Growing Our Way Into the Third World

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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Rick Perry keeps telling me that I shouldn't worry about dumping all the kids out of school or putting Grandma out of the nursing home. Texas has the nation's fastest-growing economy, he says, so don't sweat it.

What does that mean -- fastest-growing economy?

I took a look around yesterday to see what it means on a global scale. Who has the fastest-growing economies in the world, and are they people we would want to emulate?

Turns out it depends on who you ask, of course, but even at that a certain overall pattern emerges.

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Governor Rick Perry, giving school teachers a running start to get to the state line.
There's a website called Economywatch that says the world's top five fastest-growing economies in 2010, in descending order, were Qatar, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Republic of Congo and Angola.

The website is run by an outfit in Singapore called Stanley St. Labs. It bothers me a tad that they don't offer me a list of their directors. So let's keep looking.

The World Bank says that, if you look at the last 31 years, Botswana was the world's fastest-growing economy. South Korea came in second in that period and China third.

Agence France Presse says Singapore was No. 1 in 2010. Newsweek thinks India will surpass China this year as the world's fastest. Everybody seems to agree that sub-Saharan African nations are among the world's most fleet.

So what does it all mean? Well, clearly, one good way to have one of the world's fastest growing economies -- not the only one but a good one -- is to be a dirt-poor Third World dictatorship.

Now I think I'm beginning to understand the basic pitch from guys like Perry here in Texas.

If you don't have one of those pesky public education systems to support, if there is no widely available government-supported health care, if there are no rules to stop you from spewing pollutants, if there are no protections for labor and if wages are survival level or below, if the law can be bought and sold, then ... heck! You can attract a lot of investment.

But here's a question. Do the capitalists who want to build their manufacturing operations in Vietnam want to live there themselves? Will they be sending their own kids to school in Vietnam? Or Texas?

Sure, we can attract a certain kind of investment by turning Texas into a Third World dumping ground. The people making those investments will love it. But how in the hell is it a smart idea for the rest of us? Why wouldn't we prefer a slower-growing economy where we can keep Grandma indoors?

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gladnotsad
gladnotsad

There are too many unintended consequences of open ended entitlement programs which could be addressed without the "class warfare" argument. Medicare pays for lots of "stuff" besides actual medical care for which it pays the non hospital based physician very poorly. These items include: home health services wheelchairs pharmacueticals O2 tanks salaries and perks at teaching hospitals, etc. Please do not try to tell me that the ave middle class person would go broke if these items were restricted. In fact much Medicare fraudulent activity revolves around these sorts of "tangential to actual medical care "items. Also many apparently able bodied young people have found their way onto Medicare disability with diagnoses like "fibromyalgia". This just doesn't happen in the rest of the world.

scottindallas
scottindallas

The class warfare has been waged by the rich against US. Look, entitlements just this year ran their first deficit. That means that all our debt belongs at the feet of the Pentagon. That's 2 of the 3 top expenditures of gov't.

Now, lets look at how our taxes are paid. Payroll taxes, which are paid for by working people, but not the rich have covered the entitlements till today. Yet, the surpluses were doled out to cover discretionary spending and the Pentagon. These taxes come from income taxes. Now, the payroll has been bank-rolling the income taxes for years. Now, the rich want to make that permanent.

We can easily afford our social services. Simply remove the cap on SS tax rates. Currently someone making $100K and Bill Gates pay the same into Payroll taxes. And to those that bitch that the rich are taxed too much--they pay a lower percentage of their income to taxes than does someone making $60K to $300K, and the taxes gradually fall as you earn more.

Now, your protestations on behalf of the really rich misses a few points. First, incomes for the uber-rich come without the restraints most everyone else in the economy has. They don't have bosses like you and me. Further, their buddies tend to determine their income. Finally, they make this income as managers or advisors, not entrepreneurs or people with real risk in the game. Those investors have ample deductions and are able to avoid many taxes. I don't have a problem with that, if you're willing to throw your money into the ring, good for you. That's a business expense and deductible. If you win the lottery, due to luck, connections or great planning, well, you get to share the wealth. The really rich use gov't more than the welfare queens do, they count on the courts, highways, educational system and the general economy more than the average person.

Further, there come a real difference in the nominal utility of these overinflated incomes. There is a vast difference between someone making $250K and $2.5 million/yr. However, the higher income earner is taxed LESS. The 1/4 mil household would likely still be strained to send their children to private schools, afford a house, car and utilities. Whereas the person making $2/m/yr wouldn't be constrained at all.

Go talk to a CPA or Financial planner, ask them the effect of higher taxes. It means that they will defer income and rather invest it into the economy. This builds wealth without allowing such lavish lifestyles for a very few. Consider that our top marginal tax rate from WW2 to 1982 ranged from 94% to 70%. During those years, productivity growth and incomes for the middle class stayed in parity. Since Reagan decided that someone making $28K/yr and the richest among us were in the same boat and should be taxed the same. To support this policy one must be ignorant of history, accounting, the way the corporate structure works and totally devoid of compassion.

But, hey, you're doing a great job advocating for billionaires, who are the biggest recipients of gov't largess, services and pay the lowest tax rates of anyone in the economy. But, I'm sure the sophists that are paid by the Koch bros, the Simmons bros, and the Hunts--all terrible polluters are all to happy to pollute the discourse, your mind and this country with utter non-sense.

gladnotsad
gladnotsad

What Scotty, Like there are NO "UBER RICH" billionaires in China, Singapore, Mexico the Mid East who don't pay(enough) taxes? Hatred for billionaires doesn't cloud my thinking about waste in U.S.public funded entitilements. There is no misplaced advocacy in my post or DISD Teacher's post. It is time to analyze the way our tax dollars are actually spent (and the actual consequences) instead of pitting classes against each other. I guess in your version of history there was no "misery index" and "stag flation" under Ford-Carter. Lobbying fo example is a real "advocacy" problem. Hospitals esp. non for profits make 3-4 time the rate Medicare allows to outside physicians per procedure( the very same procedure), due to "effective" Washington lobbyists. You seem like a bright guy, get the chip off of your shoulder.

Captain
Captain

I've always been told that government waste is the main reason we struggle to keep our budgets balanced. The less government, the better. The solution was to starve the beast and force government to be more efficient. I didn't realize that government waste meant we have too many teachers and that they are overpaid despite their paltry salaries. And in Dallas, eliminating government waste meant that we must stop mowing the grass in our parks and shut down our libraries and rec centers.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

In DISD at least, the money sent in by taxpayers is just wasted.

Many, many administrators have high six-figure salaries.New schools (not replacement schools) are being built to pad the construction industry. Enrollment is down and these schools are not needed.Consultants regularly are paid at least a million dollars for their uneeded services.

As a taxpayer and a teacher, I think there needs to be a limit. NJ and NYC are proposing to cap supe salaries. The NYC supe makes less than ours!

I don't want to be heartless to anyone, but the more we give them, the more they waste.

The solution is to pass legislation detailing what can't be cut: libraries, teachers, nurses, pools in the summer. And then cut the hell out of the budget.

We can't keep raising taxes.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

DISD Don't know how to break this to you.You are about to have a turn in the Barrel when it comes to your own Retirement .So the huge (Laugh with not at ) pension fund you think is there is about to become Pennies on the Dollar .You and yours will be begging for the Taxpayer to cough up enough dough for Cat food .

Just another bump in the road in the Politics of envy perfect storm that has been created by folks who want things their way .

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

I don't expect any TRS retirement, so no laugh on me.And the taxpayers have paid enough. In fact, we just keep paying and where does it all go?To the intended beneficiaries?Ummm, no.

Let me restate my position: The problem isn't revenue, the problem is WASTE and FRAUD. Taxing anyone more does not address the WASTE and FRAUD. Perry should address WASTE and FRAUD.

I see the waste and fraud of hard-earned tax dollars on a daily basis at DISD. I see innocent, helpless kids put up with conditions that stunt them bc the money intended for them is funneled to contractors, vendors, and various other consultants.

I loathe Perry and his ilk bc they will roll over our environment, our children, and our eldlerly in a never-ending quest to enrich themselves.

I loathe him and them so much that I don't want to give them any more to waste.

It's not about "envy"; it's about the disconnect between compassionate people who pay taxes and the layer of horrible human beings who steal the money.

BJ
BJ

Maybe the good folks in Michigan can tell us how to run our state?

Oh wait....they drove theirs into the toilet and now they're all down here...

Augie
Augie

Jim - thanks for asking these questions. It is very nearly too late for anyone to stop this train that is well on the way to dropping our education system from a shiny 46th out of 50 right to bottom sniffing Mississippi's ass end. I do not understand why more citizens aren't screaming from the rooftops right now. This budget crisis was CREATED by the 2005 leg who decided to cut property taxes and replace with a business tax that managed to come up $10b short per year compared to homeowners. This crisis has not one whit to do with the economy and anyone blaming that has drunk all the Koolaid.

If you have children, want to have children or even if just want to keep living in this state for more than the next 5 years, you should be hopping mad that the "fix" to the solution created by pathetic leadership in Austin is to dump it on the children. Frankly, this entire thing borders on criminal behavior and certainly the proposed 20% cut is going to obliterate the 22 student maximum per class in place since 1984. This is being done without consideration of the impact that will have, without a sound basis for doing so, and merely because we need to cut the budget because whoops, we forgot to collect sufficient taxes and we damn sure will spontaneously combust if we even say the T word.

Brian
Brian

Botswana is a democracy and has been for decades. South Korea is also, but most of its growth was under a dictatorship. A more accurate accessment would be to start out dirt poor and have lots of mineral resources.

Blergh
Blergh

I would have to say that the Tahir Square analogy is particullarly apt.

Given that most extreme right ringers have a political philosiphy based on a completely self-centered point of view, I think that the only way you can explain the social contract to them is to put in words that speak to their own self interest since they seem to be missing the ability to empathize with others.

The rich need to pay higher taxes. They may not use the public schools system, or many of the services that their taxes pay for, like social security, or medicare. They argue that "I earned my money and the government doesn't have a right to take it from me." However, Jim is right. Even if they can't empathize with those less fortunate than themselves, understand that when services and infrasturcture erode enough, trust between economic classes begins to erode, and then civil society begins to fall apart. All I can say is after that, people will become hopeless, and the rich and powerful will either be paying "higher taxes" in the form hiring armed thugs mercenaries to protect their vast estates from the roaving hordes of the poor, or they can continue the free ride in a lawless society at their own peril. Because of what is happening right now in the middle east, this argument should no longer seem as "crazy" of a possibility to most people. If you don't follow, maybe the French Revolution will ring a bell? Do some people not understand the concept of The Social Contract? Bellum omnium contra omnes? Maybe public schools in some states have gotten so bad that they no longer teach Thomas Hobbes. At least in Texas they still read Ayn Rand and teach Objectivism...

space2k
space2k

I'm beginning to suspect that Perry's zealous defense of our "rainy day fund" will be the centerpiece of his run for the 2012 GOP nomination. And why wouldn't it be? You certainly aren't going to win over the GOP's extremist base by spending money on book-learnin'.

Montemalone
Montemalone

My guess is that rainy day fund done been doled out already to Bighair's corporate masters.

Bob
Bob

Rick Perry = Barry Goldwater

space2k
space2k

Actually, I think it's more likely that Perry ends up being Bill Miller to Palin's Goldwater.

JimS
JimS

To "Anonymous", above" You argue that we should shoot for being a nation "that forces people to take care of themselves in old age." Most people in this country, well up into the upper middle class, would be absolutely devastated if they had to pay their parents' hospitable bills without help from Medicare. The fact is that we all earn a certain level of well-being with our productivity, and part of what we earn is the right to take care of ourselves through collective enterprises like tax-subsidized insurance. In the last 20 years, we have allowed a tiny cabal of people in the top one-tenth of one percent to fleece us of a good deal of our well-being, arguing, as you do, that it should have been your money to keep all along. All markets are created by government and politics in any society above hunter-gatherer. The ultra-rich have used their welath to corrupt the system in this country and to corrupt the market, so that it is now on the verge of dysfunctionality. The essential ingredient in productivity is not your vaunted "entrepreneurial spirit," not that there's anyting wrong with that. But the key is trust relationships. Your kind of screw-you thinking is corroding those core trust relationships that are the glue that holds society together.If you imagine for some reasonthat the great mass of epople are going to accept penury without complaint, take a look at Tahrir Square. That could just as easily be Thanksgiving Square in Dallas five years from now, and you could find yourself in your Montana bunker eating stock-piled dried beans and counting up your bullets for the rest of your life.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Come on Jim. You are trying to make two different arguments at the same time and I suspect you know it. Spare me the class/generational warfare bullshit. I do not intend for our country to leave its elderly panhandling and penniless in the street. What I'm talking about is rationing of healthcare across the board in some sane way. There is no reason we should be performing expensive surgeries on Grandma at age 95 when the end result is that it keeps her in an unconscious state, alive solely on the taxpayer's dime and with no hope of meaningful improvement. Keep her comfortable, at a reasonable cost, while she passes with dignity. I personally think a single payer government system is the way you mitigate this problem. There's no reason to let private insurance make money insuring young, healthy people with short term incentives, fully aware that the most expensive portion of their lives will be covered by someone else (whether that's another insurance company or the govt). That also gives the system the incentive to keep its children taken care of and healthy.I'd also add that the healthcare that people voted to give themselves in the 60s is NOT what we have today.

JimS
JimS

Anonymous: if you're worried about keeping grandma alive past her allotted number of days, then I guess what you need is a private sector death panel.

Anonymous
Anonymous

You keep trying to make arguments I am simply not making. There is no egg timer after which point, we let old people expire and after reading back through my comments, I am certain have not made a single argument in that vein. The fact is that Medicare now pays for treatments that cannot be justified in any cost/benefit scenario. Apparently the marginal benefit of an extra minute of life is infinite, so spending vast sums on that minute is justified. The bleeding hearts say really dumb things like "how can you put a value on life" but taken to its logical conclusion, that thinking will lead us to spend every last penny on healthcare (for everyone, not just the old) while ignoring other spending priorities. You can't look the other way at fraud just because it happens in a program whose goal is laudable. Medicare pays for devices on a set schedule. When the NY Times figured out that Medicare was paying more than you or I could pay by going to Wal Mart to buy the same item, it ran the story and there was temporary embarrassment, along with a call to get Medicare to pay what Wal Mart pays. Low and behold, the company getting the outsized payments lobbied its pay to an extension of the current Medicare rates and we taxpayers are literally just handing money over to that company. This is the reality of Medicare. It is not an isolated incident. You can talk about saving money in this program without trying to put seniors on an accelerated expiration schedule.

EDM
EDM

"What I'm talking about is rationing of healthcare across the board in some sane way."

Wasn't this the crux of the ObamaCare debate as fueled by the Conservative PACs and FOX News -- Rationed health care and someone deciding whether you can live or die?

Augie
Augie

Exactly! This was the so called death panels. It is funny to see a right winger come up with this as a solution to the problem when this was the roadblock thrown up the right to try to stop the health care plan.

Steve
Steve

Allow me to translate what Jim is saying - You're all idiots who can't possibly survive on your own so you need to use the power of government to steal from your neighbor and if your neighbor won't give you his money you all will become murderous savages. So there you have it, liberalism at it's core, give other people your money because they're barely functioning retards who will kill you if you don't.

JimS
JimS

No, Steve, backwards. The top one-tenth of a percent have used the government to steal the wealth of the bottom sixty percent, and maybe about now the bototm 60 will wake up to what has happened. To find the thief, look for the boodle.

Steve
Steve

Scott, actually it not. If you go to A href="http://tinyurl.com/3cquum">this link and scroll down to the first chart you'll see that the top 1% pull in about 20% of all personal income, so yeah, id say pulling in 20% while paying out 40% is more than fair.

scottindallas
scottindallas

Um, steve, what % of the wealth do the top 1% earn? A. It's far higher than that 40%. Therefore, those guys are actually not paying their fair share. Their tax cuts means tax hikes for you. Obama lowered taxes for everyone except the bottom 1/3 of the economy.

Steve
Steve

Ok, let's look for the boodle. The top earning corporation in America right now is Wal Mart, it's pulling in about $500 billion a year. The US government is currently pulling in about $1.25 trillion a year in taxes, about 40% of that $1.25 trillion coming from the top 1% of taxpayers. 40% of $1.25 trillion is about $500 billion, so not only are the top 1% of taxpayers shouldering nearly half of the tax burden, they're giving the government as much as the highest earning corporation is making. And all that doesn't even get to the bottom 50% of taxpayers who are currently paying a whopping 3% of the total tax revenues. So yeah, follow the boodle and it leads you to the US government.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'm pretty sure you're not neighbors with Jerry Jones, the Simmons bros. or the Hunts. Higher taxes on the ultra high earners would help the economy by stimulating investment and hiring, as well as increasing revenue

JR
JR

You are so correct. My elderly neighbor next door to me years ago drove himself right into the poor farm paying for his medical care because he was too proud to ask for help. By the time he was 79 he was completely penniless and I learned he was no longer able to pay for food or medicine. Then in 2003 my brothers and I discovered the same was true with our parents, in Plano. Dad had run through his entire savings paying medical costs for mom and himself. We only discovered this when my father was in cardiac intensive care and we had to step in and rifle throught the finances to take care of things. In the meantime, dad was refusing medical care because he felt if he died, his life insurance would payout and take care of mom.

Their generation was proud. They are completely opposed to handouts but there is no way anyone can afford the current costs of medical care.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

JimS -- Please keep this up and the Illegal aliens may start sneaking to Botswana or Vietnam. And maybe the proud DISD recent grad who could not make change for $4.65 from a five dollar bill will go too.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Will they be sending their own kids to school in Vietnam? Or Texas?----------------------------------------------------------

Sure they will - to exclusive private schools, just like they do now.

Anonymous
Anonymous

It seems like you should lay off the "keeping Grandma indoors" argument. The people who dreamed up Medicare and Medicaid promised themselves a future full of services that our country can't afford. Frankly, I'd rather have a faster growing economy that forces people to take care of themselves in old age. The education and healthcare for children argument is more compelling and a bigger worry to me because these are people who could eventually be productive members of society.

Enrique De La Fuente
Enrique De La Fuente

Does that fast growing economy include handing North Texas money to hold a Super Bowl, giving money to Chavez's Citgo, giving money to Countrywide, among other limited government things we do here in Texas?

Montemalone
Montemalone

Actually, the country can afford it just fine, if those that benefit the most from what this country enables them to do were contributing their fair (relative)share.

Anonymous
Anonymous

No, that is absolutely not true and I don't think you'd ever find a reputable economist on any side of the aisle who would make that argument. Taxing the rich is merely one part of bringing expenses in line with what we can afford. Healthcare costs (Medicare specifically) are growing way too fast to tax our way out of that problem because we spend way too much putting Grandma through 2 surgeries in the last month of her life. For some reason we'd rather do that than pay for decent quality education and preventative medicine for children. Also, the middle class in this country is insolvent. Taxing the rich will also not change that fact.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

How about we tackle getting Grandma her prescriptions at a reasonable price before we cross that two surgeries bridge? With what we have spent in Iraq alone we could have fully funded universal health insurance for two years so yes we can afford it. It's just a matter of priorities.

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