Sherman Stein The form of the "official" presidential debates was designed by the two major parties to make it hard for a third-party candidate to have a voice. That's just one example of what you are talking about. Perhaps public financing of campaigns might break that stranglehold.
Sherman Stein A one-party system, as in China, encourages corruption. I hope that the Republican party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Earl Warren will return. If it does not, perhaps a new party, free of special interest money, may form. The polarization in D.C., mentioned as early as 1971, does not produce an efficient democracy. Of course, as political scientists point out, we are not a democracy, but rather a representative government. As evidence for their assertion, note that the lobbyists are clustered in D.C., not scattered through L. A., N.Y, Peoria, and Dubuque.
Sherman Stein The goals and outcomes described in the Fiscal 2008 SEC performance budget you mentioned are laudable, though a decade late. Goals are one thing, reality another, There were many regulatory authorities, and the financial entities could choose the gentlest. Besides, those authorities often lacked the manpower to do their job.
Sherman Stein Clinton in 1995 announced a goal of increasing home ownership from 65.1% to 67.5% of families by 2000, so people would have "permanence and stability" in the uncertainty of a global economy. I've not seen the regulations that implemented this policy, but I'm sure they did not say, "It's O.K. to lie, forge signatures, invent incomes, and set up the borrower for inevitable foreclosure." I agree with the last sentence in your comment, "Such allegations were largely overstated."
Sherman Stein Constant repetition for decades has made "government," "bureaucracy," "taxes," pejoratives, and now "jobs" have become a major issue. The ads on the No on 29 in California simply exploited those three negative words and concern about jobs, and said nothing about cancer. Before the massive No campaign, 67% polled were yes. By the time of the election it was down to 49%. Deceptive, even erroneous, advertising works. From June to November we will see lots of it. Most of us our so busy trying to get from day to day that we don't have time to trace the money trail or check the truth or falsehood behind the ads.
Sherman Stein If the meat industry had done a more reliable job of inspection, we wouldn't need gov meat inspectors. Gov inspectors cost money, increase spending. The history of many gov agencies, bureaus,etc. would show that they were created to solve a problem that wasn't being addressed. I'm a thrifty fellow myself and believe gov should do only that which we the people cannot do. After all, gov is not imposed by a foreigner, such as George the Third. There is a natural tendency for these agencies to be co-opted by the groups they are supposed to be monitoring. Not nice. Constant vigilance is needed.
Sherman Stein There are 14 profiles in "The Self-Made Myth," but Clooney is not among them. I have no idea whether they are major donors to the DNC, nor minor, nor not at all. What is the main theme and evidence in the book you recommend?
Sherman Stein This in response to your claim that money is fungible and therefore the tax on gasoline could end up funding who knows what. Not being familiar with the facts in this matter I consulted the Institute of Transportation. I quote its reply: "No, money is NOT fungible. It goes into the highway account and can be used only for roads (plus a small share for transit)." That is the case in CA. I don't have the time to look into the remaining 49.
Sherman Stein Zack, this is in response to your mention that money is fungible, and therefore the tax on gasoline could end up funding who knows what. Not being familiar with the facts about this, I contacted the Institute of Transportation. Here is the reply, verbatim: "No, money is NOT fungible. It goes into the highway account and can be used only for roads (plus a small amount for transit)." That is the case in CA. I don't have time to look into the other 49 states.
Sherman Stein Because I'm not familiar with the highways you mentioned I contacted the Institute of of Transportation on my campus. It said that there are arguments to be made on both sides of the government vs private debate. What is unfortunate is that a group of people who are offended by taxes prevent the government from raising gasoline taxes and then cry, "See! The government can't maintain the roads. Look at all the potholes." Evidently, it is not as simple as you imply. As I see it, there are good taxes and bad taxes, a distinction lost in the passion of the political wars and campaign rhetoric. For instance, the taxes that paid for Highway 5 were good, for that freeway has made it easy for me to drive to LA and Portland.
Sherman Stein I agree that not all are begging to be taxed. The rationale for the low tax rate on dividends and capital gains introduced in 2003 I find a bit of a stretch. That rate is supposed to encourage investment. Is there evidence that it has? I doubt that anyone has proposed taxing workers less so that they would work more. Just as there is a limit to work, there is a limit to investment. Underlying this discussion is a fundamental question, "Are we a community, with mutual responsibilities, or are we just a motley collection of individuals who happen to live on the same patch of land?"
Sherman Stein "To remove possible competition" is not a convincing motive. As Gruener (and history) point out, entrepreneurs don't make business decisions based on fluctuations in the tax rate. "Donating the money to the treasury" is not a realistic proposal. Gov is too important to be treated as a charity. It's like supporting the army with cake scales. I suggest that you read the 14 case studies in "The Self-Made Myth." "Ulterior Motives"? I'm not into conspiracy theories. Some things are what they are.
Sherman Stein Some things gov does better, like building the interstate (working with the private sector). Some things the private sector does just fine without the gov. Both types can do a lousy job, both can do a fine job. Both have "faceless bureaucrats." I'm a pragmatist, take each case one by one.
Sherman Stein Jeanne, I did a bit of micro history and confirmed what I had remembered. If you put "attorneysgeneral mortgage Bush" into Googol you will find an article that describes in detail how Bush II blocked the attempt by the States to nip the mortgage crisis in the bud years before it exploded. It is not a pretty story.
Sherman Stein Thanks. I'll look into the microhistory. A teller in a bank here in Davis years ago had a job in the mortgage industry. He said it stank to heaven years before it collapsed. If it was obvious to him, it was obvious to anyone who bothered to look. A secretary in my department had the same experience with the S and L industry, and got out in 3 months. Evidently our country is not well governed, whether by D's or R's.
Sherman Stein Take housing, for instance. The gov't encouraged home ownership. It did not order lenders to commit fraud, to lend to those who had no way to pay off the loan, and so on. Early in the mortgage disaster the attorneysgeneral (government) wanted to stop it. However, Bush II prevented that. I'd assess blame on the gov't at 10% (for not intervening) and 90% on the mortgage companies.