Saturday, July 20, 2024

The Republicans are running with us versus the elites politics. Now it's time for the Democrats to offer messages for a sustainable world.

Rather than trying to beat Republicans at marketing to the working class, I think Democrats need to appeal to the need for a sustainable society, versus climate change, authoritarianism and chaos.

They need to appeal to both the rich, powerful allies as well as the poor and working class.

Many of the wealthy are culturally liberal due to the correlation between education and wealth. Even many of the rich realize that taxes aren't all bad and personal wealth is of no use if society and the world around us is crumbing.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Blaming corporations for our problems, rather than looking to ourselves for solutions, shifts from left to right.

While I advocate lifestyles that are alternative to the mainstream, I haven't been that much of a critic of institutions of government or business. I haven't even been that critical of large corporations. Instead, I think it's up to us to live our lives as best we can toward a better and more sustainable world.

Now I note, from the writings of some pundits, that working class rebellion against institutions has shifted toward Trumpism. Blame and finger pointing has been shifting rightward in recent years. It's still not my idea that we, as voters, consumers and participants in the community, are the key to reducing climate change and solving many of society's problems.

In the past, the right wing tended to blame problems on government while the left wing blamed the super rich and corporations. Now it looks like what's called the "working class" is turning toward blaming it all on so called "elites."

Still, however, much of the opinion is manipulated, as always, by celebrities and billionaires.

From Taylor Swift to Donald Trump, himself, the people follow, yet most of the people continue living lives that lead to climate change, lust for money, unaffordable housing, nimbyism and so forth.

Thursday, July 04, 2024

There should be a higher interest rate for speculation and a lower one for creating something.

The Federal Reserve walks a tightrope between raising interest rates which could lead to recession and lowering interest rates which could lead to inflation. Trying to figure out the best "one size fits all" rate is problematic.

I've often thought they should be able to set different interest rates for different uses of the money. Rates should be high for speculation on existing assets and low for creating new assets. For instance speculation that bids up the price of existing housing should be discouraged while construction of new housing should be encouraged.

Housing has been one of the big drivers of inflation in recent years. Raising interest rates tries to cool speculation and inflation, but it also can reduce construction of new housing which would increase supply.

There is a similar situation in business as money can be used just to bid up stock prices and have companies buy one another (existing assets) or money can be used to build new assets.

Government can be a good use for low interest rates when it uses money for improving infrastructure.

Rather than having a one size fits all solution for interest rates, I think there should be a way to have different interest rates for different uses of the money.

I also think the Federal government, thus Biden these days, gets blamed for things like housing inflation, but much of the cause of short supply is caused by local zoning ordinances. The Feds don't usually weigh in on zoning decisions done at the local level.

State governments, such as here in Washington State, are now starting to try and weigh in on local zoning to increase housing supply. Recent state legislation is starting to discourage cities, within the state, from having too much restrictive single family zoning.

Biden future plans may depend on the polls.

Biden plans to stay in the race, but I got to thinking that how well he does in the polling data, during the next few weeks, should effect his final decision. I don't know if it will, or not, but the polls are one factor related to electability.

When the IRS says you paid too much.

I recently got a computer generated letter that I had filled out my income tax form incorrectly. My requested refund, from withholding, was way too small. Turns out I didn't owe any taxes so I got the entire withholding back.

Yes, figuring out taxes can be complicated. This discrepancy had to do with how much tax I owe on my Social Security income. I guess I owe no tax on that due to my overall income bracket. It can be convoluted how things are explained.

The withholding was from my pension income, but I got it all back. I don't mind paying some taxes, but apparently, I didn't owe income tax this year.

Conservatives often say that the rich pay most of the income taxes that run the government while liberals say that the rich don't pay enough taxes.

When one looks at the figures, both sides are likely telling different sides of the truth. I would guess that the rich have most of the money so they pay most of the taxes. Low income people often pay no income tax. The middle class pays quite a bit in taxes also.

One's circumstances really effect taxes. If someone has lots of business expenses, they often get to write off those expenses, making it look like the rich get off tax free. On the other hand, if their businesses were taxed to death; consumers would loose the goods, services and jobs that those businesses provide.

As for the fairness of the overall economy, it doesn't tend to be fair for many reasons. I keep hearing that folks who own assets are wealthy compared to those who just work. In other words things like real estate can go way up in value compared to wages.

I try and always look at the big picture, but sometimes I don't pay that much attention to what seems like the triviality of my own personal finances.

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

On immigration, the welcome mat gets tarnished when overwhelmed.

One can say that large numbers of voters in Europe and USA are sending a message that immigrants are no longer welcome; as in "there's no room at the inn, not even the manger out back." That's my bleak assessment of human nature; folks turn to savagery by circumstance.

It's not the fault of the immigrants themselves who are mostly bringing needed skills and vitality to our economy. It's partially a function of overwhelming numbers of people; an echo of world population growth that has occurred since my childhood. In 1960, there were 3 billion people on the planet, today the estimate is past 8 billion.

Population growth is slowing down, but immigration is an echo effect of population growth that has already occurred; not to mention rise in authoritarianism around the world plus climate change.

Some folks say they are just against illegal immigration, but the waiting lists to immigrate legally are very long due to more folks wishing to immigrate than the quotas set for legal immigration. Congress can adjust those quotas, but talk of adjusting the quotas is seldom heard in political debates about immigration.

I think many people fear that more legal immigration would just bring more illegal immigration as well; like the mental image of bailing out the ocean with a teacup.

Unfortunately, lots of people demonize the immigrants, themselves, who for the most part are innocent and can be a great asset to this country. They bring skills and vitality, not to mention young workers paying into our Social Security system, when they are legally approved.

People do worry about crime, but I hear that there is a higher percentage of crime caused by native born Americans than recent immigrants. However, one worry that does seem legitimate to me, is the ability of border patrol agents to vet recent arrivals when the numbers overwhelm the system. Yes, it does take time to do background checks. Large caseloads, versus a small number of border patrol staff, can be an issue.

From what I hear, in the news, illegal immigration has slowed down significantly since Biden's recent executive order dealing with that issue.

As for infrastructure and population growth, planning is key. Many cities, in this country, are way behind in the number of housing units needed. Whether there is room, in our cities, to park all the cars, if huge numbers of people continue to insist on using private cars, is a factor as well.