Broken Economic System, Trump Tax Bill & Other Challenges….

Before getting into articles about the Trump tax bill & other economic issues, let’s examine the bigger picture.  Many disagree, but I say the economy is fundamentally broken.  It no longer works for approximately half the population & big bold changes are needed.  Maybe such a fundamental remake to our economic system is beyond the purview of the White House & Congress, that such a transformational reboot would require a grassroots movement by a majority of Americans, which in our current polarized climate we can’t seem to agree on anything.  Bernie & some others in the progressive movement are the ones proposing some dramatic alternatives (see below), but they’re based on a huge expansion of government & spending more aligned with socialism, where the government would take over primary job creation responsibilities far more than the private sector.  Before we go there, I would like to try some bold public-private initiatives that could spark economic growth in a way Americans would see shared prosperity.  We could probably figure something out, but we’re hardly even trying, as moderates & conservatives aren’t even in the arena.

See this article amazon-jeff-bezos-customer-data-industries that shows an even greater threat to small businesses/independent businesses going forward, who’ve already found it difficult to compete against the large corporations.  I found this article quite interesting: conservatives-should-be-wary-of-big-business, & I’ve patched together excerpts below.  When we lose the rugged individualism of sustaining owner-operators at the local level, succumbing to monolithic multinationals with their cookie-cutter job assignments, we’re losing a sense of who we really are.  Initiative, creativity, inspiration & a sense of personal ownership become mooted.  If we’re ever to actually make America great again, this may be at the heart of what we need to get back:

Among conservatives, the erosion of civil society is most often attributed to the heavy hand of the administrative state. While the welfare system, especially at the federal level, certainly deserves its fair share of the blame, a growing number of conservatives, including Tucker CarlsonPatrick DeneenRusty RenoMichael Brendan Dougherty and Rod Dreher, have also expressed concern about the side effects of economic globalization and the elite culture that shapes many corporations. In short, conservatives are coming to see that Big Business can also threaten our liberties and the flourishing of civil society. I am not insinuating that capitalism is bad or that the free markets haven’t dramatically reduced poverty and raised living standards. What I am saying is we should not underestimate the importance of our immediate commercial environment to the forging of a sense of community, and that the shift from locally owned businesses to multinational corporations comes at a cost. A major consequence of purchasing goods at Walmart and Costco instead of local farms and small businesses is a leveling of regional distinctions and particularities, replacing unique local cultures with a national or international monoculture. Whether you live in California, Vermont, Ohio or Virginia, the shopping center off the interstate looks and feels exactly the same.

And Burke says, nobody loves a perfect square. People love the place where they are from.” It is that love, of family and friends and neighborhoods, that precedes and makes possible our love of the state or nation. The same point about the impossibility of loving a square could be made about the Big Business monoculture. Do people love the strip malls and big box stores where they purchase products of unknown origin from strangers? And when they return home, does the impersonality of that monoculture encourage them to engage with their neighbors? The placelessness of our commercial space is more likely to draw them inward — to make them more likely to lock the door and eat a pre-prepared meal while watching the same television show that people everywhere (or perhaps more accurately, nowhere) are watching.

This is not just about small towns — the importance of local commerce in civic life is just as important in West Philadelphia, South Boston and Anacostia as it is in southeast Pennsylvania. Across the country, as locally owned businesses have been priced out of the economy, we lose links to the unique history and cultural memory that permeate not only the local market but also the philanthropic institutions that many small-business owners support. As our attachments, and consequently obligations, to families, neighborhoods, small businesses and charities diminish, I fear that people cease to exercise civic responsibility and fill the empty societal space with whatever appears on their easily accessed screens: reality TV, strident talking heads on cable news, gossip on social media. After all, if people don’t love a place, will they serve it? If they are called to defend it, will they die for it? When building our future, with all the progress that may come, it would be prudent to consider how we might conserve the personal, small-scale institutions that make ordered liberty possible.

Here’s another good one!  This article with these excerpts help sum up the challenges before us jamie-dimon-the-benefits-of-economic-growth-have-been-unevenly-shared:

There is no shortage of statistics that illustrate the reality that, too often, the benefits of economic growth have been unevenly shared: While U.S. unemployment may be at a 10-year low, many communities struggle with rates that are multiple times the national average. Seventy percent of kids ages 17 to 24 can’t get into the US military because of poor health or education. Clearly, just because parts of the country are doing well does not mean every part is doing well. The fact is that leaders — from all sectors — have not done a good enough job taking care of those who are being left behind. And these individuals and communities, rightly so, have let us know. Leaders have a collective responsibility to do more. We must see this as a call to action to harness today’s economic momentum in the service of expanded opportunity. Doing so requires thinking beyond our traditional roles, putting aside partisan differences and committing to the pragmatic, hard work of making meaningful change. More often than not, we already know what the solutions are — we simply need to get them done.

Government has served and will continue to serve a critical function in expanding access to opportunity for its citizens, but the notion that this is the purview of government alone — or that the nonprofit sector can absorb the burden — is as outdated as it is unrealistic. As the primary engine of economic growth, the private sector has a special role to play in making sure the benefits are more widely shared. And we must embrace this role. We face not only a moral obligation, but also a business imperative, to make the economy work better for more people. In our firm’s most recent Business Leaders Outlook survey, for example, executives cited a shortage of talent — driven in large part by a lack of applicants with the skills businesses need — as one of their top challenges. The private sector does not have all the answers — and true progress will be possible only through collaboration — but business must lead by example and step in where we have resources and expertise to offer. If we come together, I am profoundly optimistic that we can solve our biggest challenges and help dramatically more people get on a path to a better life. Let’s get to work.

As we’ve seen from the recent Trump tax bill & will likely continue to see, is similar to what we’ve seen from this economy for at least a decade, that economic/income/wealth gains have virtually all gone to the very top, with a sizable portion of the lower/middle class continuing to fall behind.  In this beginning to the article from poll-half-of-americans-still-feeling-impact-of-great-recession, this is the hard reality for far too many Americans:

A decade after the financial crisis hit, 52 percent of Americans say they are still feeling its impact on their pocketbooks, according to a new report by Morning Consult. Middle-class Americans were most likely to report that the recession still affects them, with 57 percent of those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 a year reporting some impact, the report found. That number compares with 51 percent of those making less than $50,000 and 51 percent of those making more than $100k. The survey found that Americans blamed politicians more than any other group for the recession, with 73 percent of respondents laying the blame at their feet, just above the 72 percent who blamed big banks. Despite good economic news in recent years, 65 percent of Americans expressed concern about another downturn in the near future, with large majorities saying they were avoiding taking on debt and had limited spending on big-ticket items to shield themselves from the next economic dip.

Lawmakers knew what they wanted to achieve with the tax cuts, but it was not well thought out & really missed the mark, with most of the revenues not getting in the hands of those most needing it.  In these excerpts from business-tax-credits-should-do-more-for-us-workers-and-our, we see more misplaced priorities from the Trump tax bill:

When Congress passed tax reform late last year, it cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent. While the 35 percent corporate tax was too high compared with other countries, I voted against the tax bill, in part, because it did little to incentivize businesses to invest in worker training and skills development. Currently, more than 6 million jobs remain unfilledin our country because our workers lack the skills required to fill them. With the advance of automation and artificial intelligence, millions of existing jobs could be replaced by robots or AI in the coming decades. Nothing in the tax bill passed by Congress addresses these great challenges to our country’s future. Specifically, the Republican tax law fails to recognize that training and re-training workers for jobs of our 21st century economy requires bringing business owners, educators, and workforce development leaders to the table together. I strongly believe there’s a smarter way to ensure that future tax reform benefits American workers while making American businesses more competitive. That’s why my colleagues and I on the New Economy Task Force have just introduced the Investing in American Workers Act.  Our bill would establish a targeted tax incentive for small and mid-sized businesses that invest in training their workers to improve skills, increase productivity, and raise wages. Workforce investment is crucial to the success of the millions of small- and mid-sized businesses that keep the American economy running and allows workers to earn higher wages and build job-security. With a growing “skills gap” plaguing U.S. employers, and automation threatening workers’ jobs, it is imperative that Congress adopt tax policies that strengthen our businesses while preparing workers for the family-sustaining jobs of the future. Last year’s tax bill failed to ensure such investments. By incentivizing investments in workforce training and development, the Investing in American Workers Act will help our economy by preparing businesses and workers for the economy of the future.

See these articles on the financial struggles of young people/students: the-student-loan-crisis-congress-and-the-private-sector-must-go & also 51-of-millennials-blame-boomers.  In these excerpts from why-its-harder-millennials-build-wealth, we see why so many millennials are boxed in by student debt:

While many people are on a stronger financial footing after the economic recovery, many young people feel very much left behind, especially if they’re juggling low-paying jobs with high levels of college loan debt. Young adults with college degrees and student debt are stuck in a financial ditch and unable to build wealth as quickly as their parents did when they were younger, a study released in April by the Young Invincibles, a young adult advocacy group, says.  The problem? Millennials are bringing home significantly smaller paychecks, tend to be less likely to own a home and aren’t saving as much for retirement as young adults did in the late 1980s. They’re burdened with debt but not acquiring assets quickly. Young adults with college degrees and student debt, for example, find themselves looking at a median, negative net wealth of $1,900 based on research by the Young Invincibles. Simply put, they owe more than they own.

Just the whole attitude & the people brought onboard Trump’s team, this is a government run by plutocrats that have no understanding of the struggles of middle class Americans.  Trump has made the deep state even deeper & the swamp more toxic.  Here is the final paragraph in opinion/trumps-war-poor:

Seriously, a lot of people both in this administration and in Congress simply feel no empathy for the poor. Some of that lack of empathy surely reflects racial animus. But while the war on the poor will disproportionately hurt minority groups, it will also hurt a lot of low-income whites — in fact, it will surely end up hurting a lot of people who voted for Trump. Will they notice?

Other interesting articles related to the economy you might want to check out are these: advocacy-group-poll-concerns-about-debt-rising & also trump-is-running-america-just-like-his-businesses–right-into-the-ground & also while-china-picks-winners-trump-picks-losers & also between-trump-and-a-devastated-place & finally this one let-food-be-thy-medicine I’ve posted the beginning to is-your-work-killing-you, where he proposes some real adjustments to the workplace.  Most workers are not just struggling to get by, but they’re very stressed out on the job:

In the United States, workers work among the longest, most extreme, and most irregular hours; have no guarantee to paid sick days, paid vacation, or paid family leave; and pay more for health insurance, yet are sicker and more stressed out than workers in other advanced economies. U.S. companies fret about rising health care costs—health spending per capita in the U.S. increased nearly 29 fold in the past 40 years, outpacing the growth of the economy—and institute wellness programs like lunchtime yoga, meditation, anti-smoking, or obesity prevention. But Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, says companies are completely missing the point. Offering lunchtime yoga to stressed-out workers ignores the real reason why workers are so stressed out in the first place—management practices like long work hours, unpredictable schedules, toxic bosses, and after-hours emails. It’s not individual workers making bad choices about their health that’s making them so sick. It’s the way corporate America expects workers to work. And in his new book,Dying for a Paycheck, he argues that the costs have become so great that it’s time for companies and the government to take responsibility and create real change.

Here are several links to a number of worthy articles on the Trump tax bill, which I invite you to review.  For a plan touted to help the middle class, it sure does disproportionately favor the wealthy.  That includes the pass-throughs, which were supposed to help smaller independent business owners:

 
 
 
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/25/1759899/-Growth-down-Stock-market-down-Optimism-down-The-tax-cut-boost-to-the-economy-non-existent

From there we see the jobs plan from progressive liberals, which I’ve put some links below.  At least they’re thinking outside-the-box & coming up with ideas for the problems becoming increasingly more challenging.  But these plans are heavy on big government/big spending.  I invite moderates & center-right conservatives to work on a plan of their own, more focused on a public-private partnership in creating better careers for the future.  Bottom line is, we can’t just do nothing:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-democrats-have-an-antidote-to-trumps-fake-populism/2018/04/24/d5cd0e96-473b-11e8-9072-f6d4bc32f223_story.html?utm_term=.fe8fa0fd3171

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/04/24/democrats-are-swinging-for-the-fences/?utm_term=.0afe50fda946

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bernie-sanders-wants-you-to-have-a-good-job-but-theres-a-catch/2018/04/24/b67a7a56-47ef-11e8-9072-f6d4bc32f223_story.html?utm_term=.4042c6c9f0eb

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-guaranteeing-jobs-became-the-hot-new-policy-priority-for-2020-dems?ref=wrap

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/6/16036942/job-guarantee-explained

 

If the GOP hang their hats on the Trump tax bill for the midterms, we probably will see a significant blue wave: tax-plan-republicans-midterms.  There is really very little for the GOP to be optimistic about: dont-believe-the-republican-rebound-hype.  They have only themselves (& Trump) to blame: when-you-govern-solely-for-your-base-this-is-what-happens.  And here in Ohio the GOP is hitching their wagons to Trump, which I find incredibly disturbing: gops_troubling_swing_in_ohio & alsoits_official_president_donald.  So a blue wave is probably what is needed, so the GOP can hit rock bottom & shock their base into doing some serious soul searching, which is probably the only way we can start fixing the GOP: blue-wave-voters-will-drain-the-swamp-wave-republicans.  So here is the strategy I recommend: trump-republicans-vote-democrats.  As we see from this opening to the-political-center-is-fighting-back, the rational/pragmatic center must reassert itself for America to ever move forward:

This can be a dispiriting time to follow U.S. politics — especially for someone of my classical liberal (a.k.a. conservative) views. President Trump is the most unethical, unhinged and openly racist president in modern history, and yet he still maintains the support of roughly 40 percent of voters and 85 percent of Republicans. GOP leaders know how awful he is but are too cowardly to speak out. Congressional candidates are actually echoing many of Trump’s most offensive and authoritarian statements, from his calls to lock up Hillary Clinton to his attacks on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. It’s hard to know who is worse — Trump himself or his many enablers.

 

If there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that Trump’s outrageous behavior is provoking opposition from a growing number of good-government groups. Both the center-left and center-right are mobilizing and — best of all — they are cooperating, because they realize that their policy differences fade into insignificance at a time when our core institutions and norms are under assault. It’s hard to keep up with all of the groups that are protesting Trump and championing democracy. They include the Protect Democracy ProjectR StreetCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in WashingtonIssue OneProject on Government OversightCommon CausePublic Citizenthe Committee to Investigate RussiaStand Up Republic and Republicans for the Rule of Law. Some, such as Common Cause and Public Citizen, are long-standing liberal groups. Others, such as Stand Up Republic (founded by Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn after their run for president and vice president in 2016) and Republicans for the Rule of Law (started by Bill Kristol, Mona Charen and others), are new groups formed by conservatives.

The Candy Man can….

The Trump appointment for the V.A., Dr. Jackson, had to withdraw over disturbing accusations, including handing out sleeping pills like candy.  Inside the White House he became known as the candy man.  For all I know, the heavy sedatives Bill Cosby was handing out may have been laced inside candy, so his candy man purposes were really done with evil intent:

trump tax bill with sammy davis jr.

(Click on image for full video)