I’ve just returned from giving speeches and conultations for IBM, back east. No time for much of a detailed weekly missive. But I will offer something in two parts.
First, some interesting non-political items well worth a link or a look. And second, a guest editorial by one of the finest bloggers who never bloggeed -- Russ Daggatt -- concerning a close comparison of the tax and economic plans of McCain and Obama.
1) Cool stuff:
Movie trailers for novels? Wow. Suddenly, they’re all over the place! See a pretty cool one by my friend and part-time collaborator, Jeff Carlson, for his new novel PLAGUE WAR!
And see Greg Bear’s new book City At The End Of Time.
And while we’re at it! Author Mark Raynor ran a cool contest -- apparently on his own -- for photoshopped images based upon classic sci fi stories/novels. There are two Postman references (first and last images). But some of the Bradbury, Van Vogt and other references are choice!
See a worthwhile video about space-based solar power. Some of the numbers are obviously cooked (their extrapolation of year 2100 energy needs pretty clearly leave out expected benefits of efficiency and conservation.) But the overall concept is sound, over the long run.
Want to start a petition?
Citizenship is about a lot more than just voting! In addition to joining my local CERT team and helping in the San Diego fires (http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/) I've also helped a friend who has been leading an effort to create Project-KID... a systematic approach to bringing in basic child-care into disaster areas and utilizing local volunteers to handle this urgent need in skilled ways. Please have a look at these two web sites (only turn your audio volume down first!) http://holdsafe.pbwiki.com/ and http://www.project-kid.org/
We saw that in San Diego's fire crisis, a rich region with undamaged infrastructure was able to pour vast amounts of goods and volunteers into the evacuation centers. Even so, the child-care situation was mixed, at best. (Turns out the best places put healthy kids to work! e.g. taking care of animals. They were far happier and less bored.) Now, lessons learned here and in New Orleans etc are being applied to creating a turn-key set of kits and guides that can help manage childrens' needs in crises, from ideal cases (San Diego) to really rough situations.
Lenore says: "One of the key leading edge applications for this, we believe, is to make provision for dependent care for first responders and other essential personnel, who can't show up to do the work they are trained to do if they can't find child care for their own kids. Turns out this is particularly challenging in public health emergencies, where they utilize a lot of nurses, but we know fire and police also face these needs. We have had more than one emergency responder say that this could be a good mission for some CERT team members."
2) Re-lighting the political lamp with some sharp insight... sharper than I can offer in a rush... this time we’ll substitute a guest presentation by Russ Daggatt, who shares these gems with just a few dozen friends online, instead of writing the editorials and blogs that his wisdom deserves.
=== The Economic and Tax Plans of Obama and McCain ===
Just for the record -- and before diving into the plans offered by Obama and McCain -- here is an update in our comparison of eight years under Clinton versus nearly eight years under Bush:
Job growth under Clinton : 22.7 million jobs – 237,000 per month.
Job growth under Bush: 5.8 million jobs – 72,000 per month (and going DOWN).
There has been a net loss of jobs every month so far in 2008. Bush will have the distinction as the first president since World War II to preside over an economy in which federal government employment rose more rapidly than employment in the private sector (civilian federal government employment went DOWN substantially under Clinton).
The earnings of the average American family (or "real median household income" in economic parlance) peaked in 1999 at $49,222 and has fallen since. This is the first economic expansion in this country's history when household income failed to set a new record. It will certainly decline further this year.
And how did investors do under Clinton vs. Bush? The Dow Jones Industrial Average went up from 3253 to 10,587 under Clinton (325%). It has gone up to 11,503 under Bush (8.7%). The S&P 500 went up from 447 to 1342 under Clinton (300%). It has gone DOWN to 1279 under Bush ( 4.7%). The NASDAQ went up from 700 to 2770 under Clinton (395%). It has gone DOWN to 2347 under Bush (-15.3%)
When Bush took office oil was $31/barrel. Now it is roughly $125/barrel. (That’s what happens when you put oil men in the White House.)
When Bush took office it took 93 cents to buy a Euro. Now it takes $1.56 to buy a Euro.
When Bush took office gold was around $250 an ounce. Now it is $915 an ounce.
I could go on, but you get the idea. The US economy did MUCH better under the fiscally-responsible “high tax” policies of Clinton than under the irresponsible “borrow and squander” policies of Bush.
So what do Obama and McCain plan to do about our fiscal mess?
Every day on the campaign trail, McCain and other Republicans claim Obama will increase taxes while they will cut taxes. Unfortunately, this is not true. (I say “unfortunately” because we need to get serious about our budget deficit.) Obama will also cut taxes … but by less than McCain. First, an explanation. When talking about proposed fiscal policies, it is important to distinguish between “current law” and “current policy.” Under a “current law” baseline, all of Bush's tax cuts are assumed to expire on schedule and the Alternative Minimum Tax is expected to balloon unobstructed. This means that if nothing at all happens, the default event will be that federal revenues will jump significantly, causing both the Obama and McCain tax plans to look like massive tax cuts.
Under the “current policy” baseline, it is assumed that Congress continues to "patch" the AMT and decides to continue the Bush tax cuts indefinitely. The only credible scoring of the proposed tax policies of the two campaigns is by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center . According to their analysis (), compared with current law, McCain would cut taxes by $4.2 trillion over 10 years, while Obama would cut taxes by $2.8 trillion. Compared with current policy, McCain’s policies would result in a $600 billion loss in revenue over ten years, while Obama would increase revenue by $800 billion over the same period.
The two candidates’ tax plans would have sharply different distributional effects. Senator McCain’s tax cuts would primarily benefit those with very high incomes, almost all of whom would receive large tax cuts that would, on average, raise their after-tax incomes by more than twice the average for all households. Many fewer households at the bottom of the income distribution would get tax cuts and those tax cuts would be small as a share of after-tax income.
In marked contrast, Senator Obama offers much larger tax breaks to low- and middle income taxpayers and would increase taxes on high-income taxpayers. The largest tax cuts, as a share of income, would go to those at the bottom of the income distribution, while taxpayers with the highest income would see their taxes rise significantly.
Now check this out: The report notes that McCain has been describing his tax plans on the campaign stump differently than the formal plans that his campaign gave to the Tax Policy Center for evaluation. If you use the tax plans McCain himself describes, he would reduce revenue by nearly $7 trillion over 10 years. In other words, they believe the “official” McCain plans understates the revenue loss by $2.8 trillion. The Tax Policy Center also believes the “official” Obama plans are unrealistic, but working in the other direction. They assume his plans will cut taxes by $367 billion less than the plans described by his advisors – they believe the actual 10 year revenue loss from Obama’s plans will only be $2.4 trillion.
One final point: The Tax Policy Center report makes a preliminary attempt at comparing the cost of the health care plans proposed by the two candidates (as both would result in a loss of revenue): [I]mportant details of both plans are not known, so we made assumptions that might or might not be consistent with the final plans proposed by each campaign. Under our assumptions, if the plans took effect in 2009, the McCain plan would cost about $1.3 trillion over ten years and the Obama plan would cost about $1.6 trillion.
Both campaigns propose measures that they believe will reduce the rate of growth of health insurance premiums, which would reduce the cost of their new subsidies and existing public programs. We did not evaluate the effectiveness of those measures and did not include savings from health care cost efficiencies in our estimates. Under our assumptions, Senator Obama’s plan would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by about 18 million in 2009, and 34 million in 2018. Almost all children would have coverage because the law would require it, but nearly 33 million adults would still lack coverage in 2018.
Senator McCain’s plan would have far more modest effects, reducing the number of uninsured by just over 1 million in 2009, rising to a maximum of almost 5 million in 2013, after which the number of uninsured would creep upward because the tax credits grow more slowly than premiums. Both plans are highly progressive, although Senator Obama’s plan targets subsidies more toward low- and middle-income households and is thus significantly more progressive than Senator McCain’s proposal.
The Obama health care plan would include about over 10 years. If you include those tax cuts along with his other tax proposals, he is proposing tax cuts under both current law and under current policy. Under current law (i.e., Bush tax cuts lapse), he would be cutting taxes by around $3.4 trillion. Under current policy (i.e., Bush tax cuts continue), he would be cutting taxes by around $200 billion. In neither case, is he proposing a tax increase, let alone “the largest tax increase in history” or any of the other nonsense McCain and other Republicans are saying.
Fascinating stuff. Thanks Russ.