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Tax-hike scare goes up in thin air

11:23 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at the demise

Honor Among Thieves. Just the difference of a suit of clothes – by Homer Davenport, 1900

An academic study released by an economist from the University of Massachusetts found that one of the scare tactics used by both federal and state lawmakers for not raising taxes and instead cutting back funding of public works and social services is based on a falsity.

A review of recent research performed by economist Jeffrey Thompson found that there is no evidence to support the often-employed claim that the wealthy will flee states that raise taxes to pay for public services. The study actually found that the most wealthy tax payers were less affected by tax increases in general and were therefore even less likely to consider moving out of state due to increases in their taxes.

Research on the subject found that that family and community ties and the difficult prospect of moving entire families out of state assuages both high wage earners and lower wage earners from considering a move simply due to a state imposed tax increase. Thompson said that the ability of the wealthy to “absorb such increases is obviously strongest,” and therefore such households ”are less likely to cut back on spending as a result of tax hikes.”

Thompson’s study also shows that the carnivorous business class’s deployment of crude ayn randian ‘objectivist’-styled scare tactics that hold that greed is the single most important driver in human relations (the passive-aggressive tactic of threatening to ‘take-my-ball-home’ and justifying the threat by suggesting that the selfish act is somehow legitimate when viewed from a faux ‘cost benefit analysis’ point of view) falls flat when that analysis takes into consideration the desires of even the most wealthy in our society to be part of a community, to know one’s neighbors, to participate in the local school systems, churches, public projects – to achieve both personal growth and to make our communities better for every citizen.

In fact, contradicting the meme broadcast by captured politicos and dreamed up by businesses that see nothing wrong with exacting tax giveaways, tax rebates and other tax avoidance schemes that benefit them from politicians while at the same time advocating starving public programs and reneging on contracted pension benefits, many wealthy wage earners told researchers that they felt obliged to pay more for programs and services that make the community a better place.

Bipartisan odor wafting from DC

7:41 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at the demise

Republican Elephant & Democrat Donkey

Bi-partisan cooperation, but not in the people’s name.

As both Democratic and Republican politicians are getting ready to roll up their sleeves and start governing now that the closed for business government has been re-opened for business, a small group of political leaders from both parties are working together to brainstorm solutions that are practical, make good sense and appeal to the mindsets and meet the requirements of politicians from both parties. While the consensus of TV’s shouty partisan teletubbies is that our diametrically opposed political parties can’t possibly agree on anything (and we therefore can’t do anything other than continue fighting imperial wars and bailing out private businessmen) the deal-makers in DC are currently working on a proposal that has not been castigated by either Democrats or Republicans as “unworkable”, “undoable”, “unpalatable” or “un-American” providing hope that the chasm between the party of Lincoln and the party of…whatever the Democrats say that they are the party of, can be bridged for the sake of benefiting regular Americans, who are very rich.

The bi-partisan work group has proposed implementing what it calls the “chained tax tables” that will, over the course of time, gradually reduce the rate of taxes paid by the country’s “job creators” eventually bringing the country to a comfortable stasis point of zero percent with respect to taxation of our richest donors/citizens that both Democrats and Republicans can trumpet as a success when they stand before their local Chambers of Commerce.

In the system of chained tax tabling, instead of politicians caving to wealthy campaign cash contributors once every two years (during election seasons) and giving away scads of unwarranted tax breaks, promoting tax forgiveness schemes, offering multiple year tax holidays and tax rebates, an assessment will be made every month that will take into account the level of pouting, screaming and threatening to withhold financial support from politicians by America’s wealthiest and America’s businesses that will be recorded on a new government scale called the “Captured Politican Index” (CPI). Based upon the monthly changes to the CPI, the tax rates of our top earners will be decreased in rough proportion to the kicking and screaming, pouting and threatening that the index will quantify.

Chained tax tabling was originally conceived of by a team of academics that was appointed during the Clinton presidency when both republicans and democrats, supported by the White House, determined that having the lowest personal tax rates on the planet for our wealthiest citizens and for our hard working corporations was just too burdensome.

Though chained tax tabling was inspired out of a pure bi-partisan desire to help a small sliver (one percent) of America’s citizens that legislators realized really “needed a little help” from our government, the concept was originally lionized largely by rightwing think tanks in America, including the Heritage Foundation, and was supported by George W. Bush among other members of America’s “hard right”. But, with the election of the very pragmatic servant of the public Barack Obama, members of America’s “left wing”, including Obama himself, have realized the need to extend tax relief to the hard working very rich in our country.

US Representative Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently exclaimed his full throated support for chained tax tabling and the CPI recently stating, “That’s right. I do, and I’ll tell you why — because Social Security is going to run out of money in 20 years. I want to fix it now, before we reach that cliff … Medicare may run out of money in 10 years, let’s fix it now If we don’t focus on the health care and dealing with the entitlements, the baby boom generation is going to blow away our future.”

It is this mindset that animates the group of brave elected officials from both parties that has banded together to push for chained tax tabling to lend support to our country’s job creators and to show that bipartisanship has not died in this great land.

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Patriotism, marketism, exceptionalism – destinyism? : The prison of the isms

11:08 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at the demise

Portrait of Columbus

A recent holiday lets one reflect on occupation and power.

Columbus Day can be a warm day or a cold day (and this year was spectacular autumn falling through cool sunshine) but it always provides an opportunity to reflect on the day as a holiday representing as it does a kind of anachronistic celebration of manifest destiny – and we know that we have grown beyond all that…shameful as it is as a part of our history.

It had to be someone, and it was Columbus who ‘discovered America’ and, among other accomplishments, initiated the Euro-American human trafficking biz. We are reminded of both the inhuman brutality and stark commercial natures of this from Columbus’ own diaries where he comments off handedly that due to the free market demands of Euro customers, “dealers” are always looking for young girls and “those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

A few days ago I saw an investigative journalism piece by Raveena Aulakh who writes for the Toronto Star called, “I got hired at a Bangladesh sweatshop. Meet my 9-year-old boss”. In the article, Aulakh describes the harrowing lives of child garment factory workers in Bangladesh where she took a job for a week posing as a willing sweatshop worker. Her nine year old boss, Meem, works making linen shirts for shirt wearing customers somewhere beyond the streets of Dhaka in 12 hour shifts 7 days a week with half days on Friday making $32 dollars Canadian monthly (10 cents an hour). Meem’s dream: to advance from being a sewing helper to become a sewing operator. Aulakh writes that in Bangladesh, “Factory managers prefer younger sewing helpers…Their eyesight is better, their little fingers nimbly trim threads and they don’t fuss about backaches and neck pain.”

Ahh…commerce – always able to find value to be tapped to meet the market’s needs. Why, one may ask, are the market’s needs so important that Meem has to set her tiny feet on the rat race conveyer belt? Why is it so difficult for us to compute the true cost of global commerce as it is paid out in jobs lost at home and slave work created in ‘opened markets’? What makes us deserve to be decked out in daywear assembled out of the attenuated aspirations of the world’s children? Today I am wearing clothing made in Guatemala, Viet Nam and China.

We here in the US recently had a socialist finger wagged in our collective face when Vladimir Putin scolded, “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” The chastising came after President Obama described his military’s delivery of cruise missiles that will (as we all know, like we know where our linen comes from) level homes and schools killing innocent humans (which we call ‘collateral damage’ so as to not think too hard about the practicalities of the dynamic– in much the same way we call Meem an ‘employee’ so as to not think too hard about the practicalities of the dynamic) thusly:

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Presidental proffer of ‘protection’ to pilfer pensioner’s pocketbooks is pathetic

3:57 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

cross posted at the demise

Social Security card

Will Obama sacrifice social security to the Republicans?

As part of the agreed to by all parties ‘government shut down’ congress is contemplating resurrecting elements of President Obama’s so-called ‘grand bargain’. One of the president’s proposals, lifted as many of his ‘ideas’ are from the wish-list of fiscal conservatives intent on ‘ending social security as we know it’ including the Heritage Foundation, would require that social security recipients receive reduced cost of living increases, decreases that compound over time. Meaning, the longer a Parkinson’s patient is sick and relies upon government benefits, the more her social security will diminish. The change to social security that President Obama (D-IL) has proposed is referred to as the “chained CPI”.

Social Security payments to our disabled citizens average $13,548 per year. Social Security payments to America’s retirees average $15,228 per year. More than 53 million Americans receive these small benefits which help to keep them out of poverty. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the chained CPI proposed by President Obama in his 2014 budget will cut Social Security benefits to all recipients. The president calls his plan to reduce social security benefits a “protection,” I call it a pathetic capitulation to America’s wealthiest citizens.

The greedy statisticians who are pushing use of the Chained CPI assert that because of the way inflation is currently assessed, social security recipients are getting too much money; proponents of this scheme to reduce payments to our seniors and disabled assert that social security recipients currently receive an “unearned benefit” and that this, as opposed to unfunded military invasions for example, increases the budget deficit.

As far as I can tally, the average social security yearly payment of $14,388 represents a miniscule 8.2 percent of the congressional ‘take home pay’ of $174,000. Congress persons make $159,612 more than our average social security recipient, and these people think our sick and elderly are making too much? When a retired fire fighter receives $15,228 per year or a sick patient receives $13,548 per year in social security benefits, it is very difficult for me to conceive that there is a way that these deserving Americans are receiving an “unearned benefit.”

82 House Democrats oppose the President’s plan to cut payments to the disabled and seniors.

Contact your Democratic representative today and ask if they support taking money away from the sick and elderly.

Contact the White House and ask why a Democrat would propose cutting benefits to the sick and elderly.

We need to stand for our elders and our disabled neighbors — we need to make sure democratic politicians know that if they support diminishing social security they will LOSE THEIR JOBS.

“Resolve yourself to evolve yourself. Evolve, revolve. Evolution, revolution”  –Lend a hand by #theCCC
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Faith in humanity restored : realization that politicians are not humans reiterated

7:29 pm in Uncategorized by acmerecords

When I stumbled into the piercing daylight of an early September afternoon on the blasted plains of the Midwest, spun through the automated revolving door of a privately run Lutheran hospital, I landed back in America, the only industrialized country that does not consider health care to be a human right, where handcuffing health care to employment is the law and massive unemployment is the norm.

Doctor with stethoscope

Why isn’t health care a human right everywhere?

I was held as a patient for 5 days. I am a worker with health insurance, my brother is a worker (who works harder than me) who does not have insurance. If my brother would have eaten the subway tuna sandwich that I ate he would have either died (from not seeking medical attention) or have to file bankruptcy after seeking medical attention.

While I was sick I was tended to by Izabella, Amy, Amanda, Rey, I, Michael, Joanna, Yoni, Donna, Niki and a host of other humans. These little big people gave me my health and restored my faith in humans (humans who want/need/have to help other humans). So strange that this obvious notion has been lost or commoditized and industrialized in the US.

I was reminded by this of when, as a recent college graduate, I traveled to Europe and North Africa. While in Morocco, I accepted the offer of a family living in the High Atlas Mountains to share a meal–a meal of cheese, bread, butter and tea, the dairy products were not pasteurized. I left Morocco after being ill for a week, huddled and shivering in my bedsit hotel in Marrakesh. When I arrived back in Oxford UK, where my brother and his wife lived, I called a local doctor seeking drugs to make the intestinal parasite go away. I was given an appointment that morning. I was given an exam with blood work-up. I walked out with a prescription having paid 7 pounds 50. I am an American with a passport. I was treated like a human, a sick human, with care, dignity and humanity.

The reason that humans are denied care in our great land is because of greedy Americans and cowardly politicians. The free market doesn’t determine that profits have priority over compassion. The notion of the free market, however, does allow the weak and covetous among us to pretend that there is something more scientific and practical than behaving with humanity. The fearful and the greedy believe that the poor and sick must live horrible afflicted lives until they expire so as not to create a “moral hazard” (I’m not kidding here) by succumbing to the notion that helping our brethren humans is a requirement.

One of my first experiences back on planet America was riding a packed rush hour subway train. Here the slow, ill, infirm, elderly and pregnant are often left standing while young not-yet-able-to-afford-abandoning-public-transportation workers take a load off, gazing intently at handheld digital devices attempting to convey that politeness is an impolite interruption. I wonder if our job creators and law creators fealty to narcissistic self-promotion, infant-like self-infatuation and naked self-interest has crept into and informed the zeitgeist of America. Or if, at long last, our own self-interest and self-delusion has killed democracy in our country – a land of self-servants incapable of producing public servants.

Time to lend a hand & find our brothers in every man – We’ve always known.
lend a hand by the civilian conservation corps

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remembering the haymarket martyrs on may day

8:20 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

- did you know the worker’s rally at the haymarket in Chicago in 1886 was for the 8 hour workday?

- did you know that the 8 hour work day was established as US law in 1937?

- did you know that the haymarket riot was the incident that prompted annual worker recognition celebrations around the world that continue to this day…except for in America?

to the streets!
What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.
- Samuel Gompers, The Shoe workers’ journal, Volume 16‎ (1915)

All belongs to all. All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one’s part in the production of the world’s wealth.
All things are for all.
- Peter Kropotkin, Memoirs of a Revolutionist, 1899

We are convinced that liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality.
- Mikhail Bakunin, Federalism, Socialism and Anti-Theologism

photo essay of the Haymarket Martyrs’ memorial in Chicago and images from the 2010 May Day/Immigrant Rights march in Chicago

cross posted at acmeartscollective

Schneiderman blows statute, HuffPo blows coverage

11:46 am in Uncategorized by acmerecords

In a mildly sourced report by the Huffington Post about ‘private’ conversations between a handful of senators and the Attorney General of New York, who is also a co-chair of President Barack Obama’s task force investigating the frauds carried out by the nation’s largest banks against investors in mortgage backed securities, groups including retired teachers and civil service employees, Eric Schneiderman conveyed that he is concerned that his concerns about the public’s growing concerns that the enforcement work group is nothing more than a toothless and supine act of public relations kabuki to cover for the inaction on the part of both federal and state law enforcement officials who, after more than five years, have yet to charge a high level employee of any of the nation’s most powerful banks with crimes that led to the collapse of worldwide banking system, are communicated.

Schneiderman’s critiques come as the statutes of limitation for the crimes committed by the nation’s largest financial institutions in the lead up to the new depression have, in most case, run out extinguishing regulators’ ability to prosecute the criminals.

One of the senators who met recently with Schneiderman, the retiring senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, was concerned to tell the Huffington Post that Schneiderman “expressed similar frustrations that the public has expressed,” and another senator, who was concerned to maintain anonymity, said that Schneiderman “was very clear” that he wanted to convey his “frustration”.

Schneiderman’s appointment to co-chair the Obama created work group on mortgage backed securities was announced to great fanfare during Obama’s State of the Union address in 2012, four years after the onset of the new depression and during a time in which the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve had given America’s largest private banking companies trillions of tax payer dollars, nearly interest free loans and 100 percent guarantees on trillions of dollars of worthless securities and debt held by the private financial companies.  In the speech, Obama was keen to express his concern for the millions of Americans who became homeless and jobless due to the illegal actions of these privately run companies (although the president has gone on record stating his personal belief that “no laws were broken” in the run-up to the new depression).

Consumer groups and organizations that serve communities of dispossessed homeowners advised the Huffington Post of their concerns about the appalling track record of the mortgage securities workgroup with regard to enforcement actions, spoke “on the condition of anonymity” because of their concerns about “jeopardizing their relationships” with the state-federal workgroup.  Many homeowner service agencies have received millions of dollars generated out of non-prosecution agreements reached between federal and state regulators and the nation’s largest financial institutions that involved enforcement entities absolving private parties from criminal actions for the payment of “contributions” and fines.

A review of the mortgage securities enforcement work group’s web site  today (April 24, 2013) relates that Schneiderman is joined on the task force by Obama’s hand-picked Assistant Attorney General to lead the Criminal Division of the US Justice Department, Lanny Breuer.  Breuer resigned from government service to work for a Washington DC law firm that defends banking companies and finance companies in January 2013.

In the whirlwind of concerns related by the Huffington Post in its ‘news’ story, no mention of concern was iterated for the more than 3 million families estimated to have been foreclosed upon between 2008 and early 2012, at the time that Obama appointed Schneiderman to head the mortgage securities working group.

cross posted at the demise