Celebrate The Income Tax By Buying 2.41 Big Macs

Over the weekend, USA Today marked the anniversary of the income tax by publishing an article by Al Neuharth (“How income tax has changed in 100 years”), which was followed by a “Feedback” section. Since apparently no media organization can discuss taxes without interjecting the reactionary opinion of Grover Norquist, here is what the paper included with Neuharth’s story:

“All consumed income should be taxed once at one low, flat, internationally competitive rate. High marginal tax rates and redundant taxes on savings retard economic growth and make us poorer.”

– Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform

What Norquist means by “consumed income” is that part of one’s income that will be spent on goods and services and not saved. For many working class folks, this means almost all of their income, since these days they have to spend most or all of it just to get by.

Many conservatives believe that such a wealthy-friendly, “low, flat” tax rate as Norquist proposes would make us more “internationally competitive.” What does that mean?

Perhaps we can get a glimpse into what conservatives mean by saying that America needs to become more globally competitive by looking at what happened on Bill O’Reilly’s Reactionary Review on Friday night.

Laura Ingraham, subbing for O’Reilly, took a swipe at unions, when it was suggested by Demos think-tanker David Callahan that unions would help mitigate the enormous transfer of America’s wealth into the hands of the 1 percent:

INGRAHAM: Stronger labor unions? How do we compete with China, Vietnam, South Korea, India, when we are going to have stronger labor unions that insure that we have more work place regulations, more ways that business has to pay more money to make ends meet? The two things don’t add up.

Ahh. That’s what they mean by making us more internationally competitive: competing with low-wage economies like China, Vietnam, and India. I get it now. Even if it doesn’t add up for Ingraham, it’s starting to add up for me:

1. Conservatives believe that we need to keep taxes low on the wealthy in order to make us more internationally competitive.

2. And they believe we have to keep wages low for workers to make us, uh, more internationally competitive.

Now we can add it all up: The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, all in a race to the bottom for most Americans.

Speaking of competing with low-wage countries, Princeton professor of economics, Orley Ashenfelter, published a study last year famously using a “Big Mac Index,” which was an attempt to compare wages across the world by measuring “the number of minutes it takes for a McDonald’s worker to earn enough money to buy a Big Mac sandwich.”

Let’s look at what the professor found (red highlight mine):

Big mac index

Laura Ingraham asked, “How do we compete with China, Vietnam, South Korea, India“? How, indeed. In the U.S. the “McWage” is $7.33 an hour and will buy almost two and a half Big Macs. In China the McWage is 81 cents an hour and will barely buy half a sandwich. In India the McWage is even lower (45 cents) and will buy one-third of a Big Mac.

So, in order for us to “compete” with such countries we will definitely need to lose our affinity for Big Macs and then win the race to the bottom that people like Norquist and Ingraham and other conservatives would have us run.

Finally, I do want to include another quote from the Feedback section of that USA Today tax article, this one from someone who gets it:

“Our tax system’s evolution has produced a middle-class nation that takes care of our elderly, educates our children, protects our environment, etc., etc. These blessings are well worth the price.”

– Robert S. McIntyre, Director Citizens for Tax Justice

One Fine Day

Well, I said yesterday that Romney’s attack on President Obama for “sympathizing” with those who attacked and killed American diplomats on Tuesday—I still can’t believe Romney made it necessary to write that—would require a “multitude of relatively sober Republican leaders in Congress” to step forth and “call this for what it is” or else “the Republican Party is truly beyond redemption.”

Okay, so let’s look at what happened.

Joe Scarborough, who has his hear tuned to the weird frequency congressional Republicans use to broadcast their bullshit, tweeted:

He was “inundated,” he said. Some inundation. Quiet as could be.

No Republican that I could find openly condemned Romney for suggesting not once but twice that President Obama essentially sided with those attacking American embassies in that he felt the need to “apologize” to them. Not one Republican.

Oh, to be sure, there weren’t that many Republicans willing to go all-in with Mittens, but neither were they rushing to call him out for his recklessness or his questionable patriotism.

Of course, I didn’t expect they would. But I did expect people like Richard Lugar, a veteran Republican who gets credit for being sensible on foreign policy matters, to strongly criticize Romney’s irresponsibility, especially since Ambassador Chris Stevens worked as a staffer for Lugar on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But no criticism of Romney came from Lugar. Only rightful praise for Chris Stevens, whose priceless service and sad death Romney stomped all over with his viscous and opportunistic attack on the Commander-in-Chief.

What about John McCain, who fancies himself, depending on what day it is, the de facto Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, and sometimes even the de facto President of the United States. What did he have to say?

Well, I saw McCain twice on Thursday morning defending Romney. And I mean defending him. Here’s how NBC wrote up his appearance on the Today show:

A day after he and many fellow Republicans showed restrained reaction to the White House’s response to the deadly attacks against American diplomats in Libya, Sen. John McCain on Thursday ripped into President Obama for “feckless foreign policy” he said is harming Middle East relations.

See? Romney lies about and attacks the Commander-in-Chief before McCain’s dead “friend” Chris Stevens is cold, and McCain, statesman that he is, rips Obama—the man who ordered bin Laden to the bottom of the sea—as “feckless.”  Thank Allah that guy never actually became president.

What about Rob Portman, who was a Paul Ryan cowlick away from being Romney’s VP pick? What did he have to say about Romney’s unpatriotic overreaction to a statement from our embassy in Cairo? On CBS This Morning, he said this:

I think for Governor Romney, having seen that statement, to react as he did is the reaction that most Americans would have…which is that at a time when we have this kind of violence against American territory, the thing to do is to condemn it and not to begin by issuing an apology…

Are you bleeping kidding me? Huh? First, Governor Romney is not just one of a breed we call “most Americans.” We don’t want a man in the White House who will react like Most Americans. We want one who actually gets all the facts right before he runs his mouth, a running mouth that will run all over the world.

Second, Portman, as interviewer Norah O’Donnell tried to point out to him, is simply spouting off without knowing the chronology of events. For the millionth time, the statement—not cleared by the White House but completely acceptable given the circumstances—issued by a staffer in the embassy in Cairo occurred about six hours before the breach of American territory happened, and Secretary Hillary Clinton was quick to condemn the violence after it became clear what was going on.

Dammit, get it right. You’re a bleeping U.S. Senator for God’s sake.

I saw Allen West, congressman from a place in Florida where facts are apparently manufactured for convenience, repeat to the Three Stooges on Fox and Friends this morning the same lie Portman and Romney are still pushing:

We should not have made some type of conciliatory, apologetic stance in the middle of our embassies being attacked…

The fact that there was no apologetic stance at any time, let alone “in the middle” of an attack on our embassies, didn’t bother the Three Stooges, as they nodded in agreement with that lying fool from Florida, in all but pigmentation a perfect representation of today’s GOP.

I saw Jim Inhofe, the loopy senator from Oklahoma, aggressively defending Romney on Fox this morning, embarassing himself, and if it is possible to further embarass that God-forsaken and embarrassing state, Oklahoma.

I read a statement released by Senator Jim DeMint, the real father of the Obama-loathing, reactionary Tea Party, not only defending Romney, but also picking up Romney’s lie about the President, whom he hates with a Christianly, Waterlooish passion:

Governor Romney is absolutely right, there is no justification for these deadly attacks and we should never apologize for American freedom. Islamic radicals will use any pretext to justify their hatred of America and our freedom.

It was disheartening to hear the administration condemn Americans engaging in free speech that hurt the feelings of Muslims, while real atrocities have been repeatedly committed by Islamic radicals against women, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East.

How do you begin to describe a party whose leaders say stupid and dishonest shit like that?

And speaking of stupid and dishonest shit.

Rush Limbaugh, who just a day earlier said Romney “may as well be Elmer Fudd,” since conservatives weren’t voting for him but “against Obama,” was on Wednesday all gooey-eyed and Viagra-hard over Mittens:

And after all this happens, guess who the bad guy is?  Mitt Romney, who is the only guy that looked presidential in all of this, who had the guts to go out and characterize this statement from the embassy accurately.  And the media is now saying that Romney jumped the gun, launched a political attack before the facts of the embassy violence were known…

Stupid and dishonest shit is what that is. But there is plenty more, which I won’t go into, except for what was revealed about Romney’s motives by none other than Laura Ingraham, the nasally, hysterical talk show host and Fox “News” regular, who hates Obama almost as much as she loves her converted-Catholic Jesus.

On Tuesday, before the events in Libya and Egypt, Ingraham said this about Mittens:

This is a gimme election, or at least it should be. If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down. Start new, with new people.

Ingraham was expressing the frustrations conservatives were feeling over Romney’s declining poll numbers. But on Wednesday, things had changed. After playing a clip of Romney’s presser in which he doubled-down on the initial lie about Obama and the embassy statement, Ingraham said:

Excellent. Mitt Romney is gettin’ his groove on…He did not back down one iota. That’s exactly how he should conduct this campaign. Keep these people back on their heels…Maybe this will just spur Obama to get a pair as well…

Her first caller after that stellar commentary was a spectacularly ignorant gentleman from New Albany, Indiana, who confessed that, “Obama makes my skin crawl,” after he chimed in with this:

This is what I’ve been waiting for. This-is-what-I-have-been-waiting-for. In one press conference, Governor Romney looked more presidential than any press conference I’ve seen Barack Obama conduct in four years…

Now, one would have had to see that pathetic Romney press conference to know just how disturbed is this gentlemen’s perception, but his comment does reveal the real reason why Mitt Romney behaved on Tuesday like Glenn Beck instead of a candidate for high office. He was trying to get people like Limbaugh and Ingraham and that low-information, bigoted American from Indiana to love him.

Because nothing makes palefaced folks say “I love you” like a factless attack on our feckless, Muslim-loving, hyper-apologetic, terrorist-sympathizing, Kenyan Commander-in-Chief.

And if Republicans want a party that only right-wing know-nothings on the radio and TV can love, then that is what they will have.

And one fine day they will have it all to themselves.

Remarks And Asides

Senator Roy Blunt is now on record as favoring the death of Medicare. Perhaps voters won’t remember that vote by the time 2016 comes around.  I know I’ll do my part to help voters forget.

_______________________

I watched MSNBC’s Ed Schultz humbly and unequivocally apologize last night for calling the insufferable Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut” on his radio show the previous day.  He directly apologized to Ms. Ingraham, as well as MSNBC and others affected. Schultz took himself off the air, unpaid.

Can anyone imagine Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck—people Schultz is often compared to—making such an apology?

________________________

As a sure sign he wants to be a Republican presidential candidate someday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pulling his state out of a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of this year. He can now check that one off his “Get Right With GOP Jesus Checklist.” Let me see: Anti-choice? Check. Anti-gay marriage? Check. Anti-union? Check. Anti-gun laws? Uh-oh. More work to do on that one.

________________________

Speaking of GOP Jesus, there seems to be some confusion as to just who is occupying that role at the moment. Dick Cheney told the Houston Chronicle,

I worship the ground the [sic] Paul Ryan walks on.

I suppose it’s only right that Cheney has booted Jesus out of the leadership, since it’s Ryan who is now hanging on the cross of Republican politics.

________________________

There is hope for Southwest Missouri now that the race in NY-26 is over.  Like in this neck of the Ozark woods, the 26th district in New York is incorrigibly red and has put few Democrats in that seat over the last century—it was Jack Kemp’s seat for God’s sake.  But times are changing, and it’s just possible to put up a real Southwest Missouri Democrat in 2012—someone who will fight to protect our social safety net—and have at least a fighting chance against a candidate—Colonel Billy Long—who in every way supports the radical Republican agenda.

___________________________

A judge in Wisconsin has struck down the anti-collective bargaining scheme passed shamelessly by Republicans in that state, who, the judge ruled, violated that state’s open meeting law.  Expecting, though, that Republicans will simply pass the law again, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, a pro-union group, said that Republicans,

have one last chance to abandon Walker’s rapidly-sinking ship or be held to account in the upcoming elections.

Well, they won’t abandon the ship.  It’s clear that around the country Republicans believe this is do-or-die for reactionary conservatism, and Democrats had better be up to the challenge.  A lot is at stake.

___________________________

I heard Newt Gingrich address the flap over his gigantic Tiffany & Co. charge account by saying that he and his wife are “very frugal.”  Look, I believe him.  Who has extra money to spend on high-dollar jewelry with so many buffets out there waiting to be conquered?

___________________________

Speaking of Georgia congressmen, a freshman Republican congressman from Georgia lectured one of his constituents on personal responsibility—”You want the government to take care of you“—and then proceeded to say that the reason he accepted his government-subsidized health care is “because it’s free.”

Look, the way Republicans are opening themselves up politically by saying and doing dumb stuff like this, one would think they have a guilt complex and want to lose in 2012, as a sort of penance for their wrong-doing. 

I, for one, pledge to help them all get right with God.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 641 other followers

%d bloggers like this: