Category Archives: Politics

The US Needs a Steeply Progressive Tax Structure

A top tax rate that is essentially confiscatory forces the “captains” of the economy to think about how to turn corporate profit back into tax-exempt infrastructure, into solid business assets instead of diverting corporate profit into “retention” bonuses.

The lure of wrecking your business or even the national economy is strong if you can walk away with millions and get to keep it. We need to help folks avoid the temptation to enrich themselves at the expense of the larger community by instituting a top tax rate of 75 to 90%. There is much less interest in wrecking the corporation or national economy if the millions or billions you “earn” along the way are gobbled up by the tax man.

Michael Hitlik gets it. Read below.

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The belief that the wealthy are worthy is waning

Michael Hiltzik

The notion that the poor always will be with us has been ingrained in our culture ever since the sermons of Moses were set down by the anonymous author of Deuteronomy.
The financial crisis of the present day raises a rather different issue, however: What should we do about the rich?
A bit of history will be useful here. The original case for a progressive income tax — that is, one levied disproportionately on larger incomes — was based less on raising revenue for the state than breaking up concentrations of wealth, inherited and otherwise. The nation’s Founding Fathers considered these to be undemocratic — markers of “an aristocratic society, not a free and virtuous republic,” as the tax-law expert Dennis Ventry has written.
There’s also a social value in suppressing income inequality. In a country with only a slightly less ingrained tradition of civility than the United States, the AIG affair would provoke rioting in the streets.

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We Need to Demand Solar PV Power Generation

Thanks to Climate Progress for their coverage on this issue. Climate Progress is the top of my list of climate links.

Solar PV electric generation is available here and now. We simply have to demand that our power generation move to sustainable systems now.

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Solar PV market doubled to 6 Gigawatts in 2008 — U.S. left in dust, having invented the technology

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After growing 19% in 2006 and 62% in 2007, world solar photovoltaic (PV) market installations exploded by 110% last year to a staggering 5.95 GW, according to Solarbuzz’s Annual Report, Marketbuzz 2009:
Europe accounted for 82% of world demand in 2008. Spain’s 285% growth pushed Germany into second place in the market ranking, while the US advanced to [a very distant] number three. Rapid growth in Korea allowed it to become the fourth largest market, closely followed by Italy and Japan.
And who is the leading producer of PV cells?
China and Taiwan continued to increase their share of global solar cell production, rising to 44% in 2008 from 35% in 2007.

Graph illustrating the relative portion the United States has contributed to annual world production. The world shipments increased to a record high of 1194 MW during 2004, more than a 35-fold increase since 1989. The largest annual increase in U.S. production since data has been collected, a 60% increase, occurred between 2003 and 2004.  U.S. production reached a record of more than 139 MW in 2004.

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It’s Time to Investigate and Prosecute the Torturers

The Red Cross makes very clear what most of us already knew: the Bush administration tortured prisoners.

It doesn’t matter who was tortured or why. It doesn’t matter if the torturers want to claim that they saved lives through information gained through torture. What matters is that the United States has a legal commitment to prosecute torturers.

You want to make the United States a safer place? Show the rest of the world that we hold criminal conduct to account. This is not the stuff for a truth and reconciliation show, this is criminal conduct of the highest type.

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Red Cross report renews call for probe of Bush era

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A leaked Red Cross report on CIA “torture” of detainees offers fresh ammunition to demands that officials from the Bush administration be prosecuted for their conduct, rights groups have revealed.
The abuse described by the detainees, including being slammed into walls and deprived of sleep and solid food for days, “constituted torture,” the Red Cross document said.
As a signatory to the UN convention banning torture, the United States may be legally obliged to carry out a probe of former officials, Mendelson said.
“And there’s certainly enough evidence out there to warrant the appointment of an independent prosecutor to look into criminal responsibility for the torture of prisoners in CIA custody,” Jaffer said.
“I think there is enough evidence in the public domain to warrant a much more serious investigation than has been conducted thus far,” Jameel Jaffer, director of ACLU’s national security program, told AFP.

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Who you gonna call? Trust-Busters!

David Ignatius is absolutely right to be recalling Teddy Roosevelt’s willingness to confront powerful economic interests with the power of the Federal Government to go after trusts and monopolies.

Let’s hope that Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner are listening. It may be a little tough for Mr. Geithner to really get this message because he is deeply entwined in the very institutions that need to be confronted. Still, hope springs eternal and it is possible that Tim will recognize his responsibilities instead of his origins and potential benefactors.

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The Right Roosevelt?

By David Ignatius

Thursday, March 5, 2009;
Page A19

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Barack Obama can be another Roosevelt, but I wonder if we’re talking about the right Roosevelt. In fixing the financial crisis, Obama could use a little less of FDR’s affection for economic giantism and a little more of TR’s zeal for trust-busting.

A case study for today’s regulators is President Theodore Roosevelt’s response to the financial shenanigans of 1902, when the railroad barons tried to combine the Great Northern and Northern Pacific lines into a huge holding company called Northern Securities Co. Roosevelt wanted to file an antitrust suit to stop the deal. The financiers threatened that the lawsuit would cause a panic on Wall Street, to which TR’s attorney general, Philander G. Knox, memorably replied: “There is no stock ticker at the Department of Justice.”

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