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Wednesday, 06 November 2013 06:39

Jim Hightower | Can Wall Street Buy Redemption?

Jersey City: Goldman Sachs TowerJersey City: Goldman Sachs TowerJIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Goldman Sachs churns out enormous profits from its high-rolling, casino investment schemes, while also churning out fat paychecks for its top executives. They literally sack up the gold, even as their speculative gambles have wreaked havoc on our real economy.

But, finally recognizing that their public approval rating has sunk lower than mad-cow disease, Goldman's banking barons now want you to know that they feel your pain and are eager to "give back" to the people. So — ta-da! — they've transformed themselves into philanthropists, having goosed up the bank's foundation in order to flash their "charitable side." Goldman's chief of staff noted that "people said we weren't doing enough" to address the gross inequities created by Wall Streeters, so they've turned their foundation into the fourth largest corporate charity in America. In an orchestrated show that the New York Times dubbed "reputation redemption," the bank's charitable arm doled out $241 million last year, including grants to women in developing nations and small business projects here in the U.S.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

sunkenship11 4As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they've convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.

1. They've Taken $25 Trillion of New Wealth While Paying Less Taxes

The 2013 Global Wealth Databook shows that U.S. wealth has increased from $47 trillion in 2008 to $72 trillion in mid-2013. But according to U.S. Government Revenue figures, federal income taxes have gone DOWN from 2008 to 2012. Even worse, corporations cut their tax rate in half.

American society has gained nothing from its massive wealth expansion. There's no wealth tax, no financial transaction tax, no way to ensure that infrastructure and public education are supported.

Just how much have the super-rich taken over the past five years? Each of the elite 5% -- the richest 12 million Americans -- gained, on average, nearly a million dollars in financial wealth between 2008 and 2013.

2. For the First Time in History, They Believe They Don't Need the Rest of Us

The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true. Their factories can be in China, producing goods for people in India or Europe or anywhere else in the world.

Published in Guest Commentary

ROBERT REICH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Robert Reich10 30Robert ReichHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Republicans will seek to delay a requirement of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that all Americans obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty. ”With so many unanswered questions and the problems arising around this rollout, it doesn’t make any sense to impose this one percent mandate tax on the American people.”

While Republicans plot new ways to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it’s easy to forget that for years they’ve been arguing that any comprehensive health insurance system be designed exactly like the one that officially began October 1st, glitches and all.

For as many years Democrats tried to graft healthcare onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax. But Republicans countered that any system must be based on private insurance and paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 28 October 2013 07:55

Ted Cruz: Born-Again Jefferson Davis

2013.10.28.BF.StittRICHARD A. STITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ted Cruz' tour de siège in his attempt to close down our government and default on the debt ceiling endeared himself to his Teapartheid supporters whose principle goals are to bring down Barack Obama at any cost and eviscerate democracy and the social safety nets.

The latter goal of course is consistent with the Canadian-born subversive and saboteur whose father supported the Communist dictator Fidel Castro who overthrew the democratically-elected Cuban government. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

As we witness almost daily he and his racist hordes are not such a rare breed when you look at the Old Confederacy revivalists. Now that Republicans have overwhelming control of states like North Carolina and Texas the personal attacks against the president and racist comments coming from their party's elected politicians have been amplified.

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.10.28.BF.BuchheitPAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Even for Congress. They, and others who apparently don't study the facts, believe that Social Security is a government handout. But 'entitlement' means that people who have paid into a program all their lives are entitled to a reasonable return on their investment. A better definition, as pointed out by Mark Karlin at Truthout, is a "mandated retirement savings plan."

Cutting this popular and well-run and life-sustaining program would be irrational. There are many reasons for this.

1. Americans Have Paid For It Throughout Their Working Lives

As of 2010, according to the Urban Institute, the average two-earner couple making average wages throughout their lifetimes receive less in Social Security benefits than they paid in. Same for single males. Same by now for single females. One-earner couples get back more than they paid in.

Published in Guest Commentary

MARC PERKEL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

wiretap10 27It's so weird watching the news as the reporters blame leaker Edward Snowden for the problems that Obama is happening because 35 other national leaders don't want the United States spying on them. Snowed didn't do the spying. Obama did! How is it Snowden's fault? All he did was tell us the Truth.

President Obama, for example,  was forced to call Merkel and claim he new nothing about the wiretapping of her phone, even though it was going on since 2002, according to the authoritative Der Spiegel. Another report from a German publication claims that Obama not only knew about the wiretapping and spying on Merkel, he approved it.

According to CBS News,

In an SCS document cited by the magazine, the agency said it had a "not legally registered spying branch" in the U.S. embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to "grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government".

From there, NSA and CIA staff tapped communication in the Berlin's government district with high-tech surveillance.

Quoting a secret document from 2010, Der Spiegel said such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.

Other revelations allege massive data mining on France, the wiretapping of at least 35 world leaders, ongoing wiretapping relating to industrial espionage and political intelligence gathering by the US, major US government wiretapping on "allies" such as Mexico, Brazil, and member nations of the European Union beyond France and Germany.

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.10.21.BF.BerkowitzBILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Whether you call him a marketing guru, a hotshot data-miner, a crass opportunist, a reverse mortgage huckster, or a Tea Party entrepreneurial role model, Todd Cefaratti isn't letting any grass grow under his feet. Now that the government shutdown is history (at least temporarily), Cefaratti has moved on to greener pastures; telling supporters that the Democratic Party has "declared all–out war on the Tea Party."

According to Cefaratti-signed email, with "Citizen Patriot" affixed to his signature, Democrats "are in panic-mode trying to save Obamacare and have just announced the formation of a special attack unit to target and defeat the Tea Party. In fact, they have already pumped 200,000 dollars in initial seed money into the so–call 'Rapid Response' unit."

To save the Tea Party, Ceferatti has established the "Emergency Response Fund," to fight back against the ... onslaught that is about to come our way."

Published in Guest Commentary

2013.10.21.BF.BuchheitPAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Private systems are focused on making profits for a few well-positioned people. Public systems, when sufficiently supported by taxes, work for everyone in a generally equitable manner.

The following are six specific reasons why privatization simply doesn't work.

1. The Profit Motive Moves Most of the Money to the Top

The federal Medicare Administrator made $170,000 in 2010. The president of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas made over ten times as much in 2012. Stephen J. Hemsley, the CEO of United Health Group, made almost 300 times as much in one year, $48 million, most of it from company stock.

Published in Guest Commentary

PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Woundedknee189110 14Mass grave for the dead Lakota after the massacre at Wounded Knee CreekColumbus Day is a good day to consider American exceptionalism, in the broad sense of superiority. Columbus embraced the doctrine from the start, writing about the Arawak Indians in Haiti: "Great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes and very handsome...I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased."

Conquer them he did, forcing them to find gold for the Spanish explorers, cutting off their hands if they failed.

In the 1600s the Puritans also deemed themselves exceptional, justifying their beliefs with a quote from the Psalms: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." In the Pequot War they annihilated the Native Americans of southern New England.

Equality would be forthcoming, it seems, with the words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." But exceptions were made. George Washington's intentions for the Iroquois Indians in 1779 were to "extirpate them from the country." The Native Americans called Washington the "town destroyer." Washington was just the first of many, many Presidents who believed it was America's role to tell others how to live.

Published in Guest Commentary

10.9.2013.BF.NixonROBERT SCHEER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Before he was disgraced into resigning his presidency over the Watergate burglary scandal, Richard Nixon had successfully engineered an even more odious plot known as his Southern Strategy. The trick was devilishly simple: Appeal to the persistent racist inclination of Southern whites by abandoning the Republican Party's historic association with civil rights and demonizing the black victims of the South's history of segregation.

That same divisive strategy is at work in the Republican rejection of the Affordable Care Act. GOP governors are largely in control of the 26 states, including all but Arkansas in the South, that have refused to implement the act's provision for an expansion of Medicaid to cover the millions of American working poor who earn too much to qualify for the program now. A New York Times analysis of census data concludes that as a result of the Republican governors' resistance, "A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help."

Published in Guest Commentary
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