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Archive for September, 2014

But how is the profit in university education compared to perpetual war? Guess what is most profitable to the 1 percent. And guess who your government works for? Hint. It isn’t you.

By the way, student loans are purchased by Wall Street investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs. The banks use the loans to issue bonds, which they then sell to rich investors, hedge funds, etc… for large, risk free, government guaranteed profits.

When you make your student loan payments, much of that payment goes to the bondholders. That’s precisely why congress and the president allowed the interest rates for student loans to double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent last year. It made the bonds backed by the loans more financially attractive to rich investors. That’s also why the government does not increase grants to needy students. To do so would mean less loans for Wall Street to purchase.

Of course, war is even more profitable to the 1 percent than student loans. However, war and student loans are both big income redistribution conduits through which money travels from the 99 to the 1 percent. And, of course, some of those profits travel back to US politicians in one form or another. So you can see that your elected representatives have absolutely no incentive to do the right thing, and the thing they can do, by providing free tuition at American colleges and universities. To do so would destroy one conduit of redistributing your income to the 1 percent.

That’s what the corrupt US government, and its corrupt representatives are paid to do. Otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. They’re not stupid little boys and girls. They’re merely corrupted by the money of the 1 percent.

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Yesterday, US Senator Elizabeth Warren called for a Federal investigation of the passionate relationships between the New York Federal Reserve Bank and the investment banks of Wall Street. The senator wrote on her Facebook page, “When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting the American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street, it threatens our whole economy. We learned this the hard way in 2008. Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by yesterday’s whistle-blower (sic) report when it returns in November – because it’s our job to make sure our financial regulators are doing their jobs.”

US Senator Sharrod Brown serves on the Senate Banking Committee with Warren. He backed her request in a statement of his own. “These allegations deserve a full and thorough investigation, and American taxpayers deserve regulators who will fight each day on their behalf,” the Ohio senator and frequent financial industry critic said.

Carmen Segarra, fired by the New York Federal Reserve for doing her job.

Carmen Segarra is the whistle blower in question. The former bank examiner jumped into public consciousness earlier this month when she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York fired her after she refused to go soft on investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs.

Her allegations of cozy relationships between the big investment banks and a 2009 internal report cited by This American Life and Pro Publica paint a picture of what’s called “regulatory capture” at the Fed. That means that an independent oversight body has stopped acting on its intended motivations of protecting the public from misdeeds by the entities it regulates and started acting on behalf of those entities’ own interests. Regulatory capture is a subtle thing defined less by concrete facts and figures and more by the tone of meetings and the way friendships between regulators and businesses color the regulators’ actions and views. If capture takes hold and goes unchecked, the regulatory cops on the beat turn into enablers. In the radio segment based on Segarra’s tapes, host Ira Glass compares captured regulators to “a watchdog who licks the face of an intruder, and plays catch with the intruder, instead of barking at him.”

Regulatory capture is just one example of the many abstract cultural forces on Wall Street that create an environment where financial misdeeds can flourish, imperiling the real economy that employs everyone else in the business of making and selling goods and services. Surveys of industry insiders have repeatedly found worrying evidence of ethical lapses among people in the financial business, including outright disregard for the law. A quarter of those surveyed in 2013 said that they would knowingly break the law for financial gain. That number jumped to 38 percent for respondents who have worked in finance for less than a decade. The same survey also found that women are twice as likely to fear retaliation for whistle blowing as men.

Most government regulations of Wall Street are to keep things honest, which you can’t expect Wall Street to do. The result of Wall Street investment bank transgressions in both the short and long term are typically income redistribution from the 99 to the 0.01 percent.

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Clearly, the political process is a game rigged in favor of the 1 percent!

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Who Are the Laziest Welfare Cheats (Besides the 1 Percent)

Congress and the presidency are owned by corporate welfare, and corporations receive government welfare for what they give to politicians. All that welfare benefits only the 1 percent, and always at the expense of the 99 percent.

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In fact, trickle down economics redistributed income from the 99 to the 1 percent. The rich used their tax cut money from President Ronald Reagan to corrupt government at all levels, to purchase legislation such as free trade treaties, privatization scams, deregulation schemes, school testing, greater student loan debt for the 99 percent, and so much more. All of this redistributes income from the 99 to the 1 percent. And we can’t forget regulatory agencies, such as how the corruption of government extends into the Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. All of these agencies are run by corporate hacks whose primary job is to ensure an ever rising corporate profitability at the expense of the health and finances of the 99 percent.

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Why the Federal Minimum Wage Should Rise to $15 an Hour

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Maurice Greenberg above is suing the US government because he claims its billions of dollars of bailout money a few years was insufficient. Dumb dumb Maurice is the former CEO of AIG and a shareholder in the corporation. This is the man who approved AIG insuring mortgage backed securities to the tune of trillions of dollars, and being so stupid to do so, he didn’t even bother to take a look at how a housing market collapse might bankrupt the company and wipe out trillions of dollars of rich investors, as well as the corporation he so foolishly led. So the US government stepped in to save the rich investors upon which so many US politicians rely on for campaign contributions, jobs, bribes and other perks. See Breakdown of the $26 trillion dollar bailout to save rich but stupid investors

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By a 12-3 vote, the council approved the rise for hotels with more than 300 rooms on 1 July 2015 and for hotels with more than 150 rooms a year later.

The new wage floor will be one of the highest in the US, but not the highest.

The issue was opposed by the hotel industry, which said it would force worker redundancies. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said he will sign the bill into law.

Under the measure passed on Wednesday, the minimum could be temporarily waived for hotels facing bankruptcy or imminent closure. Hotels with unionized workers could also be exempt if minimum wages are defined in collective bargaining agreements.

It is unclear how many workers the raise will impact. An earlier study, based on a threshold of 125 rooms, estimated the number at 13,000 employees, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Because the vote was not unanimous, the council will take a second vote next week in order to pass it formally.

Wednesday’s vote comes after Seattle’s city council voted to raise its hourly minimum to $15 over several years. San Francisco will vote on a similar rise in November.

Mr Garcetti has pledged to push for a city-wide rise to $13.25 by 2017.

California’s current minimum hourly wage is $9, rising to $10 by 1 January 2016.

The vote was the result of a sustained campaign by local community councils, labour unions, and the American Civil Liberties Union, the Los Angeles Times reports.

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By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News
September 17

Corporate CEOs are always strategizing in their quest for greater revenues and profits. Often these strategies — and their resulting, insidious successes — have shaped our elections, our government, our education system, our media, our publicly funded research and development, our tax and credit systems, our trade agreements and so on. The world has never seen such an ingenious, power-concentrating machine as the modern, global corporation.

Even science, which ideally should carry the banner for rigid standards, openness and integrity, has suffered the undue influence and control of autocratic, commercially-driven multinational corporations. In many disturbing cases, independent science has been increasingly displaced by the far more devious “corporate science” which places profits over people, above safety, and above revealehttps://johnhively.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=7396&action=edit#d scientific method and peer-reviewed accountability.

The food we eat is increasingly engineered by such corporate science. Biotech companies like Monsanto and DuPont have moved towards monopolizing the seed market — an antitrust investigation of Monsanto by the Department of Justice was quietly ended in 2012, and no steps have been taken by regulators since.

Monsanto, with its massive, relentless marketing and harassing litigation campaigns, has repeatedly claimed that its genetically-modified patented seeds (GMOs) are superior to traditional seeds — claiming that genetically modified foods are safe, cheaper, higher yielding, more nutritious, requiring lower chemical inputs, and resistant to drought and blight. Yet Monsanto has refused to meet its burden of proof about these claims with evidence. Moreover, it intimidates independent scientists from testing its proprietary products!

Corporate science is, above all else, secretive. The flimsy excuse of “trade secrets” is used to prevent independent or academic scientists from evaluating exaggerated corporate claims. Scientists who wish to replicate or test the biotech industry’s claims about their products find a paucity of available grants, obstructed access to the products, and a litigiously backed up refusal to disclose. Research on the migration of genetically-modified pollen from farms to non-GMO-farms; the level of developing bacterial, viral, and insect resistance to GMO-linked herbicides; and longer-run studies of the consequences of GMO seeds and crops on the environment is grossly underfunded, whether by government agencies or foundations. The cover-up continues.

One Monsanto claim is that GMO seeds provide higher yields than traditional seeds. A report released earlier this year by the USDA’s Economic Research Service showed that those claims are untrue. The report states:

Over the first 15 years of commercial use, GE [genetically-engineered] seeds have not been shown to increase yield potentials of the varieties. In fact, the yields of herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant seeds may be occasionally lower than the yields of conventional varieties.

Lester Brown, founder of WorldWatch and President of the Earth Policy Institute, puts it more bluntly: “…no genetically modified crops have led to dramatically higher yields… Nor do they seem likely to do so, simply because conventional plant-breeding techniques have already tapped most of the potential for raising crop yields.”

And there is the issue of farmers who enter into one-sided adhesion contracts with GMO seed suppliers and find themselves ensnared in a tight web of control. Under these contracts, farmers are forbidden from saving seeds (forcing them to buy new seed every season), are subject to intrusive inspection provisions, and much more. (See faircontracts.org)

Other claims, such as the long-term effects of consuming genetically-modified food remain inconclusive, largely for lack of consumer-oriented testing.

Basic openness has been pushed aside in the realm of commercialized global agriculture. Take for instance the fact that consumers overwhelmingly want the right to know what is in their food by mandating the labeling of genetically engineered food. A poll in The New York Times last year showed that 93 percent of Americans support labeling of food containing GMO’s.

Public sentiment shows that Monsanto is in trouble. While the seed production conglomerate has fought off several attempts by states to require GMO labeling, ballot initiatives to require labeling in Oregon and Colorado this November are promising developments in the food safety movement. GMO labeling has already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, although only Vermont has put the law into effect. Over 60 countries, including the members of the European Union, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Russia and China have also required labeling of GMO’s. The new book, The GMO Deception: What You Need to Know about the Food, Corporations, and Government Agencies Putting Our Families and Our Environment at Risk is a comprehensive, definitive collection of essays by leading experts on the subject of genetically-modified food. Edited by Sheldon Krimsky, arguably the nation’s leading advocate of ethics in science, and lawyer Jeremy Gruber, this book is essential reading for those interested in the ongoing debate about the future of our food. (I wrote the introduction.) Sheldon Krimsky puts it best in his summary conclusion of the anthology:

The real and potentially adverse effects of GMOs have been understated or negated by many in the scientific community who accept uncritically a corporate-crafted message. A fair-minded and unbiased individual looking at all the evidence must reach the conclusion that there is a great deal we do not know and what we do know impels us to be both cautious and concerned, skeptical of an early manufactured consensus, and critical of a framing that fails to recognize the diversity of public objections to GMOs.

The history of corporate marketing has long used secretive corporate science and engineering to promote products. This has been the case with polluting products, pharmaceuticals, nuclear power and industrial materials and chemicals. GMOs follow these practices in the more ominous process of changing the nature of nature.

Together with resisting farmers, challenging scientists, and liberated civil servants, an aroused public will recognize that its own interests and those of posterity must be preeminent over these corporate monopolists and their short-range, narrow commercial pursuits.

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From the Economic Policy Institute:

“Wage trends greatly determine how fast incomes at the middle and bottom grow, as well as the overall path of income inequality, as we argued in Raising America’s Pay. This is for the simple reason that most households, including those with low incomes, rely on labor earnings for the vast majority of their income. That is why my initial look at the data from the newly released Census Bureau report on income and, poverty in 2013 will look at wages and the incomes of working age households.

The Census data show that from 2012 to 2013, median household income for non-elderly households (those with a head of household younger than 65 years old) increased 0.4 percent from $58,186 to $58,448. However, that modest growth barely begins to offset the losses incurred during the Great Recession or the losses that prevailed in the prior business cycle from 2000 to 2007. Between 2007 and 2013, median household income for non-elderly households dropped from $63,527 to $58,448, a decline of $5,079, or 8.0 percent. Furthermore, the disappointing trends of the Great Recession and its aftermath come on the heels of the weak labor market from 2000-2007, where the median income of non-elderly households fell significantly, from $65,785 to $63,527, the first time in the post-war period that incomes failed to grow over a business cycle. Altogether, from 2000 to 2013, median income for non-elderly households fell from $65,785 to $58,448, a decline of $7,337, or 11.2 percent.”

So the question is: why has average US family income dropped from $65,785 in 2000 to $63,527 in 2007 and then to $58,448 in 2013?

The answer is simple. The money has been redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, which is why the stock markets and corporate earnings are at record levels and family income has plummeted for fourteen years, and now remains static and historically low.

Free trade treaties, for example, have shipped jobs overseas, and the difference between the old higher US wages and benefits and the new lower overseas wages and benefits has gone directly from the 99 percent and into the pockets of the 1 percent thanks to politicians such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden. Nearly two million US jobs were exported from the US in 2013, according to the Federal Reserve. Around thirty million have been exported since 1990. Thank you Senator Wyden.

Corporations have also pushed the income of their employees down, except of course, for CEO’s and important members of the major Wall Street investment banks. Many of these Wall Street people earn millions of dollars by illegally ripping off the retirement accounts of working Americans. US politicians make certain they’re able to do it. See the book Flash Boys by Michael Lewis.

There are a myriad of other ways the government acts as a legislative conduit to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent. This has been ongoing since 1981.

Essentially, this means that the current massive income and wealth inequality we experience today is a function of tax cuts for the rich, which were then used to corrupt government at all levels, as well as both political parties.

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