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Posts Tagged ‘corporations’

Socialism and Capitalism

February 23, 2013 3 comments

I recently came across this anecdote on the Internet. I was unable to determine who the author was so I cannot provide proper attribution. However the story does illustrate some interesting points:

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Response:

While the model of substituting grades for dollars is flawed, the article above did illustrate what happens when people do not have appropriate incentives. In order to bring this model closer to reality, let us:

  1.  substitute tuition payments for taxes
  2. allow for the personal accumulation of grades (money).

So here is the capitalist system that is currently in place:

Those with accumulated grades (money) hire others to do the hard work of studying for them.
capitalist pyramidThose with accumulated grades (money) now accumulate even more money because the fact that others are doing the work for them, and that they are not being paid as much as those who are not doing the work.

Those with accumulated grades (money) use their growing wealth to influence the government for policies that assure that their tuition rates (taxes) remain at an Effective Rate that is lower than those who do the work. They also get special rates if they use their accumulated wealth to generate even more wealth for themselves (Capital Gains rate).

These lower taxes helps those with accumulated grades (money) to maximize the accumulation of their wealth despite the fact that they no longer are doing the real work to create this wealth.

Those with accumulated grades (money) have now accumulated such massive amounts of  wealth that they need the services of a financial class to manage their wealth. The financial class merely moves around the accumulated wealth of others and despite the fact that the financial class also does no productive work, they earn the largest compensation of anyone.

The financial class uses its enormous accumulated wealth to influence the government to bail them out when they make poor decisions that result in massive losses to the general economy.

The financial class uses its extreme wealth to influence the government to provide them with immunity from prosecution for money laundering, rate rigging, massive foreclosure fraud (robo-signing) , and other crimes. In fact they even get others, the shareholders to pay the fines for them.

Those with accumulated grades (money) start to form paper shells (corporations) whose sole purpose is to maximize profits for those who already have accumulated grades (money). Those with accumulated grades (money) accumulate even more.

Those with accumulated grades (money) use their wealth to influence government to declare that these paper shells (corporations) are actually people who have the same rights as flesh and blood people. Those with accumulated grades (money) now can spend unlimited money to further influence the government.

Those with accumulated grades (money) use their now unlimited influence on government to provide these paper shells (corporations) with massive amounts of taxpayer subsidies with corporate welfare spending eclipsing general welfare spending.

Those with accumulated grades (money) fight hard to keep the grades (money) they pay to those who actually do the work as low as possible, to the point where some those who do the work cannot even provide for their families. This helps those with accumulated grades (money) to accumulate even more grades (money).

Those with accumulated grades (money) discover that they can outsource the work to other countries where they can pay the workers even less than here, and so they leave those who do the real work with a rapidly shrinking work market driving the grades (money) paid to them to even lower levels.

Those with accumulated grades (money) are now starting to feel fear because so many of those who used to do the real work are so desperate and tensions are rising. So they use their wealth to influence the government to increase the military-industrial-surveillance -security state despite the fact the liberties for all are eroded as a result, all under the ruse of patriotism.

Conclusion:
Now that we have seen the worst that unbridled socialism has to offer, and the worst that unbridled capitalism has to offer, perhaps it is time to rethink our current system and to incorporate the best of each system. A balance is needed. Those partisans who only see one of these two stories remain the obstacles to real change that will benefit everyone.

If you Like NAFTA, You’ll Love TPP

August 24, 2012 6 comments

We, the transnational corporations and the ruling elites are on the verge of a wonderful new dawn bringing us immense power and untold wealth.

We have been secretly negotiating a new agreement called the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the United States Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam and are nearing completing the final details of this agreement. We have had 600 of our corporate lobbyists providing input and have successfully excluded Congress, our own corporate media, and the general public from the negotiations. Once implemented, this agreement will hard code corporate dominance over sovereign governments into international law that will supercede any federal, state, or local laws of any member country. This agreement will grant new corporate privileges and rights, while limiting governments and protective regulations. This agreement will far exceed anything we have been able to achieve with NAFTA, CAFTA, or any other free trade agreement.

TPP What you don't know, will hurt youThe details contained in this agreement will result in total corporate global governance . In this new system the role of elected governments will be to serve as subservient agents for our interests. The institutions under governments such as the armies, police, and courts will also serve our interests, while being financed by the taxpayers of that country. The status of the member states will be locked-in, similar to countries once they are inside the Eurozone.

In the past, we had to deal with environmental regulations, financial regulations, worker safety regulations and other issues that have always brought down the profits we worked so hard to earn and are rightfully ours. Once this agreement passes, these regulations will actually have the potential of increasing our wealth. Some of the provisions in this agreement include the establishment of corporate controlled tribunals to be administered by 3 attorneys with no conflict of interest limitations. These 3 attorney tribunals, which will be controlled by us, will have the power to order sovereign governments to use taxpayer money to pay us and our agents for any environmental or regulatory costs that our transnational corporations expended to meet local standards. We can literally expect to have long term taxpayer revenue streams that will flow into our coffers. At the very least, many existing laws would need to be rewritten and no new regulatory laws could be passed.

With this wonderful new agreement, governments that venture to pass regulations such as limits on the financial industry using risky bets such as derivatives would have the burden of proof to defend such regulations in a tribunal system controlled by us, and staffed by our lawyers and judges. The judges in these tribunals could order the government to use taxpayers’ money to pay damages should one of our transnational corporations prevail in one of our “private courts”. In the past, we have received over $350 million of taxpayer money under the NAFTA style agreements, because of zoning laws, toxic bans, timber rules and other regulations. It is our expectation that this figure will be dwarfed by future payments. This TPP agreement is like NAFTA on steroids. These tribunals setup by this TPP agreement will have binding corporate guarantees with both trade and cash sanctions. These cash sanctions would also effectively transfer taxpayer money to transnational corporate coffers. Can you imagine how much money we will have flowing into our pockets as we challenge regulations within our own private court system forcing governments to pay for our lost profits or to eliminate them? This agreement will essentially strip governments of their sovereignty and make them answerable to our tribunals.

Corporate MilitaryThe result of these corporate tribunals will be to setup a race to the bottom, where if one country chooses not to regulate something, then the corporations would be able to sue the other nations inside of the TPP to have taxpayers cover their losses for any such regulations. These other countries would be vulnerable to corporate led lawsuits to be decided in the corporate tribunals. In order to protect our interests , we could potentially have the ability to utilize the publicly funded militaries of some member states to wage war on other “less compliant” states.

So how could such an extreme agreement that literally gives corporations and us ruling elites everything we could possibly want have been negotiated with little or no resistance? The answer is that the ONLY way this agreement could ever pass is if everything is done in secret, continues to remain secret, and the details never see the light of day.

In that regard, we must do everything in our power to be sure that the general public does not become aware of this agreement or the details before we are ready for a vote. Since our main stream media will represent our interests, we do not need to concern ourselves much about them. However, unfortunately some of the independent media, over which we have little control at this time, is starting to make waves on this issue. Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch recently said in this video:

“These agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying that this is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.”

Can you believe the audacity of that statement? It is as if she believes that people should have say in such matters in which they do not have our expertise and could offer no intelligent input. It is as if she believes that limits should be placed on our profits that we worked so hard for.

We have heard that demonstrations are being planned for our next TPP negotiating session that will be held September 6-15 in Leesburg, VA. Information about these negotiations is being circulated on the Internet and we need to do everything we can to stop them or at least limit their attendance and coverage by the independent media. The police need to be informed that they have our permission to employ aggressive tactics against any demonstrators and will not suffer any consequences for unlawful behavior. If necessary, we can plant provocateurs into the crowds to insure a robust police response and to provide fodder for our corporate media.

In the future, once this agreement has been ratified, Internet censorship regulations will be passed that are much stronger than the previous ones we tried to pass, such as ACTA, SOPA, and PIPA. This will lock down the Internet so we can use it for our purposes, as has been successfully done in other countries. Once this has been accomplished, the public masses will have no alternatives except for our controlled media. They will comply when they hear our logic. No one will take the time to investigate. This is why it is so important to make sure that this agreement does not see the light of day.

Once the negotiations have been finalized, the control we have over the elected officials will ensure that this bill passes. We will use every weapon in our vast arsenal to make sure that we get the votes we need. Some elected officials will respond to campaign contributions. Others may need to be threatened. Thanks to the enlightened Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited anonymous money to flow into negative ads, we will use these new tools to prevail against anyone who opposes us on the TPP in the next election. We are fortunate that the opinions of the gullible masses are so easily and effectively swayed by watching these negative ads put on by us. To further ensure that the agreement is not altered, we must make sure that the TTP receives fast track status. That way no rogue legislator can make amendments or changes, or try to filibuster the agreement. It will be a simple up and down roll call vote.

We are also fortunate in that regardless of the election results in November, it will make no difference who wins. The agreement will be signed by whoever is president. This agreement was negotiated under Obama, so he will certainly sign it. Romney has also stated that he wants this agreement finalized as quickly as possible so he can sign it as well. Only if a 3rd party candidate wins will this be a problem. Our media will work hard to make sure that does not happen.

Polls show that most Americans from both major political parties believe that money exerts far too much influence on public officials. They believe that this effectively makes these elected officials the “hired servants” of the wealthy elites. This sort of popular belief works against our interests. Unfortunately, both the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement also believe that there is too much influence of money on our legislators. While government representatives are essentially our puppets, we will need to be sure that we keep the electorate divided. We still need to continue to work on both the left and the right and create wedge issues that will keep them focused on each other, not on what we are trying to accomplish here. We need each of them to question the patriotism of the other side. We need each of them to make derogatory remarks about each other, even if we need to hire someone to inject them for us. This has worked well in the past and there is no reason to expect it will not work again.

In summary, what we have here is a confluence of forces that has the potential to solidify a shift towards total global corporate control and to encase it in international law. Governments will merely be the tools of our corporations and will serve to provide a degree of separation between us and the masses when the inevitable police response will be needed to enforce this agreement.

Clarification:

I have found that writing in the perspective of the opposite side, some people just do not “get it”. Some believe that such writing is literally my belief. To those people:
I do not believe that the TPP is good for the country.
I do not support the transnational corporate agenda.
I do not support surrendering our sovereign rights to an external tribunal.
This article was written specifically from the elites’ perspective to inform people of the great dangers this TPP represents.

What Can You Do?

We need to end the secret TPP negotiations
Until we bring this process into public view, there is the danger that it will be passed quickly and secretly with little or no congressional or public input. Once the details of these agreements are made public, the TPP will be defeated, or at the very least modified significantly.

We need people to show up at the Leesberg, Virginia negotiations. A large rally that has been endorsed by over 2 dozen organizations has been planned for Sunday September 9. The independent media will be there. We have reached a crossroad where either we allow the corporations to take control of our nations, or we stop them in their attempts. Take an evening off from the TV and make the effort to make a difference so that you leave your children and grandchildren a better future. Don’t expect others to do this vital task for you. YOU need to be there, there may be the last negotiation session before this agreement is finalized. If this passes, there will be no turning back.

For more information on this rally, please visit:
http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/

Educate yourself about the TPP. Your future and that of your children depends on what you do. Some sites with more information include:
http://www.citizen.org/tpp
http://www.straight.com/article-688656/vancouver/prointernet-community-must-fight-tpp-weekly-update-openmediaca

Rudy Avizius
http://www.endtheillusion.org

The Corporate States of America

money in politicsAmericans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a “hidden hand” directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The “hidden hand” was actually the corporations, unions, and other special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with the limits that have been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns.

Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in a case of unbelievable overreach removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. These 5 justices have just opened the floodgates and the strangle hold the banks have over the nation’s wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling that has totally removed all limits on campaign financing by corporations. This black day will go ultimately go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The amounts of money spent on the 2010 midterm elections was a record, and the amounts that will be spent on the 2012 presidential elections are projected to total $BILLIONS!

money = freedom

In its impartial majesty the Supreme Court rules that the poor as well as the rich can spend unlimited money to influence elections


The flawed logic they used was that this was a freedom of speech issue. These 5 justices have just declared corporations now have 1st amendment rights, the same as individuals. It is ironic that it is the conservative wing of the court, the same wing that consistently calls for “judicial restraint” and rails against anything not specifically mentioned in the constitution, was the one that overturned decades of precedent. Where in the constitution did our founding fathers give corporations the right to freedom of speech? Where were corporations even mentioned in the constitution?

We all know too well what happened when our nation deregulated the financial industry and told us that “the market” will regulate itself. These 5 men have now totally deregulated money in politics and have left it to the “market” to regulate itself. We have already seen what deregulation of the financial industry did to our economy. These deregulators said the market could regulate itself.It does not take much forward thinking to envision the consequences of this disastrous decision. The special interest groups were handed a late Christmas present and are already gearing up to flood the political campaigns with money from their profits. The corporations will move quickly to complete their stranglehold on the media and then leverage this to their advantage. Fred Werthheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work for all Americans stated: "With a stroke of the pen, five justices wiped out a century of American history devoted to preventing corporate corruption of our democracy"

If the nation does somehow survive this handing of the government to the corporations, this decision will go down in history as even worse than the Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson monumental errors of the past. The 5 justices that recklessly voted for removing all limits to corporate campaign spending: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy will rightly be held in the same regard as those who voted for these other two decisions.

In the 2008 election cycle, nearly $6 billion was spent on all federal campaigns, including more than $1 billion from corporate political action committees, trade associations, executives and lobbyists. This $6 billion figure does not include state and local races. Now consider how much money we will be talking about here, now that the labor unions and corporations can spend unlimited amounts in both Federal and State elections. We will now have wholesale buying of elections by corporations with their vast financial resources. The door has also been opened for foreign corporations to have a say in our elections now. You can now also expect these corporations to move quickly to attempt to finalize their control of the media and use the media along with their money to “inform” the citizenry of the issues. While the electorate was distracted by the staged left vs right, Democrat vs Republican, conservative vs liberal fights, we have actually just had a coup take place where the corporations have taken over the country. This ruling does not really favor any party because in the end it will not matter what party the candidate is from, they will have been bought. Have you noticed that the corporate media did not give this huge event much coverage?

Corruption of our electoral process
Monica Youn, who directs the campaign finance reform/money in politics project at New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice, said that with this decision the Supreme Court has essentially armed the corporations with a potent weapon, these corporations may not even have to spend that much money. What could easily happen is that the corporations will now have the THREAT of a massive media campaign against politicans that may not do their bidding. This mere potential of a massive campaign of negative ads will probably be enough to make the majority of politicans reconsider their positions. This is like having a negotiation between 2 parties in a room where one of the parties has a weapon and the other does not. The party with the weapon does not need to actually need to wield it to get the desired results, just knowing that it is there is enough. So much for politicians doing the right thing. The corporations will now have even more clout in the legislatures than before and this is without even spending any additional money.

With the broad language that the Supreme Court opinion was written, it may well be almost impossible to draft new legislation to overcome this ruling. Of course, do you really believe that our politicians will even be willing to do pass effective reform legislation now that this new ruling is in place and it favors incumbents even more strongly than before? Our politicians are like drug addicts that are totally dependent on these large sums of special interest money to maintain themselves in power. They will do almost anything to maintain their power.

As if this Supreme Court decision was not bad enough, the nation suffers from a lack of transparency when it comes to trying to follow the money. Deliberate attempts are made to hide and obfuscate the information so that the electorate remains uninformed.

  • Did you know that the Senate deliberately exempted itself from filing campaign finance reports electronically? This slows down the process of determining who is actually making contributions and expenditures by making research a very arduous process of having to read thousands of pages by hand, or having to retype them into a form that can be indexed and readily searched.
  • Did you know that the government’s new “open government” site http://www.data.gov, doesn’t even contain data on campaign contributions, lobbyist filings, statistics on warrantless searches or even committee assignments?
  • Did you know that here is no indexing of the thousands of hours of House and Senate recordings? You would have to listen for days before you could find what you are searching for.
  • Years after the problems with electronic ballots not having a voter verifiable paper audit trail were made public, we still allow these machines to count votes without verifiable paper trails despite the fact that it has been proven that they are easily manipulated. Regardless of your political beliefs, it is crucial for our democracy that the integrity of election results be considered fair and impartial.

It may well be that we have now lost our democracy, but there may still be some hope. Since we can no longer place limits on corporate campaign funding, we need to do the following:

  1. We need to demand TOTAL TRANSPARENCY. We need legislation passed immediately before the next election cycle goes into full swing, where all campaign funding is placed on the Internet and this data must be completely indexed. It is vital that these databases be directly searchable by each and every sort of variable contained in the original documentation. This will make it easy to cross reference the information and find out exactly who is receiving what and from whom. By creating this standard the American people will be able to make informed decisions about the candidates running for office and whose interests these politicans are really representing.
  2. We need passage of the “Fair Election Now Act” immediately. This legislation has been cosponsored by 120 members in the House, however its companion bill in the Senate has a pitiful 5 cosponsors. It has also been supported by many business leaders who sent a letter to the House Speaker and to the Senate Majority Leader. They understand the need for this reform and are getting tired of politicians constantly calling them for money. This bill would create a voluntary system of public funding of campaigns by supplementing small donations of $100 or less. During an election cycle the voters would be able to determine if a candidate was going to serve the people by using the public system or serve the special interests by not participating in it. Check here to see if your congressional representative is a cosponsor. Check here to see if your Senator is a cosponsor. If they are not, call them and ask them why not.
  3. It is time to pass legislating that any corporate money used for political spending be approved by a majority of the shareholders. This will give the shareholders the ability to control corporate political expenditures. (While we are at it, let’s include language in the legislation about shareholder approval of all compensation and bonus payments as well.)

While passage of the above legislation would not stop all of the corruption of money in politics, it would go a long way to limiting its influence and making it apparent to the voters who is trying to influence their candidates. To make the passage of these legislative bills more likely, it is now incumbent on us to actively support organizations that have been fighting for campaign finance reform and government transparency. The time to mobilize is now, while the issue is hot. If we wait too long, the entrenched interests will put additional barriers in place making harder and harder to enact meaningful reforms. There are many organizations working for political finance reform and government transparency, some of these organizations would include:
Common Cause
Public Citizen
Democracy 21
Follow the Money
Open Secrets
Fair Elections Now

These organizations now need your efforts and financial support more than ever. Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher once said, “the price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." If we do not lift ourselves up from our collective apathy, Plato’s words will most certainly become a reality.

Citizens Close Tax Evader Bank

April 27, 2011 3 comments

tax evaderThis video by EndTheIllusion shows how about 50 determined citizens successfully shut down a Bank Of America branch in Philadelphia on April 18, 2011, TAX DAY for most American citizens.

Bank of America is one of many very large corporations that make $billions in profits, and then use tax loopholes and off shore tax havens to avoid paying taxes on their profits. In fact according to the Government Accountability Office, 2 out 3 corporations pay no taxes. Then the politicians who are bought by these same corporations and the uber wealthy get themselves even more tax loopholes and tax cuts. All this while our government debates throwing veterans into homelessness, cutting heating aid for the elderly, and benefits for mothers with children.

So this group of determined citizens decided to do something about this moral crisis on our society.

Click here to view this video directly on YouTube.

Sounds of Resistance

April 20, 2011 4 comments

2 out of 3 corporations pay no federal taxes. Some of the biggest tax evaders include Exxon, Verizon, Bank of America, Boeing, CitiGroup, among others. These corporate executives sit there with their “patriotic” flags on their lapels, while they scheme how to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, cut deals to ship American jobs overseas, and setup tax havens in the Caribbean. Is it any wonder that the rest of the country is mired in this economic misery while they prosper?

We don’t have a budget crisis in Washington. We have a MORAL CRISIS. When Congress can seriously debate forcing veterans into homelessness, cutting early childhood education, Pell grants for our students, heating assistance for the elderly, and cutting food aid to pregnant women and children, while giving tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations, something is very, very wrong.

If these corporations paid their share, we would not need to be cutting these programs. So on Friday April 15, 2011 hundreds of people met at Union Square Park in New York to protest this fact. This event was called the Sounds of Resistance and the target was Bank of America. While this bank received $billions in taxpayer funds, it made $billions in profits, it was busy foreclosing on millions of homeowners, all while working very hard to create over a hundred foreign tax havens to avoid paying taxes on their profits.

This video by EndTheIllusion highlights this event.

Are you WILLINGLY paying a 3% tax?

Are you WILLINGLY paying a 3% tax?  Are you then paying this money so that it can leave your community, so it can be shipped to tax havens abroad and to pay for the bonuses of bankers and the Wall Street types?

I pay my taxes, why don't the corporations The unfortunate answer is that you probably are. With 609 million credit cards(1) being held by US consumers and with credit cards being used for more than $2.5 trillion(2) in transactions every year  you are probably using credit cards for many of your purchases. Did you know that credit card companies charge their merchants a fee of approximately 3% of every transaction? This is on top of minimum monthly fees, gateway fees, statement fees, and address verification fees. The money from these fees goes to pay bonuses for the top bankers. The amounts of these bonuses actually exceed the profits that these banks make.

So, in the end who really has to pay these fees? Does the merchant absorb them or pass them on to the customers?

BankBuildingIn this difficult economy, most merchants operate on very tight margins and they cannot afford to absorb these fees, so they are passed on to their customer. This means that everything you buy has an extra 3% tacked onto the selling price. So, even if you are paying in cash, you are probably still being charged the extra 3% because so many others pay using credit cards. You are essentially paying a 3% BANK TAX for every purchase you make because of this. So no wonder the banks are doing well in this depressed economy: 3% of $2.5 trillion is a lot of money, and this does not count any interest, late fees, annual fees, and other fees that YOU pay to the credit card companies. No wonder some of the largest buildings in our cities are banks. These large banks are not producing anything, they create no wealth (except for themselves). They are parasites on the working people who place themselves in close proximity to large piles of workers’ money and find ways to siphon off as much as possible for themselves in the way of  bonuses and money to be used to “buy” legislation that will provide loopholes in the tax code so they can keep even more money for themselves.

Big Corporations The banks are not the only ones that are siphoning money from your community. The big corporations are also doing the same. When you do your shopping at a large chain store, they do provide jobs that basically minimum wage, while they take the profits and ship it out to the central offices and out of the community. Since 2 out of 3 corporations pay no federal taxes, this means that YOU are paying for their police protection, fire protection,  and for the wars that profit them. Much of this money is also sent out of the country to avoid paying their fair share in taxes which impoverishes not only your community, but your nation as well.

So what can you do to stop your money from leaving your community and enriching the elites?

Thank this merchant for passing savings on to youFIRST: Consider this, do you get upset when you go to a gas station and they charge you more for a credit card purchase as opposed to a cash purchase? Do you get upset with a merchant if they charge you extra if you pay by credit rather than with cash? These vendors are actually doing you a favor and passing the savings on to you for paying in cash instead of pocketing the extra money. Seek out these vendors and give them your business. Thank them for allowing you to save money by passing the cash savings to you. If your merchant does not give you a cash “discount”, ask them why not. Tell them you will purchase elsewhere if they do not.

SECOND: Pay with cash whenever possible. This denies the big banks the money for all of these fees and keeps it in your pocket and in your community. Tell your family, your neighbors, your friends to do the same thing. If we could collectively cut our credit card spending in half, this alone would save us $37 billion that would be kept in our pockets and in our communities. This would be an essentially “free stimulus” for our communities, rather than having the banks siphon this cash from our communities.

THIRD: Purchase as much as possible from smaller local merchants, rather than large corporations, huge chain stores, large franchises, and large banks. Buy from your local hardware store rather than going to Home Depot. Buy from your local clothing store rather at Walmart. Drink a local beer rather than Budweiser. Buy your food from your local farmer when possible. Buy your flower bulbs from the grandmother next door rather from mailorder. These banks and corporations take their profits and also ship it out of our communities where they use the money for “productive” things like executive bonuses. Your local bank, your local restaurant, your local hardware store will keep that money in your community rather than shipping it out. This helps to stimulate the local economy and has a ripple effect as the money circulates locally. The job you save may be your own.

lobbyist control of our government FOURTH: Become aware of which corporations are the large contributors to political campaigns and lobbyists. These corporations use this money to lobby our elected leaders to add to the 71,000 page tax code to insert tax breaks that benefit them, leaving the rest of us to pay the services they receive, such as roads, police, fire, military protection. If they are not paying for these services, YOU ARE! Roads and military protection do not come cheap! This shirking of their duty, results in even more money leaving our communities which impoverishes them even more. The Wall St speculators and bankers are thriving in this environment, while Main Street suffers. Avoid buying from these large entities, and instead buy from the local merchants who are not buying our politicians and are paying their fair share of taxes.

US Uncut PhillyFIFTH: Check out what the organization US Uncut is doing. These people are aware of the scale of theft that is taking place and how the result is draconian program cuts to ostensibly cut the deficit, but in reality is really of transfer of money from those who need it the most to those who need it the least in the form of tax cuts for the wealthiest. Our nation is actually debating cutting early childhood education, forcing veterans into homelessness, and cutting food aid to pregnant women and children, while giving tax breaks to billionaires, the banks, the speculators, and the big corporations. This is just plain wrong!

With so many of our fellow citizens unemployed, underemployed, or just worried about keeping the job they have, we need to take these simple steps to start protecting our communities and ourselves from the greed of these financial elites and to VOTE WITH OUR WALLETS!

(1)”The Survey of Consumer Payment Choice”, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, (January 2010)

(2)American Bankers Association, (March 2009)

Are we solving the ROOT CAUSE of our economic problems?

Are we solving the ROOT CAUSE of our economic problems?

Picture yourself in the following scenario: you are visiting your doctor complaining of abdominal pains, the doctor gives you a prescription for a strong pain killer. Certainly the pain medicine will help you feel better, but does it really solve the problem that caused the pains in the first place? Could this be the result of appendicitis or some other serious condition? You would rightly question the doctor’s judgment. The doctor is treating the SYMPTOMS of the problem, not the ROOT CAUSE.

Yet collectively we are doing exactly the same thing on a national and even international level. Consider the following scenarios:

  • During the health care debate, we witnessed the spectacle of Mitch McConnell (Republican Senator from Kentucky), worrying about the effect that the emerging health care bill would have on health insurance companies. This was coming from a Senator who represents a state with the 5th highest level of poverty in the nation. Why is he so worried about the insurance companies? Would the majority of his constituents have called his office asking him to protect the insurance company profits?
  • AT&T warrantless surveillance

  • When it was discovered that telecommunications companies were illegally spying on citizens of the United States, Jay Rockefeller (Democratic Senator from West Virginia) voted to give these same companies “retroactive immunity” to protect them from the lawsuits that were working their way through the legal system. If no crime was committed, why did they need to receive retroactive immunity? If a crime was committed, why did they receive retroactive immunity? Would the majority of his constituents have called his office and asked him to authorize corporate spying on Americans with no judicial overview?

Of course, these are not the only elected representatives who did this and the examples just cited are only 2 of literally thousands of such efforts by members of both political parties on behalf of the well connected insiders. These efforts worked directly against the interests of the vast majority of their constituents. So, why would these seemingly intelligent people work so blatantly against the interests of the people who they are supposed to represent?

The answer is that all of these people received significant amounts of campaign money from the very corporations who would benefit from their efforts. It turns out that Senator Mitch McConnell received $932,207 from the insurance industry and $2,758,468 from medical professionals over his career. Senator Jay Rockefeller received $42,000 from the telecommunications industry in 2006 while the lawsuits and the bills for immunity were working their way through the legislative process. (Mitch McConnell also strongly supported retroactive immunity for the telecoms and received siginificant sums from them).

Does anyone really think that a regular citizen has the same access to their elected representatives as those corporations who contribute thousands and millions to these campaigns? If you showed up at your elected representative’s office at the same time as a lobbyist, who would get to meet with the elected official first? When it comes time to allocate access, priority will always be given to those with the money. In 2008, the telecommunication industry contributed over $9.4 million–from January 2007 to June 2009, and the insurance industry contributed $46,720,000 in 2008 to politicians in both political parties. In the aftermath of our financial meltdown, we certainly need significant financial regulatory reform, but realistically we cannot possibly hope to have effective financial reform when in 2008 the banking industry contributed $37,242,212, hedge funds contributed $16,993,557, and so on and so on. You have a situation where we have elected representatives sitting on the committees that have jurisdiction over specific industries or issues where these same representatives are receiving huge contributions from those very same companies they are supposed to be regulating.

corruptionLike drug addicts, our politicians have become totally dependent and addicted to these large campaign contributions for their political survival. It is an illusion that we have a government of the people and by the people. Instead, we have devolved into a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations. We are moving further and further towards centralizing power and wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer people with inside connections. Our elected representatives are not truly our decision makers, but have become mere figureheads on the stage providing a fig leaf of cover to perpetuate the illusion that this government represents the interests of the people. The situation has become so bad that Senator Dick Durbin, Senator from Illinois remarked: "And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."  How else could we have seen the most massive transfer of wealth in human history from the poor and working classes to the same people, banks, and corporations whose bad decisions brought the world economy to its knees?

Think back to the doctor who only prescribed a solution to the SYMPTOM of the problem. In this economic situation, the ROOT CAUSE of the problem is money in politics and any attempt to “fix” the problem without addressing the ROOT CAUSE, is doomed to failure because any “fix” will only address the SYMPTOMS of the problem. Until we have public financing of all political campaigns, without any private or corporate funding we will always have these problems. There are those who might say, that we do not need any more spending since this would add to the deficit and cost more money to the treasury. However, consider how much the “influenced decisions” have cost the nation so far. How many bills were recently passed that were obviously designed to favor a single special interest? Just ponder this very incomplete list:

  • The nation passed deregulation bills such as:
    • Phil GrammThe Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which tore down the firewall banning the banks from gambling with depositors funds. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to have these protections removed?
    • The Commodity Futures Modernization Act which explicitly banned regulation of derivatives, allowing banks like JP Morgan Chase to become the largest derivative holder in the WORLD at $87,362 BILLION! There is not enough money on this planet to bail this out if these gambling debts go bad. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to allow these “financial weapons of mass destruction” to remain totally unregulated and opaque to regulators?  
  • The gutting of America’s manufacturing sector because of one sided trade agreements and tax policies that allow companies to defer and often never pay taxes on foreign-earned profits. So foreign profits of U.S. companies end up taxed at a lower rate than their U.S. income, creating an incentive to invest in foreign factories. The jobs left the country along with the factories. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked to have these perverse incentives implemented to move the foundation of economic base to foreign countries?
  • The nation committed over $12,200 BILLION dollars to bailout, backstop, and guarantee the banks and financials.  (I like to use $1000’s of billions, rather than $trillions since it is easier to grasp the unbelievable scale of these numbers.) Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to use their tax dollars to reward the same corporations and people who created the economic mess?
  • How can we have had over a year pass since the economic meltdown, and yet no meaningful regulation of the financial industry has been passed?  Do you really think that a majority of constituents are calling their representative’s office and asking them to refrain from regulating the banks and financials?
  • The “too big to fail” banks have been not only been bailed out, but encouraged to become even bigger. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to allow these big banks to buy up the smaller ones at pennies on the dollar and to provide taxpayer guarantees on any loses they might incur?
  • Almost 2/3 of Americans opposed the TARP bailouts, yet the bailouts passed anyways. We KNOW that a majority of constituents did NOT call their representative’s office and ask them to use their tax dollars to reward the same corporations and people who created the economic mess.
  • follow the money

  • A bankruptcy bill passed in 2005 that forced people to pay credit card and private student loan debt before unpaid child support. The politicians had the audacity to call this the Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to protect the big banks’ already obscene profits?
  • In several states there were efforts to ban labeling milk as free from artificial growth hormone rBST also known as rbGH (synthetic or recombinant bovine growth hormone). I find it hard to believe that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and told them that they did not want to know if there were any artificial growth hormones in the milk their children drank. The good news here is that many of these efforts were defeated as the result of grassroots efforts by organizations such Physicians for Social Responsibility.

  • Efforts to label genetically modified foods have been blocked from passage. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and said that they preferred to be uninformed as to whether the food their families eat have been genetically modified?
  • Larry SummersThe people on the economic team in the current administration such as Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner, John Dugan, Gary Gensler, to name just a few, not only missed predicting this economic collapse, but were complicit in enabling the deregulation that made it possible. I doubt that the majority of people who called the White House asked that these Wall Street insiders be part of the decision making team.

  • The Federal Reserve has provided over $2,000 BILLION in free money to the “big” banks by allowing them to “borrow” money at 0%. These banks then “deposit” this money with the Federal Reserve as a “savings account” for which they collect interest, while paying no interest on the “loan”. I would think that a majority of people would like to have sweet deal such as this for themselves.
  • There is very limited transparency as to how the alphabet soup of bailout program funds that were distributed. This invites fraud and corruption. We have a situation where the financial corporations do not even fear the government because they know that their paid off politicians will not call them on this. Even Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional TARP Oversight Panel cannot get the information she needs and is frustrated by the lack of transparency. Do you really think that a majority of constituents called their representative’s office and asked them to give these big financial institutions a break and allow them to ignore even congressional inquiries?

How did any of the above help most Americans? Would the majority of any elected politicians’ constituents have supported any of the above decisions? Of course not! It was money that influenced these decisions that benefited a small inside group without regard for the vast majority of the workers in this country who actually produce the wealth of the nation. By not having public financing of campaigns, the nation is paying a huge price with the legislation that is being influenced by the private money. To illustrate this point, the big financial companies contributed over $2,300,000 to both presidential candidates during the 2008 campaign. These companies hedged their “bets” by contributing to both candidates, so they would “win” no matter who won the election. When you consider the $thousands of billions committed to these financials, that $2 million was truly a great return on their “investment”.

government for saleThe cost of running publicly financed or at least significantly reformed fund raising in campaigns is miniscule compared to these numbers. The need to build walls between lawmakers and those private interests looking to buy votes is obvious and unfortunately too many of the currently elected politicians are against this because as long as this system is perpetuated, incumbents are at an advantage. This money in politics is the ROOT CAUSE of all of the bad decisions listed above and many, many, more.

There currently limits on the amounts of “hard money” that can be contributed directly to a campaign, however “soft money” can be contributed without limits to organizations that do not directly support specific candidates. An example of soft money is: an ad that says Tom Smith supported cutting Medicare benefits and accepted contributions from some special interest, call Tom Smith and tell him what you think of this. Political Action Committees (PACS) are where unions and corporations provide contributions, but they are limited to $5,000 for a single candidate.

A WARNING

There are dark storm clouds on the horizon. There was recently a case before the United States Supreme Court, The Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, where the current federal prohibition against corporate campaign contributions was struck down. We are now witnessing a situation where the level of corruption and influence will go from the current very bad, to even worse. This marks a pivotal turning point in this nation’s history where corporate spending on campaigns will notch up exponentially. It will inevitably result in even more bad legislation influenced by the huge increase in corporate campaign spending, and sideline most citizens even more from the political process. Using first amendment arguments, the Supreme Court could actually give corporations equal protection to that of individuals. Where in the constitution did our founding fathers give corporations the same 1st amendment rights as individuals?

So what can you do?

  1. Call your representatives and DEMAND public financing of all political campaigns with strict limits on private funding. Let them know you are a voting constituent and will be watching their actions closely.
  2. Support organizations such as Common Cause, Public Citizen, followthemoney.org, opensecrets.org, youstreet.org, to name just a few.  These organizations are fighting to bring transparency and responsiveness to our government and need your support.
  3. Protest the bailouts, lobbying, as well as the bonuses, by moving your money from the big banks to a small community bank. Can you imagine the effect this would have on congress and the big banks when literally $billions would be withdrawn from their system. Vote with your pocketbook!
  4. Send AIG a message about their lobbying and bonuses by cancelling any policies you have with them and insuring with another more responsible company. Be aware that they have changed their name to 21st Century auto insurance to mask the tarnished image that the AIG name has. It is the same company! Vote with your pocketbook!
  5. Minimize the use your of credit cards. Every time you charge something, the issuing bank makes money from BOTH you and the merchants. With the widespread use of credit cards, the average 2-3% charge to the merchants by the credit card companies amounts to a BANK TAX on all purchases since the merchants have to pass this cost on to the consumer. This BANK TAX is a huge source of income for the big banks. Remember the merchant that charges you less for cash is actually doing you a favor by passing the BANK TAX savings on to you. Patronize merchants who offer this discount. Ask those who do not offer the discount to provide it. Vote with your pocketbook!

Remember, that any “reforms” that do not address money in politics are only nibbling at the edges by treating the SYMPTOMS of the problem like the doctor giving you pain killers,  rather than getting at the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. If enough people follow through with the steps outlined above, we will have the beginnings of a true populist revolt against our current corrupt system that is fueled and sustained by private money. It is time the citizens took control of this fight similar to the way the passengers on the Detroit Christmas flight did. Our government will not do it for us.

Rudy Avizius
http://www.endtheillusion.org

Redirected anger

March 17, 2011 3 comments

I heard this recently at a rally and it pretty much explains how the financial and corporate elites have successfully divided what is left of the middle class in this nation and have redirected the anger away from them, but instead have us turning on each other:

3 people come to a table with 12 cookies on it, a wealthy financial elite, a Tea Party member, and a union member.

The wealthy guy immediately takes 11 of the 12 cookies. He then looks at the Tea Party guy and says “watch out for that union guy or he will take a bigger piece of that cookie than you”

We care about our elderly citizens, see they are dining on seafood!


That pretty much sums up what the corporate controlled media message is being put out there. It is a classic case of divide and conquer.

None of the Wall Street elite have ever been prosecuted for the economic meltdown.
None of the bankers who committed the fraud have ever been prosecuted.
None of the hedge funds or insurance company executives have ever been prosecuted.

Why is this? Because they have bought the puppet politicians and they own the government. That makes it OK to have been part of the greatest heist of wealth in human history and then to have the taxpayers pay for it when their “bets” turned bad. It is OK to rip off America’s working people for $billions and serve no time in jail.

The only guy who was prosecuted was Bernie Madoff. His big mistake was that he ripped off the wealthy!

And that is why Madoff is in jail.

Wrong Question!

March 15, 2011 3 comments

The people are asking why the state bus mechanic has benefits.

WRONG QUESTION!
They should be asking why they do not.
Exxon pays NO TAX!The wealthiest pay an effective tax rate of only 17%, which is less than their secretaries, nannies, chauffeurs, and gardeners pay.
2 out of 3 corporations pay no tax at all. Exxon pays no tax! GE received a tax rebate of $1 BILLION! Bank of America pays no tax!

WHY?
Because the puppet politicians whom they bought, have created a 7,000 page tax code full of loopholes that favor these same wealthy elites.

If these financial elites and the corporations paid their fair share (currently 35%), then the states would not have any budget deficits, the federal deficit would be significantly reduced.

So we need to change the MESSAGE from what programs do we need to cut to pay for the deficits, to how can we make the uber rich pay their fair share.

Student Debt Burden Solution Part 3

March 10, 2011 11 comments

From those who need it the most, to those who need the leastIn the first video, we showed you the huge wealth gap between the richest and the average working person. We also showed you how the richest individuals have an EFFECTIVE TAX RATE far below that of a person making only $34,000 per year and how this is creating deficits at both the state and federal levels.

In the second video, we showed you how most US corporations are not paying any US taxes at all, while receiving local services such as police, fire, road maintenance, and federal services such as State Dept. and US military protection. Since the corporations are not paying for these extremely expensive services, this means YOU ARE paying for them! They are taking from those who need it the most, and giving to those who need it the least!

Military fighting for corporationsOne of the responses to this artificially induced deficit is to blame the public worker, the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the pensioners instead of taxing the rich and corporations according to their APPARENT TAX RATE. The corporate media has tried to whip up a frenzy of animosity towards public workers saying they still have decent benefits and the taxpayer has to pay for them. This is a classic divide and conquer where the elites turn the workers on each other as a diversion while they continue to amass huge fortunes and continue to buy the politicians through campaign contributions to write even more tax breaks into the already huge 71,000 page tax code. Instead of the people asking why the state bus driver still has benefits, they should be asking why they do not. Do not forget that it was NOT the elementary teachers and public hospital nurses, and police that caused this economic mess and the subsequent decline in tax revenues. The crisis was caused by massive bank fraud, Wall Street over leveraging, and speculator derivative trading. So why are the victims of this economic mess being blamed and asked to pay for the mistakes of the wealthy elites?

In Great Britain, one reaction to this attack on the working middle class has been the formation of a populist movement that shows there is an alternative to making the poor and middle classes shoulder the costs to pay for the mistakes by the wealthy elites. This movement has changed the conversation in government from cutting services to the middle class and poor, to one where the people are demanding an end to corporate welfare and making the elites pay their full share of taxes. This is happening despite the fact that conservatives are in power in Britain and have tried to impose draconian cuts. The same forces at work in Egypt where people were takinhg their country back from the corrupt elites are now at work in the UK.

In Britain as in the United States, people were also wondering why there was no outpouring of anger at how the rich were getting richer and richer while the rest of the country were enduring extreme cuts in government spending. Well, a group of a dozen citizens sitting at a pub decided to do something about it.

These people discovered that one of the largest cell phone companies in the UK, Vodaphone owed an outstanding bill of over $9,700,000,000 using a lame tax code technicality to avoid paying the bill. Yes that is $9.7 BILLION! With over 200,000 people in London being forced out of their homes because of government cuts, how many people could have beeen kept in their homes with this money? How many student grants would this money have provided? How many cuts could have been prevented? So they called themselves UK Uncut, setup a Twitter account and announced a time and place where people could meet. This is somewhat similar to the “flash mobs” we have been reading about recently. However, these “flash mobs” have a very specific social purpose in mind. They were to meet ahead of time and then on a specific cue, they would simply sit down in front of the store to prevent people from getting in. People who were going to be customers in the store actually joined in when they were explained that because Vodaphone was not paying its taxes, how it would affect them directly.

Banks should pay taxesThe first protest did not receive much media attention, but the protests grew and it was not difficult to get people to join in once the issue was framed that they were paying their fair share of taxes and that Vodaphone was not. The protests then expanded to other large corporations. By relating to other people specifically what it was that they were losing because of the tax avoidance, it was easier to get more and more people involved. This direct relating to local concerns is one of the keys to the success of this movement.

Once the media stopped taking the corporate view, the conversation in the government shifted from what program cuts were needed to how to get these rich elites to pay their fair share of taxes. It is not difficult to see how this will help college students from becoming victims of even more cuts to education. In fact a similar organization called US Uncut, has been started in the United States and has already held events across the nation.

So, what can you do to make this happen in the United States?

1. Read this compelling story detailing the rise of the movement in the UK.
http://www.thenation.com/article/158282/how-build-progressive-tea-party?page=full

2. Visit the US Uncut website.
http://www.usuncut.org/

3. Read the call out on the US Uncut website and either join an event or start one of your own.
http://www.usuncut.org/blog/what-to-do

So, are you going to continue to accept the government lies that these cuts are necessary to balance the budget, making YOU pay for the greed and fraud perpetrated the wealthy elites, while they continue to receive huge tax cuts?

Or, are you going to become involved in this movement and take control of your future?

Student Debt Burden Solution Part 2

Student Debt Burden Solution Part 2 from Illusionist on Vimeo.

Wealth GapIn the last video we presented information on how the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us has been growing wider and wider, and how the financial elites were not only NOT suffering but were actually thriving in this economic environment, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet and endure draconian cuts in the social safety net programs and aid to education. All while the financial elites showered themselves with huge tax cuts. Well, unfortunately the situation is even worse than the first video presented.

If you look at the current tax rates, it appears that the millionaires and billionaires have to pay a tax rate of 35%, but this figure is very misleading. It assumes a level playing field for all taxpayers, however, that is not really the case.

Apparent Tax Rates

If you take a look at the number of pages in our tax code, you will see that the size has been growing rapidly until the current tax code is an astounding 71,684 pages in length. So how is it that the tax code has become so large? The answer is very simple, the wealthy elites contribute to the political class and therefore they ultimately control the government and have the clout to have these bought politicians write loopholes into the tax code that enable them to take huge deductions on their taxes. So you end up with a situation where you have an illusionary apparent tax rate, but you also have a real world effective tax rate once all of the deductions are taken. Our 71,000 page tax code is totally riddled with these loopholes. The KEY TERM here is the Effective Tax Rate.

According to Forbes Magazine, the highest-earning taxpayers in the U.S. paid an income tax rate of only 17%–the lowest rate paid by the richest elites during the 15-year period covered by the IRS statistics. So their Effective tax rate is lower than someone who only makes $34,000 a year! They pay a smaller share in taxes than their secretaries, gardeners, nannies, and chauffeurs!

Now while wealthy individuals pay an extremely low effective tax rate, we have a similar situation with the corporations. The largest corporations in the US are supposed to pay a tax rate of 35%. While the corporations bemoan this rate, the reality is that due to the loopholes in the 71, 000 page tax code, depending on what specific industry you are in, the effective rate can actually go into negative territory. For example: Thanks to its deductions and adjustments, GE reported an actual U.S. federal income tax rate of negative 10.5%. It got to add a “tax benefit” of $1.1 billion back into its reported earnings. The actual amount in corporate taxes that the government collects (“the effective tax rate”) is lower than those of Germany, Canada, Japan and China, among others.

Exxon-Mobil paid no taxes. Despite benefiting from this corporate welfare in the U.S., Exxon complains about paying high taxes, claiming that it threatens energy innovation research. The corporate owned media parrots these complaints convincing the average person that corporate taxes hurt everyone. Whay was the saying that Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister said: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” In fact, in 2008, the Government Accountability Office found that “two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005.

Military fighting for corporationsSo there we have most corporations in the US not paying any tax at all, while they suck local services such as police and fire protections, road maintenance so they move they products or services, as well as international protection by the US State Department and the US Military. These services do not come cheaply and since they are not paying for them, WE ARE!
These corporate executives sit there with their “patriotic” flags on their lapels, while they scheme how to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, cut deals to ship American jobs overseas, and setup tax havens in the Caribbean. Is it any wonder that the rest of the country is mired in this economic misery while they prosper?

So there you have it, the wealthy elites are not paying their fair share, the corporations are not paying their fair share, and the rest of us are struggling.

Foreclosed and evictedSo why am I mentioning this? Because those loopholes will cost the U.S. government $628.6 billion over the next five years, according to a 2010 report from the Tax Foundation.

If all of those loopholes were closed, we could provide every one of the 11-1/2 million college students in the nation with a $54,600 grant.

Or we could provide every one of the 43 million people on food stamps with a check for $14,600.

Think about this, we are taking money away from those who need it the most, so that we can give to the corporate and financial elites of this country, the very people who need it the least.

In the last video, we mentioned that we would show you what YOU can so about this and how this already being successfully done in Britain. However, this video was needed to supplement the first one to better illustrate and drive home the astounding depth of the wealth inequality. In our next video we will show the success story in Britain and explain how students here can start to organize and achieve the same success.

Click here for Part 3 of this article

Student Debt Burden Solution Part 1

February 17, 2011 35 comments

Student Debt Burden from Illusionist on Vimeo.

Crushing student debt burdenStudents are deeper in debt today than ever before and two out of three college students graduate with significant debt burdens . While most colleges are struggling to keep costs under control, the cost of a college education is rising faster than the cost of medical care and as much as three times as fast as consumer prices in general.

Click here to view the 2nd video in this series.

Students borrow because they see little choice. They see college education as a key to success. However In the case of student loans, there is no walking away. Unlike most other forms of debt, student loans carry almost no consumer protections and little ability to refinance. By law, they can’t be wiped out in bankruptcy. These draconian laws would make a mobster envious.
These huge debt burdens threaten the vitality of our nation as they leave our future productive workers mired in debt and are certainly not good public policy. So is there any way the nation could help our future workers to become well educated and become productive members in our society?

Consider the following facts:
According to a congressional analysis which was published in the Washington Post , the recently enacted plan to extend the tax cuts for the rich would add more than $36 billion to the federal deficit next year — and transfer the bulk of that cash into the pockets of the nation’s millionaires.

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that pay and benefits at the top 25 publicly traded banks and security firms on Wall Street hit a record of $135.5 billion.

Let’s just take a look at some of the compensation that some of these people are receiving:

Wonder if they worry about the minimum wage?

These people are making more than people who win the lottery jackpot and they make millions every year, year after year. These people on the average make more in one day than average worker makes in a year. And some of these same bankers received government bailout money while now they are making millions every year in compensation and bonuses.

Should we give them a tax cut?
It seems the government has trillions of dollars, that would be thousands of billions of dollars to bail out the bankers and Wall Street, but want to make cuts that help students and schools.

Should we gave these people a tax cut?<The government has trillions to bail out the bankers and Wall Street, but they are talking about cutting 100’s of billions which would include aid to education placing additional burdens on students.

Now these people we saw earlier are not even close to being the richest in the nation. In fact there are people that are making significantly more than they are. In fact the amounts of money that these people make are staggering:
John Paulson, the manager of Paulson & Company made a estimated 2.3 billion in personal earnings in 2009.

James Simons, the manager of Renaissance Technologies, made an estimated $2.5 billion in personal earnings in 2009.

George Soros, manager of Soros Fund Management, made an estimated $3.3 billion in personal earnings in 2009

And the top earner was David Tepper, manager of Appaloosa Management. He made $4 billion dollars in one single year in 2009.

Now consider this:
David Tepper makes $456,000 per hour for every hour of every day in the year. Hmm, I wonder if he worries what the minimum hourly wage is?

If David Tepper goes to a 2 hour movie, he will pay about $15, but he will make $912,000 in that time.

If David Tepper plays a round of golf at the country club, he will pay around $500, but will make over $2 million that afternoon.

David Tepper can purchase a $100 million yacht with under 2 weeks worth of earnings.

David Tepper can purchase an oceanfront mansion worth $100 million for under 2 weeks worth of earnings.

These people cannot spend money as fast as they make it!

So why are we pointing all this out?

The rich are getting most of the tax cuts
Because once all of the tax cuts are finally phased in, a staggering 52.5 percent of the benefits will go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers.

A remarkable study (Norton & Ariely, 2010) reveals that Americans have no idea that the wealth distribution (defined for them in terms of “net worth”) is as concentrated as it is. Just take a look at the wealth distribution in the United States. A staggering 87% of the wealth is held by the top 10% in the nation.

So do these people really need these tax cuts when our students and their families are groaning under the weight of student loans, home foreclosures, unemployment, and other results of the economic crisis? Why are we taking good from the people who need it the most, and giving it tp the people that need it the least?

Consider this: if the recent tax cuts for the rich were repealed and the rich paid their fair share, we could have enough revenue to give every single one of the 11-1/2 million college students in the US a Pell grant for $3,130 and that would be repeated for every year they attended college.

Student protest
Certainly these wealthy elites can afford to pay their fair share. Now wouldn’t helping our future productive workers be a better way to invest in our nation’s future than giving the elites more money?

In a future video, we will explore how we can make this happen. It is already happening in Great Britain.

Click here to view the 2nd video in this series.

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