The Weiner Component V.2 #41 – Patterns of History: Part 1: Welfare for the Rich

English: Woodrow Wilson.

English: Woodrow Wilson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Presidency of Donald J. Trump seems to be taking the country historically backwards.  We, as a nation, are moving toward the past, going from being a middle class nation to a lower class one.  And the current major agent bringing this about is the President of the country, Donald J. Trump with the aid of the Republican dominated Congress.

 

In the post-Civil-War Period the United States underwent a rapid phase of industrialization.  The Industrial Revolution arrived.  We changed from a rural civilization to an urban one.  This was the period of the robber barons and monopolies.  Taxation was limited.  The XVI Amendment to the Constitution legalizing the income tax would not be passed until 1913.  Prior to that date a large group of industrialists made multimillions of dollars in their prospective industries, establishing, in many cases, family dynasties, like the Rockefellers or the Fords.

 

At that time there were no rules of regulations.  Cities rose rapidly.  The country was crisscrossed with railroads.  Unions were considered organizations in restraint of trade.  Child and women labor was ramped.  Most industries worked their way up to become monopolies controlled by one man or a small group of men.  Monopolies bribed their way into Congress.  By the late 19th Century monopolies and oligopolies con`trolled most production.

 

All this corrupt growth was partly halted by the development of the Progressive Movement which rose around the turn of the 20th Century.  The struggle to end the monopolies and oligopolies would continue to and end with World War I.  It would not resume again until the Great Depression.

 

There was a great influx of labor during this early industrial period.  People came from Eastern Europe and Asia.  They built the railroads, filled the factories, and lived in overcrowded slums in the rapidly developing urban centers.

 

The overall population of the United States at this time was lower class, people: men, women, children, working for wages, usually low and were barely living upon what they earned.  With the Progressive Movement laws were passed improving conditions in the cities and the factories.  The labor movement developed and wages gradually improved.  Working conditions got better as new labor laws were passed.  It was a slow process.

 

With the coming of World War I there were shortages of everything in Europe.  Food and war materials were imported from the United States.  There was actually a labor shortage there.

 

During 1917 the United States was drawn into the war on the side of the Allied Nations.  The U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson’s slogan was: This was the war to end all wars.  Unfortunately after the war ended Allied Nations wanted revenge.  Wilson was forced to settle for a League of Nations which later the United States refused to officially join.

 

Germany as the only nation left of the Central Powers at the end of the War had to pay reparations for the cost of the war.  The Allies used the German reparations to pay the United States the money they had borrowed from her to fight the War.  With the coming of the Great Depression all payments ended.  Each nation worked unsuccessfully to get itself out of the Great Depression.  For the United States the Great Depression ended with the coming of World War II in 1939.

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In 1933, when he became President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt doubled the money supply in the nation by collecting all the gold coins, legally doubling their value from $18 an ounce to $36 an ounce, and reissuing the money in paper currency.  Presumably everyone had their currency exchanged from gold to paper.  Gold non-circulated certificates were deposited with the Federal Reserve which were supposed to stand behind the paper currency.  The gold was melted into blocks which were then put into depositories like Fort Knox.

 

By this move Roosevelt not only doubled the money supply he also gave the Federal Government possession or control of 50% of the money supply without raising one dollar in taxes.  This money would be used to pay for the “New Deal” that would be given to all the people in need in the United States.  Apparently Roosevelt also liked poker, that where the name of his program came from.

 

The entire concept of money would change at this point, not only in the United States but throughout all the nations since they all would follow this pattern.  Money would no longer be an exchange of a good or service for a valuable metal worth that good or service.  Paper money henceforth would have no intrinsic value.  It would only be a means of exchange.  A good or service would be exchanged for a different good or service.  Money would be the instrument of exchange.  It would state the value of the good or service for the other good or service for which it was exchanged.

 

Money now also became a means of scoring what a job or item was worth.  It had no real value outside of the country.  It could not be used in other countries.

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As we’ve seen in the United States prior to 1933 money was actual gold and silver; paper money was a promissory note that could be redeemed at any time for gold or silver.  It extended the amount of money in circulation.

 

Promissory notes began at one dollar and went up to thousands of dollars.  Ones and fives were silver certificates.  Anything above that was a gold promissory note that could be exchanged for gold $20 pieces of gold.

 

The year 1933 was the low point of the Great Depression.  In that year the Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, became the 32d President of the United States.  Among his actions that year he had all the gold coins, with the exception of a small number held back as souvenirs, collected and melted down into gold blocks.  They were stored in depositories.  Roosevelt had the value of the gold changed from $18 an ounce to $36 an ounce.  In essence he doubled the money supply.  This enabled him to pay for the New Deal.

 

What Roosevelt did, knowingly or not knowingly, was to change the function of money.  Before 1933 gold coins were accepted anywhere on the planet.  Money, an object of value was exchanged for equally valued goods and/or services.  After 1933 money became an object of exchange.  It had no intrinsic value.  It became within each country strictly an object of exchange; exchanging a good or service for a good or service.  Thereafter it became a sort of scorecard, denoting the value of an object, service, or occupation but other than that having no value itself.

 

In 1933 as the gold coins were collected gold certificates were issued and retained by the Federal Reserve for the gold collected and these served as the basis for the paper money issued.  Did the gold certificates equal the amount of paper money issued by the Federal Government?  I don’t believe anyone ever checked.

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Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, began this country based upon debt.  During the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress freely issued paper Continentals with which to pay its debts.  After the War Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton collected this money and put out a new issue paying off the Continentals at full face value.  He believed that a certain amount of Federal Debt ensured the allegiance of the property owning class.

 

With a few short exceptions, like the early part of Jefferson’s tenure as President, there has been a National Debt.  The question that now arises is: Should there be a limit to this Debt?  After all when the Federal Government borrows money it has to pay interest on the Debt.  Currently, toward the end of 2017 the Debt has reached 20 trillion dollars.  The interest upon that amount is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

During periods of Democratic Presidents, when the Republicans had a majority in one House of Congress they have been deficit hawks, being upset over each additional dollar of debt.  With Republican Presidents they have been willing to massively expand the debt.  Under President Reagan the National Debt rose, for the first time, over one trillion dollars.  It more than doubled under the first Bush President and it quadrupled under the second Bush President.  Currently, under President Donald J. Trump, in order to bring about what the Republicans call “Tax Reform,” but what is actually a massive tax decrease for the wealthy, the Republicans are willing to increase the National Debt by over 1 ½ trillion dollars a year.

 

Originally they were going to gut Affordable Health Care (Obamacare) and use that money for the tax cut.  But when that plan failed their tax bill plans changed to take money from the middle class and from deficit spending.  Will that bill pass in both Houses of Congress?  I doubt it.  As long as the Republicans have a majority of two in the Senate they are having trouble passing anything.  To date, one year into their current administration they have passed no significant legislation.

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There is another important consideration to keep in mind.  With the current massive National Debt and the propensity of Republican Presidents to spend money unnecessarily or foolishly.  President George W. Bush’s Iraqi War and President Donald J. Trump’s ridiculous twelve hundred mile Wall there is a distinct possibility that the National Debt could continue to rise rapidly.  The effect of this is a redistribution of money in the hands of the wealthy.  After all who can afford to buy the continuous flow of government bonds?  Tax dollars will be paid by the rapidly declining middle and lower classes which will, in turn, be distributed as interest to the wealthy upper class.  This process will continually push many of the remaining members of the middle class downward economically into the lower class while enhancing the upper few percentile of the upper class.  It will help to take America back to where it was before the turn of the 20th Century.  In point of fact this plan can generate welfare for the very rich.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Franklinas Delanas Ruzveltas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component Vol.2 #17 Republicans & Affordable Health Care

Official photographic portrait of US President...

English: Nations with Universal health care sy...

English: Nations with Universal health care systems. Nations with some type of universal health care system. Nations attempting to obtain universal health care. Health care coverage provided by the United States war funding. Nations with no universal health care. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The existence of Universal Health Care exists in most of the industrial nations as a right for every citizen.   In the United States this concept came into being in 2010, the second year of the Obama administration.  Traditionally, in the U.S. up until that time health care was provided by many employers or it was for people who could afford to pay the required premiums.  The idea of Universal Health Care as a right of all citizens began in the United States in 1945 with President Harry S Truman.  It remained an idea because no legislation was passed by Congress.  Under President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 Medicare was passed for senior citizens and the disabled.  Former President Harry S Truman received the first card, numbered 1.

 

For younger people, those under 65 years of age, medical coverage had to be purchased.  Millions didn’t have any coverage.  Either their jobs didn’t provide it or they couldn’t afford the required premiums.  In medical emergencies these people had to go to E.R. in hospitals or attempt to ignore their illness.  The hospitals had to provide services even if they could not collect fees for them.

 

It should be noted that even with Medicare medical services are not completely paid for.  Even today many seniors have limited financial resources.  They may have to choose between medicine, food, and/or rent.  Medications also tend to be very expensive.

 

President Bill Clinton had a committee headed by his wife, Hillary, attempt to develop a Universal Health Care Bill during his presidency.  It was finally totally defeated with the slogan, “There has to be a better way.”  The “better way” was no Health Care Bill.  The concept was defeated during his first four years in office.

 

Under President George W. Bush a prescription payment was added to Medicare.  This did not do away with payments for medication but it reduced them considerably with the Federal Government picking up the balance.

 

It should be noted that one of the main groups of contributors to Congressional Elections, particularly Republican elections, is the pharmaceutical industry.  In turn Congress has protected their rights to charge outlandish prices for medications.  Most medications produced by these companies cost far less outside the boundaries of the U.S.  Ironically it is the taxpayers who now pick up most of the cost for medication so that politicians can more easily get contributions.

 

During the second year of the Obama administration, 2010, with the Democrats having control of both houses of Congress, the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed.  As a put-down the Republicans dubbed the bill Obamacare.  President Obama stated that he liked the title and it has been largely called that since.

 

Ironically, in order to make the bill palatable to the Republicans the Democrats built Affordable Health Care from a Republican plan, utilizing private enterprise, the insurance companies, to build a universal health plan.  Obamacare was modeled after a plan that had been developed and used by the state of Massachusetts under the Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

 

Not one Republican voted for Affordable Health Care.  They had all in caucus agreed to not support anything President Obama favored.  They were determined to make him a one term President.  The Bill was passed by the Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.  Not one Republican voted for the Bill in either House of Congress.  In fact from 2011 on, when the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, they voted over sixty times over the next six years to repeal the Bill.  Up until 2014 the Democrats had a majority in the Senate.  In 2015 the Senate barely achieved a Republican majority.  At that time President Obama vetoed the anti-Obamacare Bill.

 

With the election of the Republican Donald J. Trump as President of the United States and with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress their goal seemed within reach.  But poles ascertained that repeal of that Bill had only 17% approval among the general public.  The majority of Americans want to keep it in existence.  Affordable Health Care had become even more popular than it had been during the time when Barack Obama had been President of the United States. The number of people signing up for it in 2017 increased considerably.

 

Suddenly the Congressional Republicans had a tiger by the tail.  When the Republican legislators went home on their numerous breaks to their districts they faced unhappy constituents who were vociferous in their protest against doing away with Obamacare.  This was particularly true when the Non Partisan Congressional Office that reported upon this bill stated that 14 million people would lose their health insurance coverage if the initial Republican “repeal and replace” health bill became law.

 

After failing to get their “repeal and replace” bill through the House of Representatives the Republicans members were careful to take their two week Easter break.  When they returned there was presumably a new “repeal and replace” bill which was rushed through the House and passed before it had been evaluated by the Non Partisan Budget Office that vets all bills as to their effects.  Since the bill would be massive in size the probability was that most of the Republicans who voted for it had not read it.

 

The new bill is called The American Health Care Act.  From what I understand it makes Health Insurance available to everyone if they can afford the premiums.  Whereas Affordable Health Care attempted to make Health Insurance a right for every citizen the American Health Care Act makes it a privilege for those who can afford it.  The Federal Government will give each state a fixed amount of money which the states can use in helping their citizens pay healthcare premiums.

 

The overall amount which the Federal Government will save is estimated to be around eight billion dollars.  This will allow the Congress to pass what it calls, tax reform.  Congress and President Donald Trump intend to reduce income taxes for the upper 1% and for corporations around eight billion dollars.  The principle here strikes me as reverse Robin Hood, that is, take from the poor and give to the rich.  If this goes through Donald Trump will reduce his taxes considerably.

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Fortunately the House of Representatives passing a bill is just that, passing a bill.  The bill then goes to the Senate and the Senate has to pass the bill.  First the bill actually goes to a Senatorial Committee where hearings on it will be held and it will be marked-up, changed or rewritten into a Senate version.  A number of Republican Senators have already stated that they have their own ideas about a Senate version of a Health Care Bill.

 

Once the Senate Committee has come out with their version of the bill it then goes to the full Senate where Senators can still amend the bill before voting upon it.  After amendments are added, and each one must be voted upon separately, the bill is again voted upon by the full Senate.  At best it will have three more Republican votes than Democratic votes.  The count in the Senate is now 52 Republicans to 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus and vote with the Democrats.

 

It is very possible that the Republicans will not be able to get a majority vote and the bill will die in the Senate.  But even if it passes it will be different from the House bill.  Consequently the two bills will go to a Conference Committee made up of members of both Houses of Congress.  They, in turn, will have to come up with a Compromise Bill that is acceptable to both Houses of Congress.  If that were to occur then the new Compromise Bill would have to go to both Houses and be voted upon and passed in both Houses without any changes or it would have to go back to a new Conference Committee.

 

The chances of much of this happening is very small.  The probability is that the bill will not even reach the Conference Committee.  And even if it does it could easily die there.

 

What this bill will achieve is to upset the 14 million people who would lose their current medical coverage if the bill were to pass.  There is a Midterm Election coming up on the first Tuesday in November of 2018.  I am sure the Democrats in each District and State will be happy to remind their constituents of how their Republican representatives voted in 2017 on health care.  It would probably also be worth notifying them that the Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.  The probability is that the Senate will once again gain a Democratic majority and the House of Representatives could also achieve one.

 

President Donald Trump will likely be tweeting half the night if one or both Houses of Congress had a Democratic majority.  He has essentially been able to get nothing done with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.  He will probably get less than nothing done with one or both Houses of Congress in Democratic hands.

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As a point of interest, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is or was a follower of Ann Rand, at least until he found out she was an atheist, is largely responsible for the original new health bill and after the Easter Congressional break for the so-called new version of that bill that the House of Representatives passed.  He says that it is “a bogus attack from the left” to claim that the health care bill was rushed.  I suppose the “left” is the Democratic Party, as the bill was passed strictly along party lines.  No Democrat voted for it.

 

Ryan did not wait for the Non Partisan Congressional Office to study and give the over-all effects of the bill.  Rushing the bill through the House meant, not giving the constituents a chance to complain.

 

It is also interesting to note that Ann Rand basic philosophy, which she applied to her novels dealt with the Hegelian method, thesis vs. antithesis which she turned into individuals acting against each other in her two major novels: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.  Her form, in both novels dealt with the super individual functioning or struggling against the uncaring group.  In essence it would be the super human vs. the uncaring masses.  I suppose to Ryan it means him against the masses.

 

This philosophy was developed in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century.  Its prime example would be Germany’s concept of the Master Race.  I would guess that the current Speaker of the House of Representatives mentally includes himself among that group.  This is the man that pushed through the current House Health Bill which will, if passed, take medical insurance away from 14 million people and also increase the wealth of the well to do by decreasing their taxes.