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More Entitlements, Less Deficits?

Graphic "When Greece falls" presente...

Image via Wikipedia

Today Ezra Klein posted an interesting piece about the Euro crisis that confirms what I have thought for some time.

You may have heard the standard right-wing talking point that the current economic woes in Europe are directly tied to entitlements. Conservatives made a similar claim about the US deficit, which is why we’ve been talking about that side of the equation instead of higher taxes until recently (thank you OWS).

Both claims, of course stretch the truth — a lot.

The economic downturn (due to the subprime mortgage disaster) and tax cuts for the wealthy are the prime factors in the US deficit.

Entitlements are also not the boogeyman in the European crisis.

Klein’s piece, “A larger welfare state can mean a lower deficit” highlights the case of Germany, which has a hefty welfare state — but didn’t suffer from any of the problems faced by Greece and other Euro-zone countries:

Take Germany. They have a pretty big welfare state: pensions, health care, paid vacations, unemployment benefits equal to two-thirds of one’s income. Indeed, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development keeps track of social spending — unemployment, old-age pensions, health care, etc — as a percentage of GDP. In 2007, Germany spent 25.2 percent of their GDP on such things. Greece spent 21.3 percent on social policies. Yet Greece is in crisis, and Germany is fine.

In fact, the reality is that a single-payer healthcare system — like the one in Canada — controls costs and actually reduces the deficit.

As recently as 1965, the cost of those two systems competed neck-and-neck. That year, Canada spent 5.9 percent of its GDP on health care. The United States spent 5.7 percent. But around that time, Canada was transitioning to its current single-payer system. Over the next four decades, the growth of health-care costs slowed in Canada while it accelerated in the United States. By 2009, Canada was spending 11 percent of its GDP on health care — and covering everyone. The United States was spending 17.4 percent of its GDP and leaving 45 million uninsured. In dollar terms, we’re spending $3,600 more per person, per year, than Canada.

I’m not an economist, but there seems to be some consensus in the articles that I have read that what Klein states is true.

I have seen no convincing evidence that European woes are principally caused by entitlement spending.

In fact, Klein makes a good argument that a strong healthcare system could act as a bulwark against deficit:

If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem. Assuming we weren’t spending that money elsewhere, we wouldn’t even have a deficit. Likewise, if any country in the euro zone maintained the United States’s health-care system and our health-care spending, it would have a smaller welfare state, but it would be sagging beneath a debt burden far more onerous than anything anyone in Europe is facing today.

-Chris

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Debt, Deficit, Democrats, Economics, GOP, Health Care, Health Care Reform, Politics, Republicans, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reversing ‘Citizens United’

Bernie Sanders

American hero Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)  has introduced a Constitutional Amendment to reverse the horrible Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission ruling:

Sanders Files ‘Saving American Democracy Amendment’

 

From the press release:

Sanders’ Saving American Democracy Amendment would make clear that corporations are not entitled to the same constitutional rights as people and that corporations may be regulated by Congress and state legislatures. It also would preserve the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press. It would incorporate a century-old ban on corporate campaign donations to candidates, and establish broad authority for Congress and states to regulate spending in elections.

This needs to be done.

Corporations have their hooks into every politician at almost every level, and right-wing media has done a nice job selling people on the idea that corporations ARE people.

The only way we will ever have a responsive government is if we get the corrupting power of money out of the game.

Ideas should be introduced and debated on an even playing field and live and die based on their merits — not on a marketing campaign by whoever spends the most.

fact sheet linked from Sander’s press release makes a strong case:

Before Citizens United, corporations had to abide by the ruling in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce that limited their participation in elections to political action committees. PACS are funded by voluntary contributions from the employees of a corporation, as opposed to the general treasury fund. The Supreme Court also determined that limitations on corporate spending in elections were permissible in McConnell v. FEC, a decision that upheld portions of the McCain-Feingold reforms that aimed to reign in corporate electioneering.
Because of Citizens United, corporations are now allowed to tap into their profits to spend money advocating for or against candidates of their choosing. Even worse, they can do it anonymously. By undermining the very concept of campaign finance laws, like the ones limiting individual contributions to candidates, the Citizens United decision even threatens a 1907 law passed by Congress prohibiting corporations from directly contributing to candidates. If we don’t take action, before we know it, the Supreme Court could rule that corporations can directly to contribute to candidates for public office.

Read the proposed amendment here.

I’d love for this to pass, but I doubt there’s a chance of that happening.

-Chris

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Democrats, Elections, Fox News, GOP, Politics, Presidential Campaign, Republicans | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Myth of Female “Purity”

English: Profile picture of author Jessica Valenti

I admit, I haven’t read Jessica Valenti‘s book “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women”.

The book describes the myth of virginity and female purity in American culture and how the religious right has channeled this view of sexuality into the growing abstinence movement.

The strange “purity balls” in which daughters pledge their virginity to their fathers (unpack that one) and abstinence-only education have a terrible success rate.

Study after study has shown that more information and access to contraceptives are the key to preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

The abstinence-only approach goes hand in hand with the Christianists’ feverish attempts to keep any and all information about sexuality out of the hands of the demographic that arguably needs it most – young people.

By the author’s estimate, $50 million in taxpayer money has been wasted on abstinence-only “education” which often incorporate outright lies in order to scare kids out of having sex.

Now there is a movie based on Valenti’s book, which is now on DVD:

The Purity Myth Trailer from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

The trailer looks interesting, and seems to drive home the point that all the right-wing fuss is really about controlling women.

As ever, the right continues to live in a foregone era that never actually happened.

They think that if they can force the rest of us to go along with their Donna Reed/June Cleaver fantasy, America will be great again.

If only women could do what they were designed for: Make babies, cook, clean and do laundry.

No thanks.

-Chris

December 8, 2011 Posted by | Feminism, Health Care, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Science, Sexuality | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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