Monday, November 06, 2006

My rebuttal

Below is my rebuttal to the email in the previous post. It's not that great and I would have liked to develop some things a bit more, but election day is tomorrow, after which my rebuttal will be irrelevent. So here it is:

The stock market is at a new all-time high and America's 401K's are back. A new direction from there means what?

I’m not sure what is meant by “back.” Defined contribution pension plans have been increasing since 1974. In recent years defined contribution plans have been gaining even more popularity as employers are shifting away from more costly defined benefit plans, shifting the investment risk from employers and onto employees. The recent pension legislation that was enacted and signed into law by Bush will continue to cause defined contribution plans to become even more popular as the compliance costs of administering defined benefit plans increases. The fact that very recently 401(k) contributions have increased is a predictable and ordinary result of recovering from a recession. Were wages not stagnant, 401(k) contrubtions would be even higher. The fact that they are as high as they are despite stagnant wages is a result of a greater level of wealth consolidation among the richest Americans. I don't view an increase in income disparity as a positive.

Unemployment is at 25 year lows. A new direction from there means what?

This statement is only true if one looks at the household survey of unemployment as opposed to employer reporting. According to the more reliable employer reporting, which has been used by economists and the government for years, unemployment is decreasing very slowly. But more importantly, wages are stagnant, an almost unprecedented occurrence in an economic recovery. In other words, people are getting jobs, but their wages are not even keeping up with inflation! Does that sound good to you?

Oil prices are plummeting. A new direction from there means what?

Plummeting? Really? Because just a couple months ago oil prices were the highest ever per barrel. You don’t have to be a cynic to think that the cause of dropping oil prices is connected to the mid-term election. The president has significant ties to the oil industry and has an uncomfortably close relationship with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. So why do you think OPEC would want to lower prices before an election? Maybe because it is in the best interests of the cartel to keep Republicans in control of the American government. If you think that oil prices will continue to drop or even simply remain constant after the election, then you are naïve.
A new direction would mean developing new fuel sources and technology, including renewable energy technology and cleaner burning coal. A new direction would mean pressuring car manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency.

Taxes are at 20 year lows. A new direction from there means what?

While marginal rates at the top and bottom are lower, the result of the tax cuts is an increased burden on the middle and upper middle class. The tax cuts significantly reduced the proportion of government programs supported by the top 1% of the population. They also reduced the tax burden on the very poorest in society. The result is a tax that puts the burden of supporting our troops, paving our roads, and providing government services on the middle 60% of the country. Now this may not bother some people, but I happen to believe that a country should apportion tax liability according to a person’s ability to pay. Because of the marginal utility of money, a person’s millionth dollar is of less value to that person than his thousandth dollar. I believe that taxes should be apportioned according to the marginal utility of one’s income. This means a highly progressive tax with a large exemption at the bottom.
So a new direction from there means demanding that the government bring in enough revenue to meet its obligations, and that the revenue be collected from all Americans according to their ability to pay.

Federal tax revenues are at all-time highs. A new direction from there means what?

This is quite a misleading statement. While it is true that tax revenue for the 2005 tax year was nominally quite high, after adjusting for inflation and population growth, per capita tax revenue is at the same level it was in 2001.

The Federal deficit is down almost 50%, just as predicted over last year. A new direction from there means what?

This is simply not true. The projected deficit for 2006 is almost 50% lower than predicted by the Bush administration in February of this year. But the deficit at the end of the year will be 2.3% of GDP. And even the Bush administration predicts that this will increase in 2007 and beyond. The Bush administration’s predictions also assume that the exemption amount for the Alternative Minimum Tax will return to its pre-2006 amount. Neither a Democratic nor Republican controlled Congress will let that happen, as the CBO and JCT forecasts acknowledge. The administration’s predictions and the calculation of the current deficit also count the principal and revenue from the Social Security trust fund as general revenue. This is particularly disturbing considering the increase in Social Security payments that will correlate with the retirement of the baby boomers.
A new direction from the Republicans’ Tax cut-and-spend policies would be following a course of fiscal discipline by passing budget resolutions that make revenues and expenditures meet. I would not let this Republican Congress control my household budget. Would you?

Home valuations are up 200% over the past 3.5 years. A new direction from there means what?

I’m not sure how maintaining and exacerbating the housing bubble is a good thing. The fact that housing is and continues to be overpriced is a signal of market inefficiency. And in light of the following assertion regarding inflation, I've got to say that you should pick one or the other. Either inflation is bad and it has been kept in check, or inflation is good and Bush has managed to infate housing prices.

Inflation is in check, hovering at 20 year lows. A new direction from there means what?

Inflation has been held in check for the past 20 or so years. For the most part, this is due to the Federal Reserve Bank’s manipulation of interest rates. It is also worth pointing out that the goal of an economy is not to keep inflation at the lowest rate possible. An ideal inflation rate should be between 1 and 2.5 percent. To the extent Bush has had anything to do with inflation, his contribution to low inflation has been following policies that have kept wages stagnant for the entire duration of his time in office. Ironically, inflation is even lower once you adjust for artificially inflated oil prices. I say "artificially" because the prices are driven up by the decisions of the OPEC monopoly, with which Bush has significant ties.

Not a single terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11/01. A new direction from there means what?

I’m not really sure how to respond to this one. It is true that “terrorists” have not attacked inside the US since Septembet 11, 2001. However, there is no evidence that the Bush administration has had a hand in stopping any legitimate plan. It is also the case that Bush has declared on numerous occasions that serious threats had been foiled when in reality, there either was no threat at all or the threat consisted of a half-dozen indigent Americans talking about how they wanted to fly a plane into the Sear’s Tower while taking (and having the resources to take) not a single step in furtherance of their plan.
In addition, there have been numerous terrorist attacks within the United States in the form of people walking into schools, malls, office-buildings, etc. and gunning down numerous people, often children.

Osama bin Laden is living under a rock in a dark cave, having not surfaced in years, if he's alive at all, while 95% of Al Queda's top dogs are either dead or in custody, cooperating with US Intel. A new direction from there means what?

Pointing out that Osama is still alive and putting out videos and tape recordings would seem to militate against Bush, not in his favor. The fact that Bush has failed to capture or kill the mastermind behind 9-11, in large part due to the distraction of an unnecessary war in Iraq, is not a point in his favor.

Several major terrorist attacks already thwarted by US and British Intel, including the recent planned attack involving 10 Jumbo Jets being exploded in mid-air over major US cities in order to celebrate the anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks. A new direction from there means what?

There has only been one verifiable, legitimate terrorist plot that has been foiled, and that is the British plot he mentions. However, it was the liberal Labor government of Great Britain that gets the credit there.

Just as Bush had planned and foretold us of on a number of occasions, Iraq was to be made "ground zero" for the war on terrorism -- and just as Bush said they would, terrorist cells from all over the region are alighting the shadows of their hiding places and flooding into Iraq in order to get their faces blown off by US Marines rather than boarding planes and heading to the United States to wage war on us here. A new direction from there means what?

The militants in Iraq who are killing US soldiers are not “terrorist cells.” They are native Iraqi insurgents who either were loyal to Saddam or are opposed to the new proposed government. Sunnis and other religious factions, unhappy about being forced from their position of power, are attacking both rival factions and US troops. Just because someone is Arab and opposed to US occupation of Iraq does not mean that he is a terrorist. At least, not a terrorist in the same way that Al Qaeda or Hezbollah are terrorists.
I guess a new direction here would mean leaving the Iraqis to fight their inevitable civil war and hope that the side that wins isn’t to mad at us for fucking up their country even more than Saddam did.

Moreover, bear in mind that all of the above occurred in the face of the 1999 tech crash, the epidemic of corporate scandals throughout the 90's, and the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on NYC years in the planning which collectively sucked 24 trillions dollars and 7.8 million jobs out of the US economy even before G. W. Bush had time to unpack his suitcases in the White House.

Excuses are like assholes. Every has one, and they all stink. And what was the title of that memo Condi Rice received in early 2001? That’s right, it was titled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the U.S.”

It's easy for the Democrats to attempt to discredit, disgrace and defame our commander in chief, George W. Bush -- that's what they do. What's not so easy for them to do is to refute irrefutable facts, no matter how they might try.

It is easy to discredit Bush, isn’t it? I guess that is because he is the most dishonest President since Nixon. And while it might be hard to refute irrefutable facts, it is not that hard to refute generalizations and deliberate misinterpretation of facts.

Do yourself and this country of ours a favor and don't be a mindless sheep or a blind liberal lap dog, bent on hate and blame-shifting simply in the name of hate and blame-shifting. Take heed of reality, use your head and cast your vote wisely in the upcoming elections. The stakes are far too high today, as America's very future, and yes, even its very survival is now at stake.

No one should be a mindless lapdog. People should look at the facts and vote their conscience. Some people's consciences push them to help people less fortunate, to tell the truth on issues fundamental to self-governace, and abhor the manipulation of terrorism to scare people into belief. Some don't. The stakes are high, but America’s survival is not at stake. America has survived a lot and it will get through a lot more, whether that be a Republican Congress or a Democratic Congress.


Blogger Matt said...

The corporate scandals happened in the 2000's, incidentally. See, for example, this wikipedia entry: Accounting scandals of 2002. Enron fell in the 2000's.

10:07 AM  
Blogger warm fuzzy said...

wow. way to go fishfrog! I feel smarter having read that post.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Fishfrog said...

Although the scandals happened in the 2000's, they were directly the result of the example set by Clinton. Corporate managers would never have considered dishonest accounting appropriate had Clinton not showed everyone, by example, that lying was acceptable.

(This is a joke)

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please post. Please.

9:52 PM  

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