Sunday, February 22, 2009

Those patriotic Tax-Cutting Conservative Republicans Vs. those darned liberal Tax & Spend Democrats!

We are continuously confronted with the dichotomy of ‘Tax & Spend’ Democrats and ‘Conservative’ Republicans. If you subscribe to labels, sound bites, and doctrinal hype it seems very obvious who does what. Who spends the country into the ground, and who are the fiscally conservative bunch out to rescue the Republic.

Why, you ask, are Democrats always demonized as liberals who would spend every cent you have and then some, and who would burden our succeeding generations for centuries to come? And why do Republicans always portray themselves as fiscal conservatives who only want to cut taxes and needless spending?

But, are these the realities? It's pretty mind-boggling what we discover when we take a good long, sober look at the actual truth of ‘what really is’.

Let’s cut to the chase. What is the actual, literal truth about the so-called ‘Conservatism’ of the Republican Party and the ‘Tax & Spend’ proclivities of the Democrats? If you have bought into all the partisan hype, you will be totally surprised and blown away. But, if you like to turn over rocks to look for yourself to see what is underneath, you may already have a pretty good notion of the truth.

Turns out, the only real mystery is how the myths of ‘Conservative Republicans’ and ‘Tax & Spend Democrats’ ever came to be in the first place!

The fact is that fiscally ‘Conservative Republicans’ are nothing of the sort, and that ‘Tax & Spend Democrats are actually far more fiscally responsible. Hard to believe? Consider *this:

1. Every Republican administration IN HISTORY has increased the national debt;

2. Since 1946, Democratic presidents increased the national debt an average of 3.2% per year. The Republican presidents increased at an average of 9.2% per year. Republican Presidents out borrowed and spent Democratic presidents by a three to one ratio, proving Republicans are the real ‘borrow and spend’ party;

3. At no time since 1945 when Republicans have been in total charge of both elected branches of government have they ever reduced spending;

4. That ‘Great Communicator' and hero to the Republican right, President Ronald Reagan entered office in 1981 calling for a balanced budget, but never submitted a balanced budget. In truth, he was an award winning, record setting liberal spender and grower of an ever expanding government;

5. Each and every time the Republicans practiced their ‘Trickle Down Economic Theory’ has led to dismal failure. The first time under Hoover and led to the ‘Great Depression’. Reagan then tried in and the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the economy declined - leading eventually to Clinton’s ‘It ‘s the Economy, Stupid’ election victory. Now unfortunately, we are all witness to the results of the third time under Bush II;

6. Clinton inherited the Republican deficit spending problem and - and fixed it. He got the growth of the debt down to one third of one percent his last year in office. Contrary to the myth fostered by so-called ‘conservative’ Republicans, revenue increased and spending decreased. So, Clinton was actually the conservative the Republicans claimed to be - but were not and are not;

(And to distract everyone, the Republican right focused on Clinton's admittedly 'liberal' sexual activites - which had very little to do with governance as a whole - but it sure made good lurid copy!)

7. ALL Democratic administrations from Lyndon Johnson’s to date increased the rate of revenue increase, while reducing the rate of spending increase;

8. ALL Republican administrations from Nixon’s to date increased the rate of spending increase while reducing the rate of revenue increase;

9. Under Republican leadership the national debt has doubled in size relative to the GDP;

10. In the last 60 years whenever Republicans held all the power, they never used it to reduce the debt; In fact they have ALWAYS increased it!

So, laying all the partisan doctrine aside, who are the REAL conservatives? Any open minded person not blinded by partisan dogma can easily judge for themselves simply by checking the facts, and having a close look at this * in depth analysis of the US NATIONAL DEBT.

So, why are Republicans so eager to misinform and mislead the public about their true record? It should be very obvious to all. Republicans do truthfully claim to be the ‘party of business’. As a result, their dogma is largely dictated by business, business ‘capitalism’ (Corporatism), and monetary interests.

Corporate capitalism has zero conscience and could care less about the public interests, whether they be in America or some other place. National interests are of concern only to the degree they may affect corporate profits. But, they, quite naturally do not want the public to know the real extent of their criminal assault on the wealth and welfare of the public or our descendants, possibly down to several generations and beyond. So, administrations, particularly Republican administrations often resort to various subterfuges to hide their transgressions. (Click on chart at left for a great example of this phenomenon)

And, why don’t Democrats rightly claim their mantle of ‘fiscally conservative? That too is obvious to me. Democrats too, are largely the party of business and business interests - just not to the same extreme degree as Republicans. There is merely enough of the leavening effect of ‘public interest’ with Democrats to ameliorate and temper the resulting policies.

And those, gentle reader, are the realities!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Bloom, or Blossom Where You Are Planted"

There’s an old proverb saying,

‘Bloom (or blossom) where you are planted’.

It’s a benign saying meaning you should to try to do your best in the environment you find yourself in. But a corollary to this is contained in a quote from J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur in 'Letters from an American Farmer’, (1782) having, though probably not intended, a somewhat less benign flavor:

“Men are like plants, the goodness and flavour of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow. We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe, the climate we inhabit, the government we obey, the system of religion we profess, and the nature of our employment.”

I think de Crèvecœur means that men are products of their nurturing environments. Most of us will readily agree. Thus, if a person is the product of a close-minded, fearful, or paranoid culture, they usually, if not always, become so themselves. Conversely, a person raised in a tolerant, open, liberal and more intellectual climate tends to be the same. In other words, we are very apt to take on the shades of our nurturing environments. This has important ramifications for the future of humanity. For if we continue to breed and produce backward looking, intolerant, and fearful groups of people, mankind, and civilizations will inevitably trend backwards to earlier, less congenial times.

The evolution of civilization is then in great danger of regressing. All progress and advancement is stifled and societies tend to lapse into a form of feudalism. The Dark Ages are a prime example of this very phenomenon coming to pass. The onset of the Dark Ages coincided with the rise of Christianity and the fall of the Roman Empire. The people now called ‘Flat Earthers’ gained ascendancy. Not because the earth was then flat, but because their priests and leaders insisted that was so.

After sliding backwards from a ‘classical golden age’, civilization required many centuries to recover, in what is now called ‘the age of enlightenment’. From roughly 1300 AD until well after 1800 AD, even the most civilized and advanced cultures on earth were mired in a climate of fear and repression where the more thoughtful and clear headed people were shouted down when they spoke out - if they were lucky - or burned at the stake (or worse) if they were not. Thus Galileo was forced to ‘recant’ his belief the earth was round - as ‘heretical depravity’,- and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life:

“I, Galileo, son of the late Vincenzo Galilei, Florentine, aged seventy years, arraigned personally before this tribunal, and kneeling before you, Most Eminent and Reverend Lord Cardinals, Inquisitors-General against heretical depravity throughout the entire Christian commonwealth, having before my eyes and touching with my hands, the Holy Gospels, swear that I have always believed, do believe, and by God's help will in the future believe, all that is held, preached, and taught by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

- (translation of the prologue of Galileo’s recantation, 1633, in which he later attests; ‘with sincere heart and unfeigned faith I abjure, curse, and detest the aforesaid errors and heresies’)

After being shown the error of his ways, Galileo must have felt he was one of the lucky ones, because so many others were hideously tortured and put to death in various ways simply because they held opinions not approved by the church. Opinions many of which are now abundantly proved many times over to be the truth. A simple denouncement by anyone of status often resulted in the horrible death of an innocent.

Thankfully, such days are long past, at least in most western cultures. But, they still exist for others, with the Taliban being a prime example. But, I am minded of the excesses of Christianity when I read some of the vociferous words of today’s Christians. Words by people otherwise unremarkable, and who would appear completely normal if one met them on the street. Words like those by the late Jerry Falwell who said, “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions”.

And, words like those by *Pat Robertson - who claims his TV programming is seen in 97% of US markets, who said, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up." Because of these kinds of intolerant positions, I maintain the only real differences between Christians and the Taliban, is in the specific beliefs, and the nomenclature. The basic approach is the same.

The problem I have with Christianity - and for all religions for that matter - is their absolute insistence a person must accept all their tenets at face value (as interpreted by their leaders) - much like the ‘Inquisitors General’ of Galileo’s time. These are solid beliefs held with no evidence whatsoever, except what is written in ‘The Book’. Most of them are also tracts written 2000 or so years ago by barely literate herdsmen, and passed down through succeeding generations - and interpretations.

Nevertheless, many Christians still insist they be accepted verbatim, without question. A good example is a bumper sticker I once saw:

“The Bible said it, I believe it, That settles it”

And, in some circles, they will still kill you for disagreeing with some point or the other! There's no one so certain as one who holds a strongly held religious belief . . . . . . . And to me, their attacks are a lot like attacking someone because they no longer believe in the Easter Bunny!

* If you want an in depth look at Pat Robertson, here you are