Friday, November 21, 2008

Recall Schwarzenegger!

Budget deal would include steeper car fees

Motorists' annual license fees would rise from 0.65% of the value of their vehicles to 2%. For a car or truck valued at $25,000, the increase would be $336. ... The last governor to triple the license fee was his predecessor, Gray Davis. Voter anger soared, and the increase played a large role in Davis' removal from office. Schwarzenegger crusaded against the hike throughout the recall campaign, and in his first act in office he cut the fee -- the "car tax," as he and some others call it -- back to its current rate...

Davis did not increase any "car tax."

Previous Governor Republican Pete Wilson signed a Vehicle License Fee offset as an idealogical tax break. It reduced the tax paid by purchasers of new cars paid by consumers to the state, and included a sunset clause intended to rescind the break when the state's budget required it.

At some point in Davis' term, the VLF offset went away. The powerful energy lobby, car dealerships, and Congressman Darrell Issa exploited this as a primary tool to get behind Schwarzenegger in the recall of Davis. Schwarzenegger said little during the campaign other that "car tax" "car tax" and replaced Davis with an ineffective state administration in a recall election based on misinformation that never should have happened.

The car dealerships, the biggest contributors to Schwarzenegger's campaign, won big. Schwarzenegger's first act as Governor was famously at a car dealership, rescinding the VLF offset, as Quid Pro Quo for their support in the recall effort.

With this recall, corporate influence on the California state government and election process reached a new level.

Recall the fascist.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

U. S. Auto Industry - FIXED!

This is tougher than SS.

After all, the US auto industry is older than Social Security, and people unused to any lifestyle other than that of the rich and famous stand to lose with the collapse of the auto industry.

First, go Total Commie. Sit down hard on the Medium Three. Tell the bourgeoisie and the proletariat that until they fix their problems, they all earn the same wage. To bring wage expenditures down to the point where they don't threaten to destabilize the company, industry, and nation, a few janitors might get a raise but everyone else might get a cut. Mandate this for three years. Go ahead, I dare you.

Few employees would be able to afford the very product that they labor to make - this would be good experience, especially for management.

Few employees would be able to afford reasonable health care. Who pays for that? We do! If Hillary Clinton would have had her way in 1993 (and Newt "He's not my president" Gingrich would have been righteously called out as a treasonist), the US auto industry might very well not be in its present predicament (although I won't underestimate such an industry's ability to shit their own bed). What's the number - $1,500 per US car is in health care benefits? This is a major component of our cars' lack of competitiveness with foreign cars.

Few employees would be able to contribute much to the faltering consumer economy. Good - maybe some enterprising individuals will jump right in and lead us out of the Consumer Spending Wasteland created by the faux-conservative neocons in Government until January 20, 2009. As far back as Prop 13 in California - on the surface a populist tax revolt to protect grannies from being property-taxed out of their homes, but in reality a power-and-money grab by Sacramento that led smart localities to replace their manufacturing industry with big-box retailers - as a nation we've been relying on more and more purchases of cheap shiny Chinese trinkets and more and more McJobs created to support the consumerist economy. The grand shining centerpiece of this, presented with bipartisan support, is our current real estate bust, formerly a boom. Perhaps the upper-management class at our car companies doesn't need that second home, perhaps they can drink Two Buck Chuck, perhaps they can keep their American Made care for eleven years instead of trading it in every three years. As the economy rights itself, perhaps more of us could get by with less, and maybe save more and more.

Renegotiate a few mortgages so that the middle-class employees could keep their homes. Make the C-level execs sell theirs and downsize until the economy right-sizes.

Suspend board member compensation.

Suspend stock dividends.

What do these car companies do with their leaner, more stable structures? Build more McEighteenWheelers? The whole SUV thing should never have happened - the tax break for 3-ton vehicles was just plain evil. Going Total Commie means that for the duration, we tell these companies what to build. California got it wrong when they mandated a certain percentage of sales be of electric cars, but not much wrong; you can't dictate what consumers will buy. We can tell the car companies to junk their entire lineup for one that provides a variety of sizes, prices, and luxury levels, but with a few new things in common: they all use half the gasoline, and they all are made of largely recyclable components. We have already pledged $25B to the car companies to help them go in this direction - increase this to a $100B pot to be split evenly between the Medium Three at the end of three years when they have reached this goal. Give them a total, 100% tax write-off for all Research and Development costs. Put a similar pot on the stove for non-Medium-Three entrepreneurs who come up with viable technologies and practices.

What do we get in three years? A viable US auto industry. As many as 1-in-10 of all US jobs would have been stable through the worst time of this economic downturn. Each of the Medium Three will have a viable lineup of cars, and can compete freely with each other, and most importantly with foreign manufacturers. We hopefully will have technology then that is unique to the US, with us having a limited exclusive right to use it and then license it to any foreign manufacturers who want it.

If we do not do something as drastic as this, or if we simply bail them out and keep throwing good money after bad, this economic downturn stands a much better chance of careening from recession to depression.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Social Security - FIXED!

Lower the rate.

Remove the cap.

Means test.


SS is not a retirement program. It is a safety net.

SS was conceived during the Great Depression as a means to insure that Grandma wouldn't end her life in the street or in a dismal bed in an institution. She could be 48 years old and her children or grandchildren could no longer care for her because over a third of them were out of work. It was right, and noble, for all to contribute so that these relative few could live out their last few years in dignity.

Now, lives last longer. Women are much more likely to have worked during their lives and to have contributed to SS. The chasm between rich and poor is ever widening, with a sharp dividing line between those who can retire comfortably at 59 1/2, 65, or 70, and those who can't. The sky isn't falling today on SS, but clouds are gathering.

We must return SS to a state where it can continue to run in perpetual motion as machine that sustains us as we grow old, fueled by a little contribution from each of us.

That contribution can be small, much smaller than it is today, in fact, if we remove the cap, allowing those most-able to contribute give a small percentage of their taxable income. This might allow us to eliminate the contribution by employers entirely, and to decrease the contribution by us, the employed, to perhaps 5%.

Means test? Of course. John McCain receives a SS check each month equal to that of many, many soldiers, sailors, and marines who served just as admirably but did not marry into fabulous wealth. He receives this fairly and legally under the current system, but would not notice if this check didn't arrive. Similar money pooled for others who do not need it for survival can make the difference between destitution and prosperity for many on Social Security.

This could be done tomorrow, or on January 21, 2009 by a clear-thinking President.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bush Recession Rocks the World

Make no mistake about it, eight years of the Cheney/Bush administration - in fact, twenty five years of selling the middle class an economic system designed simply to destroy the middle class - is what brought us to the current economic crisis.

You make volatile, precarious financial products available to billionaires, and the billionaires bite.

A free market can't flourish unless a majority of us can participate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

McCain Campaign Violates Voters' Privacy!

I'm not a D or an R, so I signed up for both Obama's email list and McCain's list.

Today - election day - I received this email message:

Two Things You Can Do Today

If you haven't already voted, VOTE!
Click here to find your polling location.

Make at least 10 calls for McCain-Palin to help get out the vote!
Use the script below to call the ten voters listed in this email.
Call Script - Use this to call the 10 voters listed below

Hello, my name is YOUR NAME and I am a volunteer calling on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign. Today is Election Day, and John McCain is the only candidate with the experience we can trust to bring real change to Washington and get our economy back on track. The race is shaping up to be extremely close, and your vote will make a difference. Can we count on your vote?

Thank you for your time. This call was paid for by McCain/Palin 2008 at 703-418-2008.

First Name Last Name Phone Number City State
Answering Machine Message

Hello, my name is YOUR NAME and I am a volunteer calling on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign. Today is Election Day, and John McCain is the only candidate with the experience we can trust to bring real change to Washington and get our economy back on track. The race is shaping up to be extremely close, and your vote will make a difference.

Thank you for your time. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 at 703-418-2008.

Please visit this page if you want to remove yourself from the email list.

Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008

Would you like it if either campaign violated your right to privacy in this way?