HALLLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH, HALL.....er, wait a minute. Seriously? This is the kind of thing that passes for "recovery" these days? Please. The majority of Americans would certainly NOT consider happy days to be here again! Certainly not with sobering statistics like these:
- A real unemployment rate (U6) that is actually in the double-digits (13%), and not falling nearly quickly enough. In fact, when long-term discouraged workers are included and added to U6, it reaches nearly 25%, and has actually risen since the phony "recovery" began in 2009.
- A labor force participation rate that has fallen to a 35-year low, reflecting (in part) those discouraged workers who simply gave up looking for a job.
- A poverty rate that remains stubbornly higher than in 2009, as evident in the record number of people on programs like SNAP (food stamps).
- Near-record levels of income and wealth inequality, approaching Gilded Age levels. The top 1% controls nearly half of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 80% are left to fight over crumbs.
- Falling real wages, with a real minimum wage that is at least 30% lower than in the late 1960s despite a doubling of productivity.
- Cities declaring bankruptcy. Detroit is the canary in the coal mine.
- Record levels of student loan debt ($1 trillion), combined with considerable unemployment and underemployment of college graduates.
- A national debt of over $17 trillion, and growing despite fairly harsh austerity measures.
- A real inflation rate that is nearly 10% when measured the way it was in 1980 and earlier. Combined with the real unemployment rate, the real "misery index" would be a whopping 22-33. Ouch!
So how can we break this vicious cycle for good, before the resulting bubble bursts leading to the next big crash? The answer is really quite clear: adopt the TSAP party platform ASAP. But since it is unrealistic to expect either corporate party in the elephant/jackass duopoly to take up an entire platform that literally threatens their own interests, we have devised a list of the highest-priority measures to take before the inequality-fueled crash of 2016 happens:
- Raise the top marginal tax rate to at least 50% (if not 70%) for incomes above $1 million, and simplify the tax code by removing loopholes geared towards the wealthy.
- Reduce the corporate tax rate to 20-25%, remove all loopholes, and tax only retained earnings.
- Reduce tax rates for the bottom 80% of Americans, and un-tax small businesses with earnings less than $100,000 per year.
- Raise the minimum wage to at least $10/hour if not higher, and index it to inflation from now on.
- Remove the "sequester" cuts ASAP, and sharply increase funding for infrastructure, education, green energy, and other crucial goals to put Americans back to work.
But if we could do just one thing that could be done to end the stagpression quickly, it would be this: replace "quantitative easing" (that really only benefits the rich) with direct payments of about $2000 per person or so to ALL Americans, yesterday. It would take an Act of Congress to enable the Fed to do such a thing, but it would be well worth it. Of course, followers of the TSAP know that we have long advocated a guaranteed basic income (citizen's dividend) for all Americans period with no strings attached, ideally funded via various kinds of tax revenue such as carbon taxes and financial transactions taxes. But this alternative means to the same end would be the next best thing, at least temporarily until our other ideas get implemented. And if it happens, the depression will be over and full employment restored within a year or two--provided it does not end abruptly without some of our other measures to replace it next year. So what are we waiting for?