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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final Post Prior to Iowa Caucuses

I want to make this brief. So here are the points:

Ron Paul will eventually need to do the speech on racial equality. The establishment, left and right, does not fear a libertarian insurgency in either the primaries or the general election. What they are afraid of is progressives coming on board in coalition with Ron Paul. That's why these attacks around charges of racism and homophobia are just getting started and will get much worse unless Paul addresses them in a major speech. If he did it now, he would win Iowa by more than 10 percentage points and come in second in NH by less than 5. As it stands now, he might lose Iowa. I have been saying for some time now that he will win Iowa. Some cable talking head will claim they predicted it first and maybe they will have antedated mine but I was the first to call it a no-brainer. If he loses Iowa, let me also be the first to say that his staff has no brains.

Libertarians, stop looking for an unconditional victory; it ain't happening. Progressives, the same goes for us. Separately, the best that either of us could claim is about 35 % of the voting public. 25% each is probably more realistic. Neither a consistent progressive nor a consistent libertarian campaign wins by itself at this point in our nation's history. That does not mean that progressives and libertarians together cannot find the requisite common ground to get above 50% of the vote. Go back and read two posts "The Choice for Libertarians" and "What is the Green Republican Strategy?"

Libertarians, you will not get smaller government and simpler and lower taxes without coalition with progressives. Progressives, you will not get funding to build the peaceful green economy unless you first agree to make deep cuts in federal spending on warfare, drug wars and corporate welfare. There are many ways to bridge the gap. There is one sure fire way to not get anything done: refuse to build a real coalition.

Iowa progressives, you can make history. Do not be swayed by the propagandists of fear. If you are more than the margin of victory, Ron Paul will notice. That's when the real revolution begins. It will take a coup along the way and unfortunately we progressives cannot do it alone; if that is not clear after 4 years of the present administration, nothing is clear.

Iowa Ron Paul libertarians, call your progressive friends. Tell them you need their help and they have a real place at the table when they do.

Finally, here is the eventual covenant.: A substantial net reduction in the size and budget of the federal government with savings from cuts coming largely from drawing down the military industrial catastrophe's empire building and maintenance. These reductions go half to debt reduction and half to block grants to the states, according only to their populations, to be used as they each wish. This means approximately $3 trillion  gets moved out of the federal government over 4 years time. Additionally, with some out of the box thinking on tax reform, a deal can be struck that adds another trillion in revenue. This would mean that federal debt is reduced by 2 trillion and 2 trillion goes back into the economy through the states. My guess is that movement of this much money stimulates the economy enough to add another trillion in revenue.

Progressives, ask yourselves, "Will Obama provide progressive tax reform and 2.5 trillion in stimulus  the second go round?" Libertarians, ask yourselves, "Will Mitt Romney reduce taxes below the Bush rates for 99% of the population while cutting 2.5 trillion from federal spending his first go round?" If you both answer no, then you have to choose: get stuck with what you know is coming or change dance partners for 4 years and get a lot more than you'll ever get by dancing alone.

That was not short enough. See you January 4.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How to Deal with the Racist Statements in Newsletters

See also :http://progressivesforronpaul.blogspot.com/2012/01/racism-and-ron-paul.html

As the writer of this blog, I intend to continue supporting Ron Paul for the nomination and for his election to the office of President. I do not believe that Ron Paul intends to be a racist president in any manner. I think that is clear to all who support him. However, he is guilty at least of gross negligence in not overseeing those news letters. I understand that he was focused on family and business and could have easily overlooked the racist statements, but this is still not an excuse. It was his publication, using his name. 

I understand his following some poor advise not to admit that the comments he knew of were racist regardless of the context. I understand that he has taken moral responsibility by stating that he bears the responsibility of negligence. I understand that he is frustrated by all the redundant questioning over this issue. I understand that his public words in books and speeches have been totally devoid of racism and moreover, often anti-racist in intent based on his Christian faith and libertarian philosophical principles.

What I do not understand is his campaign's failure thus far to prepare him to meet these accusations head on in an effective way. I sincerely and deeply hope that they will help him to prepare a speech on racial equality which addresses exactly what he knew and when he knew it, apologizes genuinely for his negligence/and or involvement, gives clear heart-felt reasons why he opposes racism, acknowledging that it continues to be a major moral problem in our culture, and illustrates in detail how his policy proposals will address issues of race and discrimination.

He needs to do this speech in a setting that involves racial minorities. He needs to show some penitence by donating the amount of funds his newsletters raised to the cause of racial justice and equality through broadly accepted channels such as the NAACP, the Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, etc. He needs to reach out to minorities within the congress and hope that some of them ask to stand with him on stage as he delivers this speech.

Now is a pivotal moment in our nation's history. The truth is needed in full contrition and just defense. This speech needs to tell the truth about Ron Paul and about why he never got to the bottom of who wrote these racist statements. If the truth is not told in all its embarrassing detail, his campaign is finished and his followers are left distraught, their cause set back for years to come. He can once and for all end this agglutinative attack with a comprehensive speech on the issue of race. I suggest his staff go back and read Senator Obama's "More Perfect Union" of March 18, 2008. If they cannot see and feel the power of this very unique and uncharacteristic speech, they need to find someone else to write Dr. Paul's speech.

If they fail to do this, it will constitute one of the most egregious moral and political failures in our nation's history. So I hope that others here  join me in saying to his staff, Please!!! For the sake of our nation's future and the future of liberty, do the right thing and take care of this matter promptly and comprehensively.

An Excellent Post...

Letter to Gary Howard and Jesse Benton Regarding Ron Paul's News Letters

Gary and Jesse,

I am the writer of http://progressivesforronpaul.blogspot.com/. I intend to continue supporting Ron Paul for the nomination and for his election to the office of President. I do not believe that Ron Paul intends to be a racist president in any manner. I think that is clear to all who support him. However, he is guilty at least of gross negligence in not overseeing those news letters. I understand that he was focused on family and business and could have easily overlooked the racist statements, but this is still not an excuse. It was his publication, using his name. 

I understand his following some poor advise not to admit that the comments he knew of were racist regardless of the context. I understand that he has taken moral responsibility by stating that he bears the responsibility of negligence. I understand that he is frustrated by all the redundant questioning over this issue. I understand that his public words in books and speeches have been totally devoid of racism and anti-racist in intent based on his Christian faith and libertarian philosophical views.

What I do not understand is your failure thus far to prepare him to meet these accusations head on in an effective way. I sincerely and deeply hope that you will help him to prepare a speech on racial equality which addresses exactly what he knew and when he knew it, apologizes genuinely for his negligence/and or involvement, gives clear heart-felt reasons why he opposes racism, acknowledging that it continues to be a major moral problem in our culture, and illustrates in detail how his policy proposals will address issues of race and discrimination.

He needs to do this speech in a setting that involves racial minorities. He needs to show some penitence by donating the amount of funds his newsletters raised to the cause of racial justice and equality through broadly accepted channels such as the NAACP, the Urban League, the United Negro College Foundation, etc. He needs to reach out to minorities within the congress and hope that some of them ask to stand with him on stage as he delivers this speech.

Now is a pivotal moment in our nation's history. The truth is needed in full contrition and just defense. This speech needs to tell the truth about Ron Paul and about why he never got to the bottom of who wrote these racist statements. If the truth is not told in all its embarrassing detail, his campaign is finished and his followers are left distraught, their cause set back for years to come. I suggest you go back and read President Obama's "More Perfect Union" of March 18, 2008. If you cannot see and feel the power of this very unique speech, you need to find someone else to write Dr. Paul's speech.

If you fail to do this, it will constitute one of the most egregious moral and political failures in our nation's history. Please!!! For the sake of our nation's future and the future of liberty, do the right thing and take care of this matter promptly.


Cornelius F. Brantley, Jr.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Establishment Summary:

Iowa does not matter. Ron Paul does not matter. You do not matter.

Rachel Maddow's Mind: An Exploration of the Logic of the Irrational and of the Necessary

Optimism is in the air and I don't want to dampen it, but I hope it doesn't turn to euphoria once Ron Paul wins the Iowa Caucuses. The spin is already on and you can find it on Fox and MSNBC. Look for these lines on January 4: "Iowa does not count." "Mitt Romney's close second place finish is the real story." "Ron Paul poured millions of dollars and hours into Iowa." "Ron Paul is to be praised but we know he cannot win the nomination." I'll be expecting royalties.

This is the story unless enough progressives show up to give Paul a double digit victory. Even then he must finish within 5 points of Romney in NH to continue the curiosity on cable. If, however, progressives and independents come out in numbers larger than his margin of victory, the story will change. Look for charges of fraud, cheating, infiltration, etc. Things can then get real nasty. No more trying to buttering him up with praise. He becomes the GOP persona non grata. Democrats may opportunistically feign praise of him under such duress, but behind stage, panic will be swelling. Ron Paul is bad news for both parties and their worse news possible should he declare a coalition strategy. 

Right now Iowa progressives have an opportunity to do something bigger than anyone has imagined. If they come out in huge numbers, they can give Ron Paul a huge victory, one which prompts many more progressives to jump ship. But they need more than a no name blogger like me to reassure them, it's a good thing to do.

In the last few days I have been asking myself, 'What's not to like about this scenario?" For hard core libertarian supporters of Ron Paul the answer is all too obvious. A progressive margin of victory for Paul means coalition, and coalition means something less than total victory on economic issues. They would of course want to interpret this blue shift as a come-to-faith moment. Progressives have seen the light and are no longer progressive. Or perhaps more subtly, progressives are giving us a chance to do it our way for 4 years and see what happens. Those two spins would be a mistake that I don't think that Ron Paul himself would make, even though his most ardent supporters understandably would. Should Paul give in to the lustful crowd, progressives would abandon him in the general election and Obama would win a landslide.

On the progressive side, it becomes increasingly more difficult to understand the logic of refusing to jump ship. Doing so in the primary causes no harm and has all sorts of benefits. Logic can occasionally serve stupidity so let's imagine ourselves in the mind of a Democratic operative, say, Rachel Maddow: 

Ron Paul's anti-war stances are appealing but deep down I know he's a homophobe, misogynist and racist. I cannot in good conscience support someone who harbors all these demons. Rachel is an intelligent and politically savvy progressive. She knows that Ron Paul will not return us to DADT and even if he gets a supreme appointment or two, they will be replacements who want to send abortion laws back to the states but wouldn't be able to.. Furthermore, she knows Paul is not going to waste his time trying to undo the Civil Rights Act.

Maybe the potential bigotry that lurks in Paul's soul is simply too much to handle. I can see that, but Rachel, being a victim of such bigotry herself, ought to know how ubiquitous it is in our culture. It's lurking beneath , above and within us all, liberals as much as conservatives. If we search for the pure in heart to lead us, we shall wait for the eschaton. 

Besides, bigots are often easily used for righteous causes. It's a major them in our paradoxical American politics. Who but LBJ could have pushed civil rights through congress? Who but Richard Nixon could have opened the gates to China? Who but Ronald Reagan could  have halted and and begun to reverse the nuclear arms race. This of courses not a matter of virtue on the part of these presidents. Rather, it is a matter of political necessity and American distrust of ideologues except when they are going against their own grain. 

There is of course a down side to this paradox. Who but Barack Obama can we trust to escalate wars with Arab states? Who else but the Community Organizer in Chief would we trust to bail out big banks? It is the president's perceived virtues that enables vice to continue in the White House. My gut tells me, neo-cons don't want any of the GOP candidates because they know that Barack Obama is better at getting done the job of empire building and maintenance.

I have another feeling that the learned and creative thinking Maddow has already ponder all of this. What she may not want to toy with is her job security. Witness her public silence over the firing of Keith Olbermann. I like Rachel Maddow and agree with her about 90% of the time, but her dismissal of Ron Paul and apparent inability or deliberate disregard for how progressives could radically change the shape of our political landscape by infiltrating the GOP is to my mind baffling. 

Perhaps it is, as I have said before, the only legitimate reason: if we get Paul nominated, he might beat Obama and usher in all his naive nightmares. Thankfully he gets neither nominated nor elected without a firm and clear promise of a coalition government.

Or it might be that she just does not want to give up on Barack Obama. I don't either but we are at the end of 3 years and we still have record military spending, constitutional rights still in trouble, wars more easily started,  and very little investment in a peaceful green economy. I would love to see an about face in Obama II but I am not counting on it, and without some real pressure on the debate stage next year, we are highly unlikely to get such a change. 

The only thing I understand is the very logical job security rationale. She would be dismissed in a big way should she take such a high risk on her corporate media platform. Perhaps she is right. If she can maintain her status, she can advocate more loudly for our progressive causes. There is no shame in such logic, but their is much to blush about when claiming anything more virtuous. 

Again, Rachel, I'm not talking here about voting for Paul next November. I'm only saying, you have the biggest platform of any progressive in the nation. Do you really want to pass up this opportunity to move the debate several clicks leftward? GE owned NBC is a giant within the military industrial catastrophe. They probably would fire you, but I am sure you have something under your pillow or in a credit union to tide you over. Come on... jump!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It is insane and immoral...

if we allow the Republican party to nominate anyone other than Ron Paul or Jon Huntsman.

Huffington Post, The Nation, Mother Jones, The Progressive, Countdown, TRMS, FSTV, and all other liberal news and commentary media need to advocate immediately for the massive infiltration of the GOP primaries and caucuses by progressives and liberals in every  party and every state.

No more excuses!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Opt Out with a Public Option: Possible Green Republican Coalition Covenant on Entitlements

I continue to think about how to make this coalition work. It's not in the DNA of hard core libertarian and progressives to make deals. "Compromise" is a dirty word for many because the compromise that comes out of  Washington tends to be watered down legislation of the lowest common denominator. It's like trying to fire a bullet from a shotgun. There may very well be an explosion but any striking of the actual target is purely accidental.

To get us beyond this impasse we need legislation that embraces the real and perceived best of both worlds. I have been trying to persuade someone in Ron Paul's campaign that the opt out will never make it out of congress and to President Paul's desk for signature. This outcome being all too likely, the surplus which is designated to subsidize the opt out ought to go unconditionally to the states for use as they choose.

I would prefer that we find ways to lower the Social Security portion of the payroll tax rate permanently for both businesses and individuals and pay for it by removing the cap. I would also like to see the funding for Medicare/Medicaid come from a value added tax or from increased tariffs on products from China and other dictatorial regimes. I think that private health insurance should be supplementary and catastrophic in a system of Medicare for all, giving insurance companies expanded opportunities to sell other insurance products as is done in the German system.

I know very well such a system is not going to be put into place in my life time, and so I voted for Obama, believing that he was serious about the public option and that such an option would be available to all US citizens and residents. I still believe that proposal is doable, given sufficient political will. Alas... such gumption and courage is unlikely to be summoned in Obama II. (When will big name progressives wake up to this obvious reality which is applicable to so many other policy choices in Obama II?!!!)

So... what if we made the following deal?:  Allow every person 25 years and under to opt out of the Social Security and Medicare system and at the same time allow anyone to pay double on their Medicare payroll taxes in order to be eligible for all Medicare benefits prior to retirement. Dependent children of those who agreed to this option would be fully vested immediately.

Crunching numbers to see if this is doable, of course, could reveal that such a proposal would not fully fund current or future retirees' Medicare benefits. This is complicated by the reality that certainly there would have to be a provision for how those who have opted out may pay to opt back in. If, however, the balance sheets would work out, the surplus funds of Ron Paul's 50/50 transition plan could still be block-granted to the states.

Would you support such a covenant or is it a compromise too far? Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grinch Might Steal the Ninth Day of Christmas

Newt Gingrich has several things going for him that have enabled him to take a huge lead. His is the story of repentance and coming from behind. Americans love a repentant sinner and an underdog. He has played this up and its paying off.

He is also full of big ideas, many incoherent and some down right nutty, but he is addressing the American people's sense that something big needs to happen. Newt's big ego is being sublimated as into big change ideas. Contrast that with the failed consensus building strategy of the current administration. We Americans don't always know where we need to go, but we know we need to go somewhere. Standing stagnant in a stalemate will get us nowhere. Lingering at the lowest common denominator yields legislation that leaves our economy limping.

Newt appears to be a proven commodity. He takes credit for getting big things done, and Republican voters want to believe that he was responsible for the 90s boom. On the other hand, his sins are already out there. He's an old man with a wife who knows how to keep him from making a total fool of himself. He is channeling Reagan well.

He is not Mitt, and Republicans are weary of the rehearsal. I still think Santorum could come out of the back of the pack if Newt stumbles. Unfortunately Republicans are not in the mood for a sane candidate like Jon Huntsman.

That leaves Ron Paul. His campaign has been diligently trying to reach traditional Republicans in Iowa. The strategy may pay off but one has to see that Newt is picking up steam. I am still predicting a Ron Paul victory in Iowa but the polls are saying something different. Paul needs a boost to get him across the finish line of this important preliminary heat in first place.

Shifting to Blue and Green Republican strategies is a must, and it is far better to do it now than wait for a possible second place set back in the Iowa caucus. Even if he finishes first and Newt or Mitt place a close second and third in Iowa, Ron Paul does not get all the attention. Can you see the headline: "Romney and Gringrich in Three Way Tie with Paul"? Moving towards coalition in the official campaign is essential. Hate to repeat myself but.. the sooner the better....

Progressives need to think about this if they get an invitation to join the Republican caucus: What if Newt pulls off a huge victory in Iowa and gets within a few points of Romney in NH? Do you really want to risk Newt winning the nomination and possibly the election. Another good reason to jump ship now. I am not an Iowa resident but I am extending the invitation right now.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What is the Green Republican Coalition Strategy?

This strategy is a complement of the Blue Republican strategy, founded by Robin Koerner. Koerner has eloquently described the very obvious ways that Ron Paul appeals to independent, moderate, libertarian and progressive Democrats. The Blue Republican Facebook page is a place of hospitality and ideas unlike so many highly partisan pages on the net.

Koerner is a classical liberal Brit on his way to becoming an American citizen. His form  of liberalism looks very close to Ron Paul's libertarianism, and like that of Ron Paul's, is totally consistent.  I have yet to find any disagreement he has with Ron Paul on policy.

Koerner and I have been carrying on a friendly debate. We agree that Ron Paul is right on ending the wars and occupations we are in and bringing home troops from bases around the world. We also agree that Ron Paul is the only major Republican candidate who has taken very seriously the farewell speech warning of President Eisenhower concering the dangerous threat of the military industrial complex.  We believe that we are spending far too much on needless and often counter-productive weapons and weapon systems and that this is causing tremendous harm to our economy and to our constitutional representative democracy.

Finally, we agree with Paul that the Patriot Act is a menace to a free society and anything but patriotic. Civil liberties and constitutional rights have been greatly diminished under both Bush and Obama and its time for the American people to take those liberties and rights back from the corporate political duopoly which has stolen them.

Where we part company is on economic issues. While progressives like myself and Dennis Kucinich are in agreement with Ron Paul that the Federal Reserve has got to go, we want it replaced by congressional control of the creation of money and of the regulation of our monetary system. We also agree that we need to do something about national, business and personal debt but we think that the private banking system is a major part of the problem and that deregulation in general (though maybe not in all details) plays right into the hands of the usury factory and debtor slavery paradigm.

Koerner and I have talked very little about taxes. With other libertarians in general, I have yet to find much common ground on taxes other than we agree that the majority of Americans are paying too much. Libertarians, unfortunately seem to think the top 1 percent need more tax reductions; we progressives think they can weather a minor increase and still not go out of business or start laying off more workers than they already have.

It concerns us progressives that Ron Paul does not like Social Security or Medicare but it relieves us to know he does not want to end full benefits for those already in the system and that he is willing to take money out of the military industrial catastrophe's several empire building and maintenance budgets and use it to shore up entitlements and the social safety net too many have become dependent upon. But here is is precisely the place that the Green Republican strategy diverges from the Blue Republican strategy (although I have yet to hear either Koerner or Paul reject this idea outright):

Ron Paul wants to shore up entitlements and social safety nets with savings from cuts in spending on militarism for two important reasons. First, he is a moral human being and he knows that, despite his philosophical objection to a system of government entitlements, pulling the rug out from under people who are dependent upon programs they have paid for with their own hard earned money would be morally indefensible.

Second, Ron Paul wants to transition our economy and our entitlement system. He knows this cannot happen overnight and so he has put forth an opt out proposal which will allow people 25 years and under to not pay payroll taxes and not receive social security, medicare and medicaid benefits.

Ron Paul is to be commended for being honest about the need to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent and for proposing a fiscally responsible way of paying for it. He also deserves to be commended (and his libertarian enthusiasts need to hear this) for his willingness to compromise. That's a dirty word for many libertarians and progressives, but Ron Paul has demonstrated by this example that one can compromise on policy choices without compromising one's principles.

Having set that precedent, the Green Republican strategy asks Ron Paul to modify his compromise. His opt out proposal should get a fair hearing in congress and before the American people, but we object to it strongly because we believe that it will ultimately undermine the long standing covenant we as a country have made with seniors and persons living with disabilities. We have no doubt that this opt out proposal, being paid for, would not in the short term undermine the government's ability to pay beneficiaries their full benefits.

However, if young people respond to this proposal myopically, as it is almost certain many of them will, many of them will also live to regret it, and our society will have a huge price to pay for their inability to take care of themselves if the economy suddenly tanks just before they retire. Progressives believe it is far better to have a mixed economy system for retirement than to have all one's eggs in either only the social security basket or in only the private investment basket. Far wiser and safer to have both!

We also believe that given a full airing of the risks and benefits of Paul's opt out proposal, it will not make it out of congress to his desk for signature.  Ron Paul needs to tell us and his base what he intends to do if this proposal fails to become law. He has promised to put half of the savings from reductions in spending on militarism into shoring up these entitlements and social safety nets.

What happens if there is no opt out provision? Will these funds still be channeled into entitlements? Believe it or not, progressives would probably agree with libertarians that such action would actually overfund entitlements. I do not think Ron Paul wants that to happen. I am almost certain that Paul would prefer, in this likely scenario, to direct those funds to deeper tax cuts and more debt reduction. We might be able to stomach a little of that if the debt reduction does not involve more cuts in domestic spending and the tax cuts are heavily weighted towards the bottom and middle, but we ain't gonna swallow the whole enchilada.

The Green Republican Strategy would be to redirect those funds toward building, repairing and greening our transportation, energy, environmental, educational and communication infrastructure. We realize that also may be an enchilada too big for Ron Paul to swallow. So here's the Green Republican compromise: send that money in the form of block grants back to the states according only to each state's population and with only one requirement: clearly and publicly report in print and online where every dollar goes. If some states want to use that money to give tax breaks to oil slurpers, let them. If some states want to use that money to fund single payer health care and high speed rail, go ahead. Let the state laboratory experiments begin.

I think that with agreed upon reductions in corporate welfare and military adventurism,  we can free up at least 400 billion annually with half being used for debt reduction and half being sent to the states. We could probably add at least another 200 billion to this 50% formula by negotiating real tax reform and consolidation of cabinet departments.

Putting 300 billion or more annually into the hands of state and local governments may not be ideal from ether progressive or libertarian perspectives, but it would definitely be better than what either Obama II or Romney I is offering.

Politically speaking, if Ron Paul were to accept the Green Republican proposal, it would be a very minor adjustment in his platform but a gigantic political move. Doing this and promising to hire a real coalition cabinet would mean millions of progressives flooding his way overnight. Both major parties would tremble and their establishment leaders would go into full panic mode. Principled leftists would be without excuse; they would have to endorse Ron Paul or drop the adjective. The GOP convention would have to reject or nominate a candidate who has won a clear plurality and perhaps even a majority of primary votes.

Ron Paul entitles one of his books, Revolution. This modest proposal of the Green Republican Strategy will make it happen. Every progressive, independent and libertarian American who's half awake knows we need one. And yes we can, with just a little principled compromise, do it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Positive Attempt for a Fighting Chance

From time to time I need to remind myself and my readers what this blog is all about. I am attempting to help Ron Paul get elected not because I endorse everything he stands for but because he is a good and honest man who has proven his ability to reach out to and cooperate with progressives, despite some profound differences on economic policy.

In several posts I have aimed to show how one might imagine bridging the gap between libertarians and progressives on their fundamental disagreements concerning economic policy. For example, I have suggested that Robert Frank's progressive consumption tax proposal might be a policy that both libertarians and progressives find acceptable and helpful if not ideal.

Creative solutions to long standing problems often come not by having everyone agree to one specific way to solve the problem. Frank's proposal in some ways illustrates a synthesis of solutions, taxing only voluntary consumption (a libertarian ideal) and taxing in a way that asks more of those who have more and less of those who have less (a progressive ideal).

My main proposal here is not quite a synthesis as it is a mutual and temporary accommodation for the sake of getting something better done rather than allowing the corporate duopoly to totally shaft everyone of us for another 4 years.

Progressives and libertarians are both non-interventionists or at least truly reluctant interventionists when it comes to foreign policy. We both agree that our nation spends obscenely too much money on war and war preparation, so much so that we end up making war more likely. We both agree this money could be put to much better use.

We disagree, however, on what is the better use we could put this money to. We progressives would like to take every dime and use it to fund national green infrastructure projects, universal single payer health care and after these sorts of projects are sufficiently funded, to pay down the debt. Libertarians would like to use most or all of this money for lowering and/or eliminating taxes while shrinking the size of government to reduce debt, so that individuals and businesses keep more of their hard earned money to spend, save or invest in whatever ways they choose, allowing market forces to punish foolish choices and reward wise ones.

I try not to debate too much here which idea is the best although some of that is essential in the dialogue. Instead, I try to ask myself what policy would address the biggest concerns and embrace the most compelling ideas of both sides in as equal of a way as possible. One could argue that such a formula is a foolish way to make policy. I agree to a certain extent. I am of the pragmatic school that says, find out what works and fund that and de-fund the stuff that does not work.

The pragmatic approach is a fairly sound way to go about policy making as long as one does not assume that there is only one way to skin a cat (such an archaic, trite,and violent analogy, I know). Both progressives and libertarians understandably argue, we need more of this (tax cuts or infrastructure contracts) and less of that (tax subsidies for the already rich or infrastructure spending on bridges to nowhere). I say, depending on the context, both sides might be right.

I might say to my libertarian friend, Would the private sector have ever built the interstate highway system without government intervention and funding? To which she might reply, maybe not, but if we did not have to surrender our money to a central planner who over-regulates us, we probably would have developed a voluntarily funded transportation system that connects businesses and individuals rather than bypasses them. Reasonable people can make reasonable proposals that contradict one another with neither side doing so with malicious intent.

Where we sometimes get into unneccessary conflict is assuming that all contradictions are irreconcilible and that such contradictions are indicative of totally opposing goals and means to those goals. For example, it is often assumed that libertarians are always against centralized power and always in favor of the most localized power possible, individual power being the most effective way to get the best results. Conversely, it is also often assumed that progressives are against individual autonomy and localized power and always in favor of central planning.

These assumptions are found wanting when viewed more carefully. Libertarians are not against central planning as long as that those centralized powers gain power though an unfettered market place. Suspending the temptation to argue that unfettered market places do not and perhaps cannot exist, let's just assumed that Walmart gained all of its power (I am still talking primarily here about economic power) through being the best buyer and most cost competitive seller of the biggest variety of consumer products. If that is true then shareholders in Walmart may hire through their board of directors one person or a small group of people to work from one location to set policy for every Walmart store and employee in the world. (Not saying this is precisely what Walmart does but Walmart could function this way in total conformity with every libertarian principle that Ron Paul believes and lives by.) Without making a value judgement, it is possible within a libertarian frame of reference to fully endorse highly centralized power.

In the same manner, progressives would be perfectly happy with local governments and individuals making their own policies, laws and procedures without mandates or funding from the federal government and consequently with much lower taxes imposed from Washington, DC if those policies, laws, procedures, etc. resulted in full employment and universal, affordable, quality healthcare. (Once again I'm asking for a suspension of the argument that such has not ever been tried.) We can go further in stating that progressives are just as much likely as libertarians are to be involved or not in local and voluntary organizations and businesses which promote employment, hard work, just compensation, etc. We progressives want, just as much as libertarians do, to see individuals in local settings work hard and be rewarded for productive decisions and practices.

In short we progressives are very willing to move economic and political power away from Washington and Wall Street toward local and voluntary individuals and organizations as long as this increases rather than decreases human viability, dignity and worth both physically and spiritually. Of course, we will not agree that shutting down Washington will result in such advances or even reduce the centralization of political and economic power. However, would libertarians not be willing to partner with progressives if this meant money and power moved out of Washington and into the hands of of state governments to either enable tax cuts for individuals and businesses or state and local spending on whatever the state and localities deemed appropriate? What if partnering with progressives meant that 99% of the population paid less in taxes than they do under current law? What if we went from 5 marginal rates to only 4 and what if those margins began after a much higher exemption and continued in much a wider range at the bottom and the middle and only applied to money spent, not to savings or investment?

And to flip this back to progressives like me... what if giving up on Washington to partner with  libertarians meant that your state would fund the hiring of more foreign language and physical education teachers for elementary schools? Or that new and energy efficient schools with the latest technologies were built all around your state and not just in districts and neighborhoods that could afford it. What if your state could compact with several surrounding states to fund and build a high speed rail system or single payer health insurance? Wouldn't legislation to enact such projects go through easier in state legislatures if the funds were there than if we wait for such projects being approved by the US Senate?

I know my libertarian readers are banging their heads against their I-pads right now. Why not just eliminate or at least massively reduce everybody's taxes, and if the market wants those things, let consumers and investors pay for them voluntarily? No need to loop the money up and through Washington and back down through state houses and city halls before a little bit of it comes back to me. Again, maybe you, my libertarian friend could do much more and better with $60K untaxed and in your wallet or bank account than $60K coming to your kids' school district from 3 millionaires in another state through  a series of government bureaucrats. But consider this: wouldn't receiving block grants from Washington while most people are sending less to Washington over the next 4 to 8 years be better than what you will get from either Obama II or Romney I?

Time after time I have been trying to ask both progressives and libertarians, do you really want the unattainable perfect to be the enemy of the attainable good? And if you are willing to wait until final victory and unconditional surrender is within reach, are you really going to get anything better than what you are getting now?

Not to close this with something obviously self serving, but if you would prefer better to bad or worse,even if the best has to wait for another decade, how about linking this blog on every progressive and every libertarian site you know of and send this link to all you know on your mailing list who are tempted to vote for .... Well you know their names, their promises,... and their results. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What happens if Progressives don't get on board?

There is one very obvious result if progressives do not temporarily leave the Democratic party to vote for Ron Paul: Ron Paul finishes 2nd or 3rd in the GOP race. If he finishes 2nd or 3rd, he gets to make a 8pm speech at the convention and have some of his pet issues inserted rhetorically into the GOP platform.

He may or may not run as an independent or third party candidate in the general election. If he does so without having enough progressives on board to put him in first place going into the Tampa Bay convention, he is less likely to get very many progressives on board for the general election. His libertarian causes will have some exposure but this will not result in any substantial legislative action.

This sad consequence for libertarians is mirrored by potentially worse consequences for progressives. If president Obama is re-elected, we probably will see a switch in policy already underway from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism which will mean more drone strikes causing more "collateral damage" and fostering future blow back. We will see some very minor reductions in military spending motivated mostly by the need to placate progressives as more damaging cuts afflict domestic programs. Most international bases will remain open and a few new ones will emerge. An increasing number of bases will be staffed by mercenaries, many of them non-Americans and all of them paid for by the American tax payer.

Additionally, we will see a continued game of chicken over the Bush tax cuts, probably delaying any changes until 2014 and yielding to lowering or freezing marginal rates while closing tax loopholes. This of course will only mean that new loopholes will emerge and there will be no absolute cap on the total value of loopholes. Furthermore, this translates into less real progressivity in the tax system.

Banks will probably take a few token hits with John Huntsman's idea of a cap on the size of banks encouraged by higher tax rates on those that exceed the cap and the funds collected going to further tax reductions for giant corporations. This game of economic musical chairs will be marketed to us as a get tough with bankers program.

There will be nominal increases in EPA fines and a notable but not gigantic increases in green technologies, most of which will be imported from China. The oil sands pipeline will be approved, and it will be the administration's largest jobs stimulus project; however, significant increases in those jobs will not be online until the end of Obama's second term with a great deal more being created at the beginning of the next administration, which of course will get the credit for these new jobs.

The patriot Act will remain unchanged . Civil liberties will be violated but we will not hear much about it, and the victims themselves will go largely unharmed in any visible way. A dozen or two more Americans will be killed in drone attacks, about half being the actual targets of these attacks. Gitmo will be closed and reopened somewhere else. Fidel will die and Raul will invite American corporations in and the embargo will at last be removed.

A handful of major natural disasters will result in some infrastructure improvements. We will be hearing about a 5G network coming out in  2016. The president will give some more populist speeches and many of them will be hailed as the signal that real change has begun. Democrats will go to their caucuses and polls. The race will boil down to Biden, Clinton and one other somewhat fresh face. Clinton will be nominated and lose a very close election in November, 2016. Feingold or Kucinich are likely to be in the mix somewhere and Bernie Sanders might even join the party; one of them might finish in third place. We will try again in 2020.

If Romney/Gingrich or Santorum wins, look for more excuses to increase the military budget and a real and substantial jobs program coming out of it thanks to the neo-con/blue dog coalition. Look for oil prices to drop as congress decides to open Alaska up for more exploration. Look for oil prices to climb again as we get involved in another middle east war. Look for gas prices to fall below $3 gallon in October 2014 and to climb back to a plateau somewhere between 3.50 and 4 by July 4 2015. Look for unemployment to go below 7 percent and maybe close  to 6 percent in September 2016 thanks to a newly revived military industrial complex. (Look for that group to do well under Obama II but unemployment to remain above 7 percent when he leaves office in January of 2017.)

Obamacare will not be overturned but more flexibility will be granted to the states to do as they please in trying to increase the number of people on private insurance plans. We will have some loopholes closed and a top rate of 30%. Huntsman's idea will be adopted by his fellow Mormon. Huntsman will also be the Secretary of State and so will be very quiet about taking any credit. Toxic assets will be cleaned up and a new round of slicing, dicing, splicing and betting both directions will  heat up as the housing market begins to recover. The Dow will flirt with 20K toward the end of October, 2016.

Romney and his nut job VP will be re-elected in a landslide in 2016 because libertarians and cultural conservatives will refuse to join a coalition candidacy to nominate Marcy Kaptur in the Democratic presidential primary and because Romney 's 4 years looks better than Obama's 4 years. We might even have 100K troops on the ground in Iran and a green zone in Tehran. (Tip: Invest in Chinese made American flags.)

This is a gloomy picture for both libertarians and progressives. Libertarians will fade into the background again as corporatism begins to deliver on some of the economic promises of libertarianism, more so of course under Romney I than Obama II. Progressives will take solace in a  gay friendlier world and have high hopes on Chelsea breaking the glass ceiling her mother barely missed. Abortion rights will fade a tad but will be fully regained in a deal made with Romney during the tax reform negotiations. This photo op will be slightly overshadowed by the appointment of the first openly gay 2 star general serving somewhere in the middle east.

What a day of rejoicing that will be! Not!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We the People... A Confession and Petition

We the people of the United States of America are in deep trouble.

We are drowning in  personal, business and government debt while many of us are without any or enough work and many of us are living in fear that we will be next in the unemployment line.

We, who can and have the opportunity, are working hard to make a little money as honestly as possible so that we may pay our bills, save for our futures, give to our children and to others in need in countless ways, and have a little freedom to rest and play and enjoy the presence of those we love.

We know that money must be borrowed, and that private and public funds must be invested and spent and taxes restrained in order for our economy to produce the jobs that will compensate us justly with enough to meet all our present and future needs and obligations along with some of our wants and wishes.

We know that we are all in one way or another responsible in some measure for the mess we are in.

We have spent too much for what we do not need and on what destroys us and others.

We have saved too little for our futures and more importantly for the futures of our children, grandchildren and all the committed communities which bless us most.

We have made sport out of politics, creating tribes of patronage and opportunism, pretending to be parties of principles and opportunities.

We have voted based on shallow allegiances rather than just causes, personalities rather than policies, and willful manipulation rather than thoughtful consideration.

We have done all of this and more while waving our flags and sending young men and women to kill and be killed, to maim and be maimed in unjust, unholy and counter-productive wars.

We have carried on with business as usual as if nothing important is happening while ignoring those flag-draped caskets which return with lives full of magnificent potential cut way too short, their children and spouses wounded at unimaginable depths for the rest of their lives.

We have seen and sighed and turned the other way as others come home from the same unjust, unholy and counter-productive wars, limbs truncated or missing, minds invisibly damaged, lives confused, relationships shattered.

We are responsible and we regret with real and deep sorrow how we have done wrong and not done right and how in fear we have turned from and against one another.

We want to turn in a different direction, work harder and smarter, invest and save more deliberately and prudently, spend less impulsively and less frequently and mostly on what we need, and only after saving and investing sufficiently and giving generously to meet the needs of others, spend on what we desire the most that we may rest and play regularly, deeply and freely with those who matter most to us.

We are committed and will strive to deepen and expand this commitment within ourselves and among others to do what is right and resist doing what is wrong so that we all can, may and will live more fully.

But we need help!

We need leaders who serve all the people without regard to power, party, wealth or poverty or any other distinction of personality, background or affiliation.

We need leaders in businesses, charities, not-for-profits, and governments to practice what they preach, obey the law and follow as best they know how the Constitution of the United States of America.

We need judges who will thoughtfully interpret and consistently uphold the law with wisdom and without partiality.

We need a president and a congress who will work together honestly and diligently to find principled and practical compromises to solve our most pressing and oppressing problems without resorting to ineffective, least common denominator policy.

We need federal, state and local governments limited lawfully so they cannot and will not do what they should not do, but sufficiently funded and equipped to do what they need to do, that which we the people as individuals and as members of families and voluntary communities cannot do without the collective power of government of, for and by the people.

We need our government to collect sufficient revenue more wisely and efficiently without overburdening workers, consumers, investors, businesses and retirees with excessive, regressive and confusing taxation.

We need these same governments and the lawmakers, agents, judges and enforcers within them to find and eliminate all fraudulent or wasteful spending, especially on counterproductive, unjust and unholy wars, on corporate or individual welfare for those who do not need it, on agencies and programs that, however well meaning, have proven time and time again their inability to solve the problems they were created to solve, and on any foreign or domestic individual, group, nation or cause which causes hard earned tax dollars to go to waste.

We need these same governments, most especially the federal government, to shift the money saved from reducing or eliminating wasteful government spending equally toward debt reduction and funding of local, state and national projects to maintain, repair, improve, modernize and green our transportation, communication, education, energy and environmental systems of infrastructure.

We need people hired to work in such projects and paid reasonable, livable, and just compensation and benefits for their hard and dignified work.

We need a coalition of generous libertarians and prudent progressives to rise up in political and economic coalition to do for the American people what leaders across the political spectrum for far too many years have failed to do: justly collect sufficient revenues, deeply diminish wasteful spending on violence and counter-productive programs, thoroughly reduce our national debt, and fully fund the necessary structures, systems and jobs for building a peaceful, green, democratic, productive, prosperous, prudent and generous American economy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Great Opportunity for Ron Paul to Expand Support

Dennis Kucinich has put forward a proposal to end the Fed by returning monetary regulation to the congress. This presents a huge opportunity for Ron Paul and other libertarians to gain ground on one of their  major economic policies. Some will say that congress is given the right to coin money, not to make monetary notes or to make sure that the use of this money is regular, that it will be used throughout the states and with a consistent value. I am not qualified to argue the finer constitutional meaning of this clause, but it would seem that the issuing of federal notes is a means by which congress can provide a regulated monetary system, whether or not it is back by gold and/or silver.

Regardless, Kucinich's bill presents an opportunity for coalition on an important topic. Paul and other libertarians may not like every aspect of the NEED bill, but certainly they will acknowledge that it moves us away from the Federal Reserve's monetary dictatorship. After congress regains control of their constitutional duty, perhaps Paul's idea for allowing competitive currency can also be implemented. Perhaps Paul can persuade Kucinich to support amendments to make it more palatable for libertarians. The point is Kucinich's bill is a net positive for both libertarians and progressives and more importantly, the American people.

Sectarian libertarians will ruin Paul's chances of getting anything accomplished if they do not realize that compromise is not always a rejection of principle. If this bill moves us away from fiat money creation and holds congress responsible for inflation and deflation, isn't that a step toward electing representatives who will create the most effective policy for monetary stability? And if allowing competing currency and/or returning to the gold standard is what makes a currency stable, will not libertarians stand a better chance of getting elected and achieving these goals if congress controls monetary policy rather than the Fed?

Perhaps Paul will reject Kucinich's call for massive public investment in infrastructure. What if this portion of the bill could be rewritten to direct that money to the states to be used for such purposes? I already know that libertarians would prefer the money remain with the states through reducing or eliminating federal taxes rather than having the federal government distribute those funds. It's not a perfect solution from either the libertarian or progressive point of view, but doing it this way for 4 to 8 years and having the debate actually aired before the American people rather than suppressed as it is now under the current corporate duopoly certainly represents a step in the right direction from either perspective.

Congressman Paul has a big opportunity here to gain progressive support in his presidential campaign. He could say, "While I do not agree with every aspect of this bill, its passage would be a big step in the right direction and certainly put our monetary system on much better footing than it is now under the control of the Federal Reserve.... I am more than willing to work with my good friend from the great state of Ohio to make whatever adjustments are necessary for its passage."  Even if they could not work something out now, such public cooperation would encourage progressives to jump ship for the primaries and caucuses.

For his part Kucinich ought to seriously consider endorsing Representative Paul's presidential campaign. He could do this at the same time that he throws his support behind Marcy Kaptur, now his rival in their newly combined Ohio district. He could also hit the trail campaigning for Paul and for progressive Democrats across the nation as well as for libertarian Republicans who could unseat blue dog Democrats.

Kucinich has already earned Paul's respect and could easily be included in his cabinet. Most of Paul's supporters would be very comfortable with Secretary of State Kucinich. I would hope that Paul would offer him VP or a major domestic post, combining some of the 5 that he wants to abolish into a Labor, Commerce and Economic Affairs Department.

Paul understandably wants to see how he does in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but if he manages only second or third in 2 of those states, he ought to explicitly switch to a coalition strategy. He cannot expect that a second place finish brings him anything substantial out of Tampa Bay. He needs to go to Tampa Bay with a plurality of votes. If he could get 5 million progressives on board, he very well could come into Tampa Bay with better than 40% of the vote and a commanding lead in a 3-way race.

Having the GOP refuse to nominate him under such circumstances will garner him a great deal of sympathy, and if he follows it up with naming a truly trans-partisan cabinet, he stands a great chance of coming in first place in the general election, forcing congress to do the right thing by heeding the will of the American people or showing its despicable corporate colors by putting Romney/Biden into executive branch. Either way, the stage is set for a new American revolution.