Rob Wittman Pushes for Rural Broadband Internet Access – Except When He Doesn’t

Rob Wittman never had much to say about broadband internet access in the Congressional District he represents until the issue came up in the Democratic Primary this spring.  Much of the district is rural and without connection to the web services that stimulate economic development, support businesses and allow remote access to medical care.  They are without this connection because private markets do not provide what amounts to a public utility in remote areas, and no amount of deregulation will make them want to.  The return on investment simply isn’t there.

Back in the day, much of Tennessee had a similar problem with electricity.  The Federal Government, not private enterprise, solved the problem through the Tennessee Valley Authority, a New Deal Democrat effort to modernize rural areas of the state.  Could we learn something from this very successful effort? Continue reading

Sunday Morning Coffee

A few things I read over coffee this morning…while watching the talking heads discuss Iowa:

Morton Guyton, writing at Patheos blog Mercy Not Sacrifice, discusses an ideological perspective he calls ” White Evangelical Nihilism:”

There’s a genuine ideological foundation for the ethos that makes Trump and Cruz so popular. I call it white evangelical nihilism.

When you’re told by your pastor that all the people outside of your ideological tribe are utterly wicked and deserving of eternal torture, that’s how it becomes a sin to compromise with your opponents politically and work together for the common good.

Everything about secular liberalism must be utterly antithetical to the Christian gospel and profoundly offensive to God. It has to be, or else secular liberals wouldn’t be worthy of damnation. So everything about liberalism is put into binary opposition with “God’s truth.” To believe in climate change is to believe that God is not in control of the environment. To believe that the government should provide for the poor is an emulation of atheist communism and a usurpation of God’s sovereignty. To promote “political correctness” is to silence the courageous proclamation of “Biblical truth.”

This tracks with a point I make when discussing today’s polarized American political climate.  Conservatives run on a set of existential issues on which there can be no compromise: abortion, homosexuality, taxes, and guns.  Two of these have their basis in religion and two in racism, but all four depend on the fundamental premise that only wicked, lazy or authoritarian people disagree with the right wing on these issues.  This is the fundamental American political problem we need to resolve.

Guyton goes on to reframe salvation.  Rather than a search for God’s help in saving individual sinners from themselves, he argues we should seek His help in saving other people from our sin:

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” Imagine if Christians, and especially Christian politicians, were known as the people who regard everyone else as “better than [them]selves.”

Read the whole thing.  Excellent essay. Continue reading

Taxpayers Subsidize Wealthy Capitalists

Steven Attewell, over at Lawyers, Guns and Money, gives a pretty good rundown of the politics behind Mario Cuomo’s call for increasing the minimum wage for some workers in New York City. Can’t think of anything to add on this.

But I would like to highlight this statement in the Cuomo op-ed Attewell cites:

Fast-food workers and their families are twice as likely to receive public assistance compared with other working families. Among fast-food workers nationwide, 52 percent — a rate higher than in any other industry — have at least one family member on welfare.

Yes, US taxpayers support fast food workers with $7 billion in public assistance every year while the industry generates huge profits and generous CEO salaries.  And it’s not just the fast food industry.  Retail giants like Wal-Mart generate huge fortunes for small groups of people while taxpayers subsidize their wages to the tune of billions of dollars.  Fast food and retail CEOs take multi-million dollar salaries, and wealthy families and stockholders take billions in profits while their workers live in poverty and taxpayers subsidize their business models.

These CEOs and shareholders will argue that paying higher wages would cut into profits and force them to raise prices.  But BLS statistics show about 3.3 million workers making the minimum wage or less.  Paying them all $15 an hour, plus employer contributions for Social Security and Medicare, comes to less than $110 billion a year.  This is not the total cost of increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 – this is the total cost of paying all current minimum wage workers $15 an hour, 40 hours a week, for 50 weeks each year.

This is less than 1.5% of all US corporate after tax profits in 2014.  This means that Corporate America could pay a $15 minimum wage to all current minimum wage or below workers – and still generate more than $7 trillion in profits.

Why don’t they do this?