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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH

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areich56According to Robert Reich, in a blog entry earlier this month, 2013 was a banner year for the wealthy, as the trickle up of income and asseets continued to gallup along. Reich calls 2013 "the year of the great income redistribution [upward]":

One of the worst epithets that can be leveled at a politician these days is to call him a “redistributionist.” Yet 2013 marked one of the biggest redistributions in recent American history. It was a redistribution upward, from average working people to the owners of America.

The stock market ended 2013 at an all-time high — giving stockholders their biggest annual gain in almost two decades. Most Americans didn’t share in those gains, however, because most people haven’t been able to save enough to invest in the stock market. More than two-thirds of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.

Even if you include the value of IRA’s, most shares of stock are owned by the very wealthy. The richest 1 percent of Americans owns 35 percent of the value of American-owned shares. The richest 10 percent owns over 80 percent. So in the bull market of 2013, America’s rich hit the jackpot.

Have you hit the jackpot in the last year as income and assets continue a decades-long redistribution to the top? Not me. For 90% of America, we are hitting the bills, not a Las Vegas mega-payoff.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

achase4367539671 cf984dda20 mWith somewhere around $20 billion in fines for civil and criminal violations, JPMorgan Chase is making history.  Of course, as most narcos know, you've got to factor in losing some money to making a lot of money.  That means the leaders of the so-called banks too big to fail -- like their drug cartel counterparts -- are doing just fine indeed.

That is just the case with Jamie Dimon. After a year of virtually non-stop settlements with the US government for various violations of regulations and the law (but no criminal indictments or personal fines against Dimon, or prosecuted criminal charges against the JP Morgan Chase), his board felt that a 77 percent increase in his salary to $20 million a year was in order.  News of the raise came last week as 90 percent of Americans are still feeling an economy dragging them down.

As a New York Daily News January 26 editorial noted with scorn:

With too-big-to-fail arrogance on steroids, the board members of scandal-tainted JPMorgan Chase have boosted Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon’s salary by 77% to a fat, happy and offensive $20 million.

The entire lot of them are beyond shame.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

amed4881836429 95cb76dae8The current US medical system financially rewards hospitals and doctors (particularly highly compensated specialists) for performing more procedures and treating more diseased people, not for prevention (although the Affordable Care Act makes some progress in that direction).  It is perverse: The aging of the US population aside, the healthcare system becomes more profitable institutionally and personally (for medical providers) as the number of diseased patients rises and hi-tech tests and operations are performed. 

Furthermore, a recent New York Times article documented that it is not uncommon for multiple specialists to bill for even standard diagnostic procedures, even if their role was minimal or unnecessary.  

The net result is that the US healthcare system does not generally look at improving community health; it looks at marketing services to treat disease.  The more disease, the greater the revenue.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apet9048470735 1776e179a7The Koch brothers are benefitting from the Alberta tar sands operation big time as they amass mountains of a byproduct -- petroleum coke -- to sell overseas.

As with many toxic industries, the Koch brothers are locating storage large storage piles of “petcoke” in poor down-on-their-heels neighborhoods. This first came to notice in Detroit, where the Kochs were storing the hazardous material -- in open air -- along the Detroit River until ships could transport it overseas (particularly to China).

A similar storage hazard exists on Chicago's struggling Southwest Side, along the Calumet River. Many residents are revolting against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed industry friendly regulations and support a ban on open storage of petroleum coke (a move opposed by Emanuel). 

According to a January 14 article in Midwest Energy News (MEN):

At a public hearing Monday night, local residents made clear that they don’t trust the City Council or Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take meaningful action on the issue.

They think the city’s proposed storage regulations  – crafted by the public health department at the mayor’s behest — would allow piles of petcoke to keep growing and polluting in their neighborhood....

Emanuel last month rejected the idea of a citywide ban on petcoke storage, saying a state or federal solution is needed. 

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asingpay2

New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who represents the Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen sections of Manhattan (D-75th District), has introduced a bill to implement a true single-payer healthcare system in New York State. Although the legislation made it out of the healthcare committee of the Assembly last year, it then was basically stonewalled from going much further.

Gottfried, chair of the health committee, told BuzzFlash at Truthout, the bill was re-introduced at the beginning of this session on January 8th of 2014.

What makes Gottfried's bill distinct is that it would -- if implemented in its ideal configuration -- be a true single-payer healthcare system for all New Yorkers (except Veterans, who receive care through a government-administered system of providers employed by the Veterans Administration.)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

arichp490265631 6a2ba0e78bAccording to a new study by Oxfam, as reported (by McClatchy) in the Miami Herald, less than 100 of the richest people in the world have amassed economic assets and income roughly equal to 50% of the world's population:

The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together.

The report was issued just before The World Economic Forum opens on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. The forum is a gathering spot for world political, academic and business leaders where, the forum’s website says, they “shape global, regional and industry agendas."

Oxfam echoes what many have warned: the mega-concentration of the world's financial assets in the hands of so few undermines the very viability of democracy.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abankster6309947640 5218b95030 nA politican wants to hold Wall Street accountable for its criminal and willfully negligent behavior -- and lo and behold, it's a Chicago alderwoman, according to the Sun-Times:

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) plans to introduce a City Council ordinance ...deleting the bank from its list of 19 designated financial heavy hitters.

Chase as a municipal depository.

..about $350 million in city municipal funds are now deposited with 
Chase.

Hairston argues that JPMorgan Chase should be treated like any other person or business prohibited from doing business with the city.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

awarren777Watching Elizabeth Warren speak on behalf of the working people of America on television is like reaching an oasis after a waterless wandering through a vast desert. Such was the case when she spoke with MSNBC's Alex Wagner about the GOP sinking an unemployment benefit extension in the Senate.

As the Political Carnival website described her TV denunciation of such a cruel action, "Elizabeth Warren kicks ass...again." (You can view the video of the interview by clicking the link above.)

Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist-independent, has been a Jeremiah of rationality and social justice for years: first in the Congress and now in the Senate.  He had been a lone senatorial voice who thoroughly debunked the false right wing narrative of plutocrats pulling the economy up for everyone, pulverizing the notion of a trickle down theory.  

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

asocsec221 15According to RT.com, the 900 wealthiest Americans paid their full Social Security tax obligation for 2014 by January 2nd.

How is that possible?

As BuzzFlash at Truthout has pointed out before, there is an inexplicable cap on collecting Social Security tax above an income of $117,000 a year.  Most payrolled Americans pay 6.2 percent of their income into the Social Security Trust Fund (the employer pays another 6.2 percent).  But if you are a high-flying CEO who earns $50 million a year, $49,883,000 of your income is exempt from Social Security taxes.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abanker1 14

I got to admit that I keep a barf bag with me for everytime I see a member of the Wall Street 1% or a Republican poobah repeat their perennial meme of the wealthy being "job creators."

In fact, I avert my eyes and put my fingers in my ears now whenever that phrase pops up -- which is far too often, given that the right wing is very good at repeating memes sent to them from the authoritarian leadership and their masters of propaganda.

There are far too many ways to list how the wealthy are the real "takers" in our society, but I will take a stab at a few.  In fact, many of the jobs that they create are for cleaning up after the messes that they make.

Think about how many people were employed to clean up after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, or on a smaller scale the many ongoing chemical and fossil fuel environmental catastrophes like the most recent one in West Virginia. Crisis management after these disasters means people are finally getting hired.

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