Capitalism Sucks for Everyone Except Capitalists

koch brothersCapitalism is an economic, social and political system where private individuals control a country’s trade and business.   Capitalism flourishes because it celebrates the worst of the human condition: greed, self-interest and ego.  It also recognizes the advantages of competition and market forces.   This leads to a great tension between what is good for the capitalist and what is good for everyone else and the country.

In the United States this tension has resolved in favor of the capitalist time and again.  Money talks.  As a result of the capitalist wanting to maximize profits for themselves, we get poor wages and often are forced to work in unsafe conditions; all while they plunder the land and resources of our country and pollute our air, land and water.

Average-American-Family-InfographicOf late, when workers try to organize or ask for a wage increase, the capitalist threatens to move their operations to another country.   In fact, hundreds of U.S. companies have moved, simply to maximize profit for themselves, all the while putting Americans out of work.   Clearly, what is good for the capitalist is not good for the country or its workforce.

So how is this resolved?

Socialism is not the answer, because giving the government control of business is a losing proposition.  Instead, we need to examine what socialism is trying to accomplish for workers, and find a way to protect our country and its workers within our democratic values.

This is where the tenets of the Pro American Party shine. They create stability and security in a system that currently has neither.   They also create an economic floor for workers that allow them the dignity of working and paying their own way in our society.   In so doing it creates the forces required to make business work in a way that is in the best interests of our country.    Importantly in this regard, it also protects businesses from unfair competition from abroad.  In short, the PAP protects workers, increases economic security, protects U.S. business and serves to unite the country.

I encourage you to read all 12 tenets that have been discussed to date, but in the meantime, here are some highlights of how the Pro American Party resolves the tension between the capitalist and the country.

employ Americans.jpgTenet #1 – Requires businesses who sell their products or services to Americans to employ Americans.  It also provides for a very low tax rate for those companies that comply, while punishing companies that do not.

Tenet #2 – Abolishes welfare, but creates guaranteed jobs at a fair wage. Abolishes corporate welfare, but reduces corporate taxes.  By guaranteeing a minimum wage of $12 an hour, it forces business to match that rate or be unable to attract workers.

Tenet #3 – Endorses the scientific method as a fair way to determine facts.   As per our constitution, does not endorse religion, but allows our citizens to believe in whatever God they choose.

Tenet #4 – Creates in-country production requirements for all products deemed to have a connection to national security.  This will bring manufacturing back to our country.

scalesTenet #5 – Establishes a requirement for a balanced budget and revises the tax system.  Changes the way budgets are established.

Tenet #6 – Ensures our military will remain the best in the world.

service to countryTenet #7 – Creates a requirement for all Americans to give 2 years of service to their country after graduating high school or reaching the age of 18.  There are many ways to complete this service requirement.  Once this service requirement is complete the recipient will be eligible for up to 2 years of free college or trade school education.  Those who complete their 2 years of education with at least a C average are then eligible for an additional two years of college without cost.

Tenet #8 – Requires the title of all laws passed by Congress to truly reflect their impact.   Creates a non-partisan group to evaluate all laws and to publish their findings prior to a law being enacted.

Tenet #9 – Creates a yearly survey of all businesses and determines the educational, vocational and other skill requirements of businesses and broadcasts that information to all school districts in the country.

Tenet #10 – Punishes businesses that pollute our environment.  Creates a fund, paid by business, to correct pollution problems.

Soldiers w RiflesTenet #11 – Protects our military veterans and their physical and emotional health.  Provides a higher hourly wage for all veterans…for the rest of their lives.  Provides additional death payments for the spouses/families of veterans who die in the line of duty.

Tenet #12 – Eliminates high crime/high unemployment areas by bringing together business and government resources.

 

 

Voting for Trump or Hillary? Doesn’t Matter.

Trump cartoonHave you voted? Millions have….but no matter who gets elected it will make no difference in what laws get passed. Don’t believe me? Read on.

When a proposed policy change is supported by wealthy Americans or organized lobbies it is very likely to pass. When it is not it will almost never pass. As you might surmise, the wealthy have access and influence to lawmakers. Organized groups with a horde of lobbyists also have no problem in gaining access and funding their influence. As a test of your influence, call your senator today and then let me know if you could even get them on the phone, let alone influence their vote.

A Princeton professor researched 30 years of survey data to determine where the support came from for proposed policy changes. When the top one percent favored a new policy it was supported almost 70 percent of the time. The same was true when organized lobbyists supported a new policy. However when ordinary Americans supported a new policy it was supported only 30 percent of the time. I know, you’re thinking that is not as bad as I thought. Wait.

koch brothersThere were plenty of cases in which policies supported by the wealthy or the big lobbies became law even though they were opposed by the popular majority (e.g. the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Bush tax cuts and the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall law — which was widely blamed for facilitating the economic collapse of 2007-8 — that were adopted even though they were opposed by the majority of Americans.)

Remember the 30 percent of the time when policies supported by average Americans found political support? This only occurred when there was a confluence of support between ordinary Americans and the one percent/lobbyists. More importantly, there was not a single instance when policy changes supported by the majority of Americans was adopted unless it was also supported by the wealthy or organized lobbyists.

Where’s Does Money Factor?

Martin Gilens
Martin Gilens

How can all this be true when no one can get into political office without popular support, usually majority support?  According to Princeton professor Martin Gilens…follow the money.  On average, he said, it takes $1 million to win a seat in the U.S. House, $10 million in the Senate. In the last presidential election, more than $1 billion was spent by or on behalf of each of the major-party presidential campaigns.  This year’s campaign is on track to be even more expensive.

Maybe you’re used to that so it doesn’t surprise you, but how about this one: Wealthy donors, comprising less than .01 percent of the population (that’s not 1 percent — that’s one one-hundredth of 1 percent) accounted for 40 percent of all political contributions in 2012.

Who gives how much to campaigns has long been an issue, but in the post-Citizens United era, most of the money isn’t even raised and spent by the campaigns. In 2012, more than $1 billion of political spending was done by SuperPACs and other unaccountable groups who don’t even give to campaigns. Of SuperPAC money, Gilens said, 93 percent came from just 3,318 wealthy people. Fifty-nine percent of it came from just 159 people, which he called “a shocking concentration” of political giving that “shows no signs of letting up.”

oligarchy flag
oligarchy

Why does this matter to you? Political and economic power has become concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people and if that trend continues we’ll have an oligarchy, not a democracy

Should we fix ’em…continued

fork in the roadWe would argue that we should fix ’em, especially our youth.

Children as young as 6 can show criminological tendencies, but they have virtually no choice in their immediate environment. Just as problematic is that those factors that can ‘protect’ them have not yet developed.

'I wish you wouldn't carry knives in your trousers - they make such holes in your pockets!'
‘I wish you wouldn’t carry knives in your trousers – they make such holes in your pockets!’

We know, for example, that the ‘family’ domain is among the most important for the proper development of children. If a child is born into a family with abusive or neglectful parents, s/he is starting life without the emotion strength to handle the everyday rigors of childhood traumas. If the parents are antisocial themselves it puts the child in increased danger, and yet they have no choice of their parents, their socioeconomic status, their antisocial attitudes or anything else about how they are raised. Parenting takes skill, and yet this most important responsibility is often left to chance. No one would really argue that a single, teenage mother is not the best environment for a child, yet that is the reality for too many of our nation’s children.

teen in cuffs.jpgAs a child grows their environment widens. They play with the kids in their neighborhood and also begin attending school. At this point the way they were raised in their home begins to be affected by peers and school influences. The best thing that can happen to the child raised in the home previously described is that they find supportive friends and love school. In such a case these would become protective factors from the negatives found in the home. Often though, the negative home environment causes the child to go to school with an attitude, a bad attitude. When this happens school is also a negative experience and the child only forms friendships with other disillusioned children…and the number of criminological factors begin to grow.

family therapyIt is our belief that the first 4 years of school (K-3) are the most important for a child’s future development. If risk factors such as hyperactivity, aggression, antisocial behaviors and beliefs, dishonesty and others can be identified when the child is young there is an increased chance these behaviors can be modified. Of note, it may only be when a child goes to school that their parents’ lack of parenting skills becomes evident. If true changes are to be made with the child we must work closely with the parent(s) to provide them the education and support required so real changes can be made.

palm familyThere are many successful programs already in existence that have proven themselves able to change the lives of both parents and children for the better. Some start before children even start school, others later. What they all have in common is that they help the parents, not just the children. Here is a link to some of those successful programs: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/16/5-effective-parenting-programs-to-reduce-problem-behaviors-in-children/

fork in road with kidsThese programs are not as wide-spread as they might otherwise be because they are cost money. This is why many of our citizens don’t support them, they don’t want to pay the cost. In our view this is short-sighted because we will absolutely pay the cost, either now or later. The problem is that later costs even more, both in money and ruined lives…and what does it say about us?   You’re at the fork in the road, which path should we take?

A Tip Of the Hat To Our “Greatest Generation”

Carefully study this artwork.  Then, read what we did.

Not only is the picture awesome, but so are the statistics!

 

 

 

During the 3-1/2 years of World War II that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945,  “We the People of the U.S.A. ” produced the following:

            22 aircraft carriers

              8 battleships

            48 cruisers

          349 destroyers

          420 destroyer escorts

          203 submarines

            34 million tons of merchant ships

   100,000 fighter aircraft

     98,000 bombers

     24,000 transport aircraft

     58,000 training aircraft

     93,000 tanks

   257,000 artillery pieces

   105,000 mortars

3,000,000 machine guns and

2,500,000 military trucks

 

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and, ultimately, conquered Japan and Germany.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it.

Should We Fix Them Before They’re Broken?

juvenile holding cellThe current state of criminological research allows us to predict those who are most likely to commit crime. We can not, however, specifically point to a single individual and say s/he will commit a crime…with real certainty. Prediction models are based on risk factors. Individual factors alone do not predict criminality, but when factors start adding up so does the risk of offending. Since these factors are now known, society can make policy choices as to how it chooses to deal with this problem. Some advocate for early intervention, while others advocate not spending money on potential criminal activity, but instead wait for real criminality and then throw the criminals in jail.

risk factorsRisk factors are comprised of characteristics that have been identified with increased criminality. In contrast, protective factors are characteristics that serve to mitigate risk factors. In essence, a protective factor ‘protects’ a person from criminality when they might otherwise resort to crime. As mentioned earlier, risk factors have a multiplicative effect on the likelihood to commit a crime. A 10-year-old boy exposed to 6 or more risk factors is 10 times as likely to commit a violent crime by the age of 18 as one who has been exposed to only one factor.

decision treeThe direction our policy takes should be informed by 3 dimensions of concern: the individual dimension, helping turn around that youth in danger of becoming a criminal; the moral dimension, the value we put on victims and the pain and suffering that will occur if we do not act; and the societal dimension, what our action or inaction says about us as a nation.

So, are you a fix ’em early type of person, or a wait and lock up as soon as possible type? Let me know.

Next post I will identify both risk and protective factors across all the domains that typically affect our youth. We will see how each factor pushes a child away from a pro-social environment and towards a life of criminality.

The Catch-22 Between Employment and Criminality

catch 22The relationship between criminality and employment is a “catch-22” situation. Communities known as high crime areas are also high in criminality. So employment would help lower the crime rate. But at the same time these communities are unattractive to investors because they are high crime areas, so no jobs will be created. And so the cycle continues.

This reciprocal relationship presents a difficult problem. Potential businesses are wary of such areas because both their property and personnel are at risk. Goods are likely to be stolen, the property may be damaged, employees could be assaulted and customers intimidated. If business is to be attracted to the area these conditions must be mitigated.

Business also has another concern, the potential pool of employees. This same geographic area may be filled with unemployed people, but do those same people have the skill-set to get and keep attractive jobs? You know, the type of jobs that pay well above minimum wage, offer a chance at promotion and provide a sense of purpose or accomplishment?

This is where the Pro American Party comes in: Tenet #12. “In areas of combined high crime and high unemployment the PAP believes there is a beneficial role for the Department Of Labor to assist that will be in the best interests of all Americans. The DOL will limit the risk to investors who create businesses in high crime areas by providing low cost insurance against theft and/or damage to their property or product. The DOL will also work with the business to determine the skill-set needed to be a successful employee and provide needed training to individuals living in the area.”

supply and demandThis type of intervention is necessary if we are to eliminate historically high crime areas and allow them to be transformed into cohesive neighborhoods where it is safe for both business and people to work and live.

This program will make supply-side economists happy because job training improves the attractiveness of individuals to employers. It will also be attractive to demand-side economists because it reduces the costs of employment borne by the employer.

The Pro American Party believes the strategy outlined above is a much stronger and less expensive option designed to increase employment than previously tried programs.  Back in 1992, HUD provided $168 million to fund ‘Moving to Opportunity;’ a test program to reduce unemployment and crime. With this idea HUD thought they would move residents in high crime areas out of the area and near areas where jobs existed. HUD did not expect (but I’d bet you already have)that this program met significant opposition from suburban residents afraid of the impact of poor minority families on their communities. Further, it was also a failure for the families that it wanted to move because they felt completely out of their element in new and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

poverty experience.pngMarrying economic opportunity to high crime areas, when accomplished, eliminates the isolation of high poverty neighborhoods from the legitimate job market. For the youth in the neighborhood, knowing legitimate jobs are available will increase their motivation to go to school. Once they can see a real connection between education and financial success high school becomes more attractive.  And of course, more attractive jobs means less crime.

A double win-win for them, their community, the businesses involved and the entire country.