Monday, February 27, 2006

A triple tax whammy!

The Bushies crow about the unemployment rate as proof that their "trickle-down" tax cuts are fueling the economy (there's that word again -- fuel). But they don't count people who are unemployed for longer than six months. Contrast the U.S. Department of Labor rate of 4.9 percent to the rate estimated by economists able to decipher government press releases -- more than 8 percent.

Despite his promises, Bush's tax cuts in 2001 and 2002 did not create jobs. So he cut taxes again in 2003. He now claims 4 million jobs created since 2003, but 2.8 million of those jobs resulted directly from government spending. If this puny job growth is due to his tax cuts, then why the 18 million new jobs created in Clinton's first six years with a tax increase?

Since 2001, 70 percent of U.S. income growth has gone to corporate profits despite worker productivity increasing three times faster than wages. In the seven preceding business cycles, 77 percent of the income growth went to wages.

Updated Bureau of Labor Statistics job data from 2001 through 2006 analyzed by MBG Information Services shows:

We are more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth alone.

A loss of 2.9 million manufacturing jobs, close to 17 percent of this entire work force. Examples: communications equipment, down 43 percent; computers and electronics, down 30 percent; textile mills, down 43 percent; clothing manufacturing, down 50 percent.

All job growth has been in service-related areas -- credit, social assistance, waitresses, state and local government, etc.

But we are an "ownership society," remember? And you own lots more than you used to, thanks to housing values. It is a shame that many have had to borrow on this increase just to afford basics. Try to keep your greater wealth in mind while pumping black gold into your tank.

Of great interest, especially with obscene oil company profits, is the following from Daily Kos:

"New projections, buried in the Interior Department's just-published budget plan, anticipate that the government will let companies pump about $65 billion worth of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government ... the government will give up more than $7 billion in payments between now and 2011 ... even though the administration assumes that oil prices will remain above $50 a barrel."



Tax-cut criticisms ignore the real prosperity

In answer to Adam Metcalf's letter of Feb. 18, I would like to refute some of his misguided liberal letter. It is merely a re-hash of the same whining we have heard for the last five years.

In the first place, many of the so-called "tax cuts" were timed and only kicked in over several years. And even at the beginning, the tax cuts were supposed to be "revenue neutral." All this meant was that the IRS took from one and gave to another. Actually, however, I recently read that in 2005, the government collected more tax revenue than in any other year in history. So much for "tax cuts"!

Actually, the one tax cut that was unnoticed at first and one that has spurred one of the greatest economic boons in history was the little-noticed one that said that if you had lived in your home for more than two years and sold it for a gain, that gain was not taxable. At first, it was good only for a lifetime limit of $250,000 per person but later, this limitation was removed.

This tax cut has spurred that greatest boom that has reverberated throughout America. The couple that bought a home in California in 1975 for, say, $75,000, found that they could sell it for $500,000 and pay no tax. So they sold the place, came to Idaho perhaps, and found that they could buy or build a new place (maybe even larger than the old one) for $200,000 with $20,000 or less down. So they buy the new place and retire -- no tax.

There is only one way to treat taxes, and that is to expand the tax base and lower the rate. Also, get away from the Communist Manifesto-recommended income tax and put our system on a basis of spending rather than on income. There is no problem of definition when you spend something, but income can vary tremendously, depending on who is doing the definition.


Twin Falls

Duard Lawley’s defense of the “boom” produced by gain from sale of your home only tells half of the story. Those windfalls exist because all Americans are paying significantly more for basic housing. And face it, Duard, whether you or the talking heads want to blame the uproar on liberals, more and more conservatives of conscience are adding to the noise.

Most readers have already received the majority of their cuts from the 2001 legislation. However, 80 percent of the windfall for the wealthy is scheduled to come from tax changes that phase in after 2005. If the Bush tax reductions are still in place by 2010, we will see 52 percent of the cuts go to the richest one percent.

Lawley’s statement that “in 2005, the government collected more tax revenue than in any other year in much for tax cuts!” inspires a hoot of derision. This increased tax revenue wasn’t enough to make up for the shortfalls which have developed since 2000.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports “much of the recent growth of (tax) revenues has occurred because of a boom in corporate tax receipts rather than in taxes on wages and salaries. This is consistent with the notion of increased income inequality, and is consistent with revenues exceeding expectations at the same time that overall economic growth has not.” Fifty billion dollars of that 2005 revenue came from expiration of a business tax at the end of 2004.

Former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, N. Gregory Mankiw, author of an introductory economics text book, wrote that any economist who claims that tax cuts pay for themselves is a “snake oil salesman who is trying to sell a miracle cure.” But Rattlesnake George recently said, “...this tax relief not only has helped our economy, but it’s helped the federal budget...You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase.”

For several years now, consumer spending and the real estate market have helped maintain the economy. Unfortunately, most of this outlay came via new consumer debt; not because your average American is better off. Consumer debt is already unbearable and the real estate boom is slowing; what will take their place?

Mr. Lawley writes “income can vary tremendously, depending on who is doing the definition.” So can information on the economy “vary tremendously, depending on who is doing the definition.”

Sharon Metcalf

Friday, February 24, 2006

Petty attacks on Bush are all liberals have

It's in ongoing saga, the hate for George W. Bush. One thing for the liberals, they get set on something, they stay with it, don't they?

After the 2000 election, their target was "get George Bush," and no amount of national tragedy or world trauma diverts them. In every situation, we see them -- national Democratic leaders and major media -- searching diligently for a chance to charge George Bush with some deviation from duty.

Barney, down in Hagerman, thinks he is a pea-brain, and a lady over in Gooding calls him a dumbbell, and they all fancy themselves ahead of the curve on insight about George Bush's presidential performance.

The truth is, they don't have a clue. It looks like he has stayed ahead of the game fairly well and could do a lot better if he would turn a deaf ear to all those folks who keep hammering him about needing to be more liberal-minded and condescending. If the country wanted to go more liberal, perhaps the voting the last two elections would have gone that direction. It was close, but we narrowly escaped major catastrophes both times. With the mind-set of both opponents, how would we have survived?

It's pretty clear that the hate for Bush overrides any positive direction for the nation in the liberal minds. I fear that it will take another national tragedy to shake them loose from that one goal to "get George Bush"! We can't win the war against the terrorists, for that would support George Bush. Somehow or other, he is at fault for every dreadful thing that comes along -- the hurricanes, terrorist attacks, including 9/11. now Vice President Cheney has accidentally shot a hunting companion. Surely, George Bush is somehow to blame and Cheney must have had some ulterior motive! Liberals scheme and connive like 3-year-olds in the sandbox.

As for the war, it's a war on terrorists and not a specific nation. It was true military strategy to invade Iraq, for one of the first tactics of a commander is to cut off the enemy's source of supply. That seedbed of terrorism was at least that, having already positioned itself in rebellion against United Nations decrees. An old proverb, I think, sums up the whole picture: "Wisdom is justified by her children."

Twin Falls

Letter below appeared in The Times-News' edition of 03/04/06.

Stupidity, outrage, vanity, cruelty, iniquity, bad faith, falsehood—we fail to see the whole array when it is facing in the same direction as we.
Jean Rostand (1894–1977)

Come, come, Mr. Lawley. Surely you can do better than defend George by stating he has stayed ahead of the game. All he’s stayed ahead of is the law. As for him turning a deaf ear to liberal “hammering,” I can’t imagine you are speaking of the same president who hand-picks his audiences and even provides questions for them to ask–that is if any questions are allowed.

Isn’t it amazing, though, that after years of fear-mongering in order to get the American people to let him do anything he wants to ensure their “safety,” suddenly it’s okay to have the United Arab Emirates manage our ports? It couldn’t be that there are business benefits to any of the Bushes, could it? You know, like connections to The Carlyle Group or the UAE funding a Bush brother’s education software, or the $1 million donation to the Bush Library in Texas?

Philadelphia talk show host, Michael Smerconish, writes, “...a year after Bin Laden served formal notice of his intention to kill Americans anyhow, anywhere, the CIA appropriately tracked his whereabouts and was prepared to take him out, but was denied the opportunity because of the presence of high-level UAE officials who were socializing with the head of Al Qaeda. Worse, when the United States alerted the UAE of their displeasure with these contacts, the UAE’s response was to tip off Bin Ladin and further thwart our efforts to kill him.”

Mr. Lawley’s feeble excuse that this is a war on terrorists and not a specific nation only makes me wonder at his “ability to process information.” Wouldn’t it seem logical, since the hijackers were from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, that they would be invaded before Iraq? We already know there were no weapons of mass destruction, no 911 hijackers, and it took some time after that to think up the “spread democracy” lie.

I think it might be time for my immediate and extended family to stop attempting to inform the 55% of Idahoans who support Bush that their country is circling the drain. If they’re that stupid, they won’t even notice when we become a third world country.

Gene New

Saturday, February 11, 2006

U.S. picks a president as smart as its people

That this all-around incompetent president enjoys 40 percent approval of his deadly policies is incomprehensible. At least it was until I came across a recent article by Paul Craig Roberts, "Polls Show Many Americans are Simply Dumber Than Bush," in which he cites a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York Times/CBS News poll which reveal how Bush can operate without consequence or worry. While Roberts does blame the media for faithfully following the administration line free from any urge to scream, "What Bush *$!#" he adds that half of our population is actually unable to acquire, process or understand information. Maybe it should have been "No Adult Left Behind."

Roberts writes: "Americans need desperately to understand that 95 percent of all Muslim terrorists in the world were created in the past three years by Bush's invasion of Iraq.

Americans need desperately to comprehend that if Bush attacks Iran and Syria, as he intends, terrorism will explode and American civil liberties will disappear into a 30-year war that will bankrupt the United States.

The total lack of rationality and competence in the White House and the inability of half of the U.S. population to acquire and understand information are far larger threats to Americans than terrorism.

America has become a rogue nation, flying blind, guided only by ignorance and hubris. A terrible catastrophe awaits."

So if those "unable to process" among you (not that I really think you are reading this) were horrified at the new threat of human/animal hybrids revealed in Bush's State of the Union speech, this is merely animal testing in search of cures for human illnesses. Biology professor P.Z. Myers writes, "He's (Bush) trusting that everyone will think he is banning monstrous crimes against nature, but what he's really doing is targeting the weak and the ill, blocking useful avenues of research that are specifically designed to help us understand human afflictions."

As for my personal processing of information, I have a sickeningly clear conception of what is really going on in this country and the inevitable results; however, I will admit that the human/animal hybrid reference did bring an immediate picture of the chimp to my brain.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Iraq war killing far more than U.S. soldiers

Bravo, Mr. Hartley, for questions regarding actual soldier and civilian deaths in Iraq. I, too, have written Sen. Craig in the past inquiring whether there was any truth to a national political cartoon that inferred only deaths on Iraq soil were counted as fatalities. Those airlifted out who died later were not included. He repeated the Department of Defense statistics.

There have been more than 25,000 soldiers medically evacuated from Iraq, yet the Department of Defense reports 16,400 injured. Some estimates indicate that one out of four serving in Iraq will have post traumatic stress disorder.

In early 2005, a group of Johns Hopkins researchers estimated that in the first 14 months of the war, about 100,000 Iraqi civilians died. They attributed 60,000 of the deaths to the United States and its allies. Since that time, the United States has implemented air attacks with pilot-less reconnaissance aircraft followed by precision guided munitions, or "smart bombs." Unfortunately, the smart bombs are about as smart as our president and kill far more civilians than insurgents.

We will never know how many civilians were killed in the bombing during Bush Sr.'s Gulf War. However, the subsequent economic sanctions are estimated to have resulted in the deaths of 1 million to 1.5 million civilians, including 500,000 children under 5 years of age due to malnutrition, lack of health care, etc.

With GWB's 2003 war, even more munitions rained down in Iraq destroying much of what infrastructure survived. These bombs and missiles have been saturated with depleted uranium. In "Oil Simply Oil," Manuel Valenzuela writes "... the cradle of civilization is being contaminated by the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, poisoned, since 1991, by radiation equivalent to between 250,000 and 400,000 Nagasaki bombs."

And so, those deaths will be followed by years and years of whatever mutations and slow agonies the uranium will visit on individuals; not just Iraqis, but those serving there too.

The 911 tragedy cannot be forgotten, but until all Americans realize it had absolutely nothing to do with this wholesale carnage, Bush will continue to use it as an excuse for his imperialism.

This is not a war on terrorism. It is a corporate and administration-sponsored race to take over resources belonging to others. How many more are they willing to sacrifice for their greed? GWB continues to say the war is "worth it." To whom?