Archive

Posts Tagged ‘protest’

A Night with Occupy Wall Street

October 17, 2011 3 comments

A call went out over the Internet stating that the city of New York was preparing to “clean” the park where the Occupy Wall St protests were taking place and that the protestors would have to leave the park during this cleaning. The occupiers were cognizant that this was a thinly veiled attempt to evict them from the park. They asked for people to converge on the park to defend it from the NYPD who would be charged with clearing it.

Night before Having watched this movement from its inception, their message of eliminating the influence of money on our government resonated deeply with me. Their message of corporate and Wall St greed also resonated with me. I remember the horror I felt at the spraying of the penned in protestors, I recall the anger I felt when I viewed the videos where the police entrapped the demonstrators on the bridge and then arrested hundreds of them. The time had come for me personally to take action.

I quickly gathered together a folding chair, a tarp, (the weather called for heavy rain), and my video camera and hopped on the last bus leaving Chinatown. I arrived at the park close to midnight and witnessed several hundred occupiers. I found an empty spot to “camp out” and setup my small site. The next hour was spent in discussion with many of the people in the park. They were very welcoming and friendly. I thought of the many videos I had seen that showed the fringe element of the occupiers in their attempts to try to discredit the movement. While I did see a few fringe types, they were a very small minority. Instead what I discovered was that these mostly young people were both articulate and committed. They clearly outlined the problems within our system as they perceived them.

Jefferson warningAt approximately 1:00 AM, a light rain started falling and I decided to sit on my chair, using the tarp for shelter. I watched as the crowd quickly adapted and almost instantly everyone seemed to wearing ponchos or utilizing umbrellas. Then I received the first real surprise of the visit. The skies opened up and almost instantly started pouring heavily. Immediately a great cheer went out among the crowd that reverberated between the large buildings that surround the park. This sent a chill down my spine. These people were so used to being wet that they actually welcomed the rain.

At this time I noticed my tarp which was only 1 season old and had been sitting in the sun for the summer, was not water tight. Some of the lining had deteriorated and water was entering. It was not long before I was sitting in the chair fully soaked. I looked around and saw how these young people adapted to the rain and to not being allowed to have tents in the park. Many of them covered their sleeping bags with tarps and the openings to the bags with umbrellas. I knew that this was not completely watertight and that they were sleeping in wet conditions. Here I was wet and uncomfortable for one single night and these amazing people put up with this discomfort for weeks in order to protest what they believed in. I felt anger at those who would not allow them to post tents. The arrogance of these people subjecting someone’s child to have to endure this sort of indignity. Would they do the same if their sons or daughters were here?

After a while the rain let up, and normal activity returned to the park. It was now around 2:00AM and I would estimate that less that ¼ of the people were sleeping. There was an electricity in the air and a great concern about the pending confrontation with the NYPD, the enforcers and protectors of the money powers. During this time I explored the park and found that the levels organization were truly impressive. This park had: an information booth, a kitchen, a media center, a first aid station, a general assembly area, and a lost and found. So much for all the media propaganda on how these people are disorganized anarchists. They actually have their own newspaper!

Zucotti Park GreetingDuring this time a member of their community gave me a small flyer and I was impressed with what I saw. Please excuse the poor quality of the scan, but this flyer got soaked during the rains.

On the back was a map with all the information people would need to navigate the park.
On the front, the flyer stated that being intoxicated in the park was not acceptable behavior, that everyone needed to respect others and property rights, and that it was important to keep the park clean and to protect the flowers and other plants.

After the rains, crews were immediately dispatched to start sweeping the areas to both clean them and to eliminate puddles that had gathered in low lying areas. This park was clean. There was absolutely no reason to have to have outside crews come in and “clean” the park. During the rest of my night there, the sound of sweeping could always be heard in the background.

Around 3:00AM it started to rain again and even though my tarp was not totally watertight, it still kept most of the water off of me. Again a sudden deluge came down and again a great cheer went out among the crowd. A huge clap of thunder was heard and then another cheer rang out and echoed throughout the park. It truly obvious to me that these people really did not care about being wet. I had also reached that point, once you are soaked, it doesn’t matter how much more you get wet. If the authorities thought that by making these people uncomfortable by denying them tents they would break their spirit, they badly miscalculated. This had the exact opposite effect and made them stronger. I could feel it. I again felt anger at the authorities for their arrogance in this. I thought about all the ignorant people who posted comments on the Internet about the “dirty hippies, “flea bags” and “smelly” people at these protests. These ill informed people have no idea of what is happening here beyond the propaganda they are hearing. When was the last time any of them suffered this sort of discomfort and indignity to protest something they believed in? These ignorant rants were coming from people who are empty shells who simply parrot what they have heard on the corporate media.

SoakedThese protestors were forced into these degrading conditions by our elected leaders, the paid servants of the money powers. The city did not even provide toilet facilities. Don’t most cities provide them when they know large crowds will be in a public place? This was another one of the sad attempts to try and suppress this protest. The city resourcefully dug up a law that was over 160 years old about not wearing masks in public as an excuse to arrest protestors. Another one of the sad and shameful attempts to try and suppress this protest. Each obstacle thrown in front of these people ultimately only strengthens their resolve. There were so many of these attempts.

The irony of the situation is that the corporate controlled media had been ignoring this protest for weeks until the video of the indiscriminate pepper spraying of the penned in women went viral on the Internet. Then the NYPD tried to go after people with cameras, but there were so many of them, their efforts also went viral on the Internet and even the corporate media started broadcasting some of the clips. The movement grew in strength every time the authorities responded with force. Then came the mass arrests on the bridge and the movement grew even stronger with more and more people coming to the park and with protests spreading to hundreds of other cities across the nation and even the world. The resolve of these occupiers was strengthening and they had lost their fear of arrest. This was being compared to Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Violence against the demonstrators was backfiring and having the opposite effect the authorities desired. Donations of food, supplies, and support were pouring in from around the world. Worldwide news coverage had turned negative against the authorities.

The time was now around 5:00 AM in the park and I had slept little during this night. The vast majority of demonstrators were also awake awaiting the General Assembly meeting to determine what the collective response to the NYPD would be. All decisions are made democratically in this community. (All the people who call this anarchy, please take note.) All night more and more people were entering the park and it was soon obvious that the number of people in the park was increasing rapidly.

Trapped behing barriersAt approximately 6:00AM the park was so full that you could hardly fit another person into it. Why did the police not open up the barriers that were trapping so many people into such a small area? They could easily have closed the 2 minor small streets on either side of the park to accommodate the swelling numbers. This would have kept traffic flowing smoothly on Broadway and Church Streets while having a minimal amount of officers to control traffic flow. Instead the authorities have directed the NYPD to use large numbers of manpower to enforce the ever tightening barricades. This is another example of the arrogant and poor decision making on the part of the authorities, another sad and ineffective attempt to dispirit this movement.

During the General Assembly meeting, I witnessed their system of spreading the speakers’ words throughout the crowd by having everyone repeat what they heard. All announcements were proceeded with “mic check” and this would be repeated throughout the park. The sound of the repetition reverberating throughout the park provided an empowering feeling. You could feel the energy in the air. This is another example of how the decision to prohibit amplified loudspeakers backfired on the authorities. It seemed that every obstacle that was thrown in the way of these protestors, only seemed to make them stronger and more resolved. My admiration for them just kept growing. Then a large group of additional protestors entered the park and a great cheer went up and resonated throughout the park. You could feel the energy levels were climbing.

It was decided that those who had been assigned specific tasks within the community would stay at the core of the park, with supporters on the perimeter and they would all lock arms together. A vote was asked on how many were willing to get arrested and a sea of hands went up into the air by both the occupiers and their supporters. The speaker warned that anyone remaining inside the park was at risk of arrest and if they were not prepared for that they should leave the park. Anyone willing to stay in the park was asked to find a “buddy” so that there was always someone else who would look out for them when the showdown came. A cry of “solidarity” rand out among the crowd. I was impressed by the concern the Occupy Wall St protestors had for each other and for those who came in support. I was again impressed with the concern they had for those who could not risk arrest.

Then you heard “mic check” being repeated across the park. An announcement from the deputy mayor was read stating that the “clean up” of the park had been cancelled. A great crescendo of cheers from the thousands in the park rang out and echoed between the buildings. The protestors had faced down the authorities.

As I am writing this article, I believe that the authorities had made a wise decision in not confronting this movement’s epicenter. Every single time they moved with force, the movement only got stronger. Breaking up thousands of the supporters with arms locked, and then going after the protestors themselves would have been a total public relations nightmare. The mainstream media was out in force, anticipating the showdown. The independent media was out in force. The entire world was watching. The authorities surely did have the power to accomplish an eviction: they have the combined might of the entire NYPD, state police, national guard and US military at their disposal, all to be used against people committed to peaceful protest. But there would have been a very high cost to such an action.

Should such an eviction have taken place, the international condemnation of the United States would have been strong and broad, similar to the condemnation of the Arab regimes’ repression. There is the probability that the outrage could have fueled hundreds of thousands to converge on NY in anger. At such a point the movement would have reached a critical mass and would have been unstoppable short of total police and/or military suppression. So the showdown was averted, however the movement continues to grow.

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner from the Polish Solidarity Movement, has announced that he will be visiting with Occupy Wall St. They have stated that he will be warmly welcomed. The movement continues to gain support.

There are those who would criticize the tactics of this movement, but what these protestors have been very successful in is to shine a light on many of the problems in this country. Finally now these problems are being discussed and a national conversation is starting to take place. To all those who are reading this article and/or are following the events on the Internet or even just corporate news, I ask you the following questions:

The bankers on Wall St gambled with other peoples’ money and brought our economy to its knees.
Are you OK with that?

These same bankers then received a taxpayer bailout.
Are you OK with that?

These same bankers then paid themselves huge bonuses for job well done.
Are you OK with that?

We have self serving special interests giving unlimited money ANONYMOUSLY to our corrupt politicians.
Are you OK with that?

If not, what are YOU doing about it?
At least these protestors care enough to do something about it.

This is not a liberal cause, this is not a conservative cause, this is a common cause.

Addendum to this article:
The Oakland Police tried to violently supress the occupation in their city and the numbers of demonstrators grew significantly the next day. The city leadership is under attack by its own people with over 70% of the residents disapproving the mayor’s handling of the situation. (CBS poll)

“More”, is never enough!

September 26, 2011 6 comments

For over a week now, citizens have been gathering in Liberty Plaza in New York City to protest the greed and corruption of Wall Street and its corrosive effects on our nation’s economy and well being.

This last week we witnessed the spectacle of police guarding the bronze bull statue located on Wall Street. This sight is almost biblical in its significance, where the powers that be order their enforcers, the police, to guard the Golden Calf in front of the Temple of Greed where the elites worship their great gods: money, power, greed, envy, and lust.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs and one of the many high priests in this Temple of Greed, once stated that he “was doing God’s work”. It is likely that much of this selfless and charitable work takes place at this Temple of Greed. It is easy to envision the rituals of this Temple, where with hands in the air, the high priests and their followers chant “more, more”, but “more”, is never enough.

Understanding the significance of this Temple and the Golden Calf makes it very easy to comprehend why the elites and their high priests ordered their enforcers to protect the Golden Calf. Should anything happen to it, the people outside the Temple would lose the grace and love of their gods resulting in an abyss of plague and famine. Those inside the Temple would be protected from this plague and famine because of their devotion to the gods, but those outside the Temple would be devastated.

As those outside the Temple, we should be grateful to these High Priests for their concern and for recognizing the importance of guarding the Temple and Golden Calf. They demonstrated bravery and wisdom by calling out the enforcers restrain those who would challenge the Temple and its values. We applaud those among the police who responded with additional vigor and without question to protect the values of the Temple. While many of the enforcers practiced restraint, it is so comforting to know that there were those who showed their devotion and loyalty to the Temple and Golden Calf by ignoring the rights our nation’s founding fathers fought so hard to provide us. These enforcers who showed this initiative and loyalty to the High priests understand that when it comes to matters of the Temple, that civil liberties and other rights are irrelevant.

We should be grateful to those among the enforcers who prevented the protestors from assembling in front of the Temple.

We should be thankful for those among the enforcers who took away the protective tarps that sheltered the protestors from the rain.

We should admire those among the enforcers who were resourceful enough to dig up a law that is over 150 years old that forbids masks in public and to use this obscure law as a reason to arrest some of the protestors.

We should appreciate that there were those among the enforcers who had the courage and integrity to ignore the First Amendment rights of the independent press and prevented as many as they could from reporting on this protest.

We should be comforted that the corporate controlled media obediently follow the commandments of the high priests and largely suppressed this story.

The audacity of these protestors thinking that they have the right to petition for jobs so they can support their families! The nerve of these protestors thinking they have the right to call for prosecution of the High Priests of the Temple!

These demonstrators who are so ignorantly challenging the morality of these High Priests need to be taught the lesson that it is unwise to challenge the Temple and its High Priests. Hundreds have been arrested, but more arrests are needed. A lesson on blind obedience to the overlords with bowed head needs to be reinforced. Again we are truly indebted to those among the enforcers who had the courage to educate them.

Only by blind devotion and faithful obedience to the commandments of the High Priests can we as people be brought out of the wilderness.

Website for Occupy Wall St: https://occupywallst.org

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.

Symptoms of a Police State?

March 21, 2011 7 comments

Our nation’s founding fathers understood well how governments can become coercive and self serving, so they were very careful to include a Bill of Rights into our constitution to prevent this. The most fundamental of these rights is the belief that holds that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The Sixth Amendment was written to give the accused the right to a “speedy trial” and the Eighth Amendment was written to prohibit excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.

In the United States, our government is holding a prisoner, Bradley Manning in detention for over 9 months, in solitary confinement in a 6 by 12 foot prison cell, where he is being stripped naked, forbidden to exercise, despite the fact that he has never been convicted much less even charged with a crime.

Driving by the rallyPut aside any assumptions of guilt or innocence, or whether you believe Manning is a traitor or a hero. An American citizen has the right to a speedy trial and to not be held in a punitive detention for so long a period of time without being charged with anything. Even a member of Congress has been unable to obtain “permission” to meet with the prisoner.

This violation of our constitution is what brought hundreds to the Quantico Marine Base in protest. Hundreds of protestors were filing in to voice their displeasure that the laws in our nation’s Bill of Rights were so blatantly being disregarded.

However, the focus of this video is not about the protest itself, but rather the government’s overwhelming response to the protest and the unfolding of a darker subtext evolving in our society.

We drove past the rally as we arriving and saw people holding signs and chanting. Once our vehicle was parked in the approved parking location, we started walking towards the rally site. I was amazed at the extent of the forces that the government had brought to this event. We passed literally dozens of police cars in the parking lot, large police command stations, trailers, horse trailers, as well as prisoner busses. As we walked towards the protest site, we viewed dozens of riot police hidden in the woods. These were the first disquieting signs of the enormous level of the police presence for this event. Further down the road there were police mounted on horses, police with dogs, and dozens of other police manning a barrier designed to funnel the protestors into a small area.

After a few speeches, the protesters formed a line to march and place flowers at the memorial statue that commemorates the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima during World War 2. It was at this time that it became very apparent that the police were going to control every aspect of the event and to choreograph this event to their will. Daniel Ellsberg and other military veterans were not allowed to go to the memorial and were told they had to throw the flowers through a gate at the statue.

Are these automatic rifles really necessary?You could hear the police saying what the people with the flowers should do, where the crowd should move, and where the media should go. The demonstrators were actually trapped inside these barriers and were completely penned in and were unable to either enter or leave the protest area. Only those with press credentials had some freedom of movement. It was as if a director was controlling a script. There is a marked difference in laying flowers respectfully at the foot of the monument and throwing them through a gate. This subtle difference was obviously lost on the police who were choreographing the event so thoroughly.

Suddenly, in the distance you could see a large number of riot police assembling and forming a line with intersecting shields. This phalanx looked like the Imperial Storm Troops from the Star Wars movie series. The riot police gathered their forces, started advancing, and pushing towards the crowd. Questions arose in the crowd as to what precipitated this aggressive stance. Chants and protest signs are hardly a cause for such a strong reaction. It was obvious that the intent was a preemptive move to intimidate.

This protest began as a respectful and reserved event, but this trapping of the crowd, the choreographed directions, and the riot police pushing into the crowd infuriated the protestors. You could feel the energy level of the protest rise to a whole new level in response to these police strategies.

So why are they trapping the demonstrators?

What is it the police were trying to protect?

Why are they pushing into the crowd?

Do we really need such overwhelming force with helicopters circling overhead?

Then I spotted troops with automatic rifles. You could clearly see that they had large capacity magazines that were doubled up to increase the number of rounds they carried. Why do they need automatic rifles for a group of peaceful protestors? Do they really need AR-15’s for AARP members?

Again, this was certainly done to intimidate the crowd. No one in the crowd we spoke with expressed any fear of this show of overwhelming force. However, the irony is that this did show the fear that our government has of its own people and that fear was clearly being displayed here.

Riot SquadThe police closed the road off completely, despite the fact that traffic had been flowing in the earlier part of this event without any problems. There was no need for the police to block the traffic except for perhaps the short period of time (minutes) when the flowers were being placed by the small group that was “approved” by the police.
Questions circulated among the protestors as to why the road had been blocked. Why were motorists being forced to wait in long lines only to be turned around?

Was this an attempt to prevent people from seeing this demonstration?
Nothing to see here, turn your car around and just go back where you came from.

Was this an attempt to aggravate the local people?
Perhaps. Or perhaps they did not like the fact that much of the earlier traffic expressed support for the event by honking their horns, revving their engines, or giving thumbs up as they drove past.

I left the rally with an uncomfortable feeling about the overwhelming force that had been brought to bear at this event. This was overkill designed to subvert the voices of the people.

I left the event with a new found respect for the people of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia when they stood up to this same type of overwhelming force protesting the wrongs of their governments.

Overkill by policeAs we were leaving, we saw two of the many people that were arrested for civil disobedience. How brave these young people were.

On the ride home, we tried to distill the events of the day. How the government tried to unnecessarily instill fear, when there was no need to. How many of us can relate to such situations in life and work where authority oversteps and exerts its control and leaves us feeling powerless while you know your convictions are right?

We thought about how we would feel as parents if it was our child whose rights were being trampled.

We thought about how we feel as citizens as the rights our founding fathers fought so hard to give us are being dismantled.

We thought about how we feel as human beings and how torture and degrading detention by any government insults our sensitivities.

In this time of economic stress and great change on our nation, isn’t it time to become involved and influence the direction of those changes.

This video by EndTheIllusion highlights the event.

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.

%d bloggers like this: