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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Are we a plutocracy?

Plutocracy : noun, government by the wealthy; an elite or ruling class whose power drives from their wealth

As a nation we are living beyond our means. The current national debt (how much the government has borrowed and owes) is somewhere in the vicinity of $13.4 trillion dollars. I have no idea how many times to the moon and back 13 trillion dollars would amount to; suffice it to say it is a figure that is beyond the comprehension of most Americans. The national deficit (spending more money on an annual basis than it takes in) has been constant since 1969. If you and I were to run our households in this manner it wouldn’t be too long before we were in bankruptcy. As recent demonstrations attest, he fiscal state of our government is front and center in the 2010 mid – term election.

In 2001 & 2003 the Bush Administration passed tax cuts across the board for US citizens. The previous tax code under President Clinton started at 15% for the lowest wage earners and was tiered up to 39.6% for the wealthiest. The Bush tax breaks moved the taxes down on a sliding scale to 10% for the lowest income earners to 35% for the wealthiest in our nation. These tax cuts provided taxpayers $1.7 trillion in additional income through 2008, money that otherwise would have gone to pay for government services and debt reduction. Unless the Bush tax cut is reinstated it will expire at year-end. The question our federal lawmakers face is should we let the tax breaks expire, extend them for two years or make them permanent. How our elected officials choose to vote on this matter will affect each citizen and the long-term health of our nation.

President Obama has indicated he wants to keep the tax cuts in place for the 96% of citizens earning less than $200,000 as an individual or $250,000 for a household. Taxes for 4 % of the population defined as rich would increase. If implemented, the net gain over a ten-year period would amount to $700 billion of additional tax revenue. To set this in an annual context, $700 billion is what we spend on defense. This amounts to $1.9 billion spent 24 hours.

Economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez analyzed income between 2002 & 2007. In this period 99% of Americans saw their income grow 1.3 % per year, which is below the annual cost of living increase of 2.8%. For the remaining 1% of our population, the wealthiest, their income increased 10% a year. The Bush tax cuts favored high-income households who saw an increase in real dollar terms and also as a percentage of income. As a result the top 1 % of our population captures 23.5 % of our nation’s total income. Contrast this with the 13.2% of Americans living in poverty who earn less than 1% of our nation’s income. If these tax cuts were such a stimulus to our economy why are we mired in a recession? Obviously this is a very complex equation, yet the tax cuts have not panned out to the economic panacea they were promised to be.

In 2008 the average net worth of our Senators was $13.9 million. Congress checked in at $4.6 million. Increasing the tax 4.6% on the wealthiest (as it was in the 90s) isn’t going to put our elected officials and the wealthiest in the poor house. The additional revenue from those who have benefited most from our free market system will nudge our government closer to fiscal responsibility.

The logical way towards a balanced budget and reasonable debt is to decrease expenditures and increase revenue. Will our elected officials have the courage to raise their own taxes?

Hi Folks,
Welcome to the mini page! After a hiatus of several weeks (or more! yikes) I’ll share a few notes and thoughts.

First off – facebook had me change from a friend type of thing to a fan page. All this because I had over 5000 friends. If I may impart my two cents worth – don’t go there. Not nearly the community that I had built in the three years on fb and a kinda one sided conversation. I’m keen on the fluid communication of the old set up. A bit more equal. Chatting with climbers from Mumbai – kinda fun. Anyhow… no sour grapes. Just made me realize how superficial and non essential fb is. Yeah I’m glad you had a nice weekend but do you really need to know what I had on the grill? What is it?

Too much information.

Here is Scott, training partner and ace ecologist at Frog Rock in Montana. The route, John Coltrane is a pun on the 125 wagon coal trains that trundle down our valley several times a day. Off to Seattle to power X Boxes and hairdryers. We get it back a bit later in the form of mercury in our lakes. Well – no big deal – fishing is about catch and release – not catch and feast. So what’s a little pollution? Quite a bit in my book. Subsidies to the extractos is business as usual. Subsidies to the wind and solar guys (China is growing their business with massive government subsidies) is government meddling.

Here is a snapshot of Daniel Woods crushing the final route at the Summer Trade show comp. Max Lowe took this picture. Max’s images are spot on. Daniel is one fierce boulderer. Dedicated he is.

On the harsh reality end of things, got news today that Kurt Albert, German rock and alpine climber passed away. He fell a distance of 18 metres. Kurt was a wonderful man, dedicated to the sport of climbing and will forever be remembered for “red point” ascents. Routes that were climbed free in the Frankenjura were given a red dot, hence the climbing parlance of a red point ascent. Rest in peace my friend.

This is Juan Martinez on the descent from the Grand Teton. This was his first climbing experience. He sent the peak and endured a blizzard on the descent. Juan is from South Central LA. You the man, Juan. I’m coming to visit you and your family.

This is the type of stuff that I like. A durable, analog Expedition watch from Timex. Easy to read dial (bi focals not needed), the date (so you don’t look like a slacker when writing a check at the supermarket – uh … What day is it?), the Indiglo night dial for checking time when drunk frat boys stumble down the alley and pound on my wife’s horse trailer at 2 AM (and covert ops – fully morse code compatible) and the type of classic style that is right there. Always there. Cool and timeless. Functional and timely.

OK . Bye for now.