Category Archives: economic equality

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…

Law passed to exempt workers under ten

Watching Henry Paulson explain the trillions of dollars spent on the banks today, it didn’t make me yearn for the good old days when capitalism was even more unfettered than presently. He, and his friends Tim Geitner and Larry Summers, epitomize what happens when bankers and their lackeys run America.

Conservative politicians and commentators (have a “Rush”) agree that all our problems today are caused by government regulation of business and taxes levied. Those regulations restrict capitalist freedom, the right of companies to do what they want in the marketplace.

Which brings me to the free market utopia of the past – particularly Great Britain in the early 1800s. For hundreds of years the working class in that richest nation in the world lived better than some residents of Africa and Asia. That prosperity included rented houses and bread and butter.

There was a down side. Like today’s Americans, both husband and wife had to work. Fortunately for capitalism the work day was 12 hours, not eight, and six days a week, not five. That’s 72 hours. But you got Sunday off to thank God for your blessings.

There was another difference between then and now. You didn’t need a babysitter for children over eight, which saved money, as any working mother will explain today.

However, the children weren’t actually in childcare. They had jobs, to teach them responsibility and earn extra money for family luxuries, like coal to heat the house.

Speaking of coal, the mines were big employers of children. Here is a quote from http://www.dmm.org.uk/.

Drawers pulled heavy carts of cut coal to the pits surface with heavy chains around their waists.
” I am a drawer, and work from six o’clock in the morning to six at night. stop about an hour at noon to eat my dinner: I have bread and butter for dinner; I get no drink.
I have a belt round my waist, and a chain passing between my legs, and I go on my hands and feet. The tunnels are narrow and very wet where I work. My clothes are wet through almost all day long.” Girl aged 10

And life for children in the mines was dangerous. Another quote:

A trapper, only 10 years old killed in an explosion.
A horse driver aged 11. Crushed by horse.
A driver, aged 14 fell off limmers and was crushed between the tubs and a door.
A token keeper aged 14. Crushed by surface wagons on branches.
A screenboy aged 12. Crushed by surface wagons.
A trapper aged 12. Crushed by tubs.
A driver aged 12. Horse fell on him.
A bank boy aged 11. Caught by cage.
A driver aged 12. Head crushed between tub top and a plank while riding on limmers.
A trapper aged 13. Head crushed between cage and bunton while riding to bank.
Tub Cleaner, aged 13. Fell down the shaft off a pumping engine.
Boy aged 14, drowned.
Boy, aged 7. Killed in an explosion.
Trapper , aged 9. Killed in an explosion.
Driver, aged 14. Crushed against wall by a horse.
Screen Boy, aged 15. Head crushed between a tub and screen legs; too little room.

Unfortunately for free market purity, in 1847 the government passed a law forbidding the working of women and girls in mines, and all boys under the age of ten.

When we hear about deregulation, like the kind advocated by the Democratic Leadership Council, the New Democrat Coalition and the Republican Party, remember the children of years ago, and realize history teaches us that our grandchildren will face an onerous life if business is allowed to do whatever it wishes.

Americans lose healthcare reform battle

It’s all over. Insurance and drug companies won. Readers of this post have lost.

“Mr. (Rahm) Emanuel said one of several ways to meet President Barack Obama’s goals is a mechanism under which a public plan is introduced only if the marketplace fails to provide sufficient competition on its own. He noted that congressional Republicans crafted a similar trigger mechanism when they created a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare in 2003. In that case, private competition has been judged sufficient and the public option has never gone into effect.” – Wall Street Journal (WSJ)

Emanuel is a former member of the right-wing New Democrat Movement, a group founded by the Democratic Leadership Committee. He is no friend of the populist movement in America.

The drug benefit trigger has been a joke. Medicare and all other health plans pay two or three times what citizens of other countries pay for drugs. There are patients with $100,000 a year prescription drug costs in America, and no country has higher prices than here.

Thank you to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), New Democrat Coalition and the rest of the traitors out to remake the world on the backs of Americans. You might argue that is an extreme conclusion, but consider that the reason given for us to pay insane prices for prescription drugs is to subsidize research. We wouldn’t want the British, Germans or French to have to pay more, would we? Take from Americans, and subsidize the world. However, American sacrifice only includes citizens, but not big corporations and their lackeys, who always seem to benefit by recent government actions.

WSJ also said: “the president and his aides already have signaled a willingness to consider an alternative to a public plan under which a network of nonprofit cooperatives would compete with for-profit insurance companies. That is the leading idea in the Senate Finance Committee.”

President Obama is caving to a finance committee dominated by the DLC and New Democrat Coalition, groups that pander to international corporations.

Current or recent New Democrat Coalition Senate members, according to Wikipedia, include, in addition to Max Baucus (D-MO):

Blanche Lincoln (AR, founder)
Dianne Feinstein (CA, by 2001)
Thomas R. Carper (DE, by 2001; co-chair from 2003)
Joseph Lieberman (CT, founder)
Bill Nelson (FL, by 2001)
Evan Bayh (IN, founder)
Mary Landrieu (LA, founder, co-chair from 2003)
John Kerry (MA, from 2000)
Debbie Stabenow (MI, by 2001)
Kent Conrad (ND, from 2000)
Ben Nelson (NE, by 2001)
Tim Johnson (SD, from 2000)
Maria Cantwell (WA, by 2001)
Herb Kohl (WI, from 2000)

Past New Democrat Senators are:

Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY, from 2001; retired from Senate in 2009)
Bob Graham (FL, founder, chair 2000-2003, then retired from Senate)
Max Cleland (GA, from 2000; defeated in 2002)
Zell Miller (GA, from 2001; retired from Senate in 2004)
John Breaux (LA, from 2000; retired from Senate in 2004)
Jean Carnahan (MO, from 2001; defeated in 2002)
John Edwards (NC, from 2000; retired from Senate in 2004)
Bob Kerrey (NE, from 2000; retired from Senate in 2000)
Richard Bryan (NV, from 2000; retired from Senate in 2000)
Chuck Robb (VA, from 2000; defeated in 2000)

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