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Thursday, September 23, 2010

What is Progressive Liberalism?

Mr. Spectre, this blog’s most regular commenter stated that he wasn’t sure exactly what is considered liberal, or being liberal, in government today, since I have been saying what has been recently called liberal is not, in my opinion, close to being liberal. It is clear that Mr. Spectre despises both Democrats and Republicans, since as a body of representatives they have led us down into a death spiral toward hell. (I hope I have not misinterpreted his viewpoint. But I think I have it right.)

He also stated in one of his comments that if one regularly votes for a Democrat, then they must be liberal. I would answer by saying that in many cases, that assumption could be true, while in other cases, the person who consistently votes for a Democrat might actually believe that that particular candidate is more aligned with his/her political objectives than the Republican candidate in the race. As we have witnessed over the last 30 years, Republicans have migrated more to their right-wing extremist side, than Democrats migrating over to the progressive-liberal side.

An argument can be made that because Republicans have had an easier time raising corporate-financial-real estate-insurance-defense contractor dollars, that in order to compete in elections Democrats also had to woo such campaign funders just to stay in a political race, since we now see that to win elections it takes millions of dollars, or, in other words, out spend the opposition.

It is unfortunate that political races often begin 12 or more months prior to a primary and the candidate with truckloads of cash can use the broadcast media to lie, distort, and manipulate the viewer into believing the opposition candidate is part of the devil’s board of directors.

Mr. Spectre has called Barney Frank, and Paul Krugman liberals. One reason why he has disdain for Mr. Krugman is because this world renown economist once called for a housing bubble but was actually quoting another in order to further make a point, which he was allegedly in agreement with.

This is the quote taken from “Krugman’s Rearguard Apologists” (

“A few months ago the vast majority of business economists mocked concerns about a ''double dip,'' a second leg to the downturn. But there were a few dogged iconoclasts out there, most notably Stephen Roach at Morgan Stanley. As I've repeatedly said in this column, the arguments of the double-dippers made a lot of sense. And their story now looks more plausible than ever.
The basic point is that the recession of 2001 wasn't a typical postwar slump, brought on when an inflation-fighting Fed raises interest rates and easily ended by a snapback in housing and consumer spending when the Fed brings rates back down again. This was a prewar-style recession, a morning after brought on by irrational exuberance. To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble. [Emphasis added.]”

Krugman added:

“Judging by Mr. Greenspan's remarkably cheerful recent testimony, he still thinks he can pull that off. But the Fed chairman's crystal ball has been cloudy lately; remember how he urged Congress to cut taxes to head off the risk of excessive budget surpluses? And a sober look at recent data is not encouraging. Despite the bad news, most commentators, like Mr. Greenspan, remain optimistic. But wishful thinking aside, I just don't understand the grounds for optimism. Who, exactly, is about to start spending a lot more? [Emphasis added.]”

The author of the above piece, J. Grayson Lilburne, wrote in response to Krugman’s written opinion: “He was clearly characterizing a housing bubble as an object of optimism, whether or not he thought it was possible. In other words, at best, Krugman could be interpreted as saying that it would be great if Greenspan could pull off a housing bubble, but that he, Krugman, doubts whether he'll be able to accomplish such a worthy feat.”

No doubt, such a Keynesian belief could be seen by many as one of Krugman’s biggest errors in judgement, since bubbling the housing market brought the biggest collapse in my lifetime and the destruction of $8 trillion in personal housing wealth for those hoping their homes, as their asset, would help them in their retirement years.

I would not call this statement by Krugman, who is typically considered a liberal thinking economist, a policy decision supported by progressive liberals, who basically believe that monetary policy should be directed toward rebuilding sustainable employment, and not the unsustainable stimulation of financial bubble economics.

To make a point about Keynes, it was his belief that during times of economic prosperity, government builds an economic surplus, and when times turn sour, that surplus is used to rebuild the economy by creating stimulus.

Now, his other question was is Barney Frank a liberal? I would have to say no. At times, he wears liberal socks but his outfit is that of neo-liberalism. Frank made his fortune from real estate, the very investment that bubbled us into the economic abyss. He has supported liberal causes and legislation, but fell short in principle, by accepting a mediocre health care bill that should have demanded, at least, a public option, and the other, a financial reform bill that lacked the legs to prevent naked selling of all types, the further growth of too-big-to-fail kleptocrats from destroy the economy in the future, limiting excessive leveraging, abandoned the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, as well as the growth of  “monopolistic oligarchies”. Compromise should not have been accepted because now, what we have is all we will get until the next big thing hits the economic fan.

Professor Michael Hudson said in an address given to the Council of Economic Advisors to the President of Brazil just a week or so ago, “ [N]eoliberal ideology holds that the most efficient path to wealth is to shift economic planning out of the hands of government [and] into those of bankers and money managers in charge of privatizing and financializing the economy. Almost without anyone noticing, this view is replacing the classical law of nations based on the idea of sovereignty over debt and financial policy, tariff and tax policy. Ideology itself has become an economic weapon. Indebted governments have been told since 1980 to sell off their infrastructure to foreign investors. Extractive “tollbooth” charges (economic rent) replace moderate or subsidized public user fees, making economies less competitive and painting them even more into a debt corner as the surplus is transferred abroad, largely tax-free.” He went on to say, “Bankers in the North look upon any economic surplus….as a source of revenue to pay interest on debts. The result is a more debt-leveraged economy---in all countries. Foreign investment, bank lending, the privatization of public infrastructure and currency speculation is now viewed from the bankers’-eye perspective.”

Progressive liberals see such policy and practices as anti-labor, anti-American, anti-productive, and anti-community. They see what Dr. Hudson described as regressive pushing against what should be progressive. I would have to say that Republicans have championed this regressive policy, and now, the TeaBaggers have decided to continue it while dodging the questioning about what exactly defines their individual positions if they are elected into the Congress, instead of painting their views with a very broad brush, such as repealing the “takeover of health care by the government”, continuing with the Bush Tax Cuts, and cutting back on government spending, as we fight two wars, cut taxes and push working Americans into regressive austerity lifestyles. It appears that most of the TeaBagging GOPsters are full blown corporatists.

It is my belief, as a progressive liberal, that many people who feel as I do believe that the two wars have seriously drained our economic resources, as well as horribly affected the lives of thousands, if not millions, of Americans. As we have learned, Afghanistan and Iraq are not really going away. I have never heard of a partial pullout of anything! Either you are in or you are out. Halfway is not real. We are still in Iraq in spite of President Obama declaring ‘the Iraq war is over’, as 30,000 US soldiers remain and the insurgency bombs on. We need to stop the funding for this economic war stimulus package. To continue to fight the al-Qaeda boogiemen, while telling Americans to still be afraid for a bit longer just doesn’t cut it anymore. When you hear Afghanis saying they would rather have the Taliban in power than to have what the US has created under Karzi is eye opening.

Oil has continued to be harder to extract from the Earth, yet this administration, and especially the GOPsters have avoided telling the American people the truth. There will be a diminished economic return when considering the cost of extraction versus the pump price. It will eventually cost more to extract the crude than what the consumer would be willing, or be able, to pay. Progressive liberals believe in an energy tax, especially on carbon producers, to subsidize the development of alternative and sustainable anti-war energy development and production.

This should be “job-one”! In addition, a massive effort to turn down the thermostat, turn off the lights, and reduce individual energy consumption and waste must be preached to all Americans by all our representatives and energy producers.

I, for one, believe that the Federal Reserve should be nationalized and made 100% transparent. Bernanke, along with Paulson and Geithner, should be indicted for manipulating Congress into issuing a TARP bailout under threat that the commercial paper market would go silent if they failed to pass out the $700B to the largest banksta criminal-types who destroyed this economy in the first place. No contingencies or rules or regulations were attached to the free money. The bankstas did with it as they pleased, such as Goldman Sachs redeeming its AIG losses by collecting 100 cents on the dollar, and paying out huge bonuses and salary increases, along with fattened expense account allocations. The taxpayers took on the losses, while the bankstas enjoyed the gains.

The truth was revealed hours later, after TARP was issued, that Bernanke printed money for the use in the commercial paper market, when he could have done it anytime before TARP was even brought to the table. He had the power to issue commercial paper at anytime during the crisis. Bernanke should be investigated and put on trial for fraud and collusion.

A full audit of the Fed should have been “job-#”.

The Federal debt is a problem but is more a long term problem than what others appear to make it. The two wars have been a huge drain on the debt. The total cost of the wars is in the trillions of dollars. It is my progressive liberal belief that the Banksta Bailout has contributed to the debt, since these corporate elites have taken trillions of Fed Funds and special window issued dollars (and in return left Bada Bing Bernanke with garbage mortgage-backed securities---a swap of cash for trash) and invested in foreign companies, boosting foreign GDP, and gambling on Wall Street, essentially manipulating the stock and bond markets using borrowed government issued money. All of this has affected our economy dearly.

What is needed, from where I sit, is to increase the tax on the highest income earners, who have financially made out like bandits from the economic collapse, as well as during the following two years as the nation has tried to climb out of it. The bankstas make money on the way up and on the way down. They robbed around $12 trillion in household wealth through their fraudulent practices and collusion; and, $8 trillion in home price values have been lost, too. They need to pay for it! The neo-liberal philosophy of trickle-down Reaganomics has failed horribly, as has been stated by its creator, David Stockman.

The Regressive Republicans want tax cuts for the rich, an anti-progressive decision, so they can find more trickle-down-into-campaign-contribution dollars deposited into their piggybanks. They say that small businesses need tax relief so they can hire and borrow to expand. Only non-progressive liberal Kool-Aid drinkers believe in such a game changing plan. Small businesses are spent out. They are holding on for dear life to keep their dwindling customer base alive.

The UPS driver I recently spoke with said that his household route deliveries are up over the last year. That is because customers have gone on the Internet to buy what they once purchased locally through retail stores. The engorged 70% of U.S. GDP, which came about through consumer spending, has evaporated.

I believe that it is all about jobs. “Jobs-one!” The regressive Republicans believe that it is all about tax cuts for small business, which is code for the largest corporations, which don’t need tax cuts, since many are swamped in cash. Most don’t pay taxes anyway, due to the generous tax codes, and the tax-free offshore tax havens.

What is needed is a huge paradigm shift away from finance, and war, to labor and production. We need to remove the taxation from labor and production, and shift it over to real estate, insurance and finance.

We need to create legislation that allows every state to form their own state bank, which would then be able to borrow at near zero percent from the Fed, as the bankstas have done. Those state banks could issue bonds, and swap the newly issued bank bonds for Fed funds. With those funds, they would be able to lend to domestic manufacturing. The newly created state banks would then compete in the marketplace along with private banks, which are hoarding trillions of dollars of taxpayer issued cash. The state bank’s open lending policy would force private banks to loosen up their non-lending policies and begin to lend, as well.

This would begin to put people back to work, pay wages, and boost the nation’s GDP. It would continue to push down the trade, and current account deficits. A Green, sustainable manufacturing initiative is what is progressive.

Just as a public option inserted into the health care bill and the law would have offered competition to the private sector health care industry, the creation of 49 more state banks would present competition to the private banking sector, but the regressives in Washington, from both parties, reject real competition. They are serving the needs of their corporate masters. (North Dakota already has a state bank.)

If the government, which spends billions on medical research funding, were to hold all the drug patents for a period of time, then the prices of drugs would drop because the pharmaceutical industry would only be manufacturing the drugs, since the public would already own the patents.  We could begin by owning all new drug patents. This would be a progressive action.  Currently, the price of drugs includes all the costs that have incurred through the price of big pharma drug reps, advertising, and all other sales promotions.

What progressive liberals ask is what should be held in the public domain, held as a public utility, and shared by all the people, and what should be allowed to remain in the private sector with tough rules and regulations, and for violators--prosecutions. Also, what is asked is just how big should a corporation be allowed to become? There should be size limits based upon profits/revenues. Is allowing Walmart to grow into the largest retail conglomerate in the nation good for the country? Should such a corporate giant be allowed to grow so big that they force themselves into communities that don’t want them for fear that the integrity of that community would be damaged? This is the too-big-to-fail question asked in regards to the mega-banks. It should also be asked in relation to international corporate giants that grow so large that they control governments, economies, and more.

Progressive liberals also ask, are we really living in a free market when high frequency computer trading becomes the dominant force when trades are being executed? It has become even more clear that HFT occurs after the market closes, and is used to manipulate the price of stocks along with front-loading, quote stuffing and fake executions. This procedure should be illegal. The so-called free market is filled with fraud, bogus accounting practices, and collusion. This has been rampant since Reagan took office, and had been embedded into the system because of regressive Republicans, and colluding Democrats, who wanted a piece of the prize that was dominated by Republicans.

I am sure I have left out other views that define what a progressive liberal happens to be. One other that comes to mind is we progressive liberals don’t accept torture, the spying on Americans without a search warrant, the destruction of Net-Neutrality, and the idea that the United States is a Christian Nation. Progressives expect the separation of church and state, and the purging of the Christian Taliban throughout government, within the military, and in all government departments.  In addition, we hope to see a fair immigration policy put into law. We also are fully aware that in the-not-so distant future, White people will be a minority in this country. That is a reality that makes the blood of TeaBaggers very cold and clammy. This knowledge of whites becoming a minority brings out their signs reading, “We want our country back.”

One other point that progressive liberals believe is that no public official should be allowed to skate away from criminal prosecution when they engage in law breaking actions. President Obama should have investigated the actions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Gonzales regarding the Iraq War and the manipulation of intelligence, which brought the nation to war without a declaration of war, the lack of action on intelligence presented to them by the outgoing Clinton administration that led to the 9-11 disaster, and the use of torture and rendition on Iraqis.

I believe I covered a great deal of ground that defines the beliefs of, at least, one progressive liberal, and possibly many, many others.

One final point, Americans are frightened and insecure over their future and the future of their children. They don’t trust anymore. They don’t believe their government officials have their best interests at heart. They believe that these officials serve the needs of the corporate elite. They grab at any candidate who makes promises to them, yet, from experience these promises often fizzle away. What is sad is how stupid many Americans have become, and often don’t know what they are angry at and channel it in the wrong direction and at the wrong people. Stupid people do stupid things!

Thanks for reading, jerry