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The New Moderate Goes Radical, Part 1: Roughing Up the Right

April 8, 2011

Welcome to the revolution, fellow moderates! Get ready for a wild ride, because I’m about to make the case for a radical reformation of the status quo.

No, I haven’t adopted Marx as my political guru (Groucho maybe, but not Karl), and I still scowl at the righteous excesses of the Tea Party movement. What I’m advocating here is a moderate revolution. Yes, you heard it right: a revolution instigated by the vast, underrepresented, much-abused and much-too-polite middle. Our goal: to rescue our national politics, our economy, our culture and even our future from the destructive excesses of the right and left.

We’re overdue for a moderate revolution. Year by year, it becomes increasingly clear that the system is rigged in favor of ideological insiders with special-interest agendas to promote. We moderates need to change the way it works — through traditional legal means if possible… by civil disobedience if necessary.  But we need to prevail.

To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, extremism in the pursuit of moderation is no vice. Our moderate revolution would ensure that the system favors no one class of citizens over any other class… that no single sector of society gains access to special entitlements denied to the rest of us.

First, let’s talk about the right and its current stranglehold over American politics and economic life. (Like any good equal-opportunity critic, I’ll take aim at the left in my next column.)

The potentates on the right have been quietly consolidating their power ever since the Reagan administration. They’ve widened the gap between the highest and lowest earners to extremes that would have seemed unconscionable even back in the capitalist heyday of the 1920s. Today the richest five percent of Americans control 64 percent of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80 percent of the population has to make do with a mere 15 percent. The statistics for financial wealth (not including home equity) are even more grotesquely skewed: as of 2007, those same unlucky 80 percent had just seven percent of the money to split among themselves!

Even in the midst of an epic deficit crisis, the happy plutocrats refuse to surrender the cushy Bush-era tax cuts that enabled them to pad their outsized portfolios. They’ve essentially bought our elected representatives with their massive lobbying dollars. Even a certified progressive like President Obama has kowtowed to their interests, so you know their power runs unimaginably deep. Worse yet, their spokespeople have used religion, patriotism and the fear of socialism to convince vast numbers of downtrodden working folks that the interests of Main Street are identical to those of Wall Street.

Why else, during our worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, would we have witnessed a massive, grassroots movement against government assistance and relief? That meddlesome government could have created vital jobs that corporate America was happily eliminating or shipping overseas. It could have inaugurated universal health coverage to prevent exorbitant medical costs from bankrupting anyone foolish enough to get seriously ill in America.

Instead, we saw the potential beneficiaries of government intervention fight noisily to quash it. Incredible but true. These misguided patriots had been hoodwinked by their favorite right-wing propagandists into believing that our unregulated corporatist system (it sure ain’t Adam Smith’s capitalism any more) was their ticket to success. Meanwhile, that system was ensuring that Joe Average paid more in federal taxes last year than entire corporate behemoths like G.E. and Bank of America. (In fact, those two highly profitable companies actually received government rebates! In other words, money was flowing into their coffers from the pockets of American workers.)

So how do we loosen the stranglehold of America’s plutocracy over our political and economic life? I’m not advocating riots on Wall Street just yet — though it might be fun to throw a scare into all those self-entitled investment bankers and watch them scatter like bowling pins.  Here’s how I think we can start the pendulum swinging back toward the center, without letting it swing all the way to socialism:

Criminalize any flow of money and favors between lobbyists and elected representatives. Powerful corporate interests have no business buying influence in Congress, and Congress has no business repaying them with favors. This system is a national disgrace, and the Supreme Court actually defended it with its wrongheaded Citizens United decision last year. Thanks to the nine wizards in black, corporations can now fill the pockets of their chosen reps without the obligation to come clean about their contributions. All in the name of “free speech,” of course. (Our justices have an uncanny genius for defining “speech” to mean whatever they choose it to mean.)

Lobbies, if they exist at all, should exist primarily to provide information… secondarily to advocate on behalf of their causes in open-door sessions… certainly not to buy support in Congress through stealth and barely concealed bribes. No reasonable moderate should tolerate this blatantly corrupt and disturbingly un-American system. It has to go.

If the members of Congress won’t limit the influence of lobbies (and why should they, given that they benefit from the system?), we need to take the message directly to Washington. A rousing demonstration on the grounds of the Capitol would be a good start, and I’d love to march down K Street, the not-so-secret lair of the lobbyists, with jeers and placards until we expose these political lounge lizards and force the government to restrict their activities.

Set limits on the number of terms our elected representatives can serve. While I can admire longtime senators and representatives who have served with integrity, far too many have used their office to create entangling (and highly profitable) alliances with moneyed special interests. Oil, pharmaceuticals, banks and assorted corporations have been ruling us through their elected puppets, and we need to cut the strings. If two terms were good enough for George Washington, they should be good enough for your state’s senators and congresspeople.

Ban all campaign advertising. What a senseless waste of money! What a blatant excuse for candidates to cadge donations from lobbyists in return for sweetheart deals! When was the last time anyone saw an entirely truthful , balanced or informative campaign ad? The vast majority of them are nothing more than the lowest and most obvious sort of propaganda aimed at simple-minded voters.

So how would I propose that candidates carry their message to the public? Through public forums, of course: televised debates and interviews, town hall appearances, objective head-to-head candidate comparisons in the news media. End of story. Eliminate the need for massive campaign funding, and you eliminate the source of most corruption.

Overhaul our corporate and financial systems.  Where do we start? First, make it mandatory for corporations to put ordinary employees and shareholders on their boards. Their commonsense input would help reduce the obscene pay gaps between CEOs and everyone else. I’m sorry, but no mere mammal in a high-priced suit deserves to earn a thousand times more than teammates working for the same company. Such gaps make a mockery of individual effort and alienate otherwise loyal staffers.

Even more important, we need to instigate an ethical revolution within the private sector: for too long now, companies have existed solely to woo fickle investors and turn a quick profit, generally by cutting jobs and overworking the survivors. We moderates need to keep reminding the corporatists that real capitalism is about innovation, trust and rugged enterprise, not mindless speculation.

The Western economy, as all of us learned bitterly a few years back, is far too vulnerable to be run like a casino. Instead of packaging derivatives, credit default swaps and hedge funds for rich speculators, the system needs to promote investment in sound companies that embody the best traditions of American capitalism. It’s not a game any more.

This ethical component of the revolution, which seems so self-evident on the surface, will be the most difficult to launch. The system needs to stop rewarding naked greed and recklessness — but how? The financial industry tends to attract greedy and reckless people, and they probably won’t be replaced anytime soon by French majors and philosophy Ph.D.s.

Do we insist on regulation to control the excesses of Wall Street? I see no other option. The financial underpinnings of the economy are simply too important to be entrusted to gamblers. A moderate revolution would restore capitalism to its original role as the driving engine of progress, not a playground for amoral manipulators.

It’s a mess out there, isn’t it? But somebody has to take a broom and start sweeping. An abundance of garbage breeds rats, and the rats have to go.

So get ready for action, fellow moderates. In our struggle against the right, we have decades of entrenched privilege and partisanship to overturn. The struggle will test our ideas and our character; we’ll be branded as socialists, subversives and worse. But look at what we stand to gain: a nation ruled by fairness and common sense, encouraging and rewarding individual effort without trampling on the rights of the unfortunate. I believe in our radical moderate vision, and I’m willing to pursue it. How about you?

Next up: Our struggle against the left. Stay tuned! 

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Kent Garshwiler permalink
    April 8, 2011 3:00 pm

    Rick,

    I like your jib lately. Have you been drinking clean water?

    Term limits: Yes, Why? To keep our pain in the real world fresh in the Congress. They will always know our pain because they felt it….not just understand it.

    Advertising: Yes, eliminate it. T.V’s, Debate’s. Just like the 1800’s, but with t.v’s and stereo. I want to see more bashing of logic and illogic than who’s fault and who’s to blame. The politicians take us as stupid and dumb. You eliminate it when you have them defending their positions and they have to try not to look stupid and dumb.

    Lobbyists: Yes, no more money exchange. They should be only trying to prove their point of view thru debate so we all have more intelligent conversation on issues.

    Employees: Yes, let them move up the chain in the company. They understand how the company works at lower levels. Only if you can find a person who wants the job and is smart. Should be some kind of incentive to companies that give positions to existing employees.

    One thing I note is that while it would be nice for Corporations to keep their nose out of money donations to campaigns. As long as Corporations pay taxes, just like individuals, they are in a way given a right to participate in money donation. This is why I advocate the Fair Tax. It eliminates the Income and Corporate Taxes and donations can only be made via the people. Corporations will have no reason to donate. They will try to coerce their employees, but that is a Supreme Court case later. Unions included.

    Money/Capitalism: Yes, it has changed since Adam Smith. The idea that the one should hold the excesses (money) based on their abilities above others is wrong. Yet, selfishness is a human trait that can’t be extinguished, but can only be lessened through a new way of thinking. I have been studying a new monetary system based on your work effort. You are paid via Credits based on the time you perform work for someone. Those who can’t work get credits equal to the amount needed to live. It is in a ways similar to the Fair Tax ideas, but cash isn’t involved at any point. Everything is based on credits purchased. Some parts of the country are doing this as an alternative currency in local areas. Timedollars. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-based_currency

    Moderate Revolution: you need a name for a party. If no party and platform then your only making a small time in history where the revolution will eventually end and everyone will go back to cash, Republicans and Democrats. Because greed feels so good. It’s human.

  2. April 8, 2011 9:28 pm

    You are right that reform is needed but you are wrong about pretty much everything else.

    Let us start with the fact that wealth and money are not even close to the something. Crassly put wealth is what you get in return for giving that top 10% your money. The more money the super rich have the more wealth the rest of us have. Read “the Wealth of Nations”, Spain confused gold ( a form of money) with wealth and the net result was England moved from a third rate country to the worlds only Super Power, and Spain became third rate. Further you have been seduced by mis-interpreted statistics. Look at people from any class actually alive during the Reagan administrations, almost all are substantially more wealthy (and rich) then they were then. Look at the actual standard of living of the lower quintile today as compared to 1980. Apartment sizes are larger, home sizes are larger, Even the poor have large flat screen TV’s and cell phones, food (as well as most goods) are cheaper in Real Dollars. With few exceptions the people in the upper quartile are completely different than those in the 80’s – think of all the famous wealthy people you know. Who among them inherited most of their wealth ? The American dream is still alive and well – even if government is trying to choke it.

    I absolutely agree that everyone who can is actively engaged in attempting to buy influence from government. That is a problem that has existed since the beginning of time. It does not matter whether the source of money is a corporation – every group of people trying to exert influence, unions, charities, political parties, trade groups, are all corporations. Criminalising the use of money to buy (or rent) influence aside from being a bad idea will not work. If we did not expect government to do everything there would be little reason for anyone to buy influence. It is power that corrupts, not money. It is power that attracts money. A major argument for limited government is we do not try to bribe public servants who are without power.

    You seem to believe the country has gone to hell since Reagan. There are without a doubt things that have gotten worse, within the last decade we have once again swelled the power of government and once again we are facing recession, unemployment, and high inflation and interest rates are likely just around the corner.

    There are no doubt some-things we will agree on that have gotten worse. But growing up in the 60’s and 70’s I was taught the world was going to hell. Hundred’s of millions would die of starvation, oil would run out, everything would cost much more, all the water would be undrinkable, and the air unbreathable, and on and on. Absolutely everything has not improved, but almost everything has.

    Current debt scares the hell out of me. It is unsustainable, and I think we may be very close to the point were the deficit hawks that have proclaimed doom and gloom throughout my life may finally be proved right. At the same time I can not think of a single Malthusian prophecy of the past two centuries that has actually come true. But even as I worry I am reminded that in Rand’s dystopia in Atlas Shrugged, the capitalist engine strove inexorably to sustain everyone no matter how heavily yoked it was. It took 70 years for the USSR to collapse. Our choices today can make our future better or worse, but the end of the world is not near.

    Almost every solution you propose has been tried and failed. Top down solutions do not work. They are what got us into this mess in the first place. Almost everything you are worried about depends on the government having great power. Move to limit the power of government reduce or eliminate all your concerns.
    Government power and individual liberty are incompatible. All government power comes at the expense of our personal freedom. All the limitations you wish to apply to what you essentially perceive as organise evildoer’s, are ultimately restraints on yourself.
    The universal remedy for offensive speech is more speech – not beheading’s. That is true whether we are burning Koran’s or deciding what is acceptable political speech. It is impossible to distinguish political advertising from other advertising and other speech. If I can not buy a political advertisement, then I also can not carry a sign and protest a political policy.
    You also have strange delusions about money and value. By definition if someone pays for a political advertisement it was worthwhile to them – otherwise they would not have bought it. This is true of any purchase anyone makes. Each of us is free to chose what we will purchase with our own money and who we will purchase it from. We are not free to tell others how they must use their own money – that is essentially theft. We can use our free speech to rail against their choices, and even as you have argue that they should not be allowed to. But should we succeed we are curtailing not only their freedom, but our own.

    The problem with the astronomical pay of various CEO’s is that we made the mistake of bailing many of them out. So long as any person or group of people – and essentially a corporation is just a group of people acting together in an area of common interest, are making free choices with their own money, then what they pay CEO’s and janitor’s is their own business. We pay superstar athletes, actors and rock stars unbeleiveable sums for being extremely good at almost useless tasks. And everytime we by a ticket, CD, DVD, we endorse that pay. If you want these salaries to go down – then quit buying CD’s DVD’s and going to sporting events. If you want CEO salaries reduced buy enough stock and you can do as you please. If you want joe janitor to sit on the board, then vote enough stock to make that happen. If you are some loyal corporate employee deeply offended by perceived inequities in your pay -you are free to demand more pay or go elsewhere.
    You have a deep misunderstanding and resentment of the financial world. Economics (and finance) are not a zero sum game. While there are winners and losers, ordinarily there are more winners than losers. But there are always losers. Finance is about risk. The greater the risk the greater the rewards – which is fine so long as the playing field is level and you are subject to the consequences of your own decisions. What we fail to grasp is that left alone the playing field is always level. If a player – even a powerful one should manage to tilt the table all the other players will react and things will return to level. The only way to skew things is externally, and the only powerful external force is government. You can buy whatever theory of the current mess you wish, but ultimately only government can induce the majority of any market to make ridiculously bad bets.
    Why are the financial underpinning so important ? If you do not trust the stock market – do not invest there. If you do not trust banks put your money elsewhere. In every instance where you are not completely free to use your money as you please, it is government that has constrained you.
    Regardless, neither the Great Depression, the Great Recession, nor any other economic downturn has ever been caused by the financial markets. The state of the market is a reflection of the state of the economy as a whole. A financial failure is always a consequence of a failure elsewhere. In the current instance the housing market failed. Further the start of the housing market failure occurred in an otherwise apparently good economy. Later people quit paying their mortgages because they lost their jobs, but the initial collapse was triggered when buyers refused to pay ever increasing prices. Whatever cause you wish to propose it must explain and precede that. the entire financial collapse was an effect several links further down the chain.
    Essentially your entire diatribe devolves to Marxism – to each according to his need from each according to his ability. I am not trying to argue that in an inflammatory sense. I am trying to deal solely with logic. If you accept that as a society we have the right to compel another to meet someone else’s need you have agreed with Marx.
    If our obligation to our brother is corporate, you have adopted Marx. If those obligations are individual then nothing you propose makes sense.

    • Ian Robertson permalink
      April 10, 2011 4:19 pm

      Beautifully written but rather extreme when one reads it all and dissects it. I cut and pasted it into Word, printed it out and had a good read. Sigh, a bit of a let down. You have too much faith in the ideas from a book , Wealth of Nations, that was published in 1776 before the word economics even existed. There is wisdom in Adam Smith, but not the pure undistilled kind. You have, it seems to me, written a defense of pure economic freedom sans governmental interference. I hardly need to say that no such thing exists or can exist in any sizable modern society.

      Point granted, and a good one, that income can be distributed in a highly disproportionate manner and yet on average all boats can rise. And yet, I hardly think it can be proven that we need have the situation where 80% of the population controls 7% of the money in order for all boats to rise. I am unaware of such a proof, although some supporters of the WSJ may count daily polemics in the WSJ as proving that governmental interference in economic affairs is by nature disruptive and counterproductive. I would not be among them and I count this as nonsense. A modern economy is inconceivable without governmental regulation. This is not Marxism!

      As to your comment that:

      ” Essentially your entire diatribe devolves to Marxism – to each according to his need from each according to his ability. I am not trying to argue that in an inflammatory sense. I am trying to deal solely with logic. If you accept that as a society we have the right to compel another to meet someone else’s need you have agreed with Marx.
      If our obligation to our brother is corporate, you have adopted Marx.”

      Oy, ouch. This is just nonsense. Marx said many things, to agree with Marx is almost inevitable on some point. By these standards nearly every person and every government is Marxist! Marx made healthy and accurate criticisms of capitalism, but it is one thing to criticize and another to provide a workable alternative. Those who think that government ownership of the means of production is the solution to all economic problems stemming from Capitalism, those are Marxists. Rick clearly ain’t one of those.

      Some look at Adam Smith as a “Bible.” I think this is an unwittingly accurate (but not flattering) assessment of those who worship Smith. Oh purity, purity where can we find you? Certainly not in modern economic realities.

      I do agree with you that all the remedies Rick proposes are not workable. I would add, unconstitutional. So it seems that my views lie between you, apparently, on the right and Rick, apparently on the left, relative to myself.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 10, 2011 6:18 pm

        Ian, I agree with you that regulation of business is the rightful province of government, but only to the extent that it prevents fraud and abuse, discrimination, theft, etc. and protects the safety of workers, citizens, the environment, etc.

        But we have overregulated economic activity in this country to the point where jobs have been lost and businesses have been destroyed. It is a simple fact that manufacturers will always move their plants to where taxes are lower and employer costs are cheaper.

        Consider that, this past September, the last GE incandescent light bulb factory closed, and, with its passing, 200 more workers joined the ranks of the unemployed. Why? Because our government has outlawed the manufacture and sale of incandescent bulbs after 1/1/2012. It so happens that the manufacture of CFL lightbulbs happens almost entirely overseas, due to the toxic nature of the mercury required for making them and the labor intensive process involved. Unions and EPA regulations make the manufacture of CFL bulbs prohibitively expensive in the US and now the government has forbidden American factories to make incandescents. So, good jobs gone forever , lost income, lost business…..for what? Possible energy savings? a small decrease in greenhouse gases….maybe?

        This type of overregulation that is chokes our economy. The world may be different that it was in Adam Smith’s day, but in a regulated FREE market, this tragic nonsense would not happen.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      April 11, 2011 12:30 am

      Dhii,

      It has taken a few days to understand what you mean by the statement :”The more money the super rich have the more wealth the rest of us have.”

      Wealth is described as assets and valuable resources. It is from my standpoint an individual must decide whether they feel wealthy without the help of the “super-rich”.

      A person in the desert of Africa may feel that a hut they made of straw and pottery to gather water and the abilty to hunt is wealthy enough.

      A person who owns a gold mine could be “super-rich”, but never shares his resources/wealth/assets with anyone. He/she justs lives on the land and doesn’t mine the gold mine because he feels he’s wealthy already just owning the land.

      This brings up the debate of how we as humans view being comfortable. Thus, leading to the individual to decide when to feel wealthy. Not only toward self, but also toward others.

      Which leads to explain why some are happy with less and others have to continue to feel uncomfortable till they reach that million dollar retirement.

      Ian, stated clearly where I am on being in between Rick and yourself. Many of the things Rick listed would be in many ways unconstitutional if put up to vote today.

      You can’t make changes in such a great way unless the people of the nation choose to go that direction. To make that direction you have to motivate the people. To motivate the people you have to make them uncomfortable and motivated to debate and in some cases act. Which leads to constitutional changes or amendments or both.

      It is clear to me that the “super-rich” have more wealth/assets and money. They can enable a nation to be valuable enough that it can raise the wealth/assets of people in a particular nation. Particularly, the cost of living. Ultimately, it is the individual that must decide whether they part-take in the wealth from the things the “Super-rich” has created.

      The “Super-rich” you speak of do have money to invest in technology, production and employment.

      Governments are also rich and have used its own wealth to increase others wealth in the nation. The vast array of land being mined on Government land has created jobs. Which I am sure has trickled down into the pockets of individuals who have spent their money to make themselves feel more “wealthy” and comfortable.

      Inventors and many other people in our nation alone have made many people feel wealthy. They weren’t “super-rich” when they discovered the light bulb or Windows for the computer, but they did after they shared it with others. This was benefiting from sharing a discovered resource/wealth.

      If you consider Governments to be “Super-rich” I missed this in your statement. I was gathering you were only speaking about individual “Super-rich” not Corporate or Government.

      It is easy to blame the “Super-rich” for all of our problems, but it is each individual who has embraced Capitalism. At least most in the world. It seems to be the best form of bartering.

      Money is only as good as the people make it to be and that leads to all individuals to judge upon themselves what is wealthy or not. I would not like to fall into thinking(like some) that I deserve something without working for it fairly. No, I must produce or motivate myself either thru physical action or self discipline or both. Discipline that requires me to find ways to invest and not spend all my money so that I am not always broke and complain about the “super-rich”.

      Anyway,
      From what I have seen by blogging on this website over time. Rick is Center-Left. I am Center-Right. But we have great debates trying to find the “Center”.

      I don’t find Rick as a Marxist although I find that when human emotions and being naive on things get into a conversation/debate…. logic and common sense takes a “back seat”. This is where debate and conversation is necessary. As humans we all can benefit to understand the world we were born into.

  3. Priscilla permalink
    April 9, 2011 9:48 am

    dhlii, I agree with what you are saying…

    Let’s take the restriction of free speech, in the form of certain organizations – including corporations – being forbidden to air political ads and videos critical of a political candidate (which was the issue in the Citizens United case). The exact wording of the SCOTUS decision states “When government seeks to use its full power to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.”

    How is this judicial activism? And if spending money on a political campaign is a guarantee of victory, we’d better tell Steve Forbes, Ross Perot and (my personal NJ favorite) Jon Corzine. Huge campaign donations by corporations to a political campaign are best countered by. well, huge campaign donations to the opposing campaign. And that is essentially what the Citizens United decsion said. Money is not dangerous – micromanaging free speech with taxpayer dollars strikes me as much more dangerous.

    Rick, I think that you mischaracterize the right’s view of entitlement programs. Few, if any, in the Tea Party movement are “against government assistance and relief” – the movement consistently advocates against the unsustainable expansion of a welfare state by redistribution of wealth and generational theft. That is a far cry from advocating to end these programs. If you read Paul Ryan’s “roadmap” plan, it does not change the SS structure for anyone over 55, because he says that it would be unfair to change the rules for people who don’t have enough time to change their financial planning. That doesn’t sound like opposition to government assistance to me.

    Very interesting post…..I’m looking forward to your takedown of the left, Rick. 🙂

  4. April 9, 2011 10:55 am

    I agree:

    http://california-moderate.blogspot.com/2011/04/conversation-with-lobbyists-part-1-of-2.html

    http://california-moderate.blogspot.com/2011/04/conversation-with-lobbyists-part-2.html

    How do we unite? Who do we unite around? Who is the organizer?

    I don’t want to just talk – I want action, right now.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 10, 2011 8:11 am

      This is my first post, so I hope it does not come off too stupid. Most of what you wrote I tend to agree with but just vary in degree’s of temperature (so to speak; namely K street).

      The one thing that this country needs more than anything is our great manufacturing base back. With that we could regain and then begin to close the dispairity between workers and CEO’s. We also would not be as dependent on the whims of a World economy.

      Now as far as government I have never believed in term limits. To me those are what elections are for. Get rid of lobbiests and you will get rid of career politicians (catch 22).

      The tv commercials are way to much though. A way to stop it is make them follow a simple law. If any political ad by your capaign or any sponsored or non-sponsored group or 527 group runs a negative, wrong, lying or in anyway misleading ad your campaign will be held personally responsible and not allowed to run ads in that market for 1 week. Have all people running for office sign a contract. If they cry about it later call them out as liars and still refuse to run the ads.

      I know it all sounds childish and simplistic but that is where we are. All you have to do is look at this last week to see that.

      • Kent Garshwiler permalink
        April 11, 2011 1:09 am

        Anonymous,

        We can take back some of our manufacturing, but it will never be able to compete against those nations who pay low wages and enable low prices to their products.

        From our technology standpoint on where the Government expects us as nation to be is Services. Services sector is sure to take us almost into the high 90% range within the next 30 years in this nation. Meaning we are all going to be in “cubes” or out in the field selling or preforming services of some kind.

        Unless, we get down to inventing things that no other nation can compete and do good keeping it here “Made in the U.S.A.”

        Technology is only getting more integrated as a World Economy begins to flourish. The question is which nation makes which part or does which service to the others.

        The disparity between workers and CEO’s won’t go away with more manufacturing. The Unions still in the country will tell you that. There will be only more Unions arguing for better things from their employers while the CEO continues to live with a bigger paycheck and wealth.

        It is easy to say the elections work to oust incumbents. Not so.

        Unfortunately, humans have a tendency for “comfortability”.

        Which means if the person is the same color, same name as last time they voted and they don’t feel threatened personally they vote him in again regardless if he/she did anything or anything good.

        It to me is a form of “stereotyping”. For example, “All the problems in this nation are someone else’s politician, but not mine!”

        We have people who don’t know who to vote for, but only know a name or color. By designating one’s own group as the standard or normal group and assigning others to groups considered inferior or abnormal, it provides one with a sense of worth.

        Give the population in the district a new, younger generation a voice in Congress. The last thing we need is a Gerontocracy like the old Soviet Union. Give America a young vitality it used to have in the past. We need new people that can’t manipulate the system for human greed. People who go innocent and stay innocent in Congress than be railroaded by old Congressmen that are manipulating for personal benefits.

        You can’t get rid of lobbyists. One single person who owns a business can be a lobbyist. It’s the question on if they can wield money.

        You can’t prove the t.v. ads are lies on t.v. unless you combat it with an opposite ad. Who determines whether they are lies? Most ads just shoot lies the other way. Banning t.v. ads would get people not motivated to do anything. Like vote…. because they don’t know what is going on in the real world …if they only watch t.v.

  5. Ian Robertson permalink
    April 10, 2011 1:33 pm

    Wow, that was a powerful discussion of economics and wealth distribution from Rick and a powerful response from dhlii. Rick, you had me ready to join the rioters on wall street (if there were any) , your facts are compelling and revolting. And yet dhlii is right about the difference between money and wealth and the standard of living. I took economics, in college and I do acknowledge that the rich don’t put their money in mattresses, they spend it and provide velocity of money. So, I agree with both and that is not possible because both can’t be correct, though both make excellent points. I will take me a week to work through the facts figures and arguments.

    One thing I CAN say is that unfortunately, most of Rick’s solutions are not likely to be constitutional, even if those laws could be enacted, they would most likely be overturned in court. You could do some of that via constitutional amendment, but that would take more political clout than the middle has.

    Also there is a chicken and egg argument about moderates. The changes you describe would make it easier to organize the center. But the center would have to be organized to get the power to make those changes.

    I still believe that moderates have tremendous latent power, but making something from it is terribly complicated. The simplest and perhaps therefor best thought I have is that it should be possible to get moderates to vote in primaries, and it should be possible to motivate them via our tiredness and illness from listening to extremists, Rush or Krugman or worse, Ted Rall vs. Anne Coulture ) .

    Is there somewhere in this world a billionaire who would like to make his imprint by fighting the extremes and increasing the political power of the center? One such person could finance such a movement if they could be found and motivated. Yeah, I know that most of those people are very conservative, but there must be one somewhere who has both the means and the inclination.

    Bottom line, and consolation prize is that we moderates already wield great if unorganized power in general elections and thus politicians do have to consider our impact in their day to day work.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      April 11, 2011 1:17 am

      Ian,

      I refuse to believe it has to be a rich person that can only wield power to the “Center Stage” of politics.

      A person with great charismatic personality can wield power of his/her own without money. Clear, precise speech that is straightforward and speaks to the mind and heart of the people.

      The money will follow. Any “Centered” person who believes with little or much money would be glad to donate for the cause.

      • Ian Robertson permalink
        April 11, 2011 9:57 am

        Hi Kent,

        I’m enjoying your posts very much, you have great points.

        I see your point. I bring up the idea of one guy with the capital to invest because at present the middle has great power but almost no cohesiveness. Changing that has been a terribly slow process, unless someone with the means to pay to organize the middle becomes involved that could continue pretty much forever.

        We would seem to be 40% of the spectrum, we outnumber liberals 2 to 1, and yet we have nothing to show for it in terms of an actual social identity, we are simply those who are not something, not liberal, not conservative. To change that is going to take a great effort and its needs some nucleus to kick off from. John Avalon has become some kind of a voice for moderates, but we need a magazine, we need the equivalent of Micheal Moore and Rush, we need some actual kernel upon which the middle can change from the group who are not something to a group that are something, a group with its own culture and habits and heroes.

        I have long thought that the subculture to which a person belongs is the most defining element in their life, right next to family in its force. Why can Jehovah’s witnesses bring themselves to pester people on Saturdays and receive mostly irritation and abuse in return? And why do they always come in groups and never (as far as I know) alone? They can do what they do because the have th ebackking of a subculture that they belong to that gives them the courage to pretty much humiliate themselves in the eyes of others. The love of the group overcomes that. People can bicycle through town naked if they do it with a like minded group, our blow up a federal building, or marry ten wives. They can do destructive things,, like rampage through Seattle or cheat millions of people of their money (yes, I’m talking about Banks and Wall Street!) . Subcultures can also do great good of course and make music, art, philanthropy.

        But the middle as yet has no subculture. We need one! It is not completely far fetched that we who take the time to write here could start to create it, that we could form a nucleus and get it to grow. Certainly not inconceivable, but far from inevitable either. So, I still that to move from just a small group of people chatting to a movement takes resources. If I were wealthy in money terms, I’d do it gladly. (I am wealthy, but my bank does not acknowledge it.)

  6. April 11, 2011 12:23 pm

    Wow, lots of activity here this past weekend! I’ll eventually get around to most of the individual comments, but for now let me address the issue of organizing American moderates to be a political force.

    Right now there are numerous bloggers and columnists in the center, along with centrist activist groups and even political parties. The problem is that the movement, if you can call it that, is too decentralized to be effective. Everyone wants to be the leader of his or her own mini-movement, and there’s very little cooperation and collaboration. It’s sort of like Germany in the mid-19th century, with all those petty kingdoms and duchies, before Bismarck arrived on the scene and called for unification.

    I served on the board of a centrist group (CenterMovement.org) for over a year, and we made little headway other than reaching out to some centrist bloggers and making them aware of us. The group has since rebranded itself as Americans United to Rebuild Democracy, and it’s focusing on cross-partisan action to bring about “clean” elections, and end to gerrymandering, term limits and so on. That’s fine and necessary, but it’s no longer spearheading a centrist vision or culture.

    NoLabels got a lot of press when it launched last December, but again, it’s a group promoting bipartisan cooperation rather than pure moderate political philosophy. John Avlon is active in the group, which is a good sign.

    Solomon Kleinsmith, a blogger at Rise of the Center, organized a group of moderate bloggers to discuss how we might become a viable movement, but interest died down after a month or so. Which brings me to the next problem we face…

    Apathy. By nature, moderates just don’t get themselves agitated over political issues the way the extremists do. Our ideas aren’t as radical or titillating; they don’t stir the blood like leftist calls for general strikes or right-wing rebellions against big government. I try to remedy that with my radical brand of moderate commentary. More to follow…

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      April 17, 2011 5:09 am

      Rick,

      I agree that most “center” thinking peoples are operating much like 19th century Europe. At this time no one is “taking the reins” to a Centrist policy.

      “Taking the reins”….meaning taking action, Is it to be Serious action???…in a ways…in order to get attention re-action.

      You are right about apathy…not by lack of concern (fear), but by lack of a strong enough emotion to act upon our fear is a problem with having a Centrist Party. Some say “Stir the pudding”.

      I am agitated not only by fear of where the U.S. is heading in many ways, but also by the illogic of it all. All I see is personal gain by people in charge who think that we are no more than humble servants.

      Here is some thought:
      “Our government is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction; to wit: by consolidation first and then corruption, its necessary consequence. The engine of consolidation will be the Federal judiciary; the two other branches the corrupting and corrupted instruments.” –Thomas Jefferson to Nathaniel Macon, 1821. ME 15:341

      1175. CENTRALIZATION, Limitless.
      “It is but too evident that the branches of our foreign department of government, Executive, Judiciary and Legislative, are in combination to usurp the powers of the domestic branch, all so reserved to the States, and consolidate themselves into a single government without limitation of powers. I will not trouble you with details of the instances which are threadbare and unheeded. The only question is. what is to be done? Shall we give up the ship? No, by heavens, while a hand remains able to keep the deck. Shall we, with the hotheaded Georgian, stand at once to our arms? Not yet. nor until the evil, ……shall be all upon us, that of living under a government of discretion. Between these alternatives there can be no hesitation. But, again, what are we to do? Thomas Jefferson To William F. Gordon. Ford Ed., X, 358. (M„ Jan. 1826.)

      These saying are almost prophetic and so old.

      My argument is that words of commentary are good, but action backs those words if you wish to reach others on a wide-scale. Flags, Platform, meetings (debates, socials, games). My take is if our founding fathers had many debates…why don’t we have more of them?? Could the Center be the catalyst?

      Why don’t we work on “rush”. I am talking about college “rush”. Obama has been picking up students on Campus and had 2/3rd of the young voters last time.

      Also, picking and promoting talk show hosts on radio who speak “moderate”. Note: I didn’t say Centrist, because they haven’t made any agreements to a Centrist Ideology/Agenda, but are balanced in most ways. A website, a newspaper with editorials. Much like our current blogging.

      I suggest a meeting of a few like minded individuals that have blogged on many websites. Each group takes all issues, debates and comes to a “balanced” conclusion. Then a representative from each blog/group meets in a higher level meeting…debates and comes out with a platform. All original blog groups get the higher meetings minutes and works a debate to “ratify” the main points to form a permanent central committee. The Central committee is formed by using one person from each blog group as their rep. with term limits. From the central committee comes ways to energize the local “blogs” members or in other words “chapters” thru fund raising, events.

      The Tea Party started on this kick in a ways, but it is still an Independent force that leans Conservative without focus on the “Center” and has no true “Center”.

      Therefore, we have a time in history to make a move and we might be able to garner some Independents and Tea Party Independents that feel that both existing political parties are too extreme and still dream about a third party.

  7. Priscilla permalink
    April 11, 2011 12:49 pm

    Moderates are credible – and powerful – when they seek the most reasonable rather than the most centrist solution. I don’t see this happening much in the real world. Not every centrist solution is the most moderate or reasonable…sometimes its simply the worst of both worlds.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      April 16, 2011 8:31 pm

      Priscilla,

      I am trying to understand your writing.

      Moderates Credible/Powerful:
      Moderates indeed are credible and powerful and can be reasonable, but also non-compromising when logic/common sense and facts are threatened.

      But are you speaking of “reasonable” as being based on emotion or logic/common sense?
      If you are speaking of basing “reasonable” based on emotions a person can join the Dems or Reps. They use emotions backed by religion/morals vs. immorals/humanist. Fear is a big part of their parties.

      “Centrist Solutions” are based on logic/common sense using facts.

      Some nations around the world have “moderate” or “Centrist” parties. I belief it is a real world possibility, but how do Americans put it into play?

      Your idea that you don’t see this happening in the “real world” is true for the U.S. We have no political party because all we do is talk. Talk is good and if there is debate then this is where “Centrists” and “Moderates” should excel more so than the other two political parties. Who is ready to act?

      A “Centrist Solution” is supposed to be reasonable with logic and coming to a conclusion based on facts; with least emotion that the other political parties. We must not forget that all humans have emotions and that goes for Centrists. Except we must not let our emotions “cloud” sound judgement.

      When an individual leads a discussion on emotion the facts can become “clouded”, “distorted”, “falsified” and it then becomes a matter of winning an argument than finding a logical conclusion. You can see this in both existing Political Parties.

      • Priscilla permalink
        April 17, 2011 6:24 pm

        Well, Kent, I think we differ in the way we define “moderate” and “centrist.” From what I can see, you consider the two terms to be synonymous. I don’t. I believe that a moderate can be a person with strongly held ideals -those ideals may lean strongly right or left, but they are tempered by reason and not fueled by ideology. Moderates can also be centrists, i.e. folks who tend to hug the center of the political spectrum and feel that anything that is too conservative or too liberal is simply wrong by virtue of being too ideological. Not all centrists are moderate, though; some reflexively label any idea “extreme” if it is not an equal compromise of right and left. Logic and reason do not figure into their judgements, only “fairness.” Mind you, I am not criticizing fairness, per se, but there are many situations in which the solution that is perceived as most fair to both sides is not the right solution, or even the solution that will ultimately benefit the most people.

        In other words, it is possible to be a reasonable and moderate thinker, without being a centrist. And it is also possible to be a rigid and/or an overly emotion-driven centrist.

      • Kent Garshwiler permalink
        April 18, 2011 1:43 am

        Priscilla,

        Differences on Moderates/Centrists:
        I agree with you that Moderates and Centrists are different in ways. I do not believe they are the same, but a Centrist is more Ideology-centered. To put it more clear…”Centrist Ideology is the footing to which the Moderate stands on while balancing on the political fence”.

        It is true that a Moderate can have strong ideals that lean center-left and/or center-right. Although, there is nothing to stop a Moderate from falling for one extremist idea from the Dems. or the Rep. without an “Anchoring Ideology”.

        Centrist Ideology:
        We all know of two existing parties currently in our political system. Dems. and Rep. that exert two ideologies and these two exert a lot of emotion and twist facts for personal gain.

        As I said before, Emotion is a human trait. The best Centrist Ideology or doctrine is to not “twist” facts when arriving to get a solution using logic/common sense. Bring in debates in public forums.

        Fact:
        Is suffering and pain always going to be a problem. Yes, yet all existing political parties swear that they can solve all our problems and they do it via speeches giving fear to the people which is emotion-driven.

        Fear, intimidation, being a main component of both main political parties. Using these things to “corral” people to vote and believe a certain way.

        Solution:
        Centrist ideology deems to eliminate that kind of vice. It keeps Moderates Anchored to logic/Common sense/facts. It helps Moderates state facts to those who want to know the facts and provides “truth” based on research and study.

        For Example: Libertarians use many facts via research to their base voters. But they are for extreme no government. Which wouldn’t be so bad if humans weren’t so darn full of vice.

        About saying who’s a “Moderate”:
        It is easy for someone to say they are Moderate just because they belief in one thing, but really you have to study every issue, research every fact, evaluate the emotion of the people speaking in Congress and their bias. This is where Centrist Ideology/philosophy comes into play. Even to the point where Moderates evaluate their own members using debates in a forum in order to maintain the “center way”. If not, then there can never be a “center way” to follow forever.

        For example: Rick says he’s Center-Left, I am Center-Right. But what we can agree on is that there must be debate to back up what we believe without falling for the extremist Left/Right Ideologies.

        This is where debates/discussion is needing to take place. Centrist Ideology says to me that this is where we can excel more so than the two existing political parties. It is where people hear facts, and build knowledge. Those who don’t know what a Moderate is can grow as well and may become Moderate.

        Centrist Ideology – Debates:
        We all know that technology is making us more social in society, but our discussions/debates toward issues isn’t working in an efficient manner.. It is time we take the center and move onto the public scene. Make debates happen in town squares and get people to think about the facts that they hear rather than what the two parties throw at each other over the news in rhetoric.

        We don’t see much debating going on anymore in this country like our founding fathers and I find this disturbing.

        If any group of people wish to return to a well-balanced Republic then we should be a well-balanced debating people with a well-balanced Ideology.

        When you look at why so many people are upset with things. I can say easily that a serious well-balanced debate is not happening in this country.

        Since it is now 2011, It would take a long time for both Rep. and Dem. to get their act together and because they are so one-sided to their own ways I question if we have time for them to get things right. I wonder if the religious Centrists and moderates can take up the slack for the country to survive. Or should we cross our fingers??

        Your comment: “In other words, it is possible to be a reasonable and moderate thinker, without being a centrist. And it is also possible to be a rigid and/or an overly emotion-driven centrist.”

        Of course, it is possible to be a reasonable Moderate thinker and take little action. You get nothing in society, but that’s where Moderates are today.

        But, there are some Moderates (like myself) who wish to claim a Centrist Ideology in the Moderate field that we feel the need to act because all logic and common sense is not being presented in a sufficient manner. We don’t benefit unless views are expressed to the public. This can be emotional, but it comes after (not before) careful logical/common sense review that you can’t get anything without trying.

  8. Thomas permalink
    April 11, 2011 11:42 pm

    I personally believe, think, react, and consider myself to be an Independant. I cannot however vote as an Independant. I do not even have that option.

    My state is stuck in the middle of the Bible Belt in beliefs and lives in Mayberry in thought. Granted things have slowly changed the last few years but the political landscape will be the last societal progression. The Senatorial campaign between Corker and Harold Ford was proof of that.

    Until we are allowed an Independent slot on the ballot here I cannot see us as a successful political party. I will not give up my politcal beliefs but I see no real outlet for them.

    • Kent Garshwiler permalink
      April 16, 2011 6:51 pm

      Thomas, I applaud your belief to not compromise just because you don’t have a “party”. Many people that I know would rather give in to one side of the political spectrum wholly for life because they feel they aren’t being represented in a “center”. The people I know say that they would rather pick “the lesser of evil”. Anyway, a person is still picking “evil” when you compromise your entire way of thinking. The way I look at is you should stick to your beliefs unless someone can prove you otherwise.

  9. valdobiade permalink
    April 12, 2011 2:18 pm

    Thomas wrote: Until we are allowed an Independent slot on the ballot here I cannot see us as a successful political party
    =============

    Independent of what? 🙂

    Do we need independence from Republicans and Democrats? 🙂

    That’s a thought!

    You cannot govern a country without having a political view and there is no such a thing like a governing party named “Independent”. That’s why either Democrats or Republican wins. We need a name, we already have some kind of “Independent” section… some kind of “let’s make some fun of Nader” section, or “let’s see the cowards who got no guts to vote Democrat or Republican” section.

    Maybe you mean something “Centrist” or “Moderate”, but it seems that Priscilla said:
    Not every centrist solution is the most moderate or reasonable…

    I think she is blasé 🙂

  10. Sean permalink
    August 12, 2011 5:48 pm

    The idea that when the wealthy get wealthier we all do better is one of the most asinine assumptions to which we’re regularly exposed. Explain how that is so when real wages have stagnated over the past 40 years while the average salary of a CEO has increased by staggering multiples? Explain how, when adjusted for inflation, the typical worker earns no more than he did in 1973 even though the cost of living keeps increasing (since government inflation statistics don’t include the price of food or energy, this fact is neatly hidden.)

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