Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Channel Your Inner Dylan Ratigan

Anyone who saw the Dylan Ratigan show on August 9th saw one doozie of a flip-out. But don't worry if you missed it, it's embedded below so you can watch it in full.

Although I didn't get into the Trade Deficit issue that Democrats are, indeed, largely responsible for (ahem), I seem to recall going on a similar rant to the now-infamous Dylan Ratigan tirade just a few days ago, imploring everyone to rise up and start letting our Representatives know that we want them to start telling the truth to the American people that corporate money is the root of our political evil.

    [I]t's high time we stopped being afraid of telling Business and Wall Street and Bankers that they are not our friends! We are their friends. Without us to buy their products or services, without us to file their files and clean their offices and build their skyscrapers, they cannot exist. We have to come together with ONE VOICE and tell our President and our Representatives in Congress that we want the message changed. We're tired of Corporations running this country. That was never the intent of our Founding Fathers. . . We need to rise up EN MASSE and tell these people that we are not going to allow them to drive us into Third World status. Tell our Representatives that their bread isn't buttered by the corporations who fill their campaign coffers, but by the people who actually go to the polls and vote for them to have or keep their jobs! We want to start hearing them tell it like it is, even at the risk of pissing off "The Big Boys."

I even suggested the president needs to "invoke the wisdom of Teddy Roosevelt."

Have a look-see at Dylan's rant (hold onto your seats):

But Dylan Ratigan is both right and wrong. It really is just one guy who can step up to the microphone and get the ball rolling, and that's President Obama. That's why I wrote to him yesterday and begged him to get up in front of America and tell them this thing is broken. And the truth is, we aren't going to fix it—particularly in this economy—by slashing spending, when the Federal Government is the only entity with the power and the resources to actually create jobs and stimulate job creation in the private sector.

Businesses are not hoarding cash because they're "afraid" of what President Obama might do to the economy. They aren't hoarding cash because they don't like government regulations. They aren't hoarding cash that they would otherwise spend on creating jobs. Among the reasons they're hoarding cash is so they can buy up smaller competitors, or businesses with innovations that they want to fold into their own portfolios!

But this message is not President Obama's alone to broadcast. We cannot let Congress off the hook—not even the Democrats. They, too, must deliver the message to their constituents that we are on the wrong path. Whatever role either party may have played in creating this mess (I'm looking at you, President Clinton, for NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagall), Democrats are the only party that is willing to deliver the solutions today.

Republicans are flat out wrong on this. As highly regarded Chief Economist at the Nomura Research Institute, Richard Koo, who specializes in "Balance Sheet Recessions" said just the other day:

    [E]xperience demonstrate[s] that during a balance sheet recession, when businesses and households are struggling to deleverage, the correct policy—fiscal stimulus—is exactly the opposite of what is needed under normal circumstances. Active application of stimulus will ultimately minimize the fiscal deficit. Standard & Poor’s does not understand this and says America’s AAA* rating may be restored if the government succeeds in trimming its deficit by $4trn. The adoption of such a policy by the US government today would plunge the economy into another Great Depression.

And Robert Frank, Professor of Economics at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University echoes this, saying, "What we're doing now is just unimaginably stupid," which he illustrates with this example, somewhat expanded upon here:

    Using $1 trillion in borrowed money to institute pubic works projects, costs the United States about $25 billion in interest. When used to put people to work on roads and bridges, it generates revenues in the form of taxes which the government can use to pay the interest and start paying down the principle. It also puts needed money into the hands of consumers, who will now be more likely to spend it, which in turn keeps businesses in business. It's win/win/win all the way around. But if, instead of using that $1 trillion to repair both our crumbling infrastructure and economy, we pay it back to our creditors, for 10 million unemployed it will cost us around $250 billion. Then we still have safety hazards all across the country, high unemployment rates, and dwindling participation in the economy, all for the low, low price of $250 billion.

It's absurd. Watch him here:

The Republican Party has painted Government as the Boogey Man. They have consistently been "on message" that what will solve all our country's woes is "smaller government" and "less regulation." These are really great talking points. They are succinct and are great at painting a picture.

Unfortunately, it's the wrong picture. Could there stand to be cuts in some places within government? Of course! And though you won't hear Republicans tell you this, President Obama's administration has made significant changes to regulations in just about every department, that will save businesses billions of dollars a year. There is a long and extensive list, from the Department of Agriculture to the Social Security Administration, that are all seeing cuts in regulations here.

For instance:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is announcing a final rule that is estimated to remove more than 1.9 million annual hours of redundant reporting burdens on employers and save more than $40 million in annual costs.
  • EPA has proposed eliminating the redundant obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations. The regulation is unnecessary because most modern vehicles already have effective air pollution control technologies. The change is expected to lead to annual savings for businesses of about $67 million.
  • The State Department and the Commerce Department are taking steps to eliminate unnecessary barriers to exports, which include removing duplicative and unnecessary regulatory requirements. The goal is to increase U.S. exports and create jobs. Source

But the notion that government should be minimized to the point of crippling it is beyond the pale. Without government regulation—even with government regulation for that matter—corporations cannot be trusted to police themselves and be good stewards of our environment or of our economy. They care about one thing and one thing only; their bottom line. And if they can get to their bottom line faster by cutting corners that wreak havoc in the world around them while simultaneously lining their CEO pockets, they will do it. We know this because they have done it and they are doing it.

And while Republicans and Big Businesses are railing against "the size of government" and its "restrictive regulations," they're not pulling their hands back in when government agencies have money or services to offer them. It's also important to note that every argument that's made against regulation are their impediment to the bottom line. What are Big Businesses doing with their higher earnings? Hiring more innovators, assembly-line workers or support staff? Of course not! They're lining their own pockets with a 385% raise while simultaneously reducing the incomes of the middle class—the consumers of their products and services—by 1%! But we should help them do even more destruction so they can widen the income and wealth gap even further? I don't think so.

Make no mistake, Republicans and Big Business don't want to eliminate regulations, they just want to be the ones who dictate what those regulations should be. They'll gladly regulate your right to marry if you're gay. They'll even fight to the supreme court so women can no longer have control of their reproductive system. They'll happily regulate against taxes, oh yessiree.

And Republicans, who are working diligently on making their core campaign about cutting government regulations and spending, don't seem to notice or care that that lack of spending isn't just costing jobs, it could be costing lives. Meth lab seizures have plummeted since Federal funding was cut off. "America is losing the war on meth thanks to government cutbacks. Lab seizures have dropped by a third or more in the nation's top meth-producing states, according to an AP analysis."

Don't let them fool you. Don't let them get away with their absurd message that government is always the problem and corporations are always the solution. Corporate and Banking corruption, the outsourcing of our jobs (which tax policy is only driving "at the margins"), imbalanced trade and corporate money being pumped into political campaigns are the largest sources of problems in our country and our economy. And the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United has only made the latter worse.

It's obscene. It's offensive. It's outrageous!

It is time to start speaking Truth to Power. It is time to start holding our elected representatives accountable. It's time to tell President Obama that he needs to lead this nation on the right path.

It's time to channel your inner Dylan Ratigan!

Contact your Representatives in the House and Senate

We need JOB,S NOW!

We need SPENDING on Public Works projects, NOW!


We need JOBS, NOW!

Contact your Representatives in the House and Senate

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank


Pressure Mounts On Washington To Focus On Jobs Before Debt ~ by Zeke Miller at Business Insider
Richard Koo: The Ratings Agencies May Destroy The Global Economy Once Again ~ by Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider
Mr. Weill Goes To Washington: The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall ~ A chronology tracing the life of the Glass-Steagall Act, from its passage in 1933 to its death throes in the 1990s, and how Citigroup's Sandy Weill dealt the coup de grĂ¢ce, at PBS's Frontline
HOARDERS: These Tech Companies Sitting On Massive Cash Piles Look Pretty Smart ~ by Matt Rosoff at Business Insider
Government Regulations: Do They Help Businesses ~ by Marc Davis at Investopedia
Editorial: The 90 percent left behind ~ from Brookline
Wealth, Income, and Power ~ by Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz, G. William Donhoff at Who Owns America?
Jamie Dimon: This Will Pass And America's Economy Wll Blow Your Socks Off ~ by Courtney Comstock at Business Insider


  1. Honestly, I don't think Ratigan would disagree with you except that he probably recognizes that Obama is as much hostage to the system as anyone. Assuming that is true, Obama acting "kingly" would be better described as an escape attempt.

    I think you miss the role of currency flows(petrodollar cycle), trade(which has become a countercycle), extraction policy, etc. And the international politics of all this. Ratigan's point is that multinationals have every incentive to capture or break down ALL national sovereignty everywhere. What we are experiencing politically is closer to the conclusion of that process than the begining. Its to late to kill that baby in the crib. The only way to stop that process is thru radical reassertion of sovereign power and at huge economic costs. Ratigan advocates for that.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Ryan.

    Your take on Ratigan's point is interesting and could very well be spot on. I don't know if it was an attempt to dial back his rhetoric or if it's a broader explanation of his frustration, but he wrote a follow-up to his rant and published it at HuffPo yesterday. You can read it here:

    America's Mad As Hell Moment

    I find it an odd follow-up, since it discusses nothing about the corruption he was railing about on his show, but makes his central theme the need for us to have a "shared goal" as a nation, like we did with the space mission. WTH? Honestly, I don't think even Ratigan knows what the hell he means. Maybe he thinks that if we could all just kumbaya our way to a common dream, we could defeat the Big Business Big Banking Monster? Maybe he thinks if we found our way to a shared vision of the future we would all be so patriotic that we would once again be a singular nation competing with the rest of the world, as opposed to a minor player on a now-global market? I'm very perplexed.

    All I know is this: money in politics was a Very Bad Thing for Democracy before Citizens United and it's even worse now. Corporations are running our government, and not only is that contrary to democratic principles, it's extremely dangerous for our nation's future.

    I watched last night's Republican debate and was slack-jawed at the fact that there was but a single reference to the middle class in over 2 hours of policy talk. One. Today's Republican Party doesn't even pay lip service to rebuilding our nation's middle class they're so busy stomping their foot at the outrageous notion that millionaires and billionaires should pay a similar share of their income in taxes as those in the lowest tax brackets. Twenty percent of $30,000 is huge for someone who only has the remaining $24,000 to live on. But 39% on everything over and above the $250,000 threshold is pennies to the person making even $500,000 a year, "forcing" them to have to live on $353,000 a year. How they manage to survive on such a pittance, one has to wonder.

    But these are the people that the modern Republican Party is fighting for. We are fast on our way to Third World status, or at a minimum, a society that mirrors that of our Southern neighbor, Mexico, moreso than our Northern neighbor, Canada, where we have a poor class and a wealthy class and nothing in between. They never even mention the gargantuan income gap or the fact that the fat cats they're fighting so hard not to get tax increases, have hoarded 100% of every penny the middle class has made possible for them, giving, literally, zero of it to those whose toil and labor have made their fortunes possible. While their income has shot up 385%, the income of the middle class has remained flat. So flat, in fact, that our buying power today is less than it was in 1956. Nineteen fifty-freaking-six.

    Why? Because our elected officials are more beholden to wealthy millionaires like Grover Norquist than they are to us -- the "masses". It's grossly offensive. Despicably so. And we must stop it or we are doomed.

    And the only way we can even begin to stop it is to do as I recommend in this blog -- call all our Representatives and demand change - REAL change -- in the system. No more money in politics and increased government intervention in the economy with public works projects that will put money into the hands of the working class instead of the upper class.

    We have to get that message out to them loud and clear. We just have to.


I welcome your comments and look forward to what you have to say. Thanks for reading!