Posts Tagged middle class
I will miss Bernie Sanders and the air of hope and optimism he brought with him during this Primary season.
After all the capitulations of the Obama Administration to Republican demagoguery in general and to the GOP in particular; after all the nay-saying and “no we can’t do it after all” crap and over-compromising to the point of actually compromising one’s core principle and thereby essentially allowing Republicans to set the tone and direction of national policy and debate, it was great to see someone who inspired real change; who wasn’t just another god-damn politician looking out for himself and his bottom line, perpetuating the same failed policies that further no one but the greed and avarice of the one percent.
Republicans have set the bar so low that it really does not take much to exceed it. This country has moved so far to the Right, that both Obama and Clinton would have fit well into the Reagan administration instead of FDR’s. The Republicans are so awful, that they make people like Clinton and Obama look good and liberal, rather than showing them as the moderate Republicans they really are. Republicans who have turned not being a fascist into a standard which politicians like Clinton aspire to (“Hey vote for me, at least I was not THAT horrible.”),
Seeing people come together, being fired up, having hope for a better future for all Americans, was inspiring. I think a lot of even cynical people felt that there was finally a political leader who wasn’t telling us what we wanted to hear becasue it was politically expedient, but who, behind closed doors, just went on with business as usual. Someone who finally got it and who strived to make it happen, even if he knew it was hard. It was great to see someone who isn’t running a capitulation campaign, where you aim really low so you can at least get that done (which is sort of the message I got from Hillary Clinton, in a nutshell).
A lot of Clinton’s supporter believe that Sanders’ supporters live in a fantasy world where everything is free and they don’t have to work for it. We were and continue to be dismissed as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, detached from reality, who don’t know any better, versus Clinton who repeatedly prides herself in her pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude.
But we are not blind. We understand the political process perfectly well. We understand that the President isn’t an elected king and that he has to work with Congress and lawmakers to make things happen. We understood the value of compromise. We know that this is going to be an upward battle requiring effort, a thick skin and hard work. And we knew that Bernie Sanders was not going to waltz into the White House, swing a magic wand and make it all happen.
But winning is only half the battle. The appeal of the Sanders movement is about achievability as much as it is about inspiration and believing that one must and can work toward a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system. That in and of itself is half the battle. And if you can’t even envision that, just like Clinton cannot and won’t envision it, then why do you even fucking want this job? Why do you bother?
In fact, I have often wondered why given her defeatist
pragmatic attitude Clinton even wants this job. She is rich enough so it is not like she has to work. And how much more money can one person need and want?
Is it for power? Prestige? To be the first woman President? Bragging rights?
I look at her track record and I look at her during this Primary season and I don’t see a public servant, I don’t see someone who wants to bring about change and reform. On the contrary, what I see is a neoliberal, Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire militarist.
It is a shame. We had the chance to elect an utterly honest man who has not spent the last 40 years enriching himself at the expense of the American people. Unlike Sanders’ positive and hope filled message, this so-called victory by Clinton brings with itself an air of hopelessness and despondency that weighs down my heart.
The masses of people being gullible sheep who vote against their own self interest is nothing new, but it never ceases to amaze and appall me when I do witness it. Sanders is a man who, going by his tax returns alone, is broke compared to his multi millionaire colleagues in Congress. He and his wife made less in one year ($204k) than Clinton makes in one speech to Goldman Sachs. He didn’t vote for every war he could vote for, he was not being sponsored by banks and corporations while also receiving endorsements by the likes of the Koch Brothers and war criminals like Henry Kissinger. Unlike Clinton he has not spent the bigger part of his career aligning himself with the powerful and wealthy against the powerless and poor.
Yet who do people vote for? Hillary Clinton. A woman who wore a $12,000 Armani suit while giving a speech on income inequality.
As a woman and feminist I am supposed to feel really elated and happy here. It is a historic moment for the United States to finally have a woman Presidential nominee and probably also President. However, I feel nothing but disappointment and despair. I look at the next six months with a heavy heart and know that she will win the General Election, too, given that the person she is running against is not really a viable candidate, or even a opponent, but more like a troll. So in a way Clinton will be running unopposed come this November.
Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified and experienced for the job. Nk doubt in my mind she is brilliant. However, it is not her qualifications that are in question here, it is her priorities. She is bad for America and this historic moment of finally having a woman on the command chair is overshadowed by the fact that Clinton is not the Progressive she claims to be.
Clinton is not running (at this time or any other) to help the American people, who have been nothing short of brutalized by corporations and the politicians that do their bidding – including Clinton – or to make America a better place. She’s running because the Presidency is the biggest prize in the world, and she wants that prize. Trump is running for the same reason–bragging rights.
If she wins, and she will win, her presidency will then be focused–again–not on the people, but on doing just enough to secure a personal legacy and a place in the history books as The First Woman President.
Someone who accepts nearly a million dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and who goes to fundraisers were people spend nearly $400,000 on a plate, and someone who has a track record of voting for all the fraudulent wars this country has been engaged in for the past five decades and Wall Street bailouts and policies aimed at furthering the 1% at the expense of everyone else, someone who has already said that there will never, ever be universal health care and free – or at least affordable -education and meaningful student loan reforms for all, not just special interest groups – is not someone who should be running on the Progressive ticket.
For the record, Goldman Sachs does not pay HRC $250,000 per speaking engagement for nothing. Those rich people in the aforementioned dinner organized by George Clooney don’t spend nearly $400,000 a seat to help poor people. This is an investment and those people will want a return on their investment; a return which doesn’t include you or I.
Clinton is a moderate Republican, paid and endorsed by big banks to convince the middle class to be happy with the old deal. And this past Tuesday, middle and working class America agreed by making her their nominee.
After a three month hiatus I am back and what better way to start off the quest for knowledge, wisdom and non bullshittery than to ask yourself this very simple question: How gullible are you?
Are you gullible enough to believe that a god would impregnate a poor peasant girl to give birth to himself so he can then grow up and die for a bunch of sins that he created in the first place so that one day he may come down and die for them to prove a point? (Are you officially lost amid this convoluted clusterfuck way of thinking here? Um, yeah, so am I)
Are you gullible enough to believe that Islam is a wonderfully peaceful religion that is merely misunderstood?
Are you gullible enough to believe that ideas, even bad ideas – and religion is full of bad ideas – do not influence the people we become? The decisions we make and the priorities we set?
Are you gullible enough to believe that corporations are people? That money does not influence political outcomes?
Are you gullible enough to believe that giving rich people tax exemptions so they can hide their wealth in offshore accounts creates jobs and helps some worker stuck in a minimum wage paying slow death improve their standard of living?
Are you gullible enough to believe that wealthy people are wealthy because they work for it instead of being the laziest, greediest, most opportunistic moochers that they are, who exploit the system, with proficiency and profligacy about which poor would-be swindlers can only dream?
Are you gullible enough to seriously think that beliefs and the ideas that inform them are beyond criticism and above reproach?
Are you gullible enough to believe that there is an actual marked difference between Democrats and Republicans?
Are you swayed by fluffy and hopeful State of the Union Addresses by our one percent fellating leaders? Are you so enamored by the belief in them that you forget that despite lofty speeches promising to help the middle class, they wanted to (and have in the past) appoint Wall Street executives in key goverment positions, such as President Obama’s nomination of Wall Street executive and banker Antonio Weiss for a top job at the Treasury Department?
Are you gullible enough to believe that one middle-class boosting policy enacted for every twenty pieces of legislation enacted furthering the “causes” of millionaires, bankers, corporations and oil companies, will bring us a step closer to the direly needed changes we need? That such half-assed steps will strengthen the middle class?
Are yo gullible enough to believe that giving more tax breaks to millionaires is good for all us?
Are yo gullible enough to think that most millionaires are even paying any taxes?
Are you gullible enough to believe that placing health care in the hands of private corporate entities that do not give two shits about your health but instead care a whole lot of about the bottom line, was better for people? Or constitutes health care reform?
Are you gullible enough to believe that the Republican party stands for anything else beside hate, greed and bigotry?
Are you gullible enough to seriously believe that the solution to the crisis we face today with respect to a diminishing middle class is corporatist Hilary Clinton?
Are you gullible enough to believe that a Senate that actually votes on whether climate change is real or not can be trusted with accomplishing anything meaningful for this country and its people?
So exactly how gullible are you?
One of the reasons the wealthy in this country are wealthy, is because they are the beneficiaries of massive loopholes inherent in our skewed tax code as well as government subsidies paid for by tax dollars. In other words, the dramatic gains in wealth by the super rich are underwritten by everyone else as a result of skewed values embedded in the U.S. tax code. This means that the top 1 percent of America’s wealthiest households—97 percent of whom are white—are subsidized by the rest of the tax base.
A major contributor to the dwindling of the middle class is that the majority of the taxes they pay rarely benefit them, especially with regard to social safety net programs. Those taxes benefit the wealthy, who then get to sit back and save their money while the middle class covers them by picking up their slack. Remember that wage earners pay taxes on their sustenance, while the wealthy would be paying taxes on their wealth.
It is also no revelation that most of our taxes go towards the war machine, also euphemistically referred to as “defense department”, subsidies for oil companies and farms and a host of tax breaks for corporations that post record profits while siphoning their wealth overseas to avoid paying taxes, employing cheap labor overseas and paying domestic laborers lousy wages that do not keep up with increased cost of living and general growth.
This lack of equity has lead to the systematic erosion of the middle class by transferring wealth from the bottom to top, thus widening the income gap.
As much as corporations like to whine about hard times that are allegedly prompting them to keep cutting pay, benefits or lay people off altogether, research has revealed that, in fact, foreign profits held overseas by U.S. corporations to avoid taxes at home nearly doubled from 2008 to 2013 to top $2.1 trillion. GE tops the list, followed by Microsoft, Pfizer, Merck and Apple – all companies that are supposed to be the shining example of the American Dream and hard work. Turns out, their un-American, self-serving greed is of the same old garden-variety robber baron kind, only this time the velvet tones are neatly wrapped in wit and charm by these master manipulators who call themselves the purveyors of the American Dream.
The American Dream for whom, one wonders.
The middle class has not experienced much of an income growth for the past three to four decades while the 1% have seen their wealth multiply quite rapidly. General Electric, for example, has neatly stashed away over $100 billion overseas while paying an effective tax rate of merely 5% in the US.
All this has crated a situation whereby the middle class is basically digging its own grave, caught in a vicious cycle of little income growth, coupled with higher cost of living, paying the highest amount of taxes while at the same time not seeing most of that money they paid come back to them in the form of social safety net programs, ultimately resulting in them to slide down the social class ladder even further and with every slide slip deeper into the poverty trap.
Tax Breaks Are A spending
The hundreds of tax breaks lawmakers have written into the federal tax code – for instance, special low tax rates on capital gains, and a deduction for home mortgage interest – in order to promote certain activities they deem beneficial to society (which are not), function as a type of government spending.
In fact, tax breaks are officially called tax expenditures within the federal government because, from the perspective of the government, they are no different from spending on any other government program. That’s because, when the government issues a tax break, it chooses to give up tax revenue – so both spending and tax breaks result in the same outcome, which is less money in the U.S. Treasury.
The need for the money the government just decided to not collect from certain entities (that also happen to line the pockets of those very government officials – most of whom are millionaires) does not go away because the tax break was issued. That need is still there. And if the government cannot collect, or will not collect, it from the wealthy, then it will have to collect it from us.
According to the White House, in fiscal year 2014 tax breaks are expected to cost the federal government – and by extension all of us who do pay taxes – $1.18 trillion – slightly more than all discretionary spending in the same year.
For the government it means that it does not get to collect the revenue it needs to remain solvent, which in turn results in the government going after the easiest of entities to cut from – the poor who don’t have lobbyists residing in the Capital buying politicians.
This is evidenced by the fact that cuts, usually, almost always begin with and come in the form of slashing food stamps, public assistance programs and a host of other social safety net policies.
The class divide we are facing is facilitated by these very middle class-destroying economic policies that are promoted by politicians in both parties.
Democrats are not any better. They too agree on beginning every cut by going after middle class causes and the poor. They merely disagree with Conservatives over the extent to which those cuts are to take place. While I do want to give credit to some truly dedicated Democratic officials, I want to point out that voting for policies that ultimately go after the most vulnerable and marginalized entities in society to subsidize the privileged does not make you a progressive, nor is it a vastly different position from the Conservative one. That is hardly deserving of accolades. In fact, it makes you part of the problem, just to a slightly lesser degree.
In the end, for the working middle class it means that they have to pick up the slack of those who get tax exemptions.
Coupled with deregulation, lousy labor laws and standards that favor the corporations and their money-making schemes over employee/worker rights and human dignity, Citizens United, Too Big To Fail, and a host of other middle class busting policies, the middle class has essentially been reduced to nothing but a source of cheap labor and tax revenue, effectively shifting the economic burden of society away from the wealthy – who, among other things, by virtue of paying no taxes, can accumulate wealth easily and rapidly – and onto the working poor and middle class wage earners.
Given that a good number of our elected officials (including judges) are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporations, this situation is not likely going to change anytime soon. After all, what incentive would a lawmaker have to put a stop to the very corporate greed and exploitation that is subsidizing his or her campaign (and summer house, car elevator, shiny, gold plated bootstraps for his kids etc).
General Motors, Money and Free Speech
In 2001, General Motors considered, and rejected an ignition switch design that two prominent safety advocates say could have avoided the problem that led the automaker to recall millions of vehicles this year.
The company’s decision to reject the safety switch was motivated by cost. Without much oversight and accountability, GM just decided to forgo this important safety feature, resulting in not only recalls of vehicles but according to GM, the faulty ignition switch has been linked to 32 crashes and 13 deaths.
All so that GM executives may pocket a few million dollars more in bonuses and compensation.
Via the Citizens United ruling and the subsequent ruling earlier this month lifting the ban on aggregate campaign donations, the crooks in the Supreme Court took a huge step toward giving wealthy donors, including corporations, unlimited freedom to influence elections, considering corporations and the money they can give to influence political outcomes “people” entitled to “free speech” under the First Amendment.
The move to exclude millions of people who do not have the money to influence political outcomes does not only deeply compromise the political integrity of our governmental institutions, but, as Justice Beer wrote in the dissenting opinion, this “decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
Again, the entities that will be paying the price are middle class wage earners who cannot, on the political sphere, match the wealth of a powerful corporation or a billionaire – not without allies, effectively resulting in only people of extreme means and wealth being able to influence elections.
Equating free speech with spending money in elections is, furthermore, not only deeply undemocratic, but it is no different than making voting contingent upon an individual’s wealth. No one can tell me that the vote of a poor citizen carries as much weight as the “vote” of a millionaire.
Of course, corporations are only people insofar as they can donate unlimited funds to buy surrogate politicians to do their bidding. When it comes to corporate accountability – another feature of being a person – however, corporations remain immune and cannot be held accountable.
Case in point, again, General Motors that is currently seeking lawsuit protection in federal courts for knowingly equipping their vehicles with faulty parts, resulting in millions of recalls as well as dozens of crashes and deaths.
This is a company that paid no federal income tax for 2011 despite earnings of $13 billion since 2009. Why? Because the Treasury Department (hint: our corrupt lawmakers that run the Treasury Department) gave GM permission to use the $18 billion in losses from the pre-bankruptcy company, the so-called old GM, to cancel out any profits it has made since it emerged from bankruptcy.
In essence, GM would have to make $1 billion for 18 consecutive quarters before the federal government, which bailed out the company, sees a nickel in income tax from GM.
In other words, GM got bailed out with tax payer monies and it not only not paid them back but is also not getting to put a dime into the very government coffers whose funds bailed them out in the first place!!
Guess who, amid this grand gesture of corporate welfare, will be tasked to pick up GM’s tax exemption? The middle class working stiff. (Not that other corporations in this country pay more, or any, taxes either. See this).
Hard work has very little to do with why the wealthy are wealthy. Why corporations and their executives keep getting richer by the minute and have become “too wealthy to fail” while those who work for them cannot afford buying a house or sending their kids to college or have any kind of social safety avenues available to them if some catastrophe were to happen.
The problem with poverty and a vanishing middle class in this country is systemic in nature with corrupt, greedy and self serving entities as the gatekeepers at every level, insuring that those wallowing in wealth remain where they are while those who subsidize them think they are on their way there while at the same time giving up their standard of living, their quality of education, their jobs, their worker protections, their civil liberties, their social safety net, their environment, their economy and their very democracy itself.
We are a at point now where those in the 25-to-34 age group are the best educated cohort in American history, with more than a third having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet nearly 50% of those are either jobless or underemployed, indicating that clearly, and while important, education alone does not create jobs and opportunities that lead to prosperity. For that, a fair and functional economy is needed — one in which the government, a government filled with people who have integrity, not the corrupt opportunists that are in its employ now – plays a robust role, alongside consumers and businesses, to promote full employment and to ensure a just distribution of gains.
Headlines all over are praising the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare – and the record health insurance enrollments that it has experienced. In fact, a Gallup poll suggests that the uninsured rate has fallen to the lowest since 2008.
This mega enrollment is supposed to somehow be a sign that Obamacare is great and successful and amazing and what have you.
What everyone seems to conveniently forget, however, is that, yes of course enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has risen. That is what happens when you force people, under penalty of law, to become the customers to cut throat insurance companies. Not like anyone had a choice but to enroll. If anything, this is more of a hallelujah moment for insurance companies.
What I wish this poll would do is to maybe also dig in deeper and tell us about the affordability of those plans for those people who were forced to purchase them, such as the Silver and Bronze plans with their $5,000 and $10,000 deductibles (remember that low income levels do not qualify for the better, low deductible Gold and Platinum plans under the ACA).
So now great, yaay, person X who before did not have health insurance because he works for a selfish, greedy employer not wanting to give someone making 30k a year access to health-care, will now have to purchase that insurance. Sure, the government may help him out if he is poor enough – and I don’t think that as far as the government is concerned making 30k is poor enough to qualify for such aide – but how is he going to come up with a $5,000 deductible, because even if the government helps, it helps with the premium, not with the deductibles.
Moreover, most medical care people access is for routine check ups, x rays, blood work etc – all of which fall well below the $5,000 deductible. So, really, for people under those plans, insurance companies are just collecting their money but not paying for services until they meet their deductible. How can someone making 30k do that? If people are going to pay out of pocket for those routine things anyway, then why have health-insurance at all?
Even those that may have more expensive illnesses to struggle with still need to come up with the $5,000 first before the insurance plan kicks in and pays for services.
So no matter how you look at it, poor people are still in the same boat as before. Sure, now it looks good as far as enrollments on a sheet are concerned, but I doubt that if one were to really dig in, things would look as rosy as everyone is trying to make it look like.
The success of the ACA remains to be seen years down the road, when people – notably poor, struggling people – are tasked with meeting those ridiculous deductibles. Enrollment numbers do not indicate anything but people having done what they were supposed to do under the new law. Again, not like they had much of a choice.
As someone who supports universal healthcare and believes that access to health-care is a human rights issue, I am deeply disappointed at the false accolades the ACA is receiving. Some say it is a good step in the right direction and so on, but is it? Is forcing people to pour billions of dollars into the bottomless, greedy purses of insurance companies a good thing? Is the free market really the best place for health-insurance? Should entities that have only profit in mind be put in charge of making health-care decisions for us? Can you call it successful when someone is forced to enroll in a plan that has a $10,000 deductible?
Ten grand is a lot of money, for a lot of people, even for middle-class wage earners, not just the utterly poor. A lot of people, even those with relatively well-paying jobs are struggling. Having to come up with hundreds of dollars everytime you go see a doctor, until you meet your ridiculous 5k or 10k deductible is hardly affordable.
The effectiveness of the ACA needs to be measured by a host of other factors indicative of success of such a plan, not by enrollment numbers alone. The only thing the Gallup poll did is confirm that yes, people are abiding the law, as they were required to do. That’s all.
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.
LOLZ Forever: Foxnation – “Join the Community that believes in the American dream.”
Ahh, there is indeed nothing worse that an unembarrassed hypocrite from the Right. These people and their sheep followers really believe that the robber baron policies they stand for, perpetuate and support lead everyone to vast riches when in reality the only people they serve are the architects of this lie, the robber barons themselves.
The American Dream was the creation of a solid middle class after WWII where people had well paying jobs, women finally began entering the work force with a steady income so that people could lead a middle class lifestyle, such as own a home, drive a car, send the kids to school and be comfortable.
It was not, contrary to the propaganda spewed by the Right, becoming a millionaire. It was about upward social mobility in an unprecedented manner and extent where a stable class of peoples who are neither poor nor rich, as in millionaires, can thrive. And that was achieved through government policies directed at creating and subsequently protecting the middle class – and thus the very things that the GOP and their lobbying arm Fox Nation/”News” are fighting against everyday under the guise and lie of The American Dream where supposedly everyone should be a millionaire and if they aren’t, well then they are losers and lazy assholes incapable of achievement and uninterested in something better.
Just look at where all the cuts are supposed to come from everytime there is a debt crisis and the government needs to raise revenue: “entitlements” – food stamps, social security (which is a system that is paid into and not part of the government budget funded by tax dollars), medicare, medicaide and other such middle class protecting policies and institutions (oil subsidies and giving rich people tax breaks they don’t need are not called entitlements, of course. See, rich people taking money from the poor is just them getting rewarded for all their hard working. But the other way around, in the from of a social safety net, is called entitlements).
The wealthy are not to be taxed more and the loopholes through which they evade paying their fair share also not be closed, because you know they are the job creators blah blah yawn, even though the only thing they do create with all that excess money are fatter and bigger bank accounts.
Instead let hard working people who are struggling more and more everyday carry the burden so the privileged can remain privileged. Let them subsidize the privilege of wealthy people.
That’s what Fox “News” and the Republican party at large stand for: greed and hate. Nothing else and especially not The American Dream.
“Smart parents are more likely to have smart children, and their greater intelligence will be reflected, on average, in higher incomes. Of course, IQ is only one dimension of talent, but it is easy to believe that other dimensions, such as self-control, ability to focus, and interpersonal skills, have a degree of genetic heritability as well.” – Greg Mankiw
Clearly, the first question I ask after meeting a privileged CEO who spends more time on the golf course than in the office where his average employee makes a fraction of what he makes in an hour, and whose primary long-term contribution to the firm will be a PR disaster after which he’s fired by the board for “ethics” violations and sent on his merry way with a seven-figure golden parachute, then it is “well my, what an intelligent and diligent worker with great interpersonal skills you gentleman are! Couldn’t we pay teachers, firefighters, college professors and nurses less to give you more money?”
Ah the trials and tribulations of the 1%. I mean yeah folks, exploitation is hard work. So many offshore accounts to create, so much tax evasion to be done, so many loopholes to be exploited, so many unions and worker’s rights to be quashed, so many Congressman to be bribed and bought, so many health benefits to be denied, so many dinners with the President to be had, and so much manipulation to do to get people to vote against their own self interest and buy into the bullshit bootstraps narrative, and yet so little time.
Clearly the 1% need advocates too and that’s where former President Bush/ wanna-be President Mitt Romney adviser Greg Mankiw comes in who was finally brave enough to write a book defending the 1%. Ann Romney would be happy.
Mankiw is a Harvard professor (my condolences to Harvard and all his students) and apparently also timeless comedian who briefly made the headlines last year for telling a hilarious joke (see right). Haha..poor people. Hahaha…seniors on medicare. Hahaha…self deportation. Let’s make the elderly whom Paul Ryan just proposed we take Medicare away from the butt of jokes…hardi har har har.
The party of hate and greed apparently cannot function without inserting that hate and greed into their pastimes and jokes as well. I imagine that as a 1% er who gets richer by the minute because others keep getting poorer, that really must be funny.
His hilarity has been finally memorexed in a book titled “Defending the One Percent” in which he argues that income inequality is not as terrible a thing as liberals make it out to be. And even if it is, fixing inequality is really hard to do in a way that is not totally unfair to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.
Mankiw’s basic argument is that the 1 percent are richer than you probably because they are just better than you. It’s just science! Even the children of the wealthy are probably wealthier and better-educated than you at least partly because their genes are just better than yours, he suggests, and not because these people won the cosmic birth-family lottery that let them be born into wealth and privilege open the doors to the kingdom. Terrible beginnings don’t matter, except insomuch as they make great first acts for Sandra Bullock Oscar movies.
First of all, the fact that we live in a society that rewards intelligence, diligence, and interpersonal skills with wealth, while the lack of those with destitution, is pretty fucked up, because such a supposition automatically views people who are not intelligent, diligent and who lack interpersonal skills as less than.
Less than deserving of fair, livable wages, less than deserving of access to affordable and quality health care, less deserving of receiving a quality education, less deserving of clean air, water, food and soil, less deserving of a bail out and definitely less deserving of overall financial stability. In other words, if you are stupid and lack charm, you deserve being exploited by your employer, have your house taken away, pay outrageous interest rates on your credit cards, have no access to health care, not get a good education, breathe in toxic air and ingest toxic food and overall be punished in society and viewed as a lesser human being.
I guess that explains the homelessness problem and why that prick Reagan defunded all government run mental institutions. People with mental illnesses (which may include “unintelligent” people) and those who lack breeding and pedigree don’t deserve a roof over their heads, medical treatment, a warm meal and a job. Let them rot on the streets, why should we, as a society, care? Let them eat cake… or garbage…
That is what the meritocracy is all about in this country, right? The idea that if you got what you got then it’s ’cause you greased your elbows and worked hard while those who don’t have anything or are barely muddling through despite a job and hard work, are lazyasses who neither want better lives nor want to work for it, ipso facto they deserve starving or succumbing to an illness or else lead a tenuous middle class existence from which they could be unceremoniously exiled after a brush with unemployment or a health crisis.
That is a pretty neat argument when you are part of the 1% or those wanna-bes because it just makes it so much easier to keep focusing policies on the 1% and how to get them rich(er) (and to get you to vote for their interests
so that you too, one day, may join their rungs), as opposed to focusing our resources to create a meaningful social safety net that addresses those very issues. Why worry about leveling the playing field and caring about unintelligent losers who lack charm and clearly deserve to be exploited or else lead a life where they are a paycheck away from complete destitution, when you can focus all your efforts to keep the wealthier even wealthier?
Of course, the assertion that the US rewards intelligence, diligence, and interpersonal skills with wealth is an abject falsehood. As if only 1% of the population possessed such attributes, which then automatically translates into them being deserving of and entitled to everyone else’s money and all the privileges contained therein.