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America: The Two Empires

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (March 29 2012)

It’s a curious feature of American history that some of its major turning points are best summed up by books. In the years just before the American Revolution, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) was the book; it had a huge role in focusing colonial grievances to the point that they were ready to burst into flame. In the years before the Civil War, it was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852); that’s the book that made the North redefine a troubled national dialogue over a range of regional differences as a moral debate over slavery, pure and simple, and so pushed both halves of the country into positions from which they couldn’t back down short of war.

Both of those books stayed famous long after the issues they influenced were settled, and back when American children actually learned about American history in school, at least, most people knew the titles – though you won’t find many people of any recent generation who read either one. The book that played a similar role in launching America on its career as a global empire didn’t get the same kind of treatment. Unless you know a fair amount about military history, you’ve probably never heard of it. Its title is The Influence of Sea Power upon History (1890), and its author was Alfred Thayer Mahan.

Mahan was an officer in the US Navy; he’d seen combat duty in the Civil War, and remained in the service during the postwar decades when the country’s naval forces were basically tied up at the dock and allowed to rot. In the 1880s, while serving at the Naval War College, he became a leading figure among the intellectuals – a small minority at that point – who hoped to shake the United States out of its focus on internal concerns and transform it into an imperial power. He was among the most original of American military strategists as well as a capable writer, and he had an ace in the hole that neither he nor anybody else knew about when his book saw print in 1890: his good friend and fellow lecturer at the Naval War College, a New York politician and passionate imperialist named Theodore Roosevelt, would become president of the United States just over a decade later by way of an assassin’s bullet.

Mahan’s theory of naval power was influential enough, then and now, that it’s going to be necessary to sketch out the central themes of his book. He argued, first of all, for the importance of maritime trade to a national economy, partly because shipping was (and is) cheaper than land transport, and partly because most international trade had to go by sea; second, for the necessity of a strong navy to protect shipping routes and project force to defend national economic interests overseas; and third, for the need to establish permanent naval bases at a distance from the nation’s own shores, along important trade routes, so that naval forces could be refueled and supported, and so that a naval blockade could be effectively countered – Mahan here was thinking about his own experiences with the Union blockade of the Confederacy during the Civil War, a crucial element in the North’s victory. He backed up all these points with detailed case studies from history, but his aim wasn’t limited to understanding the past; he was proposing a plan of action for the United States for the near future.

In 1890, the United States had spent a quarter century following exactly the opposite advice. The Union victory in the Civil War, as discussed in the last two posts, handed control of the nation’s economic policy to industrial and agrarian interests that wanted high tariffs and trade barriers to protect domestic industry. As those took effect, other nations followed suit by raising tariffs and barriers against goods from the United States, and America distanced itself from the global economy of the late 19th century. Straight through the Long Depression of 1873 to 1896, economic self-sufficiency was one of the core elements of national policy; the idea was that American farms and factories should produce the goods and services Americans needed and wanted, so that the United States could avoid the state of permanent dependency British-supported policies of free trade, backed by the superlative size and power of the British Navy, was imposing on so many other countries at that time.

As we saw in last week’s post, though, Mahan’s advocacy of naval expansion came at a crucial time, when the wealth pump of America’s industrial system was struggling to keep from consuming itself, and a growing number of Americans were beginning to look enviously at Europe’s global empires. The huge success of The Influence of Sea Power upon History – it was an international bestseller, was translated into more than a dozen languages, and became required reading for politicians and naval officers around the world – had a massive role in reformulating the debate around imperialism. Armed with Mahan’s logic, the proponents of an American empire could redefine the pursuit of global power in terms of the nation’s safety and prosperity. By the mid-1890s, the obsolete Civil War-era ships that made up what there was of the Navy a decade earlier were rapidly being replaced by a new fleet on the cutting edge of naval technology. All that was left was an opportunity to put the new fleet to use and begin carving out an American empire.

That last step came in 1898, with the Spanish-American war. Those of my readers who think that the neoconservatives marked any kind of radical departure from America’s previous behavior in the world should take the time read a book or two on this now-forgotten conflict. Spain at that time was the weakest of the European colonial powers, with only a handful of possessions remaining from her once-vast empire – a few islands in the Caribbean, notably Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were among the most important. The project of seizing Cuba from Spain had been a popular subject of discussion in the South in the years before the Civil War, when finding new acreage for the plantation system had been a central theme of regional politics; Mahan’s book argued forcefully that the United States needed at least one large naval base somewhere in the islands to the south of the US mainland, and the hope that new territorial possessions might become captive markets for American industry gave new incentive to the old plan.

The Phillippines were another matter. In the pre-trade barrier era before the Civil War, the United States had begun to establish a presence along the western shores of the Pacific, sending a fleet to wring trade concessions from Japan in 1853 and making substantial inroads into the lucrative markets in China. The Civil War and the years of relative isolation that followed put paid to that, but regaining a place along the shores of east Asia was a high priority for the pro-empire party. The possibility of a US naval base in the Philippines was a tempting one, and added to the incentives for a war with Spain.

All that was needed was a provocation. That was provided, first, by propaganda campaigns in the American mass media accusing the Spanish government in Cuba of atrocities against the Cuban population, and second, by a boiler explosion aboard the USS Maine, one of the Navy’s new battleships, which was making a port call in Havana. The explosion was instantly blamed on a Spanish mine; public opinion in the United States, fanned by the media, favored war; Congress, which in those days still fulfilled its constitutional role by setting policies that presidents were expected to carry out, duly declared war; US naval forces were already in position, and sailed at once. Ten weeks later Cuba and Puerto Rico were conquered, two Spanish fleets had been crushed in separate battles nearly half the world apart, and the United States had its overseas naval bases and its empire.

The American president at that time, William McKinley, was not among the cheering majority. He was no opponent of American expansion – it was during his presidency that the United States annexed Hawai’i and what is now American Samoa – but service in the Union infantry in the Civil War gave him a more realistic attitude toward war, and he did what he could, with the limited power presidents had in those days, to stop the rush to war with Spain. He won reelection easily in 1900, but the next year he was killed by a lone gunman. His vice president was none other than Theodore Roosevelt, who proceeded to turn Mahan’s strategic principles into national policy. It’s an interesting commentary on the difference between the two eras that nobody, as far as I know, has ever proposed a conspiracy theory to account for McKinley’s death.

The dawn of American empire had impacts reaching well beyond the handful of territories the United States seized and held in McKinley’s day. The same Congress that declared war against Spain had passed a resolution forbidding the annexation of Cuba – this was partly to win support for the war from the anti-empire faction in Congress, partly a bit of pork-barrel protectionism for the American sugar and tobacco industries – and that limit forced the proponents of empire to take a hard look at other options. The system that resulted was one that remains standard throughout the American empire to this day. Cuba got a new constitution and an officially independent government, but the United States reserved the right to interfere in Cuban affairs at will, got a permanent lease on a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, and turned the Cuban economy into a wholly owned subsidiary of American commercial interests. The result fed the wealth pump of empire, but cost the United States much less than an ordinary colonial government would have done.

It also proved easy to export. In 1903, using a stage-managed revolution backed by US ships and Marines, the United States manufactured the new nation of Panama out of a chunk of northern Colombia, and established a Cuba-style government there under tight American control to provide a suitable context for a canal uniting the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea. Other Latin American countries fell under United States control in the years that followed, and had their resources fed into the increasingly busy wealth pump of American empire. Standards of living across Latin America duly began their long downward slide, while the United States boomed.

Meanwhile, as one of the last major acts of his presidency, Roosevelt launched what would be the definitive announcement that America had arrived on the world stage: the voyage of the “Great White Fleet”. In December 1907, sixteen battleships and their support vessels – their hulls painted stark white, the Navy’s peacetime paint scheme just then – sailed out of East Coast harbors to begin a voyage around the world, stopping at ports on the way. By the time they returned to Hampton Roads in February 1909, governments around the world had been forced to deal with the fact that a new power had entered the global political order.

All of this – Mahan’s theories, the Spanish-American war and its aftermath, the growth of a US empire in Latin America, and the military implications of America’s huge naval buildup and sudden attainment of global reach – was discussed at great length in books and periodicals at the time. What very few people noticed, because the intellectual tools needed to make sense of it hadn’t been developed yet, was that the United States was developing what amounted to a second empire, parallel to the one just described, during these same years. Where the imperial expansion we’ve just examined established an empire across space, this second empire was an empire across time. Like the move to global empire, this empire of time built on an earlier but more limited method of feeding the wealth pump, and turned a large but otherwise ordinary nation into a world power.

This “empire of time”, of course, consisted of the American fossil fuel industries. Where an empire extracts wealth from other countries for the benefit of an imperial nation, fossil fuel exploitation extracts wealth in the form of very cheap thermal energy from the distant past for the benefit of one or more nations in the present. The parallels are remarkably precise. An empire is profitable for an imperial nation because that nation’s citizens don’t have to produce the wealth that comes from foreign colonies and subject nations; they simply have to take it, either by force or by unbalanced systems of exchange backed by the threat of force. In the same way, fossil fuel extraction is so profitable because nobody nowadays has to invest their own labor and resources to grow and harvest prehistoric trees or extinct sea life, or to concentrate the resulting biomass into coal, oil, and natural gas. Equally, as we’ve seen already, empires go under when the wealth pump drives colonies and subject nations into poverty, just as fossil fuels become problematic when sustained extraction depletes them. In both cases, it’s a matter of drawing down a nonrenewable resource, and that leads to trouble.

Nobody seems to know for sure when coal was first mined by European settlers in the New World, but the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania were already being developed by the time of the Revolution, and the coming of the industrial revolution made coal an important commodity. Like the real estate that fueled America’s westward expansion, coal was abundant, widely distributed, and of even more widely varying value; it was more than adequate to fuel the growth of a national economy, but not enough by itself to open the door to world power. It took the second empire of time – the one embodied in petroleum – to do that, just as the concentrated wealth that could be had from overseas empire made it possible for the United States to transform itself into a global force.

There’s another fascinating parallel between America’s overseas empire of space and its second empire of time. That latter began in 1859, with the drilling of America’s first oil well in western Pennsylvania, right about the time that the United States was making its first tentative movements toward intervention in Asia. For decades thereafter, though, petroleum was used mostly as a source of lamp oil. It took a flurry of inventions in the 1880s and 1890s – right around the time the push for overseas empire was taking shape in the United States – to turn petroleum from a useful commodity to a source of nearly limitless mechanical power. It was in the wake of that transformation that the two empires fused, and the United States vaulted into global power. We’ll talk about that next week.

 

 

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End of the World of the Week #15
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The apocalyptic thinking discussed in previous posts here has percolated in plenty of odd directions over the centuries, and traces of it can be found in plenty of unexpected places today. One example that’s worth at least a glance is the role of apocalyptic ideas in helping to shape the remarkably messianic notions the liberal end of the Baby Boomer generation has generally had of itself and its place in history.

Some of my readers may recall The Greening of America by Charles Reich, a book published to much fanfare in 1970. Reich argued that American history could be understood in part as a process of shifting modes of consciousness in which Consciousness I, which had been glued firmly in place from colonial times to the Second World War, had morphed into Consciousness II, or square consciousness. This, Reich insisted, was about to be replaced by Consciousness III, or hip consciousness, which would become universal just as soon as all the squares either died off or got a clue.

Ten years later, Reich wasn’t exactly looking like a prophet, but that didn’t stop Marilyn Ferguson from making much the same claim in The Aquarian Conspiracy (1980). Ferguson didn’t use Reich’s historical scheme, but the basic argument – that those of the baby boomer generation who were into the 1980 equivalent of hippie culture were the forerunners of a great wave of change that would make the world much better – was essentially the same.

Twenty years further down the road, the same claim was being circulated with a little less generational slant by Paul H Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson in their 2000 book Cultural Creatives. Under that flattering label, Ray and Anderson lumped the same ideas and attitudes that Reich assigned to Consciousness III and Ferguson to her Aquarian Conspiracy, and paired it with the same claim, that a great positive change of consciousness was on its way and would give boomer idealists the world they thought they wanted.

None of these grand transformations, it bears remembering, has happened, but it may be worth noting what happened instead. In the aftermath of 1970, the Sixties guttered out, and in the next presidential election, Nixon won by a landslide. In the aftermath of 1980, the alternative scene of the Seventies collapsed, and Reagan won the presidency. In the aftermath of 2000, we got the rise of the neoconservatives and George W Bush in the White House. It seems unlikely that any of these sudden rightward turns were what the authors had in mind.

— Story from Apocalypse Not {1}

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If you enjoy reading this blog, please consider putting a tip in the Archdruid’s tip jar. Many thanks!

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {2} and the author of more than twenty books on a wide range of subjects, including The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age (2008), The Ecotechnic Future: Exploring a Post-Peak World (2009), and The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered (2011). He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

If you enjoy reading this blog, you might want to check out Star’s Reach {3}, his blog/novel of the deindustrial future. Set four centuries after the decline and fall of our civilization, it uses the tools of narrative fiction to explore the future our choices today are shaping for our descendants tomorrow.

Links:

{1} http://www.vivaeditions.com/book_page.php?book_id=25

{2} http://www.aoda.org/

{3} http://starsreach.blogspot.com/

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2012/03/america-two-empires.html

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Federal Reserve System

An interview with Michael Hudson

by the Russian website Terra America (TA).

Naked Capitalism (March 29 2012)

What is the place of the Federal Reserve System in the American financial and economic structure?

Prior to the Federal Reserve’s founding in 1913, US monetary policy was conducted by the Treasury. Like the Fed, it had district sub-treasuries that performed nearly all the financial functions that the Fed later took over: providing credit to move the crops in autumn, managing government debt, and so forth.

But after the severe 1907 financial crisis, a National Monetary Commission was reformed. Under the then-Republican administration, it recognized a need for more active government intervention to prevent future financial crises. It also recognized the desirability of moving away from the Anglo-Dutch-American system of “merchant banking” based on short-term lending against collateral in place, or for shipping of goods already produced. The National Monetary Commission’s longest volumes were on the great German industrial banks, and Republican policy aimed at bringing banking into the industrial era, to provide long-term funding after the model of German and other Central European banks.

However, the leading bankers sought to use the crisis as an opportunity to grab power for Wall Street, away from the Treasury. In this sense, the Fed was founded in large part to take monetary control away from Washington’s elected officials and appointees, and privatize the supply of money and credit.

So its place in the US financial and economic structure is to allocate credit, primarily to serve Wall Street financial interests. That explains the insistence on the financial class here and abroad in insisting on an “independent” central bank. It means that instead of serving the public interest, it serves the interests of the banking class. The hoped-for transformation of commercial banking into long-term industrial banking was not achieved.

Can we imagine the global economic system without Federal Reserve today? If yes/no, why?

As David Kinley’s book for the National Monetary Commission pointed out a century ago, nearly all the financial functions performed by the Fed already were performed by the national Treasury. In more recent times, Milton Friedman and his University of Chicago colleagues suggested that the entire Fed could be reduced to a single desk inside the Treasury. The “Chicago Plan” of the 1930s urged Treasury control, as does Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s current bank reform.

There is no inherent need for a monetary agency to exist outside of the national government, except to serve the interests of the financial class as distinct from those of government, industry and labor. And the banking sector’s business plan is to load down real estate, labor, industry and the government with as much interest-bearing debt as possible.

Some people in the US (especially supporters of the congressman Ron Paul) believe that the Federal Reserve is the reason of serious problems within the American financial system. Do you agree with this claim?

The Fed is a reason for serious problems, but not the only reason. Unfortunately, Ron Paul’s proposal opposes paper credit itself, whether issued by the Fed or the Treasury. He wants to return to the gold standard and clash government spending – in effect, to create an economy without government. So what he actually advocates is not only the end of the Fed, but the end of a functioning credit and tax system. The idea is otherworldly and has no possible chance of being enacted, because it would cause a vast debt default as a result of plunging prices, incomes and employment.

Contrary to most of European central banks the Federal Reserve is quite autonomous and has some private aspects. Doesn’t it give too much power to this financial structure? Or maybe this power is part of the checks and balances within the American political system? If yes, what is its precise role and place?

The Federal Reserve is private in name only. Its heads are appointed by Washington, but Wall Street has veto power over it (as it has over the appointment of major Treasury and other regulatory agency officials). So the problem is not that the Fed is technically owned by its stockholders, but that Wall Street has gained overpowering control over government itself.

The financial sector has sought to dismantle checks and balances, making it protect Wall Street even as financial interests diverge from the promoting of economic growth and rising living standards.

What is the priority for the Fed leadership: solving national American problems or serving the interests of the global system?

The Fed is officially supposed to perform two functions: First, to promote “price stability”. This means in practice, fight against wage inflation and preserve sufficient unemployment so that wages will not increase. The “prices” that are supposed to stabilize are the price of labor (wages) and commodity prices.

Meanwhile, the Fed seeks to inflate asset prices, above all real estate prices. Under Alan Greenspan, the aim of the Bubble Economy was to inflate housing prices by enough so that homeowners could borrow the interest to pay the bankers each year, and even enough to spend on consumer goods that their stagnant wage levels were not sufficient to buy. The result was to vastly increase the volume of debt – and debt service became a rising element of prices throughout the economy. Debt-leveraged housing prices ended up absorbing about forty percent of typical family budgets, and a rising share of corporate income as well, leaving less for spending on current production of consumer goods and capital goods.

The second function the Fed was supposed to perform was to promote full employment. Mr Greenspan made it clear that he believes that this is incompatible with the ideal of price stability. He pointed out before Congress that the virtue of loading down homeowners, college students and others with debt was that they were afraid to go on strike or even complain about working conditions or seek higher wages, for fear of being fired and missing a mortgage payment or credit-card payment. Going on strike or losing as job would threaten them with loss of a home, and an immediate increase in the credit-card interest rates and penalties that they had to pay. So the Fed became the leading administrator in Wall Street’s war against labor.

Under Mr Greenspan’s tenure and that of his successor, Ben Bernanke, the Fed has overseen the greatest shift of wealth in American history since the Robber Barons.

Finally, the Fed has taken over the functions of government by threatening to close down the economy if the government does not bail out the banks at taxpayer expense, and protect the wealthy one percent against losing money.

How different were the three last Fed chairmen? Who was the most successful?

Paul Volker came from the Chase Manhattan Bank. In the late 1970s he coped with the US balance-of-payments deficit (stemming mainly from overseas military spending) and consequent the inflationary pressures by raising interest rates to twenty percent, thereby plunging stock market and real estate prices.

His successor, Alan Greenspan, was a Wall Street lobbyist and a follower of Ayn Rand. Diametrically opposite from Paul Volcker, he pressed to deregulate the economy and sponsored the financial bubble to pump enough credit (debt) into the economy to enable debtors to pay the banks the interest that was mounting up. As a bank lobbyist in control of the banking system, he “freed” the bank from government control – and promoted the greatest debt bubble in US history.

Ben Bernanke was an academic, not a banker but sufficiently brainwashed in neoliberal, pro-Wall Street ideology to be trusted by the banks to flood the economy with credit in an attempt to re-inflate the bubble economy so as to pull real estate prices out of negative equity – thereby saving the banks from their bad loans. Instead of writing down debts, the Fed made sure that no bank would lose, or even be prosecuted for the financial fraud that has risen to epic proportions over the past decade. My University of MissouriĀ  (Kansas City) colleague Professor Bill Black calls this phenomenon “criminogenic”. So in effect, Mr Bernanke is as much a bank lobbyist as Mr Greenspan.

In this sense, both Mr Greenspan and Mr Bernanke were successful in steering US financial policy to benefit Wall Street by loading down the economy with debt, and then using public credit to bail out the banks and pass the losses onto taxpayers. But this “success” is leaving the US economy debt-ridden and uncompetitive internationally, because its industrial producers face such heavy debt charges that they are priced out of world markets for most products except for military arms, agriculture and high-technology monopoly goods and patented motion pictures and entertainment.

The existence of the Federal Reserve: does it match with the ideas of the classical liberalism? How liberal is this institution?

The Federal Reserve is antithetical to the classical liberal aim of using financial and tax policy to minimize the economy’s cost of production. From the Physiocrats and Adam Smith through Ricardo, John Stuart Mill and the Reform Era, the aim was to minimize land rent (by either taxing it away or nationalizing the land), monopoly rent (by price regulation or by keeping natural monopolies in the public domain) and interest or other financial charges that were payments for special privilege.

Acting on behalf of the banks, the Fed has sponsored the un-taxing of real estate and monopolies, as these have become the major bank customers. And by deregulating Wall Street, the Fed has underwritten the overgrowth of unproductive credit – credit extended not to finance industrial capital formation, but simply to speculate and to transfer ownership of assets already in existence.

The guiding philosophy of the Fed is to inflate prices of assets in order to expand the market for real estate loans (which account for some eighty percent of bank loans in the United States), corporate takeover loans and speculative “casino capitalist” loans for foreign-currency and interest-rate arbitrage.

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Michael Hudson is a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His web site is http://michael-hudson.com.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/03/michael-hudson-on-the-federal-reserve-system.html

Categories: Uncategorized

A Modest Health Care Proposal

by Dmitry Orlov

Club Orlov (March 28 2012)

Edge of the World by Paul Scott Thomas
http://pcdn.500px.net/5950573/589fbd72ae66851b19c66046df3a3cf01cfa8e49/4.jpg

The US Supreme Court has taken up the issue of so-called ObamaCare: the controversial plan to extend private health insurance to all citizens, with a stiff tax penalty for those who refuse to purchase private health insurance. I know something about it, since I live in Massachusetts, a state that adopted so-called RomneyCare, after Mitt Romney, who was our governor at the time, and is now running for president. ObamaCare is modeled on RomneyCare.

The Supreme Court wasted a day discussing whether the tax penalty is a tax or a penalty, a distinction that’s relevant only in the context of some arcane law concerning the litigation of unjust taxes, but lost on everyone, because the penalty shows up on one’s tax bill. This point was discussed ad nauseam, so I will not discuss it or any of the other issues relating to ObamaCare that everyone banters about endlessly. Instead, I will say what no-one is saying: Obamacare (and Romneycare) invalidates the notion of health insurance.

First, let’s make sure that we are all clear on the concept of insurance. Insurance is generally taken to mean a promise to pay out a settlement (or coverage) in case of a certain event (fire, flood, sickness), in exchange for a recurring cost (premium) and, usually, a deductible (or self-insurance). Insurers weigh the risk of the event against the amount of the settlement. Thus, if the policy is against your spontaneous combustion, with a risk estimated as one chance in a billion per year, and you want to insure yourself for $1 billion, then your premium is $1 per year, plus whatever the insurance company wants to charge you for writing the policy. If, however, you are currently engulfed in flames, then the risk goes up to 100% and the premium would theoretically be $1 billion, same as the settlement, but no insurance company would ever write such a policy because the risk is too high.

Now, health insurance is a strange proposition to start with, because everyone dies, and nobody dies healthy, so most people require medical treatment at some point. (A few people spontaneously combust, I suppose. They are still none too healthy during the few seconds before they die, but that’s not long enough for them to avail themselves of medical attention. But that’s a very rare case.) The point is, if all houses burned down at some point, there would be no fire insurance, and if all houses flooded at some point, there would be no flood insurance. But everyone dies, and yet there is health insurance. How is that?

ObamaCare introduces the provision that health insurers are not allowed to decline insurance coverage to individuals with pre-existing health conditions. That is equivalent to mandating fire insurance for houses engulfed in flames, or flood insurance for houses slowly sinking while floating downstream. In return, insurance companies are assured that they will be able to spread the risk over the entire population, which will be coerced to purchase their product by being threatened with a stiff tax penalty.

Some coercion is certainly required for people to accept such a faulty product. My family’s health insurance bill comes to nearly $15,000 a year, with a $2,500 a year deductible. That is, we have to consume more than $2,500 a year in health care before the insurance pays anything. If I am employed, then the employer has to pay eighty percent of the premium; if I become unemployed through no fault of my own, then the state picks up the eighty percent for a few months; after that, I have the option of paying even more for an individual insurance plan, or paying somewhat less for the tax penalty but then risk being bankrupted by a medical emergency.

Recently, I called my insurer to ask how much a certain elective procedure might cost. You see, under this system, the doctor bills the insurer, the ensurer “adjusts” the amount, and then I pay the adjusted amount. I wanted to know the adjusted price beforehand, but I was told that they do not give out this information. The adjustments are generated by an inscrutable computer program, which determines the numbers on the spur of the moment based on a set of formulas. Now, normally I don’t do business with companies that refuse to quote a price before I place the order. That’s where the tax penalty is most helpful to them: it leaves me no choice but do business with, and get robbed by, this company.

As Vladimir Nabokov once pointed out, nothing breaks the human spirit more effectively than consistent bad treatment. To this end, forcing everyone to navigate an infuriating bureaucratic maze with their very health held at ransom is quite an effective strategy. Another is to force everyone to abide a blatant falsehood, such as calling health insurance “insurance” (now preferring, I notice, the more abstract word “coverage”) whereas it is definitely not insurance at all but a tax. Yet another is to force people to make false choices, such as between Romney, author of RomneyCare, and Obama, author of ObamaCare, which are very similar. At this point, the American spirit seems very well broken, along with the economy and the political system, and I do not advise you to squander your precious energies in trying to fix the latter two. I do, however, recommend that you mend your spirit, and stop thinking it necessary to abide a falsehood: health insurance is not insurance.

What is it then? “Insurance” that everybody is forced to buy as a legal precondition of citizenship? Where the risk pool includes the entire country? Where compliance is enforced by a federal agency, the Internal Revenue Service? (But where, if one does comply, the money goes to private entities, to pay other private entities.) What is that? Why, of course, it’s a private tax collection service! Under ObamaCare, medical insurance companies become private tax collectors. Now, private tax collectors are not unprecedented in the annals of empire. The Roman senate bid tax collection contracts out to publicans, with mixed results: farmers often opted to abandon their land rather than farm it and have the grain confiscated to pay taxes. But ObamaCare takes private tax collection one step further: under it, the tax collectors not only collect the taxes, but also set the level of taxation as they see fit. That is, the medical “insurance” companies are allowed determine the “health tax”.

What makes this complex scheme of private tax collection so necessary? Its benefits include maximizing health industry profits, which can be recycled as electoral campaign contributions to elected officials who then protect the prerogatives of the health industry, keeping this private tax collection scheme running smoothly. But none of these benefits have much to do with keeping the population healthy. On the other hand, it creates a massive perverse incentive to maximize health care costs, while at the same time institutionalizing a private system of public robbery.

I therefore propose that the health tax be collected directly by the Internal Revenue Service.

Furthermore, in absence of any competent agency within the US that could be charged with administering a public health care system, I propose that health care be directly funded by the Internal Revenue Service as well, as part of an integrated strategy for maximizing tax revenue: the “Keep American Taxpayer Healthy” plan.

The unambiguous mandate of the IRS is to maximize tax revenues. This it will do by making sure that taxpayers are healthy, so that they can earn the maximum of income and pay the maximum of income tax. It will make it a priority to provide good health care to all children, who are IRS’s “seed stock” – the taxpayers of the future. It will also make sure that the health needs of the working-age population are attended to, to make sure that they continue to work, earn, and pay taxes. It will also provide palliative care to the retirees, to keep up the morale, but certainly nothing as lavish as what is available to them now. Since their tax-paying potential is negligible, keeping them alive as long as possible is not a priority from a tax revenue maximization perspective.

Not being specialists in the medical field, but realizing that basic and preventive care have the highest health care ROI and specialist care the lowest, the IRS would probably want to dramatically simplify health care delivery. Huge hospitals and medical centers, with their teams of specialists, support staff, swarms of administrators, billing departments, medical labs, intensive care units and MRI machines, are too complex for the IRS to even audit, never mind administer effectively. It is far simpler to establish neighborhood clinics, and to provide them with a fixed fee per patient per year, to spend in line with the overall mandate.

Provisions would be made for some number of specialists, probably shared between clinics, but with the understanding that, from a tax revenue perspective, specialist care reaches diminishing returns rather quickly. For instance, a triple coronary bypass is hard to justify financially, because the patient’s earning potential, even after a full recovery, usually does not cover the cost of the operation.

Also, the IRS might consider actually denying health care to rich people (those with net worth over $5 million) in order for the treasury to reap the windfall from estate taxes when they die. Such people (Mitt Romney is a good example) rarely pay their fair share of tax in any case, being able to hire accountants and lawyers, who exploit every possible loophole. And so, there shouldn’t be any free heart transplants for Dick or free brain transplants for George.

Having the health care system administered by the Internal Revenue Service may seem rather inhumane to you. However, I hope I have succeeded in pointing out that doing so would still work better than ObamaCare. This health care system is so bad that improving it is not any sort of challenge at all: I submit to you that even the IRS would do a better job of it.

http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2012/03/modest-health-care-proposal.html

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The inexorable march toward tyranny …

2012/03/30 1 comment

… and the end of the American Republic

by Thomas H Greco

Beyond Money (March 28 2010)

Devoted to the liberation of money and credit, and the restoration of the commons

It did not begin with Obama, and it will not end with him, it is a course that has been maintained by all administrations, Democrat and Republican, over many decades, but it is now approaching a climax. It’s all about control – centralized control, which leaves no room for popular participation or democratic government. The oligarchs who control the United States government (along with most of the global power structure) will do whatever it takes to assure “full-spectrum dominance” in their own hands.

Now, as they beat the drums for a war against Iran which they seem determined to have, a war which the majority of Americans are opposed to, they are putting us on notice that everything we think we own belongs to them and will be used to further their agenda. Through a series of legislative acts and executive orders, they have given themselves the “legal” cover for increasingly intrusive and heavy-handed actions to deal with public opposition. The article below from the Washington Times describes the latest of these. Although the author seems confused in his characterization of the kind of government we now have (National Socialism, ala Hitler’s Germany, seems to be most apt), his basic argument is compelling.

I also recommend that everyone read Naomi Klein’s book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2008).

— Thomas H Greco

 

____________________________________________

Obama’s power grab

Executive order expands presidential prerogative

by Jeffrey T Kuhner

The Washington TimesĀ  (March 22 2012)
____________________________________________

President Obama has given himself the powers to declare martial law – especially in the event of a war with Iran. It is a sweeping power grab that should worry every American.

On March 16, the White House released an executive order, “National Defense Resources Preparedness”. The document is stunning in its audacity and a flagrant violation of the Constitution. It states that, in case of a war or national emergency, the federal government has the authority to take over almost every aspect of American society. Food, livestock, farming equipment, manufacturing, industry, energy, transportation, hospitals, health care facilities, water resources, defense and construction – all of it could fall under the full control of Mr Obama. The order empowers the president to dispense these vast resources as he sees fit during a national crisis.

“The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency”, the order says. “The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States”.

In short, the order gives Mr Obama the ability to impose martial law. He now possesses the potential powers of a dictator. The order is a direct assault on individual liberties, private property rights and the rule of law. It is blatantly unconstitutional. The executive branch is arrogating responsibilities precluded by the Constitution without even asking the permission of Congress. The order gives Mr Obama a blank check to erect a centralized authoritarian state. This is a law one would expect to find in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela or Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The backdrop to the executive order is the looming showdown with Iran. The administration says the “window for diplomacy is closing”. Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta warned Tehran’s mullahs that “all options are on the table” – including military intervention. Mr Obama stresses that his patience is running out. He vows that Iran will not acquire the bomb. Mr Obama wants several more months for sanctions and international isolation to bring the ayatollahs to heel. Yet the signals are clear: Mr Obama may be ready to launch devastating airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

If that should happen, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised massive retaliation. American troops will be targeted by Iranian proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan. American embassies will be struck across the Middle East and North Africa. Most ominously, Iranian-backed Hezbollah cells could launch devastating terrorist attacks in major US cities, killing numerous citizens. The war may well come home, triggering domestic chaos. These are the very real risks of a major conflict with Iran.

Which begs the question: Would that tempt Mr Obama to claim a state of emergency and thereby implement his executive order? No one knows the answer. And we shouldn’t have to find out. The president does not – and should not – have the authority to subordinate the entire private economy to the government, especially without the consent of Congress and the American people. It is national socialism masquerading as military security.

This is why conservatives – those who are serious about defending our constitutional republic – should demand that the executive order be repealed immediately. Liberals argue that President Clinton issued a nearly identical mandate. President Franklin D Roosevelt signed the first national defense resources preparedness order, which has been amended by successive presidents, including George W Bush. Hence, according to the progressive left, if it was good enough for FDR, Mr Clinton and Mr Bush, why not Mr Obama?

The answer is simple: Because the Constitution matters – or at least it should. For more than seventy years, liberal Democrats and corporatist Republicans have been slowly dismantling the old republic, imposing a creeping social democracy. The Founding Fathers’ vision of limited government and federalism has been replaced by a new ruling class. FDR, Mr Clinton, Mr Bush – all of them were militarists expanding the size and scope of government. They were Wilsonian globalists, and they shamelessly violated civil liberties. FDR was the worst, by forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps.

Mr Obama’s executive order represents the culmination of the welfare-warfare state. He is walking in the footsteps of his predecessors, those who enabled the rise of the imperial presidency. And it leads to only one tragic end: the gradual deterioration of our democracy.

_____

Jeffrey T Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute.

http://beyondmoney.net/2012/03/28/the-inexorable-march-toward-tyranny-and-the-end-of-the-american-republic/

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Empires Then and Now

by Paul Craig Roberts

Institute for Political Economy (March 26 2012)

Great empires, such as the Roman and British, were extractive. The empires succeeded, because the value of the resources and wealth extracted from conquered lands exceeded the value of conquest and governance. The reason Rome did not extend its empire east into Germany was not the military prowess of Germanic tribes but Rome’s calculation that the cost of conquest exceeded the value of extractable resources.

The Roman empire failed, because Romans exhausted manpower and resources in civil wars fighting amongst themselves for power. The British empire failed, because the British exhausted themselves fighting Germany in two world wars.

In his book, The Rule of Empires (2010), Timothy H Parsons replaces the myth of the civilizing empire with the truth of the extractive empire. He describes the successes of the Romans, the Umayyad Caliphate, the Spanish in Peru, Napoleon in Italy, and the British in India and Kenya in extracting resources. To lower the cost of governing Kenya, the British instigated tribal consciousness and invented tribal customs that worked to British advantage.

Parsons does not examine the American empire, but in his introduction to the book he wonders whether America’s empire is really an empire as the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA operations.

America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about?

The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. The military-security complex, Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby use the government to extract resources from Americans to serve their profits and power. The US Constitution has been extracted in the interests of the Security State, and Americans’ incomes have been redirected to the pockets of the one percent. That is how the American Empire functions.

The New Empire is different. It happens without achieving conquest. The American military did not conquer Iraq and has been forced out politically by the puppet government that Washington established. There is no victory in Afghanistan, and after a decade the American military does not control the country.

In the New Empire success at war no longer matters. The extraction takes place by being at war. Huge sums of American taxpayers’ money have flowed into the American armaments industries and huge amounts of power into Homeland Security. The American empire works by stripping Americans of wealth and liberty.

This is why the wars cannot end, or if one does end another starts. Remember when Obama came into office and was asked what the US mission was in Afghanistan? He replied that he did not know what the mission was and that the mission needed to be defined.

Obama never defined the mission. He renewed the Afghan war without telling us its purpose. Obama cannot tell Americans that the purpose of the war is to build the power and profit of the military/security complex at the expense of American citizens.

This truth doesn’t mean that the objects of American military aggression have escaped without cost. Large numbers of Muslims have been bombed and murdered and their economies and infrastructure ruined, but not in order to extract resources from them.

It is ironic that under the New Empire the citizens of the empire are extracted of their wealth and liberty in order to extract lives from the targeted foreign populations. Just like the bombed and murdered Muslims, the American people are victims of the American empire.

_____

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/03/26/empires-then-and-now/

Categories: Uncategorized

ACTA Update XI

by Glyn Moody

ComputerWorld UK Open Enterprise Blog (March 26 2012)

Although I’ve not written about ACTA here for a few weeks, things are still bubbling away in Brussels. Here’s a good summary {1} of what’s going on from La Quadrature du Net, probably the best source of information on ACTA:

Since early March, the British rapporteur for ACTA, David Martin, has been pushing the EU Commission’s strategy: delaying the final vote of the EU Parliament on ACTA to avoid its rejection. While the Commission’s referral of ACTA to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) is about to be finalized, Mr Martin wants the Parliament to make its own but similar referral, which would delay the EU Parliament’s final vote for one or two years.

Similarly, David Martin is proposing to replace the Parliament’s report – which would guide the vote – by a useless “interim report”, in order to avoid taking any strong political position and recommending a vote against ACTA.

MEPs must reject these cheap political tricks and instead work toward a strong, politically binding report, and toward the rejection of ACTA. David Martin’s position has already been strongly opposed by its own political group, the Socialists & Democrats (S&D). However, other groups remain undecided and need to be convinced of the need for the EU Parliament to continue its proceedings on ACTA, so as to hold a vote according to the original timetable.

There’s a crucial meeting this week of one of the key European Parliament committees – INTA, responsible for international trade. According to La Quadrature du Net, the timetable is as follows:

Monday, March 26th : Coordinators of the INTA committee meet to decide whether to put ECJ referral to vote

Tuesday, March 27th : The INTA committee will debate potential ECJ referral by EU Parliament and the relevance of an “interim report”

That “interim report” is actually much more sinister than it sounds. Again, as the invaluable Quadrature explains {2}:

The interim report would not bring useful information to the debate:

According to rule 81(3), the interim report is meant to achieve “a positive outcome of the procedure”, which in this case means the ratification of ACTA. It is also meant to include “recommendations for modification or implementation”. However, ACTA has already been negotiated and signed. It cannot be modified.

Rapporteur Martin wants the interim report to question the Commission regarding ACTA’s “implementation”. But the Commission’s response will be non-binding, politically biased, and therefore close to meaningless.

Against that background, it would be highly useful to contact today the MEPs who sit on INTA, asking them to call for an immediate vote on ACTA by the full European Parliament, rather than using procedural tricks to string out decisions in the hope that the public gets bored and forgets about why ACTA is a bad thing.

The full list {3} of INTA MEPs is quite long; I’ve extracted below email addresses {4} for those from the UK:

Emma McClarkin: emma.mcclarkin@europarl.europa.eu

Catherine Bearder: catherine.bearder@europarl.europa.eu

David Campbell Bannerman: david.campbellbannerman@europarl.europa.eu

William, the Earl of Dartmouth: william.dartmouth@europarl.europa.eu

Syed Kamall: syed.kamall@europarl.europa.eu

David Martin: david.martin@europarl.europa.eu

Robert Sturdy: robert.sturdy@europarl.europa.eu

Keith Taylor: keith.taylor@europarl.europa.eu

The best thing would be to ring them on the numbers given on the Web pages linked to above; failing that, a personal email to them would be helpful. La Quadrature has posted some thoughts {5} on what the key issues are; I’ve added my own email below.

I am writing to you as one of the UK MEPs on the INTA committee to express my concern over ACTA, and how it might be addressed by the European Parliament.

The anti-SOPA Internet blackout on January 18th and the Europe-wide protests against ACTA mark a turning point in the relationship of people and politicians to the Internet. People took these actions because they saw what is perhaps the key technology of the early 21st century threatened by ill-considered laws and treaties.

In the light of that new awareness of the centrality of the Internet, it is vital from both an economic and social viewpoint that future laws governing it are framed carefully. This is the essential problem with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. As its name suggests, this grew out of attempts to deal with traditional counterfeiting; the chapter on digital infringement was something of an afterthought, and sits ill with the rest of the treaty.

The key problem is that what might be reasonable in the world of physical counterfeits – for example when tackling fake medicines or inferior spare parts – is unreasonable in the online world because of the collateral damage it will cause in terms of harming innovation in the digital economy, fast emerging as the main engine of growth.

For this reason, I urge you as members of INTA to recommend that ACTA be put to a vote by the European Parliament as soon as possible, and that ratification of ACTA as it now stands be rejected. In its place new negotiations should aim to draw up two treaties: one for conventional counterfeit goods, another specifically for the digital realm. These have such different features and dynamics that it would be folly to attempt to shoe-horn the online world into a framework designed for analogue counterfeit goods.

The sooner this is done, the better it will be for both digital and analogue industries. Delaying matters by referring ACTA to the European Court of Justice or drawing up an interim report (totally ineffectual, because ACTA cannot now be modified) will achieve nothing, and will simply ensure that counterfeiting is not addressed for yet another year or more. What is required is a political decision from the European Parliament, not a legal one from the ECJ, and I urge you to recommend this course of action.

Links:

{1} https://www.laquadrature.net/en/exigez-le-rejet-rapide-de-lacta

{2} https://www.laquadrature.net/wiki/ACTA:_to_keep_in_mind#Arguments_against_an_interim_report

{3} https://memopol.lqdn.fr/europe/parliament/committee/INTA/

{4} https://memopol.lqdn.fr/europe/parliament/committee/INTA/#!filters?country=United+Kingdom

{5} http://www.laquadrature.net/en/acta-the-eu-parliament-must-face-its-political-responsibility
_____

Glyn Moody’s look at all levels of the enterprise open source stack. The blog will look at the organisations that are embracing open source, old and new alike (start-ups welcome), and the communities of users and developers that have formed around them (or not, as the case may be).
Contact Author: glyn.moody@gmail.com

http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/open-enterprise/2012/03/acta-update-xi/index.htm

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Small business owners’ opinions differ …

… from big business concerns

by Thomas H Greco

Beyond Money (March 27 2012)

Devoted to the liberation of money and credit, and the restoration of the commons

We should not confuse capitalism and corporatism with “free markets”, which I hope will always be with us, nor should we believe that mega-corporations are the same as “Mom and Pop” enterprises. The corporate “wolves” that are intent on centralizing power like to masquerade as entrepreneurial “sheep” so that they can dominate markets and eliminate competition. We must not be deceived by that, nor should we perpetuate that illusion. A recent poll shows that small business owners do not have the same attitudes toward regulation and taxation as big business executives. Here is a report from the Greenville News. — Thomas H Greco

______________________________________________________________

Poll: Small business owners’ opinions differ from big business concerns

by Jenny Munro

Greenville News (February 09 2012)

______________________________________________________________

Columbia, South Carolina – A national poll shows the opinions of small business owners differ dramatically from the advocacy of big businesses and multinational corporations. The results of the national scientific poll were released over the past four weeks by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority. The poll was conducted by Lake Research Partners between December 8 2011 and January 4 2012.

“Many of the real opinions of small business owners are far different than what are portrayed by big business interests”, said Frank Knapp, Junior, Vice Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and President/CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“There are some real ‘man-bites-dog’ stories here that are particularly amazing since half of the respondents self-identified as either Republican or leaning Republican”, said Knapp.

“Small business owners do not hate regulations”, said Knapp. “They support regulations ensuring clean air and water and those moving the country toward energy efficiency and clean energy. And regulations are not stopping hiring as we’ve been hearing – lack of consumer demand is doing that. In fact, small business owners view regulations as protecting them from big business.”

“Small business owners also don’t agree with the big business mantra on taxation”, said Knapp. “They say that big businesses and multinational corporations use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes which harms small businesses. A majority of these owners also support higher tax rates on individual income over $1 million, even $250,000.”

“These opinions fly in the face of the rhetoric about not raising taxes on the wealthiest because they are the ‘job creators’ “, said Knapp. “Small businesses are leading the job recovery in this country and they believe the wealthiest corporations and individuals are not paying their fair share of taxes”.

“On other issues small business owners share the public’s disgust with money in politics and disapprove of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision”, said Knapp. “Citizens United has unleashed massive amount of money from big corporations and millionaires and billionaires into political campaigns. Small businesses believed they have been harmed because of this.”

Below are details of the poll results:

* Small business owners see their top problem as weak customer demand, not regulations: 34 percent cited weak customer demand as the most important problem for their business, while only fourteen percent named government regulations.

* On the question of what would do the most to create jobs, cutting regulations came in low on the list: the top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas at 24 percent; reducing regulation was fifth at ten percent.

* Small business owners see an important role for standards and safeguards: 78 percent believe some standards are important to protect small businesses from unfair competition, and 76 percent believe regulations on the books should be enforced.

* Small business owners see regulations as necessary for a modern economy: 93 percent agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable.

* Small business owners express strong support for specific rules and standards: 78 percent support rules to prevent health insurance companies from increasing rates excessively, 84 percent support food safety standards, eighty percent support product safety standards and eighty percent support disclosure and regulation of toxic materials.

* Small business owners support clean energy policies: 79 percent support ensuring clean air and water, and 61 percent support moving the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.

* Small businesses believe in streamlining government processes: 73 percent of respondents believe we should allow for one-stop electronic filing of government paperwork.

* Nine out of ten small business owners say big corporations use loopholes to avoid taxes that small businesses have to pay: 92 percent say big corporations’ use of such loopholes is a problem. Three-quarters of owners say their small business is harmed when loopholes allow big corporations to avoid taxes.

* Nine out of ten small business owners say that US multinational corporations’ use of accounting loopholes to shift their US profits to their offshore subsidiaries to avoid taxes is a problem: 91 percent agree it is a problem, with 55 percent saying it’s a very serious problem. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners chose eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas.

* Small business owners say big corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes: 67 percent believe big corporations pay less than their fair share. An even bigger majority, 73 percent, says multinational corporations pay less than their fair share.

* Small business owners say millionaires pay less than their fair share in taxes: 58 percent say households whose annual income exceeds $1 million pay less than their fair share.

* Small business owners support a higher tax rate for individuals earning more than $1 million: 57 percent agree that individuals earning more than $1 million a year should pay a higher tax rate on the income over $1 million.

* Small business owners want to eliminate the “carried interest” loophole that gives hedge fund managers a big break on their taxes: 81 percent favor hedge fund managers paying taxes at the ordinary income tax rate, which currently tops out at 35 percent, rather than the fifteen percent capital gains rate they pay now.

* Small business owners support ending upper-income tax cuts: 51 percent say Congress should let tax cuts on taxable household income over $250,000 a year expire (only forty percent believe they should be extended).

* Respondents in this scientific national survey were politically diverse, with a majority Republican or independent-leaning Republican: fifty percent identified as Republican (27 percent) or independent-leaning Republican (23 percent); 32 percent as Democrat (fourteen percent) or independent-leaning Democratic (eighteen percent); and fifteen percent as independent.

* Small business owners say Citizens United decision hurts small businesses: 66 percent of small business owners view Citizens United vs FEC decision as bad for small businesses; 88 percent hold negative view of money in politics overall.

Read the full poll reports at these links:

http://asbcouncil.org/sites/default/files/files/Regulations_Poll_Report_FINAL.pdf

http://asbcouncil.org/sites/default/files/files/Taxes_Poll_Report_FINAL.pdf

http://asbcouncil.org/sites/default/files/files/poll_results_money_in_politics.pdf

http://asbcouncil.org/sites/default/files/files/Access_to_Credit_and_American_Jobs_Act_Poll_Report_FINAL.pdf

Copyright 2012 Greenville News and Poll Reports

http://beyondmoney.net/2012/03/27/1653/

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