“The basic functions are enumerated in the constitution.”
Response: There has been much interpretation of the constitution; therefore your understanding and definition of basic functions may be different from mine. So let me ask the question again, what are “the basic function(s) outlined at the birth of the country"? Please provide current day examples.
“Checks and balances are no more nor less than we have today under the constitution.”
“The government makes the tax laws, regulations, and policies. It is not working.”
Response: Are you implying checks and balances would work today if the government was not complicit as you indicate? If so, what changes would you recommend to address complicity? Would it be reversal of Citizens United? Would it be term limits in the House and Senate, and/or Supreme Court? Please provide include data.
“Since individual consumers have more resolve than the government”
“Let the people decide and influence with their spending habits to temper
corporate greed. That what is already happening today.”
Response: Please provide current day examples with supporting data where spending habits have tempered corporate greed. Also, what differences if any do you see between the consumer’s ability to temper corporate greed in a small town versus a large city?
“the problems you have cited would not be possible of the federal government controlled fewer dollars, at least they would have less money to misappropriate.”
Response: Which revenue sources currently received by the government would you pull back into the population? Please quantify at a high level or percentage.
“Blame the Husband, not the prostitute”
Response: How would you rehabilitate the husband? Can the husband be rehabilitated? Should the wife seek divorce, separation? Extending your metaphor, who gets custody of the children and who are the children?
Thanks - Tom
“Government is comprised of men (and women) who are subject to human vices, such as greed and corruption.”
Response: Greed is easily argued to be society’s greatest vice; and where there is money, there is greed.
Greed unchecked in the private sector results in the removal of all services, greed unchecked in the public sector results in excessive waste, and greed unchecked in the individual results in an over use of services; entitlement becomes the norm.
“Government should be downsized to provide the basic function outlined at the birth of the country.”
Questions: From your perspective what are “the basic function outlined at the birth of the country?” And where do checks and balances exist, if any, to address greed and corruption?
My sense is you support smaller government as it cannot be trusted.
Note there are three parts to my response, parts one and three follow. However part two was submitted mistakenly as a new entry.
8 [P]lunder the U.S. - Please give examples. Plunder is a pretty harsh word.
Lastly, there are more individuals, small businesses, and medium businesses in the US that outnumber corporations. Yet, you focus solely on corporations. Perhaps corporations are the dragons in your fantasy. Yet, you partake in those tangible things the corporations produce. Confusing!
Response: Recently a group of 80 CEOs went before Congress stating the need to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations in America. These are some of the same CEOs who head corporations that:
• Received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department and nearly caused the economy to collapse just four years ago.
• Avoided at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens since 2008.
• A dozen of these companies paid no corporate income taxes in at least one year since 2008, while receiving more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS, after making billions in profits.
In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.
1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.
• Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS in 2010, even though it made $4.4 billion in profits.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.
• During the financial crisis, Bank of America received a total of more than $1.3 trillion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $45 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.
• Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 371.
• In 2010, Bank of America operated 371 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens, more than any other financial institution in the United States. 204 of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, which has a corporate tax rate of 0%.
• In 2010, Bank of America would have owed $2.6 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.
2. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.
• In 2008, Goldman Sachs received a $278 million refund from the IRS, even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion that year.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.
• During the financial crisis, Goldman Sachs received a total of $814 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $10 billion bailout from the Treasury Department.
• Number of offshore tax havens in 2010? 39.
• In 2010, Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax haven countries.
• Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.7 billion. In 2010, Goldman Sachs would have owed $2.7 billion in federal income taxes if its use of offshore tax avoidance was eliminated.
3. JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion
• During the financial crisis, JP Morgan Chase received a total of more than $391 billion in virtually zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve and a $25 billion bailout from the Treasury Department, while Jamie Dimon served as a director of the New York Federal Reserve.
• Number of Offshore Tax Havens in 2010? 83.
• In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens.
• Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion
• In 2011, JP Morgan Chase stashed $21.8 billion in offshore tax haven countries to avoid paying income taxes. If this practice was outlawed, it would have paid $4.9 billion in federal income taxes.
4. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt
• Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $3.3 billion tax refund.
• In 2010, not only did General Electric pay no federal income taxes, it received a $3.3 billion tax refund from the IRS, even though it earned over $5 billion in U.S. profits.
• Number of offshore tax havens? At least 14.
• GE has at least 14 tax haven subsidiaries in Bermuda, Singapore, and Luxembourg for the purpose of avoiding U.S. income taxes.
• Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve? $16 billion.
• During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve provided GE with $16 billion in financial assistance, at a time when Jeffrey Immelt was a director of the New York Federal Reserve.
• Jobs Shipped Overseas? At least 25,000 since 2001.
• Since 2001, General Electric has closed more than 30 manufacturing plants in the United States, cut 34,000 American jobs, and added 25,000 jobs overseas. General Electric now has more workers abroad than it does in the United States.
• On December 6, 2002, Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, said at an investor's meeting: ``When I am talking to GE managers, I talk China, China, China, China, China. You need to be there. You need to change the way people talk about it and how they get there. I am a nut on China. Outsourcing from China is going to grow to $5 billion. We are building a tech center in China. Every discussion today has to center on China. The cost basis is extremely attractive. You can take an 18 cubic foot refrigerator, make it in China, land it in the United States, and land it for less than we can make an 18 cubic foot refrigerator today, ourselves.'' Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman, CEO of General Electric, quoted at an investor meeting on December 6, 2002.
There are an additional 13 examples in the report at the link below.
For future discussion if desired.
1. [T]hrow destitute families out of homes - If you cannot pay you mortgage, what is the bank to do? Give you the house for free? During the recent down turn in the housing market, some individuals lived in the home for close to a year free before they had to move. Ostensibly, you cannot keep a home that you have "contracted" to purchase, but failed to execute on that contract.
4. [P]oison and pollute the ecosystem - For the most part, the ecosystem is the cleanest it has been in decades. Yes, there have been some bad corporations and individuals, but the EPA, your government again, is responsible for keeping them in line and holds them accountable.
7. [T]rash the global economy - see government policy.
With that and in response to a few of your comments:
2. [A]llow the uninsured to die - by law, emergency rooms cannot deny service, so where are you coming up with this rubbish.
Response: “People without insurance are more likely to go without preventive care, to delay or forgo medical care, and to die prematurely. When sick, the uninsured may turn to emergency rooms for care, where oftentimes they are charged more for services than insured patients. And when uninsured patients can’t afford their medical bills, the cost of this care is passed on to the insured in the form of higher premiums.”
Many of us have encountered elderly and non-elderly who avoid medical attention in order to make ends meet or to use the money for a family member with a greater medical need.
As well consider that between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100; in Maine it was 398.
Further over the past decade the number of uninsured has increased from 36.1 million to 41.2 million with the number of companies offering health benefits decreased from 69.3% to 58.8%. With the recession unemployment rose, more people were living in families without a full-time worker, and real personal income fell.
So why would insurance companies and medical supply companies oppose the ACA? Why did the United States maintain tax breaks during the Iraq conflict, an unplanned outlay? Why would the United States maintain tax breaks during an economic downturn? Corporate influence.
3. [W]age useless wars - A corporation cannot wage war. However, your government can. Perhaps you should look to Washington DC on this one.
Response: See Sheldon Wolin comments above.
5. [S]lash social assistance programs - Again, your blame should be on Washington DC. Moreover, wouldn't your claim of "Plunder" contradict this assertion? Why would a corporation that wants to plunder the US treasury make tax dollars less available to plunder with slashing social programs? It does not make sense. I'm beginning to detect an emotional outburst here.
Response: Recently a group of 80 CEOs went before Congress stating the need to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while lowering tax rates for millionaires, billionaires, and the largest corporations in America. See response to #8 below for further details.
6. [G]ut public education - Government issue. Again, contradicts the notion that corporations want to plunder.
Response: See Colin Woodward’s “Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine” which exposed how Maine’s digital education agenda is being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to profit on the changes. http://www.pressherald.com/news/virtual-schools-in-maine_2012-09-02.html
See also Lee Fang’s article “How Online Companies Bought America’s Schools http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bo...
And back in Maine we have http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/08/business/education-firm-chaired-by...
Before reading, note I've left a few of your comments / questions unanswered at the end. Happy to respond as part of a continuing dialogue.
Fascism: A governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism, and often racism.
In 2003 Sheldon Wolin opens his article “Inverted Totalitarianism” http://www.thenation.com/article/inverted-totalitarianism with:
“The war on Iraq has so monopolized public attention as to obscure the regime change taking place in the Homeland. We may have invaded Iraq to bring in democracy and bring down a totalitarian regime, but in the process our own system may be moving closer to the latter and further weakening the former.
Totalitarianism is the centralized control of an autocratic authority, the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority.”
Sheldon Wolin further makes the following observations in his article:
“Representative institutions no longer represent voters. Instead, they have been short-circuited, steadily corrupted by an institutionalized system of bribery that renders them responsive to powerful interest groups whose constituencies are the major corporations and wealthiest Americans.
The courts, in turn, when they are not increasingly handmaidens of corporate power, are consistently deferential to the claims of national security.
Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media.
Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media’s reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks, by thinly veiled threats of the Attorney General and by their own fears about unemployment.
What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.”
These observations, Mr. Wolin notes are of a “political system he calls inverted totalitarianism. Under Nazi rule “big business” was subordinated to the political regime. In the United States, however, “corporate power” has become so predominant in the political establishment, particularly in the Republican Party, and so dominant in its influence over policy, as to suggest a role inversion the exact opposite of the Nazis’”. Returning to the definition of Fascism and filling in the blanks we have
Corporate Fascism: A governmental system led by a dictator (Big Banks, Big Oil); having complete power (purchased through Citizens United, lobbyists); forcibly suppressing opposition (anti-union); and criticism (controlled media, Rupert Murdoch); regimenting all industry (right to work); commerce (Wal-Mart, Koch Bothers); and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism (anti-immigration, NRA, military spending); and often racism.
Corporations cannot justifiably kill, but through various laws written to their benefit they have the ability to torture when in the interest of profit through financial gain they throw destitute families out of homes, allow the uninsured to die, wage useless wars, poison and pollute the ecosystem, slash social assistance programs, gut public education, trash the global economy, plunder the U.S. Treasury and crush all popular movements that seek justice for working men and women. I would call that terrorism
What H. Sirocki clearly demonstrates in her quasi-rebuttal (similar to Ted Cruz’s quasi-filibuster) is a microcosm of what is lacking in Augusta. H. Sirocki as with many others who “support” LePage lacks the courage to challenge Paul LePage. Rather she would rather provide a lackluster rebuttal to gain favor.
With respect to the hospital debt, an article in the Bangor Daily News provided a historical analysis of how the debt came to its current amount of $484 million. However, the data was provided by DHHS whose inconsistent financial reporting over the last three years raises the following questions.
If the state struggles with understanding the area of their own financial house related to healthcare, why should I believe the state is correct in stating what is owed to the hospitals?
Has there been an audit of the $484 million hospital bill by a third-party?
When the bill comes at a restaurant, or to our home, it is normal to validate its accuracy before we pay it. We’ve all experienced inaccurate bills and had them corrected. What if an audit discovered $4.84 million (1% of $484 million) in erroneous hospital billing?
Further, has Maine been billed fairly by the hospitals? An extensive essay in Tim brings to light the significant markup in healthcare. Who benefits from these markups, the hospital, hospital executives, and/or middle-men? Paying 95 cents on the dollar would result in a payment of $460 million, a reduction of $24 million.
Would H. Sirocki have the courage to challenge LePage in his disregard of public health regarding the BPA exposure, his misogynist comments regarding beards on women? Would she have the courage to defend teachers from the bashing by LePage, who could not last one week as a teacher or has any sense what is involved in the teaching process? Have the courage to acknowledge that LePage’s comments comparing the IRS to the Gestapo were way over the top? Have the courage to admit that LePage’s comments are intended to be inflammatory, so to gain political points with those who look down upon Jews, African-Americans, minorities, women, and people with disabilities, LGBT, and union workers. Have the courage to call LePage to task for claiming that all state middle-management is corrupt without providing any evidence.
Would H. Sirocki have the courage to challenge LePage if the Vaseline comment was directed at her father or a son? Better yet since LePage said Jackson was giving it to the people of Maine would she challenge him if it was directed at her mother, a sister or a friend? Would she challenge LePage if her mother or a daughter started growing little beards and he merely dismissed her with a chuckle?
It is time we begin to demand courage from all of those appointed by and supporters of LePage, who have more concern for their jobs or future opportunities than for the people of Maine. Their lack of action, lack of character, and lack of courage is pathetic.
Morality refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it; morality should never be overridden, that is, no one should ever violate a moral prohibition or requirement for non-moral considerations.
Economic debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money; a simple, cold, and impersonal transaction and transferable. Human effects are not calculated, only principle and interest.
How is our sense of morality and justice reduced to the language of a business deal; a moral obligation becomes an economic debt? Money. It is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic, justifying what would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene.
Consider in 2010 voters approved the Oxford Casino under the promise that 46 percent of the profits would help fund public education in Maine. However, unless something has changed, the governor intends to use those funds ($14 million) to address a gap in the state’s budget.
In doing so the governor broke a promise between the state and its citizens on where the $14 million was to be spent. A debt obligation involving a budget gap took precedence over a moral obligation in the education of children; as the governor stated “good character is you live by what you say you are going to do.”