Thursday, April 24, 2008

A new definition of "middle class"

I started listening to the Pennsylvania Democratic debate, but sometime during the American flag pin stupidity I turned it off. From what I read of the rest of it, I got just as much out of my Law and Order reruns.

I read about the tax policy pledges -- both Barack and Hillary say they won't raise taxes on the middle class, which they define as anybody earning less than a quarter-million dollars a year. Jesus H. Christ! The "middle," last time I checked, was about fifty grand a year. Granted, the quarter-million crowd doesn't qualify for inclusion among the super-rich -- the CEOs and hedge fund managers pulling in fifty times that much -- but they're still not going to worry too much about how to pay their kids' tuition for state college.

What were Barack and Hillary thinking? Oh, right. They were thinking the quarter-million crowd can afford to max out their political contributions. Well, let's just hope they "misspoke." While Bill was president, the top marginal tax rate was 39.6%, which probably was a pretty significant contributor to the balanced budget we had back then -- and certainly didn't do anything to slow economic growth. Was that so bad?

Taxation should not be a dirty word in American politics. Low taxation and the resulting high debt have trimmed the international value of the dollar by over 20% since 2003, and the rate of the dollar's fall looks to be accelerating. The prices of imports -- like all those goods we don't manufacture anymore -- are rising rapidly. Add higher prices for clothing, auto parts, electronics, appliances, and more to the rising costs of food and energy, and the real cost of living skyrockets even faster.

In case anyone's forgotten, when prices rise rapidly it's called inflation. Add that to the current recession and you've got stagflation. Yes, it's here already -- and the only reason the media can't seem to recognize it is because government cooks the books. Add food and energy back into the "market basket" used to calculate the CPI, and the inflation rate is around 12%. Add the "discouraged workers" and the people working part-time because they can't find full-time jobs to the roster of the unemployed, and the unemployment rate is close to 10%. Sounds like stagflation to me!

Are Clinton and Obama (not to mention McCain, who wants even more tax cuts) too dumb to realize this? If it's not stupidity, then it's the worst kind of pandering -- to voters who've been lied to for so long they're no longer capable of hearing the truth.

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