Category Archives: economic equality

Will Facebook “change your status” to “go directly to jail” for what it identifies as suspicious posts?

“The long term promise of AI (Artificial Intelligence) is that in addition to identifying risks more quickly and accurately than would have already happened, it may also identify risks that nobody would have flagged at all including terrorists planning attacks using private channels, people bullying someone too afraid to report it themselves, and other issues both local and global,”

Those are the words of an early version of a Facebook manifesto, content later removed in the final version by Mark Zuckerberg, one of the richest men in the world – $62.4 billion. (By comparison, Zuck’s assets equal the total family wealth of 12,755,000 African-American households.)

But here’s what the published version of the document said:

“Looking ahead, one of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community.”

It added: “Going forward, there are even more cases where our community should be able to identify risks related to mental health, disease or crime.”

Zuck also wants you to be fed the Facebook material that is approved by the majority of local users unless you opt out and set your own standards:

The idea is to give everyone in the community options for how they would like to set the content policy for themselves. Where is your line on nudity? On violence? On graphic content? On profanity? What you decide will be your personal settings. We will periodically ask you these questions to increase participation and so you don’t need to dig around to find them. For those who don’t make a decision, the default will be whatever the majority of people in your region selected, like a referendum. Of course you will always be free to update your personal settings anytime.

Zuckerberg’s philosophy is contained in a tome here.

Facebook also plans to censor what you see, including so-called hate speech, by using AI to examine every post:

It’s worth noting that major advances in AI are required to understand text, photos and videos to judge whether they contain hate speech, graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and more. At our current pace of research, we hope to begin handling some of these cases in 2017, but others will not be possible for many years.

Mark is a globalist, no fan of the America First slogan, professing that “progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community”

Zuck wrote: “Our job at Facebook is to help people make the greatest positive impact while mitigating areas where technology and social media can contribute to divisiveness and isolation.”

“Progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community,” he added.

Kind of creepy, in my opinion. If he really wants to help society, why not donate $1,000 to the 50 million poorest Americans. He would still have $12 billion and an annual income of about $1 billion, or some $114,500 every hour of every day in the year.

That buy your green card pitch by Kushner’s sister in China renews controversy over visas for the rich

If you had $300 during the Civil War you could avoid that first Draft by just paying the dough and walking away. No money, you could go to jail or possibly become one of the 620,000 Americans killed on the battlefields.

When it comes to citizenship, the rich don’t need to climb that wall or swim that Rio Grande, now they just put up money, $500,000 or more to be exact, to invest in some project in the U.S. and agree that somehow that will create ten new jobs.

Some 85% of all these “investment citizens” are from China. The deal is called EB-5 Visa, and not only can you become an American, but so can the wife and children – all for the same price.

By this criterion, anyone with enough money can buy citizenship. Poor folks need not apply.

The program was extended last week by President Donald Trump, even though he said he had qualms about it during the campaign last year. The day after he signed the extension, the Kushner organization was in Beijing, selling investments in the luxury apartment building, One Journal Square, that is set to be built next year in Jersey City. A brochure blasted:

“Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

Continue reading →

How to instantly add $54 billion to Trump budget revenues and end every cut to every department

It’s as easy as: one, two, three!

The 2018 Donald Trump Federal Budget can be balanced, even when including nearly $54 billion in increased Defense Department spending, and not one federal department would require any cuts in spending.

These are the proposed $54 billion in department cuts that would not have to take effect under my 123 Plan:

Agriculture 2018 Budget

  • Eliminates $500 million Water and Wastewater loan/grant program
  • Eliminates $200 million McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program
  • Cuts Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance from $6.4 billion to $6.2 billion
  • Unspecified staff reductions at USDA service center agencies
  • Cuts $95 million from Rural Business and Cooperative Service

Continue reading →

British want to fight inequality – it’s worse here!

British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin is starting a campaign against inequality that should be emulated by all (five, ten?) American politicians not controlled by big business.

“One proposal is pay ratios between top and bottom, so that the rewards don’t just accrue to those at the top,” he said.

“Of the G7 nations only the US has greater income inequality than the UK, and pay inequality on this scale is neither necessary nor inevitable.”

Corbin is talking about real compensation – wages, salaries and bonuses – while many reports for the American public will note an executive $1 million wage, but exclude their $12 million bonus. That trick is good PR for the overpaid, but not good statistics when comparing worker to CEO. Also not mentioned is that company owners (with no work required) usually make much more than the executives. When comparing apples to apples, the mismatch is onerous.

“Total direct compensation for 300 CEOs at public companies increased 5.5% to a median of $11.4 million in 2013, concluded an analysis by The Wall Street Journal and Hay Group. A separate AFL-CIO study of CEO pay across a broad sample of S&P 500 firms showed the average CEO earned 331 times more than the typical U.S. worker last year. In 1980, that multiple was 42,” according to a report in the Wall Street Journal in November, 2014.

Gave you halfThe record of being the most unequal of G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and United States – is a distinction without merit. So-called pay inequality solutions here include lowering the taxes on the highest paid, sheltering savings of the richest Americans, and maintaining government subsidies to the poorest workers (EITC), rather than really raising (not $10.10) the minimum wage. And those negative plans are the ones endorsed by many in the Democrat Party. Most in the GOP also want to privatize everything from national parks to public roads and schools – in short, anywhere a buck can be squeezed.

“Another proposal would be to bar or restrict companies from distributing dividends until they pay all their workers the living wage,” Corbin explained.

“Only profitable employers will be paying dividends, if they depend on cheap labor for those profits, then I think there is a question over whether that is a business model to which we should be turning a blind eye.”

During the 2008 financial crisis, it was common that many, running for public office, also espoused caps on highest salaries to five or ten million dollars. Continue reading →

Does Heritage Foundation want Communist plan for Social Security? GOP candidates should denounce!

The Heritage Foundation is the think tank for so-called conservative Republicans, who offer flat tax plans, skeleton government goals and the destruction of Social Security as we know it today.

social-security.gifThe current Social Security program is regressive, and pays a lower percentage in retirement pension, the more you contribute. A retiree, who has paid in the maximum amount (on wages less than about $118,000 in current dollars), will contribute three times as much FICA taxes and receive only twice the benefit at retirement. But at least there is some relationship between the amount of taxes paid and the value of benefits received.

Rather than attempting to make the program more fair, the so-called capitalist Heritage think tank has gone completely Communist by urging a Marxist doctrine of “from each according to their earnings to each according to their needs.”

The foundation wants to pay anyone, who contributes even a pittance into the Continue reading →

Tax credit cuts will make Britains work much harder – like Chinese or Americans – British Health Secretary tells the poor

hunt-ja

Smirk, smug and telling you to work harder

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt thinks the British don’t work hard enough because they have too generous tax credits – a benefit similar to the U.S. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Hunt seemed like a money-grubbing rich person when he explained:

“My wife is Chinese. We want this to be one of the most successful countries in the world in 20, 30, 40 years’ time. There’s a pretty difficult question that we have to answer, which is essentially: are we going to be a country which is prepared to work hard in the way that Asian economies are prepared to work hard, in the way that Americans are prepared to work hard? And that is about creating a culture where work is at the heart of our success.”

“Dignity is not just about how much money you have got … officially, children are growing up in poverty if there is an income in that family of less than £16,500 (a £ is worth about $1.52 U.S.). What the Conservatives say is how that £16,500 is earned matters.

“It matters if you are earning that yourself, because if you are earning it yourself you are independent and that is the first step towards self-respect. If that £16,500 is either a high proportion or entirely through the benefit system you are trapped. It is about pathways to work, pathways to independence … It is about creating a pathway to independence, self-respect and dignity.”

In one sense Jeremy agrees with many Americans. We do work hard. We spend too many hours at work. Many of us are underpaid. For Jeremy all that is good – because he is rich Continue reading →

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, born with a silver spoon in her mouth, was given $590,000 from non-profit group in 2013

IRSFormer Texas Governor Ann Richards once said of former President George Bush:

“Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth”

If former Texas governors can roll over in their graves, it happened this past week as her daughter Cecile – President of Planned Parenthood – boasted both a silver spoon and a silver foot, while trying to explain away a video discussing body parts and their transportation reimbursements to her organization.

Ann passed September 13, 2006, the same year her daughter, Cecile, took over leadership of Planned Parenthood from Gloria Feldt, who had begun the shift of Planned Parenthood in 1996 from a public asset to also focus on political action. The organization, founded by Margaret Sanger, Ethel Byrne and Fania Mindell in 1916, had grown to four million clients by the Bill Clinton years, thanks to the leadership of former president Faye Wattleton.

Cecile continued the Feldt course with an advocacy we will examine later in this blog.

In this modern era, when millions or folks volunteer their time to churches and civic organizations, the big charities often pay big bucks to staffs and leaders. Very big bucks.

Cecile received some $591,000 working for her non-profit in 2013, according to IRS Continue reading →

You’re never lonely when your liberal heroes send you endearing, friendly emails about grass and roots

Sherrod Brown [info@sherrodbrown.com] today warned me:

“Ohioans didn’t send me to the Senate to compromise away their future. And you didn’t get involved in this grassroots movement to sit on the sidelines and watch this radical agenda get across the finish line.” I agree, even if I’m not from Ohio (but the wife is, so how does Brown know?).

Then he tells me:

And our grassroots network won’t grow stronger unless we invest in it. Contribute $5 — or whatever you can — to help right now.

Surely, the fate of a grassroots movement shouldn’t rise or fall on a retiree’s $5 donation, and I wonder why some liberal hedge fund manager won’t just contribute $500 million and let 100 million of us have enough for coffee and a donut tomorrow morning.

Jennifer Petty also dropped me an email this morning, and it’s nice to get correspondence from young ladies when you are now past 70. Jennifer starts out with “Hey Friends” and goes on to explain the reason for this missive (which has partial yellow background, wow!):

I am sitting at work today, reworking our budget for the 2nd quarter. While we have been doing well, it looks like we need to raise $5,000 by April 30th to meet our goal.

She seems to want more than just $5, but she probably knows I have some money left after the donation to Brown. Jennifer explains why she wants my dough:

 Please consider sending a generous gift today.
Your contribution will go to helping recruit progressive Democrats to run for office in 2014 and give them the support they need to build successful campaigns.

I also seem to have a friend  in Adam Green from Bold Progressives.Org, who suggested yesterday afternoon:

Can you help us draft a populist fighter for senator? Join Draft Schweitzer today!
(You can also donate $3 that Brian will receive on Day One of his campaign, so he can hit the ground running. Over $25,000 raised so far!)

Bruce Finzen also emailed yesterday. He’s with the Center for Public Integrity, and thinks I’m not one of those $3 givers:

Help me make sure that the Center can continue its work in the public interest and has the resources to leave no stone unturned. Your gift of $30, $50, $120 or more will help ensure they can. Please give as generously as possible.

So many email friends. So little money to donate. Oh well!

We should not use our Social Security worker contributions to pay for general welfare programs

The day after the President’s State of the Union address, many pundits are concerned with his reference to Social Security, a subject he continues to toss out as a bargaining chip with the GOP.  

Social Security is a worker program that has been used as a welfare program. Our 13.4% contributions (you plus your boss) should pay for a decent pension when we get to 65 (why not 60?), just as the law was intended. If there is to be a minimum pension (there is) for folks who did not pay into the system, those funds should not come from workers, but from general funds, which would allow the rich to contribute to welfare, not just the middle class. If there are to be disability payments, they should come from general funds. Ditto, death benefits, etc.
Other countries divide Social Security into a guaranteed amount, plus an amount determined by how much you contribute. The guaranteed amount has nothing to do with the retirement amount you earned.
The rich don’t want their taxes raised one penny to pay for a guaranteed pension or to pay for disability or to pay for death benefits. The rich don’t want to pay for anything that the average person receives. It’s not just that they disdain everyone but their class, it’s also because being greedy helps them stay rich.
Sadly, Americans also receive much lower benefits from Social Security than folks in other countries, in the 35% range for the middle class, although 90% in the poor class (where often there is virtually no contribution). Germany, for example, returns about 70% of previous wage levels in benefits, or about twice what we get here.
The President is obviously listening to his friends at CAP , people like Roger Altman, William Daley, John Podesta, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers – in my opinion all from the corporate stooge club that wants lower income taxes for the rich and higher taxes for the middle class, while pretending to be liberals. 

Rich get richer and richer and richer in the worst inequality crisis since 1930s

Emmanuel Saez has updated his famous work: “Striking it Richer: The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States”, Pathways Magazine, Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, Winter 2008, 6-7

Saez is a professor at the University of California, Department of Economics, 549 Evans Hall #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720. Much of his discussion in this report is based on previous work joint with Thomas Piketty. All the charts described here are available in excel format at http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~saez/TabFig2007.xls

From 2006 to 2007, average real income per family grew by a solid 3.7 percent. Average real income for the top percentile grew faster (6.8 percent growth), further increasing the top percentile income share from 22.8 to 23.5 percent (Figure 2). Year 2007 is therefore the second highest year on record since 1913 almost equalling 1928, the record year when the top percentile share reached 23.9 percent (Figure 2). Even within the top percentile, the gains from 2006 to 2007 are extremely concentrated. The top .01% (top 14,988 US families, making at least $11.5m in 2007) share increased from 5.46% in 2006 to 6.04% in 2007 leaving well behind the 1928 peak of 5.04 percent (Figure 3). This shows that 2007 was an incredibly good year for the super rich.

Year 2007 was actually also quite good for the bottom 99 percent of US families as their average income grew by 2.8 percent. This is the best annual increase since 1998. Real income growth for the bottom 99 percent had been very meagre during the Bush expansion starting in 2002. Even including 2007—a good year for ordinary US families-the top percentile captured 65 percent of total real income growth per family from 2002 to 2007 (Table 1 – see Excel download link above).

Saez said the recent dramatic rise in income inequality in the United States is well documented, but we need to know which groups are winners and which are losers, or how this may have changed over time.

His tables show the top ten percent includes all families with market income above $109,600. After decades of stability in the post-war period, the top decile share has increased dramatically over the last 25 years and has regained its pre-war level. Indeed, the top 10% share in 2007 is equal to 49.7 percent, a level higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the “roaring” 1920s,” he said.

The top one percent was families with income above $398,900 in 2007, the next four percent was income between $155,400 and $398,900 in 2006, and the bottom half of the top 10% was income between $109,600 and $155,400 in 2006.

The top one percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007. Estimates based purely on wages and salaries show that the share of total wages and salaries earned by the top 1 percent wage income earners has jumped from 5.1 percent in 1970 to 12.4 percent in 2007.

Saez explains the inequality of incomes this way:

The labor market has been creating much more inequality over the last thirty years, with the very top earners capturing a large fraction of macroeconomic productivity gains. A number of factors may help explain this increase in inequality, not only underlying technological changes but also the retreat of institutions developed during the New Deal and World War II – such as progressive tax policies, powerful unions, corporate provision of health and retirement benefits, and changing social norms regarding pay inequality. We need to decide as a society whether institutional reforms should be developed to counter it…

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