Molly Ivins; another nightmare for conservatives.

g. nelson (colleen@aa.net)
Tue, 26 May 1998 07:42:13 -0700 (PDT)


One of my favorite commentators on the political scene is Molly Ivins. 
She is 6 feet tall, has red hair and was born and raised in Texas. She is
manages to be very funny about things that I am only beginning to learn to
laugh about. Hope that (most of) you enjoy.

Gwen



http://www.texasobserver.org/

   By MOLLY IVINS
   Creators Syndicate Inc.
   
   AUSTIN -- A recent cartoon shows President Clinton bragging on the 8
   million jobs that have been created since he came into office. A
   waiter standing nearby with a tray full of glasses is thinking, "Yeah,
   and I'm holding down three of them."
   
   It is the genius of cartoonists to take headlines like "Worker
   Earnings Post Rise of 2.7 Percent, Lowest on Record: Wages Stagnant in
   Latest Year Even as Economy Expanded" and make them comprehensible to
   us all. As the headlines keep telling us, the economy is roaring along
   -- a 4.2 percent growth rate in the last quarter. But most of us are
   worse off than we were 20 years ago. The proportion of workers holding
   two jobs to make ends meet is higher than it has been in 50 years. We
   live a great nation, n'est-ce pas?
   
   In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan kept telling us that we had to increase
   productivity, productivity was the key, we had to be as productive as
   the Japanese. So we were right-sized, downsized, streamlined and plain
   old laid off to a fare-thee-well. And by George, productivity just
   shot up there; we are just producin' fools these days. And most of us
   are still worse off than we were 20 years ago.
   
   Our canny corporate leaders have shifted to day laborers and "temps"
   ("permanent temp" is a phrase that managers can now say without a
   glimmer of a smile) so they won't have to pay for health insurance or
   retirement benefits. Even full-time employees are now having to pay a
   larger share of such benefits.
   
   So who's gettin' the dough? Executives and stockholders, stockholders
   and executives.
   
   The Progressive Caucus in Congress went through the Republican budget
   and found $122.5 billion in new tax breaks for CEOs and others with
   incomes of more than $100,000 a year. That works out to 4,224 times
   what all minimum-wage workers would receive if they all got a
   $1-an-hour increase for each of the next seven years. The problem of
   stagnant wages, especially at the lower end of the wage scale, is
   critical; men without college degrees have had their wages drop by 12
   percent in 15 years.
   
   But the Republican budget will aggravate this very problem. By sharply
   cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Republican budget
   effectively raises taxes for low-income workers. And, of course, the
   Republican Congress will not even consider increasing the minimum
   wage.
   
   In early October, 101 distinguished economists, including three Nobel
   Prize winners and seven past presidents of the American Economics
   Association, signed a statement asking Congress to increase the
   minimum wage. They noted that the minimum wage, adjusted for
   inflation, is at its second-lowest level since 1955, and its
   purchasing power is 26 percent less than it was on average during the
   1970s.
   
   The cautious economists emphasized that the old argument that raising
   the minimum wage makes jobs disappear is not borne out by the facts.
   "On balance, the evidence from recent economic studies ... suggests
   the employment effects were negligible or small."
   
   Nor do economists fear that wage increases will touch off inflation.
   In fact, most of them are puzzled as to why increased corporate
   profits and greater productivity have not already been reflected in
   higher wages. Executives and stockholders, stockholders and
   executives.
   
   Meanwhile, with corporate profits already at a 40-year high, the
   Republicans continue to offer more tax breaks to corporations.
   According to the Progressive Caucus, repeal of the alternative minimum
   tax on corporations will cost the treasury $25.2 billion, which
   happens to match the $23.3 billion tax increase on working families
   earning less than $28,000 a year from cuts in the EITC.
   
   The $14 billion tax loophole granted by Republicans to highly
   profitable mutual insurance companies would restore food stamps and
   nutrition assistance for 7 million children. But hey, the Republicans
   are determined to balance the budget, and who needs that $14 billion
   more -- hungry children or mutual insurance companies already making
   high profits?
   
   I'm always pleased to hear Republicans carry on about moral decline in
   this country. Bill Bennett, one of my favorite Public Scolds, is now
   on a crusade to elevate the tenor of TV talk shows -- a worthy
   endeavor. Boy, that's getting right to the heart of what's wrong with
   this country.
   
   It used to be, in the Texas Legislature, we could occasionally get our
   right-wingers to vote for some social program by carefully showing
   them how it would save money in the long run -- prenatal nutrition
   programs, well baby and infant care and so on. Maybe the new key to
   getting Republicans to act in the public interest is show them that
   moral decline will result from certain policies.
   
   I can pretty much guarantee that taking $23 billion a year away from
   families making less than $28,000 will result in their moral decline,
   especially when the money goes to eliminate that tax on wealthy
   corporations. You see, people will notice what kind of behavior gets
   rewarded in this system, and they too will take up greed, disloyalty,
   irresponsibility and gouging their fellow man without a twinge of
   guilt. Get Bill Bennett on the phone -- quick!
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