An Open Letter to Governor Scott Walker (R-WI)

February 21, 2011

Dear Governor Walker:

In interview after interview, you keep saying that Wisconsin public employees “owe it to the taxpayers” to accede to your demands, even the non-financial ones that have nothing to do with fixing the budget shortfall you caused.

Others have responded to the myriad logical problems (read: lies) in your rhetoric, except for this one obvious point I haven’t yet seen anybody else make.

Wisconsin public employees pay taxes too.  Lots of taxes.  If you’re right that they get paid too well, then they also correspondingly pay too much in taxes.

Stop dividing  the citizens of your state for your own political gain.  You’re the governor (unfortunately), not the owner (thank God).

Sincerely (more than you could possibly imagine, if your lack of honesty is any indication),

Seth Kahn

West Chester, PA

Where were the Tea Partiers when…

January 7, 2011

This list flies around e-mail distribution lists from time to time.  A debate I was having on Facebook last night with a high school friend who’s very conservative made me think about it; I’m glad I saved it the last time I received it.


You didn’t get mad
when the Supreme Court stopped a legal
recount and appointed a President.

You didn’t get mad
when Cheney allowed Energy company
officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn’t get mad
when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn’t get mad
when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn’t get mad
when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush borrowed more money from
foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn’t get mad
when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn’t get mad
when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn’t get mad
when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing
policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn’t get mad
when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn’t get mad
when we didn’t catch Bin Laden.
You didn’t get mad
when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn’t get mad
when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn’t get mad
when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn’t get mad
when we gave people who had more money
than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion
dollars in tax breaks.

You didn’t get mad
with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

You didn’t get mad
when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their
lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn’t get mad
when lack of oversight and regulations
from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12
trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You finally got mad

when a black man was elected President
and decided that people in America deserved the right
to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption,
torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the
rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 were all okay with
but helping fellow Americans who are sick…Oh, Hell No!!

Tax cuts and unemployment benefits

July 13, 2010

I reposted this from Huffpost on Facebook yesterday, but I’m not done ranting about it yet.

If you don’t feel like reading it, the short version is this: John Kyl (R-AZ), along with much of the Republican leadership in Congress, is angry that Democrats aren’t rushing to extend the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, cuts which are set to expire soon.  At the same time, acting (and I can’t overemphasize how much of a smokescreen this is) like the deficit is the worst thing since, well worse than anything that’s ever happened in human history, those same Congressional Republicans refuse to extend unemployment benefits because doing so would add to the deficit.

It’s hard to begin answering this position because it doesn’t even rise to the level of nonsense.  Well, OK, it does, but only given a very specific worldview.  In that worldview, what wealthy people want is all that matters.  Even if they’re endangering their own wealth, maybe even their own lives, it doesn’t matter.  If rich people want lower taxes, they get lower taxes.  If they don’t care how many working class people are losing their homes, going hungry, dying because they can’t get medical care (other than visiting the emergency room, which often occurs too late to help them), sending their kids to crumbling schools, and so on, nobody is going to fight them.

I don’t get it.  As I said on Facebook when I posted this link yesterday, why are we giving tax breaks to people who need them least while withholding unemployment benefits from the people who need them most?

Yes, I know the conservative answers to that question.

The wealthy need tax breaks because tax breaks lead to job creation.  Except that the Bush tax breaks have been in place for 5+ years now, and employment levels have plummeted.  I can hear my Republican friends howling about how much that’s the fault of the Clinton administration (he hasn’t been President for 10 years now, y’all).  And because in the entire history of capitalism, there still isn’t one scintilla of evidence that “trickle down” has EVER worked.

Unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for work.  I’m a pacifist, but I really want to punch people who say this.  Only someone who never has to worry about their livelihood could believe it.  Much like the “welfare queen” trope of the Reagan era, Republicans have found a way to frame this issue, based on a handful of anecdotes, in order to make anybody who struggles to stay alive look pathological.  Lovely.

Unemployment benefits are too expensive.  Bullshit.  The extension current proposed in Congress would cost about $30 billion.  Not only is that a tiny fraction of the overall budget, but what do they think is going to happen with that money?  Do they not understand that just about every penny of it will get spent?  That is, reinjected right back into the economy, often right into the pockets of their owner class friends?  Whatever it gets spent on, it’s getting spent!  I don’t think too many unemployed folks are taking their $300/mo. benefit checks and stashing them in IRAs, right?

On the blog GinandTacos, the writer, Ed, says quite bluntly, and I agree, that conservatives who take this stance do so because, one, they hate poor people, and, two, the owner class benefits from a worker pool that’s desperate.  I couldn’t agree more.

Why it is that voters don’t show these monsters the same contempt they show voters is beyond me.  If I could figure it out, I’d be rich and fam… oh, wait…

More on “class warfare”

March 4, 2009

Asking people who have more money and/or more wealth (not the same thing, technically) to pay more taxes isn’t class warfare.  It’s not even “redistribution” of wealth, which is much less violent than class warfare.

Class warfare isn’t increasing taxes on the rich.  Class warfare is forcibly taking wealth away from the wealthy, violently.  It might even entail forcing them from homes and opulent offices into the street; it might even entail killing and injuring.  Warfare is warfare, after all, and one of the problems with this debate is that it trivializes the notion of war.  If the poor and middle class really wanted to conduct class warfare, you’d see blood in the streets.  Instead, what President Obama proposes is a slight increase in tax rates.  How that qualifies as “warfare” is beyond me.

Asking people with more wealth to shoulder more of the social burden is, at its core, a call for people who have more to do more.  Most people with wealth already, at least they would say, do this anyway in the form of charitable contributions, philanthropy, etc.  So why is paying more taxes such anathema to them, if they’re already willing to spend the money anyway?  The answer to that (and yes, I’m speculating wildly here since I’m not a wealthy person) is that they currently get to write off charitable contributions from their taxes, and find other ways to mask their financial interests as charity.  There’s no other explanation that makes much sense.  If the wealthy want to help the less fortunate, then they should be willing to do so even if it costs them more of their wealth.

So let’s take this “class warfare” rhetoric and put it where it belongs–nowhere.  There’s no revolution happening here.  Barack Obama supports hegemonic global corporate capitalism as much as George W. Bush and his gang did.  George W. Bush, misguided as he and his cabal were, would likely have wanted to alleviate suffering as much as Barack Obama does–at least in some sense of the term “suffering.”  The stances just aren’t that different, and I’m sick of hearing conservatives go completely haywire trying to argue that Obama is some kind of radical.

I wish.

Republicans and the stimulus package

February 17, 2009

With Barack Obama’s signing of the stimulus package today in Denver, it’ll be interesting to see how Republican leadership in Congress talks about the legislation, not to mention its inevitable follow-ups.

I know I’m hardly the only person who’s making this point, but I need to get it off my chest.  Republicans who claim that Obama made no effort to cross the aisle in crafting the package are, simply put, lying.  Baldly.  Shamelessly.  Unquestionably.  He asked for their input.  They gave it to him.  He included in the legislation a nonsensically huge round of tax cuts (by some accounts the largest single tax cut in US history) in order to appease them.  He allowed centrist (whatever that means) Democrats to shave off some of the most significant items in the bill.  He included some bones (maybe even pork bones) in order to get some support from Republican legislators.

And all for nought.  Three Republicans, all in the Senate, voted for it.  Not a single Congressional Republican, even those who trumpeted their own success at getting their own agenda items into the bill.

Apparently, Republican party leadership has failed to recognize two important things.  First, US citizens prefer Obama’s economic philosophies and policies to yours, which is why we voted for him.  Second, we prefer his policies to yours because your tax-breaks-for-the-rich-f*ck-everybody-else policies have been abject disasters for which most of the rest of the world will be paying the price for decades to come.

You lost not because white guilt drove lots of Americans to vote for a black man.  You lost because everything you stand for is wrong for the huge majority of the citizenry, and more and more people are figuring that out every day.  There’s nothing complicated about it, and neither is this simply ideological ranting.  You had your way for the most of the last 30 years, and you’ve led us into disaster after disaster.  It’s your right to argue for whatever positions you want, but don’t you dare accuse Barack Obama or anybody else of being “ideological” as if you weren’t.  It’s just a lie, and we’re all sick of it.

Ted Koppel flashback

November 1, 2008

As I was walking home from school yesterday, I kept having this flashback to an episode of “Nightline” right before the 2000 election.

With all the GOTV hype in high gear, Koppel ended the episode with a remarkably brave commentary, something along the lines of, “Yes, voting is essential to democracy, but if you don’t really understand who or what you’re voting for, stay home.  Don’t cast a bad vote just because you think you’re supposed to.”

I can’t help but think about that commentary as I read/hear news that many likely Republican voters believe the most bizarre things, and are likely to cast their votes based not just on a lack of information, but on actual misleading information.  Some believe Barack Obama is a closet Muslim radical; others believe he and Bill Ayers are plotting some kind of terrorist attack; others believe he’s laying the groundwork for a revolution; some believe he supports socialized medicine, or a government-sponsored revenue-distribution system.  And those aren’t the really weird ones.

So, inspired by Koppel, I want to revive his plea.  If you don’t have real information on which to base your decision, stay home.  Pretty much everything the Republicans have said (or helped shadowy activist groups say) about Barack Obama over the last 2 years is a lie.  Al Gore was right during his speech to the DNC; the reason the Republican Party lies so much and so nastily about Obama is that they’re very, very scared of him.  And not scared of his race.  And not scared of his religion, or his charisma, or his public-speaking ability.

The Republicans, at least the ones who really run the show, are terrified that he will give our country back to the citizens, instead of a small group of ultra-wealthy elite who have been pillaging our souls and our treasury for the last eight years.  They like being in charge and being able to steal with impunity, and they’re scared that an Obama presidency will end their game.

They should be scared.  They should be even more scared when millions of voters who have tired of their theivery show up at the polls to oust the Republican party from the White House and Congress.

If you don’t understand, because you don’t have enough good/true information, why that needs to happen, stay home.  A vote for the Republican ticket is NOT a vote for your own self-interest unless you’re ultra-wealthy.  A vote for the Republican ticket is NOT a vote for the collective good of the country, which they couldn’t give two shits about and never have.  A vote for the Republicans is NOT putting “Country First.”

And if you think it is, you’ve been misinformed.  So stay home.

Class warfare (or, I wish Obama WERE a socialist)

October 24, 2008

[Just a quick note to readers: I passed the 5000 visit mark last night!  Thanx to everybody who reads this stuff.]

As a follow-up to my last post, which is an article from Truthout explaining that Obama’s tax plan isn’t “socialist,” and that the Republicans are either wrong or lying (or both) when they claim the plan is socialist:

The other day, McJerk and his staff used the phrase “class warfare” to describe the plan.  And Obama, in one of those moves he “has to make” in order to be “viable” as a candidate, responding with a lengthy explanation for why that isn’t true.  And it isn’t; he’s not trying to kill the rich or to make them poor.  He simply wants them to pay their fair share of what it costs to run a country, especially a country that trips over its own feet to make the rich able to get richer.

I miss John Edwards (infidelities notwithstanding) at moments like these.  The reason I supported Edwards during his campaign was his willingness to say (in less shrill terms than I’m about to), “Damn right it’s class warfare.  The rich have been conducting class warfare against the working class in this country for decades, maybe even centuries.  Why shouldn’t the working class fight back?”  In other words, yes it’s class warfare, but it’s not the workers that are starting it; the war has been going on, one-sided, for a long time.

If Barack Obama really were as liberal as his enemies (oops, I mean opponents) made him out to be, he’d be saying something along these lines.  He wouldn’t just attack “greedy” corporations because there’s no such thing as a “not greedy” corporation.  He wouldn’t keep asserting the “one bad apple” theory because they’re all bad. 

As I’ve argued for years, capitalism (especially the kind of state-sponsored capitalism we practice in this country) is inequitable (and therefore unjust) by definition.  The whole system is predicated on an imbalance of power; owners have it, and workers don’t.  There’s no way to generate capital without exploiting and alienating the working class.  Small businesses are (usually) better, because at least owners can’t shield themselves from workers by hiding behind massive layers of middle management.  But as long as we’re in a system that privileges stealing the products of other people’s labor for profit they don’t share in, economic justice if awfully hard to come by. 

So when Obama says he wants to “spread the wealth” around, he’s not saying he wants to level socio-economic hierarchy or to destroy the caste system we refuse to acknowledge we live in.  He’s saying that the wealthy can spare *some* of their extreme advantage so that the rest of us can afford to live lives that aren’t simply about survival and false hope that someday we can be exploiters too.