Stuck in reverse

Ah, the good old days, when law and order prevailed and workers and the poor knew their place in society.

Some days, you wake up, check the news, and wonder just what the hell happened to this country. And I'm not talking about that nutty right-wing view that we've strayed from the original vision laid out for us by the authors of the Constitution or the Bible. I have just the opposite view: I'm wondering why those people seem so intent on dragging us back into the bad old days of bygone centuries, when white male property owners ran things as they saw fit.

A dangerously intolerant religious fundamentalist who longs for the Puritan days, Rick Santorum, essentially tied for first place in the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses. And he was part of an entire field of candidates that wants to revoke women's reproductive and LGBT rights, deny that industrialization has affected the environment and should be addressed, dismantle already decimated government agencies, simply let the strong exploit the weak, and hope that Jesus comes back to save us from ourselves. Their strange reverence for the Constitution apparently stems from wanting to drag us back into the 18th century.

And don't even get me started on President Barack Obama and his worthless Democratic Party, which is only a bit better than the truly heinous Republicans. At least Obama says some of the right things – like wanting to raise taxes on millionaires, reverse Bush-era attacks on civil liberties, respect states' medical marijuana laws, and use diplomacy rather than only bellicosity with concerning countries like Iran – even though he acts in contradiction of those statements, over and over again.

It's no better in the Golden State, where the yestercentury crowd now wants to abandon plans for a high-speed rail system that has already been awarded $3.5 billion in federal transportation funding and for which California voters authorized another $10 billion in bond funding. Why? Because a panel headed by an Orange County douchebag says the business plan isn't detailed enough and the money for the entire $100 billion buildout isn't nailed down yet. Well guess what? California also doesn't have a plan for when its highway and airport systems get overwhelmed by population growth over the next 20 years. And criticizing the viability of high-speed rail – something most other advanced countries figured out how to build decades ago – isn't exactly going to help secure private equity commitments. It's a super fast train, folks – not some scary satanic iron horse from the future – people will pay to ride it.

But the situation must be better here in liberal San Francisco, right? Wrong! Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco Chronicle, and all their business community allies continue to relentlessly push their belief that the main job of government is to create private sector jobs, even though most economists say a politician's ability to do so is limited at best.

Lee is pushing for all city legislation to be measured by whether it creates private sector jobs, as if protecting the environment, preserving public sector jobs, or safeguarding the health, welfare, and workers' rights of citizens weren't also under the purview of local government. A Chronicle editorial today called Lee the most “realistic city leader in memory. He's all about creating jobs, repaving streets, sprucing up faded Market Street and fixing Muni's flaws,” the same goals the paper was focused on a century ago.

But the main trust of the editorial was calling for Lee to also focus on homelessness. Not poverty, mind you, but homelessness. “A decrease in jobless numbers is important, but so are fewer shopping carts pushed along sidewalks and a drop in the numbers of mentally ill in doorways and on park benches," they wrote. In other words, they just don't want to see poor people on the streets, because that newspaper and its fiscally conservative editorial writers and base of readers certainly haven't been calling for a fairer distribution of this city's wealth, or even higher taxes on the rich that might fund more subsidized housing programs or mental health treatment. I get the feeling they'd be content to just allow shanty towns on our southern border where our low-wage workers can live, just like the Third World cities that they seem to want to emulate.

Ugh, so depressing, so ridiculous, so regressive. I think I'm going back to bed now.


"At least Obama says some of the right things..."

It's not what he says, it's what he's done...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

Dag nammit! Why You! (Punches fist through hat)

Steven, it is never one's opponent's fault when one loses political contests. The onus is on us to figure out how to contest the empire. We are starting to figure that out nationally via occupy. But locally, denial and projection dominate.

When will activist journalists do their job for the movement and hold leaders in the movement in labor and the nonprofits accountable for their inability to mount an effective challenge to corporate power?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 04, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

Don't be expecting shit to just get done,,,,PUSH!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 1:19 am

Lee stood on a platform of creating private-sector jobs. He won easily with that message. And now you expect him to throw that out that mandate? And what? - adopt Avalos's losing policies?

It's the private sector that creates the wealth that the public sector likes to spend. So how will you pay for all your pet social enginnering projects when the last taxpayer has left town?

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 4:39 am

How will we pay for City services once the last "job creator" has been coddled with a tax break?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 7:26 am

Twitter ask and the city politicians can say yes or no. It's a game of poker. But nobody forced those whom you elected to cave.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 8:07 am

That's why I'm more angry at the politicians than the business owners. Corporations will always be pigs. It's up to our elected officials to make sure we don't open up the public trough.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 9:02 am

being a "pig" isn't a helpful categorisation and weakens your argument. Some might even regard such statements as "extreme".

But I doubt that the city's leaders would have conceded this if they thought that they didn't have to. The city needs it's successful, tax-paying businesses more than those businesses need this city.

When your hand is weak, you fold.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 9:33 am

So is the enlightened self interest and self correcting mechanisms of capital and free markets evidenced in the current economic enslavement of whole populations to pay down gambling debts of finance capital?

What's extreme here is suggesting that the only way to run an economy is either laissez-faire capitalism with no state intervention or state run socialism with no private enterprise.

The middle ground is that certain functions are best performed with the economies of scale that nonprofit state actors can deliver, and certain are best performed by the private sector. Some might lend themselves to cooperative ventures.

But we're not seeing moderation from Ed Lee or the contemporary Democrat Party urban machines. To the contrary, we're seeing a gradual abandonment of organized labor in the public sector and a shifting of the attentions of government from serving residents towards serving corporations. This approach has been called various things over the years, supply-side economics, trickle down theory, Reaganomics and, of course, VooDoo economics. Balanced, it is not.

San Francisco is run by the Brown/Pak machine as an ATM that delivers poor services for residents and windfalls for the connected 1% ers and their entourages.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 9:58 am

His message and platform was more private sector jobs, and the voters endorsed that by giving him more than 50% more votes than Avalos. A clearer mandate would not have been possible - the people want to see a bigger private sector and a smaller public sector, just like the Democrats at all levels of government.

Increasingly, people are seeing a much more limited role for local governments. Public safety, certainly. Streets and Transit, for now anyway. But beyond that people are increasingly questioning whether it isn't better served by competition and free enterprise.

While the entrenched public sector unions cling desperately to a package of unaffordable benefits that the rest of us lost years ago, and so are perceived as being self-serving and hopelessly out of touch.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 10:20 am

One reason why turnout was at historical lows is that voters see all participants as inherently corrupt, and that corruption just continues to be enabled no matter who wins the election.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 10:49 am

Had turnout been double what it was, it would still have been a walk in the park for Lee.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 10:57 am

The left's fixation with artificial entities is a blind alley that leads nowhere. People create and operate corporations - along with partnerships, trusts, non-profits, LLCs, special purpose entities, and a long list of other entities. And it's people - real humans - who use these artificial entiites for all sorts of reasons: to comply with government regulations; to limit liability; to shelter profits in low-tax countries or states; to facilitate management control and ownership transfers for both large and small corporations.

But it's people who commit any acts on behalf of an artificial entity and it's the government that allows people to hide behind artificial entities. The root issues are human greed and governments that reward the wealthy over the poor, and not whether some business is opeated as a corporation or sole-proprietorship

Whether it's the issue of taxation, where only people not corporations pay tax (most often the customers pay any corporate tax in the form of higher prices, but sometimes the shareholders or employees pay the tax if taxes can't be passed along to the customer). Or if the issue is creating illegal toxic dumps by the top managers or some lowly foreman trying to cut corners, it's individuals who make these decisions and it's individuals working in hundreds of government agencies that make the rules that allow companies to shift taxes or escape liability for illegal acts by employees.

Of the four major players that comprise the most advantaged top 33% of the population - the economic elites - the corporations that compete to produce goods and services at the most reasonable price given their competitive situtation in a particular market may be the most noble, compared to the other three groups of wealthy bondholders, private landlords and the government class that keeps the wealth flowing to the three most favored groups: the capital owners, bondholders and landlords.

It's government policies that have allowed rents and house prices to become 400-1000% higher than they were in the early 1980's. It's government policies that have increased public debt by trillions, leaving future generations much more impoverished and enslaved compared to their forebearers, while making laws that increase the relative wealth of most landlords, bondholders and many capital owners, along with providing some nice financial perks to the government workers along the way.

The real economic war for the past couple hundred years is between the government class and the big landlords, wealthy bondholders, and their financiers such as banks and hedge funds versus everyone else. If the bottom 66.6% of society wants real and lasting economic change, it should be focusing its attention on the real culprits - primarily the politicians, government bureaucrats, the private landlord class and the financial industry. Corporations that produce goods and services are beating up on each other on a daily basis in order to increase profits and market share. They can be regulated easy enough after society solves the problem of a government that rewards the rich and powerful with low taxes, and gives billions of annual tax subsidizes to private landlords and wealthy bondholders.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 10:45 am

Corporations and other legal entities are simply pass-thru vehicles. If a corporation pays taxes, it is recouped thru increased prices that customers pay.

Things can't really ever pay any taxes. They are merely a conduit thru which tax revenues flow - from people to the government.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 11:00 am

While it's true that business customers are often the group that pays any business taxes, whether the business is a corporation or not, this is not always the case. Consider a US company competing with a Chinese company for the same worldwide customers. If the US imposes a new tax on the US company that doesn't apply to the Chinese company - all other things being equal - it's most likely the shareholders or employees of the US company will pay for the new taxes either by lower profits and/or lower wages. The US company can't pass along the tax to its customers because of price competition from the Chinese company.

Similarly, if the US reduces the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, as is being seriously considered in Washington, it's just as likely the tax cut will mainly reward the shareholders with higher profits, but won't generate higher employment or higher wages, nor will customers get lower prices from the tax decrease.

And "things" *can* pay taxes. Land or natural resources are excellent sources for taxes. It may be that the nominal owner of the land or natural resource is the one who collects the tax to pay to the government, but it's ultimately the land and natural resources that are the sources for the tax.

Any tax should be evaluated as to which of the three economic factors it affects: labor, land or capital. There is a big difference in how various taxes impacts each of these three economic inputs. Higher taxes on businesses that produce goods and services will be paid by customers, shareholders or the employees of the business. Higher taxes on rents don't affect the rent cost since the rent is already as high as the market will allow (absent rent-control), so rent taxes affect the land and landlord, not the tenant. Taxes on labor may reduce the demand for labor or may reduce the price paid to labor. But taxes on labor may also be passed through to the company's shareholders or customers, depending on each unique company operating in a unique market, so generalizations are difficult to make about who actually pays for taxes imposed on labor.

The only generalizations that make sense are:

1) It's a lot easier and fairer to collect taxes on rents since land and buildings can't be shifted to China, Brazil or India, and because it's the community that gives most of the value to land, regardless of who is the nominal landowner.
2) Taxes on labor are the worst taxes since they likely reduce both the demand for labor and the wages that labor receives. Government should be rewarding labor, not punishing it with high taxes.
3) And although businesses are very efficient tax collectors - even though we know it's the customers and/or shareholders who actually pay most of any business tax - the type of business tax chosen is the most important consideration. Taxes on profits can be easily evaded by large companies, but taxes on business gross receipts are very difficult to evade and apply equally to similarly-sized companies regardless of business form, so gross receipt taxes meet both the fairness and ease of collection tests.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 11:56 am

In the world of Mr. Anonymous, the answer to everything boils down to a few pro-corporate catch phrases. Raising taxes on the rich is bad, but taxes on the poor are good because the poor need to "appreciate" the dregs they have. Anything else is "class war."

But he's no "extremist," mind you.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

there's really no such thing as corporate taxes. In the end, only people pay taxes, or the higher prices to cover the cost of them.

Take REIT's for instance. Or Royalty Trusts. they are businesses that pay no corporate tax. Instead they pass thru all income gross and the shareholders then pay full taxes on that. they compete with companies that pay corporate taxes but then pass thru less income.

Ultimately it boils down to the same thing.

Posted by Anonymous on Jan. 06, 2012 @ 4:01 am

A public notice regarding Santorum.

Not completely sure how it works, but evidently if you link Santorum with the web site then that tends to keep Santorum name properly associated with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Something about Google bots picking up Santorum's name each time Santorum is mentioned and linked online like that.

So to review, when you link Santorum with the web site then that tends to keep Santorum's name properly associated with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Evidently this happens every time Santorum's name is mentioned and linked online, so please be careful when you do mention Santorum's name, and especially when you may associate Santorum with the web site and then further reference Santorum with the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide this notice about Santorum.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 05, 2012 @ 5:19 pm