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Sun, 09 Jan 2011 22:25:09

In my previous post I promised to outline my plan for digging ourselves out of this Big Double Dipper. I call my vision the New New Deal because what we are experiencing now hearkens to the Great Depression of the 1930s, bringing to mind the bold ideas and programs that FDR used to do battle with the economic chaos that was crippling the country.

Eight decades later, much has changed. We have tools and skills available to us today that were unimaginable in the '30s -- a nation connected by the Web, the miracles of modern medicine, accessibility of higher education. and major advances in racial, gender and sexual relations, just to name a few.

Yet in some ways, the '30s were better equipped to deal with the ravages of mass unemployment and poverty than we are today. The rural family farm and the urban nuclear family were the norm. They were able to absorb those extended family members who had lost their jobs or the wherewithal to survive.

Most of those family farms have been plowed under by agribusiness, and more than half the households today are managed by single parents. The social safety net of the '30s has been shredded; you can't go home again because there's nowhere to go.

Local, state and national governments have stepped in with their own safety nets, but the concept of government aid has never gone down easily in this country because we still cling to the endlessly propagated myth that America owes its greatness to the "rugged individual," whoever that is.

The fact that this romance bears little similarity to the dynamics of our immensely complicated, interdependent society hardly prevents Tea Party ideologues and right-wing media moguls from blowing long and hard about the plague of "welfare cheaters" and the apocalyptic perils of "Obama Socialism."

We're drowning in compassion-free propaganda. It's time we came up for air and reinvented the promise of this promised land.

So, here's the first area addressed by my New New Deal plan: Tax Policy


What you tax and how much you tax it is a political, not moral, issue. There's nothing immoral about giving the super-rich another tax break. It might be fiscally reckless, but it's not immoral.

At what point is wealth excessive? I don't have an exact figure in mind, but around half a mil in annual salary and bonuses seems a reasonable tipping point. Tax 50 percent of earnings at that level, and ratchet up the rate as the earnings enter the arena of the obscene -- like the multimillions some CEOs are pulling in. Will they still stay on the job if they have to give back a serious slice of their super-salaries and mega-bonuses? If they ankle the job, there are plenty of qualified suits waiting in the wings to fill that vacant seat in the spacious corner office or on the corporate jet.

Then there are speculative earnings, like all the money being made at the speed of light on the stock market. The average trade on the market today lasts 18 seconds. It's nothing but gambling and deserves to be taxed accordingly. I think 95 percent is a fair rate. The Wall Street hot shots can gamble 24/7 if they please and take home a nickel for every buck they suck out of the system.

Unproductive wealth must also be rigorously taxed. Corporations and the super-rich are hoarding trillions of dollars, much of which belongs back in the system instead of salted away in off-shore banks. Hoarding reduces the velocity of capital, one of the key components of our economy's health. Either they invest the money in productive enterprises or we tax a substantial part and put it to work putting people back to work.

Soon I will outline the New New Deal's Education Policy. It's all about standing up to all this dumbing down.

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