Author’s Note: Each chapter of this book can be read as a stand-alone and it is not necessary that they be read in numerical order. All of the previous chapters are posted here in my Diaries or at my blog.
I welcome comments and will respond as time allows. Thanks for reading.
Note: Except as indicated, I obtained most of the information that I present here from AmpedStatus.org:
Exclusive: Analysis of Financial Terrorism in America: Over 1 Million Deaths Annually, 62 Million People With Zero Net Worth, As the Economic Elite Make Off With $46 Trillion
(h/t) Robert Alexander Dumas at Firedoglake/MyFDL
Kleptocrats Are A Cancer
Wikipedia definition of a kleptocracy:
Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, from Ancient Greek: κλέπτης (thief) and κράτος (rule), is a term applied to a government subject to control fraud that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service. The term means “rule by thieves”. Not an official form of government such as a democracy, republic, monarchy, or theocracy; a kleptocracy is rather a pejorative for a government perceived to have a particularly severe and systemic problem with the selfish misappropriation of public funds by those in power.
According to an extensive study by Deloitte, an auditing and financial advisory firm , US millionaire households now have $45.9 trillion in wealth, which includes an estimated $6.3 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.
The upper one-tenth of one percent of the population (0.1%) owns more than 50% of this wealth.
William Domhoff, sociology professor and author of Who Rules America? recently reported,
Unlike those in the lower half of the top 1%, those in the top half and, particularly, top 0.1%, can often borrow for almost nothing, keep profits and production overseas, hold personal assets in tax havens, ride out down markets and economies, and influence legislation in the US. They have access to the very best in accounting firms, tax and other attorneys, numerous consultants, private wealth managers, a network of other wealthy and powerful friends, lucrative business opportunities, and many other benefits.
Folks in the top 0.1% come from many backgrounds but it’s infrequent to meet one whose wealth wasn’t acquired through direct or indirect participation in the financial and banking industries…. Most of the serious economic damage the US is struggling with today was done by the top 0.1% and they benefited greatly from it…. For example, in Q1 of 2011, America’s top corporations reported 31% profit growth and a 31% reduction in taxes, the latter due to profit outsourcing to low tax rate countries…. The year 2010 was a record year for compensation on Wall Street, while corporate CEO compensation rose by over 30%.…
In 2010 a dozen major companies, including GE, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and Fed Ex paid US tax rates between -0.7% and -9.2%. Production, employment, profits, and taxes have all been outsourced….
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: A highly complex and largely discrete set of laws and exemptions from laws has been put in place by those in the uppermost reaches of the US financial system. It allows them to protect and increase their wealth and significantly affect the US political and legislative processes.
They have real power and real wealth. Ordinary citizens in the bottom 99.9% are largely not aware of these systems, do not understand how they work, are unlikely to participate in them, and have little likelihood of entering the top 0.5%, much less the top 0.1%….
… the American dream of striking it rich is merely a well-marketed fantasy that keeps the bottom 99.5% hoping for better and prevents social and political instability. The odds of getting into that top 0.5% are very slim and the door is kept firmly shut by those within it.
Who are these people?
Former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson had already amassed at least $700 million prior to moving to the US Treasury in 2006. Current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and a few other top executives at Goldman Sachs just received $111.3 million in bonuses. Blankfein just took home $24.3 million, as part of a $67.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s President Gary Cohn took home $24 million, as part of a $66.9 million bonus he was awarded. Goldman’s CFO David Viniar and former co-president Jon Winkelried both took home over $20 million in bonuses.
Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit just took home $80 million, in what may eventually total more than $200 million in compensation and bonuses. Coming in at the top of the list is JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who just took home $90 million.
If you think people in this income level don’t control the US political process, you are not paying attention. After they caused this economic crisis, they got the government to give them trillions of dollars in taxpayer support, and then, after taking our tax dollars, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses. 2009 was an all-time record-breaking year for Wall Street executives bringing in a total of $145 billion. And then, in 2010, they raised the bar even higher, breaking the all-time record set the year before by pulling in another $149 billion. The audacity of it all is stunning.
They are not the only ones.
The LA Times reported:
“Leaders of Cigna, Humana, UnitedHealth, WellPoint and Aetna received nearly $200 million in compensation in 2009, according to a report, while the companies sought rate increases as high as 39%….
H. Edward Hanway, former chief executive of Philadelphia-based Cigna, topped the list of high-paid executives, thanks to a retirement package worth $110.9 million. Cigna paid Hanway and his successor, David Cordani, a total of $136.3 million last year….
Ron Williams, the CEO of Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna Inc., earned nearly $18.2 million in total compensation, down from $24.4 million in 2008.
Meanwhile, over 50 million people cannot afford health insurance and many people who have health insurance cannot afford doctor visits because the deductible and the co-pays are too high.
More than 60% of all personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills and 75% of the medical bankruptcies were filed by people with health insurance.
The richest 400 Americans paid 30% of their income in taxes in 1995, but they now pay only 18%.
1,470 Americans earned over $1 million in 2009 and didn’t pay any taxes.
The average tax rate for millionaires was 22.4% in 2009, down from 30.4% in 1995. The average millionaire saves $136,000 a year due to reduced tax rates.
Corporate taxes accounted for 27.3% of federal revenue in 1995. In 2010, corporate taxes accounted for only 8.9% of federal revenue. Corporate taxes accounted for 4.3% of overall GDP in 1955, in 2010 they accounted for only 1.3%.
The cuts in taxes for the mega-wealthy have led to record wealth inequality and resulted in a record national deficit. Meanwhile, to make up for the deficit that the richest one-tenth of one percent of the population has created, Democrats and Republicans are committed to making draconian budget cuts to vital social services, which target the poor, middle class, elderly and sick, while handing out billions more in corporate welfare annually.
What about us?
While the official unemployment rate reported by the BLS hovers above 9%, the actual unemployment rate, based on household surveys, is 22.5% and 34 million people are looking for fulltime employment. The economy is still losing more than 400,000 jobs per week and the number of new jobs is not sufficient to keep up with the number of new workers entering the work force.
To make matters worse, the spending cuts in the new deficit deal will cause the loss of an estimated 1.8 million jobs.
For the past twenty years, wages have stagnated and declined and our cost of living has increased by 67%. More than 250 million Americans, another record-breaking number, are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck struggling to make ends meet. As the national debt has reached a record $14.6 trillion, total personal debt is now over $16 trillion. Consumer debt is $2.5 trillion. Credit card debt is $805 billion and student debt now exceeds $1 trillion.
The Kleptocrats may call themselves neoliberals or neoconservatives, Republicans or Democrats,. No matter what they call themselves, however, they are driven by greed and really only care about exploiting people and diminishing natural resources to accumulate unimaginable wealth and power. They have captured government and destroyed our democracy with their money and they see themselves as a class unto themselves beyond the reach of the law.
They are particularly fond of engaging in never-ending war to steal what they want and using propaganda to lie their way into starting wars. They are deliberately destroying the middle class in the United States, the labor unions, public education, and the safety net to plunge everyone except themselves into debt slavery in order to exploit them as a source of cheap labor at home and warm bodies to discard in war. They own the mainstream media and they manipulate it to hide what they are doing by demonizing genuine liberals and progressives, teachers, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and anyone with dark skin.
Make no mistake: They are willing to tell any lie and commit any act to get what they want.
Aided and abetted by our president, they are systematically destroying our democracy, the two-party system, and the Democratic Party. They are destroying the quality of our lives by eliminating our jobs, stealing our homes, stealing our retirement savings, and increasing the cost of gas, food, and our health care to enslave us in debt.
Now they want our social security.
In short, they are killing us inch by inch.
We are the only ones who can stop them.
I can feel it. Can you?
Cross-Posted at my blog and the Smirking Chimp.
Namaste: If Not Now, When? Is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.
My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.
Now I am a writer and I haul scrap for a living in this insane land.