Republicans vs. Zombies

First: I am sick to death of the Zombie meme and the place of Zombies in popular culture.  I don't get it, and I hope making it a metaphor for how people on the alleged right-wing of American politics will put the thing to death.

Before I get on to my Friday bowl of whole-wheat beat-down, let me recommend a video for you which is fine except for about 90 seconds right in the middle.  Our dear friend Todd Friel has this to say about what happened in the election this week:

Which, like I said, is fine except for the 90 seconds in the middle where he says that God-centered beliefs necessarily lead to "conservative political" outcomes.  I think that's a broad brush at best.  I think a perfectly-godly outcome of YHVH-centered biblically-serious study would be to say that a government like Israel's -- which mandates a tithe/tax for the sake of the poor -- doesn't look like what Todd's talking about.  I think his brush is too-broad there, and he could tidy that up a bit for the sake of his own beliefs and thinking.

That said, the post-mortem cycle on the election this time around proves only one thing to me -- that the Right Wing pundit class of our nation is only capable of shooting the wounded and eating their dead.  We want to blame Mitt Romney for running a crappy campaign when his closest team is literally what made this a close race in the last 60 days of campaigning?  We want to blame Chris Christie for one photo op and his stupid gushie response to a phone call from Bruce Springsteen?  We want to blame the MSM and a freak storm that put the largest part of NYC into the dark ages through the middle of the voting cycle?

Please: just shut up.  The only people to blame for this loss, quite frankly, are ourselves.  I can prove it by looking at the last 5 presidential elections.

Here are the high-level results from 1996:

You remember that one, right?  Bill Clinton wins a plurality of voters, Ross Perot splits the right, and Bob Dole goes into early retirement.  But look at the vote counts: roughly 95 million voters, only about 47 million on the right.

Then there was 2000:

Roughly 111 million voters, and 50 million on the right -- with a win-fall of winning Florida in spite of missing the popular majority.

Here's 2004:

Roughly 121 million voters, and the Right wins both the election and the popular vote with 62 million votes.

Then 2008:

About 129 million voters -- the highest turnout on the list -- and the right-side gets 59 million votes.

Last, we have the results for this year (provisional, as I think there is still some vote counting going on):

Roughly 119 million voters this year, and the right-side getting 58 million votes -- oh yes, not to forget to mention an additional 1.139 million votes for Gary Johnson, so let's call right-side voting 59 million in 2012.

Look: in the only election in the last 20 years which the right-side vote won the majority of votes to win the election, the right-side candidate got more than 60 million votes.  Someplace in this country, there are at least 60 million people who have, at some time, voted for the right-side of the ticket.

They did not all show up on Tuesday.

People have got to show up to win elections.  People have got to show up to win elections.  People have got to show up to win elections.  And they have to vote for the candidate who is running to win the election.  You can't just shamble around before and after the election bemoaning how bad things are when you treat your vote with less respect than a Zombie treats the living.  Even a slow-moving Zombie knows he has to go get the brains to eat the brains.  If you're not doing at least that much, you got the country you deserve.

The rest of this stuff?  Hogwash.  Stop complaining and blaming everyone else.  We have met the apathetic and morally-oblivious voter, and he is us.

I'll have part 6 of the government spending vs. private income posts next week. 

The Whole Pie (5 of 6)

OK: Monday will be the final installment on this topic, but before we get to the final installment we have one more piece of this data that has to be unraveled   Some people reading this series (and I admit there are a lot fewer of you than there were 4 years ago before this blog when into hibernation) are probably concerned that I keep wanting to revert to the "total wages" number when calculating the size of the problem rather than using the whole GDP.  Doing that, you may be thinking, magnifies the problem and seems to put it out of reach of a solution.

The problem, of course, is that in the United States, we tax individuals (human beings) based on their income (which: in a P&L, is the "top line" of revenue), and we tax Corporations on their net profits (on the P&L: the "bottom line") -- both adjusted for deductions, of course.  So while there may be a top-line (as measured by the GDP) of stuff over and above wages to the tune of more-or-less $11 trillion, a LOT of those dollars are swallowed up by cost of goods and are not taxable using the current model of taxation.  And, in my view, they shouldn't be -- they are not really income dollars: they are cost-of-goods dollars, and in some sense they are double-dipped against wages.

Here's how to think of that: Abe's Accessories makes screws.  In fact, last year, Abe's sold $1 million in screws to Bob's Barricades, and Bob sold $10 million in barricades to Carl's Contractors, who used the barricades for $100 million in highway work they did for the state of Delaware (hypothetical).  All $111 million of that shows up in the GDP, but Abe only made $90K in profit; Bob only made $190K in profit, and Carl made $500K in profit which he had to split with his brother who is also an invested private owner.  All the metal in the screws, the blocking material in the barricades, and the stuff Bob used to pave the highways (from machines to paving material) was not taxed: only the net profit (final income) was taxed.

In other countries, there's a way around this: they charge a VAT tax when you buy something wholesale.  So when Abe buys raw materials to make into screws, he pays the foundry for the difference in price between the raw ore and the raw metal he receives -- and a tax to the government for the difference in value.  When Bob buys screws from Abe, he pays Abe the screw price, and then the government a tax on the difference in value between raw metal and screws.  Etc.  In that case, almost all of the value in the GDP is therefore taxed -- but it also results in much higher prices for the end user.

The alternative to this, of course, is a universal sales tax -- which is sort of a simplified VAT tax anyway (unless you're an economist).  But in the current system, that is itself double-dipping against income which was already taxed when it was paid out (in most cases).

That's why, at the end of the day, the comparison of private income vs. public expenses looks like this:

That's right: all the hoopla about excessive corporate profits, and it turns out that corporate profits in the US are about 25% of all income in the US.  AND: the total of all wages plus corporate profits is actually less than all public expenses (federal, state and local).

You now have everything you need to know about whether or not the US has a tax rate problem or a government expense problem, and we will discuss what to do about it on Monday right before you cast your vote.

Have a nice weekend; be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people this weekend as you pray about this and all the other things which are worrying you about this present age.

The Whole Pie (4 of 6)

I know this is going up after lunch, but real life intervened here.  Sorry about that.

So our last graphic was this:

Which shows us that right now (well: from the place of our benchmark, which is 2011) the GDP of the United States is smaller than the total debt plus expenses of the United States Federal Government.  That problem is now an economy-sized problem -- a problem of the whole pie, as they say.  But it is actually much worse than this -- because this chart only shows us the matter of Federal expenses and debt.  Let's build it again using all governmental debt (federal, state and local) on the left, and the GDP on the right.

See: somehow the National conversation has overlooked the fact that when we're talking about what the "government" spends, we need to roll in all government expenditures -- Federal, State and Local.  And one fault of the new bar chart there is that it doesn't account for the ~$200 billion in state and local debt floating around in our economy.  It's out because I couldn't find a reliable summary, and also because it's just a single-pixel line in the scale of this chart.  I have one last chart to saddle you with before we start making conclusions or shouting fire in a crowded theater.

In case you didn't remember the "all wages" number from back on Monday, there's the comparison between "all wages" and "all government expenses".  That's right: our governments (Federal, State, Local) actually spend more money on stuff than all our personal incomes combined -- before we account for all the past debts those entities have accumulated.

Let that sink in, and then tomorrow we'll tackle part 5, which is the really terrifying part related to GDP.