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Archive for December, 2013

From Oregon Fair Trade

The economic game in the war against the middle class is about to become more rigged than is currently the case, and the game has been increasingly rigged over the last thirty years. The latest and most vicious assault against the American people is being led by Wall Street President Barack Obama, Wall Street Republican House Speaker John Boehner, and Wall Street Senators Ron Wyden and Mitch McConnell. All of these folks are veteran class warriors that wage war against the middle class on behalf of Wall Street’s investor class. The 1 percent has used the tax cuts they’ve received over the last thirty years to turn the Federal government and the US Supreme Court into cesspools of corruption. The people above exemplify this corruption.

According the Citizen’s Trade Campaign,

“This month marked the four-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s closed-door attempts to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement. Please tell Congress four years of secretive negotiations is more than enough.

The administration missed yet another self-imposed deadline for completing the negotiations in Singapore in the beginning of December because it has been pushing the wrong agenda from the start.

Leaked TPP documents first published by Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) two years ago — and more recent documents published by WikiLeaks and the HuffingtonPost — reveal that the administration is demanding TPP provisions that threaten family-wage jobs, a healthy environment, financial stability, access to life-saving medications, consumer safety and family farms at home and abroad. And now the administration is even urging Congress to pass “Fast Track” legislation that would enable the TPP to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures.

Fast Track Is Coming in Early January — Action Needed Now Over the Holiday Congressional Recess

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus and House Ways & Means Committee Chair David Camp are expected to introduce their Fast Track bill as soon as Congress reconvenes in early January. The White House recently had a full cabinet meeting to discuss how the entire administration will be pushing the bill, and corporate lobbyists are not taking the holidays off either. They’ve already begun their full court press.

It is critical that we take advantage of the week and a half before the bill’s introduction to continue pressing members of the U.S. House of Representatives especially to oppose Fast Track. If you live in Rep. DeFazio or Rep. Schrader’s district, now is the time to thank them for speaking out against Fast Track. If you live in Rep. Blumenauer or Rep. Bonamici’s district, please call their D.C. office and thank them for expressing concern over Fast Track and urge them to go further by publicly opposing Fast Track. Call Now! U.S. Capitol switchboard at 1-202-224-3121.”

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The financial markets are soaring, and this has pushed the US economy into a prolonged slump, what Nobel Prize Economist Paul Krugman calls a “low-grade Depression.” Our low grade Depression has been going on since December 2007, while the financial markets have been soaring since 2009, and this is a simple case of cause and effect.

Jobs are being exported year after year, and the difference between the old US wages and the new lower overseas wages go into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate profits, rising dividends and soaring share prices. The unemployed may get unemployment insurance if they’re lucky. It’s a simple case of income redistribution.

Nearly 2 million jobs were exported from the US in 2013. Jobs are the biggest export product produced in the USA. Between 0.9 and 3 million jobs are exported year after year, according to the Federal Reserve, since just before NAFTA.

That doesn’t count the massive numbers of jobs that are created by US companies overseas, that would normally be created in the USA, and performed by US citizens, in the absence of corporate trade treaties, which are specifically negotiated to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent in exactly this way.

Where the jobs have gone–Thingprogress.org

The combined job losses have depleted our tax base for schools, other public services, and the US social safety net. Where has the money gone? Directly into the pockets of the rich, which is why the financial markets are soaring.

The 1 percent have taken their ill-gotten gains and invested much of this newly available cash in the financial markets. The result has been the creation of massive financial market bubbles in the US (and perhaps throughout the world, but that’s beyond the scope of this story).

The Dow Jones Industrial average closed at 15,680.35 on December 26 2013, up from 6547.05 in 2009, a rise of almost 240 percent. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ shot up from 1293.85 on March 2, 2009 to 4156.59 on December 26, 2013, an increase of over 320 percent. Other US financial markets have posted similar gains.

Since these advances in the values of corporate share prices have been caused by income being redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent via federal legislation, such as corporate trade treaties, the result has been a slacking of demand for goods and services in an already weak economy. That’s because the super rich invest their money with an eye toward redistributing more money from the 99 percent into their pockets, while the 99 percent buy stuff, creating demand for goods and services. That’s how the 1 percent weaken the economy and destroy jobs when they redistribute income to themselves from the 1 percent.

All of this is continually made worse by Republican and Democratic Party hacks, such as President Obama, Republican House Leader John Boehner, and Wall Street Senators such as Ron Wyden and Mitch McConnell. 100 percent of the Republican members of the US congress, and 80 to 90 percent of the Democrats elected to congress and the presidency, as well as the corporate toadies of the insanely corrupt US Supreme Court, are doing the bidding of Wall Street and other billionaires (such as the Koch Brothers) at the expense of Main Street and the nation as a whole.

The financial market bubbles will burst sooner than later, in one to five years. When this occurs, our low-grade Great Depression will become a fully ignited Great Depression. This Depression will make the current US economy look really good, although it is historically awful. The official and deliberately understated unemployment rate will rise beyond 20 percent, and perhaps approach 30 percent. The real unemployment rate, as measured during the original Great Depression, will be between 25 and 40 percent. Interest rates will plummet lower than they are now. Housing prices will collapse. The US ranks right up there with Romania when it comes to child poverty, but we will be challenging Haiti and a few African nations for first place when the financial markets burst. The number of people on food stamps will at least double compared to today.

After the bursting, the Federal Reserve will give out trillions of dollars to rich investors, hedge funds, and investment banks, in order to save the day, and their investments. Of course, Fed officials will say they loaned the money out, although it really will be a permanent loan, like last time. See breakdown-of-the-26-trillion-the-federal-reserve-handed-out-to-save-rich-incompetent-investors-but-who-purchase-political-power–Johnhively.wordpress.com.

However, the Fed’s actions will only make things worse because massive investors already know they are protected from losses by the Fed, and so there are no consequences for their insanely bad investment decisions. That’s precisely why the actions of the Fed will only prolong the  misery of the bursting bubble.

The super rich will get bailed out while Main Street will have to suck it up. This means more jobs will be shipped overseas, more cities and towns will go bankrupt due to the exporting of jobs, the excess unemployed and illegal labor will continue to drive wages and salaries down.

However, the Federal Reserve bailout will also mean corporate profits will rise, dividends will shoot up, share prices will expand, and the Ponzi scheme known as the financial markets will continue or stabilize their bubbles. In other words, for 99 percent of Americans, the situation will be quite dire.

One way to cut off the bursting of the bubble at the pass is simply to raise the federal minimum wage from its current pathetic $7.25 per hour to $15 in early or mid 2014, and to $20 by early 2015. The economy can absorb this as easily as it absorbs record corporate profits, year after year, during our low-grade Great Depression, with all of its slack demand for goods and services.

This alone should tell you that prices are not connected to any laws of supply and demand. Instead, prices are largely manipulated by the large corporations, otherwise, prices would be going down with the historically lukewarm demand during these tough times, but prices keep going up, up, and up in defiance of the illegally broken laws of supply and demand.

Some people will foolishly argue that an increase in the minimum wage to $20 will mean increased prices. No, it won’t, at least, no more than is currently the case with manipulated prices. However, even today’s manipulative corporations cannot jack-up prices continuously, although they seem to be able to all the time, whenever they want.

To pay the new minimum wage, most US publicly traded corporations will be forced to dig into their record profits, or their trillions of dollars of retained earnings (estimates are $10-14 trillion worldwide for US companies, and this also tells you how uncompetitive and bloated they are. In other words, they are not competitive at all), in order to pay their employees the higher wages.

From a purely conservative point-of-view, which is the purely conceptualized reality that the US has a competitive, free market economic system despite all the evidence to the contrary, corporate management teams will want to be competitive, just as conservatives want to believe, even in the face of such an overdue rise of the minimum wage.

Therefore, under our current conservative point-of-view, any Neanderthal management team that is dumb enough to increase their prices while their more competent rivals pay their employees the higher minimum wage out of their historically high profits and retained earnings, will go the way of the Neanderthals. It’s that simple. The companies that use their bloated, pent up financial resources in this way will live to fight another day as their Neanderthal rivals go out of business.

Investors, of course, may suffer. They may see their share prices drop temporarily, especially, as competition heats up, as corporations use up their record retained earnings, and have to contend with lower profit margins, like in any competitive economic model. However, this will bring the financial markets down much more gently than compared to a bursting bubble that awaits us in the absence of any federal intervention.

Since the bubbles have been created by redistributing money from the 99 percent to the 1 percent, it stands to reason the best antidote to such an approaching disaster is for corporate royalists to give the money back to those to whom it really belongs; the 99 percent. This can most easily and prudently be done by raising the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour over the next year and a half.

That $10 to $14 trillion US corporations are sitting on can be used to pay US citizens, which will then increase the demand for goods and services, and send the US economy into its first long-term non-bubble economic expansion since the 1960s.

Recent studies show increasing the minimum wage beefs up demand, increases employment, and that there are no negative consequences as is claimed, like job losses. Besides, an increased minimum wage is what our weak economy needs right now. And given record corporate retained earnings and record profits, the economy can easily absorb the higher wage. Enhanced demand will create good paying jobs, flood local tax bases with more income for schools and the social safety nets, safely deflate the financial market bubbles, and in the process perhaps head off the coming Great Depression, and likely even end our current low grade Depression. Furthermore, the 1 percent will have less money with which to corrupt government at all levels, and, by the way, the political markets are another area in which the 1 percent use their ill-gotten gains to invest in legislation against the 99 percent. That does create jobs for corporate lobbyists. So the 1 percent will have less money to do that little thing. So let’s do the obvious thing; raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour.

The legal and logical difference between an owner operated business and a business structured on “organized money” (a limited liability corporation) is as obvious as the difference between a single worker and a large labor union.

Therefore, one last thing needs to be mentioned. There is always somebody who will say raising the minimum wage to $20 an hour will kill small mom and pop businesses. Conceded, those are mostly businesses that operate in something that kind of resembles a competitive business environment. Those businesses should be allowed to operate with a minimum wage of say, $$12-15 an hour. However, since limited liability corporations are nothing more than “organized money,” as FDR accurately put it, and since they operate in a more collusive environment, those corporations are a totally different animal from owner operated companies, and should be made to pay the $20 minimum wage, which should also be indexed to inflation.

pFrom StoctCharts.com. History of the Dow Jones Industrials

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Since George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (which was the business plan of McGraw-Hill, the McGraw’s being family friends with the Bush’s) was passed in 2002, testing in the United States has skyrocketed, because it’s profitable for the private publishing corporations. Before NCLB, under Bill Clinton’s Improving America’s Schools Act, the federal government  required students to take six tests total — a reading and math test in elementary, middle and high school. Under NCLB, in order to receive federal funding, schools are required to make students take 14 tests total — a reading and math test from grades 3-8 and once in high school, plus a science test in elementary, middle and high school. But some districts require even more tests.

Barack Obama’s $500 million competitive grant program Race to the Top, enacted in 2009, chiefly inspired school districts to give more tests. Amidst the recession, state budgets were hit hard, and government officials were willing to do whatever they could to receive money. Now, at least 25 states mandate one formal assessment test in kindergarten. Race to the Top’s 2011 Early Learning Challenge awarded schools that could prove their students’ “readiness” to begin school — meaning how well four-year-olds did on “entry assessments.”

In order to execute these policies that significantly expanded testing, school districts needed test providers. This, in turn, made some educational corporations very rich. Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, a nonprofit advocacy organization working to prevent the misuse of standardized testing, said he is inclined to blame politicians, rather than corporations, for the testing boom.

He said, “In a capitalist society, if there’s a market, somebody will figure out how to serve it. But the corporations reinforce the stupidity of the bad policies of politicians.”

Pearson is the largest corporation serving this testing market. Pearson is the world’s largest education company and book publisher, bringing in more than $9 billion annually.

Check out the complete story below.

8 Things You Should Know About Corporations Like Pearson that Make Huge Profits from Standardized Tests–Alternet.org

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With the super rich determining the rules and regulations handed out by government, the game has been stacked and rigged by the 1 percent against the 99 percent, and against the USA, as well. It began with the Lewis Powell Memo of 1971. It was a manifesto outlining how the super rich could dominate the economic and political landscape of the United States, as they had before the 1930s. The Great Depression was a direct result of their rule. Within a year of giving his manifesto to the US Chamber of Commerce, President Richard Nixon selected Powell to become a US Supreme Court Justice. Powell had never been a judge, and in fact, he was a lawyer for a tobacco corporation, defending the company against claims that the company lied about tobacco not being a cancer cause.

The US Chamber acted on Powell’s manifesto, and essentially, that’s how we got to where we are today; lower standards of living, massive personal and government debt, decreased real wages, massive redistribution of income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent via federal and state legislation, a federal government corrupted by big money and as corrupt as any banana republic on both the state and federal levels, financial inequality like none ever before in US history, an historically weak economy, huge media consolidation so bad that the news media in the US no longer exists and has been replaced by a network of propaganda machines whose purpose is to keep the 99 percent dumbed-down and ignorant to the benefit of the 1 percent, school districts starving for money because the jobs that supported the tax bases have been shipped overseas and the difference between the higher old wages here and the old wages there have gone into the pockets of the 1 percent via higher corporate profits, share prices and dividends, and the list goes on and on.

Understand one thing that Lewis Powell showed up; the US Supreme Court is nothing more than a tool of the 1 percent, and has been for at least twenty years. Justice in the USA? What a joke! The deck is completely stacked against the 99 percent.

Check out the links below for the Powell Manifesto, the plan by a future supreme court justice to steal democracy, and the Bill Moyers video of where we are in that plan.

The Lewis Powell Memo–Common Dreams

Full Show: Plutocracy Rising | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com.

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In the video above, Fox‘s Goldberg admits there are no long-term studies on human beings, but that all independent lab tests involving animals are showing atrocious liver damage, kidney problems, and after just three generations of being fed a GMO diet, hamsters are basically sterile. And those are just a few of the health hazards that independent studies are showing. The hosts of the show point out that the main problem isn’t just that GMOs are not labeled, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Even if labeling were to occur, it doesn’t change the fact that GMOs are spreading uncontrollably around the world, contaminating non-GM crops and wild plants.

So what gives? The Democratic Party is strong supporter of Monsanto and other manufacturers of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). The most notable example is President Barack Obama. However, many Republicans in congress also support the industry. This Fox report ends a planned virtual black out by the propaganda news organizations, such as Fox itself, the Wall Street Journal, the Oregonian, the Washington Post and all the other US members of the propaganda network that are erroneously called news organizations. Perhaps the Fox report signifies a breach in the ranks of the 1 percent on this issue. Maybe a member of the 0.05 percent has been denied the opportunity of getting in on the profitable end of the GMO industry. Could this report be their revenge? Who knows?

The important point of this report is that a few more Americans now know that GMOs are poisons, and that the US people are guinea pigs in this not so grand experiment.

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This is a famous image from the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence MA. This is my favorite strike. Workers from many different factories, different ages, and different languages came together to make a difference despite being up against corporate giants and a wall of gun holding militia men. This is what SOLIDARITY is all about. These men, women, and children accomplished more than most even attempt these days and worked through cultural barriers while doing so.

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In the USA, money reigns over democracy more and more. Politicians ignore the will of the majority whenever it pleases them and the parasites of the 1 percent. That includes their politicians, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, a notorious liar and servant of Wall Street. He is supposed to represent the interests of the people of Oregon, but he never does when it is at cross purposes with his masters of Wall Street. The corporate propaganda machine defends Wyden by creating illusions about what he is and what he does, rather than the truth. In that way, they keep our eyes off the prize of the American dream that Wyden is constantly redistributing to the parasites of the 1 percent via federal legislation. This makes Wyden, as well as such Wall Street politicians as John Boehner, Rand Paul, Mitch McConnell, and about 90 percent of the US senate and House of Representatives nothing but parasites of the 1 percent. That’s why it’s a rigged game against the 99 percent, and there are plenty of examples of how democracy is nothing more than an illusion any more.

According to economist Richard Wolff, “2013 drove home a basic lesson: US capitalism’s economic leaders and their politicians now regularly ignore majority opinions and preferences. For example, polls showed overwhelming popular support for higher taxes on the rich with lower taxes on the rest of us and for reversing the nation’s deepening economic inequalities. Yet Republicans and Democrats, including President Obama, raised payroll taxes sharply on January 1, 2013. Those taxes are regressive; they take a smaller percentage of your income the higher your income is above $113,700 per year. Raising the payroll tax increased economic inequality across 2013.”

Click on the link below for more of this story.

Capitalism and Democracy: Year-End Lessons–Z Communications

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