Excerpts from Thom Hartmann News:
Budget cuts have consequences – and tens of thousands of Texans are learning that lesson the hard way. This year – Governor Rick Perry cut his state’s volunteer firefighter program by 75% – reducing funding from $30 million down to $7 million for the critical program to prevent wildfires. Now – massive wildfires are engulfing his state – and have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed four people. It’s the largest wildfire outbreak in the history of Texas. I think Governor Perry has some explaining to do in tonight’s Republican debate – namely – how he can tout his accomplishments as Governor when he’s literally left his state in flames.
Instead of chanting, “we’re #1,” in America – it may be time to start chanting, “Hey, we’re in the top 5!” The World Economic Forum just released its latest rankings of the world’s most competitive economies – and the United States has slipped to number five. In terms of competitiveness – our economy now ranks below Switzerland – Singapore – Sweden – and Finland. The United States dropped out of the top spot back in 2008 – coinciding with George W. Bush’s last year in the White House – and has been slipping ever since. The World Economic Forum said the reasons for our decline are debt – loss of faith in government – and corporate ethics. In other words, 30 years of Reaganomics.
Speaking of Reaganomics, while we are all taught that the United States is the place where anyone – whether they were born rich or poor – can succeed if they just work hard – the reality is the opposite. According to a new Pew report – 1 in 3 Americans who grew up and were raised in the middle class have since fallen out of that economic class today – and now belong to the working poor. This is the sort of downward economic mobility that is increasing in our nation as wealth inequality also increases – and millionaires, billionaires, and transnational corporations suck more money out of the middle class. The American dream has morphed into the American nightmare.
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life…tax the rich! A new study out of the University of Virginia makes the connection between happiness and a more progressive income tax. The study – which analyzed nearly 60,000 people across 54 nations – found that those who live in countries where the rich pay very high income taxes tend to be much happier than in nation where the tax rate is flatter like here in the United States. The author of the study – psychologist Shigehiro Oishi noted the uptick in happiness among higher-taxed nations was, “explained by a greater degree of satisfaction with the public goods, such as housing, education, and public transportation.” He went on to say, “If the goal of societies is to make citizens happy, tax policy matters…Certain policies, like tax progressivity, seem to be more conducive to the happiness of the people.” So why does the Republican Party hate happiness?