To protect the people and secure their rights

Liberty and Democracy are not opposing ideas. The political center is where all change is made. Let's embrace reason and civility.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Money, Credit and the Real Economy

"There is no limit to the services we can perform for each other... Real wealth, for any nation, is everything you produce domestically, plus whatever the world sends you, minus what you have to send to them - your exports. So, the imports are the real benefits; the exports are the real cost." -- Warren Mosler

When you work, you provide a service to other people, directly or indirectly. It doesn't matter if you're a security guard sitting in a chair or an iron worker riveting steel, you are contributing to the real economy.

I've spent my whole life in the private sector, except for my service as a soldier in the US Army. All production and distribution of the goods and services in our society is driven by demand for that production, demand expressed in terms of purchasing power or "money".

We all have what's called a "survival constraint", or "profit constraint". We, the private sector, need to generate at least enough income to cover our spending and our desire to "net-save".

We can borrow spending power if we need to, create money for a house or car for instance, by issuing our own private security (mortgage) which a bank will only grant based on our income projection. When we pay back the loan, or default, that debt (and money) is extinguished.

This is why federal spending, specifically deficit spending, is so important. Our private sector thrives within a framework of public infrastructure-- which includes civil law and citizen benefits.

New money is created by federal spending. It enters the private sector by purchasing resources, goods and services (labor). This money remains in the private sector where it is spent or saved, and extinguished when we pay federal taxes.

Hence, federal debt is necessary for the private sector to retain any "net financial assets" beyond the private debts of individuals. We can prevent recessions, provide full employment, invest in cities and states, and expand citizen benefits as long as there are people willing to perform services for each other...

+/- the international trade balance, but that's another issue.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Secular Conservatism and the Modern Age

Anti-Greed, Anti-Trust, Anti-Life
These are the section headings from Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, a book with enormous influence over modern conservative thinking since the early 50s and the foundation of the "libertarian" movement.
Rand's objective was to present a "moral argument for capitalism" bereft of empathy or compassion. She advocated the "morality of greed", the morality of private monopoly, and that the only moral function of government is, not to protect life, but to protect property.
In spite of her focus on creating a "moral code", Rand was an atheist, which put her opposite of traditional Christian conservatives at the time. This is why I use the term "secular conservative" to describe the libertarian movement today.
Rand set up two very large strawmen as the cause of humanity's moral decay: collectivism, and altruism. She wrote extensively about returning to a gold standard, the aggregate effects of free market capitalism, and the implicit evils of democratic governance.
In my youth, I was mesmerized by this ideology, which offered me an "individualist" moral code. I realized early on, however, that her followers were very much a collective, that a "cult of individualism"" was an oxymoron, and that "enlightened self-interest" was an ineffective dodge for real feelings of empathy and compassion that I had toward others, especially friends and family.
Rand's contribution to our modern discourse is seen all around us. GOP Senators and Congressmen adore her. The Koch Brothers revere her and see themselves as the romantic heroes of her novels. Anarcho-capitalists don't believe that Rand was moral enough, that all government and citizenship, our Constitution, has no value to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Fact is that monopoly is bad. It is authoritarian. It relies on the compassion and empathy of the Aristocracy that Rand claimed was corrupted by altruism. In a word, it's just Calvinism updated for the industrial age.
Liberty and democracy are not opposing ideas. They are essential to each other, like two sides of the same (fiat) coin. The "golden age of capitalism" was the period from FDR through JFK, a period when we left the gold standard domestically and invested in public infrastructure and jobs.
Democratic capitalism is much better than the authoritarian, monopolistic capitalism that hails back to the dark ages, when religious conservatism ruled over Europe. We should return to demand-side federal deficits, and dispense with the supply-side deficit strategy of the past half-century.
Life is more than property. It is the whole reason for human society. A peaceful, growing industrial society requires a vibrant public infrastructure, which includes citizen benefits to pensions, medical insurance and education.

It took me a lifetime to figure this out. Hopefully those who read Ayn Rand don't take as long as I did.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Age of Democracy

The "Golden Age of Capitalism", born in the Great Depression and ending with the Reagan Revolution, is often referred to as "an excess of democracy", a period where the rights of American citizens expanded and the nation prospered.

Allied victory in World War 2 spread democracies throughout the world. The golden age of capitalism was also the age of world democracy. The United Nations was formed by international treaty as a world senate, establishing a confederacy of independent nations committed to world peace and human rights.

As a nation, we are no longer in that golden age, and haven't been since the early 1970s. The 60s rebellion had been diffused, and a new age of Monetarism, rooted to Austrian economics (and legacy), emerged. It's populist face is anti-democracy, authoritarian,  led by the same sentiment that caused the US to reject the League of Nations and  the deep, ideological hatred we see toward the UN.

This monetarist regime has led to a situation that causes us to question what is meant by "moral hazard". Our nation is hit by cyclical recessions that contract the economy and pump wealth to the top. Bank deregulation has put us all at great risk, and as responsible citizens I think we should do something about it.

The 70s was also the beginning of the end for truly civil society. Civic groups were common, and formed the basis for all politics. The days of FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK and LBJ were stopped, and a new order came to rule US fiscal policy.

As the floating exchange rate was imposed by the "Nixon shock" for international settlements between central banks (basically a market for competing currencies, called the "fx market"), federal deficits were poured into the economy on the supply side, using upper-end tax cuts and direct subsidies to the financial sector.

Enormous deficits were incurred under GOP presidencies from Reagan onward, followed by periods of austerity (deficit reduction) under DP presidencies from Carter to the present. Wage-productivity has flatlined throughout, marking the passing of our golden age when public infrastructure was a national priority.

The age of monetarism is also the age of privatization. This is supported ideologically by both the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics.  The libertarian movement, in all its forms, has advocated for the privatization of basically everything.  

It's a bad idea.  There is nothing to prevent this "aristocracy of greed", as Ayn Rand called it, from consuming our entire democracy, and the world.

Yet that is precisely the direction humanity is heading now-- the private, corporate state.  America had it's golden age, and it's been downhill ever since. Time for some new perspective, maybe look at this democracy thing again, rather than surrendering to another dark age.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Suburban Democracy

I'd like to coin a phrase here: Suburban Democracy

A lot of focus in what I want to do is designed around public relations in local communities. The "suburban paradise system", as I used to call it, was effectively the American Dream, the post-war promise of the New Deal.

Eventually we were supposed to all have houses and jobs, just like in FDR's Second Bill of Rights. And yes, we were promised hover cars.

The civil rights movement was supported by suburban communities who believed in American democracy.  Progressives campaigned publicly, house to house, supporting candidates who supported civil rights, and even supported directly with time and money.

In the suburbia of the 70s, there were still ethnic gangs, but there was a general peace with little violence. We had county patrolmen that served more as ambassadors of government and were respected by the community.

You could pass literature door to door, easily move house to house to canvass for your organization or candidate. There was no fear of violence. If democracy means "votes, not bullets", that's how politics was in 70s suburbia.

Whatever I do in the future, I will rely on this model of democracy, this approach to political recruitment.

Reasonable, centralist policy of course. People don't want riots and revolution, they just want a better life. If anything is our "right" as citizens, it's the American dream.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Democracy and the Competitive Economy

Federal debt got you down?

Simply allow the USG to overdraft its account at the Fed, and stop selling securities on the open market.  No more federal "debt".

You're welcome
Conservative leaders are more than willing to deficit spend "at the top". Reagan, Bush, they all incurred massive deficits in the name of war.. They just don't want the benefits to help you in any way whatsoever, because frankly they could care less about your problems.

It's the basis of Monetarism, a policy built on private debt and treasury bills. We've been working under that policy for 40 years. Think that might have something to do with all the economics graphs of that period?

Deficit spending at the bottom is high velocity money that filters upwards through a competitive economy. Yes, eventually to the "top", but at the same time providing upward mobility and the benefits of real competition.

The last thing these "job creators" want is competition. Stop paying interest on money that just sits there, stop taxing poor people, and guarantee pensions, medical insurance and education for every citizen.

That would be a competitive economy.

That's the promise of American democracy, the one we were promised in WW2. This sustained effort to privatize everything and end democracy has to stop. If we lose our democracy, we lose our liberty as well

Monday, January 13, 2014

Single Payer is Good for Business

The Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") attempts to provide universal health insurance through the private insurance industry, subsidizing premiums where necessary to cover as many people as possible with "affordable" private insurance. A much better plan called "single payer" wasn't even discussed when the health care debate began in 2009, the President himself declaring that single payer was "off the table".

Single payer simply means that the Federal government provides basic health insurance to all citizens. Another term for single payer is "medicare for all", easily enacted into law by changing the age of eligibility from 65 years of age to zero. Payroll taxes are completely unnecessary to fund it, just as health insurance premiums themselves would be unnecessary for most citizens under a single payer system.

The direct benefit of single payer is obvious, but the advantages to the private economy aren't as well understood. The fact is that single payer is good for business, good for everybody, and it's an easy solution to settle this health care issue once and for all.

Consider the advantages that a single payer system offers to the private, small- business environment:

First of all, health insurance would cease to be a factor in hiring and staffing decisions. You won't have to worry about what an employee's future health problems might cost the company, or what additional health insurance overhead might do to your labor costs when hiring new employees. They're already covered.

Second, other heavy insurance costs could be reduced or even eliminated. This includes the large portion of automotive insurance, general liability insurance in case somebody sues you for slipping on the sidewalk, workman's compensation insurance, and even product liability insurance, all of which would be greatly diminished or rendered unnecessary.

In effect, we can remove the burden of health care from business and workers alike under a single payer plan. America would go about its business without the fear of medical costs impacting their future. If you get hurt or contract an illness, you go to a doctor and you're covered. It's that simple.

And don't let people tell you that this is "socialized medicine". It's not. This plan relies completely on the private sector to provide medical services. Private insurance companies would remain to provide other types of insurance as well as vanity or supplemental health insurance to those who can afford it.

It's time to bring the single payer argument back into public debate. The idea has broad support from medical professionals, small businesses and the American public. Single payer is good for business and good for America. Let's get it done.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Saving American Democracy through Congressional District Organization

VIDEO:  (in production)

This video isn't about policy, it's about how to achieve policy. In my last video, I ended by saying that "government isn't the problem, corruption is the problem". I still believe this. It is my contention that if you want to "get the money out of politics", then we should take the money out of OUR politics.

I am proposing a national, independent, bi-partisan organization that can compete successfully in the Congressional primary and general elections. This national membership would be organized into CDO's (congressional district organizations) focused on recruiting and supporting district candidates.

Candidates with similar platforms could compete in the primaries of both parties within one district. In the event that both candidates won their primaries, then the voters would have an honest decision to make about who is the best speaker for them on the House floor. If only one candidate wins, then inroads have already been made into the other party to help swing votes in the general election.

We will require a national charter, some virtual infrastructure, and a declaration of principles to get us started. What those documents say, and what this virtual interface accomplishes for us, needs to be agreed upon by everone. The charter needs to define and secure Rights for all its members, and the influence of money in OUR politics needs to be removed.

Why the US Congressional District though? Why not state legislatures or even local governments?

America is the most powerful nation in the world, and the US Congress represents our nation. We are a democracy. We believe that political competition should be done with votes and not bullets. And exerting influence in the US House of Representatives makes policy relevant not only to America but to the world.

Congressional districs are highly gerrymandered into Blue, Red and "battleground" districts based on voter affiliation. In many districts like mine, there's at least a 2:1 ratio of one party to another.

Incumbent candidates have millions already in their campaign treasuries, and access to many millions more in "outside money". People don't have money, but the do have spare time, and that's what needs to be mobilized.

Democracy is a call for public participation. Active members need to form an organization they can trust to secure their own interests as members. Rather than spend millions on broadcasting and advertising, we reach out to neighbors, businesses and the community and get them organized. That's the plan.

Congressional districts consist of less than a million souls with about 500k registered to vote. A general election will draw between 250k and 350k votes total, and are won on margins of less than 10% or about 10k households. Most voters aren't directly involved in politics, but they do support the democratic process by voting and they are interested in the results.

Candidates are generally chosen in Primary Elections for both parties. The rules are set. We play by the rules of the game. Talk about alternative voting theory is fine, but it's fantasy and not politics. And it is the Primary where all the real fighting takes place anyway, where corruption really takes effect. (eg. Tea Party)

A CDO should be able to mobilize 100 active members supported by 1000 nominal members. Think about what 100 active members of a CDO could accomplish in just 2-3 hours on a weekend:

     10k fliers distributed in 2 hours
     1k signs put out or retrieved
     1k verified petition signatures for ballot access collected in 2 hours
     100 minimum attendence at a district convention or field event
     100 new voters registered
         ...along with 1000 houses receiving a business card with the national URL
     10 area meetings held support of candidates for state and local office

"Will it be enough?" I think so, based on certain sociological principles I've picked up over the years.

First, there's the 10% principle that a population will adopt a new idea if it can be accepted past this 10% "tipping point". This is half of the 20% ratio that Chomsky referred to as the "political class", so it seems like a good number, say 50k votes.

We need half this number of votes to swing a primary election, and half again in the general election to cross party lines. We of course need to rely on our campaign effectiveness, and really only need 20% of these voters to be directly organized.

That's ten thousand voters. Organized in tiers of 10, that's 1000 nominal (national) members, 100 active district leaders, and 10 candidates and staff. And if we can do this in one district, we can do it in every district in the country.

Anyway, that's the outline of my political strategy. I'll do policy videos and stuff later.

Whatever policy we agree upon, hopefully we'll take action to achieve that policy-- to call for public participation as voters, members, leaders and candidates. We can bring the voice of Liberty and Democracy back to Congress, to our Nation, and to the world. Together, we can save America.


follow up article based on my previous blog post: