I'll be honest: I didn't watch brave Sir Barry's annual address on the State of the Nation, last night. I simply refuse. I have endured 10 presidents in my lifetime, and in these things, nothing ever changes. There are the usual, stale, patriotic tropes, depleted analogies, the exhausted metaphors and sincere exhortations to reclaim our national spirit, all of which have grown to ring hollowly, emptily out from the speakers, as if spoken by nebulous, rapturous evanescent orators detached entirely from reality. "Justice?" Where is "justice?" How can they talk about "justice," even rhetorically? It is as extinct as the carrier pigeon.
One can say, once again, if nothing else, Sir Barry gives goood speech. His melliflouous voice, with its cadences reminiscent of Sunday preaching, and his skillful and adroit use of language are the fruits of years of careful work and refinement. I remember Joe Biden said he was clean, presentable, and erudite. He still is.
I gathered my notes for this review from secondary sources. There were several themes, all of which lent themselves to the 'campaign' tenor of the event, and the 'populist tone' which this glib epitome of the coordinator class tries to project. I asm going to focus on two, related themes.
Fairness: Much was made of the disparity between the tax rates paid by common folks and those paid by the far more fortunate few. Sir Barry made some points by suggesting a top rate for people with incomes over a $1million/year of 30 percent. That is actually a REDUCTION, however, since the top marginal rate today is--wait for it---already THIRTY FIVE PERCENT.
BUT: If he were truly serious (bwahahahaha) about rationalizing the tax structure, he'd have introduced the idea of a "Financial Transactions Tax" on all "securities" (stocks, bonds, etc) and/or money/instrument trading schemes in the amount of 2 mils on the dollar, net value, on every transaction over, say, $10,000.
With such a tax in place, there would be enough money to fund a national, guaranteed-care, health care provision system, cradle to grave, for every person in the country.
But it makes better politics, I guess, to make the populist appeal to screw the arrogant bastards than to put the system to the use of the people...Heaven fucking forfend.
Then there was Competitiveness -- Shazama said he wants to "create more jobs and improve US workers' competitiveness." And I cringe and my tailfeathers curl under when I hear that shit.
Here's where you can tell he's blowin smoke up yer ass!
The phrase "improve competitiveness," like "increase productivity," is nothing but code for the eternal Bosses mantra of "reduce workers' wages and benefits, cripple unions, and end regulations" so that USer labor costs are comparable to those in the rest of the world.
So, if I read it aright, he means to increase the number of shitty jobs, lower wages and benefits, and turn the country over to the CorpoRats??
In what I must say was hubris even for the President, he extolled the USofA as "The Indispensable country." Stuff like that is "why they hate us." Because by making that claim about US, he's directly implying that other nations aren't indespensable, are in fact disposable or expendable. I gotta think that sets some teeth on edge in other capitols.
Then there were the usual discursive farts about how the wasted trillions of dollars and the million or so Iraqi dead made us safer; in the same vein, there was the pipe-dream of 'safe' gas-shale extraction, aka fracking. Of course, he's also extolled the virtues of clean coal, too.
So I was less than impressed, and I'm dumb-founded by the euphoria and triumphal zeal that attended it. But folks often take me to task for being negative, so I've got a little list of what I'd try to do if I ran the Zoo:
I would advocate a guaranteed annual income, enough to sustain a person in dignity whether they can find work or not. There will probably never again be "enough" jobs to keep everybody working who needs a job. There then would be no need for the "minimum wage," which makes sense because net jobs are disappearing faster than the people retiring from them can get aweay, and they WON'T be replaced.
I advocate TIGHT--down-right draconian--regulation of industrial and work-place safety. I spent some time in the construction binness in the old days and "cavalier" doesn't begin to touch corpoRat attitudes about disposable workers.
I advocate super stringent environmental legislation and regulation. I advocate for the corporate death penalty for frequent/repeat violators. I advocate imprisonment of violators and the termination of their businesses.
I'd declare that I knew ALL businesses are always slyly on the look out for ways to cut expensive corners, or to avoid regulations, or to escape taxes, to cheat workers, to short clients and customers and to escape detection. The larger the business, the greater the chances are for misfeasance. And so I'd double the number of attorneys investigating shabby/shoddy business practices.
I'd advocate for the overturning of Citizens United, in any way I could, and the repeal of CorpoRat personhood.
I also advocate a BAN on GMO seed; For a nationalized energy sector, and FOR MUCH stronger regulation on the "finance" industry, including returning to the principles abandoned when Rubin, Clinton, Summers, Greenspan, and Gramm killed Glass-Steagall in '99.
AND FOR a 'profits' cap, and as I said before a "financial-transactions tax" (2 mil per dollar) on stock, bond, or money transactions.
Just so's you know I, too, can think positive thoughts, hippies.