Monday, November 10, 2008

Taxes and Social Democracy

I'm reading a political type book right now called The Hawke Ascendancy. It's interesting. Sometimes. The author is Paul Kelly, but not the singer guy.

There's a quote in it that I like:

In the December 1977 election campaign these tax cuts became the "Fistful of dollars" which appeared in the Famous Liberal Party television advertisements--one of the most blatant appeals to greed for many years. Stone had opposed the tax cuts as an indulgence the Government could not afford. Fraser was soon to agree--but only after his 1977 re-election on the "fistful" of dollars.

This sounds very much like what happened in the United States with Daddy Bush's promise of Read My Lips. No New Taxes. He too had to break his promise.

I thought it was funny when those who opposed Obama as president would use the socialist argument--as if this would make me change my mind about voting for him. I have nothing against socialism. I know it's not a perfect system, but neither is capitalism.

It reminds me of people who are against homeschooling and point out its shortcomings. Okay, yeah. homeschooling isn't perfect. But neither is the classroom education system. If it were a perfect system, Jack would be in school right now. Well, actually no because as I'm writing this it's Sunday evening.

Back to taxes: I think most of us want our cake and to eat it too. We want very low taxes; yet we want good schools, good roads, good health care, a great library, a strong military, community programs, etc.

Yes, communism can be scary. I don't know the details really, but it seems like most communist experiments didn't go so well. From the little I know, it's about a lack of freedom--where the government pretty much has all the control. And you become a slave to the system.

Capitalism can be scary too though because certain groups of people become too powerful; and with that power they manipulate and exploit others.

There has to be a middle ground and even with the middle ground, things probably won't be perfect. But I think the middle is going to be better than the extremes.

I'm learning about social democracy now from Lord Wiki.

Ah, we're totally on the same page here....so far. Lord Wiki says that social democrats want to combine capitalism and socialism. In fact, one of it's little nicknames is mixed economy.

The more I read about social democracy, the more I like it. Lord Wiki has a list of what social democrats believe and it's all fits in well with what I believe. These are totally my people! I'd copy the list for you, but I feel weird cutting and pasting huge chunks from Lord Wiki. If you're interested in talking to Lord Wiki yourself, here's the link. Scroll towards the middle to see the list.

The Australia Labor Party is a social democratic party. The Democratic party of the United States is not. Maybe that's why I prefer Australia--one of it's main parties believes in social democracy. Lord Wiki says that some members of the Democrat party are social democrats--including Dennis Kucinich. He was my favorite candidate in the 2008 election. I really had little hope of him getting far. But if we were all in Australia, maybe things would be different. There'd be more hope for him.

Lord Wiki also has a list of individuals who are social democrats. I'll name the ones that I recognize

1. David Ben-Guriun: Israel

2. Tony Blair: UK

3. Mikhail Gorvachev: U.S.S.R

4. Bob Hawke: Australia

5. Paul Keating: Australia

6. Nelson Mandela-South Africa

7. Golda Meir-Israel

8. Ralph Nader-USA

9. Kevin Rudd-Australia

10. Gough Whitlam-Australia

I found this website which has excepts from the book Sharing the Pie by Steve Brouwer.

Brouwer talks about how the United States pushes the idea of paying low wages.

He says:

For years corporations and the investing class in the United States have been trying to convince the American people that the invisible hand of the global free market requires them to make life leaner and meaner in the workplace.

Brouwer points out though that Germany paid the highest wages and also had the highest exporting rate.

He compares the paid vacation times of Americans with France and Germany.

Germany gives 30 vacation days , 12 holidays, and 20 sick days
France Gives 25 vacation days. 11 Holidays and 19 sick days
USA gives 12 vacation days 11 holidays and 7 sick days.

This is scary. The Center for Economic and Policy Research says the United States does NOT promise it's workers vacation time. In comparison, Australians are given twenty days. I had a little bit of a hard time accepting that information, but this website says the same thing.

I know Australia was talking about changing their policy and making it possible for workers to trade in their vacation time for more money. Did they do that?

Who DOES benefit in the United States?

According to Brouwer, a study in 1995 showed that American CEO's after-tax compensation was three to five times greater than the after-tax compensation of CEO's in Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

Scary stuff.

What about poverty?

This website has a chart which compares different countries and their gap between the rich and the poor. Mexico has the highest gap, followed by Turkey and the United States. Australia is much better. They're about in the middle of the chart. Sweden and Denmark have the lowest gap.

I'm curious....what's political parties are currently in power in Mexico and Turkey?

Let's see.

Mexico is being led by the National Action Party. Lord Wiki says they are a Christian conservative party. I'm confused about Poland's party. All I can find is that it's center-right.

Oh well.

I definitely prefer social democracy over capitalism.

I think sharing is more important than greed.

Although a little greed is okay. I think it's not so horrible to serve yourself a slightly larger piece of pie--especially if you worked hard for it. But if too many people around you are being left with mere crumbs, that's not good at all. Everyone should have at least enough pie that they're stomach stops rumbling.

And everyone's pie should be served with ice-cream or whip cream, unless they are Vegan. If they're vegan, they should be offered a non-dairy alternative.