Kermit Moss

[Editor’s note: Kermit Moss died on July 27, 2012. Below are Mr. Moss’ archived opinion columns.]
Read more about Mr. Moss

Presidential Politics and Us

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee!  What is the truth in what is being stated as fact out there?  Here is some of it, as seen by this old former accounting and economics professor, and life-long student of public affairs.  First let me say that I agree with David Axelrod that Newt Gingrich is the godfather of gridlock, and I add that he should not, under any circumstances, be elected as President of the United States.  It has produced a situation so fraught with partisanship that we cannot even pass legislation to pay the normal costs of operating our government.

Further, he claims credit for trickle down economics, which holds that we should give preferential treatment, in taxation and in regulations, to the providers of capital, and if we do, good jobs will trickle down to the middle class  and the poor.  No greater lie has ever been perpetrated on the American people than this!  If true, our country would be flush with jobs right now.

But we have done so for so long that now 90% or more of private wealth in he USA is owned by 10% of the people; and about 40% is owned by the top 1 percent.

Suggested reading:  Psalms 82, verses 3 and 4!

Big War Memories of the Mediterranean Sea

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee! WWII memories are getting old, so let me relate this story to you, while I can. Every time I see current stories about Libya and a map of the related Mediterranean coast, I think of it. We were leaving Oran, Algeria,

at night, on our way to India and Burma, on the British troop ship Aronda, with several hundreds of soldiers, and as we traveled along the northern coast of Libya, we woefully feared an attack by German submarines, since they had used a guided missile, perhaps the first of such use, to destroy the sister ship of the Aronda, with much loss of life!

But the U. S. had sent a fleet of small fighting ships and submarine destroyers to protect us, and they did their job. All along that coast and until we got into the Suez Canal they were dropping submarine destroying depth charges, and when they exploded there would be a loud noise, and our troop ship would rock.

I really don’t think I have to tell you that we got very little sleep that night!

On occupying Wall Street

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee!  What about occupying Wall Street? What are all these protests about?  Most, but not all of them, are about the alarming, and unfair current inequality of income and wealth! A few years ago a CEO made 40 times as much as the average on-line worker.  Now it is 376 times as much!  A coach may make $4 million per year, while the president of the college or university makes $300 thousand! And the President of the USA makes only $400 thousand! The top 10% now own 90% of all private wealth, leaving a mere 10 percent in the hands of all others. A similar situation was true in Cuba before Fidel Castro took over! There is not enough purchasing power left in the hands of consumers to create the much needed jobs! Furthermore, the available jobs are fewer and fewer and they pay less and less!  Then to top it all off our federal government is so gridlocked that it can’t even pass a bill to finance government operations! In addition, we fight two wars using only the sons and daughters of the middle class and the poor. Shame on us!

I think the movement would do better by calling itself The Coffee Party, and setting forth several objectives, one of which would be to impose a high income tax on the top 10 percent and an even  higher tax on the top 1 percent.
Let it rip!

Living within our means

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee!  Often we hear people say that the federal government must live within its means, “just like I do”!  Frequently those so saying are high ranking government officials who should know that the two are not comparable; and they are not comparable because of the powers and abilities held by the government, that are not held by individual taxpayers. For example, congress could pass a tax bill that would pay the government’s current annual expenses plus enough to eliminate the public debt over the next ten years, if it had the will and guts to do it!

As a firm believer in the ability to pay theory of taxation, and realize that after a long period of adding on and adding on to their wealth, one per cent of the American people now own 38% of all American property, we could and should raise the income tax on that group sufficiently to accomplish the aforementioned.  I believe this could be done without decreasing their consumption any at all, thus having no negative effect on jobs.

Perhaps those of us who still believe in government of the people, by the people, for the people should establish Coffee Party groups all over the country to counter what has been done by the Tea Party!  With the part that coffee has played in our history, why not!  Also, we should work toward job creation, and reduction of federal expenses.

More on what needs to be done

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee!  What more needs to be done to counter a double dip recession, which could very well be worse than the first one, and God forbid, even worse that the great depression of the 1930’s,  which I lived through and can recall the depths of, even now!

First, let me note the inconsistency of having a global economy without  a global government!  It doesn’t make much sense at all when you think of it! The facts indicate that either we should get out of the global economy or form and become a part of  global government.  Our relative position and our general welfare has been going down ever since we committed ourselves to international free trade!  But my common sense and my under-standing of the matter tells me that we Americans are not likely to join a world government unless we are the leaders of it, and that certainly is unlikely to happen! If you have an answer, please tell us about it!

Then there is the matter of the unprecedented accumulated wealth, with 90% owned by 10% of the people, and 23% owned by one per cent! This does not leave enough wealth in the hands of the 10% to provide the consumption necessary to create the badly needed jobs in the USA!

Since the wealthy are not likely to give up their position willingly, a redistribution of wealth may be the only alternative!

Government dysfunctionality

Mercy me, sakes alive and carrot coffee! Has the United States government reached such a state of gridlock that we can no longer govern ourselves, unless we make some major changes? I think that the answer to that question is yes!

A recent Rasmussen poll showed the United States as having 34.7% democrats and 34.3% republicans.  That leaves 3l.0% of others, generally called independents.  They are not a political party and thus have no platform, but they usually vote against the party that is in power, then repeat the process 2 years later.  So we are getting nowhere!  In the recent infamous and manufactured debt debates we came within an inch of letting the richest country and greatest democracy in the world default on its debts!  As a result the S & P Rating Agency downgraded the USA from a rating of AAA to an AA+, which is sure to have a negative effect on most of us, over time!

In the course of the debates, most of it along party lines, there was very little willingness to negotiate, and no mention  of the fact that 90 percent of the wealth in the country is now owned by 10 percent of the people, and 23  percent is owned by the top  one percent  of the people. Jobs are created by consumption and this unwise concentration of ownership leaves insufficient funds in the hands of consumers for the consumption needed to create jobs!

What to do? For one thing, we need to either re-write our constitution or to amend it such that some elected official will always have the authority to settle such issues as were involved in the recent debt debate. It seems logical here that the President of the United States, our top elected administrative official ought to have that authority!

Taxes and Jobs

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee! The big question out there now “does increasing the federal income tax always cause a decrease in jobs, and vice versa?”

My answer , the economic answer, based on many years of study and teaching economics at the college level, is a vociferous and resounding no!

Let me again remind you that economics is properly described as “one of the social sciences dealing with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services”. And consumption is the driving force in this equation. So anything that increases or decreases consumption will increase or decrease jobs! But does an  increase in federal income taxes always decrease consumption? The answer again is a loud and vociferous no! Income taxes on the very, very rich will not decrease their consumption.

Again, we need to look at the concentration of wealth in the USA. According to late and reliable reports, the top 10% of the wealthy now own about 90% of all private wealth, and the top 1% owns an astounding 23%. They have been able to do this because of taxes  and regulations that favor them, and the reason given by them and the ones responsible for setting up such favorable rules is always that they are the job creators!

Just this morning on national TV Senator Mitch McConnell, republican of Kentucky, proudly stated that in the deal to increase the national debt limit there would be no job destroying increase in taxes! Republican Congressman (Speaker of the House) Boehner said the same thing just after having told the republican house members to get their “a—-” in line.

If economic ignorance is this pronounced at high government levels, it is no wonder that things are as they are! And we can’t expect employment to improve!

When the mailman cometh!

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee! Let us look up ahead, past August 2, and the federal officials elected to do so have failed to establish a new federal debt limit, then what? For many, the outlook is grim, to say the least!

First and foremost that social security check, so depended on for everything, does not arrive! What about food? You have a few leftovers, but what then? There are soup kitchens, of course, but with hundreds of thousands more seeking them out, can they serve all the needy?

Within a few days the gas and the electricity will be shut off, so you couldn’t even make a cup of coffee, provided that you had the makings! Pretty bleak, isn’t it?

Of course it is, but now let us look at the big picture.

The United States of America, once renowned as the world’s leading democracy, has reached such a state of gridlock that it can’t even conduct its own business! Senator Mitch McConnell, a republican from Kentucky, has publicly stated that his main objective in everything he does is to see that President Obama is not reelected in 2012! So forget about compromise! Forget about what is good for the country!

May God help us!

Our Constitution needs re-writing

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee!  Our constitution is old, very old, and in need of a complete revision.  Thomas Jefferson, the composer of it, and one of the wisest men of his time, thought that it should be re-written about every 20 years.  But it was adopted in 1776, 235 years ago, and we have amended it several times, but never have we re-written it!

A case in point is the present gridlock over raising the federal debt limit. Under these circumstances the President, our duly elected administrator, should have the authority to settle it. Now it appears that the Supreme Court is a part of the national gridlock! We should  consider changing their term from a lifetime to 4 or 5 years. Then there is the matter of the lobbyists, who now are pretty much running the government. We should get them out of there, and let those elected to do so perform their job!  Also, there is the case of big corporations being accorded the legal position of a person, and being permitted to put unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns.

The details of the gridlock are important. A recent Rasmussen poll showed 34.7% Democrats and 34.3% Republicans, leaving 31.0% independents. These independents are not a political party and thus have no platform. They are generally just against whichever party is in power at election time.It is time for some major changes.

Priorities in Education

Mercy me, sakes alive, and carrot coffee! With the enormous amount of ignorance exhibited daily by even top government officials, methinks Sociology and Economics should be required subjects. What governments should do and what should be left to the private sector are daily questions.

Let’s look at government first. To put it simply, governments should do all things needed by the people that cannot or will not be done effectively by the private sector. That gets us immediately into the anti-tax, anti-government position so prominently displayed regularly by the GOP. And does this mean that governments have an obligation to provide jobs under the circumstances that prevail today? My answer is an unequivocal YES!

Now, as to economics, it is described as “one of the social sciences dealing with the production, distribution, and CONSUMPTION of goods ad services”. All goods and services must be consumed or they will not be produced!

And, if produced, they will be produced by workers in the job needed, as required. Thus it is consumption, not INVESTMENT that creates job. But over the years those who benefit so much from doing so hollered so loudly, giving investors credit, that many people believe it, including House Speaker John Boehner who so claimed just yesterday.

Today the investor class, consisting mostly of the top 10 percent own about 90 percent of all USA wealth, leaving a mere 10 percent with consumers. Thus, there is not enough consumer demand to provide the badly needed jobs!

Leadership Traits

All over this great country, from now until November, 2012, political races will be in progress for high offices in government. With the destiny of the country hanging in the balances, with complete and unadulterated plutocracy in the offing, government of the people by the rich for the rich, as opposed to our beloved democracy based on the idea of government of the people, by the people, for the people, it is time to consider the basic qualities needed by those who will control our destiny. Here is my list of desired qualities:

High moral character in every respect.

Very well educated in order to have a thorough knowledge of government, economics, politics, and world affairs.

As Polonius said to his son Laertes, “This above all, to thine own self be true. Then thou cannot be false to any man”.

A leader who leads by example and persuasion. If he follows the polls for guidance, he is a follower, not a leader!

An innate sense of fairness that impels him/her to treat all citizens the same, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, or economic status.

To realize that 90% of American wealth is now owned by the top 10 of the wealthy, and to know that something must be done to loosen up consumer demand, or we will continue to have job shortages!

Lay on, McDuff!

Kermit C. Moss was a CPA, a Democrat, and retired college professor who organized the University of Arkansas at Monticello Business School.