The Widdershins

I’m ready for my close-up…

Posted on: October 7, 2014

Good afternoon Widdershins. It is my sincerest hope the week holds good and glorious things for you. Without fear of contradiction, today’s post won’t be one of those things. I’m reminded of Yogi Berra quote, “You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” So read on if you dare venture to the place I probably won’t recognize when I pass it by.

Michelle eat your heart out...

Michelle eat your heart out…

Last Thursday night I watched Sunset Boulevard all the way through for the first time. What a great movie! So many great lines! Like Norma Desmond saying, “I’m still big, it’s just the people who got small.“ Or, “See that floor — used to be hardwood, but I had it torn out to put in tile. Valentino said the tango is best on tile.“ And when it comes to Norma Desmond’s crazy eyes, just imagine Michelle Bachmann dialed up to eleven.

Norma had defined her reality — it just wasn’t a reality anyone else could see — a reality without a basis in objective fact.

At times it feels like we have jumped through the looking-glass and are living in NormaWorld. It’s a world where the media is absolutely giddy about an Ebola case on American soil. It’s a world where fear trumps any semblance of reality. It seems to be a world where news executives probably pray for a full-blown Zombie apocalypse.

Stephen Colbert’s explanation of this world seems to rule: If it feels like a fact then it is a fact. I know that’s right because my pre-existing opinion feels factual and it is a fact that I feel.

With just about a month before the midterms, there are three issues where it seems reality has been pissed to the wind and NormaWorld prevails with its tenuous grasp on reality.

The first is the A.C.A. or Obamacare as it is known in NormaWorld. Remember the omens of the cows going dry, the locusts eating the crops, and just about all the other plagues being visited upon us by the passage of Obamacare. Its passage resulted in the slovenly sluggards who currently call themselves Congress.

Here’s a flash you won’t see on the teevee: Obamacare is working and working quite nicely thank you. Health care access it way up. Cost of the program is way down. Competition is up. Choice is up. The rate of hospital cost increases is down. More private insurers are joining state exchanges. Are there problems? Yes, but on balance the positive benefits of Obamacare far outweigh the negative so far.

In NormaWorld, you never hear about these things. They don’t exist in the alternate factual reality.

Median Household Income 1989 to PresentAnother example is the quantitative easing monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. I know, the name itself makes your head explode, but the short explanation is this: The Fed dropped interest rates and then turned around and bought up the Treasury bonds in order to resuscitate the economy. Remember the gnashing of teeth by the Republican/trickling down crowd — it was end-of-times stuff. “Inflation!” they whined and moaned. “Buy gold!” was the cry bellowed and belched from Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox, and every other fear channel in NormaWorld without so much as a whimper about gold being one of their primary advertisers.

Truth is inflation didn’t happen and shows no sign of happening. Unemployment is down below 6.0% and growth might be up to over 4% for the year. Huge positives, but have you heard about it? Of course we haven’t heard about it because the 1% crowd is always more worried about inflation because inflation can eat away at the returns on their sanctified investments.

What really blows is this: According to Economics 101, the only real threat of inflation would come from increasing the purchasing power of the middle class and working poor. In other words, raising salaries to ensure the working classes experienced an increase in real purchasing power.

Name any proposal to do just that — increasing the minimum wage, paycheck fairness, an infrastructure jobs bill, reauthorizing some of the million plus jobs axed by the sequestration debacle — and the Tea Party tricklers have blocked any such proposal. So simply put, the one good policy initiative by the Federal Reserve would have been blocked by the Tea Party tricklers had they had their way.

The other issue is the effort to thwart the corporate inversions. Corporate inversions are where corporations change their corporate address to a foreign country in order to avoid U.S. taxes. All we hear in the bent reality ofNormaWorld is lowering the corporate tax rate from 35%. The reality is this: No corporations pay the 35% rate because of loopholes and tax code carve-outs. A full third of Fortune 500 companies play less than 10% and the average tax rate is somewhere between 12% and 19%.

Essentially the same amount cut from food stamps by the Tea Party crowd...

Essentially the same amount cut from food stamps by the Tea Party crowd…

Have you heard or read much of anything about the efforts to stop inversions through Executive Orders? Of course not because that doesn’t fit within the NormaWorld reality. The corporations renouncing their U.S. citizenships want the benefits of U.S. talent and the U.S. market but not the responsibilities. Government funded research is the reason many of these corporations got so big — initiatives like the Internet, GPS, voice recognition, pharmaceutical research, biotech research, and any number of other innovations were developed through such research upon which these businesses capitalized and profited.

What these deserting companies want amounts to increased corporate welfare. They want the benefits without helping to pay for it. They don’t want to contribute through taxes while at the same time they fail to increase wages or expand jobs domestically.

These three issues touch a majority of the electorate — that is if the electorate knew they were issues. We pitied Norma Desmond because she had constructed an alternate reality for herself. Isn’t it more pitiable to allow others with their Möbius strip thinking to construct a reality to which we don’t object?

There’s a month until the midterms. There’s an old political saying, “Everyone has ten votes,” — in other words everyone can influence ten voters. Influence your ten voters. We can’t let the self-serving opinions cooked up in the echo chambers define our reality. If we do, we are no better than crazy-eyed Norma Desmond.

This is an open thread.

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8 Responses to "I’m ready for my close-up…"

Have you heard or read much of anything about the efforts to stop inversions through Executive Orders?

Is that being considered Prolix? Because nope, haven’t heard anything about it. But then it’s not as shiny and glittery as a member of the media getting Ebola.

@1, Jack Lew announced the new rules about two weeks ago. Here’s the WSJ article:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/treasury-to-unveil-measures-to-combat-tax-inversions-1411421056

New tax rules aren’t nearly as sexy as bleeding from every bodily orifice.

@2: Well, couldn’t read the entire story. No subscription to the WSJ online. 😦

Somehow I can’t get too worked up about the Ebola thing. We’ll need nurse chat to weigh in on it, but I figured it was pretty much a given that we were going to get some cases here. The issue was going to be would places be equipped to handle the illness and have the resources for what’s required to treat a patient with the illness.

We need to be damn careful. Ebola is a Level 4 pathogen. I love the screen them at airport security theory, like they are medical staff in muftii, or do we hire triage nurses to be airport security screeners? It can be done, but this will require a level of planning that has yet to reveal itself. This has been a sideshow. Please do not think that this means that we should all become hysterical, but I would be surprised if this were the only case.
I shall wax eloquent Thursday.

@4: My point chat was I don’t see it as being a large, mass pandemic or anything like that.

I love the screen them at airport security theory,

There was a *robust* discussion on nola.com about this and people were parroting stories from world nut daily and the like that Obama trashed a Bush recommendation about screening at the airport and quarantining folks, but this was back during the swine flu thing. In actuality, it was the airlines who squawked about any type of airport screenings; probably it would mess up their schedules.

@5; i hope not, but if cases are popping up in Europe, there’s another degree of difficulty in play.

chat@7: And wasn’t the nurse in Spain involved in direct care with a patient, a priest who had been in Africa?

From what I’ve read, it’s extremely difficult to get the virus by air transmission (they conducted experiments with pigs and monkeys in Canada-I think) so it’s still going to be contracted by people who are in close contact with an infected person, right?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-will-augment-ebola-screenings-for-airline-passengers-in-us-and-africa/2014/10/06/2e14a1c0-4d7d-11e4-babe-e91da079cb8a_story.html

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