Ownership Society" is a phrase you'll be hearing
a lot over the next few weeks, as Putsch makes
it a centerpiece of his campaign in the run up
to the final, post Labor Day sprint. Like most
such phrases uttered by Putsch, it may mean nothing
at all, just as such other Karl Rove snippets
of happy talk like "compassionate conservatism,"
"a uniter, not a divider," and "leave no child
behind" turned out to do.
Ownership Society"sounds like it might have been
the legal principle behind the Dred Scott decision.
And on the lips of a plutocrat like Putsch, it
might as well be.
it's supposed to be a meme that creates the impression
that Putsch is going to take bold and revolutionary
steps to put America to work making money for
Americans. Sounds like a pickup truck ad, doesn't
it? In fact, maybe instead of having Putsch talk
about it at the convention (he'd just bollix it
all up, anyway), get the guy who sings about putting
a boot up Mohammed's ass to narrate it, with his
husky voice accompanying images of destitute little
beggar boys throwing away their crutches, tearing
off their rags to reveal Schwarzenegger physiques,
and becoming millionaires by digging ditches for
16 hours a day. Yes, folks, we can ALL be in the
top 1% of income if we only try. Just ask George,
who sometimes thought about working for a living
himself, just to see what it was like. Then the
coke would wear off.
notion is that if people invest in America, America
will take good care of them. What happens to the
folks who don't have a lot of money to invest
ownership in this consumer society sounds flat-out
patriotic, doesn't it?
to David Lambro, chief political columnist for
the Moonie Times (a journalistic position equivalent
to being head of the science department of the
Flat Earth Society) the "America's Ownership Society"meme
consists of two parts.
first part is the partial privatization of social
security. Folks who lost their life savings in
the dot com bust or from all the corporate scandals
like Enron and World Com can't wait to see their
children make the same mistake. As things stand
now, anyone who depends on private pension plans
for their golden years is living in a fools' paradise.
Statistics indicate that anyone signing up for
a private pension plan now only has a 20% chance
of seeing one thin dime of it thirty years down
the road. If it isn't stolen by criminal means,
then it's stolen by legal means.
great brokerage houses of Wall Street will stoically
take up the burden of managing several hundred
billion dollars in pension funds, only because
it promises tens of billions of dollars in "management
fees"now, and the chance to steal the whole amount
courageous Americans doing courageous things for
Putsch's vision of America's Ownership Society.
other part of his plan is "broadening the tax
base." Usually that means raising taxes, but in
this case, it has to pretty much mean increasing
the taxable income to include America's poorest.
He promises that by so doing, he'll lesson the
tax burden for those most heavily affected by
it. Pay your taxes so the rich don't have to,
folks. Pay so the rich don't have to.
has a laundry list of plutocratic wet dreams that
are part of this "America's Ownership Society."
instance: "new incentives to expand homeownership."
That would have to be larger tax write-offs on
mortgages. It's pretty unlikely that Putsch is
about to offer 640 acres and a mule. So it's tax
shelters. Which is fine, except such shelters
would only help people who have the money to buy
a house already, with a disproportionate amount
of help going to people who already own vast amounts
of property. Under the current tax laws, you can
write off the interest you pay on your mortgage.
It's a nice little amount for a couple in the
early years of a thirty year note, provided they
make enough to itemize, and thus make the tax
writeoff problematical. (Most people aren't in
that happy position). But it's usually not enough
to pay for that cabin by the lake. Not unless
you are buying a $10 million mansion, and are
making several million a year. Then the tax incentives
can add up to quite a bit of money that you probably
don't even need in the first place.
part is tax-free savings accounts for medical
expenses. Say you make about 20% above the median
wage, and have $1,000 to put in such an account.
Normally, the interest call it two percent,
could be taxed at a 20% rate. Two percent of $1,000
is $20, and 20% of $20 is $4. Stop by your local
hospital and ask what the four dollars you'll
save will get you. For that matter, ask what the
entire $1,004 will get you. The folks in the hospitals
work hard; they would appreciate a good laugh.
last item Lambro mentions is "letting businesses
band together to offer medical plans of their
own." I guess this means that Microsoft and Apple
will get together so they can offer their employees
a lower rate through the economics of scale. Or
MacDonalds and Burger King. Or Wackenhut and Romer
security guard companies. Sounds real likely,
Lambro notes that with the country running record
deficits already, Putsch's proposed tax reforms
should be revenue neutral. Of course, this administration
is trying to pretend that Laffer curve economics
really works, despite the catastrophic and immensely
expensive results shown in the present and during
the Reagan maladministration.
those who still think, against all reason, that
Republicans have the faintest clue what they are
talking about when they babble about revenue-neutral
tax reform, here are some numbers from the Congressional
Budget Office (http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=1821&sequence=0)
that illustrate the results of pet projects of
various presidents. The number is simply the size
of the national debt, expressed as a percentage
of the gross domestic product for that particular
year. I picked the year following a change in
administration since that most accurately shows
the results of the previous administration's budgetary
how it's fairly stable until 1980, with Democrats
performing only slightly better than Republicans
(a trend, incidentally, that holds clear back
to 1960 for over 40 years, Democrats, not Republicans,
have been the party of fiscal responsibility).
Then, after Reagan, it takes a huge jump, and
poor ineffectual Bush, drowning in Ronnie's red
inch, can't staunch the flow, leaving the percentage
the highest it's been since World War II. It took
eight years of Clinton policies to bring it back
down to shouting distance of where it had been.
now, in just three years, the new trend is unmistakable.
years of Putsch: 36.1%
probably going to be about 39 or 40% by 2005.
Putsch has undone all the good Clinton did, and
we're back to spending vast amounts on financing
think this shows that Republicans need to study
a bit as to what "revenue-neutral"means.
Putsch talks about "America's Ownership Society"he
isn't talking about owning property or business
or money; he's talking about owning Americans,
an new form of economic slavery.
Posted: August 23, 2004