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We now have a “Middle Class Task Force,” do you feel better already?

On NPR this AM, I heard something about the “Middle Class Task Force” run by Vice President Biden. I’m trying to envision this task force? Will it include soldiers coming to rebuild schools and roads with private contractors like in Iraq and Afghanistan? With billions to spend- just like our military?

As far as I can tell, it’s going to do nothing like that. Here’s the link?

the Middle Class Task Force

The Task Force is a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America….

Goals of the task force:

  • Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
  • Improving work and family balance
  • Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
  • Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
  • Protecting retirement security

via About the Middle Class Task Force | The White House [1].

The only problem? There are very few “middle-class and working family incomes” left.

While Washington has waved the fear of terrorists (whose main weapon is fear- not much else) at us for years- and siphoned a trillion or two off our balance sheet to pay for the wars and “Homeland Security” they’ve forgotten about the people who pay for it all who want “job security.”

Our politicians are so enamored with their friends who contribute to their campaign war chests (many of whom make their money by building war machines) that they don’t realize what 11% unemployment means these days.

Things have changed since the last time unemployment was this high. For example, we still had people making things in this country other than items that are sold with the line “do you want fries with that?” Our manufacturing sector has been decimated. The last time unemployment was this high- Apple actually manufactured computers on this continent, and GM still owned over 51% of the car market. We also weren’t paying people exorbitant compensation for firing Americans. And, that’s the root of the problem.

There is no reward for hiring Americans anymore.

You’ll get paid more by laying off the factory worker in Dayton, Ohio, and sending your manufacturing to China. You’ll get paid more for figuring out how to cut your payroll by sending your “back office” jobs to India. You’ll get paid more for not making things at all- but playing games with things like “Credit default swaps” and short-selling stocks with money that’s not yours in the first place. And you’ll make huge bucks by driving up the costs of health care which is primarily funded by business- as less and less people in this country have jobs that come with health care.

Note to task force: there isn’t much of a middle class left to protect or save.

In fact, some would say we only have three classes of people left: the wealthy, the poor and those who work for the Government.

If we want to see a return to prosperity in this country, we have to restore rewards for hiring Americans. We need to do it NOW.

While we have American soldiers fighting for our safety half-way round the world, we have an entire society fighting for survival, while bankers still collect billions in bonuses after we had to bail them out. It’s a rather sore point- one that the members of Congress don’t seem to get.

The people who paid for those bonuses (both with tax dollars, and by being screwed left and right as the Wall Street Casino has gone roller coaster on us) are not too happy about the prospect of facing higher crime- as people resort to stealing to survive- and with less cops on the streets (because we’re more concerned with peace in Iraq than peace here).

How do we fix it?

Tie the prime rate moves to everyone, not just the players on Wall Street. The prime rate has dropped 6 points- yet credit card rates and penalties continue to climb. If you have the power to create money- as banks do, it’s time to do it responsibly.

If you don’t own it, you don’t get to take wild compensation. This applies to any non-founder running a publicly traded company. Shareholders must come first. If you want to protect pensions and retirement funds- you have to make sure the money goes back to those who have skin in the game- not just the pied pipers at the helms. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates built empires and deserve compensation- idiots like Bill Nuti of NCR walked in and cleaned out the pantry, without any skin in the game. If you want to get paid more than $500K a year, during a time of war when others are willing to die for their country- you best be responsible for paying a lot of Americans.

It’s time to limit executive pay by formula based on average paycheck, number of employees and amount of personal investment. You hire a lot of Americans and pay them well, you take care of your shareholders, then, and only then, can you make a ton of money- and, btw- you have to take at least 50% of it in long-term notes, since we’re not playing for quarterly results anymore- it’s got to be for a much longer time frame- 10 years or more.

If you don’t like these rules- simple: Take your company private. Either it’s an Employee Owned Stock Plan, or privately held. Have at it.

It’s also time to stop government from being responsible for “economic development” with “incentives” to lure business. Having the clerk at Piggly Wiggly in Georgia who makes $8 an hour- have her tax dollars go to subsidize Bill Nuti’s $2K per hour salary is criminal. The $100 Million Georgia “invested” in moving NCR not only took money out of the clerk’s wallet- it left Dayton, Ohio, without a pants pocket to hold the wallet.

While the whole health care debate has moved away from actual health care to “health insurance” it’s been the straw that’s been killing the American employer and an awful lot of Americans literally, for too long. Unhealthy people can’t work and then can’t pay taxes. It’s to our government’s advantage to have a healthy productive workforce. The sooner we move to a single payer, the better off we are. Eliminate the entire health insurance industry and move directly to outcome based compensation for doctors. Reward doctors who keep their patients healthy, and turn medicine back into an honorable profession.

I don’t expect anyone in Washington to see these ideas, because, they seem to be convinced that this is still a Democrat vs Republican thing.

The longer they keep it up and they’ll find it’s an us vs them thing, and they will quickly realize that they are grossly outnumbered.

We don’t need a task force, we need a revolution. It can either start in Washington, or when the people rebel against Washington.

Anyone want to lay odds on which will happen first?

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john b

i mean this is great populist rage and all. but you can’t really do this within the framework of our gov’t/constitution.


Rep. Dennis Kucinich has been fighting the good fight for single-payer health care for years. He has also railed against the so-called Patriot Act, the most unpatriotic thing Congress did in years. Here is his “Prayer for America.” A Prayer for America I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, as a celebration of our country. With love of democracy. With love of our country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time. With the understanding that there is a deeper truth in the unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country is the union of all people, everywhere. That all people are essentially one. That the world is interconnected not only on the material level of economics, trade, communication, and transportation; but interconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart, through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse to be and to breathe free. I offer this prayer for America. Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving and accomplishment of civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice? How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble? How can we justify, in effect, the canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure? How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial? How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to… Read more »

john b

mostly i take issue with the idea that the federal gov’t can somehow impose a formula on publicly-owned companies that dictates their salary structure, etc.
and as far as removing local incentives for businesses, i agree it’s often abhorrent. but what can you do? it’s race to the bottom across state and local gov’ts to pay businesses to come to their communities. i don’t think the federal gov’t can come in and tell these states, cities, counties, etc. how to spend their tax dollars.
but my main beef with your post is that some of these ideas are great in the abstract. but there’s no way, for instance, that single payer is going to happen in this political environment. or that executive pay is going to be limited in the way that you’ve outlined. or any of these other pretty monumental changes in how business is conducted in this country. i understand this is probably venting. but what this country needs is steps that can actually happen that will improve things.
kucinich is a case study in shouting for ideals while voting against improvements because they don’t go far enough.

larry sizer

Dad, I have never heard someone say what I think and and say so eloquently, what is in the “Heart Beat of America.” We have to get the Crud out of office, change the laws back that made our country great, and tone down the war machine. Thanks for what you said, and please say more so people like me can believe again.

john b

you do realize that comment is basically an email forward, right? do a google search. it’s in 100s of places verbatim.

john b

oh. hah. don’t mind me. it’s a speech.

john b

and get back to me when kucinich actually has a legislative accomplishment other than voting against bills that are 80% good just because they aren’t 100% good.


From Rep. Kucinich’s prayer: We licensed a response to those who helped create the terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response. […] We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan. […] Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan. Civilian casualties in that conflict have never been the intended result, and the public that sends it’s soldiers to war must understand that tragic consequences like these are inevitable once we’ve ‘let slip the dogs of war’; to pretend that we could ever fight a war without paying this terrible price is the worst sort of techno-precision-engagement-fueled naivete (a classic American failing: thinking our technology can save us from ethical dilemma).  If only our targeting/intelligence/technology were a little more accurate, a little more quick, a little more perfect, then we’d be able to wage war without any danger to the innocents.  A noble goal to be sure, but an unachievable one in practice, and the practice is the reality that was authorized.  The pretense that we might already have achieved this level of skill and omniscience is terribly destructive, both because of the unjust blame that it enables of our conduct in war as well as the brake that it removes on our tendency to ‘let slip’ in the first place. It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee If you think I’m trying to make an excuse for negligence or war crimes, please re-read what I wrote. Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of statecraft, which sees peace, not war, as being inevitable. Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic. Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an imperative. […] This is the vision of HR 3616: A universe free of fear. Where… Read more »

a T

I don’t expect anyone in Washington to see these ideas, because, they seem to be convinced that this is still a Democrat vs Republican thing.
The longer they keep it up and they’ll find it’s an us vs them thing, and they will quickly realize that they are grossly outnumbered.
We don’t need a task force, we need a revolution. It can either start in Washington, or when the people rebel against Washington.

The Middle Class Task Force sounds like the Dem response to the Tea Party Movement.
Here’s where both sides get it wrong: If you think it’s okay to take something that isn’t yours, you are a thief. In any philosophy, religion, discussion about how good people behave, thievery  is universally considered bad behavior.  We learned that when we were toddlers on the playground.
If you think it’s okay to take part of the the Piggly Wiggly cashier’s income and use it for Nuti, you are a vampiric thief. But David, if you think it’s okay to take part of her income and use it for roads and services, you are still a vampiric thief.
You don’t stop criminal behavior by being a criminal.
Until people understand and insist that they are unwilling to live with any criminal behavior at all, we are simply discussing the degrees of degradation under which we are willing to live. Sad.


a T:

…thievery  is universally considered bad behavior. We learned that when we were toddlers on the playground.

Is that the lesson you learned?  I learned that the bigger kid gets the toys unless the teacher is there to make him share.

Until people understand and insist that they are unwilling to live with any criminal behavior at all, we are simply discussing the degrees of degradation under which we are willing to live. Sad.

You’d trade one set of chains for another and think yourself better in the offing.  Sad.

a T

>Is that the lesson you learned?  I learned that the bigger kid gets the toys unless the teacher is there to make him share.
No. You are thinking of school where nothing is yours- it’s all collective. Of course you needed a teacher to mediate under those circumstances. Nothing belongs to you in school so you can’t fix the problem yourself.
.I’m referring to your life as a toddler, when another toddler took your toy, you slugged him, or you let him take it, or you shared. Either way, and no I’m not condoning any way, but either way, you knew the thievery was wrong and you made a decision how to deal with it., lived with the consequences.
>You’d trade one set of chains for another and think yourself better in the offing.  Sad.
Exactly my point. Both parties get it wrong.


As long as we are posting random stuff that we like: “The Declaration of Individualism” by Robert LeFevre When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for ONE INDIVIDUAL to dissolve the political bands which have held him under the dominance of any state, and thus to assume his full stature as a human being among the others of his kind, in compliance with highest moral law and in conformity with nature’s laws and in deep humility before nature’s God, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to thus stand forth a free being and subservient to none. These truths are held to be self-evident, that each man is better quali?ed to govern his own affairs than any other man or combination of men or agencies are so quali?ed; that he is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, private ownership of property, and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, each man is quali?ed to select for himself that agency or those agencies which seem to him best suited to protect his life and his property, to maintain his freedom, and which lie within his ability to afford.  That whenever any agency evinces characteristics of tyranny, he is well within his rights and his powers to discharge that agency and to ?nd another more suitable to his inclinations and his ?nances.  That he is competent to accomplish this end singly or jointly with others, with the express understanding that no single person may be coerced or trespassed against in the formation or the maintenance of any such joint enterprise. Experience, indeed, will dictate that governments in practice erode and destroy the individuality of man by virtue of the coercion they exercise against their citizens.  Therefore, he will take due cognizance of this fact, and should a new government be deemed advisable and most likely to effect his safety and happiness, he will see to it that the just powers of that government shall be derived from the… Read more »


a T:

Exactly my point. Both parties get it wrong.

I don’t think we’re saying the same thing, that second link was  to a Libertarian argument in support of judicial activism.

Jeff of Louisville

Dad and I must be the only two Kucinch fans in Dayton (maybe Dad isnt a fan, but just likes that speech?). Anyway Kucinch’s “prayer” brings to mind Billy Bragg’s excellent song, sort of a social-democratic anthem mixed with opposition to militarism.  It’s about England, but its also universal.   They say the left has the best music….
I was a miner
I was a docker
I was a railway man
Between the wars
I raised a family
In times of austerity
With sweat at the foundry
Between the wars

I paid the union and as times got harder
I looked to the government to help the working man
And they brought prosperity down at the armoury
We’re arming for peace, me boys
Between the wars

I kept the faith and I kept voting
Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand
For theirs is a land with a wall around it
And mine is a faith in my fellow man
Theirs is a land of hope and glory
Mine is the green field and the factory floor
Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers
And mine is the peace we know
Between the wars

Call up the craftsmen
Bring me the draftsmen
Build me a path from cradle to grave
And I’ll give my consent
To any government
That does not deny a man a living wage

Go find the young men never to fight again
Bring up the banners from the days gone by
Sweet moderation
Heart of this nation
Desert us not, we are
Between the wars