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aaaaaaaaaaaaaceoretire345Economic injustice benefits the few at the expense of the many in retirement years. (Image: Institute for Policy Studies)

A just-released study on the enormous gap between retirement assets and benefits for the wealthy as compared to the rest of Americans - "A Tale of Two Retirements" - blames the divide on "a shift in the rules to favor corporate executives over other working people."

Key findings of the report, which was authored by Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger for the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Effective Government, include:

  • The company-sponsored retirement assets of just 100 CEOs add up to as much as the entire retirement account savings of 41% of American families (50 million families in total).

  • The 100 largest CEO retirement accounts are worth an average of more than $49.3 million—enough to generate a $277,686 monthly retirement check for each executive for the rest of their lives.

  • David Novak of YUM Brands had the largest retirement nest egg in the Fortune 500 in 2014, with $234 million, while hundreds of thousands of his Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC employees have no company retirement assets whatsoever. Novak transitioned from CEO to Executive Chairman in 2015.

Meanwhile, as BuzzFlash pointed out in an October 15 commentary, US "seniors face year of increased hardship as Social Security benefits stagnate." We pointed out that the government is denying seniors on Social Security a cost-of-living increase next year, even though their costs for food, medical care and rent are increasing. 

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaatblairProtestors at a UK Iraq War inquiry in 2010 respell Tony Blair's last name to emphasize that he is a liar. (Photo: Chris Beckett)

In a highly qualified "apology" for the Iraq War - offered in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN - Tony Blair grudgingly admitted that the war may have been partially responsible for the unleashing of ISIS. 

Many British news outlets, such as the Guardian US, speculate that Blair was savvily using preemptive public relations to insulate himself from the expected criticisms of the upcoming publication of the UK Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War:

Did Tony Blair’s statements about taking Britain to war in Iraq constitute an apology? As far as Britain’s national newspapers were concerned, they certainly did not.

Most of the editorials and commentaries view his CNN interview as a spin operation ahead of the publication of the Chilcot report, which is expected, wrote the Guardian’s Richard Norton-Taylor, to be "damning."

The Daily Mail accused the former prime minister of weasel words in "an apology of sorts." The Daily Mirror thought he had delivered a "half-hearted apology" that "will bring no comfort to families whose loved ones never came home."

Blair, while acknowledging that the accusations that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction were false, doesn't concede that he knew that they were false as the Bush administration and the UK used the lie to feverishly market the war.

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaabeng666The House of Representatives GOP promotes one of the endless Benghazi Committee "hearings." (Photo: House GOP)

One need not support Hillary Clinton's hawkish foreign policy (including her lamentable advocacy of the Libyan invasion in the first place - which most Congressional Republicans vigorously supported), her candidacy, or even her veracity to challenge the use of Congress by Republicans to hijack the legislative process and turn it into a junkyard dog. 

Yahoo Finance reported about Thursday's marathon Benghazi hearing:

After questioning Hillary Clinton for 11 hours in Congress, the head of the House Select Committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya didn't have a concrete answer about whether he'd learned anything new. 

Even the corporate mainstream media, which usually loves to report on the sparks that fly from the manufactured spectacle of such "hearings," is beginning to take note of the real motive of the Benghazi Committee. An October 22 USA Today editorial offered this opinion:

The situation raises any number of questions about the wisdom of U.S. involvement in Gadhafi's removal, the lack of follow-through and the right strategy to fight the spread of ISIL in the region. 

But, as former secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s marathon appearance Thursday before the Select Committee on Benghazi made clear, these questions are not being asked. Instead, an insular and hyperpartisan Washington is focused on just one aspect of the Libyan drama: Clinton’s actions around the time of a 2012 raid on a diplomatic compound that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Thursday’s hearing was hardly a sober and thorough effort to find fact. That work has already been done in seven prior inquiries by Congress and one by a State Department review panel (which found that department personnel made misjudgments in a confusing situation). 

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaagreed324It is greed that is shameful, not poverty. (Photo: See-ming Lee

Robert E. McDonald, the mayor of Lewiston, Maine, recently wrote a commentary in his local paper in which he advocates for shaming public aid recipients by listing their names and addresses on a website. Consistent with this proposal, he also suggests that harsh restrictions should be applied to those in poverty who receive financial aid from the government:

We will be submitting a bill to the next legislative session asking that a website be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole. After all, the public has a right to know how its money is being spent.

Along with this bill, we will be resubmitting HR 368, which will bring local General Assistance into compliance with federal laws that limit General Assistance to a 60-month total lifetime benefit. 

Additionally, we will be submitting a bill similar to one in Massachusetts, prohibiting the state from paying benefits for any additional child born after the recipient has been accepted into General Assistance.

McDonald doesn't call his idea for publicly listing government financial recipients an act of "shaming," but that surely is his intention. It also may be a perverse strategy to deter families in need from seeking financial assistance in the first place, out of fear that they may be harassed. 

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaaawtcGeorge W. Bush did nothing, even though warned of imminent attacks, to prevent 9/11. He did not "keep us safe." (Photo: Jason Powell)

No, Jeb, George W. Bush did not try and keep the US "safe" from 9/11 occurring.

Despite Jeb's claims otherwise, Bush was indeed warned of bin Laden planning attacks in the US. These included an alarming memo that he received while on a month-long vacation in Texas, just weeks before 9/11. The memo referred not only to a long history of bin Laden's goal to strike on US soil, it directly mentioned hijackings. 

A September 10, 2012, commentary in The New York Times by Kurt Eichenwald provides the damning context to George W. Bush's negligence in taking any steps to prevent an al-Qaeda operation such as the one that caused such a loss of life on 9/11:

On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s "presidential daily brief" — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal....

[This memo should be] read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it.

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaaabillionChina has trumped the US in having the most billionaires. (Photo: Fry_theonly)

At the next Republican presidential debate, are we going to hear a round of lamentations that the US - according to a study of the world's wealthiest individuals conducted by a Chinese financial publication, the Hurun Report - is no longer number one in billionaires?

An October 15 article in The Chicago Sun-Times states it bluntly:

The United States can no longer claim the title of being home to the world’s most billionaires.

....that distinction now belongs to China, where a reported 596 billionaires reside, surpassing the 537 billionaires the Hurun Rich List claims live in the U.S.

To make the top 100, you’d have to be worth at least $3.2 billion

By the list’s calculations, China produced 242 billionaires through the year ending on Aug. 14, which comes out to about five newly minted mega rich per week.

Will Donald Trump bellow that he is helping to hold onto the fabled notion of "the American Dream" by being a billionaire? After all, he has made China a major target of his campaign rhetoric, claiming the US has allegedly been economically superseded by the Communist nation turned aggressive capitalist economy. Is Trump's obsession with China really a battle over which nation will be the world champion in its number of billionaires?

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaaaasocialsecIn a specious move, the federal government will deny Social Security recipients an adjusted increase in benefits this coming year. (Photo: 401(K) 2012)

According to an October 15 Associated Press article, the federal government has decided not to increase benefits this year for Social Security recipients:

The government says there will be no benefit increase next year for millions of Social Security recipients, disabled veterans and federal retirees.

It’s just the third time in 40 years that benefits will remain flat. All three times have come since 2010....

The announcement will affect benefits for more than 70 million people - that’s more than one-fifth of the nation’s population.

The total includes almost 60 million retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children who get Social Security benefits.

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaaahillaryFormer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has rejected the hard choice of reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act to rein in Wall Street. (Photo: Mike Mozart)

Amidst the announcements by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that she officially opposes the northern sector of the Keystone XL pipeline and has taken a position against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there has been little discussion of Clinton's announcement that she is opposed to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall act. 

The infamous repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act occurred during the waning days of the Bill Clinton administration, with his full support. The law, according to Investopedia, was "an act the U.S. Congress passed in 1933 as the Banking Act, which prohibited commercial banks from participating in the investment banking business."

As an analysis of Clinton's position by journalist Dylan Stableford of Yahoo! Politics states:

The Glass-Steagall Act, passed in 1933, prohibited commercial banks from participating in the investment banking business and created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to protect bank deposits from institutional failure. But major provisions of the law were repealed in 1999 under President Bill Clinton, a move some believe contributed to the 2008 global credit crisis because commercial banks - now free to invest in things such as real estate - were saddled with billions of dollars in losses tied to cratering U.S. home prices. Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for the reinstatement of the law to make "too-big-to-fail" banks much smaller, minimize risk and prevent such a crisis from happening again.

An onslaught of critics have blamed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act for the 2008 US economic implosion, the bailing-out of banks with billions and billions of taxpayer dollars, and the ongoing fraud and illegal behavior of many large banks. Clinton, however, says that she has a better prescription to cure Wall Street misbehavior.

Published in EditorBlog
Thursday, 08 October 2015 08:17

In the US, Is God a White Racist?



What God would be on the side of racism, violence and white supremacy? (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

In a Truthout commentary in January 2013, Thom Hartmann asserted that the Second Amendment was inserted in the US Constitution to preserve slavery. Hartmann provides concrete detail and historical context to bolster his claim. He argues that the Southern slave states were fearful that the Northern states would eventually have enough power to end slavery in the newly formed United States. As a result, they wanted concessions in the Constitution to alleviate their "concerns."

These appeasements included counting human slaves as three-fifths of a person (even though they were obviously not allowed to vote) in order to enlarge Southern congressional districts, and allotting two senators to states regardless of population to give relatively sparsely populated slave states equal representation in the Senate to Northern states that were larger in population. 

Hartmann cogently accounts for how important the Second Amendment was to Slave states, to ensure their legal ability - through militarized police actions and groups - to attempt to prevent slaves from escaping or rebelling. 

Published in EditorBlog


aaaaaaaaaaaaaapeoplefirstWhen profits come before people, more than half of the population of the United States is living on the margins. (Photo: Don Shall)

A recent study by the for-profit website GOBankingRates.com found that just under 50 percent of Americans have no savings socked away. Worse yet, another 13 percent in the US have savings that total under $1000, and 9 percent have just a "minimum [savings] account" balance requirement. Minimum balance requirements vary, but GOBankingRates cites ranges of $500 - $1500.

If you add these three figures together, a dismaying number of Americans - approximately 70 percent - have either no savings or less than around $1500 set aside. 

Commenting on the survey, blogger Jonathan Turley cuts to the chase:

The economic situation in this country is far worse than most people appreciate. We live in economically stratified areas where there is little interaction between distant economic classes. These reports are a startling wake up call for policy makers. The goal of everyone having a few months of cushion for bad times is clearly not occurring - leaving at least half or more of the population on the razor’s edge of poverty.

Another analysis, conducted by America Saves, is more optimistic, but the America Saves survey is based on the desire to save, not the reality of whether or not an individual has the financial ability to set aside money for the future.

Published in EditorBlog
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