Conspiracy Nation

or "US Voters are fucking crazy".

Paul Krugman's somewhat civilized take on it. It's A Conspiracy! - The New York Times:

Stonekettle Station's is more fun. Stonekettle Station: Gravity

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A few good points on taxes.

Tax the (upper) middle class, please - Vox:

The "no tax increase over $250,000" dogma has at least four major downsides, all of which have been clear throughout the Obama era: 
1) It constrains policy choices and makes them super complicated.  Remember the "Buffett Rule"? In 2011, Warren Buffett called attention to the inequity that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he did. That's because his income is all capital gains and dividends, taxed at a preferable rate, while hers was salary income. The obvious "Buffett Rule" to remedy that idiosyncrasy would be to tax all income, whatever the source, at the same rate. But no! Because some people earning less than $250,000 do have capital gains, the "Buffett Rule" had to be crafted in a complex way that affected only millionaires. As introduced, it is a second level of the alternative minimum tax, an unnecessarily complex kludge in place of the simple rule that was promised. Many other similarly promising policies will be off limits just because they don't fall neatly along the $250,000 line. 
2) It reinforces the idea that taxes are a kind of punishment. The point of progressive taxation isn't to harm those who have done very well — it's that everyone should contribute to shared priorities, determined democratically, based on their ability to contribute. Members of the "billionaire class" surely have an untapped ability to contribute to the social order that made their wealth possible. But so do many others who haven't reached quite the same level. As the political sociologist Vanessa Williamson has shown, Americans actually take pride in paying taxes and view being able to contribute as a patriotic act. Politicians should speak the same language of shared obligation, not punishment. 
3) It invites a nonsensical debate about who is really "rich" or "very wealthy." This can edge into absurdity — you might remember the University of Chicago law professor who complained in 2010 that despite an income in the $400,000s, his family wasn't really rich, not after they paid for private school, nannies, gardeners, and house cleaners. (As Josh Barro put it recently "$400,000 isn't a lot of money — after you spend it.") Even Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer questioned whether $250,000 was really "rich," which it might not be in San Francisco and brownstone Brooklyn. But if you stop talking about taxing only the "very wealthy," you avoid this silly fight. 
4) It's the wrong line. American households in the top 20 percent (which corresponds to income of about $130,000) took more than 50 percent of total income in 2011. While the income gains of the top 1 percent from 1979 to 2011 total 174 percent, adjusted for inflation, the rest of the top 20 percent, excluding the 1 percent, gained 56 percent over that period, while the rest of the population stagnated. (All data from this Congressional Budget Office report.) The top 20 percent also got the greatest benefit from the Bush tax cuts, and while the 2011 budget deal raised the effective tax rate of the very wealthy by 4 percentage points, the "merely affluent" continued to do well — their taxes have gone up by only 1 percentage point. The line for those who should contribute more is somewhere around the top fifth, not $250,000. 
It's too bad that even a self-described socialist can't be more daring and honest about taxes and adopts the same caution that has crippled policymaking for the past seven years. Taxes are not a punishment for the very wealthy. They are a means for all of us to contribute, as best we can, to the cost of a just society that creates equal opportunity.

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Bank Corruption

Stark warning from ex Bank of England regulator | Ian Fraser:

Corruption, greed, and violence inherent in our species.

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Freaking out over the refugees

Frightened, Ignorant and Cowardly is No Way to Go Through Life, Son | Whatever:
"To worry about terrorists in the refugee pool is, flatly, stupid — no terrorist organization is going to pour resources into an avenue with such a small chance of success, especially when it’s easier to apply for a friggin’ visa and get on a plane (they can buy their guns when they get here, don’t you know). The reasons why so many people are voiding their bowels about it are simple: Ignorance, racism, xenophobia and bigotry."
The American people are freaking out because we're being bombarded with images of our elite freaking-out but, the elite are mostly freaking out just to scare the hell out of us so they can add to their coffers (with the possible exception of Lindsey Graham who may be hiding under his bed at this moment.)

  • The political elite promote it to make points in their quest for control. The R's are hammering it hard so the D's have to follow the lead or they look weak. Get elected, make some money for yourself and your supporters.
  • For the media elite, it's a great ratings-week story. Fan the flames, gain some viewers, sell some advertising, make some money. Rinse and repeat.
  • The war-machine elite sell the "Get your war on" story. Put your PR and consultant people on TV. Scare the common folk. Sell some war supplies. Make some serious cash.
  • The Judeo-Christian bible-thumper elite see a good chance to unite their "good" religion against "those- people's" bad religion. Sell the "their sky daddy want to kill your sky-daddy" story. Make some tax-free cash.

I guess really, it's a form of Corporate-America advertising, scaring the hell out of the people to spur sales.

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The Economy Is Better?

The economy is only as good as Fox News and Right-Wing radio says it is.

The Economy Is Better — Why Don’t Voters Believe It? | FiveThirtyEight:
"The Federal Reserve is devaluing the dollar, Diercks said. Too many Americans are on food stamps or other benefits. Government regulation is stifling small businesses (she bore particular animus toward the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal workplace safety regulator). Inflation is too high. Taxes are too high. Government spending is too high. Statistics showing improvement in the economy are misleading if not outright lies. “We don’t know where they’re coming out with those numbers,” Diercks said. “The unemployment rate isn’t down. No one wants to talk about the truth, and I hate it.”"

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