under attack by a foreign nation.
Revelations that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server was hacked by Russians known to be working for state intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg. Like the break-in at the Watergate offices of the DNC on 17 June 1972, it appears to be part of a coordinated effort to influence the election. Unlike Watergate, it is being run by Putin’s Russia – a vast “kleptocracy” of mafia known as the “Bratva” (brotherhood) that routinely conducts similar operations around the world.
The Republican Convention is over – but, of course, the arguments will continue. If you watched any of the speeches, especially the gloom ridden rant delivered by Donald Trump, you may be wondering about some of the horrifying statistics thrown around. Is America really in such peril, with such incredibly high unemployment and violence in the streets?
The short answer is no, not at all. We’re at a turning point, as we’ve shown many times. The long Depression which started about the year 2000 is coming to an end. We’re literally at the glass half full stage, for the optimists. It’s fairly easy to argue that it’s half empty if you’re a pessimist. But that’s not nearly good enough for those who want to spin out the gloom and/or doom.
You may run into some of these arguments in social media, a family gathering, or from the cranky guy at work who is really into talk radio. They are easy to refute if you have a few facts and figures under your belt. These are the most common and pressing arguments that everything is bad and/or worse under Obama and how they can be refuted.
The attempted coup in Turkey ended quickly, but it is far from over. Exactly what happened remains a bit foggy for the simple reason that no one believes it was ever a serious coup. In a region wracked by conspiracy theories one simple fact stands out – complex machinations are often real.
Recep Erdogan has used the coup as an excuse to launch a massive purge which continues to reach beyond the power structure and into Turkish culture and daily life. The most recent victims include teachers – hardly part of the coup but clearly standing in the way of a complete makeover of Turkey in Erdogan’s image.
All of this is happening in a member of NATO which stands at the bridge between the West and the Middle East – our last reliable and powerful ally in the region.
The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the Presidential campaign. In fourteen days we will know just how everything is going, from the themes we can expect to carry through to November to the polls telling us how the horse race has started.
How will it shake out? If you’re a Republican, you’re probably hoping it won’t be a disaster. Democrats have their own fears for a disruptive show, but appear to be better prepared for a traditional convention bounce.
Here’s what to look for over the next two weeks.
Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. Nearly every story on this event contains the word “finally”, but that is not entirely justified. This is a process, not an event. Today’s message was dragged out until Sanders could get every concession to his movement that he could, and for good reason. That is primarily what Sanders was in this for all along – real, progressive change.
Now, it’s up to Sanders and Clinton to sell it. The process is not over.
What is a fair corporate tax? It’s a hot political topic, but one loaded with a tremendous amount of mis-information. On the left, it’s common to cite “loopholes” which allow corporations to “offshore” profits and dodge taxes as a result of corporate lobbying. On the right, the extremely high corporate tax rate of 38%, nearly double the worldwide average, is cited as a major problem.
Both statements are greatly limited at best. US corporate tax law does not contain “loopholes” but a series of structural deficiencies derived primarily from being hopelessly antiquated. Any discussion of the tax rate misses the main issues entirely, as the definition of “profit” – more accurately, definition of “income” and “expense” – is the core issue.
Any reasonable discussion of corporate taxes has to start with the fundamentals. What is a corporation? What is profit? Who benefits? What needs to be done?