The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 3.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 3 of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree. (Read Part 2 here.) Each part covers one of the thirteen major sections of the DNC’s statement. Part 3 begins near the bottom of page 9 of the document and is titled…

FIGHT FOR ECONOMIC FAIRNESS AND AGAINST INEQUALITY

“Democrats believe that today’s extreme levels of income and wealth inequality are bad for our people, bad for our businesses, and bad for our economy.”

I would agree that being extremely poor is a bad thing. The central disagreement is, “How did they get there and why do they remain there?” The Democrats would have you believe that the Top One Percent put them there and are keeping them there.

In asking, “How did they get there?”, I am not saying that if they got there of their own volition then they should stay there. This is not about assigning blame. It’s about fixing the problem and keeping others from going there as well.

I agree that for many in the lowest levels of poverty, they are there because they were born into it, and they now find it difficult to get out.

That’s where the second part of the question comes in — why do they remain? Is it because the deck is stacked against them and the Top One Percent hold all the cards?

Achieving economic success isn’t easy. It never has been. It never will be. Get-rich-quick schemes are the surest way to get-poor-quick.

I field requests for benevolence assistance on a regular basis. In my experience, “poor” isn’t what it used to be.

“..the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent combined…”

This is called “fun with numbers”. What does it mean? It means the top one-tenth of one percent of Americans are doing well. It means the bottom 90 percent of Americans don’t have as much as those in the top ten percent. That is ALL it means. There is a top and there is a bottom. Any other meaning you try to attach to those words is questionable, at best.

[page 10]

Reining in Wall Street and Fixing our Financial System

“To restore economic fairness, Democrats will fight against the greed and recklessness of Wall Street.”

Uh huh. Then what? Perhaps a fight against the pride of Hollywood?

The premise of Wall Street is greed. The only way to keep investors from making bad, risky, and reckless investments is to stop investment altogether.

Remember, this all flows from thinking that there is economic unfairness at present. There is economic difference. There is economic disparity. There is economic variation. There is a gap between the rich and the poor. Is that really unfair? Is it unfair if one person makes the right decisions, provides goods and services that are requested, then reaps the economic benefits, while another person make bad decisions, fails on their promises, and reaps the economic losses associated with their actions? Is that really unfair?

But, yes, when laws are broken or laws are created that favor the rich over the poor, that is unfair. Those issues are the ones to tackle. Lest you think I am completely for the bad actors on Wall Street, read on…

“Wall Street cannot be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments and making huge profits, all the while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again.”

This paragraph is worded to drive emotion, not logic, so let’s take this bit by bit. There are four things the writers say that Wall Street cannot do. Wall Street cannot…

>> “Be an island unto itself.” No kidding. Nor does it want to be. It’s impossible to interact with the world if you’re off by yourself.

>> “Gamble trillions in risky financial instruments.” It can. It does.

>> “Make huge profits.” It can. It does. But only by gambling trillions in risky financial instruments. More risk means more potential profit.

>> “[It can’t do those other things] while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again.” It can. That’s the problem the Democrats are addressing. Wall Street was bailed out before. Actually, specific investment firms were bailed out. This wasn’t “Wall Street” and every investor doing business in one of the stock exchanges or mutual funds or one of the many other investment avenues available who were poorly performing. It was a few bad actors. They were bailed out. They should not have been bailed out.

“We must make Wall Street work for the job-creating, productive economy—including by making loans more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses.”

No. I’m not for usury. I’m not for high rates of interest. I’m for reasonable rates. Loaning money is a risk, and the rate of loans must be commensurate with the risk. We should not make it that much easier for small- and medium-sized businesses to go deeper into debt. We should not make it that much easier to borrow money that they will not be able to repay. However, if the higher rates of interest are simply because of government regulations without any relationship to the real risk of the loan, then I am very much in favor of removing the State restrictions and allowing businesses to move according to the free market.

“We must hold both individuals and corporations accountable when they break the law. Democrats believe that no bank can be too big to fail and no executive too powerful to jail.”

Yes. The rest of this paragraph gets a big thumbs-up. It doesn’t take creating a thousand new laws and regulations for businesses to wade through. (Please, no.) We must simply enforce the laws that make sense and allow failure and success to happen.

“We will also vigorously implement, enforce, and build on President Obama’s landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law…”

I don’t know what the Dodd-Frank law says. If, like me, you don’t know what it says either, shut up. Don’t be one of those idiots that opposes it simply because President Obama was for it, or that supports it for the same reason.

“We will also continue to protect consumers and defend the CFPB from Republican attacks.”

Likewise, I know little of the CFPB. I had to search to figure out that the acronym stands for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency founded under 6 years ago that already has amassed over 1600 employees running under a $605.9 million budget!

Wow. That should be some pretty good protection.

“Democrats condemn predatory payday lending, and will protect consumers by defending the CFPB and implementing strong new regulations.”

Does predatory payday lending happen to the tune of $605.9 million annually? Are Democrats interested more in protecting consumers or defending their $605.9 million agency? And why must Democrats insist on new regulations? How cost-effective are more regulations actually going to be?

“We support a financial transactions tax on Wall Street…”

Nope. This is proposed as a way to slow down trading. It would be successful. The problem is not high-frequency trading, the problem is unsuccessful high-frequency trading that is then supported through government bailouts. Though that is strongly stated, there might be other ramifications of high-frequency trading of which I’m not aware. I still am against taxing in general, though I understand that this is like a sin-tax for investment bankers.

“Democrats will not hesitate to…downsize or break apart financial institutions when necessary…”

Does that include the Federal Reserve?

I have some reservations about this.

“Banks should not be able to gamble with taxpayers’ deposits…”

Gamble. Invest. Tomāto. Tomäto.

“Democrats support a variety of ways to stop this from happening, including an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall as well as breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions”

“Where’d we put our Glass-Steagall? Anybody seen it? Dust that thing off and set it here. Yeah, that looks good.”

Killing something so it doesn’t fail seems odd. That’s what “breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions really means, right?

“We believe that personnel is policy.”

That’s a nice phrase. I hope to remember use that in a non-political way.

“We will crack down on the revolving door between the private sector— particularly Wall Street—and the federal government.”

Again, I dislike the demonizing of “Wall Street”, but I think the general caution towards limiting conflicts-of-interest is a good one. Having people in a position to make policy that promotes their own self-interests over the interest of the citizenry is not good, whether it’s a President or any other State employee.

[Page 11]

“We will protect and defend the Federal Reserve’s independence to carry out the dual mandate assigned to it by Congress—for both full employment and low inflation—against threats from new legislation.”

Mmm. The Federal Reserve is not independent, nor will it ever be.

“At a time when many of the largest banks have shunned communities across America…”

I did not know this. Is it true? Of course, if they get too big and access too many communities, won’t Democrats be tempted to break them up?

“Democrats believe that we need to give Americans affordable banking options, including by empowering the United States Postal Service to facilitate the delivery of basic banking services.”

Let me see if I’ve got this straight…you want the USPS, an institution that is losing money and delivering my mail to my neighbor on a regular basis, to be in charge of my banking? Um…no, thanks.

Promoting Competition by Stopping Corporate Concentration

“Democrats will take steps to stop corporate concentration in any industry where it is unfairly limiting competition.”

Corporate concentration is a new way to say “monopoly” or a different way to say “synergy”. All in all, I’m in favor of what the Democrats are saying here. Let’s start with the cable/internet companies…can we have some competition there, please?

Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

“We believe the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations must pay their fair share of taxes.”

I agree that everyone must share in supporting our country. The cost of infrastructure, the common defense, and other items which benefit wealthy Americans and large corporations must be shared by those same people and companies.

However, investment and job creation usually come from the excess income that people and corporations have, not their base. If the excess is taken away from them through taxes, in order to pay for State programs, then those same wealthy Americans and large corporations will not be investing and creating. In the end, we all suffer because of it.

“Democrats will claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies, and crack down on inversions and other methods companies use to dodge their tax responsibilities.”

There’s that phrase again — “claw back tax breaks”. It’s interesting how much they seem to like that phrase. I do not.

If the tax breaks and inversions and “other methods” favor particular companies or the oil and gas companies as a whole over other industries, then they need to be changed.

“We will make sure that our tax code rewards businesses that make investments and provide good-paying jobs here in the United States, not businesses that walk out on America.”

If this means adding taxes to businesses that trade and manufacture globally, then I do not agree.

“We will end deferrals so that American corporations pay United States taxes immediately on foreign profits and can no longer escape paying their fair share of U.S. taxes by stashing profits abroad.”

Here’s what would happen: businesses would have to weigh the cost of being taxed both here and in foreign countries where they do business, or they would have to cease doing business globally, forgoing the profits realized from that business, or they would cease doing business in America and instead do business in the other 95% of the world.

Corporations wouldn’t be able to escape paying “their fair share”…but they could escape altogether.

This is bad policy.

“We will ensure those at the top contribute to our country’s future by establishing a multimillionaire surtax to ensure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share.”

People react to this like we’re talking about Prince John and Robin Hood. Democrats insist that rich people are crooks and build their wealth by treating poor people badly; therefore, it’s okay if we treat rich people badly. Neither is okay. It’s not okay to slap rich people around simply because they have been successful.

“Democrats believe that no one should be able avoid paying their fair share by hiding money abroad…”

I agree with this entire paragraph and the one that follows (except for the assertions made about President Trump and Republicans…I don’t know if those assertions are true or not.)

Promoting Trade That is Fair and Benefits American Workers

“We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies that support jobs in America.”

An obvious truth. What is much less obvious is the path to better trade policies. I’m pretty sure that I agree with the rest of the statements regarding trade on this page.


The first three major sections of the DNC platform have drawn more criticism than praise from me.

Next: Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Opportunities

The sum of all fears

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/28/spiders-could-theoretically-eat-every-human-on-earth-in-one-year/?utm_term=.d0ace23ec804

This is less than optimal, right?

The DNC platform: a commentary. Part 2.

The Democratic Party Platform, was approved July, 2016. This is Part 2 of my page-by-page commentary, attempting to clarify the things with which I agree and the things with which I disagree.

In Part 1, I covered the Preamble and first major section of the platform. There are thirteen major section. This post covers the second, which is much shorter than the first.

CREATE GOOD-PAYING JOBS

[Page 7]

The prologue to this section is very good. It is inspiring and noble.

Building 21st Century Infrastructure

“If we are serious about reversing the decline of the middle class, we need major federal investments to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure…”

I agree. One of the main parts of our infrastructure mentioned in the opening, the Interstate Highway System, points to the difficulty of infrastructure. It is difficult and expensive to put in place, and it remains difficult and expensive to maintain. People tend to be motivated to sacrifice when it comes to building, but they also tend to relax after that and become much less motivated to maintain. That is what has happened in many places. The focus has turned from what was built and has been given to many other items. Tax money that was meant for infrastructure has been redirected to other projects which, as important as they might be, take away from what the money was meant to do. Providing infrastructure is one of the legitimate uses of taxed income.

“Democrats will also create an independent, national infrastructure bank…”

I don’t know what a national infrastructure bank is or what the possible up/downsides of it are.

Fostering a Manufacturing Renaissance

“Democrats believe one of the best ways to innovate, prosper, and create good-paying jobs is to make more in America…”

True. There are some good things in this paragraph. I’m going to point out the not-so-good.

“We must…claw back tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas…”

That’s a creative way of saying we’re going to tax companies more if they have manufacturing outside of the country. Making it more expensive to manufacture elsewhere only makes goods more expensive here; it doesn’t  help the middle class.

“Democrats will defend the Export-Import Bank…”

Something else about which I know nothing.

[page 8]

Creating Good-Paying Clean Energy Jobs

Yes.

Pursuing Our Innovation Agenda: Science, Research, Education, and Technology

The first four paragraphs are largely non-specific. There’s nothing to disagree with there.

“Democrats support a free and open internet at home and abroad, and will oppose any effort by Republicans to roll back the historic net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission enacted last year.”

This sentence actually says two very different things. I understand the intent of the net neutrality rules, which are commendable. However, those rules do not produce a “free and open internet”. They do the opposite. They create an internet controlled and managed by the State.

“We will protect the intellectual property rights of artists, creators, and inventors at home and abroad.”

Good.

[Page 9]

“We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space.”

Not everything NASA does is worthwhile, but I’m still in favor of the general purpose and would rather err on the side of aggressiveness over caution in this area.

Supporting America’s Small Businesses

“The Democratic Party will make it easier to start and grow a small business in America…”

That’s good. So many other things in the Democratic agenda point to this not being the case, but I’m will to suspend my disbelief. The rest of this paragraph is non-specific and aspirational.

Creating Jobs for America’s Young People

“Democrats will make investments to spur the creation of millions of jobs for our young people.”

Does the phrase “Democrats will make” mean that they will all be contributing to some fund or contributing in addition to their regular tithes and offerings, or do they really mean they will be taking more money from citizens to fund State-run programs?

I’m all for the first one. Not so much for the second option.

“Democrats will provide direct federal funding for a range of local programs that will put young people to work and create new career opportunities.”

Well, there’s the answer. So, no, I’m not in favor. More jobs for young people are needed, but State-created employment is never the answer in the long run.


End of the section major section.

You might ask, why now? Why didn’t I write all this back in 2016, before the election?

Um…I was stuck in a meeting I couldn’t get out of and the electricity went out in the building and we were trapped on the 18th floor and the telephone system blew, too. Amazingly enough.

Regardless of the delay, the Democratic positions on most things have not changed and many of the disagreements happening today are a result of what they believe vs. what is believed by their opponents.

So, now I’m writing.

Next: “Fight for Economic Fairness and Against Inequality”