A great democracy has got to be progressive, or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy."

- Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

05 August 2011

How to End the Tea Party Depression

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU
Creative Commons, 2011: CC-BY-NC-ND)
Revised August 18, 2011

  Obviously, the quickest way to end the Tea Party Depression is to end the Tea Party: an inflexible obstacle to the progress and prosperity of the U.S. However, since the "Tea Party Recession" is the product of reduced economic activity and refusing to relieve shattered consumer and business confidence, people need to understand that, since the Depression is manufactured by TPers, ending it requires little more than reversing all the Tea Party-influenced decisions; we just need a "U-Turn Party."
   Here is a practical plan for restoring national prosperity without increasing the deficit or raising the tax rate more than a few percent, by restoring jobs and personal income in the U.S. to normal economic levels through a major new federal stimulus program.

   First, it is important to reveal a fact the media is almost hiding from us: Personal income is actually quite good, as indicated by the consistently high corporate profit levels. In 2011 dollars, per-capita personal income is $41,332. Although that is down from the 2007 level of $43,002 (constant 2011 dollars), post-inflation personal income is actually higher than it was in 2005. The fact that personal income is only 4% less than in the home equity-mortgage fueled boom year of 2007 illustrates that the "Tea Party Depression" is really the result of consumer pessimism. Indeed, the national savings right more than doubled between 2007 and 2008, rising from 2.4% to 5.2% in one year, where it has continued to hover ever since. In 2010, Americans saved $593 billion, or almost $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in the nation.

  Therefore, if the government injects $920 per-capita spending (about $284 billion) into the national economy, the economy will return to its 2006 condition. While this would only create 2 million new jobs, a mere fraction of those now unemployed, it would put enough money back into the economy to at least restore consumer confidence.
  However, the money must go directly into new public spending. Tax cuts won't help, because most of the money will be immediately saved. The so-called "Stimulus Package" failed, to the extent it did, because too much of the money came in tax cuts. Some of those tax cuts were direct, and others came from states keeping down their tax rates and using the new federal money to patch their budgets. Even conservative commentators know this.
  In short, the Republican insistence on using tax credits to "stimulate" the economy, rather than truly fund a "New WPA" helped sabotage economic recovery. Had even half of the stimulus bill gone directly into increasing federal and state spending, we would be out of the recession by now.

  Furthermore, only $220 billion is actually needed, because spending $284 billion would generate over $65 billion in new federal income tax collections from the reemployed workers.

  The first place to raise the money is to increase the federal gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, about 50% more than its current level. If Republicans refuse to raise the gas tax (in place since 1932), which will expire soon unless Congress reauthorizes it, Democrats can simply promise to let it expire if it isn't raised, thus forcing states to raise their gas taxes nearly 20 cents a gallon if they want to maintain their highways. Since Republican states tend to have low state gas taxes and little public transportation, taking the federal gas tax "hostage" will hurt Red States more than Democratic-dominated ones.
  Raising the federal gas tax 10 cents a gallon would raise about $15 billion a year, and create about 105,000 new jobs, mostly in highway and mass transit construction.

  Raising taxes on only the richest 17% of households would raise $224 billion a year and leave the middle class untouched. My specific tax plan would increase the tax rate of households earning between $100,000 and $200,000 by 5%, 6% for households earning $200,000 to $500,000, 7% for households earning $500,000 to $10 million, and 10% tax for households earning over $10 million.
      My plan would not increase the deficit, and by increasing economic activity, scare headlines that the national debt equals the nations income would be a thing of the past. Additional spending cuts, such as savings from ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire, would eliminate the budget deficit and ultimately retire the national debt.

  My main point in proposing this plan is to show how easy it is to end the Tea Party Depression --"If I can Do it, Anyone Can!"--and refute Republicans who only call for more nation-sabotaging spending cuts when asked for economic revival.
  As they sang in 1932, Prosperity is Just around the Corner--but if we do not go to meet it, Ol' Man Depression will never leave.

03 August 2011

BREAKING! Teabaggers deny responsibility for the "Tea Party Recession"

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU
Creative Commons, 2011: CC-BY-NC-ND)

  The day President Obama signed the debt ceiling bill, Aug. 2, the Dow Jones Industrials index fell 266 points, continuing the longest series of down days in nearly three years. Clearly, all the spin from Fox News and the Republicans can't fool Wall Street, which knows its all-cuts-and-no-stimulus program means more disaster for the U.S. economy.
   Perceiving that the Tea Party is using manufactured crisis to create a manufactured economic depression--and knowing that Republicans would blame President Obama and the Democrats for it--I dubbed the future hard times the "Tea Party Recession" on my Facebook page (friending required).

   I am pleased to say that a Right-Wing blogger has already taken offense to my phrase, "Tea Party Recession." Ironically, he used a headline that makes my argument--as I quote verbatim: "Looks like the Tea Party Recession is Beginning!"
   The writer, one "tbascom," is clearly ignorant of the workings of macroeconomics, and instead indulges in a 1500-word tale of homely household finance like the ones Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann spin to their credulous cretinous Tea Party supporters. Whether "tbascom's" hairy chest-beating inanity came from Fox News or his own convoluted brain is immaterial.
   What matters is that "Tea Party Recession" is now a phrase in Google, and the Right Wing must start using the term in order to deny responsibility for the "Tea Party Recession." The more Republicans have to deny their responsibility for the "Tea Party Recession," the less effective their attempts to wrongly blame President Obama and the Democrats, the Party of Prosperity, fighting to keep from losing a generation of Americans to economic depression.

   Please SHARE and Link to this page to  help make Americans realize that their dreams are being devoured by the "Tea Party Recession" because--since the Tea Party started it--the Recession can be quickly ended by throwing out Tea Party legislators, reversing all their policies, and ending their anti-American campaign of economic sabotage.

  The Job you Save May be Your Own!

02 July 2011

A Woman Who Does Not Control Her Own Body, is not Free.

Sign this petition and send an automatic e-mail to your Representative and Senators at Change.org.

More information: www.reproductiverightsamendment.com (requires Facebook membership).

By Suzette Sommer - SEATTLE
(By kind permission; CC-BY-NC-ND)

I lost one friend to an illegal abortion, and have many other bad memories due to the laws prior to Roe v Wade.
It is uncivilized for religious people to think that despite America's Constitution clearly stating that we have a separation of church and state, THEY can FORCE ME to live by the rules of THEIR RELIGION because they have made laws based on THEIR religious beliefs!
There is NO lawful excuse for the state to interfere in the relationship of a woman with her own doctor, or to specify treatment, procedures or restrictions on what she can do with her own body!
I thought we fought this battle and WON.  Clearly, NOT YET.

MY state put legal abortion in OUR constitution. But, what about women who live in the other 49 states? No one should be forced to go through the traumas that we did, 40 years ago.

After reading a summary of Republican anti-abortion laws around the country.... my blood pressure is on fire.
We need to  Clean the House in 2012.  We need to Clean some State Houses, too!  I honestly do not know what the women in those states are thinking, wanting to push us back to 1971.  Has it been so long, nobody remembers how bad it really was?
I do.  I will never forget, and I will never give in.  A woman's right to control her own body is a primary human right.

31 May 2011

Enact a Reproductive Rights Constitutional Amendment NOW to Save America!

Petition with automatic e-mail to your Representative and Senator at Change.org.
More information: www.reproductiverightsamendment.com (requires Facebook membership); "National Progressive Review" at www.nationalprogressive.com.

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU (revised 4 June 2011, 6:45 p.m.)

Earlier this month, the Iowa Senate debated a bill restricting the provision of late-term abortions to stop a doctor from providing services to women across the state line from where former Nebraska Dr. George Tiller, murdered in 2009, used to practice. Iowa currently has an unemployment rate of 6%, and over 100,000 Iowans are unemployed.
On 26 May, Kansas Republican Gov. Brownback signed into law a bill that prohibits insurance companies from paying for abortions (regardless of what the insurance policy says) unless it is necessary to save the life of the insured woman. Kansas currently has an unemployment rate of 6.7%, and over 100,000 Kansas residents are unemployed.
On 19 May, Texas Gov. Perry signed into law a bill that forces women to get (and pay for) medically-unnecessary sonograms, during which they must be sadistically racked with guilt by receiving a detailed description of the fetus within them. The unemployment rate in Texas is 8%, and almost 1 MILLION Texans are unemployed.
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans voted unanimously, joined by 16 anti-choice Democrats, to pass H.R. 3, which condones rape, raises taxes on women whose insurance covers women (note the steady attack on the contractual rights of women and insurers), and destroys the power of Washington, D.C. residents to decide their own government's abortion policies. Currently, the national unemployment rate is 9%, and nearly 14 MILLION Americans are unemployed.

Republican leaders either don't care about unemployment or they are ideologically opposed to all options that would reduce unemployment, like a major income tax withholding cut to stimulate spending, or a new stimulus bill to fund more "shovel-ready" projects.
However, rather than just admitting they want to kill the American economy to try to prevent Obama's reelection, or taking a long recess to tell voters how much they want to help American workers, both Congressional and state Republican legislators are as busy as Satan's demons attacking and persecuting women. Of course, since abortion opponents are one of the few groups that still support them. Like junkies on meth, Republicans are addicted to attacking women and children.

The surest and quickest way to end this symbiotic cycle of addiction is to deprive the Republican power addicts their fix by denying them their power to deny women and men their reproductive freedoms. The Margaret Sanger Reproductive Rights Amendment (see below) would achieve that by getting Congress, the states, territories, commonwealths, and Indian tribes (although most tribal governments are pro-choice) out of regulating reproductive rights, and access to contraception information.

Margaret Sanger in 1929, wearing a gag to
comply with an order against her speaking.

The amendment is drafted to follow the phrasing of the 1st, 9th, 13th, and 14th amendments. Section 7 almost repeats the 9th amendment (in effect since 1791) except for expressly enumerating that "human reproduction" is a civil right beyond the power of government to freely regulate. Section 3 uses language similar to the Supremacy Clause of Article VI, section 2, to make clear that women control their bodies, and not even men can use the law to control women, whether the sex they had was consensual or rape.
Effectively, the RRA would help make clear that the power of government to regulate rises in direct relation to the impact of private decisions on other citizens and residents, as Justice William O. Douglas in the companion case to Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton.

While passage of the Reproductive Rights Amendment may seem impossible, 2013 is the best chance for guaranteeing reproductive rights in all 50 states since the Roe v. Wade (abortion) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (contraceptive devices) decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. This is because the upcoming 2012 elections are likely to turn over control of the U.S. House to the Democratic Party, putting immense pressure on the Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Passage of the Reproductive Rights Amendment will require a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate, followed by the approval of 38 states. Governors and President Obama have no direct role.

Pushing for the Reproductive Rights Amendment would also give abortion rights supporters a reason to care enough about the 2012 elections to help get sweeping pro-choice majorities elected to the House, Senate, and state legislatures. In addition, activists in pro-choice states can achieve a great deal by persuading their legislatures to pass "Little RRA's" to put the protections in their state constitutions, much as women won the vote in most Western and Midwestern states between 1890 and 1913 before the 1917 victory in populous New York pushed Congress to pass the federal constitutional woman suffrage amendment.

While the RRA is ambitious, it will unify reproductive rights activists around one major shared goal, rather than dividing them up into different groups trying to influence 50 state legislatures and Congress. In the process, it will spotlight how anti-abortion rights activists are waging a myriad of attacks against reproductive rights, especially those of women, exposing their preferred method of scurrying in the darker corners of state capitols.
A major RRA campaign will also force libertarians and conservatives to either support it, or expose themselves as hypocritically opposing all government regulation except where it enslaves women. In contrast, the RRA campaign will establishes that progressives and liberals are the real protectors of freedom.

One major advantage of a federal constitutional amendment is that it will guarantee reproductive rights in states where such rights are unlikely to ever be respected otherwise, particularly Southern states. In this way, the RRA will work like the 19th Amendment, which was never ratified by any former Confederate state besides Tennessee and Arkansas, nor any Middle Atlantic or New England state.
Passage of the RRA will also influence judges to stop permitting states to whittle away at women's rights, because all abortion restrictions will be presumptively invalid.

Finally, the Margaret Sanger Reproductive Rights Amendment evokes the memory of the Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Amendment (passed as the 19th Amendment in 1920) and the Lucretia Mott Equal Rights Amendment (ultimately defeated in 1982), thus taking up the mantle of those golden struggles for women.The RRA also invokes the movement to win voting rights for African-Americans in Southern states during the 1960s, which ultimately led to passage of the 24th Amendment (1964) against requiring voters to pay a "poll tax" to vote.

As a first step toward making the Reproductive Rights Amendment a reality, please sign the petition for the Amendment that has been created to urge U.S. Representatives and Senators to pass the RRA. For more information about the Reproductive Rights Amendment, please see www.reproductiverightsamendment.com, currently a rapidly-growing Facebook group, and the "National Progressive Review" at www.nationalprogressive.com.

29 May 2011

Theodore Roosevelt, the 21st Century, and You

By Hannah Miyamoto - HONOLULU (revised 21 Feb. 2012)

Recently, a quote credited to Theodore Roosevelt about corporations constituting an "invisible government" was circulated by Facebook users. This obscure quote appears to have risen into public consciousness (e.g., MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan blog, 2 Dec. 2010) largely because Wikileaks's Julian Assange (see also note below) reportedly used it in an anarchist manifesto he wrote in 2006.

A quick review of these and related links shows that the Assange-Roosevelt connection was soon lost; Ratigan made no mention of Assange, even though he probably found that quote from the Common Dreams article about Assange. The "Theodore Roosevelt magic" is definitely still alive.

Why is a "dead White male," the son of Harvard privilege, a one-term president who passed away nearly a century ago, attracting steadily more attention by political commentators in the United States today? The answer is not the significance of the man--even while his visage looks down from Mount Rushmore--but the similarities between America during his life--the nation that made him its most inspirational leader--and the nation in which we live and struggle today.
In suggesting that the times of Roosevelt and us are similar, I am not making some Nostradamus-like statement that history is repeating itself in toto. In particular, I do not think that humanity is less than six years from another appallingly-destructive World War, as it was when Roosevelt's presidency ended. Rather, I think the major challenges facing the American people are largely due to the failure of people to remember the hard and often bloody lessons won in the late 19th and early 20th centuries within their society.

Recognizing the significance of Roosevelt to our times, the "National Progressive Review" will focus on these lessons from the Progressive Era and the decades before, with the goal of educating readers so they are better prepared to initiate a successful Second Progressive Revolution that not only protects the achievements of the first Progressive Era, as well as the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society (e.g., "Medicare") of the 1960s, but creates a new equilibrium of social order and justice in the United States that fulfills the dreams--like the desire of both President Roosevelt's for a universal national health insurance program--of Americans before us.
In editorial direction, the "National Progressive Review" will echo the "National Progressive Party" that Theodore Roosevelt led in 1912, which is the real reason for its name. As has been explained before, and will be discussed in greater detail here in the future, the progressivism of the "National Progressive Party" was distinctly different from at least five other approaches. However, the "National Progressive Review" believes that the Roosevelt approach is the best model to use in restoring America as a commonwealth of shared prosperity.
In addition, just as "Feminism" arose in America as part of the Progressive movement, the National Progressive Review will be unreservedly feminist.

Any similarity with the conservative "National Review," founded by William F. Buckley, is purely intentional. Any similarity with Progressive Insurance, owner of progressive.com, is purely unintentional.

Lastly, your comments and submissions of editorial content are graciously welcome. Please e-mail them to Hannah Miyamoto, hsmiyamoto@msn.com. In addition, please help support the National Progressive Review by clicking on the adjacent advertising links.