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Wednesday, 30 August 2017 06:18

Corporate Tax Cuts Don't Mean More Jobs


ceopayCutting corporate tax cuts do not necessarily translate into increased jobs. (Image: IPS)

A just-released report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) -- a DC think tank providing analysis on peace and economic, racial, and climate justice -- provides evidence that tax cuts for corporations do not necessarily correlate with an increase in jobs. Additionally, increased CEO compensation does not routinely result in increased employment. These are important findings, because the number one rationale that politicians use to justify corporate tax cuts is that the increased business revenue will lead to decreased unemployment.

The IPS report, entitled "Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs," had several key conclusions, including:

  • Tax breaks did not spur job creation

  • Tax-dodging corporations paid their CEOs more than other big firms

  • Job-cutting firms spent tax savings on buybacks, which inflated CEO pay

The August 30 report refutes the claim being made by Trump, who is now formally beginning his "tax reform" campaign, that reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent will result in increased and higher-paying jobs.

Rescue teams from the National Guard evacuate those flooded out by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.Rescue teams from the National Guard evacuate those flooded out by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. (Photo: The National Guard)WIM LAVEN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

When Donald Trump heads to Texas for his photo ops this week it is a completely selfish act. It is the same after every disaster and it reflects a real bifurcation between expertise on disasters and political expedience. Harvey is no different than Katrina or Sandy in that regard. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both had their pictures taken, and there are many lessons. Trump is aware of the clear lesson: stay away. He has even pledged to hold off until that trip can be made without causing disruption in the wake of the Hurricane, but he won't wait.

Presidential visits can divert critical resources. Trump, for example, has maxed out the Secret Service budget for the year already. Security details are only part of it and, on the whole, such visits require significant logistical planning during normal events and times. In the wake of a disaster, however, resources for the visit are pulled from other details, sometimes life and death operations. George W. Bush identified mistakes he made, and he avoided visiting too early during the aftermath of Katrina because he didn't want to cause disruptions. Barack Obama applied these lessons in the days following Sandy. Flyovers are effective, they don't require the volume of resources, but they don't produce the pictures. Politicians crave the boots-on-the-ground photo with the destruction in the background.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017 06:46

Trump's High Tower

Here we were as a country at some of the lowest points in our history, and yet Trump’s coffers continue to be filled, his apparent fame an even greater attraction to the tower. While the US suffers, the private income of this one billionaire continues to profit. His tower. Here it was in broad daylight.As a country, we are at some of the lowest points in our history, and yet Trump’s coffers continue to be filled, his apparent fame an even greater attraction to his tower. While the US suffers, the private income of this one billionaire continues to profit. (Photo: Brad / Flickr)CHRISTINE NGARUIYA FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It had never occurred to me to visit Trump Tower in New York before he came to power. As a form of defiance, I suppose, I had purposely avoided it as a contester to the majority of his administration's work thereafter. But then, one hazy summer afternoon, there I stood, unexpectedly lulled in by a friend from out of town with an innocent curiosity to explore the place.

I stood at the foot of the tower both metaphorically and tangibly taking in the structure and its surroundings. From a few blocks away, it was easy to spot, helped by the fully decked-out police brigade that lined the streets around it. Like many other aspects of this administration's work, it immediately struck a jarring chord with me. All of this disproportionate support for the one building on the street, serving the one and disregarding the masses.


workprogramThe Trump administration just cut a promising local hiring program. (Photo: vonderauvisuals)

Next City, a website focusing on urban issues, revealed in an August 28 article that Trump is ending an encouraging jobs program:

His administration announced last week its withdrawal of a proposed rule change, put forth during President Barack Obama’s tenure, that would have allowed state and local governments receiving federal transportation dollars to apply local hiring preferences to contracts awarded using those dollars. The withdrawal reverts the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration back to rules set during the Reagan administration, which prohibited any geographic-based hiring preferences in contracts using federal transportation dollars....

“Local hire has allowed municipalities to use their own money to help employ people directly from their communities. It has been strategic for our elected leaders to say that they’re not going to raise our tax dollars for investments in capital projects without ensuring that persons facing significant barriers to employment get expanded access to good jobs and training opportunities,” said Erik Miller, executive director of Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services.

Capital & Main, an investigative news site, included more criticism of the move in an article about the cancellation of the program:

“Many of these jobs were finally addressing long-term unemployment — many, for people of color,” said Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink, an economic and social equity think tank. “This is yet another example of the Trump administration not standing up for jobs for the nation’s most vulnerable.”


Broken 0828wrp opt(Photo: Rachel Knickmeyer / Flickr)The American people are deeply frustrated with not being fairly represented in Congress and with not having a voice in our democracy. They are demanding an end to our great political divide and a return to a working democracy. For years politicians have been well aware of these concerns and the need for the two parties to be civil and work together. And, they know that trust in government has been at an all time low. But the problem persists unabated.

Republicans now control all three branches of government, yet they haven't had an acceptable administration in years. They allowed a preventable 9/11 and two wars to occur, failed two terms in office, and constantly checkmated the other party's success while offering no solutions of their own. There is something fundamentally wrong in our democratic system and it has to be addressed.

Our great political divide began in a big way when, after owning the White House for 12 years, Republicans lost it unexpectedly to the Clinton presidency. They were outraged at the loss, considered his victory illegitimate and believed he had to be driven from office. The political environment that followed has continued to the present day and is best expressed byRepublican George Voinovich. After saving Cleveland from default as mayor and making Ohio number one as governor, he worked across the aisle during two terms in the Senate (winning all 88 Ohio counties) and always had the ear of the president. He confessed at Senate retirement that the attitude of his colleagues was "We're going to get what we want or the country can go to hell."


Peace 0828wrp opt(Photo: Bruce Fingerhood)Washington, D.C., needs a three-dimensional, sculptural Guernica dedicated to and with explanatory information about the victims of U.S. bombings in over 30 countries that the United States has bombed.

And it needs such a monument to the victims of wars now, to help move the country away from war. We can't wait to create the monument after having achieved a society willing to make room for it among the war-glorification monstrosities gobbling up more and more space in the U.S. capital.

With land unavailable for peace in the land of war temples, the obvious solution is a rooftop. The Methodist Building across from the Capitol and the Supreme Court, or the nearby FCNL building, or any other prominent building with a roof could radically alter the DC skyline and worldview.

Bureacratic hurdles would have to be cleared, height kept below that of the Capitol dome, etc. But a rooftop could make a monument more visible, not less. An external elevator could take people close-up to view, learn more, and photograph.

Friday, 25 August 2017 07:49

Facing History in the Age of Trump


TFlag 0825wrp opt(Photo: IoSonoUnaFotoCamera)Tempting as it is to isolate Donald Trump as the worst president in history (and "worst" is putting it mildly . . . more like the most narcissistically infantile, the most Nazi-friendly), doing so achieves nothing beyond a fleeting sense of satisfaction.

Yeah, he's scary. His supporters are scary. But he comes in a context.

Whether or not he's impeached, or removed from office via the 25th Amendment, his effect on the country won't go away. Trump can't be undone, any more than an act of terror — or war — can be undone.

But maybe Trump can be addressed beyond a sense of outrage. Maybe he can foment, in spite of himself, not simply change, but national transformation. Realizing this, and seizing hold of the moment he has created, may be a far more effective way of dealing with his unhinged presidency than merely exuding endless shock.

This, of course, is how the mainstream media is dealing with the situation. Journalism has never been so yellow. Extra! Extra! Trump tweets a whopper! Read all about it!


donaldtrump33Donald Trump doesn't do a "pivot." (Gage Skidmore)

Retired US Marine Corps General John Kelly, after a short stint as secretary of homeland security, replaced Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff on July 31. In response, the PBS News Hour sent out an email with the question, "Can Kelly stabilize the White House?" The question reflected the countless mainstream corporate press articles that speculated whether the umpteenth personnel change in the executive branch since Trump took office was a "pivot." Other articles reflected on whether or not Kelly's appointment was a "reset" for the Trump administration.

As an example of the Kelly-replacing-Priebus coverage, consider the August 1 NBC News article entitled, "Is Trump (Finally) Ready for a 'Pivot' to Presidential?" Journalist Ali Vitali wrote, after reflecting on Trump's incorrigible behavior as president,

But now, with the appointment of Ret. Marine Gen. John Kelly as his new chief of staff, is Trump finally on the precipice of change?

He says he could if he wanted — "with the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any President that's ever held this office!" — but chooses not to because he believes the country needs an unconventional governing style.

"Sometimes they say he doesn't act presidential. And I say, 'Hey look, Great schools, smart guy.' It's so easy to act presidential, but that's not gonna to get it done," Trump told thousands of supporters in Youngstown, Ohio, last week for a campaign-style rally.

How can one expect a person who sees himself as an omniscient, omnipotent CEO be reined in by a person whom he considers an employee?

Ghulam ( second from left ) working on our community's greenhouse, together with Zek, Khamad and Ali. (Photo: Dr. Hakim)Ghulam (second from left ) working on our community's greenhouse, together with Zek, Khamad and Ali. (Photo: Dr. Hakim)DR. HAKIM FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Ali, Zekerullah, Khamad and I miss Ghulam and his family. We feel sad that life in Afghanistan had finally become too burdensome for them. They are now Afghan refugees in Iran.

We have known Ghulam for many years, Ali and Ghulam being distant relatives and the best of childhood friends. Ghulam lived in community with us for about five years. We were his second family, supporting one another through thick and thin.

Ghulam's Focus

Ghulam worked very hard to be a good student. When he transferred to a private school, he topped his class in the exams and thus had his school fees waived.

He felt that doing well in school was the only route to a better life for a poor student.

Democrats and Republicans, regardless of how much they speak out against Trump, aren't our allies and never have been. Democrats and Republicans, regardless of how much they speak out against Trump, aren't our allies and never have been. (Photo: DonkeyHotey)SYD ROBERTS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In recent days, establishment Republicans leaders have started speaking out, either through interviews or indirectly on social media, against Trump's statements following the events in Charlottesville. The platitudes have ranged from generalized disapproval of white supremacy to more targeted assessments of what Trump's comments mean for his capacity to lead the country. Some of the highest profile conservative political figures like Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz have been scrambling to do damage control on this latest controversy, asserting that they have no loyalty to the increasingly vocal white nationalists cropping up around the country. However, when the voting records and platforms of the conservatives condemning them are analyzed, it becomes clear that the discomfort Republicans feel with Trump -- especially concerning his comments following Charlottesville -- doesn't stem from his policies and rhetoric being antithetical to mainstream GOP core values, but because those same values are being presented and discussed in too blatant of ways. The Republican Party's nationalism, inhumane stances on immigration, consistent Islamophobia and unwavering support of the police state are indistinguishable from those exposed by the far right and Trump. The problem for GOP leaders is that Trump's white nationalism isn't disguised with prose or jargon. Republican anger and outrage is stemming from a place of betrayal over the exposure of their foundational values and beliefs, not from a place of moral and ethical objection.

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