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"America's Ownership Society" Putsch's Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
August 17, 2004

"America's 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.

"America's 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.

Supposedly, 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.

The 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 isn't mentioned.

Encouraging ownership in this consumer society sounds flat-out patriotic, doesn't it?

According 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.

The 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.

The 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 later.

Just courageous Americans doing courageous things for Putsch's vision of America's Ownership Society.

The 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.

Lambro has a laundry list of plutocratic wet dreams that are part of this "America's Ownership Society."

For 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.

Another 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.

The 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, don't it?

Even 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.

For 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 policies.

(of GDP)
1973 4-years Nixon 26%
1977 4-years Nixon/Ford 27.8%
1981 4-years Carter 25.8%
1989 8-years Reagan 40.5%
1993 4-years Bush 49.5%
2001 8-years Clinton 33.1%
2003 3-years Putsch 36.1%

Notice 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.

And now, in just three years, the new trend is unmistakable.

3 years of Putsch: 36.1%

It's 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 the debt.

I think this shows that Republicans need to study a bit as to what "revenue-neutral"means.

When 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


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