Nel's New Day

September 17, 2013

U.S. on Constitution Day 2013

Today is Constitution Day. Although the U.S. Constitution is 226 years old today, the day recognizing its adoption is only nine days. Sen. Robert Byrd’s amendment to the Omnibus spending bill mandates that every educational institution receiving federal funding must provide educational programming on the document’s history on that day. There are many events around the country. My favorite is the flying of the hemp flag over the Vermont statehouse. Vermont is one of nine states legalizing hemp production, against federal policy because it contains trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana. 

Constitution Day is the day:

  • After another mass shooting, this one killing 13 people just a few miles from the Capitol because those who read the Second Amendment are convinced that it has nothing to do with a militia and everything to do with everyone having the right to own as many guns, including those who are blind and mentally unbalanced.
  • After Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff dropped a state visit to the United States because the National Security Agency is spying on other governments as well as all the citizens of the United States.
  • When House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says he intends take a bill to the House that will create a fiscal crisis by shutting down the government.
  • Following the push to cause another preemptive war by bombing Syria on intelligence that could, like in the case of Iran, be inaccurate.

Because of the Civil War, the 14th and 15th Amendments made an attempt to provide an inclusive nation. Almost 150 years after these amendments were passed in Congress and ratified by the states, bigoted people in the United States protested Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, becoming Miss America. This is a sample of tweets about the Syracuse native of Indian descent:

“Well they just picked a Muslim for Miss America. That must’ve made Obama happy. Maybe he had a vote.”

“I am literally soo mad right now a ARAB [sic] won.”

Miss-Syracuse-NY-Nina-Davuliri

Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes said that Davuluri doesn’t “represent American values.” On his Facebook page, Starnes wrote that Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, lost because “the liberal Miss America judges were not interested in a gun-toting, deer-hunting, military veteran.”

On this Constitution Day, the gulf between the richest 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent became the widest since before the stock market crash in 1929 caused the Great Depression.  According to a report released last week, the wealthiest people in the U.S. earned more than 19 percent of last year’s household income. In contrast, income for the remaining 99 percent went up 1 percent. The top 1 percent benefitted from 95 percent of income gains from rising corporate profits and stock prices.

That compares with a 45 percent share for the top 1 percent in the economic expansion of the 1990s and a 65 percent share from the expansion that followed the 2001 recession. The top 20 percent got a record 48.2 percent of total earnings in 2012.

The top 1 percent of American households had pretax income above $394,000 last year. The top 10 percent had income exceeding $114,000. More than 44 percent of the people in the nation have salaries under $30,000. Severe inequities have only increased during the past three decades because wages remained flat for the time for the bottom 90 percent of workers.

The free-market mentality has led to this disaster. These false conclusions of free-market anti-regulation libertarians continue to provide the top 1 percent with an even greater share of the country’s assets.

A Free Market is Good for Everyone. Milton Friedman said, “The free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people.” At least 90 percent of the people in the United States probably won’t agree with Friedman that they are getting a fair share of the “fruits.”

The Market Works. It Just Doesn’t Feel Like It. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Middle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before.” At the same time, their own writer reported that “the middle class…has shrunk considerably over the past few decades.” The Economist tried to persuade its readers that blacks are much better off today than in the 1960s because of their low salaries. In actuality, median wealth in 2009 for black families was $5,677 compared to $113, 149 for white families.

Why Can’t You Be a Successful Individual Like Me?  A Wall Street Journal writer claims, “The American dream has traditionally been one of individual success that is rewarded and admired.” The richest 10% own almost 90 percent of stocks excluding pensions, and the stock market has historically risen three times faster than the GDP itself. The top 10 percent makes its money by just living from one day to the next. Although CEOs, upper management, and financial professionals compose 60 percent of the richest 0.1 percent of people in the U.S., only 3 percent of them were entrepreneurs in 2005. More than 99 percent of all entrepreneurs come from the rapidly shrinking middle class.

If You’re Not a Successful Individual, You Must Be Lazy. A new myth promulgated by the Cato Institute will soon be sweeping the country. The claim is that “welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour.” Both the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities discredit the claim. Many employed families don’t make enough money to survive; over 83 percent of all benefits going to low-income people are for the elderly, the disabled, or working households. 

If I Accomplish Everything on My Own, Why Should I Pay Taxes? Through convoluted—and fake—reasoning, the Wall Street Journal purports that lower capital gains tax rate requires higher-income taxpayers to pay more taxes. Sort of like a lowered salary gives people more take-home pay. The Journal also calls the Financial Transaction Tax, .03 percent paid on each financial transaction, is a “sin tax” that will “punish sinners” to raise revenue for the U.S. Treasury. At this time, Wall Street traders bet thousands of times a second for free, risking the market through rapid-fire “flash trading” that make trades through computer algorithms. Traders pay zero taxes to destabilize the economy. An ordinary person with a 401(k) would pay about $1 a year for such a tax, but the FTT would raise between $700 billion and $1.2 trillion over ten years to create jobs and protect important programs.

Meanwhile, the people who want to close down the government also want to cut food stamps from 3.8 million people and give the money to oil companies and other corporations, sending more money to the richest 1 percent.

Today is Constitution Day. The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution reads:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Let’s work to “promote the general Welfare.”

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2 Comments »

  1. The Constitution must be evil, it uses the word WELFARE. Welfare’s a bad socialist thing that only the wrong type of people collect. You know, not the poor white folks down in those Republican states.

    Note: sarcasm.

    Like

    Comment by gkparker — September 18, 2013 @ 12:44 PM | Reply

  2. Maybe we shouldn’t let people with hemp carry guns.

    Like

    Comment by Lee Lynch — September 17, 2013 @ 9:37 PM | Reply


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