This is proof that I am a Graduate Student
Well its nice to be back after a long hiatus, but all the craziness in politics today is making me want to type out my opinions really badly. So instead of sleeping or watching youtube videos, I’m going to put what is on my mind onto paper. And what is on my mind today is the right wing of the republican party that appears to have the power in the party.
Political Pundits call these people the conservative faction of the country. The media is being too light on them. They are Counter-Revolutionary in nature. If they were conservative, they would not be trying to role back abortion rights, getting rid of equal pay laws already established in states, and wanting an economic, entitlement, and tax policy that reminds me of the gilded ages of the late 1800s. Conservative in politics means to keep the status quo of what government is. For example, not wanting the individual mandate is a conservative policy (Even though Ironically the individual mandate came out of a right-wing think tank called the Heritage Foundation). Counter Revolutionary means wanting to bring back an era from the past in terms of governance. Classical example of this is after Napoleon took over Europe and then was kicked out of Europe, most countries went back to Monarchies, including France. A more modern example are the Voter ID laws that remind me a little of the Poll Tax that kept African American people from voting before the civil rights movement.
So what specifically are my issues with the right wing of politics today? So many that its unable to be contained in one post. But I’d like to start not with social issues (I will definitely get to that later) but with fiscal policy and government spending, which for me actually matters a lot to my career. As anyone who followed the news in 2011 knows, we almost had a fiscal disaster where we almost defaulted on our debt, and instead cost us a credit rating from S&P (which in my opinion was fueled slightly by revenge after the scolding they got after the recession and how the AAA rated toxic assets). We are facing another Fiscal disaster in 2012. Its not Debt Ceiling time though, its Austerity time. At the end of 2012, if nothing is done, this is what will happen:
1) Bush Tax Cuts Expire for All
2) Blunt cuts in Military Spending and Social Programs
3) Medicare funds get slashed for Dr.
4) Unemployment Benefits run out
5) AMT returns for the middle class
All these put together according to the CBO would cause another recession and our GDP growth for the year would be about .5%. If we can advert this fiscal cliff, GDP growth would be around 4.4% (which would mean our economy would be about to launch off again, if not already booming). So how do we advert disaster? Well, one thing we could do is just say “you know what, extend everything and not do anything”. Sounds good short term but long term just makes everything worse. We’d just kick the can down the road and have a bigger issue latter. The real question we must ask is how do we advert another recession but still take control of the fiscal issues?
Well let’s look at what each party wants. The Democrats are less specific than the republicans but they say in a nutshell end Bush era Tax cuts for the rich, keep the military cuts, end subsidies for businesses that don’t need it, and a lot more democrats from what I have been reading have said they are willing to reform social programs to reduce costs as long as it doesn’t kill the program or make it useless. They want to keep tax rate on the middle and lower classes as is and keep unemployment benifits available. In my opinion sounds pretty reasonable, Revenues increase, spending decreases, deals with the deficit issue in a sound way without killing the economy in the process.
Now the Republicans, it appears to be a lot more cynical. They want no cuts for the military and the Ryan Budget actually increases funds for the military. All cuts should be on social programs and domestic spending, and absolutely no tax increases on the rich. In the Ryan Budget their taxes go down. I use the Ryan budget as a starting point because it is what the House GOP goes with, and that is the branch of congress the GOP has power in. I have SO many issues with, some fiscally, a lot personally. First lets start with simple business. If your business has a deficit, what would you do as a boss? I’d do two set of things. The first set is cut spending by getting rid of waste, unneeded spending, or in last case scenario lay off workers. The second thing i would do is try to increase revenues, either through increasing prices on my goods or services, getting people to buy more of my service, or other things (i’m a researcher, not a business man so I don’t know exactly what I would do). Sound idea, do everything you can to fix your deficit issue. Republicans are not even trying to do the increase revenue side of things, all they want to do is take a chain saw to the domestic spending side of it.
I have been asking myself why the Republicans and Romney want to do this increase military spending and destroy domestic spending route and the only answer i have is extremely cynical. Romney seems very war hawkish in his policy with stating he wants to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely and willing to invade Iran. He also makes it clear that Russia is enemy number 1 in his eyes and hearing his rhetoric, it sounds cold war like and threatening. What if we do the Ryan Budget, and then go into more wars? We have a lower class that basically is left out in the cold and we would need more people to join the military to fight these wars. Guess what? We have a lower class with no jobs and no government support. The military could recruit this fertile field and gain the men and women it needs to fight the war. Its very cynical and is just a guess, but it makes logical sense to me.
Why does this whole Ryan budget and chainsawing the social and domestic budget matter so much to me? I am going into Medical Research, and the vast majority of funds come from groups like the VA, NIH, and other public entities. Funds are tight as it is already, and this started under Reagan. the Ryan budget would slash these funds even more. My friend argued that the private sector would swoop in and invest in research instead of the public entity. I say this is BS for two reasons. One is if this was true, then why didn’t they swoop in during Reagan? Second, private entities want to make profit off of the research that they fund. If research isn’t profitable, it would not get funded. My research i know is not profitable to drug companies, it hurts them (specifically the makers of Zyrtec McNeil Consumer Healthcare) because I believe i found side effects not known to antihistamines before. Why would any drug company fund that research? I don’t promise to make a better drug, I’m just finding negatives about a drug class. I need federal funds to do this research, and if they are being slashed, they may not be available. I may be forced if i want to follow my dreams to leave the country i love to be able to get the funding i need for research. Also the lack of funding could cost people’s lives as research has to become more and more selective as funds get slashed and we can’t do enough research to cover every disease. Its not good policy for science and the community to cut research funds.
So what do we do? My opinion is this. First thing is end bush tax cuts for the rich. Second thing is to invest in Job Training and Infrastructure. Investing money to get someone trained for a job means that person is more qualified for a job. That person can find a good job, getting the person out of welfare and food stamps and medicaid, saving us money that way. Also we increase revenue by having another tax payer. Investing in infrastructure will get people working, which again will decrease entitlement needs and increase the tax base. Third, we cut military spending. We are outspending the next 10 nations combined in military, no need for that. 4th, we raise retirement age on social security and medicare programs. That alone will save us a lot of money. Raise it to 68 years old. 5th, reform the entitlement programs so that their is less waste and fraud and keeps the basic needs of the program available to those who need it. This plan would create jobs, cut spending, and increase revenue in the long run. Exactly what our country needs.
Ever since Cain came out with his “9-9-9″ plan and sparked an upwelling a support for him because of the simplicity of his reform and the fact he actually was giving solutions instead of just spouting out ideological points and bashing President Obama and other candidates (Seriously, Perry and Romney look like a bickering couple); the other candidates started to roll out their new tax reform. I will only focus on Cain’s and Perry’s reform because until i see something change, these three are the only ones who have a shot at winning the nomination. Romney, the other front-runner right now doesn’t have a specific flat tax plan yet but “likes” flat taxes as an idea. This though could change any second because Romney’s opinions are as limp as a noodle.
Let’s first talk about each of the two candidates tax plans quickly because I’ll assume my reading audience knows the plans already. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is simple enough. He wants to have a 9% income tax, 9% business tax, and 9% national sales tax on any new items (http://www.hermancain.com/999plan). Some deductions may be possible but they have not been outlined really except for “Empowerment Zones” which he never explains on his website page explaining his plan. He claims that it will increase the GDP by 2 trillion, create 6 million jobs, increase investment and increase wages by 10%. Perry’s flat tax idea is even simpler, an optional 20% flat tax that you can pay instead of the current federal income tax. There would be deductions for dependents, mortgages, other taxes, and charitable contributions( http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/31/news/economy/perry_flat_tax/index.htm).
Cain’s plan is seducing because it’s so simple. One tax rate for all and no one is confused. The issue behind this tax is multifold. Independent analysis has shown that the rich would have a steep drop in taxes while the middle class and the working poor would see their taxes go up. Also this tax plan does not tax capital gains and dividends. This is how a lot of wealthy people make their money, not with wages. And the taxable wages is at 9% and their business is taxed at 9%, that equals an 18% tax rate. This sounds all fine and dandy but the current tax rate on the wealthy is 35%. Do the math! Even if you include the sales tax at 9% as a literal 9% tax (which it isn’t) they still pay less with the lack of taxes on capital gains and dividends and the tax rate would only be 27% on everything else compared to the 35% today. The rich make out with a ton of money for sure. The poor and the middle class though don’t get this benefit. They lose out on all the deductions they have from this current income tax rate. 50% of Americans pay no income tax, now they have to pay a 9% income tax. Yes they do lose out on the payroll tax but that tax is only at 6%, so it is a net increase of taxes. Also a higher percentage of their money goes to buying goods that would be taxed at 9% now on top of the states sales taxes already. Cain says that used goods would not be taxed again and says the poor should buy used goods. The issue is that there is no way to get used food unless you like to eat shit, and used goods tend to break more often, meaning you have to pay for repairs or get another good all together, leading to increased spending on items people need potentially. 84% of people would see tax increases according to one study (somewhere on CNN, it’s about a 2 week old article and I can’t find it at this time). I don’t know if 84% of people would actually see increases but this is for sure, the tax burden with this bill gets shifted to the poor and middle class.
Perry’s tax plan has a lot of the same faults that Cain’s tax has. It is definitely more forgiving to the poor and middle class and families with the deductions it offers for all those who are making less that $500,00 a year. But the wealthiest of Americans would see their taxes drop substantially because of cooperate gains and dividend taxes being tax-free and their base income tax rate drops from 35% to 20%. Also this other tax possibility just makes the tax code more complex. Now instead of having just one complex tax code you have two! tax codes. And this plan does nothing to fix the complexity of the current tax code. Overall there isn’t the worry that it will increase taxes on the middle and lower class as much as Cain’s plan will. But it still will drop the tax rate on the wealthy substantially.
Under both of these tax plans the rich get richer and the poor either get poorer or stay level with their current level. Both of these tax codes will increase the gap between the rich and the poor. Our gap between the rich and poor is worse than fucking IRAN! But its a least better than Uganda. Yep that’s right, our gap in income between the rich and poor is being compared to developing nations! How insane does it sound that Iran, an autocratic government ran by clerics has more equal wealth distribution that the United States, a republic? Pretty insane to me. Also these plans are proposed to increase job growth as well. On paper that sounds like it could make sense, less taxes equal more money to hire people to work. The issue with this argument is that businesses and corporations have RECORD profits! And you know what they are doing with these profits? Nothing. Big business and corporations have actually be slashing their payroll. In September their was 5000 jobs shed by big businesses and another 1000 last month. No wonder Occupy Wall Street is pissed at big business, the big business are not hiring when they have the money to!
I’m not saying to keep the tax code as it is, it is unwieldy and complicated to no end. My way to fix it would be first end the subsidies and loopholes for big businesses. The rich and big business do not need our help to survive, they are fine on their own. The second thing i would do a carrot and stick method to keep jobs in the United States. For companies that hired in the US and paid them reasonable living wages, I would drop the tax rate of those companies proportionally to how many people they hired based on the size of the business. For companies that continue to outsource jobs to other nations that we need in the US, I would jack up the tax rate proportionally to how many jobs shipped to other nations. Third I would have a tax rate based on all total income. No matter where your income came from, I would tax that income at the same rate. These three things alone would increase revenue and simplify the tax code for the federal government and also give companies incentives to hire people in the United States. What Perry’s and Cain’s tax code does is make the rich richer and is class warfare in its own right. It’s an attack against the middle class and the poor by the wealthy. We don’t need to help the wealthy, we need to help the people who are struggling. I will support any tax change that helps the middle and lower classes out and closes this massive gap between them and the rich. Neither plan does this. Flat taxes punish the poor and give wealth to the rich.
I was looking through the New York Times (Yes I do read an actual newspaper, you know with ink and paper) yesterday after doing the daily Ken-Ken in said newspaper when I found an interesting article. So interesting that it caused me to change my original plans on what my first true topic of my blog was going to be. I had been planning to do a long post about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which made sense because my name is a reference to that movement. But that will have to wait till likely Monday. What article you say would cause me to drop my original plan without even a second thought? Well it was the “Push for ‘Personhood’ Amendment Represents New Tack in Abortion Fight” (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/us/politics/personhood-amendments-would-ban-nearly-all-abortions.html?_r=2&hp&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1319646379-3y6oLIus%2Fxda4DQGObKCfg if you want to read the article yourself.).
The basic story of the article goes like this: In Mississippi on November 8th, proposition 26 is coming to a vote. This proposition would declare that any fertilized egg would be a “person” and would have the right to live. It is an anti-abortion bill and also could prevent the use of certain birth control methods (IUDs and The Morning After Pill to be precise). The first thing I want to bring up is what actually is a “person?” according to dictionary.com it is “a Human Being, whether Man, Woman or Child.” That definition is very ambiguous because it doesn’t tell you when a child becomes a child. I prefer the more philosophical definition “a self-conscious or rational being.” Form my experience in science, a fertilized cell is not even close to being self-conscious. Also a fertilized egg does not meet the medical definition of life, which one of the keys of life that it is viable on its own. A fertilized egg cannot survive on its own and grow into a child unless it is in the womb. And finally, the majority of fertilized eggs don’t even implant into the uterus! So based on the definition of person and medical science alone, this law is ridiculous in calling a fertilized egg a “person”. When the Catholic Church says you are going to far, then you are going way to far in terms of anti-abortion laws.
Next I want to bring up a scenario that under this proposal would screw over doctors. Imagine you’re an emergency room doctor in Mississippi. You have a pregnant woman who comes in with a troubling pregnancy that is starting to kill her (yes this does happen). The child would not survive yet if delivered for another 3 weeks but the mother won’t survive another week without ending the pregnancy. The common sense thing would be to abort the pregnancy and save the mother. Under this proposal though, this becomes a lot more complicated. A fetus would have human rights and therefore cannot be aborted unless your willing to go to jail for murder of a person. But if you don’t do the abortion, the mother will die as well as the fetus. If you do nothing to save the mother, you will get charged with medical neglect, have your licence removed, and basically not have a job. What the fuck do you do in this instance? The law wouldn’t allow you to do anything, you can’t abort the unborn child. This law would lead to woman dying because they would not be able to receive the medical care they needed to survive.
This law would also prohibit certain birth control medications as well. IUDs (Intrauterine Devices) are basically implants, traditionally made out of copper but now are made out of plastic usually, that are placed in the uterus. These implants prevent fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterus. These would become illegal because IUDs would prevent the “person” that is the fertilized egg to grow. The Morning After Pill does the same thing, instead through changing the hormones of the woman so that her uterus is not receptive to implantation of the egg. IUDs are not very common any more but the Morning After Pill is still very popular. It is useful in the prevention of pregnancies after a condom breaks or after sexual assault and rape. This would lead to unintended pregnancies that could have been prevented using these contraceptives. That’s strike three, and this law should be history.
Unfortunately, this proposal will likely get passed by the people of Mississippi. This proposal will likely be shot down by a federal appeals court as being unconstitutional for a state law cannot overrule a federal law, and the federal law states that abortions can happen during the first trimester. This ruling will likely get appealed as well, leading to a Supreme Court battle and a re-do of Roe vs. Wade over 30 years later. All this doesn’t really matter though. What does matter is that this proposal basically blows up women’s reproductive rights in a state and it is an hypocrisy of the conservative element of the Republican party. I will admit, I am pro-life personally (shock, a liberal who actually is against abortion, but they do exist) except in the case of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life depends on it. I don’t like the idea of killing any Potential life (I do not think a fertilized egg is self-conscious yet and therfore not a person and since it is not viable without the mother, not living either) that could become the next great thinker or person in this world. But politically I’m pro-choice. I have no right to tell a woman what to do with her body, and as my girlfriend would attest to, any decisions with her body and pregnancy are up to her with an unplanned pregnancy. This proposal would strip the woman’s right to control her own body. We would put the rights of an unborn tiny ball of cells over the rights of a fully functional adult! That just sounds ridiculous! And yet that is what is going to happen in Mississippi for a short time at least, if not for a very long time if the courts uphold the law.
Also, aren’t the conservatives the one that want less and less government. I know in Washington, these are the folks who want to end any semblance of unemployment benefits (Bachman, Meet the Candidates series on Meet the Press), gut Medicare and Medicaid, want the “shackles” of regulation taken off of businesses, cut taxes to the rich, and basically keep the budget to 18% of the GDP (which is honestly way to low to even allow a functional government that can take care of the people). They want liberal economics (different from liberal politics, liberal economics is pretty much no regulations, every man for himself idea of economics. It is also known as pure capitalism), the end of any welfare, and the role of government to shrink so it is only involved in foreign policy and the bare minimal of domestic policy…except in reproductive rights. In this case, the conservatives want to run the show! They want to dictate to the woman what she can and cannot do like she is five years old. I have a serious question to ask any serious Republican Candidate. How do you reconcile this want to limit government with this want to control reproductive rights of women. My answer is you can’t. This is hypocrisy at its worse. It shows the true face of the conservatives. It shows that they could care less about woman and about the poor. Only wealthy men matter to them, and that these wealthy men should be protected. What happen to Lincoln’s party, the party that freed the slaves? It’s not his party anymore, it is a counter-revolutionary party wanting to bring us back to the glory days of the gilded age.
To start, I am new at this game. I’ve never blogged in the past and the closest thing I’ve done to blogging is making hell for trolls in comment sections and the occasional debate. But recent events (Occupy Wall Street and the backlash against it, anti-women rights proposals, do-nothing congress, and the craziest Republican field ever) have pushed me to a limit. I cannot sit here on my hands and watch these atrocities go on. But I am limited in what I can do because I’m a college student who wants to keep is future as bright as possible in the field of medical research. I cannot afford time to protest in the major cities or incite protests here on campus. Therefore I turn to the blog to get my opinion out on these issues and hopefully influence those who can make a difference.
But enough about the why I am doing this, this blog post is meant to introduce me to the readers of this blog. I will not tell you my name, where I live, or any personal information, I don’t want to be stalked for any reason. But after that, i don’t have much to hide. I am one of over 2000 college students at St. Lawrence University, a university only because it has a graduate program in Education. I am a biochemistry major looking to go into grad school next year. I run track when I’m not hurt (right now I can’t because of an ailing back). I am one of three brothers and my family is very well off thanks to the hard work of my father (who also will not be named for the sake of protection). I grew up in southwest CT in a very well off small town. And lastly for all the single men and ladies, sorry but I’m taken by the most wonder girlfriend in the world and I’m not giving her up for anything. She inspired me to do this, and I want to thank her for her support on this endeavor.
Now some of you may be guessing what my political orientation is. Well if my first paragraph did not give it away, I am a liberal in the strict sense of the world liberal in a lot of things. I am not talking about the “liberal wing” of the Democrats. I am talking about the strict political definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary “a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically: such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class.” I do have a conservative side in me, mostly in terms of the justice system and its handling of all crimes except drug user related.
My goal though is not to spew liberal talking points and demonize everything Republican. I believe Eisenhower was an amazing president and I have respect for Regan for making tough choices. I don’t particularly like Regan, but that’s another story. My goal is to read through the bullshit of politics and call people out on their hypocrisy and bullshit. I don’t care if I make enemies; I am going to tell it like i see it.
On a final note, I will not always talk about politics. I will talk about other things as well. I am a huge sports fan, especially football and track. I am fascinated by people and science and if I find a scientific discovery or a famous person’s life event interesting and pertinent for my readers, I will talk about it. Also, if this blog gets popular enough I will ask readers for topics to talk about and the topics that are asked for the most or I like will be talked about.
Thank you for reading, and remember, not all of the 1% are greedy bastards, some of us do want to help the 99% as much as we can.