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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How To Attend A Free Summer School Class In Marketing Part I

If you want to see how a group can market an undesirable product so as a desirable one, then one only needs to read the platforms of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. We will cover just a portion of the platform of the Republican Party in this blogpost. Click here for access to the 2016 Republican Platform.

This platform consists of a combination of both bogus and legitimate claims and points. For example, a legitimate point made in the Republican Platform is the call for the re-installment of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 in full. It was partially repealed by the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. As a result, the prohibition that kept commercial banks from taking on the same risky investments that the investment banks took on was undone. And as a result, along with a lack of regulations on new financial products produced by our financial sector and fraud and corruption between participants in our financial sector, our economy almost collapsed and had to be rescued by taxpayer bailout.

Now it is fine that the Platform calls for re-instituting the Glass-Steagall Act in full. But the Republican Party needs to acknowledge that the Act that undid important parts of Glass-Steagall, which is the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, was sponsored by 3 Republicans and overwhelmingly passed through a Republican controlled Senate and House--we should note that there were plenty of Democrats who supported as well. Though President Clinton signed it, this Act was easily passed with a veto-proof margin (click here for reference).

To summarize the main points of the Republican Platform, there is a declaration supporting American Exceptionalism from our nation's very beginning til now along with the assertion that America must act as the leader of the Free World, there is the assertion that businesses need to be liberated from many of the regulations that bind it today, a call for tax reform and a claim that America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, a denouncing of crony-capitalism but a blaming of government for its existence, a denial of climate change and an attempt to completely discredit the UNFCCC and the IPCC, a claim to care about racial equality and the welfare of Native Americans. In addition, there was much emphasis on individual and religious liberty, but it was only the religious liberty of some, not all.

 We can start with the Platform's statements on American Exceptionalism and the call for America to be the leader of the Free World. The Platform cites both the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution as documents that prove America's exceptionalism, i.e., supremacy or superiority, over other nations. With these documents, the Platform claims comes the recognition of our inalienable rights along with a model for limited government.

But history is not as kind to our beginning as the Republican Party is. While their description of the Declaration of Independence was accurate, the recognition of equality and rights was meant to apply to White men in particular. Jefferson's regard for Blacks as well as Native Americans shows this to be true considering that Jefferson was the author of the Declaration and that Native Americans were expelled from the lands while Blacks enslaved and declared to be less than Whites--3/5ths was the comparison and that was for the purposes of representation only. And it took a long time before women could vote.

Now while the Declaration of Independence was written in protest of the rule of British elites over Americans, The Constitution was written to strengthen the federal government so it could better respond to insurrections like Shays Rebellion. One only needs to find all of the references that The Constitution makes to the militia to see this point. We should also note that the Bill of Rights was an afterthought to The Constitution and that approximately only 5% of the population could vote when The Constitution was ratified. We should note that in the Constitutional Debates, James Madison, who was the primary author of The Constitution, had expressed a fear of elections being opened to all classes of people in England because such would open up the possibility of agrarian land reform. What Madison was afraid of happening in England could also come here (click here and see Madison's first statement on June 26). So while the Declaration of Independence was written to protest rule by foreign elites, The Constitution was written to maintain the status quo and thus to ensure the rule of domestic elites such as Madison.

 As a result of this declared exceptionalism, Republicans call on America to act as the leader of the free world. And such as statement must be viewed as an oxymoron by those who are awake. For how can a free world have a leader? At the same time, why does the free world need a leader?

But to show in practical terms how having the US be a leader over those who are declared to be free is an oxymoron, one only needs to consider the basis for US policy toward Latin America made in February 26, 1945 at the Inter-American Conference. For in that document, the following is declared (click here):
In order that international economic collaboration may be realistic and effective, to work for the elimination of economic nationalism in all its forms.

Here we should note that the American supported coups in Guatemala ('54) and Chile ('73) and its intervention in Brazil ('64) was about the nationalization or socializing of industries, land, or profits. We should also note that those political moves were being made would would have affected American businesses. We should also note the American interventions in Central America during the 1980s and the possible American intervention in the overthrow of Chavez (2002) and the recent coup in Honduras (2009).

We should also note that many in the Arab world hated US policies because they were perceived as opposing Arab nationalism (click here and see the 2nd paragraph of the statement on long-range US policies in the Middle East). We should note the coup in Iran (1953) because of Iran's actions to nationalize their oil reserves. We should also note American support for Arab dictators including the Iran's Shah, Egypt's Mubarak, and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Hussein received a great deal of support from the Reagan-Bush administrations that is until Saddam invaded Kuwait.

We should also note that while America opposed economic nationalism in many smaller nations, it reserved the right to enjoy this same kind of nationalism for itself.

Now while justifying a call to reform taxes, the Republican Platform declares the following:
American businesses now face the world’s highest corporate tax rates.

We should note that the Platform's statement is false on multiple levels from actual tax rate to the tax burden to the effective tax rate. First, we should note that the US has the 3rd highest general top marginal income tax rate behind both Chad and the United Arab Emirates. It has the same such tax rate as Puerto Rico (click here). Some other facts to consider is that the corporate contributions to our nation's tax revenue is down from 32% in 1952 to 10% in 2013, that 26 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, that 288 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid below the average corporate tax rate in the world, that US companies dodge paying almost $100 billion in taxes, and that US companies hold a couple of trillion dollars offshore (click here). Also, an article in Forbes notes that the effective tax rate in the US is not that much higher than that which exists in other countries click here). Finally, the GAO found that approximately 2/3 of all corporations pay no federal income tax (click here).

Likewise, in calling 'wolf' over regulations, the Republican Platform denounces the UNFCCC and the IPCC. The former was denounced because of its recognition of Palestine while the later was declared to be mere a political group--even though it gets its publications from scientists. The Platform denies the realistic that comes from climate change and this contributes greatly to its angry rhetoric against the EPA. One only needs to go to NOAA's website and study the yearly temperature of the troposphere, land, and sea to see that temperatures, especially since 2011, are rising at an alarming rate.

On page 3, the Platform blames the economic crisis of 2008 solely on government housing policies. And it opposes the the meager regulations that followed the crisis despite the fact that what caused the crisis was the lack of regulations, either passed or enforced, on faulty and even fraudulent financial products. These products are documented by the films Inside Job and The Big Short. In addition, what preceded that crisis was the gutting of the Securities Exchange Commission, which is exactly what the Republican Platform wishes to do to the EPA.

Thus, how can one take the Platform lamenting over crony-capitalism seriously when crises are blamed only on the government and the government is blamed for the existence of crony-capitalism. What appears to be the case here is that Republican ideology of small government has gone wild to the extent that it deduces what our problems are rather than taking an inductive approach to learning about them. That ideology is that the government should not do anything that is not specifically spelled out by The Constitution. One must conclude then that the Platform, besides complaining about the EPA and other government agencies, needs to work for the elimination of the FAA since it is not mentioned in The Constitution as well.

The Platform also expresses its concerns over the welfare of people of color such as Native Americans and Blacks. We should note that there is a land grab of land belonging to one Native American tribe with a foreign corporation serving as the beneficiary of the grab that has Republican support (click here and there).  We should also note Conservative opposition to elements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (click here).

And in terms of religious freedom, the Platform seems to be unaware of the fact that as religiously conservative Christians had their way with the law regarding same-sex couples, those from same-sex couples had their religious beliefs about enjoying same-sex marriage trampled on by the religious beliefs of those who oppose same-sex marriage in society.

It isn't that the Republican Platform is wrong on everything, it makes some good points. Despite this review, I recommend that people, especially those who have ill-feelings toward Republicans, read the Platform. It is however that like the pedestal that the Republican Party Platform builds for our nation's founders and their documents, the pedestal that the Platform builds for itself is artificially high. An example of this can be found in the Platform's statement on treaties and trade agreements that must not infringe on our national sovereignty, and yet an overwhelming number of Republicans joined Obama in supporting the fast-tracking of the TPP. With the TPP, foreign corporations will be able to sue the American government, but not vice-versa, for any policies or laws they deem as having cause a loss in profit--this includes laws democratically determined by the people. How can those writing the Platform say that the Republican Party defends our national sovereignty while its elected officials vote overwhelmingly to compromise that sovereignty by supporting the TPP (click here and there). 

In short, in addition to some of the valid points made in the Republican Party Platform, that it portrays itself as being the sole defender of our freedoms is more of a lesson in how to market oneself than is providing any reliable information. And one of the tricks in this marketing ploy by the Republican Party is state principles and make assertions about one's values while relying on  the audience to not look at the details of the Republicans' performance during the past few years to see if that performance shows a commitment to the principles it espouses. This brief survey shows that the Republicans' performance in keeping the principles they espouse is wanting.

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