Posts Tagged apple inc

France Initiates the “Millionaires Tax” – Puts An End to Trickle Down Myth

The wealthy enjoy all the advantages of living and doing business in a first world country. However, they believe that all that should come at no cost to them. They believe that their wealth exempts them from contributing to the very society and structures in that society that have enabled them to be where they are. In other words, wealthy people want a free ride (which is ironic because “wanting a free ride” is precisely what is often used to argue against social safety net and various other programs aimed at keeping people off the poverty wagon).

Well, France has finally put an end to the free ride wealthy people have been enjoying at the expense of everyone else when its Constitutional Council gave the green light on Sunday to the government’s controversial ‘millionaire tax’, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than 1 million euros ($1.38 million) a year.

The measure was introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis. To that end, a 50 percent tax is to be paid by high earners on the portion of annual income exceeding 1 million euros. This change has infuriated the wealthy because, of course it did; god forbid anyone ever asks a rich person to pitch in a dime for the common good. Let’s go after Medicare and food-stamp recipients and thus the poor as we do in this glorious, most awesomest country in the world blah blah fart.

Hollande’s 2012 supertax election pledge infuriated high earners in France and prompted actor Gerard Depardieu to flee the country. It has also alienated entrepreneurs and foreign investors, who have accused Hollande of being anti-business.

Hollande has said that the wealthy should contribute more to help to repair the country’s finances, arguing that the supertax should also encourage companies to curb excessive executive pay.

Not Being Greedy Is Difficult

I find it interesting that rich people, the 1% to be precise, get all riled up, feel exploited and, literally, run away as it’s been the case with Depardieu the moment they are asked to give a bit of their obscene wealth in the form of taxes, but that poor people – the elderly, food-stamp recipients, the disabled, student loan borrowers – heck even hard working middle class folks that hold two jobs and still are barely able to make ends meet and are fucked in case of a crisis – are repeatedly being asked to make more and more sacrifices to subsidize, essentially, the privilege of the wealthy. And they are asked to do so without complaining and in the name of compromise, good will and bi-partisan ship – as if agreeing to be underpaid, worked to death and rendered unable to make ends meet were compromises.

However, let me ask this: is it fair to ask someone who makes $20 million a year to spend half of that in taxes or is it fair to ask someone making $65 thousand a year to pay half of that in taxes?

Is it fair to ask someone living at the poverty threshold, eeking by on a miserable existence by collecting an abhorrently low, not-fit-to-feed-a-dog-in-a-pound welfare check and food stamps in this country, to please take some more cuts to their already meager, not-fit-to-feed-a-dog-in-a-pound welfare check and food stamps so that the wealthy can remain tax exempt and still pay very little?

Is it fair to ask a recent college graduate stuck in a shitty job making $45k a year and drowning in student loan debt (which he had to accrue to get that 45k job)  to pay nearly 40% of that in taxes while the CEO of Facebook pays less than 10% of his billion dollar income, if that, in taxes?

In the US the top one percent hold 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.  What the average CEO of a Fortune 500 company makes in an hour, the average worker (not the janitor, but the college graduate  in the cubicle) makes in a month. The on-the-book tax rate for Capital gains, primarily the payment vehicle of the rich, is 15 percent –  while most American workers pay upwards of 40 percent of their  sustenance in taxes.

The narrative here, according to the 1% and those who hold the torch for them in the name of The Grand American Dream,  is that average American workers are hundreds of  times less productive than the CEO who makes hundreds of times more money than they do. And that they are lazy. Lack motivation. Work Ethics. Depend on hand-outs and just don’t know how to be successful or properly manage their hand-to-mouth earnings.

Just earlier this year, our spineless President made permanent the Bush administration’s tax cuts. Permanent; barring and preventing top earners, the 1%, from ever having to pay more in taxes than the maid who cleans their house or the even the educated engineer even who builds their car elevator.

Trickle Down Economics A Scam

One of the biggest scams, one of the most outrageous, yet effective, lies of the 21st century has been trickle down economics and the absurd idea that the more you let a company or individual amass wealth without taxing them or regulating them, the more those rich people will invest back in the economy and in the long run benefit poorer members of society by improving the economy as a whole. In other words, the bullshit here is the notion that the wealth the wealthy amass by not paying much in taxes or fair wages etc., will come back to citizens as a whole.

The truth is, unregulated Free Market Trickle Down theory and ideology has been tried and has proven, beyond all reasonable doubt to be a failed idea. In practice, it simply does not work (for 99% of the people, that is).

The only people this ideology of greed and immoral self-service works for are the robber barons and thus the very people that spend hundreds of millions a year selling this lie to the masses – under the guise, and false promise may I add, of the American Dream and how hard work pays off and that those “who are successful” should not be “punished” yadda, yadda, yadda, blah.

I cannot imagine anyone still holding on to this perverse lie where people are basically asked to personally fill the pockets of robber barons  – willingly and unquestionably no less – with a straight face.

Trickle down economics and the promise of prosperity-for-all as long as the wealthy get to remain wealthy while the economic burden will be carried at the backs of the middle class, the poor, and disabled, is an outrageous lie and blatant deception.

It is also brilliant from a robber baron/Mitt Romney/one percenter perspective because it has convinced people for decades to hand over their hard-earned dollars to said robber barons, willingly and passionately, in the hopes that they too, one day, can be one of those barons. And you know what? It may work for a very few who manage to somehow get a foot in the door to the Kingdom  and profit immensely while the majority of their fellow men will not.  But for most people becoming the next Bill Gates or Mitt Romney is nothing but a pipe dream. Most people have to get an education or training, get a job and work for a living and save up for a retirement instead of playing golf until 11 every day and letting other peoples’ hard-earned monies work for them and when they fail to make that money work for them they are let go with a golden parachute and set for life.

At any rate, as the wealth gap between the rich and poor has been increasing to staggering heights over the past thirty to forty years, people are yet to see any of that trickle down wealth come to fruition. If anything, a dwindling middle class and a tremendous wealth gap in this country appear to be testament to the exact opposite, namely that the more you let rich people amass wealth, the more they will amass wealth but without putting much of it back into the economy in terms of fair wages, benefit, jobs and investments.

Just enter the world of labor export to places like China where slave laborers are paid abhorrent “wages”, if one can even call it that – I believe slave labor is a more appropriate term since a few dollars a month are hardly wages – so that a company like Apple Inc. – which is supposed to be the example of the American Dream – can post a $7.5 billion profit; Apple Inc.  – the great American company that employs more people in China than its beloved US of A.

I applaud France’s measure because it is attempting to close the immense wealth gap – which is the cause  and further catalyst of economic recessions  – by forcing those navigating an existence in extreme wealth and privilege to pay a bit more so that the poor don’t have to. A lesson this country could learn and will learn – the hard way if need be.

The truth of the matter is that cash flow must exist in the economy for all parts to work effectively. If the upper levels of earners are not keeping those monies flowing, then the only mechanism left to us is taxation. It’s sort of like a parent trusting a child with something but then realizing that it is not working, after all, because said child has taken gross advantage of said privilege given to him.  So the parent has to step back in again.

The wealthy, the 1%, have taken immense advantage of the freedoms their governments gave them for all these years – so much so that the world is in a recession thanks to deregulation and abolishing a host of other mechanisms in place to insure a level playing field where all members of society pay their fair share. This has resulted in stagnant wages, the complete non-existence of a social safety net in this country (when I say welfare monies in this country are not fit to house and feed a dog in a pound for a month, I am not exaggerating) and a host of other middle-class busting policies keeping the 99% poor and asset-less while the 1% keep getting wealthier by the minute.

If corporations and the rich paid in taxes what they used to pay back in the 40s and 50s, and 60s when America grew like wildfire to be the planet’s economic powerhouse truly resulting in making the American Dream a reality for millions, America would not be discussing, as recently as the budget debate and lousy compromise of just a couple of weeks ago, what poor, sick, or elderly group need to be gutted, cut, or kicked to the curb next.

(Have you noticed how so-called “entitlements” are always on the table when it comes to budget discussions in this country? By both parties.  It is never “let’s stop subsiding oil companies” or “maybe we do not need another aircraft carrier” because apparently oil companies and defense contractors that post record profits already getting our tax dollars is not entitlements, but someone getting money back they paid into for years, is).

Currently, the conversation in America is a conversation being set up by guys like Charles and David Koch, the Walton heirs, Exxon, Lockheed, Raytheon, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney and so forth. Entities that feel entitled to their greed and do not want us ever talking about re-taxing them. That is why they complain about the debt to muddy the waters and distract from the real cause of the recession, demanding that the poor, sick, and elderly give a pound of flesh, because the CorporateCon Right Wing Mega-Rich have no intention of helping anyone with anything and want to keep and secure their massive economic gains which they have made at the backs of said poor, sick, and elderly.

The paradigm in this country, regardless of party affiliation, is always cutting more food-stamps or gutting Medicare or keeping minimum wages stagnant for a bit more. No one, not even Democrats, ever truly considers taking those things off the table and instead solely putting oil companies, the Defense Department and tax exemption for the wealthy on the table when talking fiscal responsibility.

That conversation needs to change.

So let what France is doing be a lesson to those of us in the US. If you do not want taxes set upon you, get to work doing your part to keep the economy moving, such as paying your employees fair, livable wages and great benefits to balance a home/at work lifestyle so that people do not feel enslaved to their jobs. 

The Walton family (i.e. owners of Wal-Mart) is a prime example of entities that possess more wealth than can be used in several lifetimes, yet insist on continuing to pay wages to their workers that are essentially poverty level, even though they have more than ample room to improve those wages and still profit handsomely. As long as the government stays shies away from holding Wal-Mart accountable and hopes instead that they will somehow eventually come out and do the right thing, nothing will change.

At any rate, in the case of France, one million euros per year should be more than sufficient to live and thrive on, dear Wealthy People. Remember, that you are being taxed on your income and wealth while 99% of the people in the world are being taxed on their subsistence. I do, however, dare you to try to live on 30,000 Euro for one year without running away – or hey, I’ll be generous, let’s make it an even 100k – if you can, that is.

Remember, being poor is not for lazy people but making a little less than a million per year apparently is. So much so that those wealthy people are, literally, fleeing their motherland.

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Insurance Companies Are Just Like the Mafia

organized-crime

The other day I was watching “Mobsters” and afterwards began researching a bit about the Mafia and organized crime and as I was reading up on the origins of the Cosa Nostra and how it all started and how they made/make their money, it dawned on me that insurance companies, or the idea of insurance, is very similar to how organized crime, in particular protection racketeering, works.

protection racket is an extortion scheme whereby a group or an individual is coerced to pay money in exchange for protection.  Racketeers coerce reticent potential victims into buying “protection” by demonstrating what will happen if they don’t—they damage the victims’ property or maybe even will physically hurt the owner or manager.  In most cases, the racketeers do not actually protect their client from anything but the racketeers themselves, and their “protection” is merely extortion. However, if their victim is seriously threatened by a third party, sometimes gangsters will protect their source of revenue.

Insurance companies work much in the same way. They’re a protection racket. You pay a sum every month in exchange for your health (in the case of health insurance), which will be preserved only if the collectors can’t find some way to avoid it. If you actually need the service, they cut you off. In fact, this is how insurance companies make money, by not paying claims. They don’t make money paying them.

Sure, they may pay for something minor, but the higher the claim amount, such as for serious illness or property damage requiring payoff in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, they will send in their team of lawyers  – which they can afford because of all the premiums they collected from people whom they later dumped – who can keep the judge buried in motions until the last trump – or until you die, whichever comes first.

It is no on coincidence that there exists an entire segment in law solely dedicated to insurance and why some firms solely specialize in insurance company defense. I used to work for such a law firm while in college and they were ruthless. State Farm was one of their biggest clients and all the firm did all day, every day, was  file motions and try to find ways to get their clients, the insurance companies, out of paying claims to people who had dutifully paid their premiums and now needed the insurance company to hold their end of the bargain and pay off.

Captive Markets

Since health insurance is not like most consumer goods where supply and demand control the market and prices, and where one can just “drop out” of the market if one does not like the prices/cannot afford them, people become so called “captive markets” in the insurance industry because everyone needs health insurance.

This is where corporations in the form of insurance companies come in where they take advantage of this market situation and pretty much get to do anything they want with people. They begin gaming system by, for example,  charging as much as they can in premiums and keeping prices within a few dollars of one another – also called colluding. Since people need health insurance, they are at the mercy of insurance companies and thus are forced to pay whatever ridiculous premiums they demand, including sudden premium hikes for any reason, or no reason at all. They simply can, so they will.

insurance_racket

The health insurance industry has been engaging in such a practice for decades, and that is why there really is no difference between Anthem or Blue Cross/Blue Shield or whatever other health insurance company. The premiums are more or less the same and what is covered is also more or less the same by all. If Blue Cross drops you, Anthem won’t pick you up.

In terms of health care, this type of scheme has left people at the mercy of their insurance companies where they risk  being dropped or claims denied at every turn and for no reason other than because the insurance company can. In other words, peoples health care choices, and then ultimately the health care they receive, has for decades been determined not by their physicians really but by insurance companies that in reality are just protection rackets, a lottery. The Mafia.

While Blue Cross/Blue Shield will not come and break your legs if you don’t pay them, the fact that if you get sick you will be shit out of luck and will not receive the treatment you need is the equivalent of having some kind of terrible violence done to you because you did not make your insurance premiums (emergency rooms are not proper health care providers as they do not offer screening and preventive care. You go to the emergency room in, well, an emergency and thus as a last resort and when it is almost too late).

Organized Crime

In summary: insurance companies coerce you to buy into a lottery/racket, pass some of the cash to the only people able to stop them (Congress) and those people then vote to keep the lottery going. How is this not organised crime? In fact, insurance corporations, like the mafia, are very good at remembering to kick some of that dough back to the law enforcers (in this case, Congress).

Obamacare and Organized Crime

Obamacare, despite some of it’s strong points, such as not allowing insurance companies to drop people with pre-existing conditions, in effect supports nothing but a large scale, legislated profit racketeering whereby every citizen in this country is now required to become the customer of the health insurance mafia, under penalty of law if they do not. Other than that, nothing has changed. Insurance companies still collude in secrecy to determine premiums and prices as well as services.  They may not be able to drop you but there is nothing to prevent them from charging you, say, $700 a month for premiums if you do have a pre-existing condition etc. If you have to pay just $700 a month in premiums, you may as well not have health insurance.

Since there is no government run “insurance” side by side and competing with the private ones (the so-called “public option” that was mercilessly quashed by Congress and the dumb public),  insurance companies have no incentive to stay honest or change their deceptive practices. In other words, since there is no government-run health insurance agency  which would compete with private health insurance companies, thus maybe prompting them to actually do provide services or else risk loosing the customer to the government, insurances  – even under Obamacare – will just engage in business as usual. Obama didn’t really solve the problem and as long as insurance companies are running things and making health care decisions for you, nothing will change.

The Profit Motive

How is a government run health insurance not a profit racket you ask? Because the government, and that is key, does not have a profit motive. That is a crucial distinction people often miss. To not have a profit motive is an integral part and requirement of government as it helps it stay impartial.

The EPA, for example, has no personal interest when it regulates a company. It won’t get more or less money by anyone if it does or does not and regulating someone doesn’t cut into its profit margin – if it had one. The EPA will not gain or lose profit as a result. The EPA, therefore,  has no profit motive.

But a corporation does. Now if the EPA fails to regulate a company because of a Congress that has defunded the EPA so much it cannot do its job, then that is a different discussion. And the EPA still did not act out of a profit motive, such as personal gain for the agency if they regulate company XYZ – they simply did not receive the government funding they need to do their job. Remember Congress controls the purse and since they are in bed with big industry/pharma/banks/corporations etc., they have little interest in funding agencies that may regulate such industry.

A corporation, unlike the government, is not in business to provide a service out of the goodness of their heart, but in business to make a profit.  The corporation doesn’t care how it makes a profit, it just cares that it makes one. Period. Were it not illegal, you can bet your tutu that Blue Cross would sell crack. All corporations care about is profit. And that is why your insurance company will cut you off if you get sick (recission), why premiums continue to soar, why pre-existing conditions are screened out. Because pre-existing conditions undermine profit and premiums go up because the corporation can charge you more. Simple as that. Who is there to stop them? Congress? Congress members get bribes from them. Joe Lieberman’s wife, for example, works for Hill & Knowlton, the public relations and lobbying firm that has flacked for a gamut of gamy clients, from the tobacco lobby and the Kuwaiti government to Enron and the health insurance industry. It is no coincidnecne, therefore, that during the health care reform debate Lieberman threated to filibuster any healthcare reform bill that includes a public option – i.e. which would make it hard for insurance companies to keep up their racket scheme. 

Take all you can, give nothing back

The rule of the corporation is: “Take all you can, give nothing back“. Some 45-50 years ago, it was possible to support a family in half-decent, middle class style on one full-time wage jobs. Now, people are struggling on three. That is because, coupled with deregulation, corporations just got to do whatever they wanted.

Remember, the corporation’s ideal scenario is to have a small class rich enough to buy their product and a large class of potential workers who can be paid as little as possible, used and fired at will.

That is why the GOP, the party of greed and bigotry, hates unions, fair wage laws, worker’s comp, OSHA and all worker and employee related organizations that protect employees. Paying fair wages, benefits and thus not exploiting people costs money and undermines profit.

It if was up to Republicans and the Koch Brothers who own them, slave labor would come back, because not paying your employees anything is the ultimate profit maker. You get to collect all the benefits while giving those who worked to get you that profit nothing.

That is also precisely why the South was doing so well before the Civil War and wanted to secede and why the North would not let them: it had nothing to do with wanting to free black people because Lincoln thought that was simply the right ting to do, it was about money. The South made tons of money mainly because they did not have any labor costs, unlike the North.  The South had slaves they housed in sheds and let eat pigs feet and scraps while, literally, working them to death for 15 hours out on the field, while the owners got to lean back and enjoy the profits made at the back of other peoples’ hard work.

This is also precisely why most corporations today have moved manufacturing to developing countires where there exist no unions, OSHA or any kind of labor laws. Paying some worker in China a few dollars a day to work 12 to 16 hour shifts with barbed wires around the factory so they cannot escape may as well be slave labor.

Trickle Down

Giving corporations tax breaks does not lead them to reinvest the money and hire more workers  – which is why the whole tax break idea was coined in the first place, namely that corporations would use the break to reinvest – also known as the bullshit Reagan trickle-down economics.

What has happened is quite the contrary: when you give them a tax break, they just pocket it and give the CEO and some top people fat paychecks. Or take the money and hide it in offshore accounts for more gain or maybe build another factory in China, thus investing the money away from this country and employing non-Americans whom they pay slave-labor wages, which may as well be nothing at all.

If Apple was paying all of its employees fair, livable wages and actually paid its on-the-book tax rate of 35% as opposed to the few dollars it pays now, if that, it could not post a $ 2 billion profit. You don’t get that obscenely rich by playing fair.  That’s another thing no one tells you when the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs is praised, namely that those guys got rich by stepping on a whole lot of people. Apple would be nothing if it weren’t for its slave laborers Steve Jobs once mocked when he was told they work 80 hour weeks.

A corporation hires exactly the number of workers it needs for the work it needs to do and pockets the rest. And often not even that. These days, people get laid off and one person is expected to do the job of four; not because the company does not make enough money and cannot pay all four, but because having four people do the job of four if one person can presumably do it, cuts in the million-dollar bonus check of the CEO and we can’t let that happen because he pulled himself up by the bootstraps and worked really hard blah blah yawn. At least this is the lie people in this country believe, namely that everyone who got rich did so exclusively through hard work and dedication. A myth I will dispel in another entry.

Profit Rackets as Purveyors of Our Health

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In the health care debate, insurance companies need to be taken out of the equation. We need to stop making them the purveyors of our health, so to speak. Not to mention that someone’s health is not a commodity and health insurance not a product but service. You pay into a pool and then when you need it, you get paid back.

If insurance companies actually did what they were supposed to do, namely pay claims, then we would not even have this debate. But because they are a profit racket, honesty is not in their vocabulary, because honesty doesn’t make you obscenely wealthy. Wealthy yes but not 400% more than the average worker wealthy.

Unfortunately, much like a lot of his policies that have remained half-cocked, Obama did not really regulate the health insurance industry  when he decided to sign into law that we must become their customers. And without seriously regulating them we are exactly back at where we started: millions of people at the mercy of their insurance companies, now with just a whole lot more paperwork. The only ones who will win here are the crooked insurance companies that will be served millions of Americans on a silver platter.

And how could Obama care? He, much like Congress and despite all protestations to the contrary, is owned by the business interests of insurance companies. He is a slave to them, just like Congress. Since insurance companies have lobbyists stationed in DC whose entire job it is to bribe lobby our legislators so they continue not only supporting them but also turn a blind eye to their deceptive practices, the organized crime aspect that constitutes the practices of insurance companies, or in this case health insurance companies, comes full circle. And people who oppose the public option and universal health care are essentially just advocating for our health to be in the hands of the Mafia. The  insurance Mafia.

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Apple Wins Lawsuit Against Samsung; Gets Awarded $1 Billion

In a trial that began on July 31, 2012, Apple claimed that some Samsung gadgets had copied design elements of the iPhone and iPad; Samsung countered that Apple had infringed on some of Samsung’s patents. Apple requested that Samsung pay damages of $2.5 billion, while Samsung asked for $422 million for Apple’s alleged violations.

Yesterday the verdict finally came in where the jury ruled that Samsung did violate some Apple patents and Apple was rewarded  $1,051,855,000 for infringing on patents. Samsung is seeking to have this decision overturned.

I must say that it makes me sick to know that this greedy company that gets tax breaks for employing more people overseas than in the US in quasi slave labor shops gets even more money awarded. They paid 11% in taxes last year on a $35 billion income.

Apple is part of the 1% and the 1% must go. No more of this unequal wealth distribution at the back of the unfortunate and those who get paid below meager wages to slave away at their factories. Those are human beings too, not to mention that in this very country tax payers are basically carrying the economic burden so that companies like Apple pay extremely little in taxes while posting multi billion dollar profits. Middle class wage earners pay a whopping 35 percent of their incomes in taxes without any loopholes, while Apple is basically paying nothing. The 11% is the reported tax rate. The check they actually sent to the IRS is probably far less – if anything at all.

Steve Jobs man of the year my ass. Getting rich by exploitation is a time honored tradition he has in common with all slave traders and imperialists. Only that he did it in a high tech fashion as opposed to the crude ways of his predecessors. But in essence it is exactly the same thing.

I am all for free markets and competition and people being rich and rewarded for their hard work, but this is just going too far. Under the guise of capitalism and freedom, the United States has managed to become a haven for greed of the few at the expense of everyone else. I am sure people like their iPods and iPads but the price to be paid to own such items should not be forgotten.

I hope people realize that marx predicted all this.”

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