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Americans Actually Lightly Taxed

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  • What you may be able to link low rates of taxation (and regressive taxation policy, which is what the US has) to is levels of social violence. Thus, Mexico and the United States are both extremely violent societies compared to those at the top of this list, in part because the government is starved by its stingy wealthy elites of funds to deal with violence, especially in poorer communities.
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  • The argument that raising taxes on the wealthy would hurt growth or employment holds no water.
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Juan Cole, Juan Cole.com

The following chart, Tax Revenue as a Percentage of GDP, 2009, is a slightly shortened version of the one at the Globe and Mail, which demonstrates that US tax rates are among the lowest in the industrialized world.

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There is another chart at the Globe and Mail showing how US taxes have fallen since 1965.

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There is obviously no direct connection between low tax rates and a high rate of economic growth in various countries in 2011. Germany is doing well (maybe 3%), the US is doing poorly. Germany’s unemployment is 7%, lower than the US. The argument that raising taxes on the wealthy would hurt growth or employment holds no water.

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Moreover, not all eras are the same. With the challenge of global climate change, we are entering an era where government investment in green energy may have a huge downstream impact on future economic growth and well-being. Germany is making that investment.The US mostly is not.

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What you may be able to link low rates of taxation (and regressive taxation policy, which is what the US has) to is levels of social violence. Thus, Mexico and the United States are both extremely violent societies compared to those at the top of this list, in part because the government is starved by its stingy wealthy elites of funds to deal with violence, especially in poorer communities.

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Media Malpractice on Debt Ceiling

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Five ways media misreported deficit debate

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

There are specific patterns in corporate media coverage of political debates: Progressive ideas are generally marginalized. "Compromise" between the major parties is encouraged. Democrats should "move to the center," which in practical terms actually means moving to the right.

All of these tendencies have driven the discussion over the federal debt and the debt ceiling. In the end, the political process has produced an agreement that can be cheered by pundits and analysts for adhering to media's built-in bias for center-right economics and bogus ideas about centrism and political compromise.

Of the criticisms one can make of the media's coverage of this discussion--and there are plenty--here are five areas where media mangled the debt discussion.

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God Bless Cantankerous Old Men

Whole class of men and women who watch TV or some version of it, like this Internet thing—stay attached to little machines all day long. A lifetime. Sad. Free-thinking goes in the toilet. The Television Watchers start thinking alike, looking alike, buying alike, and they don’t know why.

Christopher Ketcham, TruthDig

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Jon Rawlinson (CC-BY)

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When Michael Jackson died a few years ago, my father, who is 72, called me to complain. “What the hell is this Max Jackoff business?”

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“Dad, what are you talking about?”

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“It’s all in the news. Never heard of him before. Some sort of man-boy. Singer. Runs around on stage making chirping sounds. He apparently died of plastic surgery or some such.”

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“Michael Jackson, dad.”

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“Can you believe the time and trouble being spent on this weirdo?”

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Let Us Be Clear: The Debt Ceiling Crisis is Purely Artificial

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by Valerie Elverton Dixon on the God's Politics blog

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We have come to an impasse in the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling because of several conceptual errors in our public discourse. These errors were most glaring in the remarks recently delivered by Speaker of the House John Boehner in his response to President Obama. The largest conceptual error is the idea that the government of a constitutional representative democracy is different from the people. Boehner said, “You know I’ve always believed the bigger the government, the smaller the people.”

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What does this mean? The government is composed of the people, and if people are paying attention and voting according to their own interests, the government ought to work toward the happiness of the people. The problem is that too many Americans have bought into this conceptual error that the government is some kind of leviathan, a monster that exists to take away their liberties. This is nonsense. A correction of another conceptual error in Boehner’s presentation makes my point.

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10 Things I'd Say to the Anti-Choice Fanatics Trying to End Access to Abortion

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Here are ten realities pro-choicers should throw in the face of opponents of choice they have the misfortune to get into arguments with.

Amanda MarcotteAlterNet

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Rally for Healthcare Reform and to Stop Stupak at San Francisco City Hall
Photo Credit: Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

The anti-choice movement would be nowhere without a heavy denial of reality based on the promotion of myths about sex, about birth control, about women’s bodies, but especially about abortion. While the majority of Americans are pro-choice, the constant drumbeat of stories makes the public wonder if there isn’t some truth to the stereotypes, causing even pro-choice people to support regulations such as waiting periods, parental notification laws, and ultrasound laws that only serve to make it harder for women in need to get abortions.

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With that in mind, here’s ten realities pro-choicers should throw in the face of anti-abortion fanatics they have the misfortune to get into arguments with:

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Mike Davis: The Coming Economic Disaster

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  • Even if debt-limit doomsday is averted, Obama has already hocked the farm and sold the kids. With breathtaking contempt for the liberal wing of his own party, he’s offered to put the sacrosanct remnant of the New Deal safety net on the auction bloc to appease a hypothetical “center” and win reelection at any price.
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  • Dick Nixon, old socialist, where are you now that we need you?
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  • Debt Ceiling Holy War
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Mike Davis, TomDispatch.com

This article is made possible with the generous contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

When it comes to the Murdoch scandal, where everyone’s having such a rollicking good time, it hasn't been particularly hard for reporters, pundits, and commentators to connect a few dots, even across an ocean.  Yes, you can find actual experts claiming in print and online that what’s happening to Murdoch & Co. in England might affect the American part of his imperial media conglomerate, and that it’s even possible the whole structure of his world could be on a collision course with itself and hell.

When it comes to something larger and far less enjoyable though, like the global economy, you would be hard-pressed to find a similar connecting of the dots.  China’s economy soars on one side of the planet (though with a multitude of half-hidden problems), while that country continues to outpace all others when it comes to holding U.S. debt. On the other side of the same planet, from Greece and Ireland to Spain and Italy, Europe shudders and fears run wild.  Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the president and Congress have headed the economy merrily for the nearest cliff, while money is lacking even to keep court systems running in some parts of the country.

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Debt Ceiling Holy War, Chauncey DeVegaAlterNet

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  • Why Do Conservatives Have Unshakable Faith in Ideas That Are Totally, Demonstrably False?
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  • Facts come second to faith in the GOP's populist brand of conservatism.
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  • The American people, the world’s financial markets and the pundit classes remain perplexed by the Republican Party’s dangerous brinkmanship.
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Is America Caught In The Closed Mind Trap?

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  • Partisans apparently have not noticed that the $1.2 trillion military/security expenditures are "off the table" when it comes to controlling spending.
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  • The Republicans and also the Democrats regard war as more important than old age pensions and medical care for the poor and the elderly.
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Paul Craig Roberts, OpEdNews.com

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

A reader responded to my recent column about how the US president was becoming a Caesar with a question: "Wouldn't a Caesar be preferable to a democracy in which the people are too ignorant, disinterested, and stupid to engage in self-government?"

Before I became a widely read columnist with many reader responses, I would have disagreed with the reader's characterization of the American people. Today, I cannot answer the reader's question with a "no" as confidently as I would like.

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Hawk Nation: A Guide to the Catastrophic Debt Ceiling Debate

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  • President Obama’s proposed debt ceiling deal is a disastrous solution to an imaginary fiscal crisis, but the pain it causes will be all too real.
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  • Why Cutting Deficits Now Is (Literally) Psychotic
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  • States That Cut The Most Funding Lost The Most Jobs
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James K. Galbraith, Common Dreams

News reports hold that President Obama scored a political victory by agreeing to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block to achieve a “go-big” $4 trillion deficit reduction. Speaker Boehner had to concede that Republicans won’t vote for any package that includes tax increases – and the deal died. So the gambit worked and the President emerged with a solid image as the alpha deficit hawk

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To which one can only say: how nice for him.

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We’re in a summer that only Salvador Dali could paint, a reality so twisted that one almost yearns for the simple verities of the War on Terror or even the invasion of Iraq. Then as now, to be serious one must be a “hawk.” (The dove is a weakling, a loser, and the owl for practical purposes does not exist.) So let’s review some of the strange and mysterious faces of this ugly, vicious bird.

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Related:

Why Cutting Deficits Now Is (Literally) Psychotic, Joshua Holland, AlterNet

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  • Do hefty deficits sustained over an extended period pose a threat to our economic wellbeing? Absolutely, but the claim that we should address the deficit by cutting public spending now, while the economy is in the crapper and private, consumer spending is in the tank is a delusion.
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  • Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
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  • Austerity - a sure path to a bad economy
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States That Cut The Most Funding Lost The Most Jobs, Huffington Post

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  • On average, states that increased spending performed significantly better than cost-cutting states, with their unemployment rates actually dropping by 0.2 percent (as opposed to 1 percent increase in cost-cutting states), private-sector employment increasing by 1.4 percent (as opposed to a 2.1 percent loss) and 0.5 percent "real economic growth" since the start of the recession (as compared to a 2.9 percent economic contraction relative to the national economic trend).
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  • Stop the Austerity Craze! Massive Budget Slashing Can Lead to Economic Disaster, Violence and Repression
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