Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forgotten History

The 'big bang' day is over and we can all relax for another year.  I watched so many fireworks displays on TV last night that I have sparklers shining under my eyelids.  The nicest thing about the Fourth Of July is that we are, for one day, united in our patriotism.  It's too bad that we now revert to the divisiveness that polarizes us.  It's back to politics as usual. 

Lord John Dalberg Acton understood the corruption of power.  Following are a few of his quotes (source;Wikipedia) that illustrate how well he knew the hidden evils inherent in politics.
  • “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
  • "Great men are almost always bad men."
  • “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”
  • “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.” 
  • "The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the people versus the banks."
  • "Every thing secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity."
  • "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern."
  • "There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.
My favorite quote is not from Lord Acton, but the famous one by George Santayana.  It is:  "Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it."  To which Harry Truman added the words "and understand" making it read 'Those who do not read and understand history ----.  

It's one thing to fail to understand the lessons to be learned from mistakes made hundreds of years ago, but quite another to be so brain dead that some men fail to learn the lessons of the past 50 years.  More accurately, the past 12 years.  

If the bonehead men in Congress can't remember what caused our recession they are doomed to repeat it.  Paul Krugman pointedly takes them to task for repeating the same mistakes before the ink is dry on the most recent ones.  

 Here are a few excerpts from "Corporate Cash Con" as published in the New York Times.

. -- the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis — regulation is always bad, what’s good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir — have regained their hold. 

And now trickle-down economics — specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy — is making a comeback. 

How can people simultaneously demand savage cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and defend special tax breaks favoring hedge fund managers and owners of corporate jets? 

--here’s what a spokesman for Eric Cantor, told Greg Sargent of The Washington Post: “You can’t help the wage earner by taxing the wage payer offering a job.” He went on to imply, disingenuously, that the tax breaks at issue mainly help small businesses (they’re actually mainly for big corporations). But the basic argument was that anything that leaves more money in the hands of corporations will mean more jobs.

U.S. corporations are supposed to pay taxes on the profits of their overseas subsidiaries — but only when those profits are transferred back to the parent company. Now there’s a move afoot — driven, of course, by a major lobbying campaign — to offer an amnesty under which companies could move funds back while paying hardly any taxes. And even some Democrats are supporting this idea, claiming that it would create jobs.

As opponents of this plan point out, we’ve already seen this movie:  Companies did indeed take advantage of the amnesty to move a lot of money back to the United States. But they used that money to pay dividends, pay down debt, buy up other companies, buy back their own stock — pretty much everything except increasing investment and creating jobs. Indeed, there’s no evidence that the 2004 tax holiday did anything at all to stimulate the economy. 

--[ the tax holiday] did  give big corporations a chance to avoid paying taxes, because they would eventually have repatriated, and paid taxes on, much of the money they brought in under the amnesty. And it also gave these companies an incentive to move even more jobs overseas, since they now know that there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to bring overseas profits home nearly tax-free under future amnesties. 

--How can anyone imagine that lack of corporate cash is what’s holding back recovery in America right now? After all, it’s widely understood that corporations are already sitting on large amounts of cash that they aren’t investing in their own businesses. 

--  a major conservative talking point, with right-wingers claiming that businesses are failing to invest because of political uncertainty. That’s almost surely false: the evidence strongly says that the real reason businesses are sitting on cash is lack of consumer demand.

--claims that a corporate tax holiday would create jobs, or that ending the tax break for corporate jets would destroy jobs, are nonsense. 

 -- Lack of corporate cash is not the problem facing America. Big business already has the money it needs to expand; what it lacks is a reason to expand with consumers still on the ropes and the government slashing spending. 


Now the Republicans (and some Democrats) want to let the banks and big corporations run amok with more tax breaks, less regulation and the right of person-hood without the responsibilities.  How did that work for them during the past 12 years?

It has been noted that some Republicans aren't really that stupid; they are actually venal and will take the country down just so Obama will be blamed for the recession (or depression) and will lose the next election.  Now that's just plain evil.  It was Mitch McConnell who bragged that "The single most important thing that we want to achieve  is for President  Obama to be a one-term president."   That's not the oath of office that he swore to.  It is a perversion of Democracy.  To so blatantly brag about his main goal is despicable. 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a thoughtful, well written piece, Darlene. You always come through!
Cop Car

Darlene said...

*Cop Car - Thank you.

Hattie said...

Fabulous post, Darlene. And I think it's true that the Republicans would be willing to bring the whole country down if that would mean defeating Obama.

Anne said...

Jerry has been saying for a couple of years that the goal of the Republicans is to sabotage the economy and blame the president. He said it long before it became clear to the pundits. Sad.

Kay Dennison said...

You're right. Silly me, I thought it was supposed to be "for the common good and the general welfare" but obviously, I was mistaken. I looked and the word 'greed' is nowhere in the Constitution. I think the Founding Fathers are weeping.

Looking to the Stars said...

Good post! Always love the quotes, the reading of truth is a love of mine :)

Looking to the Stars said...

Good post! Always love the quotes, the reading of truth is a love of mine :)

Darlene said...

*Hattie - Thank you. I find that scandalous and I know you do too.

*Anne - Jerry is a wise man.

*Kay Dennison - To think that the Founding Fathers thought they were putting together a more perfect union. Now all their wise counsel is being distorted and ignored. Will democracy survive?

*Looking to the Stars - I love the quotes, too. They really fit today's climate. I guess there is nothing new under the sun.

Joy Des Jardins said...

I agree with Hattie about the Republicans bringing this country down if it meant defeating Obama. It all makes me so sad...and very frightened for our country. Wonderful post Darlene. ~Joy

Darlene said...

*Joy - Sad to say, I also agree.

Xtreme English said...

Great post, Darlene! Now wot are we gonna do??

Darlene said...

*Xtreme English - I'll guess with you.

*Leslie Parsley - Earlier today I read your comment and posted an answer. Now it's missing. Grrrr.