War Tax

My proposed war tax would consist of up to a five percentage point increase of the income tax rate for the second highest tax bracket and up to a ten percentage point increase for the highest tax bracket in the event of the United States going to war with another country or becoming involved in a war within another country.

The United States would be considered at war with or within another country if either of the following conditions are met:

  1. Three or more American military personnel or mercenary forces are killed within that country for three consecutive months.
  2. Ten or more people are killed by American military personnel or by American mercenary forces or by any group at war within that country to which the U.S. Government is supplying weapons or by U.S. drones for three consecutive months.

The exact amount of the tax increase would depend on the cost of the war. The current drone war is not costing nearly as much as either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars so the tax increase needed to pay for that drone war would not be anywhere near the five or ten percentage points. If the five and ten percentage point increases are not enough to pay for the war then the increases would remain in place until the war is completely paid for.

Now, why the definition of a war? Think back to the beginning of the Iraq war. George Bush would never have agreed to a tax increase on the rich under any conditions so he would have come up with some explanation, no matter how ridiculous, as to why our invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was not a war. Even with a definition of a war you still would have to depend on honest accounting by whatever administration is in power of the cost of the war both in terms of casualties and dollars.

The poor and middle class of the United States are already paying for our wars with the blood and lives of their children, fathers, mothers, etc. The rich are the ones pushing the most to get us into these wars, so let the rich pay for these wars with their gold.

One more thing, I think you can make a case for applying such a tax increase for as long as necessary to pay for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the entire cost both of which were put on the good old U.S. credit card without a peep out of those folks who love to complain about government deficits.

Next up: Secession Procedure

 

Living in a Remote Area

Living in a remote area is not nearly as much of a problem as it was twenty or thirty years ago. Vehicles are much better and more reliable that they used to be, although rough roads will still beat up the suspension. Communications have improved even more. The cell network in that part of Mozambique was well developed to the point that there were three cellphone providers in Massinger, the nearest town. In addition, I had satellite internet, so I could also communicate via email. Finally, I had a solar power supply consisting of solar panels, a set of batteries, and an inverter. The net result is that I was living quite comfortably.

What all of that means is that these days living in an area like it is more of a hassle than anything else. So, how much hassle would you be willing to put up with to have the experience of driving around a curve on a single lane dirt road and coming to a stop fifteen meters in front of a giraffe standing in the middle of the road looking right at you. So you sit there in the vehicle for 30 seconds to a minute watching the giraffe watch you and then you get out of the vehicle and stand behind the open door. Now that is a very different experience than sitting in the vehicle. You are no longer surrounded by the vehicle and you are no longer looking thru the windshield and across the hood at the giraffe. So you and the giraffe watch each other for another thirty seconds to a minute until finally the giraffe turns and walks off into the bush.

One thing you must understand is that an experience like this was not an everyday occurrence. You would see wildlife practically every day, but not as close as this. But the inside of the curve had some dense foliage, so the giraffe could hear me coming but not see me coming. That is why he was looking my direction when I came around the curve. Plus, I managed to stop quickly enough to avoid spooking him. Even the, most of the time the giraffe would have run away immediately, but this one stood his ground. So this was an unusual set of circumstances.

Earlier I asked how much hassle you would be willing to put up with to have such an experience. It should be obvious that I was willing to tolerate quite a bit of hassle and, in retrospect, I think it was well worth it.

The Racism of Donald Trump

I have an unusual background to comment on the racism of Donald Trump. I worked in Mexico City for a year and a half as a database consultant. I came away from that experience with the knowledge that Mexicans are, on the whole, honest, hard-working, intelligent people. Later, when I first retired, I moved to live in Xonghile Game Park, a private game park in Mozambique. I came away from that experience with the knowledge that Africans are, on the whole, honest, hard-working, intelligent people.

Note that I say ‘on the whole’ because any country or ethnic group will contain people who are dishonest, lazy, or unintelligent. Which is the same thing as saying they are comprised of human beings in all their glorious, and inglorious, variations.

What the racists do is to point out that some blacks are unintelligent and proclaim that all blacks are dumb, or that some Mexicans are violent and say that all Mexicans are violent, all the while ignoring the unintelligent, lazy, violent whites in their midst.

Neoliberals

I read a number of articles recently to the effect that liberalism has failed. I whole heartedly disagree. How can liberalism have failed when there has not been a liberal congress or president in nearly forty  years, and then only if you consider Jimmy Carter to have been a liberal, which he sort of kind of was. What has failed is neoliberalism.

Now you may think that Bill Clinton was a liberal. If you do then answer this question. What did Bill Clinton fight for in his two terms as President? He started out with health care reform, but he didn’t really fight for it and threw in the towel fairly quickly. He did fight for five things that I can remember.

  1. Welfare reform, which moved 800 to 900 thousand children into deep poverty, hardly a liberal thing.
  2. NAFTA, which has been devastating to working class people.
  3. The Anti-Crime Act of 1994, which greatly expanded the prison population.
  4. A tax increase on the rich. Now you may think that that was a liberal thing, but what did he use the money for? He used it to reduce the deficit, a conservative fetish, as long as a Democrat is President, once a Republican takes office they forget all about it.
  5. The repeal of Taft-Hartley. He didn’t really have to fight for that one since the Republicans fully supported it, but it contributed greatly to the 2008 financial crisis.¹

All in all a much more conservative than liberal list of accomplishments, which would be typical of the neoliberals. I don’t know what the accepted definition of a neoliberal is, or even if there is such a definition. I think of them as compulsive centrists in that they are always wanting to pivot to the center. That may work well as a campaign strategy but as a governing strategy it leaves a lot to be desired. With the Republicans moving ever farther to the right to the point that the party as a whole is borderline fascist the most the working class can expect from a compulsive centrist is a holding action. To make matters worse I recently read that the DCCC was recruiting blue dog Democrats to run against incumbent Republicans in 2018. So the DCCC thinks the best way to respond to the Republican moving ever farther right is for the Democrats to move to the right themselves.

Now there are signs that the Democrats in Congress are starting to take seriously some parts of the Democratic platform which would appeal to working class folks, such as the $15 minimum wage and free college. This is good, very good, but I don’t think it is enough. Besides, if the Democrats regain control of Congress by moving to the right it would still result in a Congress not particularly interested in helping the working class, and you would still have a Democratic establishment which is equally uninterested in helping the working class.

So, what to do? I think we need a new political party whose primary focus is the well being of the working class. Now I don’t know a whole lot about organizing a political party, especially about building a new party from the ground up. Notice what I just said ‘building a new party from the ground up’. The problem with new political parties in the recent past is that they have all tried to build their parties from the top down and that simply won’t work. If you really want a new political party you have to start by fielding state and local candidates to include mayors, governors, and state legislators plus congressional candidates. Once you have some people in place at the lower level people can see what you really stand for and who you are really trying to benefit. If they like what they see then your new party will grow and prosper. If they don’t like what they see then you will deservedly fade away.

Now, as I said, I don’t know much of anything about starting a new political party so what I am going to do is create my own hypothetical party, the Progressive Working Class Party or PWCP. Starting next Monday, the 21st, and each Monday for a few weeks thereafter I will propose a new plank for the PWCP platform ( one nice thing about having your own political party is that the party platform will be exactly what I want it to be).

Here is a list of my proposed planks:

  1. New SS system
  2. War tax
  3. Secession procedure
  4. Tax Reform
  5. End the war on drugs
  6. Replace NAFTA
  7. Medicaid
  8. Libel Reform
  9. School funding
  10. Gun control
  11. High school curriculum
  12. Short term corporate thinking
  13. National ID
  14. Worker’s rights
  15. Guaranteed minimum income

As I post them I will create a link in the list. Note that this list is not necessarily the order in which I will post them, nor is the list indicative of which I consider most important.

  1. Paul Krugman and others maintain that the repeal of Taft-Hartley was not the cause of the crisis but rather the collapse of the shadow banking industry that caused the crisis. I agree that the collapse of the shadow banking industry precipitated the crisis but it was the subsequent collapse of the big banks that caused the real problems. To put it another way, if Taft-Hartley had still been in effect would we have spent several hundred billion dollars bailing out the big banks? I don’t think so.