Monday, November 12, 2012

The Fourth Turning and the 2012 Election

Reading Neil Howe’s blog posts after the 2012 election ( and thinking about the transformation taking place at the beginning of the Fourth Turning has helped me develop a strategic perspective of the change in values that has taken place.  While everyone attempts to explain why Obama won and why Romney lost using demographics about minorities, women and young voters, they miss the main point. The 2012 election demonstrated that individual achievement and personal responsibility, championed by conservatives and Republican politicians, has faded to second place behind community values.

Hurricane Sandy gave us a visual of a President concerned about community.  Romney's efforts to look concerned fell flat. Pundits say that Hurricane Sandy helped decide the outcome of the election however it was not the media coverage or Obama acting presidential.  Hurricane Sandy was an example of local, state and federal government acting to protect, rescue and provide services to the community.

To the extent that the Republicans think they can recruit Latinos to their conservative values and win an election, they are wrong. They will not win an election until after the Fourth Turning is completed because the Democrats have locked up the key value now at the top of everyones mind for the next 16 years - community.

As one conservative pundit said in 2009: The campaign that brought Obama into the White House will require the “individual” to be sacrificed on the altar of “community.”  Well, that is a negative way of describing exactly what has happened. However this is a cyclical transformation that will swing back toward individualism after the Fourth Turning.

Sustainability appeals to liberals and Democrats because of the focus on community. Climate change issues lift up the community in terms of jobs, energy independence and economic growth.

In the future, I am thinking that my actions should include engaging my neighbors in community activities that appeal to them. Community solar project - the community contracting for solar energy from panels installed on the roof of the local school.  Disaster preparedness with neighbors pooling our tools and resources to help each other in case of an emergency and not waiting until it happens.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Republican Myths


The emphasis by the Republican Party on individual achievement is an example of a legitimizing myth.  Republicans believe individual achievement automatically confers power and authority. Republicans believe their policies are legitimate because their individual achievements confer power and authority over everyone else. Individual success in a business of any size merits respect and legitimizes that person’s social dominance over others. Governor Romney, the Republican candidate for President in 2012, was an example of this myth.

“Republicans emphasize the role of free markets and individual achievement as the primary factors behind economic prosperity. To this end, they favor laissez-faire economics, fiscal conservatism, and the promotion of personal responsibility over welfare programs.”[1]

The focus on personal responsibility and individual achievement produce the illusion of fairness.  The Republican Party legitimizes this myth with their promotion of policies that attack government spending, the national debt and the annual deficit while promoting private investment and commercial enterprise.  Voters are hoping that conservatives will follow through on their promises to restrain government spending, reduce regulation and avoid tax increases.

“It's not just a matter of ideological rigidity but a recognition that at a time of economic stagnation and explosive debt, the nation's best chance for success lies with policies of lower taxes, fewer regulations and reduced spending.”[2]

Taxes and the Economy

“The richest Americans are the least likely to spend extra money they get as a result of a tax cut, and are more likely to save it or invest it offshore. Those on the lower end of the economic spectrum, meanwhile, are the most likely to spend transfer payments they receive from the government.”[3]

Thomas L. Hungerford of the Congressional Research Service, authored a report on taxes and the economy that looked at the economy and tax rates since 1945.[4]

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.”[4]