Parental leave: A good idea. Congress: First ignore, then screw up. Monday, Feb 12 2018 

It takes only two things to keep people in chains:
.

The ignorance of the oppressed
and the treachery of their leaders.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The single most important problem in economics is the wide and growing Gap between the rich and the rest. Therefore, anything that narrows the Gap tends to get my positive attention. “Parental leave” is one of those things.

Parental leave would be an important benefit to middle-income groups, a vital benefit to  low-income groups, and meaningless to the rich — exactly the kind of program I love, and exactly the kind of program the rich deplore.

There are infinite versions of parental leave, depending on the length and amount of the benefit. Fundamentally, it would recognize the fact that in today’s America, women of child-bearing age often are important money earners.

There are three times when these women and their families need financial help:

–During those pregnancy days when the women physically are unable to go to work
–At birth, and shortly thereafter, when again, the women are physically unable to work.
–During the months following childbirth, when the combination of physical weakness and the demands of infant care, impact family work ability

Every woman is different. True story: I know a young woman, who when pregnant, worked every day, then one day left the office to deliver her baby, and was back at work the next day. (Her mother took care of the infant.) That was exceptional, and not even advisable, but it was what she wanted and was able to do.

The purpose of this article is not to debate the amount or timing of the benefit, nor to determine whether it is “unfair” to families that don’t have children, or whether some women are malingerers who would take excessive and unneeded advantage.

Rather, the purpose is to discuss how any parental benefit program would be financed.

Here is what an article in the Chicago Tribune said:

Social Security Can’t Be a Piggy Bank for Parental Leave
The U.S. retirement system isn’t strong enough to support a proposal to let new parents borrow against future benefits.
By Michael R. Strain, February 9, 2018, 8:00 AM EST

During the State of the Union address last month, when the president called for helping “working families by supporting paid family leave,” Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence remained seated, unable to muster enthusiasm.

Republicans have traditionally opposed government-provided paid leave, but the Trump administration, led by first daughter Ivanka, is trying to change that.

The GOP, which more and more has become “the party of the rich,” tends to oppose anything that helps the so-called “99%.” Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, school lunch programs, food stamps all repeatedly are under fire by conservatives, who make two claims, both false:

–The recipients are lazy slugs, who game the system and who should work harder to support themselves.
–The federal government can’t afford the program.

The former is a function of Gap Psychology, about which you can read at, “Why you believe the Big Lie: The Gap Psychology con job.

The latter is the focus of this Tribune article:

The State of the Union speech breathed new life into the idea, along with a compelling proposal to fund paid leave without — its advocates claim — burdening employers, reducing job opportunities for women or increasing taxes.

The idea is simple and elegant: Allow new parents to collect early Social Security benefits after the arrival of a child, provided that they are willing to delay collecting benefits when they begin their retirement decades into the future.

Embedded in the “simple and elegant” idea, are three beliefs, two of which are true and one of which is dead wrong:

  1. Employers should not have to pay employees for not working. True. When companies bear this burden in any form — paid vacations, paid sick days, etc. — the cost simply becomes part of the salary consideration, so ultimately is paid by the employee.
  2. Families of child-bearing age should not be punished in the job market. True. There was a time when prospective employers actually asked women whether they planned to get pregnant.  That doesn’t happen as much anymore, but some employers still are reluctant to hire women between twenty and thirty years of age, especially to jobs that require a great deal of training and responsibility.
  3. Federally-funded family leave programs would require federal tax increases. False. The U.S., being Monetarily Sovereign, creates brand new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays an invoice, so has no need for tax dollars.

Consider a 26-year-old new mother with five years of work experience earning $31,100 per year. Under this plan, she could receive 12 weeks of paid leave, at a rate of close to $300 per week. In exchange, she would delay claiming retirement benefits by about six weeks.

This idea is gaining traction. Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, is working with Ivanka Trump on drafting a bill. Earlier this week, two other Republican senators, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Lee of Utah, discussed the plan in a press call hosted by the Independent Women’s Forum, which first outlined the new approach.

Some prominent conservative intellectuals are also getting behind the idea.

A born-rich woman and a do-nothing Senator have created an idea that gives to the present and takes from the future, exactly what financial experts suggest one never should do.

If this reminds you of the disgraceful student loan program — in which young people are punished long-term by ongoing debt, you are correct.

Punishing families by taking money from future Social Security payments, is an idea one would expect from conservatives.

Helping the young by enslaving the old is a favorite GOP gambit, who simultaneously (and ironically) preach saving for the future.

To its designers’ credit, this is the best federal paid-leave proposal being discussed. My Bloomberg View colleague Ramesh Ponnuru agrees, writing that he hasn’t “seen a better plan.” Its underlying philosophy — that society should invest more in the young and less in retired individuals — is sound.

But it’s still a bad idea.

Yes, it’s a bad idea, especially since it does not ask “society” to invest more in the young” — it asks the elderly to invest more in the young —  nor is there any merit to giving less to the elderly.

And now comes the heart of what conservatives want — the widen the Gap between the rich and the rest part:

Spending on Social Security is projected to rise by 1.5 percentage points of annual economic output over the next three decades.

Policy should be focused on decreasing projected spending to preserve Social Security for future generations.

Social Security spending needs to be cut, not redirected.

This idea, being promulgated by the rich, tells you two lies:

  1. Social Security benefits are so lucrative, they can be cut without punishing the elderly, who anyway, aren’t productive members of our society
  2. Federal taxes pay for Social Security.

Lie #1 is ridiculous and disgraceful. Social Security benefits already are shamefully low, below poverty levels, and the notion that the elderly can be cast aside as no longer productive is beyond contempt.

Lie #2 is just that: A lie. The truth is that federal taxes — FICA, income taxes, any other taxes — do not pay for anything. They do not pay for Social Security. They do not pay for Medicare. They do not pay for the military, or for roads or for the White House, or for Congress.  Not one dime of federal taxes is used for anything.

When you send your tax dollars to the U.S. Treasury, they instantly disappear from any measure of the money supply. They no longer exist in the economy. They effectively are destroyed.

By contrast, when you send your dollars to your state and local taxing authorities, those dollars are deposited in a private bank, where they remain in the nation’s money supply.

That is a fundamental difference between a Monetarily Sovereign government, like the U.S. government, and a monetarily non-sovereign government, like your state and local governments.

State and local governments need income in order to spend. The federal government neither needs nor uses income. It creates brand new dollars, ad hoc, by paying bills.

And one wonders what else Congress might want to finance using future Social Security benefits if a family-leave plan creates that possibility.

Depending on the party in power, the federal government always can afford that party’s favorite projects.

Currently, the favorites are the military and the “Wall.” They will be funded, even while taxes are reduced.

The federal government never has, and never will, run short of dollars, which is why all concerns about federal deficits and federal “debt” are misguided

Social Security will soon pay out more to retirees than it receives in tax revenue and interest income, and its “trust fund” reserve is projected to be exhausted in 2034.

By the time today’s new parents reach retirement age, either benefits will have been reduced or taxes will have increased.

Social Security does not use tax revenue to pay benefits, and the so-called “trust fund” is a bookkeeping fiction. Of what purpose is a trust fund for a Monetarily Sovereign government that has the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency?

Image result for blank 4- column table of items

No Monopoly money? Make a table like this. No column needed for the Bank, which never can run short, even with no taxes.

If you ever have played the board game “Monopoly,” you know that the Bank never runs short of money. Players can use any item as asubstitute or keep a record of transactions. The Bank creates Monopoly dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a bill.

The federal government operates the same way as the Monopoly Bank. If you can’t run short of money, why be concerned about running short of money?

Future lawmakers could decide that retirees shouldn’t be “penalized” with lower benefits because they took paid time off. Any policy where the benefits are enjoyed today and the costs aren’t realized for decades should be met with skepticism.

This was not a concern for the GOP Congress, who gave benefits to the rich in the form of tax cuts, and the “costs” never will be realized.

On balance, then, it’s best to think of the family-leave plan as another middle-class entitlement program. Given projected federal debt and deficits, another entitlement is something the U.S. does not need, however laudable the goal. (This is especially true in light of the fact that four out of 10 working women already report access to paid time off following the birth of a child.)

If there is anything the rich hate, it’s “entitlement programs,” specifically entitlement programs for the 99%.

Entitlement programs for the rich, such as special tax breaks for non-salary income, are just fine, however.

Apparently, the writer of the article, Mr. Strain, believes that if 40% of working women have access to some unknown amount of paid time for some unknown duration, under certain, unknown circumstances, the problem is solved.

Finally, advocates of the plan are quite wrong to suggest that it won’t burden employers. It’s true that it wouldn’t require employers to finance the leave taken by their workers, but it would impose other significant burdens.

Subsidizing time away from work through the Social Security system would increase both the number of parents who take long periods of leave and the weeks of leave new parents take.

The increased use of leave would materially disrupt business operations, particularly for smaller firms.

Image result for servant and master

The poor are lazy.

This is under the theory that middle- and low-paid people are congentially lazy, and will look for ways to cheat the system.  (Of course, rich people never do such things.)

Since women tend to be the main users of parental leave, businesses would probably respond to this disruption by hiring fewer less-educated women of child-bearing age, offering women fewer hours of work per week, and by promoting fewer women into management roles.

The costs of paid leave will disperse throughout the labor market, creating invisible victims whose employment opportunities are diminished.

“Hiring fewer less-educated women of child-bearing age, offering women fewer hours of work per week, and by promoting fewer women into management roles” is exactly what happens now.

The difference is that today families not only are punished because they might have children, but also are punished when they actually do have children. A federally-financed family leave program could remove the second punishment.

Paid leave has many benefits. But the costs of letting families borrow against Social Security to finance it are too high.

Michael R. Strain at mstrain4@bloomberg.net; To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.net

Yes, paid leave has many benefits, especially if funded by the federal government, and isn’t another version of the awful student loan program, that gives today and punishes forever.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

The nine politicians in black robes Friday, Oct 6 2017 

Image result for freedom

Freedom

It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

There is a difference between ideology and party politics. The former is concerned with issues. The latter is concerned with blind loyalty.

Political parties do not bind themselves to an ideology, but rather focus on winning elections.

You probably have been told that the Supreme Court is a mixture of conservative and liberal Justices, something like this small table, showing the “attitude” (fundamental belief) of each Justice. Image result for supreme court party politics

In reality, The Supreme Court acts like the 3rd segment of the legislative branch.

Like a politician, each justice clings to the party that nominated him (her).

In short, the Supreme Court is ruled by politics, not by law and not by ideology.

The Justices make new law in the same way the Senate and House do: On the basis of political expedience.  Each Justice interprets (twists) the words of the Constitution to fulfill political allegiance, even resorting to the claim that some of the Constitution’s words are completely meaningless.

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution reads, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It is difficult to argue that the framers intentionally included the bolded words, knowing they were to have no meaning.

Yet, our most famous, self-described “originalist” judge, Antonin Scalia, who prided himself on following the exact, plain-word meaning of the Constitution, argued exactly that.

He said the words, “well-regulated militia” had no meaning whatsoever — that they were an introduction like “Ahem,” a kind of legal throat clearing.

Republicans claim to be “conservatives,” but they are not. A real conservative wishes to conserve the past or at least the present. That desire is not what defines today’s Republicans.

Some de facto elements of today’s Republicanism are:

1. Pro-life, pro-death penalty, anti-birth control, pro-religion, pro-gun.  There is an ideological disconnect between pro-life and pro-death penalty and pro-religion.

If your religion believes the killing of fetuses is murder, why would you favor the mass distribution of murder machines and the killing of prisoners?

And if you oppose abortion, why would you oppose the birth control that would reduce the demand for abortions?

These are not conservative positions. They are not ideological positions. They are Republican political positions.

For instance, the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion by a 7-2 vote. Six of the seven justices in the majority were Republican appointees.

The State of Massachusetts passed a health care reform law in 2006. Governor Mitt Romney was a Republican. The law became known as “Romneycare.” Clearly, politics, not conservative ideology, was responsible for the subsequent Republican hatred of Obamacare, which was a virtual clone of Romneycare.

2. Pro-Christian, anti-nonChristian, anti-black, anti-brown, pro-white,  anti-immigrant. Many Republicans would deny having these beliefs, but whether or not stated overtly, the evidence is in the voting.

One only can wonder how a follower of Christ’s teachings can vote against the well-being of blacks, browns, and immigrants.

3. Anti-Jew, pro-Israel. Another head-scratcher. Christ was born, lived, and died a Jew, and was, in fact, a rabbi.

Being anti-Jew, but pro-Israel can be justified (if justification even is possible) only if anti-Muslim feelings are greater than anti-Jew feelings –“the enemy of my enemy” idea.

4. Anti-big government, pro-big business, anti-gay marriage, pro-“strict law and order.”  The anti-big government people believe the government is too intrusive and burdensome on our lives, while inexplicably believing big business is not intrusive or burdensome.

 The same anti-government people believe the government should intrude forcefully on the lives of gay people, and on individuals accused of street crime.

4. Pro-military spending, anti-social spending, anti-deficit spending, anti-science, anti-arts. “Anti-science” manifests itself with climate change denial and evolution denial.

“Anti-deficit” always gives way to “pro-military.”

What is the commonality of the above? They are not conservatism. They do not express a conservative ideology. Some do not “conserve” anything, some are mutually nonsensical, and some merely are bigotry.

There is but one commonality: They all are today’s Republican political positions. 

Imagine this scenario:

You are a renter who is suing your landlord. A plain reading of the law favors your position, but you know the judge was appointed by a powerful politician, who also is a landlord. Thus, the judge has a personal bias favoring landlords.

Statistics show that in the vast majority of tenant vs. landlord cases to appear before the judge, he rules in favor of the landlord, no matter what a plain English interpretation of the law says.

That is not ideology. The judge’s decision is based on politics.

I have just described to you, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today’s Supreme Court is composed of nine Justices, of whom four repeatedly lean politically Republican (Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Samual Alito, and John Roberts) four repeatedly lean Democratic (Elena Kagen, Sonia Sotomayer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer) with one being a “swing vote,” but with a Republican tilt (Anthony Kennedy).

Each of the judges is being influenced by some notion, not included in the law or the case itself. This unity is what one would expect of a political party, not of a group of impartial judges.

All of the so-called “conservative” judges are, in fact, Republican, not conservative, judges.  

Similarly, all “progressive” judges were appointed by Democrats though the Democratic party is not truly progressive. President Obama, with his cuts to social programs and his massive number of immigrant deportations, mashed a large dollop of Republican belief into his progressivism.

But the left-wing of the Supreme Court is quite reliably Democratic.

The current Republicans, now being the “party of the rich,” consistently vote to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest. This is not a conservative position; it merely is the current political position of the Republican party.

The poor are more likely to be killed by guns and the pro-death penalty, more likely to be blocked by anti-gay marriage laws, far more likely to be punished by anti-poverty rulings, housing discrimination, the loss of medical care, and bigotry.

A Supreme Court that repeatedly favors the rich and opposes the poor, acts like Republican politicians in black robes.”

But, consider the four “progressive” Justices.  What unites them?

The contemporary common political conception of progressivism in the culture of the Western world emerged from the vast social changes brought about by industrialization in the Western world in the late 19th century.

Progress was being stifled by vast economic inequality between the rich and the poor; minimally regulated laissez-faire capitalism with monopolistic corporations; and intense and often violent conflict between workers and capitalists, thus claiming that measures were needed to address these problems.

While Republicans (faux conservatives) wish to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest,  Democrats (faux progressives) claim to wish to narrow the Gap.  In reality, both sides are pro-Gap widening; the Republicans merely more so.

America has two parties: The strong Gap-wideners, and the weaker Gap-wideners.

In Summary: The Republicans are not ideologically conservative, and the Democrats are not ideologically progressive. They are political.

Similarly, Supreme Court bloc voting is not the result of ideology but rather, of party affiliation.

Is America better for having a Supreme Court that favors the Republican lean toward the rich, or would a Supreme Court that favors the Democratic lean toward the middle and the poor be better?Image result for supreme court party politics

Whatever your answer, you should know that in the Supreme Court, the law often is ignored and ideology often is forgotten. But politics never are either.

In summary:

The Republicans are not conservative. The Democrats are not liberal. The Supreme Court is not ideological.

It’s all party politics for the nine politicians in black robes.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

How you completely can misunderstand Social Security Saturday, Jul 15 2017 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders..
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In the unlikely event you hope to be clueless about Social Security, boy, have I got an article for you. Here are some excerpts:

Social Security on track for ‘large, abrupt’ cuts in 17 years unless Congress acts
Ethan Wolff-Mann, Yahoo Finance, July 14, 2017 (Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann. )

The Social Security and Medicare trustees issued their 2017 annual report on Thursday, and it began with an alarm bell.

“Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing,” the trustees wrote in the summary of the 268-page document. “The Trustees recommend that lawmakers take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls.”

O.K., that part is true. Under currently scheduled benefits and financing, there won’t be enough money.

Insolvency is on track for 2028 for the disability fund and 2034 for seniors. Insolvent, however, does not mean empty; it means that the funds would not be able to completely fulfill its debts to the public.

You may think of these “funds” as being like money pots, into which your FICA dollars are placed, and Social Security dollars are removed. And when the pots run out of dollars, that is called “insolvency.”

Image result for bookkeeping columns

The government invented the dollar and owns the books. It can enter any numbers it chooses.

 

Wrong.

The so-called “funds” are nothing more than bookkeeping accounts over which our Monetarily Sovereign federal government has absolute, 100% control.

The federal government owns the “books” and has the unlimited power to enter any numbers it chooses into those accounts.

If a “fund” shows $1 million, and the government wishes to spend $2 million, the federal government simply can change the “1” to a “2.”  Or a “10.” That is what the word “Sovereign” in Monetarily Sovereign means.

If you wonder how it is possible for the federal government arbitrarily to change the dollar value in the “fund,” remember that the government has made many such arbitrary changes with our money.

The U.S. government invented the dollar — created it out of thin air — and arbitrarily gave it a value. The Coinage Act of 1792 mandated that a “dollar” be between 371 and 416 grains of silver.

The government could have mandated any value for the dollar. It arbitrarily chose 371-416 grains of silver. It could have chosen three French hens, two turtle doves, or a partridge in a pear tree.

The federal government had, and still retains, absolute power over the dollar, the value of the dollar and the bookkeeping for the dollar.

Since our beginnings, the federal government has exercised absolute power over the value of the dollar, repeatedly, arbitrarily valuing, revaluing and devaluing the dollar relative to gold and to silver.

The most recent value was $35 per ounce of gold until in 1971, President Nixon arbitrarily said the dollar’s value would not be measured against gold.

We describe a corollary to this process here, where we use the game of Monopoly as an example.

A root cause for the financial woes for Medicare and Social Security is the aging baby boomer population, and the trustees estimate the cost jumps will be higher than any GDP growth that could potentially offset things.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have not made progress addressing the difference between these two numbers by raising more money, raising the retirement age or dialing back payments.

The phrase “raising more money” is misleading. The federal government never needs to “raise” money. It creates dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a bill.

To pay a creditor, the federal government sends instructions (not dollars) to the creditor’s bank, instructing the bank to increase the balance in the creditor’s checking account. These instructions can be in the form of a check or a wire.

The instant the bank obeys those instructions, new dollars are created and added to the money supply.

Thus, to pay all your Social Security benefits, the federal government sends instructions to your bank, telling your bank to increase the balance in your checking account. Because our Monetarily Sovereign government never can run short of instructions, it cannot run short of dollars.

“The gap is getting bigger, and politicians have their heads in the sand,” said Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The CRFB is owned, operated, and financed by the rich, whose goal is to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest.  For many years, they continually have tried to cut federal spending on all social benefits.

They promulgate the “Big Lie” that federal taxes fund federal spending. The truth is, the federal government (unlike state and local governments) neither needs nor uses tax dollars. It created brand new dollars, every time it pays a bill.

Politically, the available options are incredibly explosive. Raising taxes is unpopular, and restricting payments to seniors is also unpopular. This leaves both Democrats and Republicans at an impasse.

It is a self-created “impasse,” since the federal government has the unlimited power to send instructions to banks, i.e. to create dollars.  The government never can run short of instructions or dollars.

Lawmakers have proposed changing how benefits are calculated, raising the payroll tax slightly, or subjecting all wages to payroll taxes (right now, wages up to $127,200 get taxed for Social Security).

For example, raising the payroll tax 0.7% and subjecting all wages to payroll tax would keep the program solvent for another 75 years. However, it would still be on a road to running out.

On the benefit-cutting side, slowing benefit growth for the top 70% of earners, increasing the retirement age, and modifying cost-of-living adjustments would close the funding gap, but also not permanently.

All of these so-called “options” are utter nonsense, based on the ridiculous premise that the federal government can run short of its own sovereign currency.

State and local governments can run short of dollars; businesses can run short of dollars; you and I can run short of dollars.

But the U.S. federal government never has, and never will run short of the currency it originally created from thin air, and still creates simply by sending instructions to banks.

The so-called Social Security “trust fund” is a bookkeeping account, that the federal government can change at will. So, why doesn’t it?

Why doesn’t the federal government simply admit the fact that it can pay any bill of any size at any time? Why doesn’t the federal government admit that neither it, nor any of its agencies, can be “insolvent,” unless that is what it wants to happen?

Why doesn’t the federal government provide Social Security to every man, woman, and child in America?

Two reasons:

  1. Some fear that if the public understood the truth, people would make endless demands on the government. The myth of money scarcity provides a rationale for limiting federal benefit payments.
  2. The rich want to widen the Gap between them and the rest. It is the Gap that makes them rich (Without the Gap we all would be the same), and the wider the Gap the richer they are. The rich bribe the politicians with campaign contributions; they bribe the media with advertising dollars and ownership; and they bribe the economists with university contributions and with “think tank” salaries.

In summary, our Monetarily Sovereign federal government has absolute and arbitrary control over the supply of dollars and the value of those dollars (inflation). Even if all federal taxes were $0, the federal government could continue spending forever.

FICA could be eliminated and Social Security benefits could be doubled. The government has that power.

Thus, there is no danger to Social Security other than the false “insolvency” danger arbitrarily and unnecessarily placed on it by the federal government.

All those who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty do not understand Social Security financing.

But now, you no longer misunderstand Social Security.

Pass it on.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

The real purpose of the debt ceiling. Again. Wednesday, Mar 15 2017 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
It takes only two things to keep people in chains: The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

That time of the year has come again.  You very soon will begin to read more articles about the U.S. “debt ceiling.”

In October 2015, we published, “The real reason we have a debt ceiling.” The article reminded us of a few facts:

  • The debt ceiling had been raised 74 times since March 1962
  • Congress has raised the debt ceiling 14 times from 2001-2013
  • Every single time we have bumped up against the debt ceiling, it has been raised.

If you asked the mythical “man-in-the-street” why we have a “debt ceiling,” he would tell you something like this: “To control Congress’s deficit spending.”

I hope that is not what you would say, because the answer is ridiculous. The so-called “debt ceiling” controls nothing. Think about it:

Congress controls deficit spending, and Congress controls the debt ceiling. So how could the debt ceiling, which is under the total control of Congress, control what Congress does? It makes no sense.

Further, and more important, the “debt ceiling” is a limit on payment for spending already done. The federal government already owes the money at the time the federal debt approaches the ceiling. The only thing a debt ceiling can accomplish is to cheat America’s creditors, the people who sold goods and services to the federal government.

You might ask your Congressperson how cheating creditors benefits America.

Why then do we have a debt ceiling? The abovementioned article concluded:

The debt ceiling has nothing to do with financial prudence or with spending or with taxes or abortion or immigration or Medicare or gay rights or with our military power or whether the Cubs ever will win a World Series.

The debt ceiling exists only because of a bunch of ruthless, vindictive people, whose pay will continue even during a depression — people who could not care less about you, me or anyone else on earth — people who demand, “Give me what I want or I’ll destroy your life and the lives of your friends and loved ones and of the whole world.”

So that is the real reason we have a the debt ceiling: Bastard power.

But the article was wrong. The real reason is even more insidious than that.

The real reason why we have a phony debt ceiling is to help promulgate the Big Lie, the lie that includes such “sub-lies” as:

  1. Federal taxes and borrowing are necessary to pay for federal spending.
  2. The federal deficit (wrongly termed “printing money”) will cause a Zimbabwe style hyperinflation
  3. The federal “debt” is an unsustainable financial burden on the government and a danger should nations not want to lend to us anymore.
  4. Once the GDP/Debt ratio reaches 100% (or 150% or any other number then in vogue) something terrible will happen.

The “Big Truth” is:

  1. Neither taxes nor borrowing have anything to do with federal spending. Even if all taxes and all borrowing fell to $0, our Monetarily Sovereign government could continue spending forever. (Sorry to be the bearer of “bad” news, but those tax dollars you send to the federal government cease to be part of the money supply. They are destroyed. Used for nothing.)
  2. Not only has the U.S. never had a hyperinflation, not even during wars, recessions, depressions and a Cub World Series victory, but even Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation was not caused by excessive deficit spending. All hyperinflations have been caused by shortages of products.
  3. The federal “debt” being nothing more than the total of dollars deposited in T-security accounts at the Federal Reserve Bank, is not a burden on anyone. The federal government easily could pay off the entire “debt” (i.e. deposits) tomorrow, simply by transferring existing dollars from those T-security accounts back to the holders’ checking accounts.
  4. The federal “debt” (total of deposits) is not related to GDP. Japan’s Debt/GDP ratio is about 230%.  The U.S.’s is about 105%. Russia’s is about 18%.  What does that tell you about the significance of the ratio?

O.K., if the real reason why we have a phony debt ceiling is to promulgate the Big Lie, what is the motive for the Big Lie?

The answer brings us to the Gap between the rich (the .1%)and the rest (the 99.9%).

The Gap is what makes them rich. Without the Gap, we all would be the same.  The wider the Gap, the richer they are.

If you had a million dollars, and everyone else had two million, you would be poor. But if you had only a hundred dollars, and everyone else had one dollar, you would be rich.

“Rich” is a comparative, not an absolute.

Thus, the prime financial motivation of the rich is not to make more money but to widen the Gap.

One way to widen the Gap is to deprive the 99.9% of federal benefits, that is to cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, cut ACA, cut aids to education, cut all poverty assistance.

Social benefits comprise a huge proportion of federal spending, so when politicians talk about reducing the deficit and reducing the “debt,” they really are talking about widening the Gap between the rich and the rest — i.e. making the rich richer.

And that, dear friends, is the purpose of the debt ceiling: To make the rich richer and you poorer.

The rich bribe Congress and the President via campaign “contributions” (Don’t you love that word, “contributions”?), as well as with promises of lucrative employment, later.

Though the debt ceiling itself is meaningless, it reinforces the false narrative that federal spending must be cut, because it represents a fiscal danger to America.

The public is led to believe that the federal government “must live within its means” (Unlike you and me, a Monetarily Sovereign government has no “means” to live within).

You are told falsely that deficits and debts are “unsustainable” (though we have sustained them quite nicely for more than 240 years).

And you are told that future generations of taxpayers will have to pay for today’s deficits and debt (though taxpayers do not fund federal deficits or the federal “debt.” Dollars are created ad hoc, every time the federal government pays a bill. No taxes involved.)

The next time you hear a politician pontificating about the need to deal with the federal debt ceiling, know it is all a charade funded by the rich.

It’s a gigantic con job, paid for by the rich to reduce your government benefits and to widen the Gap. And you are the victim. 

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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THE RULES

•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..

•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.

•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)

•Deficit spending grows the supply of money

•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.

•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.

•Progressives 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 the rich and the rest.

•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

•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..

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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