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Monday, 15 July 2013 06:23

The Obscenities of Capitalism

TheVisibleSafetyNet071513(Photo: World Bank Photo Collection)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Committed capitalists don't seem to recognize that people depend on each other, and that individual success is a result of collaborative effort, usually over a long period of time. The less free-market thinkers are regulated, the less they seem to care about others. They ignore the fact that America's most productive eras were driven by progressive taxes that funded entrepreneurship in the middle class. And they fail to see the deficiencies in a system that relies solely on profit-making to the exclusion of social responsibility.

Like the images of a dreaded disease, their beliefs might best be defined as obscene.

Published in Guest Commentary

ipaid(Photo: Steve Rhodes)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CEOs are legendary for defending their tax paying records, and eager to imply that government is responsible for any of their tax delinquencies. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced, "We pay all the taxes we owe - every single dollar." Whole Foods co-founder John Mackey supported the iPhone maker, saying "It's not Apple's fault that they're seeking to avoid paying taxes. They're not lying, cheating or stealing. They're following the rules that were created by governments. If the government doesn't like the rules, they can change them."

Mackey didn't mention that changing the tax rules is a specialty of big business. As is flouting the tax rules. The following four tales of corporate malfeasance are particularly disturbing.

 

Published in Guest Commentary

3159236167 2204935b7c n(Photo: Let Ideas Compete)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A recent article by Les Leopold informed us that our nation is near the bottom of the developed world in median wealth, probably the best gauge for the economic strength of the middle class. The source of the information, the Global Wealth Databook, provides additional evidence of our decline from our once-lofty position as an egalitarian country with opportunities for nearly everyone.

The data is summarized below. Column 4 reveals that the U.S. is near the top of the developed world in average wealth, in good part because of its many millionaires (Col 8). Median wealth per adult, in Column 5, is much lower. As a sign of the distance between America's middle class and its national wealth, Column 6 shows that the ratio of median to mean in the U.S. is lower than in any country except Russia.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 09:54

Why NSA Spying Isn't New

FBI62613(Photo: Ben R)WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It makes no difference if Edward Snowden, who had fled to Hong Kong and revealed that the American government was spying upon American citizens, is a traitor or a hero.

Intelligence agencies from China, Russia, England, Israel, and maybe even Lichtenstein, probably already know that the National Security Administration (NSA) is collecting data of all the phone calls and emails of Americans, and linking them to conversations with foreign nationals. What is unsettling is that everything the NSA is doing is legal. Secret federal courts can issue secret warrants to agencies that maintain secret files.

Americans who have been paying attention should also know that electronic spying—it sounds better when the government says it’s data mining to prevent terrorism—has been going on at least a decade.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 24 June 2013 08:24

Six Shameful Facts About Hunger

FoodStamps62413(Photo: US Department of Agriculture)PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Of all the miseries placed on human beings in their everyday lives, the lack of food may be the most inexcusable. Even in a world controlled by unbending attitudes of self-reliance and individual responsibility, the reality of children and seniors and disabled citizens without food is a stain on humanity, a shameful testament to the capitalist goal of profit without conscience.

The facts presented here all touch on the lives of human beings, in the U.S. and beyond, who lack food or the means to pay for it.

1. Congress wants to cut a food program for which almost half the recipients are children

According to the Department of Agriculture, 48% of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in 2011 were children. Either unaware or indifferent to this, Congress is considering a new farm bill that would cut food assistance by $2 billion a year while boosting the farm subsidies of big agriculture.

Published in Guest Commentary

NSA61913(Photo: ElectronicFrontierFoundation)WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Dear US Citizen:

Please accept our most egregiously sincere apologies for the difficulties and inconveniences the secret monitoring of your phone records and email and GPS units and foreign travel and bank accounts and yes, even your snail mail has evidently caused.

We here at the NSA strive for the perfection of our services, which depend on the chronic obliviousness of you, our valued customers. Unfortunately, due to one disgruntled deadbeat (who escaped to China to avoid government persecution- which is like joining the Army because you're tired of people telling you what to do) you now know of our continuing efforts to keep you safe. That was never our intention.

When you are even tangentially aware of the absurd lengths the National Security Agency will go to keep you and your loved ones out of harm's way, our mission has failed. If you knew half the crap we have to slog through here, your hair would curl, but that's another story altogether.

Yes, we're pretty much keeping tabs on everything everyone says and does, all the time, which we understand upsets a few of you. Folks. Don't worry. Nobody's actually listening to any of this stuff. We're just used to collecting it. If it makes you feel any better, think of this whole enterprise as an exceedingly long, government- subsidized episode of "Hoarders." You can trust us.

Published in Guest Commentary

VotingBooth61813(Photo: Joe Shlabotnik)BURT HALL FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The right wing of the Republican Party no longer has the leadership or agenda to gain the presidency through a popular vote. Instead, it is relying on ruthless obstruction of the party in power, slowing down economy and voter suppression. The right wing will continue on this path until the American people put a stop to it and remove this cancer from our politics.

After much campaigning and political infighting, we elect a president every four years. These elections provide legitimacy to a new or continued administration. Traditionally, most Americans and their elected representatives in Congress have pulled together and supported a newly elected president, especially in times of crisis. This tradition was broken in a big way during the 1990's.

Published in Guest Commentary

UCDavis 061713(Photo: Talk Radio News Service)
PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

We hear a lot about corporationsavoiding federal taxes. Less well known is their non-payment of state taxes, which along with local taxes make up 90% of U.S. education funding.

Pay Up Now just completed a review of 2011-12 tax data from the SEC filings of 155 of the largest U.S. corporations. The results show that the total cost of K-12 educational cutbacks in recent years is approximately equal to the amount of state taxes left unpaid by these companies.

 

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 12 June 2013 10:31

A Silver Lining in the IRS Hulabaloo?

IRS SILVER LININGNew York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. (Photo: Azi Paybarah)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In the movie Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper's character, suffering from bipolar disorder, strives to find silver linings in his daily life. When it comes to the still-developing IRS scandal, looking for a silver lining may be a colossal stretch. In recent days, however, a sliver of a silver lining is peeking over the horizon.

At this point, it is difficult to predict the long-term consequences of the uproar over the IRS paying extra special attention to Tea Party and Patriot groups seeking tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status. There are many things we know for certain about the IRS scandal's recent trajectory: Congressman Darrel Issa (R-Ca.) will continue to receive more than his fair share of face time as he holds more hearings and makes more provocative statements to the media; Christian right legal firms will file lawsuits galore; a significant amount of money will be raised by conservative organizations; some on the right will push to "Abolish The IRS," while others will call for the impeachment of President Obama; and, in all likelihood, Tea Party and Patriot groups will attempt to launch a spring and summer offensive, based full of outrage and indignation, aimed at stirring up the base.

Published in Guest Commentary

IRSA Tea Party protest in May 2013 against the IRS. (Photo: Jeffery Scism)BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Anyone who has followed right wing movements over the past several decades, or even the past few months, could have anticipated the most recent wrinkle in the still-developing IRS scandal; the call to abolish the IRS. While advocating eliminating the IRS is nothing new -- former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) has pushed that idea for years -- shortly before a House Appropriation Committee hearing, Senator Ted Cruz picked up the abolish the IRS standard tweeting: “Mr. President, if your #1 priority is fixing the problem, let's abolish the #IRS

Published in Guest Commentary
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