Posts Tagged ‘fiscal cliff’

A New Social(ism) Contract?

October 8, 2013

As near as this under-employed citizen can determine, the (over)simplified net effect of the Affordable Care Act will be this:

A big pile of money will be collected from employed people who can afford health insurance, and that money will be used to ensure health care for poor people who would otherwise not be able to afford health care or health insurance.

This will help poor people. Everybody else will, by premiums or by taxes, ante up some money to assure that the po’ folks will be minimally cared for whenever they have health or medical problems.

Okay, this working Republican can live with that, even it will cost me a few bucks, because, you know, I have a heart and I am a Christian and we’re all in this together and I don’t want to see riots in the streets etc etc etc.

My mind wanders every day between the poles and polls of this controversy, as I am under the influence of so many information sources, whether it be sound-bite Congressional rhetoric, or a morning email from Erick Erickson, or listening to a panel discussion on Diane Rehm or hearing Tom Ashbrook orchestrate an exploration of the issues, or reading a UPI report.

Here’s the problem: Our original social contract, which is the Constitution with its tripartite governmental institutions, does not effectively address all the divisions that arise in this post-modern predicament. For some people, such as Tea Party folks, or persons of independent means, that incongruence becomes a big objection to what is happening now. For others, who are poor or who want to, by grand design build a great society, our Constitutional freedoms and rights are not such a big issue.

Since the New Deal, the disparities and eccentricities of capitalism have driven us away from the original social contract enacted in the Constitution by our nation’s founders. We’ve tacked on Medicare and Medicaid. This is not your father’s oldsmobile; nor is it your grandmother’s household with muffin-buns and berries by the steamy kitchen window. We have evolved to a post-democratic, post-republican, post-capitalist, post-expansionist, post-consumer-waste welfare corporate State.

And hey, it is what it is, like it or not. This is 2013. I mean, 1984 was 29 years ago already.

But the libertarian folks who identify with  Constitutionally-protected rugged individualism are still with us. God bless ’em. They figure we didn’t sign up for this redistribution hijinks. I can relate. I live in a mountain town that was named after a musket-totin’ trailblazing pioneer named Daniel Boone. I wish everybody had the initiative and self-respect that the libertarians have. But alas, there are many other folks out there in the great cities and amongst the urbanized conglomerates who  are quite comfortable, even fat n’ happy, depending on the System that we’ve patched together, which is not the same as the visionary government that our Founders had wrought from the virgin soil of a vast contintent back in the day.

Now this whole Affordable Care vs. Obamacare mirage has got us all torn up, living on the edge of fiscal disaster or social dystopia or government shutdown or Default or  some combination thereof.

We need a new social contract. I propose a national referendum on the Affordable Care Act so we can settle this thing once and for all. Instead of depending on the Democrats or Republicans to interpret the polls, let’s take a real vote on the issue so we’ll know where the simple majority of Americans stand on this landmark issue of subsidized health care.

Glass half-Full

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Kick the can down the cliff

December 29, 2012

“Kick the can off the cliff;

swipe your card cuz what’s the diff?

Find a hole and dump your load;

Kick your bucket down the road.”

Get your kicks.

 

This is what cousin vinny said

before he odeed and woke up dead.

Then he sent a postcard from hell;

what he said I’ll never tell.

Well maybe.

 

He said he’d just as soon take a dive;

to preserve his image of cook and jive,

but then his jig was up too soon;

he cooked it up in a dirty spoon.

Y’know what I’m sayin?

 

It all started back on the road,

when jack left home and kissed a toad,

but then it pricked us in the back

and sank our mission in lake kerooac.

Cool!

 

That beat all I ever seen,

to shuck the buck and shoot up the dream;

’til along came a slicker hack;

he sat on a candlestick, that newer jack.

Far out!

 

“Steal this book. Question everything.

Forget  the picket fence; have a fling.

One pill makes you larger; one makes you small.”

Now the folks who paid the bills

won’t do anything at all.

Stall.

 

Kick the can down the cliff.

Snort some plastic and take a whiff.

We be high, but now we broke

since we went upstairs and had a smoke.

Fugedabodit.

 

I read the news today oh boy

lady gogo got a new toy,

and some whacko shot us, news at eleven:

forget about heaven.

Happy new year.

Glass Chimera

 

 

 

 

 

The Cliff, oh the cliff!

November 17, 2012

This winter situation is covered with frost,

and summer’s plenty is all but lost.

Our nation’s budget’s been tempest-tossed,

with funds and revenues far beneath our cost.

 

Just how we got here, my mind is miffed,

while our budget-crunchers stretch and sift.

Many years now, our spenders squander; our deficits drift

with a fiscal load too heavy to lift.

 

Whether we plunge or lunge, Congress has a tiff,

because revenues are lethargic and taxes are stiff.

If we cut out this or don’t collect that, and now, what’s more–what if?;

You see our fiscal sense, long ago, hath plunged over this cliff.

 

Just how far we fall

is impossible to call.

Winter and spring will squall, and summer will stall;

we’ll find ourselves at another cliff next fall.

 

What else is new? You question me. I’ll ask you.

You say it’s false and I say it’s true:

our debts are too many; our funds are too few.

Who knew?   But I’m not to blame. Surely it’s you!

Glass Chimera 

Time for the fiscal cliff plunge?

September 9, 2012

Back in the 1930s,  the United Kingdom was the declining economic power of that age, as the United States is today. During those turbulent early ’30s, the Brits were having some trouble balancing their accounts, and they didn’t have enough gold reserves to back up the money demands being made on their financial system. So they forsook the gold standard as a means of backing up their currency, the pound.

About that time, as this 21st-century yeoman internet-reader (me) hath been able to ascertain, the Brit economist John Maynard Keynes figured out that, even though the currency was no longer backed up with gold, folks were still passing money around and doing business as if nothing had changed. This discovery became, by and by, the basis for all monetary activity throughout the world for the last eighty years or so.

Money is money, whether there’s a vault full of gold.gov somewhere in England or in Fort Knox or anywhere else in the monetized world. That’s the point. We’re still passing the stuff around as if it had real value, even though there’s no gold backing it up. People love spending it, and the love getting it. Perhaps they always will, even when money becomes mere electrons.

Now we are running out of money again, so the financial markets and the stock markets are obsessing about whether the Fed will bail out our money system yet again, for the third time, since the big thrill roller coaster ride of 2008.

This morning, I encountered an article online by a fellow, Joseph Stuber, who seems to actually know what he’s talking about, and can explain the current ramifications of this money dynamic better than I can:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/852831-market-euphoria-continues-as-we-get-ready-to-jump-off-the-fiscal-cliff?

Mr. Stuber mentions, right off the bat, one morsel of truth that John Maynard Keynes left behind; it is this statement:

“The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

That’s basically what happened in ’29.

These days, the  whizzbangs who run the markets will work hard milking profits out of the system for as long as they can.

In fact, every stock trader will wheel and deal and play chicken with their suckerish counterparties right up until the time that the whole money machine runs out of fuel (imagined value), in hopes that he will be able to exit the game before the house falls and somebody else is left holding the bag of severely devalued assets.

Some of the perceived value of this market pertains to what Congress and the Fed will do, or not  do, to retain the integrity of our currency and, therefore, the value our entire economy.

Mr. Stuber offers two possible scenarios of what may happen when Congress attempts to (or pretends to) deal with the fiscal cliff that awaits us, come January. The so-called fiscal cliff is the deficit debacle that Congress shelved for a year so they wouldn’t have to contend with its difficult choices before the election.

My layman’s rendering of Mr Stuber’s two scenarios (extreme paraphrasing) goes something like this:

If Congress make a deal, like they did last year, to extend  the expiring “Bush” tax cuts, then we will muddle through the next year or two just as we have been doing. High unemployment will become the new paradigm, a semi-permanent steady state of dysfunction and financial misery for sizable segments of our population, and nothing much will change, or maybe, who knows? it will all get worse.

If Congress doesn’t make a deal, and the tax cuts expire, and the so-called “automatic” austere cuts of last year’s sequestration deal are put into effect, then the long-awaited economic correction that we’ve been forestalling since fall of ’08 will, at last, take its toll on our high-on-the-hog standards of living, and it will not be pretty, and recovery will probably not roll into effect until, say, 2017, or so, when our overvalued economy tumbles to a new (lower) foundation for true growth to get a foothold.

Someone should mention this to Mr. Romney before he makes as many vain promises as his predecessor did.

We shall what happens on Nov. 6.

And we shall  see what happens  when Congress re-convenes after the election.

In Charlotte on Labor Day, I heard Chris Matthews mention that the Dow, which was at around 8000 when President Obama took office, is now hovering around 13,000. Chris’ implication was that the President must be doing a good job, or the Wall Street crowd would have pulled their rug out.

Perhaps that is true. I think that Mr. Obama has done as well as can be expected of any Democrat, under the circumstances that were passed to him.

But the question arises: what has the level of bubblish value in our stock markets got to do with anything that is happening in the streets and factories and households of our country?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or the apartment, as the case may be,  what about you, Mr. America, Ms. America? What will you do this week to pitch in and help solve the problem?

Glass half-Full