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TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

Psst! Mr. Tea Party! Here's

A word to the wise:

You kinda blew the

Element of surprise.

 

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/disgraced-ex-tea-party-leader-promises-to-infiltrate-and-sabotage-obama-2012.php?ref=fpb

 

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Yesterday's BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary "The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America's Middle Class," evoked a wave of comments by readers posting in threads on Facebook and elsewhere.

As one BuzzFlash at Truthout follower pointed out, the wealthy and the Republicans denounce such commentary as "provoking class warfare" in order to provide cover for the class war that they are conducting in order to lay waste to the middle class and poor. The ultimate goal, of course, is to accumulate more wealth in the portfolios of the already super wealthy.

According to a spokesperson for a web site on income disparity, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality, the top one percent of Americans own 35.6 percent of the nation's wealth, while 80 percent of Americans own only 12.8 percent of the wealth in the US. The other 19 percent - just below the top 1 percent - own the rest.

In short, the latest figures available to Too Much reveal that the 1 percent of Americans at the top of the economic ladder own nearly three times as much as the 80 percent of Americans who make up fourth-fifths of the nation. Think about that for a moment. That is basically a third-world income gap. One BuzzFlash at Truthout reader called this "21st century feudalism."

Another commenter remained flummoxed about the gullibility of many in the shrinking middle class who support elected officials who cut services and wages for them, while making that top 1 percent even more disproportionately wealthy. He could only, in exasperation, conjecture that many in the middle class are "suffering from Stockholm Syndrome!"

But one organization wrote, in response to "The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America's Middle Class," that the best action to counter this ominous propaganda coup by the likes of the Koch brothers, "would be for people to feel the anger of moral outrage, to speak out, and take to the streets. This, at long last, is what we see happening in Wisconsin, as those brave citizens repeatedly chant, 'This is what democracy looks like!' It is they who are challenging and inspiring us to re-assert our American Creed.""

If people can challenge corrupt governments and entrenched wealth in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, then why not here, in the cradle of modern democracy?

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Published in EditorBlog
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Why aren't those in the Tea Party who are middle or working class railing against the inequities of America's billion-dollar-a-year earners?

That's an implicit question that arises from reading the web site, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

Hedge fund honchos bet on stocks. They bet on gold. They bet on lawsuits. Most of all, they bet that the rest of us will never wise up to the awesome giveaway our current tax code ladles on them.

... hedge fund manager earnings have exploded spectacularly. The total compensation for the hedgie top 25 stood at $2.8 billion in 2003. This total quintupled over the next three years, to $14 billion in 2006, then soared to $22.3 billion in 2007, just before the financial industry meltdown.

That unpleasantness did put a bit of a crimp into hedge fund rewards, but only for a moment. Last year's hedge fund manager top 25 total: $22.03 billion. Six of last year's top 25 pulled in over $1 billion each. America may not yet have recovered from the Great Recession. Hedge fund managers certainly have.

Moreover, the mainstream media predominantly focuses on the message of politicians who are making draconian cuts to public services - including health care and food - and eliminating public jobs, which allows for those who essentially make fortunes through legalized financial gambling to rake in even more with reduced taxes.

Thomas Frank posed the essential question in his prescient book, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Why do so many members of the white middle and working class vociferously support candidates who advocate more tax cuts for the rich?

Maybe it is because right-wing propaganda organizations funded by the wealthy (such as ALEC, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks) are so effective at diverting attention from economic inequality.

Some might call it brainwashing.

 

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH FOR TRUTHOUT

"CEO Pay Soars While Workers' Pay Stalls," a March 31 headlines announced in USA Today.

On April 2, BuzzFlash at Truthout took note that the jobs that are coming back for most Americans pay less and have fewer benefits, compared to the economy prior to the recession.

The USA Today article confirms that reality:

At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives' compensation started working its way back to pre-recession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics....

The big increases in executive compensation are difficult for workers to swallow, given that many Americans are struggling just trying to find a job or make ends meet, says Alan Johnson of executive pay consulting firm Johnson Associates. "The fact this makes us all squirm is true."

Unfortunately, many national and state legislators who follow the siren song of the Koch brothers are not squirming; they are continuing to press for laws that enhance the gluttonous wealth of the richest in the nation, while devaluing the pay and benefits of American workers.

We are headed backwards to the type of European two-class system that existed prior to the American Revolution: the rich and the servant (labor) class. There's nothing "patriotic" about that.

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

If you are black or young in America, the economy is not getting better.

According to the April 1st AFL-CIO blog,

Young people and people of color continue to experience the worst jobless rates which have remained high, with 24.5 percent of teenagers out of work and 15.5 percent of black workers and 11.3 percent of Hispanics jobless. Some 7.9 percent of white workers are jobless, as are 7.1 percent of Asian workers.

Dean Baker, who writes regularly for Truthout, noted,"Employment among blacks fell back almost to its low-point for the downturn."

Furthermore, despite the recent official drop of unemployment to 8.8%, the AFL-CIO points out the starker reality of joblessness: "While the official unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, it's 15.7 percent if unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up looking for work are included-more than 24 million people."

And Baker notes the ongoing wage stagnation for workers while CEOs reap record bonuses and shareholders high profits: "One serious negative item is that wages have been essentially flat over the last two months. Nominal wage growth over both the last quarter and year have both been 1.7 percent."

The trending of the "recovering economy" is toward a more divided class structure: the wealthy and the borderline poor, with black America left behind.

That's an economy that has redistributed its income in the job market, redistributed it downward when it comes to the working people of the US.

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

General Electric (GE) wanted me to know that the corporation is not a tax-dodger - and allegedly was maligned by a New York Times (NYT) article entitled, "G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether."

So, GE paid for a Google email teaser, which I clicked through to a slick public relations web page that claimed the NYT article was "distorting and misleading."

Except as far as I can see, nothing on the GE "crisis management" explanation page refuted the basic NYT fact that the firm "reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion."

GE asserts, as its first point of defense, that it "pays what it owes under the law and is scrupulous about its compliance with tax obligations in all jurisdictions."

Technically, it is possible that statement is true, but specious, because GE gets legislation passed that allows it to legally avoid paying its fair share for the maintenance of democracy.

According to the NYT, "A review of company filings and congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks."

That's what financial journalist David Cay Johnston describes in his book, "Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else."

Just call what GE does "legalized theft."

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Scott Walker isn't just trying to privatize public work; he is also trying to remove accountability for the costs and quality of projects contracted to outside firms by the state of Wisconsin.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reveals that the Walker administration is trying to remove a cost-benefit analysis requirement for "outsourcing" state jobs:

Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal eliminates a state law requiring state agencies to study the costs and benefits of outsourcing work.

Current law says agencies must compare the costs of having private contractors do work costing more than $25,000 against what it would cost to have state workers do the job.

So, first Walker defiantly declares that state union workers are ripping off the state, then he removes a requirement that reveals whether outside contractors would cost more and do a worse job than public employees. A pretty good scam if you are looking to channel taxpayer money to the firms of campaign contributors without disclosing excessive costs and poor workmanship.

One Wisconsin Republican state senator isn't buying Walker's gambit. Sen. Luther Olson complained, "Can you explain why when we're in a time of serious fiscal trouble, why we would not want to do a serious cost-benefit analysis?"

The answer, Senator Olson, is that Walker's intentions are not to save the taxpayer money or fix budget holes; his goal is to privatize state work and assets.

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

You would think obeying the law would be a high priority for the flag-waving right-wingers, but obviously not for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

As Talking Points Memo reported, Walker and the Wisconsin GOP went ahead and started implementing their rammed through anti-union law, despite a judicial order not to do so.

In fact, the Walker administration has already stopped collecting dues for the public unions and has increased health care insurance deductions, again in defiance of a legal restraint until the court suits concerning the law proceed further along.

Now we learn, via a nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau report, that contrary to Walker's claims that he is reducing the state budget by 6 percent, it will actually increase spending by 1 percent.

You have to wonder how much Walker could have actually cut the budget by raising fair share taxes on tax-dodging corporations and millionaires, instead of using unions as a scapegoat.

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The attack that is being waged on unions in Republican-controlled states across the nation is not just an economic war to lower the working person's standard of living. As the Tea Party governor of Maine has shown, it is an assault on the basic dignity of labor itself.

According to The Associated Press (via Maine Public Broadcasting), Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine) considers artwork that pays homage to the integrity and struggles of the working person to be "inappropriate" in a state government building:

LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta.

In addition, the LePage administration is renaming several department conference rooms that carry the names of pro-labor icons such as Cesar Chavez.

LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt says the mural and the conference room names are not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals and some business owners complained.

Given that the mural in question was in the Maine executive branch office that represents the workers of the state, the action appears to symbolize more than a "pro-business" tilt: it's an anti-labor attack of the pettiest sort.

Throughout history, governments that have resorted to censorship and banned art based on political outlook have not fared well in the long term.

The human spirit is too strong to endure such restrictions on a basic freedom.

In this case, a mural that pays homage to the working class has a right to hang with dignity on the wall of the Maine Department of Labor.

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Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Many of the older nuclear reactors in the United States have the same flawed General Electric design as the Fukushima, Japan, plant that is facing ongoing radiation leakage.

In fact, just in the last few hours, we have learned that one of the core reactors at Fukushima was apparently breached and that radioactive particles are contaminating sea water outside the containment area:

Speculation surrounding the extent to which the radiation may be leaking into the Pacific Ocean was also mounting after tests last weekend found nearby seawater contaminated 1,850 above legal limits.

More recent tests showed that this figure has dropped, although Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Agency said that he suspects radioactive water from the plant is leaking into the ocean.

Yet, there is little active, visible protest in the US to the threat of nuclear power plants designed and run by private corporations for profit.

Contrast that to the 200,000 protesters against nuclear energy who took to the streets this weekend in Germany.

Despite radioactivity reported in the rain as far away as the East Coast of the US , the nuclear issue hasn't reached a critical point of debate here.

But it should, because the nuclear power lobbying industry is hard at work in Washington to make sure federal loan guarantees and subsidies come their way, along with immunity for damage done by a nuclear catastrophe.

It will be too late to save lives after a nuclear plant disaster in the US.

Published in EditorBlog
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