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•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and poor.
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..
The Gap is the distance between the high earners and the low earners, the rich and the rest, the powerful and the powerless.
If there were no Gap, no one would be rich and no one would be poor, and the wider the Gap, the richer are the rich and the poorer are the poor.
There is not just one Gap, but many Gaps. They exist between all levels of income, wealth and power. Billionaires sneer at mere millionaires, who smirk at “thousandaires,” who deride all those poor below them in the income/wealth/power scales.
And all this sneering, smirking and deriding evolves to scorning and ultimately to despising. The lower middle class despises the poor, and this hatred is the source of racial bigotry, which is strongest among those nearest to the poor.
When we look up, we want the Gap narrowed, because the Gap above us makes us envious. When we look down, we want the Gap widened, because it is the Gap that allows us to feel superior and successful.
So great is our fear of sliding down the income/wealth/power scale, that we are willing to sacrifice our own well-being, so long as the well-being of those below us is sacrificed even more.
The rich intuitively understand this, which is why they have been so successful in making the lower-middle agree to — insist on, actually — reductions in welfare benefits for the poor, reductions in unemployment compensation, and other benefits for the financially lower classes.
Paul Ryan, who is bribed by rich donors, opposes family leave, which would benefit the poor. He is a member of a party that opposes virtually all benefits to the poor (though not to the rich), a party that has made the word “welfare” a pejorative.
Though seemingly ironic, but perfectly predictable, most members of the Republican party are not rich. Most also are not among the poor. They are in the middle-classes, the very group you might expect to have the strongest bias against helping the poor.
And this bias, like most other forms of bigotry, is self-defeating.
Health inequality kills – and now is the time to close the gap
Overcoming the health gaps that kill and distort lives globally will be tough, but we must try, says the new head of the World Medical Association,
By Michael Marmot. He also directs the UCL Institute of Health Equity and is Lown Professor at Harvard University. His book, The Health Gap, is published by Bloomsbury.
IMAGINE the outrage if a newspaper ran a story stating that a million people in the UK had died from a treatable medical condition over the past five years. Health ministers would be interrogated, government enquiries promised – and the public would be left with a terrible feeling of unease.
But those people really did die, and from a preventable condition: health inequality.
I calculated that if everyone in England over 30 had the same low mortality rate as university-educated people, there would be 202,000 fewer deaths each year – almost half the current total.
Last month, the US National Academy of Sciences reported that at the age of 50, life expectancy for a man in the US in the poorest 20 percent of the population had declined slightly in the last 30 years to 26.1 years.
By contrast, life expectancy in the richest 20 percent had improved by 7.1 years to 38.8 years – a difference of 12.7 years.
Health minister Jeremy Hunt recently cited my book as showing an 18-year gap in male life expectancy between the richest and poorest in the London borough of Westminster – one of the richest spots on the planet.
The health gap didn’t widen in the past 30 years in the US and the UK for lack of indoor toilets, but because people are not able to live lives that they value.
A causal thread links health inequalities to life conditions, from the quality of input surrounding early child development, through inequalities in education, employment and working milieu, to the conditions for older people.
There is evidence, though, that improvements at any stage of life can make a difference.
Health inequalities in Brazil have fallen from a very high level, due in part to schemes where poor families receive cash subsidies for meeting conditions such as taking their children to nutrition clinics. This may explain why inequalities in the growth of young children have been sharply reduced.
The problem is that to act on the social determinants of health, governments must get past the assumption that inequalities in health arise from inequalities in healthcare.
Health inequalities aren’t confined to poor health for the poor and good health for everyone else. There is a gradient in health running from top to bottom of the social hierarchy. We should all be calling for action across the whole of society because we are all affected by inequalities in health.
But governments have other priorities. Austerity has caught on like an epidemic, flying in the face of mainstream economists’ views that it damages economic growth.
Even wealthy America is caught up in the austerity craze. We yearn for federal deficit reduction. We deplore our “high” federal debt. We are told that various benefits programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, all aids to the poor — are “unsustainable” and “unaffordable,” none of which is true, and all of which are austerity.
And there is plenty of evidence that health is damaged by austerity: take Greece, where rising suicide is the most dramatic example.
As president of the World Medical Association for the coming year, I have signalled that my themes will be social justice and health, and health equity.
There is a well of enthusiasm from doctors to make a difference to the social environment in which their patients are born, grow, live, work and age. But enthusiasm from a government, backed by an informed public, is also essential.
As I say at the end of my book, if you live in a country with poorly developed social systems, do something because it will make a difference.
The “difference” he speaks of, is the increase in both the length and quality of life that social benefits make.
Sadly, every day, we see misleading articles like the following two from the Florida Sun Sentinel, articles which purport to show “both sides” of the Social Security funding issue:
Social Security going bankrupt
Mark J. Warshawsky
Under current law and absent reform, Social Security is projected to suffer cash-flow shortfalls — gaps between payroll taxes and spending on benefits — forever.
Second: Social Security’s combined retirement and disability trust funds’ reserves are projected to be exhausted in 2034. Continuing tax revenues would be sufficient to pay only 79 percent of scheduled benefits.
Third: The disability insurance trust fund is expected to be insolvent by the fourth quarter of 2016, when the government must reduce disability payouts to 81 percent of scheduled benefits.
Fourth: The actuarial deficit for the entire program calculated over a 75-year period is 2.68 percent of taxable payroll.
Even an immediate increase in the payroll tax rate of 2.68 percentage points would be insufficient to achieve sustainable or permanent solvency.
The aforementioned are the official facts according to the Social Security Trustees.
The facts according to the Congressional Budget Office are actually much worse, so it’s difficult to understand why so many politicians even demand benefit increases without first proposing how currently scheduled benefits will be paid.
Warshawsky began his piece with the caveat, “Under current law and absent reform . . . ” so technically, he is correct about “Social Security going bankrupt” — under current law.
He implies however that the necessary “reform” is to cut benefits.
He doesn’t mention the real reform: Federal payment for Social Security benefits.
And here is the “other side” of the story:
Strengthen Social Security as key protection against rising economic risks
By: Christian E. Weller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Social Security provides critical income security at a time of rising economic risks to almost every American family. It faces, however, manageable long-term financial challenges that can be addressed through thoughtful updates.
The Center for Retirement Research estimates that more than half of working-age households in 2013 could expect to have less money in retirement than during their working years, compared with 31 percent in 1983. With less money, these households are forced to make substantial and often painful cuts in their spending once they retire.
Many households simply cannot save enough for the future since they are already struggling through the vicissitudes of the present.
However, although Social Security offers basic retirement income to almost everybody, it faces a long-term financial shortfall.
The Social Security trustees estimate that Social Security can pay for all of its promised benefits through 2034. The same projections show that Social Security will receive less income from payroll taxes than it needs to pay all promised benefits.
To improve retirement security for America’s middle class, we need an updated Social Security system.
One such update would be the creation of a minimum benefit that keeps those who worked all their lives out of poverty and keeps pace with overall living standards in the future.
Paying for Social Security updates is rather straightforward.
Congress can do this by lifting the cap on earnings that are subject to Social Security taxes.
Two authors, both of whom admit the necessity of Social Security, provide twp completely different solutions to the perceived financial problems of Social Security: Raise taxes or reduce benefits.
Both solutions would be harmful to the economy and both would increase the Gap between the rich and the rest.
And it is the Gap that reduces the lifespan of Americans.
We spend billions to find cures for life-reducing illnesses, and here is an illness — the Gap — that easily could be cured, or at least alleviated, by the simple expedient of federal financial support for Social Security and other social benefits.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)
10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)
The Ten Steps will add dollars to the economy, stimulate the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.
10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt
No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
1. A growing economy requires a growing supply of dollars (GDP=Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
2. All deficit spending grows the supply of dollars
3. The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
4. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
THE RECESSION CLOCK
Vertical gray bars mark recessions. Recessions come after the blue line drops below zero and when deficit growth declines.
As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recessions, each of which has been cured only when the growth lines rose.
Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.