Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Robert Reich: Follow the Money

Robert Reich (November 17, 2014)

The richest Americans hold more of the nation’s wealth than they have in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses. And also on politics.

Their political investments have paid off in the form of lower taxes on themselves and their businesses, subsidies for their corporations, government bailouts, federal prosecutions that end in settlements where companies don’t affirm or deny the facts and where executives don’t go to jail, watered-down regulations, and non-enforcement of antitrust laws.

Since the top .01 began investing big time in politics, corporate profits and the stock market have risen to record levels. But the bottom 90 percent don’t own many shares of stock. They rely on wages, which have been trending downward. And for some reason, politicians don’t seem particularly intent on reversing this trend.

If you want to know what’s happened to the American economy, follow the money. That will lead you to the richest .01 percent. And if you want to know what’s happened to our democracy, follow the richest .01 percent. They’ll lead you to the politicians who have been selling our democracy.

Dow Google Finance

* A mere 5 human beings living in the United States and working as Supreme Court judges killed democracy for 315 million people in America with two court decisions: Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon vs. FEC — and the 5 horrible and evil offenders are:

  • John G. Roberts
  • Antonin Scalia
  • Clarence Thomas
  • Samuel Alito
  • Anthony Kennedy

Monday, November 17, 2014

Obama's Amnesty Program

(* Below is a short clip at YouTube from Saturday Night Live where Mitch McConnell warns President Obama about his planned executive action on immigration. But when Obama asks whether the GOP has a plan, McConnell insists that the Republicans will pass immigration reform.)

Can the GOP pass a better and more suitable immigration bill? They're talking about building bigger and better high-tech fences (but only along the southern border). How will this be paid for? By cutting food stamps for the poor?

Time Line when Income Inequality began to Rise

Annual U.S. Income Share of the Top 1 Percent

Time Line When Income Inequality began to Rise

  • In 1969 NASA put the first man on the Moon (maybe one of the government's last greatest accomplishments)
  • Lewis Franklin Powell Jr. wrote his famous "manifesto" in 1971
  • In 1977 the maximum estate and gift tax was 70% with an exemption of only $120,000
  • In 1978 the capital gains tax rate was near 40% and the corporate tax was 48%
  • Both manufacturing and union membership peaked in 1979
  • In 1988 the corporate tax was lowered to 34%
  • Kodak began offshoring jobs in 1989
  • Bill Clinton signed NAFTA into law in 1993
  • Bill Clinton lowered the capital gains tax rate from 28% to 20%
  • Bill Clinton deregulated the banks in 1999
  • The China PNTR trade agreement was signed by Bill Clinton in 2000 (the labor force began declining)
  • George W. Bush lowered the capital gains tax from 20% to 15% in 2003 (aka "The Bush Tax Cuts")
  • The housing and stock market crash happened in 2008 (the deregulated banks were bailed out by taxpayers)
  • In 2010 the maximum estate and gift tax was only 35% with a whopping exemption of $5,000,000.00
  • There were multiple record all-time highs in the stock markets beginning in 2013 to the present (no banker ever went to jail, they only got richer)
  • In the 2014 mid-term election the GOP took control of Congress and now wants to lower the corporate tax rate and eliminate the capital gains tax and the estate tax.
  • Ted Cruz, the architect of the government shutdown of 2013, will likely assume chairmanship of the Senate’s Space and Science subcommittee, which sets policy and funding caps for NASA via regular authorization bills (so expect more cuts to NASA, or cuts to food stamps to pay for NASA).

About inheritances --- From Mark Thoma's blog --- Excerpts from Irving Fisher's presidential address to the American Economic Association in 1919:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Over-Educated or Lacking Skills?

(* Excerpts from VOX with notes.)

A sizeable fraction of workers hold occupations that don't require as much schooling as they have ... Around 38% of college graduates have higher education than the typical worker in their profession. Even if workers manage to transit to better jobs, they experience wage penalties similar to those after unemployment.

Americans had accumulated more than 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt as of 31 December, 2013 ... Young college graduates earned 62.5% more on average than high school graduates in 2013. However, researchers have started paying more attention to the fact that the huge average ‘college wage premium’ masks large differences in post-college earnings. In particular, a sizeable fraction of workers hold occupations that do not require as much schooling as they have acquired. Think, for example, of college-educated secretaries or school teachers with a PhD.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

On Labor, Trade, Skills, College, Taxes and Unemployment

(* Recent tid-bits I found today.)

OECD Secretary-General Angel GurrĂ­a: "As recent revelations have demonstrated, the frayed international tax system has long allowed multinationals to plan their way around paying corporate taxes. And bank secrecy has let individuals stash money undetected, and untaxed, in hidden corners of the world. Such practices erode the integrity of our tax systems, damage the capabilities of our governments, diminish economic growth and corrode the trust of our citizens who are the vast majority of taxpayers. The way tax is levied and spent is one of the most important levers to address social inequalities, create jobs, pay for education, infrastructure and other public services and encourage investment in innovation." (More)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tea Party Seniors just Screwed Themselves

It wasn't just white working-class Americans who recently voted against their own best economic interests in the 2014 mid-term elections, but seniors did as well. According to ABC News, seniors had voted Republican by 56-43 percent, and there are many more of them than young voters. This group has grown by 7 percent, making seniors 24 percent of the electorate, up from 17 percent in 2012.

Climate Change Now? Or Jobs and Lower Electric Rates?

Obama outlined his anti-carbon policy to The San Francisco Chronicle in 2008: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

The State of Florida was predicted to lose 19 inches of coastline by the year 2050 (using data from the U.S. Geological Survey, one group mapped all areas along the continental U.S. coastline containing homes that lie within one to 10 feet from the water level at high tide).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

GOP Jobs Bill for 2015: Tax Cuts for the Rich

The GOP knows very well that the unemployed aren’t just lazy slackers who want to be on the government dole. From Glenn Beck’s website, The Blaze:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Don't Expect Better Wages or Enough Jobs Soon

Or maybe ever again.

Yesterday Chris Matthews (on MSNBC) had on former Democratic congressman Harold Ford Jr. (a corporate shill, now banker) as a guest on his show to discuss a recent article at the New York Times, The Great Wage Slowdown, Looming Over Politics.

Dean Baker (at the Center for Economic and Policy Research) says in a post that the author of that New York Times article only cited two "experts", both Clinton administration officials with strong ties to Wall Street — and that their assurances includes no mix of the policies that are likely to lead to wage growth any time soon. But Baker says:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Is America the Greatest Country in the World?

Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) hits the nail straight on the head in the opening minutes of HBO's series The Newsroom. He is asked by a college student a simple question during a campus debate: "What makes America the greatest country in the world".

Daniels initially goes the politically correct route, then at the last minute, he responds with an honest, bold, straight-forward answer that sums up a lot of the world's problems — problems that so many Americans are afraid to accept because we all want to believe that it is only our system that works.

But the evidence that is out there today is to the contrary. We used to be the world's "best of the best", but now we are just pretending. The first step to solving a problem is to admit there is one.

A very powerful 5 minute scene.