America is strongest when there is an effective a partnership involving state and local governments, academia, private industry and the federal government. World War II – probably this nation’s finest collaborative effort – proved this. States and cities are always on the front lines dealing with human problems but they typically lack the cash to initiate large, effective programs; academia and private industry have the expertise and facilities to help but must be empowered and financially backed to act. The federal government’s role is to supply the leadership and funding necessary to kick-start this powerful engine.
Former President Trump’s administration marshaled private drug makers in a massive effort to produce coronavirus vaccines, which was quite laudable. Trump failed to fully partner with the states, however, and politicized other aspects of the growing catastrophe. As a result, procurement of personal protective equipment was a disaster, millions of his supporters refused to wear masks and social distance and the U.S. government appeared to be inept. President Biden’s administration reestablished federal/state partnerships and is having growing success in getting shots in arms. Hopefully, some faith in Uncle Sam will be restored in the process.
Advisors to President Ronald Reagan probably invented Reaganomics – a.k.a. supply-side economics – as an excuse for cutting taxes on corporations and their wealthy supporters. How else could they justify a policy that statistics show rarely benefits the middle class and lower income citizens? Supply-siders argue that tax relief at the top will trickle down and benefit workers. But it simply doesn’t work that way. Companies hire employees and manufacturers build plants and buy equipment when there is a demand for their products or services, not because they get a huge tax break.
So, what occurred in 2018 after the December 2017 Republican tax cut reduced the corporate rate from 35% to 21%? Well, around $1 trillion in corporate stock buy backs, that’s what. This increased stock prices and mainly benefited the wealthy who own 90% of the shares. Oh, and while U.S. budget deficits ballooned to pay for it, this giveaway also lined the pockets of foreign investors who, according to the Tax Policy Center, own 40% of the stocks on U.S. markets.
Now, as President Biden is proposing to increase the corporate rate to 28% in order to pay for much needed infrastructure improvements, Republicans, of course, are baulking. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who represents West Virginia, one of poorest states in the nation, is also erecting barriers to the president’s program. He’s claiming that more bipartisanship is needed and that this increase in corporate rates is excessive. Hmm! Is Manchin speaking for his unemployed constituents that need the good jobs that infrastructure projects generate or the special interests that fund his campaigns?
U.S. companies will be the losers if the United States falls behind China militarily, economically or technologically. While corporations love the GOP’s tax cuts and anti-regulation bias, I believe some are beginning to realize that Republican austerity and anti-government ideology will not produce a stronger America in the long run. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ recent comments are a surprising example. He recognizes that revitalizing U.S. infrastructure is critically important and agrees that a corporate tax increase is needed to pay for it.
J. P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon seems to be coming around too. Section VI of his recently published yearly newsletter to stockholders includes a message that I find particularly cogent: Dimon laments that China’s leaders believe America is a nation in decline: “The Chinese see an America that is losing ground in technology, infrastructure and education – a nation torn and crippled by politics, as well as racial and income inequality – and a country unable to coordinate government policies (fiscal, monetary, industrial, regulatory) in any coherent way to accomplish national goals.” Dimon concluded: “Unfortunately, recently, there is a lot of truth to this.”
What’s causing a lot of America’s problems? Well, there’s no doubt in my mind – it’s the reactionary Republican Party, cutting taxes for the wealthy, gridlocking Congress and crippling the federal government.
Lastly, I believe the world will experience much greater peace and stability as the vast majority of women approach equal status with men in the work place, in government, in religion and in the home. While men may be physically stronger, in my opinion, the ladies are equal, or have an edge, in numerous skills and intelligence. Generally, women are less motivated by huge egos and macho-like attitudes and are much more oriented toward family and the stability of society – nurturing instead of dominating. Throughout human history though, men have used a myriad of methods to keep women in the background, in part, I suppose, because they fear being dominated by the so-called weaker sex.
Unfortunately – other than in the Americas and Western Europe – the prospects of female parity being realized during the life of our 11-year-old granddaughter do not look good. Even within her grandchildren’s life times women may not achieve this status in other parts of the world. For example, at current rates of progress, women in South Asia will not enjoy equality with men for over 195 years, according to the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.
Still, I believe it’s imperative that the U.S. government formulate effective policies to promote and protect women’s rights both at home and abroad. The world will be a better place to live as a result.