Upward Redistribution

For me, this is a good summary, and it illustrates a few simple facts I have long been saying are the root cause of our problems; the rich have all the money. If wages had not stopped going up in tandem with productivity 30 years ago, there would be no debate about the solvency of social security and Medicare, because they would both be operating fine and have no funding problem.
And for me, any talk about solutions that do not address this core issue are mere bandaids that can only address the symptoms and not the cause of what needs to be fixed in our country.
The question is how to change it. I believe that can only happen if we get money out of politics, so that the people have a chance to have their voice be heard, which I really don’t believe is the case right now in Washington.
I write this mainly for myself as a reminder to myself–and not to address anything in particular you, Jim, have said or that we have been discussing–because it is so easy for me to get distracted and start thinking around the edges. And I really believe that until we address this problem, there is no chance to really change anything. There is a movement–many small movements–working to get money out of politics. Movetoamend.org and many others. I believe in the end they will succeed. The only question is how long it will take and how much damage is done to our democracy and our country in the meantime. As I’ve said before, there is no quick fix; it will take years. And I write this for myself to remind me that we have to stick with it, because the other side simply wants to distract us and get us talking about how much more we have to give up now. Because I believe if I accept that we can’t make that fundamental change and get our country back from the oligarchy, then the rest of what we are talking about and trying to do really won’t matter or amount to a hill of beans. To focus on spending cuts, making do with less, fretting about how much more of the safety net we can give up now–all that is merely playing into their hands and admitting defeat. It is what they want us to do; it keeps us from focusing on the real issue; that the middle class has been largely destroyed and a few rich people have almost all the money in what remains overall the richest nation on earth.

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About JP

We're two guys who met in college, in 1980. We've stayed in touch, and like to talk politics, current events, music and religion. JP is nore liberal than Sid, but not in every way. We figure that dialogue stimulates ideas, moderates perspective, and is in general friendly. These are things we need badly in these dangerous times. The blog name is taken from a song by Bruce Cockburn.
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3 Responses to Upward Redistribution

  1. Jim says:

    JP –

    Reactions to this blog: It jumps from one poorly backed idea to another… Productivity increase is not what will save entitlement programs – population growth and aging will require more services, and the only way for productivity to make up for that is big changes in how the programs are administered, and then you should advocate for those legislative changes. And then you go off on getting money out of politics, and issue I know is dear to your heart, but there are few references to reality her, like the need for huge campaign war chests, public funding for elections, Citizens United, etc. It’ just doesn’t have enough specifics…

    The following blog is a little more bite-sized: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/05/02/defending-capitalism.html

    Jim *

    Problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.*Einstein

  2. JP says:

    Reading your comment I’m not sure if you actually read the post. I did not say that productivity increases would save the earned benefits of social security and Medicare, I said that if workers earned wages in proportion to increased productivity that would so increase the tax base for social security and Medicare that they would be financially sound, and that is true. You claim I just from one idea to another, and you apparently didn’t even grasp the one idea I had out there.
    The point, which should have been pretty obvious and easy to grasp, was that the money in politics had skewed our policy towards allowing the wealthy to keep all the gains in productivity rather than sharing them with workers–as had been done for a couple generations before 1980 when wages stopped increasing. Only by removing money from politics do we have a chance to change those policies so that our society is not continually hijacked into only working for those at the very top.
    I’m sorry you were unable to grasp that simple truth. You seem to want to just admit defeat and fight around the edges. Go for it! I’ll stick with the truth as I see it, at least until there is a response to my actual argument and not a twisted misreading of it.

  3. JP says:

    I read the David Frum piece you linked to and now I’m really confused. He includes the graph I have used many times. He identifies the problem almost exactly as I do. He even concludes: “Better than excuses for such outcomes would be reforms to improve them.” In other words, rather than fight around the margins and say the rich have won and the middle class will never gain, we need to reform the system so that we “can say again that life is getting better year by year for just about everybody.” He doesn’t say what those reforms would be–why didn’t you criticize him for that?
    I was making the point that I believe the only way to reform the system–to get back to what we had in the part of that graph up to 1975–is to get the money out of politics, because it is the money in politics that has twisted our capitalist democracy to only work for those at the very top. From other things I’ve read by Frum, I think he would largely agree.

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