This piece was originally posted on February 19, 2014 – by Gregory Franklyn but bears repeating.
Why is it that we cannot seen to grasp that neither raising taxes, nor cutting spending is necessary to attack the deficit. More people paying taxes would have the same effect without raising taxes OR cutting spending. But we continue to follow big businesses who are arranging the law to allow the off-shoring of the very jobs that would provide the required tax revenue to reduce it.
Cut benefits to the people who need it most and give those benefits to the people who need it least, punishes people who are not exceptional in their ability to sell things. It creates an elite that honors only one thing. If you’re not a member of that club, you’re not welcome in this country. But do they consider that without those people who are not exceptional at selling things, there is no client base. There is no one to BUY the things they are selling.
Marianne Williamson did a talk on money about 25 years ago that has stayed with me ever since. She compared the economy to a being with a circulatory system. Her theory made me WANT to pay my bills. She said that NOT paying those bills, stops the circulation. Economies NEED circulation to thrive. My little section of the economy gets shut down when I fail to pay those bills.
There are benefits to circulation too. I have what, I guess, would be called “Loyalty Cards” for a number of stores that I shop in regularly. The coffee shop, for example. I get a free cup of coffee for every 8 that I buy. At the grocery store I get a discount when I reach a certain level of purchases. I can get those benefits because my money is circulating. These businesses know what Marianne Williamson was taking about. The health of our economy comes from it’s circulatory system.
On Wall Street money circulates, sure, but it is also being stockpiled. The money mantra is “He with the most money at the end, Wins!” Every one of those dollars that are not circulating, are cutting off the circulation to some part of our economy, weakening it in important ways. That circumvention of the optimum circulatory patterns, over 30 or so years, has brought us to the brink of collapse. Right now there is TOO much of our overall economy that is NOT in circulation causing parts of the whole to become diseased. The result is that more and more people in the economy are not participating because the circulatory system has been disrupted by stockpiling of money in fewer and fewer places.
Food Stamps/EBT cards are a good example of what CAN be done right now to increase circulation in the places in the economy where circulation has been all but cut off. EBT Cards stimulate the economy because those dollars are never stockpiled. They are spent immediately, right now, out of a sense of necessity. Every EBT Dollar spent in today’s economy stimulates over $1.50 in economic activity. If more people have more money to circulate, the entire economy benefits, including the wealthiest. They now have more customers with money to spend.
Extending Unemployment benefits is another thing we can do right now. People who collect unemployment benefits are not lazy. They have unemployment insurance BECAUSE they worked, until their jobs ware TAKEN away. We do not pay unemployment benefits to people who didn’t hold a job. Calling people on unemployment lazy, simply isn’t true. It’s mean spirited name calling.
If all of the jobs that have been off-shored to cheaper labor markets in the last 30 years had stayed in the US, we wouldn’t have a deficit problem. We probably wouldn’t be 37th in Health Care and 17th in education, either. Our thirst for extreme wealth for the 1% has led us down the path to solid mediocrity. We, in the US, are exceptional only in our ability to militarily dominate and our ability to see ourselves as exceptional when we clearly are not.
Now, Don’t get me wrong here. I do understand what’s at the core of Conservative Republicans’ argument against Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance and even Obamacare. They see it as socialism and, as such, Anti-American. They fear that the more Socialism there is, the less freedom and independence their fellow Countrymen will have, and that strikes at the very soul of what America is supposed to be about,,, to them.
But, like anything of value, when taken to the extreme, becomes destructive. Take smoking for example. If you trace the history of tobacco you learn that Native Americans used tobacco as medicine. Tobacco? Medicine you say? Whatever for? Believe it or not, Tobacco, when used sparingly is excellent tonic for respiratory conditions. Yes, it helps you breathe better if you’re sick, and is NOT the least bit destructive when used as medicine. In fact it HELPS in maintain good health.
Freedom is another example. Follow freedom out to it ‘s logical end and what do you have? Anarchy! In order for freedom and independence to be a good thing, it must be balanced with the reality that there are things that individuals cannot do on their own, and that there are things that we have to share because there are more than one of us. That, dear reader, is socialism. It’s joining together to do things that we cannot do on our own.
Medicine is an example. Back in the day, when a chicken had real value to a Doctor who could use it for eggs or a chicken dinner, it was reasonable for a sick person to offer it as payment for services rendered and Doctors considered it a fair deal. Medicine is a whole other beast now. That won’t work because it’s no longer a fair deal. The cost of medical care has so dramatically outpaced people’s ability to pay for it, that it’s no longer something that most people can afford to do on their own.
So, anyway, we’ve been in this economic situation before. We fixed it last time! Last summer I drove up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon to get out of the house and maybe have a cup of coffee. It’s a beautiful drive, up to a beautiful place, that now sustains itself on it’s own, and if you get the chance to see it, you should take it. My point about Timberline Lodge, though, is that it is a perfect example of HOW we fixed this problem last time we had it.
We fixed it by building things,,, BIG things like Timberline Lodge, like the Hoover Dam, like the Interstate Highway System, all of which are PUBLIC Works projects. Things we did together to stimulate economic growth, and it worked! After a while, it wasn’t necessary for the government to fund public works projects of that size and magnitude because the economic “Pump”, our fiscal Circulatory System, had been primed by these projects and was now flowing properly on its own. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Once you prime the pump, a certain amount of inertia keeps it flowing on it’s own.
We put unemployed people to work and paid them a living wage, so they had money to buy things. As a direct result, other people began forming companies, that hired more workers, to make things for these new wage earners to buy. It ‘s not rocket science. EVERYONE benefits when more people have more money. Beings thrive when circulation is flowing properly. When it’s pooled up in one location, other parts of the whole become wither and too often die.
What that did for us benefited every segment of society in America. Our economy grew, rich people got richer, poor people got subsistence, and there was an explosion in the amount of people in between the two. The tax base grew to its biggest point and we were not in a constant state of complaining about not having enough money to fund programs that really needed it. Like support for medical care which we could no longer afford on our own.
Right now, our infrastructure is crumbling. Bridges and roads are in critical need of repair. Sewer and water systems are crumbling. Our power grid, after all this time, is still not able to withstand a significant wind or snow storm, which happens EVERY year! We have lots of work that needs to be done and lots of people out there looking for work. What is it that is so difficult about this equation?
We already know it works because we proved it ourselves by actually doing it! Our current situation is a perfect example of what good a government can do for its people. All we lack at this point, is the political will to JUST DO IT!