Looking back on a great decade
Despite concerns about rising inequality and increasing debt in advanced economies, since the financial crisis of 2008 and the start of the Great Recession, there has been enormous improvement in the fortunes of the great mass of humanity.
From 2008 through 2018, the U.S. went through the financial crisis, which included the housing crisis, the turmoil of the Obama years and the rise of extreme partisanship in which Republicans fought tooth-and-nail to make him a one-term president, leading to the disaster that is the Trump presidency.
In the world we saw the Syrian war, the rise of Russia as a destabilizing agent in Ukraine and Syria, the rise of ISIS, the refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere, the rise of China, President Trump’s trade wars and alienation of our allies, North Korea becoming a nuclear power, and Brexit.
Yet, during this same period, the worldwide rate of extreme poverty fell more than half, from 18.2% to 8.6%, and for the first time ever, more than half the people in the world could be considered “middle class.” Similarly, most people in the world are living longer and healthier than ever before, exemplified by the worldwide mortality rate for children under 5 declining from 5.6% to 3.9% in the decade.
Taking all this into consideration, the glass is now more than half full and getting fuller.
Kenneth E. Gould
Pay attention to national debt
The new year and inconvenient facts: Ours is the greatest debtor nation in history, with a growing national debt of over $23.153 trillion, imposed upon us and our children, grandchildren and future generations. Social Security and Medicare are Congressional Budget Office projected to be insolvent by 2034 and 2020, respectively. Our federal leaders, especially our House of Representatives, who per the Constitution are mandated to approve spending, continue to go down the deficit spending road. Our House representative, Salud Carbajal, has no concept of the debt and insolvency problem, nor do Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, nor does our president, or the current crop of socialist-progressives running against him and seeking to control the government.
It is time for 20/20 vision in 2020 as to our debt problem and coming insolvency. Do not vote for any party candidate who does not comprehend our debt and insolvency problem, and who is not committed to resolving them.
H. T. Bryan
We are on borrowed time
Trump followers are quite proud of our country’s all-time high in the stock market, employment, and the economy. Everyone is spending more money, give or take a few million of us.
And how did this come about? By lowering taxes. Suddenly we all have more money to spend, especially the wealthy. And when everyone spends more money, business and employment is bound to improve.
Consider the situation of Mr. Jones, who inherits $10 million. What does he do? He buys a new car, a new house, starts going out to dinner more often, and even hires a gardener and a house maid, thus stimulating the economy and lowering unemployment.
However, the U.S. didn’t inherit any money; we just borrowed it from investors in U.S. bonds, and most of the investors were the governments of China and Japan. And do the conservatives worry about repaying the debt? Only when it’s the liberals who are doing it. Carpe diem!
Stop taxing businesses
Re: “Fixing the housing crisis…” (Voices, Jan. 1): One could make strong a case that the housing crisis is primarily a poverty problem. Poverty has two primary causes: low wages and high prices. We’ve been fighting the problem for decades by raising the minimum wage. The problem has continued to get worse. It’s time to attack the price side of the equation.
A major contributor to high prices is taxes on business that are passed straight through to the consumer — including all government agencies, national, state and local, that have combined budgets of approximately $6 trillion, every penny of which is heavily taxed. Eliminating all taxes on business, plus the implementation costs, could reduce the Consumer Price Index by 30% to 40% for everyone’s budget, including government. But wouldn’t businesses simply pocket the money as increased profits? Not possible in a competitive economy.
Taxes on business are an extremely regressive indirect hidden tax on consumers. For the poor, it’s starvation and homelessness. For the rich, it’s pocket change. Raising taxes aggravates the problem. Let’s stop increasing taxes on business and start eliminating them. It could do much more to fight poverty than all past wage increases. While we’re at it, let’s seriously simplify the personal income tax. Complexity is expensive for both consumers and governments.
Yes, the above actions would undoubtedly reduce employment in the tax industry, private and public. But any reduction would surely be more than offset by increased employment and wages in other industries, as has recently been demonstrated.
Will voters wake to the swindle?
Remember the movie “The Sting,” with Newman and Redford as “grifters” swindling their “mark,” gangster Doyle Lonnegan, out of a half-million dollars? It wasn’t a quick job; it was a “long con,” involving a hook, a bite, a switch and, pertinent to this letter, the mark’s ignorance he’d been swindled.
As presently relevant, the hook was Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promises and television appearances, spewed ceaselessly by an uncritical media to a feckless public. The bite was the Electoral College count. The switch has been three years of trickery and lies, presidentially tweeted, spewed by faithful internet sources and broadcast daily by an allied television channel.
Some of Mr. Trump’s most egregious switches: (1) Tax reform. Did middle-class Americans see a break? Not one whit, and certainly nothing near the $4,000 tax reduction Mr. Trump promised. Meanwhile, stock market investors and major corporations got rich and richer. (2) Withdrawal of U.S. forces. Not one whit, with forces still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and being attacked there daily; with new involvements in Africa and elsewhere; and, fueled by huge increases in Pentagon spending, a new theater, a Space Force. (3) A “great again” America. Not at all. Indeed, Mr. Trump’s made us a rogue nation, alienating traditional allies, with its president a laughingstock viewed globally as a charlatan, a swindler — which, at base, he is.
By November, will enough voters have awakened to the swindle, or will our grifter president succeed with his long con?
Opinion on climate change
Daily I read someone important announce that they believe in the “science of global warming.” Science requires proof. The scientific process consists of a testable hypothesis followed by a confirming experiment or proof. If the climate models could accurately predict future temperatures, that would be proof.
We have over 30 years of predications which were not accurate; they have always overstated the warming, therefore the confirming experiment failed and is not a proof. According to Dr. Michael Mann, author of the infamous “Hockey Stick: “Proofs are for whiskey. All you need is a good idea that a lot of people believe in.” That is opinion, not science. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, not to their own facts.
Here are some facts. According to satellite data, the average surface temperature is about 60 degrees F. Since 1900, the global temperature has risen 1 degree, and life spans have doubled. For the decade 2010-2019, the satellite temperatures averaged only a third of a degree F. over the previous decade, which no one would even notice over 10 years. Global sea level rise has been occurring at a rate of about one inch per decade for as long as it has been monitored (since 1850, well before humans could be blamed).
I believe (opinion) that at least some of the warming we have experienced of the last 50 years has been due to increasing carbon dioxide, and has been largely benign.