Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger
I don’t know about you but I was certainly happy that I woke up this morning. For a few years now there has been great speculation that the world was going to end yesterday. As I fell asleep about 1:00pm last night it was with knowing that in Mexico it was three hours earlier and so that the dread prediction of the world’s end by the Mayan Calendar still may have been possible. The whole idea was a blatant misrepresentation of Mayan belief and hoax-like, yet that didn’t prevent many from making this non-story into yet another way to frighten people. Frightening people with made-up nonsense seems to be a human trait and certainly has been exploited throughout history for one sort of gain or another.
Fear not though, because just as the collective We has just bitten one bullet, another comes along to frighten us once again with disaster and that “disaster” will occur on December 31, 2012, as we come to the end of another turmoil ridden year in societal intercourse. I’m writing, of course, about the “Looming Fiscal Cliff” that has been so very prominent in what our mainstream media calls “news and commentary” and our leaders of both parties call governance. My opinion and that of many others with far more economic expertise than myself, is that the “Fiscal Cliff” is a mere “bogeyman”, used by those politicians on the Right and the Left as leverage to accomplish their particular political agendas.
Since one of the interests of this blog is the Constitution and the consequent Rule of Law that should be its’ result, this comes within our purview because serious issues of national interest are being driven by false mythology grown to myth like proportion. Let’s look at what is behind this mythology and its propaganda.
The premise of the “Fiscal Cliff” is that unless something is accomplished to prevent its dire consequences from occurring on December 31st, our country will slip into the throes of economic disaster. What is the nature of the dire events that will occur?
“The “fiscal cliff’, however, is an invented term applied by politicians to the date various temporary legislative changes to the country’s tax code and spending policy take effect. Politicians began instituting temporary tax cuts with the intention of later transforming them into permanent law in the 1990s. According to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, this practice exploded during the George W. Bush administration and was accompanied by budget gimmickry to hide their affect on the federal deficit.
The Bush era tax cuts, known respectively as the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, are at the center of the storm that is raging around the “fiscal cliff’. The legislation, which was set to expire in 2010 but was extended to 2012, significantly reduced rates on income, estate and dividends and capital gains taxes and exemptions.
After the sunset of the Bush era tax cuts, estate and gift tax exemptions will end raising the tax rates on transferred estates over $1 million to 55%. Long-term capital gains taxes will rise from its current rate of 15% to 20%. The tax bracket for the country’s wealthiest citizens will rise from the current 35% to 39.6%. In other words, the tax code will largely return to the rates that were in place prior to the George W. Bush administration.”http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Myth-of-the-Fiscal-Cli-by-Abigail-W-Adams-121218-861.html
Now when I read the above my feeling is what does this have to do with me? The Bush Era Tax cuts did little for me, perhaps an extra few hundred dollars a year in my pocket, but given the cost of living today that effect is negligible. As far as Estate Taxes, my children know enough about my financial wealth to understand that what they stand to inherit could possibly pay for my burial and little else that would make them economically better off. In truth by the ideas presented above it seems those most in turmoil about this “disaster” are those whose income is at the top of the heap. Now those on the Left argue that this will also mean the expiration of the so-called middle class tax cuts. As a member of the middle class I remember those cuts well and my overall impression then as now is, the little extra money was nice, but really insignificant in terms of its effect on my standard of living. Where I guess it had some meaning is in a collective sense of the actual extra money spent being circulated in and therefore boosting our economy. The bald reality is that the extra money gained by the working classes does enter the economy, while the extra money garnered by our elite, is simply re-invested in financial instruments for their interest yield and have little effect on the economy via the hoary theory of “trickle down’. It doesn’t “trickle down”, rather it pools at the top.
“This return to the pre-Bush era tax code, coupled with the implementation of spending cuts to reduce the federal deficit and tax penalties associated with health care reform, have many economists screaming recession. Fear of a recession has politicians scrambling to reach a deal that would prevent the parameters of already established legislation from taking effect. The Republican demand in “fiscal cliff’ negotiations in Congress: the permanent implementation of the Bush era tax cuts.
The Congressional Budget Office reported that the Bush era tax cuts were responsible for 14% of the swing from federal budget surplus to federal budget deficit over 2002-2011. The Council of Foreign Relations projects that a permanent extension of the tax cuts will increase federal debt by $3 trillion over the next 10 years. However, due to the fear inspired by the economic catastrophe that is associated with the “fiscal cliff’, the temporary tax cuts instituted to fulfill the campaign promises of George W. Bush may become permanent under Barack Obama. http://www.opednews.com/articles/The-Myth-of-the-Fiscal-Cli-by-Abigail-W-Adams-121218-861.html
So what are the consequences of jumping off the “fiscal cliff’? According to many experts, there are none, because the “fiscal cliff’ does not exist. Ken Fisher, named as one of the thirty most influential people in the investment industry, pointed out in an interview with Forbes that changes to the tax code and federal spending do not take affect in one fell swoop. He refers to the “fiscal cliff’ as, “more of a fiscal rolling plain.” (Ken Fisher Talks the Fiscal Cliff, Forbes, 12/18/2012)
There is no “Fiscal Cliff” that this country will fall off from immediately in the New Year, but merely a sequence of events that could be adequately dealt with due process and due diligence as 2013 proceeds. However, the major political parties, each for their own reasons, are willing to say “boo” to the American People to push forward their different agendas. My own suspicion is that much of this fear mongering propaganda has been put forth by those whose economic interests are most vitally at stake and those whose political canon dictates less taxes and less government. “Less Government” except for that “government” most vital to their economic interests, with our bloated Defense Budget being a prime example. The other party of the corporatocracy, the Democratic Party, has once again been upstaged by masterful propaganda and so must play along with this “Fiscal Cliff” mythology by adding their own spin to it. Lately, that has included our President seeming to offer up “entitlement cuts” to programs that aren’t really “entitlements”, but must be pretended to be, since the prevailing propaganda war calling Social Security an “entitlement” seemingly has been won by his opposition. Those who pay payroll taxes, in many case significantly more money than their income taxes, should know that Social Security is not an “entitlement”. However, they have become confused by the propaganda created myth that “Social Security” is not an insurance program, which it most certainly is.
What is going on here put in simple terms is that the wealthy elite of our country have used their media minions and pundit hangers-on to control the public discussion and pollute it into mythology. To understand this better I would to present “Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged” by Paul Buchheit, from a Nationofchange OpEd.
“1, Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.
2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.
3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.
4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.
5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.
6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.
7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.
8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.
9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.
10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.
Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.” http://www.nationofchange.org/ten-numbers-rich-would-fudged-1353335225
The article linked above provides the backup information and reasoning behin those ten and a bonus numbers that nobody seems to include in this national debate over what the true issues of economic policy entail. The responsibility for this is bi-partisan, since both parties merely represent to different approaches to how to continue the elite in their stranglehold of power in the American System. This is a situation that I think the Founding Fathers might have envisioned, but in giving us the tool of the Constitution, felt the people were those who would have to ensure that their liberties remained in intact.
The question that Americans need to examine is how do they look beyond the propaganda spawned mythology spouted by almost all politicians in this country and come to grips with the real issues that lie below these myths we live by. The “Fiscal Cliff” is a sham and yet we see the most “serious people” in our Nation, like our President play along with it, rather than expose it for the sham it is.
There are deep problems and there are deep divisions in our country that is real and can be agreed with by all. However, the only way to solve these issues is too see what they actually are, rather than solving problems that are chimeric.
Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger.
76 thoughts on ““The Fiscal Cliff” an Example of Myth and Propaganda”
Thank you so much for saying what is on so many of our minds. I am here because I am getting sick of this obvious blame shift from bad regulation and unchecked, undisguised corporate greed, into one of all our fiscal problems are the result of Obama’s decision to stop giving breaks to the wealthiest individuals in the country.
I am so sick of hearing “fiscal Cliff” on television, radio, and internet all day.
What Elaine said.
You are too kind.
According to retail reports issued today, the 2012 holiday season may have been the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis, with sales growth far below expectations, forcing many to offer massive post-Christmas discounts in hopes of shedding excess inventory.
But don’t worry, it’s all just an illusion. The fiscal cliff and the uncertainties that it has created and which I’ve previously discussed on this leftist blog are just something that some foolhardy economists, business analysts, and nonleftists have warned about. What do they know? Pay no attention to them. Listen to leftists. They know what’s good for America and Americans. There is no fiscal cliff to worry about. Bring on the higher taxes on the middle class. That will dramatically boost sales and push the USA into a path of prosperity. The leftists say so, so it must be true!
Thank you for your comment I always look forward to hearing your sage advice and deep thoughts.
I think you don’t understand the issues here. We borrow about 50% of what we spend right now. If we hit the fiscal cliff we will basically be forced to balance the budget. The way the law stands now that will be with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.
This will be a significant change in our economy very quickly. You may want to tax the rich more or cut SS more or whatever, but regardless of your politics this will be a big change done quickly. It’s silly to pretend otherwise.
“What we know of Darren from the blog is a gentlemanly person, with deep knowledge and integrity, who avoids the rough and tumble of some other bloggers. And yes ID707, he is one of our regulars who I am drawn to because whether we agree or not on a given issue, he always discusses it civilly and thoughtfully.”
I agree with what you wrote about Darren. His comments are thoughtful and civil. He is a welcome voice on this blog.
Mike and Darren,
I was genuinely touched … in fact, on this day while I am loading the presents purchased for family into the car, I stop for a moment to think of the two of you and smile. A thoughtful gift sent and a serendipitous moment for the recipient in the midst of a busy post office.
Gentlemen, you have made my week and I thank both of you for that gift.
I’m a real person and has made no secret about my home State. In this era where information is so easily “obtainable”
Darren Smith and MikeS,
Just a small reminder that MikeS says there is not an inner group here.
Darren could have emailed MikeS, but chooses to show us his inner group status by using this forum.
Hypocrisy, thy numbers are legion. Pathetic.
What other brags will Darren come with next. He has done many before with no challenge from me, but this flys so openly in the face of declarations from the in-group.
We have freedom of association, but “bragging” your connections undet the guise of using this as a private channel is kinda gauche
Idealist. You are uninformed about what was going on and your importing your conspiracy theory of me being part of some inner cabal of this group shows some clear lack of reason. While it is not your business about how or what I choose to contact other people with. But you seem to have a different perception of the events here so I thought I would educate you.
I had read in previous threads that Mike S. was having trouble with his keyboard. I have never talked with him and my only communication has been through this forum. I did not have his e-mail address and I was not certain of what his Postal mailing address was.
I thought I would send him a bit of thanks for his contributions to this blog, so I mailed to him a nice keyboard to replace the defective one he was using. I did it because I admire him and I deeply respect his contributions to this weblog. And I thought it would make it easier for him to write his words.
When I checked online to see if the package was delivered, the post office’s website said that delivery was not made because there was not a responsible person available to sign for it. Not knowing if I had the correct address for him and not having his e-mail address, I mentioned in one of my posts about the notice the post office carrier left for him so that the package wouldn’t be lost in the shuffle or if he was out of town and could not receive it. In other words I wanted to make sure he got what I had sent him. This was the only way I could communicate with him at the time. There was no grandstanding involved as you suggest. It was simply to make sure that he received a package.
You can continue to harp on me all you want about my supposed holier than thou attitude, but I would suggest at least having the presence of mind to not jump to any more ridiculous conclusions based upon your own false assumptions.
What Darren said above is indeed true, though he makes less of his generosity of spirit than it was. I hesitated to thank him personally just because there are those here, like you, who do suspect there is a “cabal” taking place beneath the surface. Darren and I had no contact offline prior to this. As to how he contacted me isn’t it obvious? I’m a real person and has made no secret about my home State. In this era where information is so easily unobtainable, I’ve always made a point that by using my own name, what I write is what I believe. I believe it adds to my credibility, but please don’t assume that it adds to my peace of mind. In fact I’ll share with you the “back story” of my receipt of Darren’s generous gift.
The beginning starts almost three years ago on this blog. Someone with whom I disagreed with began to say that they were cyber stalking me to the point where they were going to attack my computer. I was in contact offline with certain regulars who were computer adept, among them Slartbartfast. They assisted me in securing my computer from attack. I write this to show that I am not unaware that the use of my real name can be problematic and as everyone whose read me knows I am by nature slightly paranoid, or street smart as some say.
My wife and I were out on Friday afternoon and when we came home I found the attempted delivery notice stuck in my front door. It indicated that a “parcel” had been sent and I could either have it redelivered, or pick it up at my local post office. It had been shipped by a “D. Smith”. The problem was that neither my wife or I personally knew anyone with the last name of Smith. The only Smith I knew was Darren from the blog and we had never communicated offline, so I couldn’t understand why he would be sending me anything and immediately discounted that it could be from him. Given that I ruled Darren out I must admit that at the back of my mind there was some nervousness, but I left it there. That evening, as we were watching a “real crime” documentary show on TV, the package came to mind again. I also am somewhat of a Mystery Buff and I began playing scenarios in my mind as to what could be in the package, which ranged from bombs, to anthrax, to planted drugs. I put the TV on hold and shared my feelings with my wife no doubt making her paranoid as well. I decided to pick up the parcel the next day at the P.O., with my wife along. My idea was that if someone had tried to set me up for drugs and I was arrested in some DEA scheme, my wife would witness it and also have access to our only car, to be able to set my defense in motion. So when I handed the notice in for retrieval the next day, I was somewhat nervous.
When the P.O. Clerk brought out the package I saw an oblong, thin Amazon box and then Darren Smith on the shipping label, my tension was gone. What we know of Darren from the blog is a gentlemanly person, with deep knowledge and integrity, who avoids the rough and tumble of some other bloggers. And yes ID707, he is one of our regulars who I am drawn to because whether we agree or not on a given issue, he always discusses it civilly and thoughtfully. Nevertheless, I followed my plan and opened it cautiously in the P.O. and inside was not only an excellent keyboard (which I’m now typing on) but an explanatory note whose graciousness choked me up. When I returned home I sent Darren an “E” Mail thanking him as profusely as I could for his gift. We then went out again for the day and I didn’t see your suspicious comment until later that evening and at that time decided not to respond. Well given Darren’s comment you can consider this my response.
I certainly don’t solicit gifts from readers, but in truth Darren’s gift makes my Guest Blogging life much easier. While I can’t complain about my life financially, we do live on a fixed income without much room for non-essentials. Then too one of the things those close to me have noticed through the years is that while generous to my family to a fault, I am loath to spend money on myself. I grew up in a family that had little room for the so-called finer things in life and I would actually only get one present a year, on my birthday and I would have to pick it out myself, with the knowledge that I shouldn’t ask for anything too expensive. The child becomes the man and that is who I am. I will lavish my wife, kids and grandkids with gifts, but I am parsimonious when it come to me. My computer is seven years old, a top of the line model I admit purchased with the proceeds from the sale of my house. I’ve had to get a new keyboard three times so far because I am a heavy typist. That comes from the fact that my handwriting is so bad my parents had to buy me a cheap portable typewriter for my schoolwork when I was 13 as a Bar Mitzvah present.. It required a lot of key pressure and so that is how I learned to type and the habit stays with me 55 years later. My computer is serviceable and I frankly won’t replace it until it finally stops, so Darren’s gift has precluded me from having to even consider the expense.
So now you have the mystery cleared up. I am very grateful to Darren for his gift, it makes my writing life so much easier. I am not soliciting, nor do I request anything from anybody, there are billions of far more needy people in this world. That does not diminish his generosity. My life history also I think proves that I am not susceptible to bribery nor blandishments. I can assure you that if I could be bought I would be a wealthy man today, because I have had many generous offers to sell out my integrity in my long life and have never done so, often to my immediate detriment. If I could name one quality, some might say fault, that sets me apart from those writing on the internet is my personal honesty and openness. The truth behind it might surprise. I’ve led a very blessed (lucky) life in that I’ve had to face various dangers and I’ve always muddled though despite the odds. My spiritual sense, such as it is, is that my honesty serves as some sort of cosmic protection for me along with my belief in the “golden rule”. Call it Karma. So far it’s worked so I’m loath to change..
I take the time to write this so that once again I can answer your charges with honesty and truth. I have no idea if this will satisfy you, or not, but if it can’t than your satisfaction is beyond my power. I get tired with the charges that some here like to lodge about this blog being a “closed shop”. It never has been and the evidence is in current regulars like Darren and yourself and too many others to name. Do we guest bloggers have an affinity for each other, of course, but while there are sharp political differences between us, we all share a common bond with Jonathan Turley in that we all are dedicated to the Constitution and to Civil Liberties.
One last thing that I might note to those who would think to use my honesty against me and seek to frighten me with threats, given the feelings I’ve shared above. I am quite a resourceful individual and a very tough one at that. I’ve faced death, as few people have and have gone beyond the fear of it. People might be able to scare me temporarily, but I’m certainly not someone anyone with common sense would want to attack, in any context beyond words.
A cynical=realist after my own taste. The more the greater numbers we can educate. Where is Carlin’s replacement. Colbert and Stewart, anything there? Any poll changes.as result of their work?
Somenone (Tony C , DonS) painted a black picture of youth indifference. That someone ascribed it; i believe, to their capability to see through the BS and false process that democracy is here. Or they are full up of their lives, and believed in the fantastic crap they are offered for entertainment.
When were youth more engaged than now. Did it give anything but busted heads in Chicago in ’68 in the park below the leading dem McCarthy’s hotel before he got the knife from Humphrey.
Why look so far back? .Because in nearer years the noise and fog of battle makes it harder. And the dynamics have not basically changed. We still have two Potemkin party facades, with the same rottenness and corruption
@Working Man: I don’t think gerrymandering does the job, the politician is still after campaign donations, and still beholden to the rich, and if they lose their committee seat and do not get another, the contributions dry up. Do not think the rich will hesitate (especially in light of recent successes) to primary a politician that doesn’t tug on the party rope (with his votes).
I doubt there is a new dynamic, I suspect what we see is the old dynamic, the rich taking everything they can get. In the end, the money from the rich always has strings, and the amounts depend on what power you have. A vote on a committee gives somebody power. The House and Senate are about dividing up the power and opportunities for corruption and campaign cash, which is not very far removed from cash in the pocket of the politician, and can literally be converted to that with a short legal dance (if you watch Stephen Colbert, he has detailed the process just fine.)
It is like the Mafia Dons having a sit-down to decide who gets the numbers, who does the protection, who gets prostitution, who runs the airport, etc.
A short film on our tax dollars:
“ the dread prediction of the world’s end by the Mayan Calendar still may have been possible. ”
I made no such prediction.
Just the opposite.
I also figured out that the “Mayan” or Mesoamerican long calendar is more advanced than current civilization’s calendars.
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