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Left Addresses Economics, continued

May 10, 2013

12-01-13 Splitting off a bunch of comments from Bengazi post.
Since that post was about both Benghazi and liberal statements on economics, I was using it as the second “Latest political goings on” thread, and it became mostly about that. So now, this new thread will be for general economic updates.

[For those who don’t know how to move comments from a post like this, I explain how I did it, here: ]

From → Politics

  1. Income Inequality Gets Worse When You Slash Taxes On The Rich: Study

    CEOs Are Terrible At Management, Study Finds: Forbes

  2. Here’s a good one:

  3. Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World…We’re Ranked 27th!

  4. “How Inequality Was Created”

  5. (Yeah, people are always telling us “don’t complain, compared to the third world, you’re rich”, but does anyone ever tell them that?)

  6. Food Stamps Avoided By Millions Of Eligible Americans

  7. Executive Excess 2013: Bailed out, Booted, and Busted

    Paying CEOs Top Dollar for Poor Performance

    Forget Al Capone — Today’s Racketeers are on Wall Street

    Again; wake up everyone, to who the real “takers” really are; and stop excusing them and blaming the poor!

  8. Elizabeth Warren Calls Supreme Court Right-Wing, ‘Pro-Corporate’

    “You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business,”

    Conservatives complain that the Supreme Court is so liberal, and issues like abortion, gay rights, “removing God from the public sphere” etc. (the “moral” and religious issues) are what they focus on, but it seems those are smokescreens for the economic area, where we see who’s really gaining the most.

  9. Wealthiest Americans Take Home Biggest Share of Income Ever Recorded

    The Koch brothers’ secret bank

    “Short says his members are ‘concerned that the nation that they grew up in and that their businesses have flourished in will not be there for their children and grandchildren,’ and are ‘committed to trying to restore what they view are free markets in a free society in America’.”

    This is what it always comes down to; “the nation they grew up in”, and why these people can’t ever be seen as the ones at least partly responsible for milking the economy. They represent the “values” of “America”, so it must be others to blame for everything.

  10. The Myth of the “Free Market” and How to Make the Economy Work for Us

    Matt Bevin: Anger Toward Wall Street Since Financial Crisis Is ‘Class Warfare’ Against Job Creators

    “Have you ever been offered a job by a poor person? No one has” typical rationale.

    Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

    The Simple Reason for the Long Downturn: Housing Bubble Burst

  11. Bad News For People Who Hate Obama: You May Have Been Cheering For Him This Whole Time

  12. Billionaires Received Millions From Taxpayer Farm Subsidies: Analysis

  13. Some evidence austerity is backfiring, so that the GOP’s “pro-business” philosophy is actually ending up hurting business (And the economy with it, as they claim liberalism does):

    Here’s a good one on someone admonishing banks:

  14. Here is an interesting idea as to something I’ve always wondered:

    Can Science Explain Tea Party Success, ‘Occupy’ Fade-Out?

    The study showed that liberals overestimate the uniqueness of their political beliefs and that they are eager to have views that set them apart from others — characteristics that might undermine their ability to maintain a cohesive political movement.

    The Tea Party movement developed a succinct set of goals in its incipient stages and effectively mobilized its members toward large-scale social change quite quickly,

    We found that liberals and conservatives differ on the basic desire to feel unique, in that liberals have a greater desire to feel unique and conservatives have a greater desire to conform

    One Facebook commenter of course points out how the Tea Party is backed by “billionaire $$” and mainstream media, while Occupy was “abused” by “fascist governments” (citing Bloomberg).
    A Huffpost commenter points out:

    The Tea Party may simply be fizzling out a little more slowly, that’s all.

    The Occupy movement left a lasting impression and began a dialog about financial inequity. The initial burst of activist energy generated shock waves that still persist, and which have spawned a number of smaller but more persistent and organizational entities.

    The Tea Party movement also has made a point and left an impression, but in the longer run, may be viewed as the weaker, not stronger, of the two movements.

    Conservatives do tend to be more organized and have a built-in advantage of creating an institutional infrastructure to support their activities, while liberals often “surf the wave” of enthusiasm and energy while they can, and fall apart or drift apart when that initial wave inevitably crashes.

    ” (The study the article cited acknowledged that “conservatives, too, can shoot themselves in the foot.” despite galvanizing their ranks with perceived agreement, through “their inaccurate perceptions [which] could impair group progress when actual agreement is necessary.”)

    Speaking of billionaire backing, here’s another article on that:

    Tea Party Republicans Backed By Big Corporate Players Following Shutdown

  15. Dinesh D’Souza, the darling of the conservative movement who aimed to call out the Black American community for using the “victim rhetoric” of “Racism” claims to get undeserved stuff, calls Obama a “grownup Trayvon”.

    Meanwhile, even Gates (along with Buffett) are saying the tax system is already “flat” in a way that favors themselves:

  16. Frank Schaeffer (son of Francis Schaeffer, often liked by conservative Christians, who ignore the critiques he made of their movement, as Michael Horton pointed out in Beyond Culture Wars, and now the son has turned completely against conservativism) blog article:
    leading to this:

    Later, found these:

    Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense
    (Some people still spewed the conservative nonsense!)


    The Richest World Leaders Are Even Richer Than You Thought

    How Dollarocracy is Destroying America:

    An interesting video on how “positive thinking” philosophy can make the situation worse:

    Why The Religion Of ‘Positive Thinking’ Needs To Be Burned At The Stake
    (The way it’s often thrown at you whenever you to to someone with any sort of unsolvable problem, always did seem like a “pacifier” to me!)

  18. Are Economic Royalists Leading the US Over a Precipice?
    Book Excerpt The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America – and What We Can Do to Stop It, byThom Hartmann

  19.  This is a very good point! Because supply side (“trickle down”) philosophy always makes it’s main point that the pie gets bigger, not smaller, so this is a way of acknowledging that, but showing the observable reality that while it is in fact getting bigger, what’s bigger is a frozen concentration, not anything trickling down to everyone else. (At that point, they’ll just go back to “the poor are lazy and undeserving”).

    Also, in another FB thread, the subject of Zeitgeist came up, with links to these sites calling it a “cult”. I wasn’t sure about that, not knowing anything really about the movement, beyond what was in their films and on their website, which last time I checked, was rather vague.
    So what I said was I don’t trust the utopianism of Zeitgest, but they sure made the good point that we are operating off an “illusion of scarcity”, while an abundance is being concentrated. The whole philosophy of “survival of the fittest”, “winner takes all”, Randianism, etc. these people are basically, more fit (“provide value”, work harder than everyone else, etc), so that’s why they get so much wealth while everyone else struggles. The person “only” doing his 40 hours and going home isn’t working hard enough. That’s what we hear. But this acts as if we’re in the ice ages or something.

    One person (arguing the USA is is in jeopardy because of “idiots, morons and sheeple”) had said to someone else “corporations are made up of people and if there are any bad ones, they usually don’t last, and they grow and succeed because they produce and give people who so desire them, real jobs with benefits [“WORK, balls and faith in themselves and the opportunities”]; as opposed to govt. workers, who can fail left and right, blow trillions of dollars on BS and foreign aid and crony crap, and never get fired or lose their pensions”.
    Yes, private corporations consists of people. Just like government consists of people. The same person who wants to climb to the top and has the talent, temperament and timing to do so can choose to climb up the ranks of government, or just as soon climb up through private enterprise. (This is a point I had long made, but for some reason am only now remembering to write it). The line between the two often becomes blurred as it is. (Govt. appointees chosen from private industry, etc). So this distinction between govt being so corrupt, but private industry always being so self-correcting, is very shortsighted. Either way, they manipulate power, and make “sheeple” out of whoever they can get to trust in them so blindly (often making a big point at pointing out the flaws in the other side!) So then, everyone spends all their energy pointing at each other, and both institutions, in bed with each other, rob us all blind!

  20. Here, “Makers vs Takers” is thrown back at conservatives:

    A point I added to Makers-Takers was on this “covetousness” charge. Here’s the larger body of thought:

    Just pointing out inequity is seen as “coveting”. While contentment is preached at the average person, the rich are justified in reacting when they “lose money”, in which case they basically punish everybody, and blame it on the lower classes themselves and socialism.

    But look at the envy implicit in complaining about welfare. i.e. “I have to work, he’s getting paid without working”. However, if the same person they criticize for wanting more were to take their implicit advice and double his work week, and climb to the top of his organization or field, they wouldn’t consider that “coveting”, but rather “earning”. They didn’t take their neighbor’s money or possessions, but coveting them doesn’t necessarily mean taking (that’s why there are separate commandments on “stealing” or “adultery”, which refer to the actual acts of “taking” something). “Coveting” is the act of “desiring”, regardless of how you plan to go about gaining it —even if you gain it by striving to earn your own “copies” of what they have through your own “hard work” rather than taking theirs. It leads to the competitive “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality that has led to a lot of stress and burnout.
    It’s not quite the same as people who have trouble making ends meet, and are then told that it’s because there is scarcity, but then they look around and can see abundance concentrated in a few hands
    So this shows the distorted view of those who like to hurl terms out at others (including scriptural ones), but miss the whole point.

  21. The RNC Wrote A 100-Page Autopsy, But Apparently Nobody Read It

    The most interesting to me:

    The RNC’s report also rather forcefully called for a populist retrenchment: “We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.” One might scoff at that a little louder were it not for the fact that well-heeled Democratic groups like Third Way have lately urged their party to kick the middle class to the curb.

    Also linked to this article I remember, but not sure if I linked to anywhere:
    John Boehner: Conservative Groups Have Lost All Credibility

  22. Not to mention endlessly excoriating Obama for “blaming Bush”!

  23. Saw a cartoon in the Queens Chronicle, but don’t know how to find it online, or if they put it online, so I found a similar one that’s the same thing:

  24. Here’s a URL I copied on my phone, never got to transfer it to the PC and listen to it for some reason, and then forgot it, until finding it on the Android clipboard (and then thinking I had posted it already. Again, as I mentioned somewhere, those stored clipboards are great!)

    This TED Talk Was Banned For Attacking The Job Creator Myth; The Rich Don’t Want You To See It (VIDEO:Nick Hanauer “Rich people don’t create jobs” )

    Excellent points:
    (1:30) Because of supply and demand, “the ordinary consumer is more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.”
    (2:00)”Calling ourselves ‘job creators’ isn’t just inaccurate. It’s disingenuous. That’s why our existing policies are so upside down. When the biggest tax exemptions, and the lowest tax rates benefit the richest, all in the name of ‘job creation’, all that happens is that the rich gets richer”
    (2:27)“If it was true that lower taxes for the rich and more wealth for the wealthy led to job creation, today we would be drowning in jobs. But unemployment and underemployment is at record highs.”
    (2:54)”Somebody like me makes hundred or thousands of times as much as the median Americans. But I don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times as much stuff [i.e. the clothes and cars he buys may be much more expensive, but he still only has three cars, (not three thousand), and the same amount of clothes as the average person. This does not produce more jobs.
    (4:14)”It’s only honest to admit, that when somebody like me calls themselves a ‘job creator’, we;re not just describing how the economy works. But more particularly, we’re making a claim on status and privileges that we deserve.”

  25. Why you can’t “bootstrap” yourself out of poverty–you-can-t-just–bootstrap–yourself-out-of-poverty-172104522.html

    “A common narrative in today’s political arena is that the nation’s least fortunate only need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – that they’re just not working hard enough. What often goes unnoticed, however, are the overwhelming barriers that those living below the poverty line face on a daily basis.”

  26. The person who posted this comments:

    Imagine two sums of money. One sum represents the 93% that the top 20 own and it is kept in a stadium sized warehouse. The other sum represents the 7% that the bottom 80 share and it is kept in a briefcase.

    Now, pick any business that you or I could partner in. Will that business create revenue from the briefcase or the warehouse?

    Any small business only recirculates the money from the briefcase. And when one man takes from that case, less remains for the next man.

    What business could we ever create that would draw money from the warehouse?

    Big business may recirculate a bit of the money from the warehouse but they also draw money from the briefcase.

    At the end of every day the warehouse (armed with guards with guns) is more full and the briefcase is lighter.

    Am I wrong? Is this not how capitalism works? If I am wrong, please tell me how we can draw money from the warehouse back into the briefcase.

    I don’t know why it says 400. Maybe the 400 is the top 1%? But no matter what, the idea that any of us can achieve the heights they have is a lie. Not a lie because we aren’t as capable but rather because they have already locked away 93% of the wealth and that portion is untouchable… for now…

    Any of the money we come in contact with comes from the 7% that is not locked away. How can we acquire a part of the wealth of the top? There is no business (other than advanced weaponry) that we could start that would draw from that pool.

    I added:
    It’s easier because those 400 or however many can more easily stay behind the scenes and pay people to tell everyone it’s the 150 million, and thus pointing and blaming the man beside them.

    In the feed today, there was also this:
    Wealthy Businessman Compares Treatment Of The Rich To The Holocaust

    “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,'” Perkins writes. Thomas Perkins, one of the founders of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, was comparing taxes on the super rich to the slaughter of millions in the Holocaust.

    “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,”

    The blame in both the Nazi era and the past few decades of US politics had a common theme of the objects of blame being painted as “leeches”, but in the US, this group was NOT the rich (who often had a big hand in pointing the finger of blame at certain other groups, and using well financed think tanks to sway nearly everyone’s thinking in this regard). I would say what we’re seeing now is the tide finally turning to a bit more awareness of the rich’s part in economic problems. And of course they’re going to counter with defensive rhetoric.

  27. 11 Reasons We Must Take A Stand Against Inequality

    The rich save a lot of their money, so it hurts the economy when they get richer at the expense of others. The top one percent of earners were saving 37 percent of their money at one point last year, according to a survey by American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group. And more than half of the rich surveyed said they had no plans to invest their cash pile. That means less money is circulated in the economy, giving it a smaller chance of revving up and creating a higher number of jobs.

    Meanwhile, people with lower incomes spend much more of their money, so it helps the economy when their incomes rise.

    (The answer to this is that it’s the liberals’ and poor’s fault the rich aren’t investing).

    Along with a lot of other horrible things — segregation, bad school systems, etc. — income inequality was recently found to decrease your chances of making it rich, or even getting to the middle class.

    It only further cements the rich’s control over the political process. The median net worth of U.S. senators is now is around $2.7 million, which, according to my calculations, is a lot of money. And as is detailed in the book “Winner-Take-All Politics” the rich have slowly been exerting more and more influence over the entire political process, too.

    (Notice, senators are included in “the rich”, not just the private sector, whom conservative detractors claim are the sole objects of maligning).

    Also links to this article it looks like I somehow missed:
    The Rich Are Hoarding Cash And It’s Making Us A Lot Worse Off: Experts

    the bigger threat to the economy may not be that the rich are hoarding their money, but rather that companies are sitting on it.

    “The investment that matters for creating jobs is the investment that firms make in buying actual plant equipment in software or buildings,”. “There’s a lot of firms which have cash, and the reason they have cash is because obviously they don’t think they can increase the capacity of their firms to make a profit of it.”

    It’s like I point out in Makers-Takers, inasmuch as the attempt is to blame taxes, “While ‘covetousness’ is condemned in the average person, the rich are justified in any reaction they may make when they ‘lose money’, in which case they basically punish everybody“.

  28. I Wonder If Anyone That Rich Thinks, ‘Yeah, I Need All This Money. All. Of. It.’

    “TED Talk” guy again:
    When ‘They’ Say Cutting Taxes On The Rich Means Job Creation, They’re Lying. Just Ask This Rich Guy.

  29. Next Time Someone Argues For ‘Trickle-Down’ Economics, Show Them This

    “The highest-earning 20 percent of Americans have been making more and more over the past 40 years. Yet no other boats have risen; in fact, they’re sinking…In other words, a rising tide has lifted a few big boats and washed the rest aside.”

  30. Rich People Say The Darndest Things

    Show This To The Next Person Who Calls Obama A Socialist Dictator


    Coca Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl commercial angers conservative pundits

    Jon Stewart Can’t Deal With Idiots Mad About Coke’s ‘America The Beautiful’ Ad

  31. From former evangelical Frank Schaeffer:

    The Slow Motion Lynching of President Barack Obama

  32. Inequality Is So Bad Even The Super-Rich Are Getting Left Behind
    (with “a chart that could stoke class rage among the super-rich”!)

    Scary. People worry so much about “big government”, but you wonder if soon some of these .01 percenters will start buying out governments. Then let’s see if they’re any less authoritarian and give everyone “freedom”.
    And with the rationale used to justify this astronomical disparity: “they delayed gratification and pulled themselves up, so they deserve it” (i.e. “character” superiority”) they may believe in some sort of slavery over the “lazy” masses!

  33. Billionaire Wilbur Ross Declares ‘The 1 Percent Is Being Picked On’

    Billionaire bottom-feeder [see Wilbur Ross on Tuesday declared that “the 1 percent is being picked on for political reasons” and that poor people should stop their gripin’ and get themselves an education if they ever want to stop being part of the 99 percent.

    “Education is the way that people get out of the ghetto and into, if not the 1 percent, something close to it,” Ross wealthsplained in an interview with Bloomberg TV, which is fast becoming the house organ for aggrieved rich guys.

    Ross pledged his allegiance to another billionaire, the gnome king Sam Zell, who last week told Bloomberg TV that the 1 percent are “being pummeled because it’s politically convenient to do so” and because the poors are simply incapable of working as hard as the rich, leaving them seething with jealousy. Lazy, lazy jealousy.

    (If it’s a matter of being incapable, then is it really “lazy”? In any case, it’s clearly a judgement of superior/inferior).

    “Of course, most of what these men are saying is totally wrong. Higher education doesn’t necessarily make you rich [ ]. The rich don’t work harder than the poor [ ]. The rich aren’t under siege — in fact, they are the only ones truly thriving [ ] since the recession.”

    One responder comes against this strongly:

    The 99% need a better education? Then what will you have them do with it? Tell them they are only worth market value, which you set, and that value is next to nothing? What of the people in their 40’s and 50’s that have worked hard for decades? They are just supposed to go back to school for four years and start over? No, my good man… We have tens of millions now government dependent because YOU demand maximum return on your investments. Tens of millions living in and at the brink of poverty so your stocks are worth a penny more a share. Millions jobless because YOU must have the most that can possibly taken to continue to enrich YOU…After you drove those tens of millions into poverty, into joblessness and into government dependency you now demonize them as lazy, mooching takers? You whine about having to use part of that wealth you amassed to pay for their dependency which YOU made necessary? You bellyache you are being g vilified out of envy because it’s politically popular? What you are sir, is a sociopath. Someone obsessed with money and success at the expense of anyone and anything to achieve and maintain. You are both sick and perverse. Arrogant, greedy and self absorbed, seeking praise for amassing your success at the destruction of the lives of millions to achieve it. You have the audacity to act surprised when no one gives you that praise and blame it on envy. You are too stupid and too obsessed to know you are despised, not because of your wealth but how you amassed it off the lives of others that you demonize to try lending currency to being excused for helping clean up the millions of lives you forever damaged along the way.

    I added my usual sort of response (that they believe they have :superior character”, and are thus thinking like the slaveowners, and that it’s good we are finally coming against this strongly), concluded with “‘Might makes right’. Except when government does it to them!”

    Here’s a good one on guns:

    Racial Fears, Gun Fantasies, and Another Dead Teenager

  34. They’re really going after this CEO pay gap!

    Exclusive Data Paints Troubling Picture Of Skyrocketing CEO Pay

    The press and popular culture treat this phenomenon almost as if natural forces were guiding it — an invisible hand dealing out different shares to different people.

    But the hands doing the dealing are in fact quite visible. They belong to the directors of the boards of the major companies in the U.S. and around the globe. One key source of wealth at the very top is the pay of the executives of our largest companies. That pay is approved by corporate directors, who are themselves paid for their service. Many of those directors are also executives at other companies, meaning they sit on both sides of the arrangement.

    Some argue these executives’ pay is the just dessert for their talents and hard work. They’re at least partly right: It’s reasonable for a CEO, responsible for the fate of the company, to make more than, say, her assistant.

    Since 1950, however, the ratio of CEO to employee pay has widened by 1000 percent, according to Bloomberg data.

    Sky-high CEO salaries trickle down, but not far.
    As CEO pay climbs, those just under the chief executive demand raises, as do executives just under them.

    The trickle runs dry quickly, though.

    “Our system of corporate governance has become a joke,” said Dean Baker, an economist and the head of CEPR. “The directors are supposed to be as aggressive in holding down the pay of the CEOs and top management as management is in holding down the pay of ordinary workers. How many directors have ever asked if they could find a comparably skilled CEO in Europe or China at a fraction of the pay? This never occurs to the directors, because the CEOs are their friends, and you don’t treat your friends this way.”

    Who’s signing off on these big salaries? How much are they getting paid to do it? How well has the company done?

    In a recent example of the chumminess of boards and CEOs, JPMorgan Chase’s board gave CEO Jamie Dimon a 74 percent raise, in a year when the bank paid more than $20 billion in regulatory penalties.

    Dimon and his proxies … argued that Dimon should be rewarded for guiding the bank through troubled times. The board — chaired by Dimon and including several other current and former highly paid CEOs — agreed.

    Or take Erskine Bowles. He became independent lead director at Morgan Stanley. Bowles is also a director at Facebook, Norfolk Southern Corp. and Belk. While he has toured the country over the past several years warning of reckless government spending, he has made millions sitting on the boards of companies that are dramatically underperforming against the market, yet lavishing generous payouts on their respective CEOs — all with the approval of the board of directors.

    Bowles was a member of the General Motors board from June 2005 until April 2009, when the auto giant filed for bankruptcy. He also served on the board of the embattled doughnut maker Krispy Kreme. And from April 2003 through May 2012 he served on the board of Georgia-based Cousins Properties, a real estate investment firm.

    During his time at Cousins, the firm underperformed the market average. Since the recession, its stock has fared particularly poorly. Meanwhile, from 2008 to 2011, the last full year Bowles was a director at Cousins, CEO pay increased by 73 percent. The next year, CEO compensation increased by another 276 percent.

    As part of what they are calling “Pay Pals”, there’s a link to this poll also from today:

    Most Americans Think Executives’ Pay Is Too High, Poll Shows

    To be fair, the first article even links to a couple of articles arguing the counterpoint. But the biggest problem is the “illusion of scarcity” they’ve created. That while there is so much to reward them for (even when the companies they preside over fail), there is not enough of anything for everything else, and it is everyone else’s fault for not becoming CEO’s!

  35. More thoughts left over from the Makers-Takers project:

    “Life is imperfect/fallen/hard”, etc “just be happy with what you have” on one hand, and “strive harder and pull your bootstraps; the strongest survive” are two sides of the same “ice age mentality” coin.

    It’s one thing to observe that life is not perfect, but that does not justify the hoarding of power, resources and inertia that makes life as difficult as it has become economically and administratively.

    The ice age [we are essentially emulating] is even worse than the jungle because the jungle is at least full of life (abundance), while the ice age is totally scarce.

    We can’t have it both ways, and run a society and economic system like the Ice Ages or animals fighting for “survival”, yet have it held as “the greatest on earth”.
    If you say it’s just human imperfection, then fine; but it proves you’re just like every other human (even the tribesman in the bush or the third world dictator), and there is no real “exceptionalism”. (Every society’s “imperfection” comes out differently).

  36. AN interesting article showing what to me is a grave double standard in some segments of conservativism:

    The matter with Kansas now: The Tea Party, the 1 percent and delusional Democrats

    Kind of ironic to hear about conservatives being against the “elite” according to class, when they support the corporate elite, and refuse to ever see them as having any part in the problems, but see them as the heroes and instead constantly scold liberals and minorities for “class warfare”, and then proceed to blame everything on the minorities getting “handouts” from the liberals.

    That’s why they could move further and further to the right the tougher things become.
    It’s a sort of solidarity they have with corporate America, seen as the truest expression of “old fashioned american values”. The thing is, most of those at the top don’t care about these people anymore than the educational, government or Hollywood elite do; they just keep them blaming others who are more like them in struggling in these times, and that allows them to continue milking the economy dry.

  37. Had heard and mentioned this one before; now I’ve finally seen a visual meme made of it:

  38. Bill Maher’s New Rules: The New Trend Of People Who Have All The Power Acting As The Oppressed Ones

  39. When You Give Tax Breaks To Rich Folks Because ‘They Will Make Jobs!’ What Really Happens?

    There is no meritocracy: It’s just the 1 percent, and the game is rigged

  40. You call this a meritocracy? How rich inheritance is poisoning the American economy
    No, your economic fortune isn’t just based on work ethic and idea quality. It’s also a gaping inheritance disparity

    All many will do is blame the minorities and the Democrats. The blaming mechanism is all in place; everything that gets worse is because of them.


    They just blame it on Communism, of course. In other words, because the system doesn’t give private enterprise everything (unlimited favor, money, etc), it’s already been infected with Communism, and THAT’s what’s causing these problems (Like if you tax the rich, they take the money and jobs elsewhere, so that’s the cause of the problem).

    A couple good comments:
    “All defenses of capitalism ignore the fact that, at its core, capitalism is nothing more than usury. Usurers produce no wealth. Only workers do that. Usurers are parasites. The word, capitalism, was invented to hide that fact. Thus enabling parasites to drain the host without being detected.”

    “First Capitalism defeated Communism; now Capitalism is defeating Democracy.”

    Might as well throw this one in while i’m at it:

    Why Democrats really love to hate the Koch brothers.

  41. Bernie Sanders: Citizens United Is Creating An ‘Oligarchic Form Of Society’

  42. The Shocking Rise of Wealth Inequality: Is it Worse Than We Thought?

    If You Think Only Poor People Need Welfare, Wait Till You See What Really Rich Folks Do With It

    And see how a whole bunch of conservatives (mostly on FOX News) suddenly go jugular on Harry Reid for calling out the Koch brothers:

    Harry Reid Hit As ‘Brain Dead,’ ‘Off His Meds’ By Conservatives After Koch Criticisms

  43. Elizabeth Warren Picks A Fight With Paul Ryan

    “Paul Ryan looks around, sees three unemployed workers for every job opening in America, and blames the people who can’t find a job,” she said. “In 2008, this economy crashed, wiping out millions of jobs.”

    She went on, “Paul Ryan says don’t blame Wall Street: the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families; don’t blame decades of deregulation that took the cops off the beat while the big banks looted the American economy. Don’t blame the Republican Secretary of the Treasury, and the Republican president who set in motion a no-strings-attached bailout for the biggest banks. Nope. Paul Ryan says keep the monies flowing to the powerful corporations, keep their huge tax breaks, keep the special deals for the too-big-to-fail banks and put the blame on hardworking, play-by-the-rules Americans who lost their jobs.”

  44. The conservatives’ answer to the focus on the Koch brothers’ “dark money” is to find comparisons in liberal donations:

    Nothing Really Compares To The Koch Brothers’ Political Empire

  45. U.S. Corporations Now Hold Over $2 Trillion In Untaxed Profits Overseas: Study

  46. The Super Rich Are Richer Than We Thought, Hiding Huge Sums, New Reports Find
    “…a lot of the money is held in offshore tax havens.”

    Click to access Zucman2013QJE.pdf

    Executive Pay: Invasion of the Supersalaries

    A couple of memes:

    This last one posted by a libertarian friend, who disagrees with the point being made. I commented:

    I think the point is that the system is *rigged* to overly favor people with the right talent, timing and temperament (aka “type”), which figures a lot in success.
    The non-liberal answer is a mix of saying “life is not fair”, to claiming it actually is fair, and to justify this, often to try to suggest the poor are all just lazy, and then focus on the abuse of the welfare system to the point that that’s the whole problem (and that in fact, the poor are the ones actually getting everything, but then squandering it, as in the “Ant and Grasshopper” analogy).

    While people claim taxes are passed down to everyone else through prices and taking jobs out of the country, their higher wages can be also. Why wouldn’t they? They ask for more because they can, and they know they’re “valuable” to the company, and then everyone does it, and a so-called “market” rate is created. Because the services are “valuable” enough for people to spend the money, then it seems justified. Everyone exonerates this, as no laws have been broken or coercion or anything; and blames only taxes for the economic tightness they experience.
    (Then, of course, the working class demands higher pay, especially when they see the executives getting it, and this justifies demanding higher wages. This is particularly pronounced in sports and entertainment. Then, we begin the bottom up system of blaming, where even the struggling working class, and especially the unionized force, like the non-working poor on “welfare”, all want what they haven’t “earned” like only the rich did).
    Hence, what’s been noticed, of this income gap growing exponentially in a few decades, even though nobody’s “working” that much harder.

    Also, while Bill Gates may be an example of someone who did earn his wealth through the system, the liberal criticism has actually NOT been focusing on him and others like him, but rather others such as the Koch’s (more recently), executives of companies that are NOT productive, yet are going under; often in financial scandal (yet the “market rate” still determines they still get the same raises, bonuses and finally, golden parachutes); plus all the other power brokers, who have not really produced value, like Gates, but simply inherited a lot, or, got it through cronyism, and now spend a lot of time, behind the scenes manipulating everything (including the government) so they can keep that gain (and have us all, the “subjects”, blaming each other for our struggles).
    That’s who occupies most of the 67, and other lists like that.

    While I myself know that just having government try to control the problem (when it’s used as a part of it), still, this disparity is really glaring, and should not be blamed only on people not “working” hard enough. (It takes a bit more than work to get up there, unless you’re REALLY talented like Gates and a few others, and why should only the MOST talented (and others who are good at pulling strings) have EVERYTHING? No one’s insisting the talented shouldn’t have more than others; but that’s no longer quite what’s going on now.

    Then, someone suggested this book:
    Robert Reich Beyond Outrage-Expanded Edition

    Sounds interesting.

    A couple of reviews:

    The problem with our economy is that it currently works for the few—corporate and Wall Street elites—at the expense of the rest of us, former labor secretary Reich argues. Elites not only receive higher compensation but enjoy greater job security. “Regressives”—politicians who have been co-opted by big money—have turned the question of American morality upside down. These regressive forces push a divide-and-conquer strategy, primarily by raising alarms over deficit spending and asserting a need to cut public programs that benefit the middle class and the poor. Reich notes the blame heaped on public employees for state budget crises in comparison to that accorded either Wall Street practices that led to the recession or the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that removed limitations on corporate contributions to political campaigns. Reich recommends that politicians and the public get out of their ideological bubbles and face the need to raise tax rates on the wealthy, reduce military spending, and restrict the size of banks to reduce the risk to taxpayers in case of failure. –Vernon Ford

    Unlike the many similar books published during this election cycle, in “Beyond Outrage” Reich focuses less on how we got here and more on what it means to us to continue down the Democratic/Progressive path vs. the Republican/Regressive path. This seems critical as so many people seem to be leaning and eventually voting against their own best interests.

    The book is divided into three parts. In Part One, Reich works through an analysis of how wealthy plutocrats and corporations have colluded with the government to rig the system against average working people. He discusses topics like 1) how little risk corporations and CEOs really face and whether working people can survive when the wealthy get all the rewards, 2) how the business-first, tear-down-regulations, military focus of the government has stacked the deck, 3) how the wealthy have so many resources that they will do/spend as much as it takes to keep things the way they are, and other topics reminiscent of Mike Lofgren’s just-published “The Party Is Over.” It seems to me that if we continue down this path–rather than being most respected for our innovations, our culture and our championing of human rights–America will soon be the world’s greatest offshore employer and purveyor of weaponry. Not exactly something to be proud of, when we can fire people or in severe cases take them out from afar.

    On a lighter note, but getting across some good points:

  47. Here Is Why You’re Not Making It In America: Your Sunday Morning Conversation

    “Hell, that top .01 percent has hit such stratospheric new heights [links to that now the rest of the top 1 percent is set for a healthy dose of class envy. Still, those guys are headed for a new and covetable status — they’ll essentially be the New American Middle Class.”

    Also links to:
    Nazi Name-calling and Non-apologies

    The daily life of the ultra-rich man in 2014 has taken a strange turn. For millennia, the routine was thus: wake up, eat ten of the finest beefsteaks, whip poor people, count money, bed one million prostitutes, return to slumber. Well, what was wrong with that ennobling and rewarding routine, reader?

    Alas, things have changed. Here’s what today’s routine looks like: wake up, eat ten of the finest beefsteaks, compare some center-left politician’s strategy to that of Hitler’s in the 1930s, whip poor people, count money, half-apologize for comparing some center-left politician’s strategy to that of Hitler’s in the 1930s, bed one million prostitutes, return to slumber.

    And this one:
    The Doom Loop of Oligarchy

    “capitalism, left unchecked, subverts democracy by always and everywhere concentrating wealth at the tippy-top. That creates a class with so much economic power that they begin wielding tremendous political power, too. And then they use that political power to further increase their wealth, and then they use that wealth to further increase their political power, and so on.”

  48. For Those Who Think ‘Big Government’ Is Taking A Huge Portion Of Tax Dollars, I Present … Facts

    What Some Folks Do With Their Piles Of Money Is Downright Un-American

    U.S. Policies Favor The Wealthy, Interest Groups, Study Shows

  49. A Threat to American Democracy

    C.E.O. Pay Goes Up, Up and Away!

    “It’s a rigged game. When the company’s stock goes up, the chief executive views himself as a hero. And when it goes down, ‘it’s Janet Yellen’s or Barack Obama’s fault.’

    This, found following a link to something much closer to home:
    After 2 Years, M.T.A. and Union Close In on a New Contract

    We’re still in the “Ice Age” mentality, where there is not only not enough money for worker raises, but they want us to “give back” benefits as well! Yet there is always plenty for those at the top, both in this agency, and elsewhere. They “work”, we don’t “work”!

    Why are things this way in this country, and a noisy political rhetoric machine insists it should be this way, or is not even this way enough?

    Perhaps, because:

    Matt Taibbi: America Has A ‘Profound Hatred Of The Weak And The Poor’
    Author of a book, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

    “Any American understands that there’s this tremendous pressure to succeed and we think about people, for instance, who are on the welfare system and we think of them without compassion,” he told host Alyona Minkovski. “We think of them as unsympathetic characters because they’re somehow taking from us and, meanwhile, there’s this incredible adulation and worship for people who make money.”

    Also, a judge won’t want to hear a poor person’s defense attorney, while “there’s almost an admiration that you see when the judges talk to the lawyers of the white-collar defendants.”

  50. Who are the Koch Brothers and What do They Want?

    In other words, under the “anti-business”, “socialist” and “oppressive” Obama administration, their wealth went up by $12 billion in one year.

    It is not widely known that David Koch was the Libertarian Party vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He believed that Ronald Reagan was much too liberal. Despite Mr. Koch putting a substantial sum of money into the campaign, his ticket only received 1 percent of the vote. Most Americans thought the Libertarian Party platform of 1980 was extremist and way out of touch with what the American people wanted and needed.

    Fast-forward 34 years and the most significant reality of modern politics is how successful David Koch and like-minded billionaires have been in moving the Republican Party to the extreme right. Amazingly, much of what was considered “extremist” and “kooky” in 1980 has become part of today’s mainstream Republican thinking.

    The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

    Among the comments:

    The German Industrial and Junker Class supported Adolf Hitler and his right wing NAZI party with funding. Names still familiar to us happily contributed to the establishment of an oppressive and racist regime, culminating with establishing huge industrial complexes in concentration camps. Tens of thousands of slave laborers died in the factories of Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben and others. Their contribution was driven by fear of communism and by milder socialism bent on improving the lot of German workers after the depression of the late Twenties.
    The Kochs and their ilk follow similar thinking; they support the establishment of a radical right wing government bent on denying progress and normal rights to the mass of people. People like the Krupps and the Kochs have more in common than we realize.

    You’re so right about German and AMERICAN bankers and industrialists supporting and funding the Nazis and in some cases providing war materiel to the Germans throughout the war.

    Papa Fred Koch was barred from doing business in the US because of illegal business practices. He fled to Austria, where he worked with the fascists throughout WWII (working with the enemy). After that, he fled to the USSR where he earned his fortune building oil refineries for the Soviets.

    After that, he returned to the US to establish the JBS, designed to help bring about the kind of government here he’d so admired in 1930s Germany and Austria.

    [And conservatives almost always try to lump Naziism and fascism as Left wing. Naziism might stand for “National Socialist“, and were very totalitarian; but clearly, they were operating out of fear against the same regime we consider the center of Socialism and totalitarianism, and also economically, were more Right wing].

    Bryan Fischer Says the Poor ‘Ought to Be Kissing the Ground’ Where the Rich Walk (Video)

    Americans Think People Are Poor Because Of Bad Breaks, Not Because They’re Losers: Poll

  51. Here’s an hour long documentary Robert Greenwald’s “Koch Brothers Exposed”:

    All this focus on them now might look like just casting the whole shadow of the nation on these two brothers, but we should realize that they may have been a behind the scenes force in not only the economic mess, but also the race dispute. They fit right onto Michelle Alexander’s timeline of racism, where big business worked behind the scenes to not only prolong racial injustice, but also turn the lower class whites against the blacks by presenting black causes as apart of some evil plot to destroy the nation. (the video goes into their father’s role in the John Birch society with its more open racial rhetoric).
    It worked back then, and is still operating the same way today.

    Elizabeth Warren Book Is A Liberal Call To Arms That Rips Tea Party ‘Magical Thinking’

    “We can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that if ‘big government’ disappears, so will society’s toughest problems. That’s just magical thinking — and it’s also dangerous thinking,” Warren writes. “Our problems are getting bigger by the day and we need to develop some hardheaded, realistic responses. Instead of trying to starve the government or drown it in the bathtub, we need to tackle our problems head-on, and that will require better government.”

    In the comments, someone posted this meme:


    I can see a lot wrong, but never know what a better solution is (P—”perceiving” over J—”judging”). But perhaps this is an idea:
    Capitalism Is Dying. It’ll Probably Go To Hell. But Something A Lot Better Is Taking Its Place

  53. All this talk of “the brothers”; I came up with a parody:


    It’s the Merry Koch Brothers and financin’s the game
    Not like the others in-the-spotlight with fame
    When your campaign’s in trouble you can call us on the double
    we’re slicker than the others, you’ll be hooked on the Brothers
    {Swing – the – axe, on-the-mid-dle class; just – like – that} Yo!
    You’re in for the worse; hang onto your purse,
    We fund the Tea Party, our-dad founded John-Birch;
    You’ll hear of makers, and takers, the commies and gun lovers
    Join the faction of the plunderers; you’ll be hooked on the brothers, to the bridge…

    It’s the Merry Koch Brothers, and financin’s the game
    Found a bunch of scapegoats to place all the blame
    Give 1%ers a hand, in the chosen land
    You’re bound to discover you’ll be hooked on the brothers

    Say…evil Obama and baby mamas are up to misbehavior
    They bankrupt the nation; Beulah Land needs saving
    Leechin and breaching; the conservatives will discover
    They can’t help but be hooked on the brothers

    My wife DVR’ed this one for me:

  54. Don’t Look Now, But Our Country Is In A Place It Hasn’t Been For Well Over 100 Years

    Fast Food CEOs Make 1,000 Times More Than Their Typical Workers: Report

    “Catherine Ruetschlin, author of the report said the eye-popping CEO-to-worker pay ratios undermine the argument from the industry that restaurateurs are already paying workers what they can afford. She also said the ratios should be a serious concern for shareholders, arguing that gaping pay disparities could lead to low morale and poor customer service, ultimately hurting the company’s stability.”

    Oh Hello, Face! Meet Palm. Because You’re About To See A Really Uncomfy Chart About The Super-Rich.

  55. Elizabeth Warren Sidesteps Clinton Question, Says Wall Fat Cats ‘Strut Around Washington’

    “I’m worried a lot about power in the financial services industry and I’m worried about the fact that basically, starting in the ’80s, you know, the cops were taken off the beat in financial services. These guys were allowed to just paint a bull’s-eye on the backside of American families,” Warren said. “They loaded up on risk. They crushed the economy. They got bailed out. What bothers me now, they still strut around Washington, they block regulations that they don’t want, they roll over agencies whenever they can.”

  56. Elizabeth Warren Blasts FCC Net Neutrality Plan: ‘Just One More Way The Playing Field Is Tilted’

  57. Paul Ryan’s Approach To Poverty Is Straight Out Of The 19th Century

    Despite their calls for a new approach to poverty, however, Ryan and Woodson’s ideas are extremely old-fashioned. Indeed, they echo conservative views about welfare going all the way back to the English Poor Laws of the 17th century, which categorized poor people according to their deservingness of help. These ideas have gained popularity at different times since then in response to different crises, like when “tramps” terrorized American towns in the 1870s, when “welfare queens” birthed crack babies in the 1990s, and when the so-called “food stamp surfer” delighted the Fox News crowd by refusing to get a job in 2013.

    Whoever the bogeyman, the conservative response springs from the same core belief that too much government assistance causes the problem it’s supposed to solve, and that any decent person can make it in America if he or she tries hard enough.

    It’s an ideology that predates economic statistics, which don’t support it very well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 10 million Americans were unemployed in April, and 7 million more wanted full-time work, yet there were only 4 million job openings.

    The financial panic of 1873 triggered a worldwide depression. Bank failures led to widespread layoffs, and welfare historians have documented increasing demands for private and public poor relief at the local level. Concern rose about tramps roaming from city to city to soak up whatever charity they could find. Welfare reformers at the time fought to stop the handouts, which they said only exacerbated tramping.

    “Next to alcohol, and perhaps alongside it, the most pernicious fluid is indiscriminate soup,” one reformer said in the late 1870s, according to historian Walter I. Trattner’s 1974 book, “From Poor Law to Welfare State.” Another said, “It is not bread the poor need, it is soul; it is not soup, it is spirit.”

    Ryan channeled the spirit and the language of these reformers when he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, “What the Left is offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul.”

    As tramp fears escalated, a “scientific charity” movement arose to coordinate and stifle “outdoor relief,” the nickname for assistance not given within poorhouse walls. Hundreds of charity organizing societies sprang up across the country, and government-funded relief ended in more than a dozen cities.

    Instead of handing out cash, members of these societies, calling themselves “friendly visitors,” would go into poor people’s houses and investigate their claims of destitution. Often the wives of wealthy businessmen, they sought to help fill the souls of the poor.

    “The best means of doing the poor good is found in friendly intercourse and personal influence,” the Rev. R.E. Thompson explained in his 1879 Manual for Visitors Among the Poor. “The want of money is not the worst evil with which the poor have to contend; it is in most cases itself but a symptom of other more important wants.”

    Indiscriminate almsgiving, explained charity reformer William Slocum in 1892, “destroys the best element of true society. It destroys citizenship and those active powers of the human soul that put it in sympathy with the divine ideal.”

    All of this brings to mind something I kept seeing in my research on the NYC neighborhood of this same time period, the Five Points. (

    When a Methodist mission sent Rev. Lewis Morris Pease to the Old Brewery,

    it wasn’t long before he [“one of the great humanitarian workers of his time”] realised that the basic troubles of the Five Points were ignorance and poverty and that vice and crime could not be combated successfully unless the conditions which caused them were removed. To this end he established schools for both adults and children and also works rooms to which the clothing manufacturers sent materials to make up cheap garments under the supervision of Pease and his wife.
    The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld
    By Herbert Asbury p.15, 16, quoted

    The ladies of the Mission society reacted and within a year he was dismissed, when visiting “to view the creatures whom their munificence was assuring places amidst the glories of the hereafter”, and they learned that he had not preached a sermon in two days, because “he had been too busy carting great loads of cloth from the manufacturing houses of Broadway to to his Five Points workroom”.
    It was their idea that he should do little but “preach the Gospel and obtain members and converts for the church”; “preaching the word to God, not getting involved with worldly activities”. (He was “no longer relying on the help of God”. And in the Five Points article, I cite somewhere that their whole purpose was said to be to “convert errant Catholics” in the first place. “The inhabitants of the brewery were overwhelmingly Irish Catholics, who detested the Protestants due to the persecution of the Catholics back in Ireland”).

    The Society expected Pease to visit potential converts, explain the ‘errors’ of Catholicism and the superiority of Methodism. Pease found that this approach had little impact in Five Points. He decided that he ought to provide help to alleviate hunger and gain skills to enable people to be gainfully employed.

    Soon he started an operation for women to sew shirts. He insisted that they do not drink on his job, attend a church service of their own choice on the Sabbath. He found the women had difficulty maintaining this discipline if they returned to their shabby [sic], so he began to provide housing in a rented building.

    He then founded the Five Points House of Industry on the other side of the park, and was replaced in the Mission by the Rev. J. Luckey, a noted evangelist. “However, Luckey fared no better than Pease, and it was decided that in order for the misery and decadence to end, the brewery had to be razed to the ground and replaced by a church.”

    Sort of like fundamentalists ignoring both race and poverty generations ago, criticizing the “social gospel” because “only preaching the Word of God is important”.

    Conservative Christianity, across the board through the 20th century to the present, has been paying for all of this sort of self-serving institutionalized sanctimony, by having society turn further and further away from them as “irrelevant” and control-mongering, —as they steadily complained.
    Then, “worldly” political and social activism they had eschewed, suddenly became good!

    One of my favorite quotes from Horton’s Beyond Culture Wars, p.198-9:

    In the 1950’s, during the civil rights movements, most evangelical leaders remained silent, insisting that the purpose of the church is not to interfere in politics. They lashed out at the mainline liberals for confusing social action with the Gospel. Certainly, in the latter criticism, they were justified, but to remain silent in the face of obvious injustice—injustices which find clear parallels in Scripture—is a guilty silence. We have never repented of that silence as a body. I have never heard remorse from evangelical leaders at political rallies and conventions. [Eripedia note: Since this was written, the Southern Baptist Convention had made a public repentance of the past. They now, as it figures, are being regarded as too moderate by the more radical independent Baptists!]
    During the sixties and seventies, as Francis Schaeffer reminded us, the children of Christian parents rebelled along with everyone else, because they saw the church as little more than a place where white, middle class American self-interest was baptized and the ethic of “personal peace and affluence” received its justification from the pulpit.

    In the eighties, we went a step further, and, realizing that those values of the fifties were no longer the status quo that we could simply baptize each Sunday, we entered the political arena to fight for them. It stood to reason then, since we were silent when blacks were being denied voting privileges, it would take something more near and dear to our own hearts to get us to our feet: free enterprise capitalism. While the scriptures were said to be unclear about racial injustices, suddenly the Bible became a textbook for the right to excess and greed.

    Also, a shocker in the social feed today, the biggest donator to the Republican party isn’t Koch industries as you would think, but good ol’ Flowers Foods!

  58. Koch Brothers’ Secrets Revealed In New Book

    At the center of the saga is patriarch Fred Koch, a staunch anti-communist who drilled his political ideology into his sons from a young age. In 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling Germany, Italy and Japan, Fred wrote that he hoped one day the United States would resemble these nations, which had “overcome” the vices of “idleness, feeding at the public trough, [and] dependence on government.”

    Elsewhere, Fred warned of a future “vicious race war” in which communists would pit black Americans against white. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he wrote.

    In private, Fred Koch “ruled the house with an iron fist” and faith in social Darwinism. Schulman recounts how the former boxer encouraged his sons to fight each other, sometimes with horrifying results. “During one bout, Bill bashed his twin over the head with a polo mallet,” Schulman writes. And “David still bears a scar from the time Bill pierced him in the back with a ceremonial sword.” Those early lessons left a deep imprint on the brothers.

    So we see some of the background of this “gung ho frontiersman” concept of “manhood that tells the downtrodden to “stop whining” and “pull your bootstraps like we did” sentiment.

  59. A bunch of stuff today:

    What It Looks Like When The Concept Of Who The ‘Moochers’ Really Are Is Turned Upside Down

    Here’s The Painful Truth About What It Means To Be ‘Working Poor’ In America

    “In a nation that has long operated on the principle that an “American Dream” is available to anyone willing to try hard enough, the term “working poor” may seem to have a bright side. Sure, these individuals struggle financially, but they have jobs — the first and most essential step toward lifting oneself out of poverty, right?

    If only it were that simple.”

    Here’s one on a similar issue— generations:
    I Want To Understand Why All These Millennials Are So Lazy, But I Can’t Seem To Find The Lazy Ones

  60. Got several likes for sharing this one:

  61. The Worst Places On The Planet To Be A Worker

    The U.S., embarrassingly, scored a 4, indicating “systematic violations” and “serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers.”

  62. CEO Pay Has Increased By 937 Percent Since 1978

    The middle class gets creamed again: Why CEO performance pay is awful for everyone but CEOs

    “…a picture of crony capitalism in the board room and at the SEC. CEOs pad their boards of directors with other CEOs, who are all eager to hike each other’s pay. They hire from the same pool of compensation consultants, who then recommend to all of their boards why each of them deserves to be paid more.

    Meanwhile, the CEOs and their teams of lobbyists and lawyers have gotten a compliant SEC to issue a host of rulings that invite stock price manipulation. The resulting higher prices are considered proof of better performance, and also instantly deliver millions to the CEOs through their stock options. Very neat.

    The justification given by economists for stock-based performance pay is that corporations should be run to maximize shareholder value, and paying CEOs in stock aligns their performance with the purpose of their firm. But as my business school finance professor told a shocked classroom of my fellow students, the economic purpose of the firm does not have to be maximizing value for shareholders. The firm could just as easily be dedicated to maximizing the value for workers or communities or society at large.

    Lazonick’s version of this fundamental critique of corporate capitalism is that…taxpayers and workers lose if the corporation’s core economic performance – as opposed to the price of its stock – declines. The result is fewer people working, less tax revenue, and diminished community life. But CEO pay just keeps going up regardless.”

  63. Also,
    Vast Majority Of Conservatives Think The Poor ‘Have It Easy,’ Poll Finds

  64. The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

    The Great American Class War: Plutocracy Versus Democracy
    by Bill Moyers

  65. Pope Francis calls out ‘greedy’ bankers: ‘Stop getting rich on financial speculation!’

    Some commenters are calling it “hypocrisy”, but it’s certainly better than supporting and defending the system, which is what much of the organized Church had done over its history. Maybe he’ll also begin instituting some change in the wealth of his office, if possible.

    Also, this one is interesting:

    Why Liberals & Conservatives Aren’t As Different As You Think

    Links to this study:

    Conservatives being against “authority” actually should figure. Aren’t they the ones complaining about “big government”? (i.e. a more “authortarian” system, basically).

    As the article points out:

    …most people accept authority, as long as the authority is on their side.

    “When the authority demanding obedience is a liberal advocate, liberals are the ones who demand obedience,” Frimer said. “When the authority has no ideological leaning, liberals and conservatives have similar feelings about obedience.”

    Conservatives were most likely to be positive about military and police authority, Frimer and his colleagues found, while liberals liked environmentalists and civil rights activists.

    The second link points out how people, even moderates, tend to exaggerate the other positions.

  66. Here’s a good one (debunking the ever-so-championed-as-absolute-truth claim):

    America’s CEOs: In a Class All by Themselves

    The free market made us do it.

    Ask members of any American corporate board of directors why they pay their CEO so much and you’ll get some variation on this market-inevitability theme.

    To compete effectively in the world economy, Corporate America’s argument goes, we need world-class executive talent. And that top-notch talent costs. We’re just paying the going market rate.

    That argument, on its face, certainly seems credible enough, except for one inconvenient fact: Corporations elsewhere in the developed world pay their top execs far less than what U.S. corporations pay, and these corporations seem to be competing — and thriving — quite nicely in the global marketplace.

    The gap in corporate executive pay between U.S. firms and their foreign rivals has been the dirty little semi-secret of corporate compensation for some time now, ever since U.S. CEO pay first started soaring in the 1980s. Analysts have periodically documented that gap, nation by nation. But their data haven’t percolated into America’s public consciousness.

    One commenter adds:

    The income inequality in the U.S. is nothing short of scandalous. However, even aside from that, are the monumental compensations for the CEOs directly tied to merit? Is it not true that CEOs of failing corporations have often gotten bonuses and “golden parachutes”? So, what’s really the reason for the disparity of income in corporations today? I think it’s usually because the CEOs have somehow bribed the people who controlled their compensation. One hand scratches the other, that sort of thing. Shameful. American capitalists display the ugliest side of capitalism under the guise of “market economics” and free trade. Our nation is rapidly sinking into a plutocracy that will ultimately destroy the country.

  67. American Dissatisfaction With Everything Is Reaching Historic Levels

  68. Robert Reich: 3 biggest right-wing lies about poverty
    •Economic growth reduces poverty.
    •Jobs reduce poverty.
    •Ambition cures poverty.

    Robert Reich: The New Way Big Corporations Like Walgreen Are Shamelessly Dodging Their Taxes
    “Walgreen is free to become Swiss but it should no longer be free to influence U.S. politics.”

  69. How Corporate America Shut the Courthouse Doors to Average People

    Scary how power is being manipulated.

  70. The best worst president ever

    “The bottom line seems obvious: Much to the GOP’s bitter revulsion, it turns out a calm, intellectual black man really can run an entire country – certainly far better than an inarticulate Texas bumbler, and even in the face of what is easily the most obstructionist, hateful, acidic and often downright racist Congress in modern memory. Quite an achievement, really.”

    Obama Tells Us How He Really Feels On Trip Out Of Washington

    Obama Tears Into The GOP – Texas Style (VIDEO)

    “You hear some of ’em, ‘sue him, impeach him,'” Obama said, then added a sarcastic, “Really?”

    “For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? OK. I mean, think about that, you’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job, while you don’t do your job?”

    Edit: now there’s also a meme of it:

  71. What It Looks Like When The Concept Of Who The ‘Moochers’ Really Are Is Turned Upside Down

  72. Some strong language at times, but really hits the nail on the head:

    Also had to find this great illustration again:
    Nick Anderson 'The Message' (Vote for us … You lazy, contemptible moochers)

    Seemed to have missed this one though it sounds familiar:

    How GOP’s bubble of ignorance keeps leading to humiliation
    Why does the right keep falling for false stories about poverty and social programs? Hint: An ideological fixation

  73. Obama Calls Out American Companies For ‘Gaming The System’

    Obama Scolds U.S. Corporations For Evading Taxes: ‘I Don’t Care If It’s Legal, It’s Wrong’

    Sen. Bernie Sanders: It Took Obama Years To Learn He Couldn’t Negotiate With GOP

    Here’s How The U.S. Sparked A Refugee Crisis On The Border, In 8 Simple Steps

    Car Loans Could Be the Next Subprime Crisis

    A bunch of good memes:

  74. Obama: Corporate America Has Benefited From My Policies

    “If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top,”

    “Oftentimes, you’ll hear some hedge-fund manager say, ‘Oh, he’s just trying to stir class resentment’. No. Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etcetera. I’m not concerned about how you’re living,” Obama said.

    “I am concerned about making sure that we have a system in which the ordinary person who is working hard and is being responsible can get ahead,” he said.”

  75. Pastor John Hagee: God thinks ‘nasty’ welfare recipients should get a job or starve

    This article nails it:

    “The verse Hagee is referring to is 2 Thesselonians 3:10, which says:

    For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

    The problem is, Hagee took this verse completely out of context. The passage Hagee read from is a reference to Christians who had stopped working in the false belief that Christ was returning soon [we can understand this as physically, which is what the later church assumed. People then and afterward mistook the nature of Christ’s coming, just as the Israelites before them had]. Instead of working the fields to grow their much needed crops, people became gossips and stuck their noses into the private lives of others [a lot like what politicaly active Christians, such as this have been doing]. Paul warned these Christians to take care of their crops or starve waiting for Jesus to arrive. The verse had nothing to do with people who rely on welfare to help feed their families and everything to do with Christians neglecting doing their jobs to wait for Jesus to return. Sounds a lot like House Republicans.”

  76. Turns Out Ditching America To Dodge Taxes Isn’t Always Great For Business

  77. Seems to be ultimately arguing for the gold standard (which I don’t really know about one way or the other; like isn’t gold hard to come by?) In any case, it does sound better than the fiat money we’re using.

    Opinion: There ain’t no such thing as a free market

  78. Excellent article on education; “Higher ed is sold as the key to an affluent life. It’s really a big business designed to leave you buried in debt”:

    College is ripping you off: Students are cash cows, and schools the predators

    Where the Money Goes

    The most poignant educational scandal of the moment concerns Cooper Union, the prestigious Manhattan art and architecture school which, from its founding in 1859 up till last year, offered an excellent education for free to everyone who was admitted. The way it did this was by carefully living on the limited funds generated by its endowment. Now that can no longer be sustained, and the school announced that it will begin charging students $20,000 for tuition next fall. The reason everything had to change is that Cooper Union, like . . . well, like every other institution of higher ed in America, decided a few years back that it needed to think big and embrace change and build the brand. The first step in that process: erecting a fantastically expensive bit of trophy architecture across the street from its main building. (There was also a growing corps of administrators, and a departing president who needed to be paid close to $1.1 million, but we won’t go into that now.) Unfortunately, Cooper Union couldn’t pay for this glamorous new tower, and so it had to borrow an enormous sum, like other corporations do. The “free education” thing was collateral damage. Better to be known for “vibrant” architecture, I guess, than for some old-fashioned nonsense about uplifting the non-wealthy.

    The story of Cooper Union is a typical anecdote of the age of collegiate capitalism, and it’s easy to come up with other examples of the lavish, unnecessary spending that characterizes American academia nowadays, that makes it “the best in the world.” It’s not just the showy new buildings, but the sports teams that give the alumni such a thrill, the fancy gymnasiums and elaborate food courts that everyone thinks you have to have if you want the cool kids to choose your diploma mill over all the others. It’s the celebrity professors everyone has decided they must furnish sinecures for regardless of whether those celebrities know anything about the subject they are hired to profess.

    Above all, what the masters of academia spend the loot on is themselves. In saying this, I am not referring merely to the increasing number of university presidents who take home annual “compensation” north of a million dollars. That is a waste, of course, an outrageous bit of money-burning borrowed from Wall Street in an age when we ought to be doing the opposite of borrowing from Wall Street. But what has really fueled the student’s ever-growing indebtedness, as anyone with a connection to academia can tell you, is the insane proliferation of university administrators.

    Political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg tells the sorry tale in his 2011 book, “The Fall of the Faculty.” Back in the day, Ginsberg tells us, American universities were governed by professors, who would take time out from their academic careers to manage the institution’s business affairs. Today, however, the business side of the university has been captured by a class of professionals who have nothing to do with the pedagogical enterprise itself.

    Administrators: Their salaries are generous, their ranks expand year after year, and their work requires no peer review and not even much effort. As Ginsberg reminds us, most of them don’t teach courses, they don’t squabble like English professors at the MLA, and no one ever suggests replacing them with adjuncts or temps. As tuition balloons, it is administrators who prosper. In fact, their fortunes are an almost exact reverse image of the tuition-indebtedness of the young.

    According to Ginsberg, “administrators and staffers actually outnumber full-time faculty members” nowadays, even though it’s the faculty members who do the real work of education that we believe is so important. The numbers are startling.

    Naturally, an ugly new class conflict has begun to play out amidst the leafy groves. Administrators, it seems, have understood that the fortunes of their cohort are directly opposed to those of the faculty. One group’s well-being comes at the expense of the other, and vice versa. And so, according to Ginsberg, the administrators work constantly to expand their own numbers, to replace professors with adjuncts, to subject professors to petty humiliations, to interfere in faculty hiring, to distill the professors’ expertise down to something that can be measured by a standardized test.

    It is not until you read Ginsberg’s description of the day-to-day activities of administrators that the light bulb goes on, however. The particular pedagogy that motivates this class of university creatures is . . . management theory. They talk endlessly about “process management” and “excellence.” They set up “culture teams.” They attend retreats where they play team-building games. And whole divisions of them are dedicated to writing “strategic plans” for their universities, which take years to finish and are forgotten immediately upon completion.

    Just about everyone in academia believes that they were the smartest kid in their class, the one with the good grades and the awesome test scores. They believe, by definition, that they are where they are because they deserve it. They’re the best. So tenured faculty find it easy to dismiss the de-professionalization of their field as the whining of second-raters who can’t make the grade. Too many of the adjuncts themselves, meanwhile, find it difficult to blame the system as they apply fruitlessly for another tenure-track position or race across town to their second or third teaching job—maybe they just don’t have what it takes after all.

    Again, the problem is all the “takers”, who don’t go to school at all, and just wait for free handouts. That’s where all the money is going in this economy.

    Also, continuing from here:

    The South is holding America hostage
    (The Tea Party’s not crazy — they had a plan. Now liberals and progressives need one, too)

    “Just as a strategy is not a conspiracy, so it is not insanity. Ironically, American progressives, centrists and some Northern conservatives are only deluding themselves, when they insist that the kind of right-wing Southerners behind the government shutdown are “crazy.” Crazy, yes — crazy like a fox.

    Another mistake is the failure to recognize that the Southern elite strategy, though bound up with white supremacy throughout history, is primarily about cheap and powerless labor, not about race.

    So the struggle is not one to convert Southern Baptists to Darwinism or to get racists to celebrate diversity. The on-going power struggle between the local elites of the former Confederacy and their allies in other regions and the rest of the United States is not primarily about personal attitudes. It is about power and wealth.”

    • Here’s an example of what colleges are doing with all this money they’re demanding.
      Nice perks, but NOT, when people are being put in debt for life, for basically a four year resort. And won’t this distract from studies? (I guess if they flunk out, the school still gets the money, so it’s still profitable. I agree better dorm conditions might improve the gades, though).
      I was aurprised at how much Norfolk State had added to the campus when I was last there a few years ago. (including a mini mall and nice new dorms that look from the outside like hotels or fancy apartment complexes. Wonder if the are like that inside).

    • Seeing this latter article linked by someone again, and how it claims “discouraged workers” (people who have stopped looking for work altogether) are not being counted, and this changes the whole dynamic (and this, as figures, has become the main argument of Obama detractors responding to favorable unemployment figures); it then compares several graphs, and then claims a graph of “employment to population ratio”, which compares total employment to the total number of people of working age (16-64) was totally omitted, and is key.

      When you start comparing graphs and adding or omitting other variable data into the mix, it becomes clear that this stuff can be spun either way, and that both sides are likely doing this. So unless you’re really on top of statistical data, and all the variables involved, it’s hard to know who to believe. (Which is why I’m leery of statistics, and people who try to throw up “facts” and figures to try to prove blacks are “problematic” don’t have as much of a strong argument as they think they do).

      HOWEVER; the fact that we must place these Reagan and Obama bars next to each other, and show how Reagan “(who is widely considered by conservatives as the best economic president ever)” still [essentially] edges out Obama, nevertheless still totally disproves their argument that he’s “the worst ever”.
      All you’ve shown is some higher figures; but if Obama was really as horrible, and undeserving of any credit for anything good, then there would be no comparison at all; at least not one that could be changed by adding or removing a graph or two so that one bit of data comes out a little ahead of another.

      The article concludes on the state of the economies both presidents inherited, but then argues “how ridiculous it is to compare Reagan and Obama’s presidencies in the first place.” because of (pulling out three more graphs) the decline in manufacturing, leading to an increase in the number of people attending college to try and get better jobs, and the huge amount of debt this generation has been saddled with, and tuition has shot up 10 times than 36 years ago.
      But all of this is not Obama’s fault. You’re talking about stuff that was in motion well before he came on the scene, and in fact proceeded and gained momentum under Reagan’s watch! The reason this comparison is being made in the first place is because of the loud incessant claim that Obama is SO BAD; the worst even, but clearly, even if you can spin Reagan figures as “better”, he is still clearly been doing pretty good in light of all these other factors outside his control.

      Just happening to browse the comments, the one on top makes this very point:

      After reading the Higher Learning Article, and acknowledging it’s points, i’ll say “Statistics is Statistics”, and there’s usually more than one way to read the same numbers. The fact is, both articles show they each did a reasonably good job in a bad situation. But, the HigherLearning Article freely admits “the 2008 recession was a bit more drastic than the recession that Reagan had to deal with”. “due in large part to the fact that the 2008 recession was a global recession”. The fact that Obama’s handling of the economy can be compared favorably to Reagan’s, by Forbes (no Liberal Shill) and HigherLearning, needs to be recognized by those who bang the drum of Obama’s ruination of our Nation.

      The next commenter says “I am not an Obama supporter, so I found this article to be an interesting explanation/counter to the Forbes article. With both sides “cooking the books” to arrive at a favorable position, regular folks such as myself need articles like this so we can draw our own, better informed conclusions.” and then talks about feeling better about the future under Reagan than now.

      So a response to that was:

      The reality is that during the Reagan administration we were arming and training the radicals that are making you feel unsafe today. The fall of communism in Russia was not Reagan’s doing. Making you feel unsafe today was.

      Reagan opened the door to free trade, which hastened the decimation of the American manufacturing jobs.

      Reagan led the charge against deregulation which laid the groundwork for the housing collapse.

      I’m no Obama supporter either, but I don’t know what his policies will amount to because we haven’t seen the effects. We know what Reagan has done and how it has impacted our world. It was not good. The long term vision, if there was one, was severely flawed.

      Then, a recent comment to this other similar article:

      It is now 8 months after this article was published, right?
      Obama’s unemployment rate is now lower than the Gipper, and it never got higher than the Gipper’s highs, even though Obama faced a worse economic disaster. And Obama has now broken the record for consecutive months of private sector job growth by surpassing Clinton’s record, far outpacing Reagan. Also, Reagan created the modern deficit that still afflicts us today caused by a massive Keynesian program of spending increases and tax cuts, hey it worked, but it caused huge deficits. More, Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion budget deficit in his first year from Bush and it is now down to about $500 billion and falling, making him the largest modern deficit cutter in history too. Also, I note that your workforce figures do not take into account the massive demographic shift to retirement that makes up the majority of people who are no longer in the workforce which you cannot blame Obama for.
      So, okay, you can keep your opinion that Reagan is the best economic modern president, although Clinton supporters might disagree, but then you must admit, at least, that Obama is doing pretty well, and he has more than two years left still to take that mantle from Reagan’s shoulders. By the way, your headline should say “best economic president”, because the economy, unlike winning, is not the only thing.

      Another one:

      I read it and think it is misleading, especially the text, which again does not count new jobs from the trough but from the prior high which makes no sense to me. If you count from the Reagan and Obama troughs, Obama still has a chance to beat Reagan on job creation which would put him in good company if he even comes close. As I noted though, Obama is doing it while overseeing an historic reduction in the deficit; Reagan created the modern deficit that only Clinton managed to contend with, until maybe Obama. We’ll see. As for the graph, I think that Sebastm takes a stab at an answer below. However, I think labor participation rate is correlated to retirement population, and the numbers above are 9 months old.

  79. All The Wealth The Middle Class Accumulated After 1940 Is Gone

    “And who has been the beneficiary of this middle-class misery? The top 0.1 percent of Americans, whose incomes have just kept rising, and whose share of wealth has soared to levels not seen since Jay Gatsby was still staring at the blinking green light at the end of Daisy Buchanan’s dock.
    The very rich will just keep getting richer by living on the returns from their wealth, while the rest of us [including even the “merely rich” below the 0.1 percent] will keep falling behind.”

  80. Robert Reich: The 1 percent is gutting America’s middle class
    FB caption: “If you want to know what’s happened to the American economy, follow the money…”

    The richest Americans hold more of the nation’s wealth than they have in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses.

    The uber rich are lining up for the new Aerion AS2 private jet, priced at $100 million, that seats eleven and includes a deluxe dining room and shower facilities, and will be able to cross the Atlantic in just four hours.

    And for duplexes high in the air. The one atop Manhattan’s newest “needle” tower, the 90-story One57, just went for $90 million.

    And also on politics. In fact, their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else. It’s been growing even faster than their wealth.

    Some might think the bottom 90 percent should pull in their belts and stop living beyond their means. After all, capitalism is a tough sport. If those at the top are winning big while the bottom 90 percent is losing, too bad. That’s the way the game is played.
    [and let’s not forget “stop coveting” all this stuff they have. It’s not a zero-sum game; it doesn’t affect you”]

    But the top .01 percent have also been investing their money in politics. And these investments have been changing the game.

    One commenter actually appealed to the “zero-sum” argument

    This article makes it sound as if the “rich” have stolen money from the “poor.” But it’s globalization, automation and technology that have stolen jobs and decimated the middle class. Americans shopping for Chinese stuff at Wal-Mart have done more damage than someone who can afford an Aerion — which is made by an American company based in Reno, Nevada and therefore the $100 Million price-tag will go into the pockets of American workers. It’s not a zero-sum game where the only way to get rich is to steal from someone else. The problems of the working and middle classes are not the result of someone being able to afford pricey Manhattan real estate, and making this appear to be the case is a distraction from the real causes of income disparity. I’m surprised at Mr. Reich for inciting this kind of populist claptrap. We need less divisiveness in American, not more.

    Some of the responses:

    No, globalization, automation, and technology are merely the tools the rich have used to increase their share of the pie.

    “We need less divisiveness in American, not more.”

    Sorry but that borders on the idiotic. Yes, we need to hang our heads, tug at our forelocks, and be nice little serfs. We are not causing the divisiveness. You speak as if the rich and us were one. The rich have been waging a ruthless, relentless class war on us for the past 40 years, ever since the Powell Memorandum gave them the inspiration to cast off the chains of the New Deal and retake their rightful position as America’s Aristocracy.

    You completely missed the main point of the article. If the rich kept getting richer,and the poor and middle class poorer because the rich were more productive, fine. But much of their good fortune comes from government policy that provides them with, or protects, huge advantages over average workers. Using their wealth to buy politicians who then legislate in their favor and against workers is the issue.

    It’s also quite ironic that you would blame Americans for shopping at Wal Mart, when no company has done more to oursource American jobs, force out American manufacturers unless they shift their production to China, wipe out local retailers, and underpay their employees so much that they have to use government safety nets to survive. By pauperizing so many Americans, they forced them to buy cheap crap at their stores, because they can’t afford anything better.

    The inherited wealth of the Waltons is greater than the combined wealth of the poorest 150 milliion Americans. But you want to blame us.

    Not a very well-thought out comment.

    1) Globalization is not a natural force like the weather in that nothing can be done about it. It’s not like a fog that has rolled in over us. It is the direct result of specific bought-and-paid-for policy. If a U.S. chartered corporation can be more profitable by producing offshore and then importing that product back here for sale without having to pay a tariff (rather than producing it here with American workers) it will do so……….and in doing so, that will increase globalization.

    2) It is not written in stone that workers cannot participate in productivity growth due to technology. It is not written in stone that all of that productivity growth must go to profits and then out primarily to the 1% who own over 50% of the shares in the form of dividends and share buybacks. In fact, the promise held out from technology growth in the past was more leisure time. But that presupposed that workers would participate in the productivity growth caused by technology and that fewer per household would have to work to support that household and/or the same number per household would be working but at fewer hours each [cuts off]

    Not true. Middle class can’t afford concert tickets, game tickets anymore…so we all pay for tv and become couch potatoes in our own little worlds. We do this because the very rich want their player’s salaries, want to pay for new stadiums with executive suites and the best of everything to woo the new rich from China and elsewhere. We give them tax breaks so they’ll provide a few temporary construction jobs and then some not well compensated minimum wage jobs. You want a team shirt that someone has ruined their eyes and hunched over producing all day? Well you are going to have to be high middle class to afford all that because the owner/players have to skim all that lovely cream…and woo new markets elsewhere, making you pay more if you want what you just got used to cause there is more competition for the seats you covet.

    When you look at the wage disparity over time and realize the rich truly continue to get richer and the Middle Class is basically making the same income for the past 50 years…well, perhaps “stolen” is a strong word, but the system has certainly been tilted to favor some folks more than others in a big, goddamn way. This is not “populist claptrap,” it’s a simple reality that is choking off the Middle Class.

    If you’re earning under $100,000 and vote Republican because they want to lower your tax rate, you are a sucker. A complete sucker. You’ve been used to benefit millionaires and billionaires who will take that money and not re-invest as “job creators.” You’ve been had, man.

    When the top .001 percent stop feeding at the trough and stop buying politicians and stop pinning everything on welfare queens and unions, I’ll be closer to believing you.

    What you also don’t realize is our current economic track is not sustainable for the overall economy. We all understand capitalism produces winners and losers. But if the guy at the poker table keeps raking in everyone else’s chips to the point there are no other players, what good does that do? For anyone?

  81. Chris Rock: ‘If Poor People Knew How Rich Rich People Are, There Would Be Riots’

    A ecent csociety wouldn't push millions of students into debt...

  82. We Are the Most Unequal Society in the Developed World… And We Don’t Know It

    And a thought on the statement (which I think I found a meme of earlier):

    “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
    Edward Abbey, Writer and environmental activist

    People, while pointing at others as “leeches” (their word for “cancer”, basically), feel they are not leeches, because they are “productive”. So they add in their own criteria that supposedly changes the definition. But the behavior is still the same.
    It’s just self-righteousness works of the Law (whether natural or divine).

  83. Ronald Reagan Was a Failure, But Republicans Pray At His Altar

  84. Billionaire Banker Says Life Is Too Hard

    Nails the point on “victim rhetoric”!

  85. Management: You are not lean enough

    Meanwhile, look at this:
    Richest 1 Percent To Own More Than Half Of The World’s Wealth By 2016, Oxfam Finds

    One commenter posts this good one:

    In one year, the average taxpayer making $50,000 pays...we can afford to help the poor, not corporate welfare

  86. Bernie Sanders Shows How Reagan Helped Destroy The Middle Class

    10 Facts That Will Blow Right-Wingers’ Minds
    Guess how many times Reagan raised taxes?


    This has a link to this great article from 3 years ago (height of reelection campaign, when all this rhetoric was spiraling out of control); not sure if I’ve seen and linked to it before:

    Return of the ‘Welfare Queen’

    President Clinton and a Republican-controlled congress ended welfare in 1996. Its successor is called TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

    Gustafson, author of “Cheating Welfare,” says TANF is not an unconditional entitlement. It comes with time-limits and work requirements and recipients have to go through a bureaucratic gantlet to verify their eligibility.

    “A lot of poor people are working,” she says. “They are the people giving you change when you buy coffee in the morning or handing you your dry cleaning. These are the people who rely on public benefits.”

    Still, an actual Welfare Queen did exist, Gustafson says.

    A database search of all major newspapers turned up the first use of the term in 1974, when a woman in Chicago was given the label.

    Two additional women were also dubbed welfare queens in subsequent years by local newspapers. Both were based in Los Angeles. One collected $377,458 in welfare benefits in seven years and lived in a house with a swimming pool. She did drive a Cadillac, along with a Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz, Gustafson discovered.

    Reagan merged the identities of all three and exaggerated their abuses, Gustafson says.

    “Reagan twisted them around and created one character, and tried to leave everyone with the impression that it was happening all over the place,” Gustafson says. “It’s totally false that these women typified welfare recipients.”

  88. Robert Reich: Why Americans are screwed and Europeans are not

    First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

    The second fact is most big American corporations have no particular allegiance to America. They don’t want Americans to have better wages. Their only allegiance and responsibility to their shareholders — which often requires lower wages to fuel larger profits and higher share prices.

    American corporations shift their profits around the world wherever they pay the lowest taxes. Some are even morphing into foreign corporations.

    As an Apple executive told The New York Times, “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.”

    I’m not blaming American corporations. They’re in business to make profits and maximize their share prices, not to serve America.

    But because of these two basic facts – their dominance on American politics, and their interest in share prices instead of the wellbeing of Americans – it’s folly to count on them to create good American jobs or improve American competitiveness, or represent the interests of the United States in global commerce.

  89. The Pencilsword’s “On a Plate” illustrates the concept of privilege

    [Edit: A few days later, Huffpost features link in article :

    They’re subjected to a range of false stereotypes: They’re accused of being lazy and of abusing drugs, among others. Researcher Paul C. Gorski examined these perceptions in his 2013 book, “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap”, and found these notions aren’t based in reality.

    “A vast majority of these stereotypes are just plain inaccurate,” Gorski wrote, the Washington Post noted. “In fact, some are truer of wealthy people than poor people.”

    Someone in the comments posts this meme: kid with blue backpack walks up 'steps' of money; kid with purple backback climbs up big steps without money]

    Also, today, a cartoon discussion based on this article:

    (One thing I suddenly noted after all this time, in both these illustrations, as well as old cartoons, is that while blacks and Asians’ faces were portrayed in grossly distorted form as to appear goonish; blacks huge light colored lips, making a clown face, and Asians’ huge mouths/teeth; the arch-evil himself, Hitler was portrayed totally “natural”; basically as he really appeared, and looking totally human (the distinguishing feature being the mustache, of course, and the little bang of hair. It’s like the despisal of “colored” people took precedence over the obvious evil someone aiming to exterminate their whole ethnic group!)

    One person commented

    Back in the early 20th century, America was largely a nation of European immigrants with wildly different customs being forced to live in close proximity, especially in the cities. If you read some old joke books from this time, what is striking is that the predominant form of humor is the ethnic joke. Humor books of this era usually have separate chapters for, say, Irish jokes, German jokes, Jewish jokes, Scottish jokes, hillbilly jokes, all of which poke fun at the various cultural differences between immigrants.

    But this was also the era of the melting pot. People who came to America did so with the intention of becoming Americans — of blending in and losing their old-world culture and character. I think that a strong element of the obsession with ethnic humor was our society chipping off the incompatible cultural differences. By turning those ethnic cultural differences into the butt of jokes, people would change their behavior so as not to resemble the stereotypes. If you had changed your behavior — or your children’s behavior so that you no longer fit the ethnic stereotype, then you had successfully assimilated and become an American.

    The one exception to the general observation that this process worked was Black Americans. For many reasons on which there is no consensus, the process of assimilation has been extremely slow, and one of the unfortunate side effects of the banishing of ethnic and racial humor is that the process of assimilation — the melting pot — has been replaced by the doctrine of multiculturalism — the notion that assimilation is a bad thing and that people with different cultures, different cultural expectations and standards should somehow occupy the same space without blending together. Except that that doesn’t work very well. The glue of a cohesive culture is commonalities, not differences.

    Interestingly this sort of raw racial and ethnic stereotyping has moved into the realm of stand-up comedy, where it seems to be pretty widely accepted. Perhaps in this day and age it’s too dangerous to practice and best left to the professionals.

    I say there was a h̲i̲e̲r̲a̲r̲c̲h̲y̲ of race and ethnicity, and blacks ended up as the lowest, because of the a̲r̲c̲h̲e̲t̲y̲p̲a̲l̲ connotation of “black” being “bad. Religious people even believed the color was the “mark of Cain” or “curse of Canaan”. Plus, this very trait ensured that they could not hide it (change their names, etc) and pass among the others to get ahead, as others could.
    (This is what people who say “oh, every other group was discriminated against, and they eventually pulled themselves up and made it” should remember).

  90. In the midst of the race issue, a little break, back in the economic issue (which really is behind everything in this countey. Race was ultimately about economics, and the real venue powers are using to try to bring us back to as close to slavery as they can get, and regardless of race, which is a distraction).

  91. Hillary To Jeb Bush: The Problem Is CEOs, Not Their Workers
    Also liked this one I saw today:
    [Fox News]: First thing a cult does, is claim that everyone else is lying to you

  92. Why Republicans Can’t Convince People They Care About Inequality
    “It’s the one form of bigotry that is still allowed in America, and that’s bigotry against the successful.”

  93. 3 Economic Myths
    by Robert Reich

  94. New Koch: Rebranding the Billionaire Brothers
    The billionaire brothers are championing criminal-justice reform and starting initiatives for the poor. But has their formula changed?

    The friend posting it comments “A must read for those who want to understand the ‘long game’ of these men.”

  95. After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.
    A crash course in social democracy

    One point I recently saw conservatives make, that probably figures, is that another difference is that America is much bigger than those nations. The more people, the more complicated things becomes, and the bigger the government needed to process everything; but then the bigger the government, the more red tape and even corruption.

    But some good points:

    The truth is that almost a quarter of American start-ups are not founded on brilliant new ideas, but on the desperation of men or women who can’t get a decent job. The majority of all American enterprises are solo ventures having zero payrolls, employing no one but the entrepreneur, and often quickly wasting away.

    In the last century, Scandinavians, aiming for their egalitarian goal, refused to settle solely for any of the ideologies competing for power—not capitalism or fascism, not Marxist socialism or communism. Geographically stuck between powerful nations waging hot and cold wars for such doctrines, Scandinavians set out to find a middle path. That path was contested—by socialist-inspired workers on the one hand, and by capitalist owners and their elite cronies on the other—but in the end, it led to a mixed economy. Thanks largely to the solidarity and savvy of organized labor and the political parties it backed, the long struggle produced a system that makes capitalism more or less cooperative, and then redistributes equitably the wealth it helps to produce. Struggles like this took place around the world in the 20th century, but the Scandinavians alone managed to combine the best ideas of both camps while chucking out the worst.

    In the United States, however, neoliberal politics puts the foxes in charge of the henhouse, and capitalists have used the wealth generated by their enterprises (as well as financial and political manipulations) to capture the state and pluck the chickens.

    Thus, in the United States, oligarchs maximize their wealth and keep it, using the “democratically elected” government to shape policies and laws favorable to the interests of their foxy class. They bamboozle the people by insisting, as Hillary Clinton did at that debate, that all of us have the “freedom” to create a business in the “free” marketplace, which implies that being hard up is our own fault.

    In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, democratically elected governments give their populations freedom from the market by using capitalism as a tool to benefit everyone. That liberates their people from the tyranny of the mighty profit motive that warps so many American lives, leaving them freer to follow their own dreams—to become poets or philosophers, bartenders or business owners, as they please.

    Maybe our politicians don’t want to talk about the Nordic model because it shows so clearly that capitalism can be put to work for the many, not just the few.

  96. The 62 richest people have as much wealth as half the world

    Lest anyone say, they “deserved” it; it’s based on the “value” they produced for the company:

    Highest-paid CEOs run worst-performing companies, research finds
    Research firm finds businesses led by lower-paid CEOs earn greater shareholder return

  97. Democrats are Losing the War of Words
    View at

  98. Six Myths that Capitalists Believe
    We’ve been told some things so often that we think they’re fact. They’re not.

    View at

    1. Business Owners are Smarter than Others
    2. Business Owners Take the Risk, So They’re Entitled to the Profits and the Top Salary
    3. Business Owners Invest Their Own Money
    4. Business Owners Contribute More to the Community than Workers
    5. Capitalism is Responsible for the Modern World
    6. Rich People Got Rich Because They Worked Harder and They Were Geniuses at Doing Things

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