It's all about finding the proper way to communicate a rational plan that people can understand. -- Mark Bragg
Mark Bragg, author of Economic Conservative/Social Liberal is a man who has worn many hats throughout his career: business owner, political consultant, lobbyist, news reporter, and producer.
He learned economic policy while working with the Reagan administration and through the 'school of hard knocks' as a business owner. What he has concluded is that America is in big trouble, and most politicians and voters can't see the economic and social realities that are going to destroy our economy and social fabric.
I had the chance to interview Mark on January 29 and gleaned several key takeaways on his ideas about what is wrong and what needs to be done.
1. We Haven't Seen True Economic Conservatism in More than 25 Years
Both parties are on a collision course of funding their spending with debt, according to Bragg.
While modern 'conservatives' might have a scheme for this or that, they don't have any plan or clue as to how to stop the cycle of indebtedness.
Take, for instance, the concept of 'non-discretionary spending.' This is money that the government spends each year where there's never any form of debate or discussion, because it's already been decided that we 'must' pay for these items regardless of any outside factor.
Both parties have given the economy to the multi-national firms, who in turn have expatriated billions of dollars in capital, turned it into trillions of dollars in revenues, and not one dime has ever been taxed.
According to Bragg, the untaxed revenues of Pfizer that are hoarded offshore could fund the entire U.S. Navy for a year if actually taxed.
Tax dodging is not conservatism; it's corporate greed at its finest--enabled by our own lawmakers.
2. The Situation is Dire; We Must Act Now
According to Bragg, how much longer can we continue our pace of government spending?
With a current national debt quickly approaching $19 trillion, at what point do we 'run out of credit?'
While there are definitely economists who believe we will never run out of credit, Bragg contends that our heavy reliance on foreign investment for our debt will be our eventual downfall.
"The Chinese view our bonds as weapons of war," says Bragg, "ready to use this weapon whenever it is convenient for them to do so."
Draconian measures must be considered, including reconsidering the Social Security age requirements, eligibility (citizenship, amount paid in, and net worth), and 'mandatory' cost of living increases.
Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are the biggest federal expenditures, more than twice than the total military spending. The three together make up the lion's share of the total budget, but are politically taboo when it comes to discussing widespread cuts or changes. Instead, meaningless 'symbolic' cuts are made, demonizing programs and expenditures that take up very little of the federal budget.
At the current pace, Bragg projects a total financial collapse in 5-7 years if nothing is done.
3. We Must Place the Economic Blame Squarely Where it Belongs
Our politicians, in league with multi-national corporations, have fleeced this country for the past 20+ years through the expatriation of capital and jobs.
In an interesting calculation, Bragg points out that the $742 billion trade deficit, divided by the median American wage, represents a loss of over 25 million jobs in our economy, more than the total number of unemployed people today (roughly 16 million).
Multi-national corporations expatriated capital and jobs, produced cheaper goods to re-import to America, and then kept the profits off-shore to avoid paying taxes.
We created the 'Chinese Miracle' touted by many politicians, by expatriating capital and technical know-how, and yet all too many politicians hold up China as the example we should be following.
Where in all of this has the average American or the country as a whole benefited?
Corporate tax inversion, a nice way of putting corporate tax evasion, is at a towering $1 trillion in lost tax revenue, and grows each year from about 400 companies, with Apple being the worst offender, according to Bragg.
And somehow or another a large chunk of working America has been convinced that Apple's $9 billion legal tax evasion in 2012 is somehow good for workers, economic growth, and the country in general.
4. The Government Has no Business in Our Personal Lives
The 'Religious Right' has hijacked the policy making of the Republican Party for the past two and a half decades, particularly on the social issues of gay marriage and abortion.
The sad reality, according to Bragg, is that the 'Religious Right' is all too willing to "fall on their sabers to uphold moral policies." That is everything, including the economy, takes a back seat to the moral issues they champion.
This has created a form of 'conservatism' that is all too willing to keep the multi-national corporations, too-big-to-fail banks, and economic losses overseas out of the national dialog, all to keep the spotlight on the hot-button social issues.
Mark Bragg's Goal is to Educate and Warn the Public--With Easy to Understand Examples
The goal of Bragg's book is to act as a manifesto and a launching point for his website to educate and foster dialog.
If you look at the facts on this page, you will know more about the condition of the American economy than most Members of Congress. -- independentvoters.com
Viewers should be shocked by the three tickers on the site -- the trade deficit, budget deficit, and national debt -- all in the red and increasing at an alarming pace.
To Bragg, these three numbers should motivate all voters to action, but he ends his book and the interview with an adaption of Sir Edmund Burke's famous quote, "Surely evil will triumph if good men and women do nothing."
Author's note: IVN is an open platform that is inclusive of independent-minded authors and readers from across the political spectrum. The views expressed in this article represent Mark Bragg's views in Economic Conservative/Social Liberal as well as our January 29 interview.