Tuesday, October 16, 2012
2nd Presidential Debate or political 'Kabuki'
Definition: Kabuki -- A classical Japanese dance-drama. There is singing, dancing and much theatricality of movement around the stage
The election will be held 20 days from the time of this posting and like it or not, one of the two men who stood and debated at the Town Hall Q&A will be sitting in the Oval Office for the next four years, making decisions that will be adversely impacting all of our lives, particularly economically.
But what makes Town Hall debates so special and unique from normal debates is how animated the candidates get, constantly moving around the room, sometimes together at the same time like partners during a Blue Danube Waltz.
And unlike other venues, the more physically free-flowing and theatrical around the room and the more interruptive and overall disrespectful the candidates are to one another, the more supporters see that as 'winning' the debate.
For instance in the 2004 Town Hall debate between then President George W Bush and Democratic nominee John Kerry, Bush was extremely animated in tone and body language like a child with ADD while Kerry pretty much stayed professional and sat at his seat. And Bush's mannerisms were interpreted as passionate and proud, while Kerry was seen as rigid. Thus the Town Hall debate did much to Bush secure a re-election victory.
Onto the present Town Hall...
As we've stated repeatedly, we genuinely do not care who 'won' or who scored the most points but for those who care on such things, the President had a much better overall showing and its fair to say Obama at worst held his own with Romney to a draw, and in some circles it would be argued he pulled off a minor 'victory'...
But ultimately who cares? This is not football or baseball we're all watching..
These debates are the closest we the people will Ever get to hearing either of the two give average individuals the respect and time to listen to our concerns and address them. After that, the one who is elected will barely give a damn what we think and we certainly won't care what the loser thinks or feels on anything..
So that's how we're approaching this Town Hall meeting in analyzing it.. Not interested in vocal tone, poise, movement around the room, the moderator injecting herself and her personality into the fray, or anything else trivial or stupid.. Only interested in how the candidates answered the questions...
If we tried to cover every Q asked, we'd be writing 'War & Peace' so we're going to stick just a few key questions asked.
So we begin...
The first question came from a early twenty-something guy about graduating college and not being able to find work, and what would the candidates do to fix this problem. Romney talked in generalities-- talked about boosting Pell grants and expanding student loans, and expressed how the Obama administration has made it tough for young people to find work.
The President countered by defending his first term and expressing the importance of tax cuts for businesses investing in the US, particularly small businesses, etc.. and from this, jobs will be created.. etc etc..
OK.. lets start with Romney's points. He says more people need to be able to attend to college and important that there be student loans available. That's all nice and PC but let's talk reality. There are currently over $1 trillion in student loan debt held by Americans at this very moment.. One Trillion.. And currently a 30% default rate on repayment.
What does it mean to default on a student loan? It means you're seriously fucked. Its not like a credit card or other unsecured debt--- it can not be discharged in a bankruptcy, and if you have or ever do find work, your wages Will be garnished.. Doesn't matter if you're 25, 45 or 65yrs old... and if you die and have anything to leave to another, it goes to the government to pay the student loans with anything left over for next of kin.
And what are you getting in exchange for such hell? A worthless piece of paper that millions upon millions of other unexceptional twenty-something and thirty-somethings possess.
Romney: 'Not here Sir & only if our Wall St owners say its OK'
Here's how you fix the entire college education and post-graduation employment situation:
1) It should only take 45 to 60 credits to earn a Bachelor's degree. That's 1.5 to 2 years of study, not 4 or 5. That means if a student is attending college, he/she is only acquiring two years worth of debt to repay. There's no reason a person majoring in Chemistry needs to take English Literature and no reason someone majoring in Pre-Law needs Anthropology.
In addition, student loans should be capped at a $2 to $1 ratio... in other words, for every $2 available to be loaned for tuition, board,etc, the student must be responsible for the other $1. In simple math, if tuition is $9,000, the loan can be for no more than $6k and the student or family responsible for the other $3k.
This 2 to 1 limitation will force students to be more realistic and practical in their academic choices and for every $1000 not borrowed, that's $1000 plus interest that doesn't have to be repaid over a lifetime.
Obama - 'I say tomato and he says to-mah-to..'
2) The #1 reason why there are so few jobs for young adults right now is because the economy is so bad due to the market crash of 2008 and lost pensions,etc.. that older Americans, particularly those over 60 are still in the workforce trying to make ends meet.
Many elderly work part time jobs or as temps, and unlike young people, they have their own health insurance so benefits aren't as important as simply getting a paycheck coming in. Also, older people generally have more bills and lack the luxury of moving back in with parents when things go bad.. so they're more desperate and more willing to do any job offered at any wage. Employers love the elderly right now.
If/when the government addresses that problem by Lowering the retirement age rather than raising it so these people can acquire their pensions soon, then more of the 60+ year old demographic will retire and there will be more readily available jobs for the newly graduated.
Of course neither candidate mentioned any of this..
We move on...
Romney: 'Aww, come on Sir! I just hope you think of me for your Cabinet'
Later in the Town Hall meeting a questioner asked a question about lowering gas prices. Each candidate used his time to explain what he's done or plans to do.. all the same things politicians have been saying for decades-- new and clean sources of fuel, wind, solar, etc.. more fuel efficient cars and so forth...
There are basically two reasons why the products of any good or service rises, and this includes crude oil: The first is basic supply/demand. The greater the demand for something the greater the price charged and as long as the demand or 'use' does not lower, neither will the price. That's basic economics and everyone understands that.. OK.. now onto reason #2
When the currency you use to buy a product or service weakens or lessens, its not so much that the product or service is being charged more. Its that the item wanted is retaining its true value before the currency depreciation, thus it now takes more of it to acquire the product than before.
Now, let us say you have an Evil man in a position of power at a place called the Federal Reserve who prints sooooo many $1 bills that now $1 is equal to 2oz of silver. Is the bread still $1? No The bread is still sold at the value of 4oz of silver, but now it takes $2 dollars to buy the loaf.
The more the Federal Reserve devalues the US dollar in their goal of artificially pumping up the stock market and rewarding the very wealthy and those shit Investors, the more it will cost Everyone to fill their vehicles with gas.
And remember, oil is traded world wide in petro-dollars. We are the world's reserve currency so our actions cause everyone else around the world to pay more since there's no way oil producers are going to take a loss. They know their product has an 'X' value and they will do what is necessary in the free market to retain it.
Once again- neither candidate talked about that.
Moving forward once more..
Romney to self: 'Smile Mitt.. C'mon.. you can do it.. Smile dammit!'
A questioner asked about taxes-- who if anyone would pay more or less?
Romney said the middle class would pay less in taxes because they're overburdened and the wealthy would pay exactly as they pay now which is according to him, 60% of the overall tax burden. The President also stated the middle class would pay less and the wealthy would pay a little more..
All very nice.. of course both completely ignored the financial burden of the poor and non middle-class worker as if they are living without economic suffering. Not even the slightest consideration to Romney. Guess he figured they never vote Rep so why bother pretending to care about their needs and concerns.
All this tax cut chit-chat is a bunch of mumbo jumbo nonsense.
The quickest way to pay down debt of any kind is a combination of expenditure cutbacks and increasing streams of revenue. The politicians love talking about the cutbacks but never the increases in revenue.
No one wants to pay more taxes but when the nation is in the hole to the tune of about $17 Trillion and there's an open economic spigot of $40bil/month from the Fed to the stock market alone (forget about on-going wars and social safety nets), everyone is going to be paying or this nation will be collapsing very soon.
The wealthy can pay more and they should..and even though they'll fight and kick and scream and threaten to expatriate out of the US, you can not seriously look to increase tax revenue until you increase what the super-affluent pay.
As for other tax cuts, its not realistic at this time. the Bush tax cuts should have ended by now. For reasons of weakness and political cowardice, Obama extended them twice already. It remains to be seen if it will be extended again or made permanent in December. The payroll tax holiday also needs to be stopped unless it is worth the ultimate insolvency of Social Security so people can have an extra $20/week in their pocket today to buy cigarettes and beer.
The biggest tax burdens most Americans suffer with anyways isn't on the Federal level but state/local.. its the property taxes to pay for schools, police, trash,etc.. its the state sales taxes which vary between 5% and 8.5% along with county and municipal sales taxes in some areas which make it very difficult for people to afford to buy products and services.. its all the money shelled out on turnpikes and toll bridges and licenses...
Nothing either candidate says or does will alleviate that ongoing burden.
We could go on and on with our analysis but we think you, the reader get the point. The Town Hall was a fun show..It was lively and spirited and each candidate held their own. There was lots of movement and 'dancing' around the room and 'dancing' around truth... Supporters of both parties should feel pleased..
But if you think you learned anything new or got a better understanding of where either candidate's head is at, you're mistaken. You watched political Kabuki instead.