Monthly Archives: January 2018

Keynesian Economics and Republicanism

I had a conversation with a Congressional candidate and I brought up Keynesian Economics and Keynes’ book, entitled “How to Pay for the War.”  The entire gist of Keynes’ book is that it is alright for nations to float loans in times of heavy economic demand if they pay the loans off afterwards.  In America, we gave up balanced budgets again and again.  Now, with twenty one and one half trillion dollars of debt, the United States is not in a position to pay off its debt.  It will take years.  During his 1992 presidential bid, Paul Tsongas warned against the difficulty of paying off one trillion dollars in debt.  Both Bush and Obama did not soften the impact of poor debt repayment by paying much money against the debt.  Well, Obama tried but could not fix the situation.  Bush did not even try.  Neither did his father.  I admire the Bushes, but I have to agree that they did not try.

Clinton tried, and succeeded but largely through dipping into Social Security money.  No President has actively attempted to pay off the enormous debt by making the firm and necessary motions to pay back the debt.  We are becoming a third rate country, especially with Trump.  Mr. Trump does not seem to believe in anything resembling paying off the debt.  I doubt that he has any idea how hard it is going to be just to pay off the trillion and one half dollars that he passed as a stop-gap measure for supposed middle class tax cut(s).  We did not get tax cuts, we got a tax increase of a trillion and one half dollars.  Whether there will be a tax response showing individual billionaires willing to do what Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft supposedly promised, by expanding his wealthy empire with a new paper mill because of the trillion and one half debt incentive, is going to take some time to process.  If others take their large gift and use it as a business incentive, then possibly Trump’s gamble will have worked.  Only time will tell.  I have not seen too many people willing to part with billions of dollars when it has been given at the largesse of the public.  I do not expect that they will either.

In his book, “The Imperious Economy,” David Calleo says that President Jimmy Carter expected to  cut the federal budget by 12.2% in fiscal 1977, and 7% in fiscal 1978, while I paid 16.6% interest on my home in Lowell, Massachusetts.  Financiers keep trying to push federal cuts to the budgets as long as forty or more years ago.  Jimmy Carter’s cuts would not have done much for my bottom line given the high interest home loan I had to pay on, and pay off.  He called for a balanced budget a number of times but he also increased the fee paid by balancing the budget by raising Social Security taxes on the expenditure.

France and Germany of that day realized that “the United States could not end its deficits abruptly without great disruption.”  (Pg. 53)  If that was true in 1978, it certainly is true now.  We cannot end our deficits of 21 1/2 trillion dollars “without great disruption.”  The current president has said that he will build a wall and “make Mexico pay for it.”  (LTC Coverage of 2014 election).  Mexico at no time has indicated that it would pay for a wall to hem in the United States of America and Mexico.   That has forced the president to state that someone will build the wall, but he apparently does not know who.  His predecessor, William Jefferson Clinton, also used Social Security to balance the budget.  Social Security is a program which is paid for by its constituents, it is not a federal tax.

The presidential candidate “…must deal with the whole structure of leadership in a state, just as a President must do in dealing with a foreign nation.”  (The  Embattled Presidency)  In short, the average President is thrown under the wheels of the cart while he or she tries to determine what his or her parameters are in America.  That type of reflection has not hindered the current holder of the office.  He does not seem to mind being thrown under the cart.

 

I often ask my Republican friends how they can make this president into a good man when he exhibits so many anti-Republican tendencies.  They commonly, but not always say that he is a product of a divided party, and that he is not a Republican but a Progressive, in the oldest sense of the word.  I think that this may underscore his vulnerability.  He is the wrong man living in the wrong time.  He needs to be disposed of and some other man or woman take his place.  He has served his purpose, that being the remaking of a white citizen.  Whites, and I am one, seem to think that they are closer to God, closer to the American dream, and closer to the Constitution than others.  It is up to the rest of us to decide if that is true.

We are a nation that prides itself on its inherent superiority.  Winston Churchill thanked President Truman for his saving of democracy.  Of course, that took a group or maybe millions of people to  accomplish that but credit was given to Truman.  Truman once said that it takes forty years to get a fair appraisal of one’s presidency.  He then proceeded to live those forty years with his wife in Missouri.  He then wrote about his accomplishments at great length.  His presidency was deemed a success, maybe not so much now as at the end of the forty years.  He was quite a man, and his longetivity was incredible.  He lived the end of his life without Secret Service protection.

People would visit his house and steal pieces of the structure of the house, like pieces of his clapboarding, which he always instructed his employees to rebuild at his expense.

In all fairness to history, Truman probably eclipsed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in accomplishments while in the Presidency.  While FDR oversaw the building of the first atomic bomb, Truman used it to stop the war with Japan.  While FDR stated that things had to change in our relations with minorities, Truman passed legislation doing just that.  He integrated the armed forces.  He was apparently more conscious of discrepancies in the treatment of Black servicemen than FDR was.   He was a unique man, who used part of his time in the White House living at the Blair House while the termite-infested White House was rebuilt into the magnificient fortress that it is today.

Getting back to John Maynard Keynes, he did not see the world as being in constant debt with one another.  “The figure which we have taken ..for the increased expenditure of the Government is 1,850 million pounds, of which 150 million pounds could be taken out of accruing depreciation not made good at home and 350 million pounds from assets and borrowing abroad before allowing anything for noble saving.”  In other words, spend the money that is necessary, even though it seems disingenuous, because the war had to be paid for, no matter how much seemed to be tied up in debt.

He asks if the rich can pay for the war.  He finds that that is not a logical conclusion.  The rich want to stay rich.   That is what we are finding in today’s trillion and one half trillion “Middle class tax cut.”  As I stated, the rich want to stay rich.  We have a credit card approach to our current deficit.  We just pay more and more against the debt, especially the interest.  We do not seem to be very interested in how  high that interest becomes.  Like a credit card.

So that is where we are.  We are literally between the proverbial “rock and a hard place.”  We can no longer say we are involved in Keynesian Economics.  We are far beyond that, and the only reason some of our lenders have not called on us to pay our debt is because they realize that calling in the debt would bankrupt the premier economic engine in the world.  We will have to pay it eventually.  Right now, we cannot afford it.  For many years I have been arguing that we raise the tariff.  A couple of days ago, President Trump called for the same idea to be practiced.  Also, one of the biggest mistakes we have made is to ignore our debt.  I hope we have enough time to fix it.  My younger brother calls the United States a “third world country.”  He bases his stand on the fact that so much of our labor is unused.  He thinks that our trade deficit is partially because of NAFTA, and I partially agree with him.  NAFTA was an ill-conceived notion.  It needs to be renegotiated.  American car companies hardly build in America today.  Some of those plants are going to the cheaper labor in Mexico.  Millionaires need to be held accountable for their business decisions.  If that happens we might be getting somewhere.  Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

Cholera Again and other Government Inefficiencies

In 1892 the Lowell Sun newspaper discussed the cholera problem.  They mistakenly thought that cholera was a virus, not a bacterial infection.  They reported that there were cases of cholera in the medical journals of the day, and that one case had been removed to the hospital.  They used that information to state that “This is considered to be a direct admission that the case is one of genuine cholera.” (Sun, September 20,  1892)  If they did not think that it was a genuine case, I guess they would have stated that fact.

Progress, says one man I admire, “moves at the speed of government.”  That is not lightening speed.  It is not even turtle speed.  It is virtually a ‘stuck in the mud’ speed.  Cholera would eventually kill many in Lowell who drank directly from the Merrimack and Concord Rivers.  Water was not processed then.  It is now.  The people, who carried no live illness that could be transmitted to another, drank whatever was in the water of the Merrimack.  This was at a time when the mill water was mixed with cloth dyes and transferred to the main current of the river.  In Lowell, the threat of cholera resulted in the realization that you would be drinking feces and urine with your water.  Police from the state were sent upstream from Lowell to the New Hampshire border and the discovered and shut down a welding operation which allowed employees to urinate into the direct flow of the Merrimack River.  Yes, they could culminate in adding their feces to the river water.  The doctors at Lowell General were given to warning people about drinking the water, and it was eventually purified, but it took some time before that happened.

I was enjoying a brief history of the Electoral College system in a book today.   I recently wanted to test my hypothesis that we knew what the Founding Fathers wanted in the Constitution because James Madison took prolific notes on the formation of the Constitution.  To find out what Madison thought, we only needed to read his notes on the forming of the document.  It worked.  I read a book entitled “Miracle in Philadelphia, the Formation of the U.S. Constitution.”   I recently finished the book.  There was a great deal of drudgery, and a great deal of knowledge in that original document.  If it had been up to some states like my own, Massachusetts, we would never have had a Constitution.  But, fortunately, little Delaware saw the handwriting on the wall and became the first state to join the Union.  The other states came in as soon as their legislatures allowed.  It was not a pretty sight, but it worked and the document was published, heckled, and pored over.  So, when I think of that man’s admonition, “It moves at the speed of government,” I have a better understanding as to how much speed he is referring to, and how fast or slow it progresses.

Government can move fairly quickly.  In his book, “Political Man,” Seymour Martin Lipset says “When a nation faces a crisis-major changes in its social, economic, or political system or in its international position-the electorate as a whole takes a greater interest in politics.” (Political Man,  The Social Bases of Politics).  Between 1876 and 1906 in France, the universities charted the course of voting trends to see if there was in fact a stronger current working its way towards progress.  They felt that there was.

In “The History of the American People,” Anthony Scott noted that the Emancipation Proclamation fulfilled its goal.  It kept the Europeans out of the war and allowed the Union to prevail.  Specifically, it stated that “From now on the Civil War was a war to end slavery.”  (The History of the American People)  “So great was the feeling of Europe against slavery that no European government, least of all the British, would dare help the South.” (ibid.)  Lincoln managed to keep the lions at bay by making the war about slavery, when he had looked upon it as being about the fate of the Union.  Slavery, Lincoln learned, was a much more strong pull on the fiber of the republic.  “The cost of the Civil War amounted to three billion dollars” according to Topics in American History” by Milton Jay Belasco.  Workers at this time made approximately $200.00 to $300.00 per year.  Three Billion dollars was a great deal of money.

So, in its fight against Cholera, in its formation of the Constitution, in the Emancipation Proclamation, and in its recognition of the cost of waging the most ferocious war in our history, all types of flexibility was practiced to make our government work.  It does work, however slowly.

This is an election year, meaning that this is one of the years that an election was dictated to happen by the Founders of the Constitution.  Our number of voters is seldomly higher that twenty-five percent.  In  the early days of communist Russia, it was noted by the Soviet government that the best Constitution in the world was in Russia.  Women were part and parcel of the people recognized as being involved in the government.  Slavery did not exist.  The rich had run out of space.  In short, it seemed to be a marvelous document.  But, there was one line to it that made it susceptible to criticism.  That was the last line of the document, which stated that only members of the Communist Party could be covered by the Constitution.   The other seventy-five percent were not covered and not allowed to vote.  They had to be members of the Communist Party to enjoy the freedoms of the document.  That meant that, automatically, twenty-five percent could vote.  That was all.

The United States, which claimed that close to one hundred percent of the union could vote, lost track of one small detail.  That was that of the voters, one hundred percent could vote, but only fifty percent of the population was registered.  Fifty percent could vote.  In addition, it was noticed that of those fifty percent, less than one quarter of the population, voted in any given election.   So, it was noted, the voting population of Americans was the same as the voting population of Russia.  But, take it a step further.  Less than 25% actually voted, making the level of participation in the American governmental system less than the total number of Russians who could vote in the Communist system.  Often, the voter turnout in the United States is down to fifteen to twenty percent of the population.  Democracy, the Greeks in Athens had learned in a short one hundred years, was a very challenging system.  It was hard to be democratic.  Especially in an election system.

That is my observation for today.  We do not vote, and if we do not vote, we have no right to complain.  So let’s get those people who have given up voting out to the polls once again.  Let us try to get those people who are not even registered, well, registered.

Somewhere in the future I will tell you about the closest vote that took place for statehood in the United States.  It is a clear indication of how important it is to get one vote.  See you then.

 

 

The Snowstorm of the New Year – 2018

I am a bit too busy.  Three television shows yesterday, and an aborted radio slot tonight.  Thank you, Sam Poulten.  Two days ago, the Lowell City Council and the Lowell School Committee held their bi-annual feast in celebration of the newer and not-so-new members.  The temperature on Tuesday was -4 or -5 degrees.   My dishwasher froze up, and I could not do dishes with a dishwasher until this morning when the temperature came up to 27 degrees.  The freeze matched the great freeze of 1917 for days that it lasted for, I believe the television said that it was of a significant duration, six or seven days long, matching 1917.  I know that my descriptive use of  English is a little labored, but hopefully you get the idea.

I met with two Congressional candidates thusfar, first Bopha Malone and Rufus Gifford.  Both are friends, Bopha has been a friend for many years, while Rufus is a newer friend.  Either would do well.  I noticed that I have 309,937 contacts on my blog’s list of the number of people who answered your blog.   Pretty nice for a guy from Iowa.

I am a little worried about my daughter today, because of the 13 to 18 inch snowfall.  Her car died last night.  It has to be repaired.  And my son is going out tonight to snowblow driveways and sidewalks.  So I am a little worried about him too.   There are supposed to be heavy winds and snowdrifts, so I hope that I left him with plenty of insulation.

Cars continue to vex me.  They work at their behest, not mine.  His truck is new to him.  Hopefully it holds up.  But again, motors vex me.  Hopefully, after  some TLC, they will all work.  My son takes care of me.  Actually my wife, my sons, and my daughter watch out for me.  My grandson makes me laugh, as does my grand-daughter.  There is nothing like grandchildren.  But, back to my son, he does my walk, my leaves, and all of the things that a bad heart keeps from you.  So I have no complaints.

The television shows are doing well.  I like getting up early for CityLife, which broadcasts from six in the morning until eight in the morning.  It wakes me up, and I cannot tell you I am scintillating  at that time of the morning.     I hope I am not  boring.

I was watching the weather on television and there is a great deal of flooding going on.  Houses in Gloucester are, in some stories, showing three feet of flooding in their living and dining rooms.  Schools are out again for tomorrow.  We are just hunkering down.  My father wrote a book entitled “We Muddled Through,” about growing up in the Great Depression.  It is an entertaining book.  And that is exactly what we are doing today, we are must muddling through.  This might be a long winter, if I had to bet based on today, I would say it will be.  Even my brother and his wife in South Carolina got hit by snow today.  And my little sister living in Florida saw sheets of ice on driveways and some streets. Some people don’t believe in climactic change.  I do.