The Political Slant

Wrecking the Refund Reckoning

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The student debt problem remains, but there are always options.  Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.,  Maxine Waters, D-Calif. and Senator Elizabeth Warren, like spoiled children who can’t get what they want the fair and proven legislative way, will create a workaround. The aforementioned representatives are suggesting, or, even insisting, that President Biden achieve what they cannot accomplish via legislation by issuing an executive order relieving millions from their student debt.  An executive order would be a great boon (in the way of votes) for the Democrats who pushed for it. Look for such a move close to the election, where it will be firmly in the minds of voters.

To quote Senator Elizabeth Warren: “Student loan debt is crushing millions, especially during this pandemic. It’s an anchor dragging down our struggling economy.” So adding trillions to the government debt will be a good economic move?

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Iran Has More Progressive Abortion Laws Than Texas – Video

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Should the SCOTUS leak of the Alito draft decision prove true and powers go back to the state level, Texas will effectively have more restrictive abortion laws than the entire country of Iran. Manila Chan sits down with famed professor (and party to the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna) Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, to discuss the hot social topic du jour – abortion, women’s choice, and the role of government. We’ll learn some Iran 101 basics with the professor and see what Iranians think of the Roe v Wade issue dominating the headlines in the US.

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

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by Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen and Paul Kiel

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.Series: The Secret IRS Files Inside the Tax Records of the .001%

In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes.

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War on Crime – We All Are Victims

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So after 40 years of “tough on crime,” it’s come to this. In addition to the military-industrial complex, we have the penal system / financial complex as something to worry about. We now have perverse incentives in place to continue the expansion of incarceration as the answer to all of our societal problems. It makes perfect sense to keep building new facilities whose sole purpose is to enrich the corporate investors, who enable governments to pretend they are addressing their crime problems by locking up miscreants for longer sentences. All in the name of being tough on crime, which politicians love to tout to their voters.

In the October 15 issue of Science Magazine, there’s an outstanding summary of current research and trends in the social sciences regarding incarceration in the US. They show how the past 40 years of tough on crime has ignored secular trends on reduced crime rates (yes, homicide rates for the last couple of years have gone up). Instead, the incarceration rate keeps going up, and we are building a class of people who find it impossible to function in society after they are released from prison.

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War Criminal Talk

 

There’s been much talk lately about ‘war criminals’ – with the latest accusation coming from the United States accusing Vladimir Putin of Russia of war crimes in the ongoing war in Ukraine, now in its sixth week. The rhetoric climbed to the highest levels in early April 2022 when for just the second time in history – a state was suspended from the UN Human Rights Council. In the UN’s 77 years, Russia joins Libya in this dubious distinction. This, highlighting not only US hypocrisy but that of all nations who supported the US-led vote because there is no other member country that has left behind greater humanitarian crises in its wake than the United States of America.

Take for instance Laos. The tiny, landlocked, Southeast Asian country was the staging ground for the first proxy war between the United States and Russia (then the Soviet Union). Many today, can compare the events unfolding in Ukraine to those of 1960s Laos – caught in the crosshairs of the American invasion of Vietnam, to the lesser-known Secret War in Laos that spanned four consecutive US presidents: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. 

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AOC’s Atrocious Assessment

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (from this point described as AOC) has determined capitalism in the United States as “irredeemable.”  AOC has a degree (cum laude) in economics and international relations from Boston University. So a member of the U.S. Congress with an economics degree describes capitalism as: “Capitalism is an ideology of capital-the most important thing is the concentration of capital and maximize profit.” While the aforementioned quote is a great summary of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, there are other considerations regarding capitalism.

Capitalism was outlined by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations in1776, with the newly-minted United States as an “early adopter” (gosh, I’m sure I heard that somewhere else.) Mercantilism, which preceded capitalism, was the fruitless feudal attempt of the nobility to retain the wealth created by the peasants and serfs. The United States gave up the feudal system and set out on a capitalist journey after fighting off the greatest power on earth. In case you are wondering, Article 1, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the states from granting titles of nobility, that is, prince, duke, or any other title to a citizen. In short, the founding fathers had enough of kings and royalty. (I’m sure they would have exempted Elvis, but that’s another essay.)

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Invest in America; It’s Now or Never

What is “vengeful taxation”? That seems to be the sticking point now for my senator Joe Manchin from supporting some version of the Democratic social safety net spending program. Note how over the years, the emphasis in discussion has changed from describing the objective of the bills, to strictly focus on the overall cost of the programs. But back to “vengeful taxation”, according to Manchin it is not vengeful to seek the correction of the 2017 tax cut bill, as long as the tax rate for corporations keeps them globally competitive. Whatever that means.

Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Look, we in West Virginia have benefitted from the attention paid to this small, land-locked state lacking in so much of what is valued in the US these days. Having a Senator at the fulcrum of power is useful. And I am reminded of how small this state really is when I recall we encountered Senator Manchin at a local restaurant as he came in, bereft of staff and entourage, to join a party at another table. He gave us a couple of minutes as my wife pressed a couple of points home to him, and he was able to respond in the way many politicians have mastered – clasping hands, literally backslapping, and saying nothing that could not be interpreted in many different ways.

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Pugnacious Putin’s Presentiment

With 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, Vladimir Putin (whatever his title) is playing a very dangerous game. Putin wants the Ukraine. His Russia is not enough for him. Like any power-hungry autocrat, the largest country on the globe is not enough. Putin doesn’t want to “liberate” Ukraine; he wants to enslave it, although he will put any conflict in terms of a “liberation.” He will also explain any conflict as being Ukraine started by the Ukraine, even though the Ukraine has no interest in attacking Russia.

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