You can’t spell ‘Scott Walker fails’ without ‘Scott Walker,’ and other holiday stories

Visions of sugarplums – which are what pass for linear thinking this close to Christmas – are dancing in my head. Well, not sugarplums literally. More like Christmas cookies, family fun, Packers football, sprightly holiday music, and The Nutcracker ballet being performed somewhere far away where I don’t have to see it or hear anyone talk about it, ever. (Somehow, though, simply knowing that this cherished holiday tradition is being inflicted on dumbstruck, cow-eyed young children who thought nothing could be worse than learning to add fractions swells my black, bloodless knot of a heart with boundless pity.)

So for what it’s worth, then, here are some of my pre-holiday thoughts, scattered though they may be.

Cliff notes: As if to add more drama to the fiscal cliff standoff, the Congressional Research Service recently reissued a study that had been pulled prior to the election in response to the plaintive squawks of congressional Republicans. The report then, as now, found that at best tax increases on the very wealthy would have a “negligible” impact on the economy. Of course, one need only look at history – and the glaring lack of any consistent correlation between low taxes on the wealthy and broad-based economic prosperity – to know that the report is probably valid.

Before the report was withdrawn, Mitch McConnell and other Republicans complained about its methodology – presumably because the CRS didn’t follow the generally accepted research practice of asking Sean Hannity what the answer is before starting.

Congratulations, Republicans. You have earned the 2012 Pope Urban VIII Award for Scientific Integrity.

Fair or foul? Of course, you may be thinking that it doesn’t matter whether or not lower taxes on the super-rich actually help or harm the economy. After all, isn’t it simply unfair to ask them to pay so much more than other citizens pay?

Fair enough, but it’s simply bizarre to say that society as a whole has taken a punitive stance toward its multimillionaires and billionaires over the last few decades. After World War II and up until 1973, the country as a whole became far more productive and workers generally shared in that prosperity. Since then, productivity has continued to soar while wages have struggled to keep up.

So the wealth coming from those productivity gains has to be going somewhere, right? Indeed it is; it’s going to the already wealthy.

Writes Paul Buchheit on commondreams.org:

Based on Tax Foundation figures, the richest 1% has TRIPLED its share of the income pie over the past 30 years, mainly through tax cuts and financial deregulation. If their income had increased only at the pace of American productivity (80%), they would be taking about a TRILLION DOLLARS LESS out of our economy.

That amount of money, taken in just one year, could provide a $40,000 per year job to every unemployed person and new college graduate in the United States and have enough left over to pay off the deficits of all 50 states.

 

You can’t spell “Scott Walker Fails” without “Scott Walker”: First he promised to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. Now, roughly halfway through that term, Scott Walker is claiming Wisconsin has created just under 100,000 jobs on his watch. Um, no. Not even close, according to Politifact, which gives Walker’s statement its rare and distinguished “Pants on Fire” rating.

Maybe his outlandish estimate is meant to distract Wisconsinites from the goings-on at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a Walker brainchild that apparently failed to track more than $50 million in loans.

So what exactly has Scott Walker accomplished, other than cutting public workers off at the knees and turning our state into a political war zone?

Common sense (usually) wins out: Not sure what to think, say, or do about the recent tragedy in Connecticut. I depart somewhat from many of my liberal brethren in my stance toward the Second Amendment. (In this, I follow in the footsteps of the honorable Russ Feingold.) Gun rights are guaranteed in the Constitution. That Constitution is as sacrosanct a document as there is, and the Founding Fathers didn’t just put stuff in there for giggles. But there are common-sense limits on our rights (speech can be limited in certain circumstances, and people often are required to secure permits before peaceably assembling). While I believe that citizens have a fundamental right to protect themselves, I would agree that the right to bear arms can and should be limited. Where those limits should fall is a broader discussion for another day. For now, we can all agree to unite in our concern for the victims of this tragedy.

That’s great, it starts with an earthquake: I write this on the eve of the much-publicized Mayan apocalypse, confident that neither snow, nor brimstone, nor the return of Quetzalcoatl will prevent my eating my weight in pie filling and sugar in the next few days. But if these are the last words I ever write, I’d like to make them count.

So thanks for the memories. If we all survive, can we please have a saner world in the coming b’ak’tun? Thank you, and happy holidays.

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