Posts Tagged occupy wallstreet

How Gullible Are You?

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?

10942607_1429185550706710_5682680835405031896_nAre you gullible enough to believe that the billion galaxy universe was just created for us?

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?

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Another 1%er Event

It is becoming increasingly more evident that regular folks in this country, you know, your average taxpaying, working middle-class stiff, the ones that are keeping this economy and country, really, going – from their occupations as teachers, in the service industry to non-profit work etc., do not matter very much.

I said it before and I say it again, but for the one percent that run this country, middle class folks seemingly are nothing more than readily sources of warm bodies when you need to engage in another war for profit under the guise of security.

They are a a source of tax revenue to support and underwrite the 1%.

If, as a one percenter, they have done a good job choosing the two lousy candidates for them and then giving them the illusion that they have a “choice” on the day they go out and cast a vote (see Citizens United)  then they are a “vote” to help “elect” your candidate and if you have done a really good job, as Republicans have with their voter base, you not only give them the delusion that they have a choice between candidates but you actually get them to vote for the very candidate, and thus against their own self-interest, you put on the ballot.

Everytime there is a cut in government spending, the middle class and the poor, of course, have to make sacrifices and see the programs and policies that benefit and protect them slashed and reduced,  not the wealthy and thus the architects of our economic system that keeps the wealthy tax exempt under the guise that they are “job creators” while repeatedly requiring that cuts to government spending (because of lost revenue due to those tax exemptions) come from those very middle class protecting programs.

While the white collar criminals of Wall Street and the banking system got bailed out instead of imprisoned for the crimes they committed, poor people, and thus Wall Street’s direct and indirect victims, are sent to jail for essentially being poor.

And when our so-called leaders and politicians open the doors to let America “in” for a night of celebration, laughter good times and appreciation, the only ones invited to the table, literally, are members of the 1%.

It is, after all, no coincidence that the yearly White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD)  resembles a Hollywood red carpet event and that everyone in that event, except those serving food and beverages, are members of the one percent. 

It is sad to know that the average American is not on the President’s radar even when he  decides to decide to hang out with the public. 

Instead of inviting over some of those hard working average American citizens, the ones that did the grunt work and got him elected, to shake hands with and thank them for their truly thankless jobs and positions and pressure in society, he instead surrounds himself with top members of the elite cracking jokes.

It is ironic that on the one hand we’ve got the Occupy Wall Street movement, with demands for equity and relief for the middle class, the 99%, – an event and movement the President and his wife endorse, while on the other hand any event of any significance in this country, including this Dinner, is hosted and populated by the wealthy and privileged, the 1% only.

The 99% only seem to matter in as much as they make for great talking point or otherwise help score political points and not because anyone really actually cares about changing the current paradigm, the current dysfunction with respect to structural exploitation and institutionalized greed in this country that have allowed the 1% to accumulate more wealth than the rest of us combined.

There are thousands of people who dedicate every day of their lives to not only public service but to their townships, counties, states and communities in general – one way or another. They are the backbone of America, they are the people the President allegedly works for and leads. They are the ones who, through their hard work, such as teachers, champion the very causes this Dinner is to honor and uphold – yet the only ones who once again get to benefit from all this, even if just in a celebratory manner, are rich people; the 1% – literally – as everyone at that dinner is a millionaire – without exception, because otherwise who could afford something like $50,000 a plate just to get in?

Not that I don’t love the outrage about economic injustice for us poor, hard working middle class folks when it’s politically expedient and all but it’d be nice if the actual American people – you know, the 99%  – such as the journalists meant to be holding the US government to account, the non-profit workers, the public servants, the researchers, activists and just the people on the ground who work everyday on these issues for Americans without anyone paying much attention to them –  were, once in a while,  invited to the table and celebrated by our leaders, instead of actors, reality TV stars and models – who neither represent the American people, nor have contributed in any meaningful way to the political and social world they are in,

Speak of being out of touch. Romney is not the only one.

Money begets money and at the end of the day, when all the political talking points and phony strategizing to supposedly empower the 99% have been made, rich people still only take care of and intermingle with their own.

All this talk about empowering the 99% and leveling the playing field are just that: rhetoric. No one really means it and The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is the best example to the point.

The United States would be a very different place if everyone cared about inequity when there wasn’t a presidential election in which appearing to care about inequity could score political points.

 

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Dramatic Gains in Wealth By the Rich Are Underwritten By Everyone Else

rich 2The American tax code today is based on the assumption that income earned through wages has less value and thus should be subject to more taxes than income earned through investment – also known as wealth.

The underlying assumption, originated by the robber barons and the one percent and codified by Congress (the majority of whom are members of the one percent) into law, is that income through investment has more value than income through labor (wages), because investment is the engine for economic growth that allegedly benefits everyone. The idea is that the less you tax rich people, the more likely are they to use that extra, untaxed income to invest back into the economy  – which, in turn , allegedly leads to growth and prosperity for everyone by creating more jobs, for example.

TrickleDownThis is also known as Reagan’s bullshit trickle-down economics, which is one of the biggest lies ever perpetuated by the wealthy to cover up their greed while simultaneously coaxing and manipulating the masses on whose back they have become wealthy, into aiding them, willingly, so that they can become even more wealthy.

Subsiding the Privileged

Contrary to popular myths in both political parties, 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.

Taxing wealth from investment at a lower rate than wealth from wages, has created a  “reverse subsidy” which, in turn, is then paid for by the rest of us through a rollback in government spending on economic opportunity programs  – including a social safety net, as well as lack of meaningful labor laws –  and by loading up on debt charged to the national credit card for mostly programs that   – ironically enough – have been perpetuated by and benefit the one percent, such as funding of the military industrial complex, subsidies for oil companies and a host of other corporate welfare programs.

These dramatic changes in the tax code have been increasingly 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.

This “reverse subsidy”  – or wealth transfer from bottom to top – which began to truly gain momentum under Reagan and reached its crescendo under George W. Bush – has been proudly continued by the Obama Administration; make no mistake about it.

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The wealthy, of course, have not invested the extra wealth they got to accumulate by not paying taxes into society; on the contrary, all evidence supports the fact that they have gotten richer over the past three to four decades because of this very law, while the middle class has been shrinking and the wealth gap has been increasing.

In other words, trickle-down economics did not and does not work. Letting rich people get richer at the expense of everyone else – while a time-honored tradition just wrapped in modern economic jargon to obfuscate – coupled with a host of middle class busting laws – does not result in more prosperity for all, it only results in more money for the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

No Taxes From the Wealthy = Lost Revenue

Everytime the government grants a corporation or a wealthy person a tax exemption – for whatever transaction some crook in Congress has decided at one point is of value to society and thus should not be subject to taxes – it creates a hole in the budget that needs to be filled.

Since the government just decided that it cannot tax rich people and needs to furnish them with a host of loopholes they can utilize to not pay their fair share – someone else has to pick up their slack. And that someone else is the working middle class stiff.

Case Study

When company Zoodle (names and numbers made up for illustration purposes) gets a $10,000 tax break for every green bus it operates because of a tax code that alleges that being green is good for the overall well being of society and thus not subject to a tax (hence the exemption), and Zoodle operates fifty such buses, then that is a $500,000 tax that the government is not collecting from Zoodle. Note that the tax break Zoodle is getting for every bus does not translate into a dollar amount, so the void is still there.

Now if the government does the same thing with one hundred other companies, then that is $50 million that the government is not collecting, leading to a loss in revenue for the government.

That government, however, still needs that money. The need for it has not been eliminated because it gave companies and the wealthy tax breaks left and right. Guess who will have to pick up their slack: the working middle class stiff (who then ends up being blamed for his situation and accused of merely not putting in the effort).

richThis legacy of inequity is key to understanding the reverse subsidy’s role in the current fiscal debate.

As the wealth piles up for the rich, less revenue flows into government coffers. In order to make ends meet, the U.S. Treasury borrows huge sums of money. These annual deficits, up to the tune of $1 trillion a year, formed into an enormous debt.

Since giving rich people and corporations tax breaks does not minimize annual deficits, the government does not only massively taxing the middle class but it has also squeezed parts of the budget focused on education, housing transportation and a host of other middle-class benefiting programs, The strain these areas have come under has created additional barriers to economic opportunity for people and make it that much harder for the average household to make it.

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Given the increase in the reverse subsidy over the past decade—and its corresponding impact on economic fairness—it’s no surprise that the U.S. has astoundingly low economic mobility. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, the chance of moving from being poor to rich is less in the United States than in any other advanced economy on the planet. One out of three blacks and one out of four Latinos is poor.

Even though the benefits of tax cuts overwhelmingly flowed to America’s economic elite and helped boost their wealth to stratospheric levels, the debt to which they contributed is held collectively by everyone. Therefore, as a matter of right and wrong the “reverse subsidy” is a pure and simple economic injustice. It is income redistribution, but not from the rich to the poor, as Conservatives claim, but from everyone else to the top 1%.

The 1 percent’s aggressive agenda coupled with their outsized political influence has created a situation where working Americans actually underwrite their success, yet have nothing to show for it but a paycheck or two from destitution as a result of 40 years of falling wages and little growth.

This, in a nutshell, is the problem we face in this country and it is a very fundamental problem.

Unless the tax code in this country is changed (close loopholes) and thus rewritten fundamentally so as to not just favor the wealthy at the expense of everyone else, our problems of debt and mass deficit, income gap and a diminishing middle class are not going to be solved. Cutting food-stamps and Medicaid are not going to get us out of this; they just put more strain on the already strained and burdened middle-class and vulnerable populations. The money has to come from the one percent.

if the tax code is not rewritten, the government will continue fucking over the middle class who not only pay through their noses but who also see cuts to a host of middle-class protecting policies and programs – to make up for the deficit created by the agenda of the 1% and their exemption from carrying the economic burden.

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Effectively this leads to a society in which we all become indentured servants working for the 1% while actively underwriting their wealth without much protection for us in the forms of regulation (because regulation means accountability, which in turn cuts into profits).

A strong, wealthy, prosperous middle class is the litmus test for a strong, healthy economy and ultimately society. Poverty and destitution are destabilizing, leading to political and civil unrest.

Giving the wealthy tax breaks has not trickled down on the masses. The wealthy just hold on to their wealth which they use to exert more political power, which they then use to get our corrupt lawmakers to enact even more policies in their favor. It is a vicious cycle and a massive trap.

These are the kind of systemic issues (I cannot emphasis this enough) that individuals cannot overcome by sheer will-power or “by virtue of their efforts” as the President put it in his State of the Union Address.

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Welcome to the United Oligarchy of America Where Over 50% of Congress Members Are Millionaires

In a democracy, it is important that those who make decisions on behalf of the people who elect them into office are also personally affected by those decisions. Such a premise is crucial for the functioning and integrity of a meaningful democracy.

If those in charge are wealthy entities or part of an extremely privileged, wealthy class not affected the least bit by the policies they output, then they not only become practically elected kings but they are also not likely to enact policies that would affect anyone but those very privileged, wealthy entities they themselves are part of.

One of the reasons that our lawmakers, including the President, have not made creating a meaningful social safety net for citizens a priority is that most of them are all wealthy and seldom, if ever, affected by lack of a social safety net and even most of the policies they draft. (If you don’t believe me and think welfare recipients have it so good, I challenge you to conduct a little experiment on you own by pretending to be unemployed/disabled/in need of welfare and see for yourself just how much money you would qualify for from our generous welfare system. I’ll eat my words and make a public apology if the amount of money you are going to get is actually going to enable you to properly live for one month – i.e. pay rent, pay necessary bills, transportation, health care, food etc. Dogs in a pound require more money than the meager “social safety net” this country pays human beings).

Congress, A Millionaire’s Club

A few months ago I wrote about the United States Congress being a millionaires club with 238 of the 535 “public servants” (Congressmen) having a net worth of at least one million dollars, effectively making them members of the 1%.

According to OpenSecrets.org that number has risen to 268 in 2012. In other words, now over half of our lawmakers are wealthier beyond the wildest dreams, and possibilities, of most Americans they govern.

That is a problem.

As OpenSecrets points out “while members of Congress have long been far wealthier than the typical American, the fact that now a majority of members are millionaires represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage“; all policies that affect people who are not part of the 1%.

It is no surprise, then, that our lawmakers are not making the strengthening and expanding of a social safety net, including a public option in health care, their priority and in fact, go after so-called “entitlement” programs everytime they talk fiscal responsibility and budget – as if it was welfare recipients, food-stamp recipients, the elderly, the poor and disabled that caused the economic meltdown and not the very entities our lawmakers have been deregulating for decades because they do line their corrupt pockets.

Whether social security is depleted or not will not affect a single member of Congress or their families. When the government is shut down for weeks leaving millions of people without a paycheck and other direly needed services, our lawmakers continue the gamble and casually use the livelihood of those people as a bargaining chip to extort more unconscionable concessions out of the other party. And they do so casually and while taking their time because whether the government is shut down for three weeks or for three months, they still get their $174,000 a year salaries.

Nothing screams "we are just like you" that wearing a several thousand dollars gown and posing in a mansion. Thank you Michelle Obama for showing us that, just like  most Americans, you can sport a $5000 gown and $800 shoes while still being "just like us."

Nothing screams “we are just like you” more than wearing a several thousand dollars gown and posing in a mansion. Thank you, Michelle Obama, for showing us that, just like most Americans, you can sport a $5000 gown and $800 shoes while still being “just like us.”

A member of Congress – even the President himself who has done his share of rubbing his wealth and privilege into the face of the American people  – never has to worry about needing unemployment benefits, disability benefits, Medicare, social security, housing or nutrition assistance. They never have to worry about fair wages, not having access to quality and affordable health care, that they will lose their homes or how to send their kids to college. They are sitting cushy and pretty on their constitutionally guaranteed salaries, pair of $800 Jimmy Choos (our “man of the people” wife’s favorite shoe designer) plus all the bribes they can get from the robber barons of big industry and the financial world that line their pockets.

It is no coincidence that most of our lawmakers, even Democrats, have, overall, prioritized doing the bidding for the wealthy and corporations – at the expense of everyone else and under the guise of “hard work” and “The American Dream.”  They are so far removed from what real life is actually like for the entities they govern, they are not likely to especially care about addressing the very issues that those entities struggle with.

It is an especially cruel irony, therefore, that the individuals behind the Occupy Wallstreet movement, for example, – i.e. the 99% – have to look at these very dishonest crooks in Congress – the one percent – to do something about the 1%. It is absurd. It’s like asking the thieves to please do something about the thieves.

Of course our lawmakers are not going to do anything that may jeopardize the lucrative positions they are in. They are not going to cut off the very lifeline (or money line) that fleeces their pockets.

Coupled with the democracy-obliterating Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court (whose members will also never be affected by the decisions they make as most of them will be dead in less than a decade), it is now almost guaranteed that only those with immense wealth will win Congressional and presidential elections to ultimately make decisions about a social safety net they will never need.

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David Lynch Doesn’t Trust Mitt Romney

(When a genius talks, pay attention)


90 Days, 90 Reasons

There are many reasons to not vote for the dystopian duo Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. David Lynch, film maker extraordinaire, gives you reason 52 as part of the independent initiative  “90 Days, 90 Reasons” (an initiative unaffiliated with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign) where a wide range of cultural figures are asked to explain why they’re voting for Obama and not voting for Mitt Romney in 2012.

REASON 52I HAVE NOTICED SOMETHING IN MITT ROMNEY’S NAME.

DAVID LYNCH
David Lynch. Born Missoula, Montana. Eagle Scout.

Dear Americans, Republicans, and Democrats Alike,

I am going to vote for re-electing President Obama. I have noticed something in Mitt Romney’s name, which I think speaks to what he is about. If you just rearrange a few letters, Romney becomes R MONEY. I believe Mitt Romney wants to get his Mitts on R Money. He would like to get it and divide it up with his friends, the Big Money Bunch.

I believe he would like to get his Mitts on R Money, R Resources, R Freedoms, and R American Dream. I do not trust Mitt Romney to look after the best interests of 99% of Americans. I think electing Mitt Romney would be a catastrophe for our country—one which would be real difficult to straighten out later. Please do not let Mitt Romney get his Mitts on R Money or R United States of America.

—DAVID LYNCH
Los Angeles, California

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Barack Obama and Mitt Romney Debate-opsy

I cannot believe the extent to which I – as a liberal – keep overestimating Obama. And with that I mean overestimate his backbone and willingness  – as well ability – to truly fight for his constituents instead of pulling his tail in and cowering into a corner, like he did during the first 2012 Presidential debate with Mitt Romney this past Wednesday.

If there is one thing I was sure of then it was that Obama would obliterate this plutocratic puke Mitt Romney at the debates; yet all he did was just stand there and nod like a school boy being dressed down by his principal. Obama did not even make an attempt to correct Romney who unloaded all these horrendous and shameless lies onto him and the American people.   It was as if the past year – and specifically the past few months – just had not happened.

We all knew Romney wanted to reset the campaign, but why did Obama? During the debate Obama, ironically enough, became the proverbial empty suit Eastwood has mocked just a few weeks ago during the RNC. He was so bad, he made Romney look good.  That is how epic-ly bad his comatose, cowardly performance was.

It is amazing. Romney has no tax plan, no health care plan, no jobs plan or any other kind of plan economic recovery plan for this country other than the busted “trickle down economics” myth and the “anything before Obama“mentality. His campaign consists of leaving behind a messy trail of lies, gross manipulations, gas lighting, flip flopping on issues and just a lot of foot in the mouth moments insulting our allies and adding fuel to century’s old rivalries  while masking his real agenda of catering to the greed of the 1% at the expense of everyone else.

Will the Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up

The 47% speech was the real Romney; that speech was from the heart – behind the cameras and behind closed doors, he was finally speaking the truth, showing his disdain for the American people and those who aren’t in the millionaire’s club.  Yet he somehow managed to wipe the floor with Obama during the debate. And he did so not by presenting facts and making a strong case for his candidacy, but by telling shameless, boldfaced lies – which is something to be expected from a corporate raider who spent his entire life scamming people.

For example, Romney said that Obama does not like bipartisanship, that he does not reach out to Republicans. In reality, everytime Obama tried to work with Republicans, they went out of their way to obstruct him.  In fact, after Republicans ended up with both the House and Senate majority in 2010,  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Why did Obama not mention any of this?

Obama did not mention Romney’s supremely insulting and incriminating 47%  speech – in which he was for once speaking from the heart,  he did not mention Bain Capital at all – which says a lot more about Romney and his philosophy than anything else, he did not mention his 14% tax rate and he also did not confront him about his tax returns and his refusal to release them.

Finally, in a year where women’s reproductive rights have been under a vicious assault – from transvaginal probing of women who want to get abortions, to defunding Planned Parenthood, calling Sandra Fluke a slut for using contraceptives  to Akin’s “legitimate rape” and woman-give-off-certain-juices-when-raped-so-they-don’t-become-pregnant remarks, it was beyond bizarre, but mostly disappointing, that Obama just did not even mention anything in that regard. He looked like a school boy being dressed down by the principal.

The thing is that the above mentioned were issues that got a lot of undecided voters and those liberals who felt alienated by Obama’s repeated giving in to Republican demands, on Obama’s side. Yet he did not even mention them. And for that matter, he also did not mention same sex marriage and his support thereof.

What the fuck is wrong with this man?

Over 70 million people watched and this could have been an amazing opportunity for Obama to reach out and bring across the message and for once and all put an end to Romney’s lies and right out confront him and call him out in his lies.  And he blew it. The man blew it. He did the same thing that both John Kerry and Al Gore did, fail to take the battle to Romney.

The folly with Obama is that he does not want to fight dirty – if one can consider stating facts and confronting a liar as playing dirty –  and in in some ill conceived sense for bipartisanship he has given Republicans everything they wanted. What he he needs to realize, however, is that you cannot play fair and nice when you swim with sharks. Obama is going to have to get dirty. He’s going to have to kick, bite, scratch, and claw his way forward. Republicans have no interest in working with Obama or the American people, as they have made abundantly clear in the past by categorically opposing policies that would benefit the American people for no other reason than making Obama look bad.

Of course that is something he should have been doing for the last four years yet failed. He failed to bring true health care reform to this country in the from of government run insurance side by side private insurance; he utterly and miserably failed in the  Bush tax cuts issues – extending them for the richest people in exchange for nine months more of unemployment benefits; he did not go after BP; he did not go after Wall Street. He stayed mums on the Right wing’s audacious and callous attacks on women’s reproductive rights – only mentioning it as a talking point during his speeches –  and he let Republicans hold the raise of the debt ceiling hostage in exchange of Obama budging in on budget issues – which is absurd because the debt ceiling is about money already spent while the budget is about money going to be spend.

There is a time and place for diplomacy and holding the moral high ground. And there is a time to fight. Trying to hold the moral high ground while being lied to and bullied, as was the case with the debate on Wednesday, is not one of those occasions where diplomacy will work. Obama can’t win on Hope and Change and Yes We Can this time because there is no longer any Hope, there was no real meaningful Change, and he may still believe that Yes We Can is possible but there are a lot of Buts after the slogan.

On Wednesday the President did not make the case for himself;  he did not call out the lies or even make the case as to why we should vote for him. I could not sleep that night wondering what has happened to Obama and what a truly horrific future is to await all of us if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan – two people who represent the cold side of humanity – were to become the leaders of this nation because of Obama’s lack of courage. I also kept wondering how Mitt Romney –  with his horrible policies and the plutocratic, dystopian future he has in stow for all of us, – could even get this far.

Yet there is a real chance he may make it. I blame uninformed and “independent” voters. How can anyone  think positively of a guy who in his heart of hearts believes that half of Americans are irresponsible mooches who view themselves as victims who are uninspired and unmotivated to improve their lives and irresponsible?

I also would love to know who taught Obama that checking your balls at the door is a sign of a competent and strong leader. It is one thing to get riled up confirming the stereotype of the  “angry black man”, it is quite something else to stand there and let someone bully and insult you in the face while you say nothing. Of course, this wouldn’t concern me if the American people weren’t intellectually challenged, but they are. The fact that Obama has this knack of regularly fucking up when it comes down do it is remarkable. That man has a sense for screwing up when his supporters count on him the most, it is amazing.

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Disneyland Ticket Prices at an All-Time High: The Happiest Place the 1% Have Created

I remember a time when Disneyland was indeed the happiest place on Earth. Both for your soul and pocket books. When I first went in 2003, I paid $39 to go in. And I remember that because I still have the ticket that has the price printed on.

I was in college then and paying $39 to go to Disneyland didn’t seem like a hardship, even though it still seemed quite steep to pay nearly forty dollars to go to a theme park.

Alas in a world in which corporations run the show and are people, with all the privileges but most certainly not responsibilities thereof,  Disneyland is happy. And for a whopping $87 admissions price per person for one day ($81 for children) you can be happy too.

Whoever said you can’t put a hefty price tag on happiness.

Within less than a decade, admissions prices to Disneyland have more than doubled while, needless to say, peoples’ wages and with it incomes have not. Whereas in 2003, a family of four could have visited Disneyland for under $ 150 tops, today, the same family would have to spend nearly $350 for the same trip.

What middle class family can afford a theme park tab like that? Plus food, drink and snacks a trip to the happiest place on Earth will amount to nearly $400. Most families can’t afford that. Especially not in today’s economy. Disneyland was a place you could just go to on a whim. Now you have to save up and budget for it.

Even after adjusting for inflation, the 2012 price would have to be a mere $49 dollars, not $87. So where is that additional $40 coming from?

Disney Makes 8 billion, Pays Little in Taxes

It is called greed. Cold, hard greed. It certainly is not hardship, since Disney merchandise and motion pictures, including Pixar, gross millions of dollars. Disney has also paid a very small percentage of its $8 billion revenue in taxes.

In the most recent fiscal year, Disney had an income of over $8 billion, while actually paying only a mere 23% of it in taxes. Its CEO, Robert A. Iger pocketed $33,434,398 (!) alone as compensation.  The average employee at Disney makes around $51,000, paying 35% of that in taxes, with very few loopholes to reduce that tax liability since the loopholes for tax evasion start kicking in at high incomes, not middle class ones.
When Republicans and company CEOs whine about the corporate tax rate in the United States being higher than anywhere else in the world, they are right. According to the chart to the left, the United States does have the highest corporate tax among other countires in the developed world, including Japan, Germany, Canada and the UK.

However, the statutory tax rate is completely irrelevant when it comes to discussing corporate taxes in the US since the number on rhe book, the 35% everyone complains about, is not the actual percentage that companies pay taxes.  Therefore,  when discussing corporate tax rates in the United States, it is important to look at three things:

1. Statutory tax rate, which is the official, on the book, tax rate that you technically have to pay. And which is the only number Republicans refer to when discussing corporate taxes.

2. Reported tax rate, which is the rate owed by company calculations, after deduction and credits, curretly due or deferable.

3. The actual paid tax to the United States government, which is the amount actually paid to the US treasury by cutting up a check and sending it in.

The numbers within those three columns vary greatly, as can be seen in the following chart:

While the statutory rate is at 35%, the actual amount of taxes paid to the US government by corporations is a mere 13%. An mount substantially lower than what other countries pay in corporate taxes. Most get refunds or don’t pay a dime at all.  At the same time, corporations in Canada, Germany and Japan actually pay those statutory rates since very few tax loopholes exist in those countries, unlike the US.

That is why Disney, despite the official 35% rate that Iger is complaining about in this video, only actually paid 23%, in taxes.

How is that relevant to the question of Disneyland tickets? It is relevant because the obscene ticket hikes by Disneyland are a function of greed and the systematic, unhindered wealth transfer from the 99% to the 1%. Disney doesn’t need to charge people $87 dollars in order to post a profit. But it still asks for it because a) they can get away with it and because b) this is how Disney stays rich.

A hard working family of four would need to shell out nearly $400 to go to Disneyland for a few hours per day while Disney is sitting pretty on an $8 billion income with low taxes and top executive pay. That is extortion, that is not capitalism.

Disney’s official justification for the price hike is the usual “the economy is bad” line. And high taxes.

The reality doesn’t support such an assertion. The economy has not affected the 1%, which Disney is. It has affected the 99% – Disney’s customers. Therefore, hiking up the prices on them in times of a recession is sort of like taking money from the poor to help out the king during hard times in the land.

The Dwindling of the Middle Class

Disneyland is, of course, not something people need or a requirement to lead a good life. And people don’t have to go if they don’t want to. Yet, there is another trend to be found here, which is the trend toward accumulating more and more; a trend toward greed, at the expense of everyone else.

Disney posts record profits, pays little taxes (i.e less revenue for government) , keeps charging more, accumulates more wealth, keeps paying little taxes, all while the middle class is asked to carry the economic burden of society with high taxes.

If there continue to be less things middle class families can do, from buying  a house, to education, to eating well, vacationing in nice places or even going to Disneyland, then there will be no middle class. If we continue on this trend of going after the middle class, whose existence and well  being has historically always been the best indicator of a society’s overall health, then there won’t be one. People will be either poor or rich.

The non-existence of a middle class is a hallmark of developing countries and everytime a country manages to create a middle class, it is seen as developing per OECD standards. With the current trend and especially after the horrific things the Romney/Ryan ticket propose, all of which are policies targeting the middle class and middle class causes only, the US might very well be on its way there. A dystopian society, far removed from what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they founded this nation to escape the shackles of the mind, body and pocket.

Disneyland the happiest place on Earth? Sure, if you can pay for it.

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