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Archive for August, 2016

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A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that “Skills such as critical thinking, persistence, and self-control—which are often called noncognitive skills or social and emotional skills—are vitally important to children’s development. In a new report, EPI’s Emma García and Elaine Weiss outline why and how nurturing these skills should be incorporated into the goals and components of public education. García and Weiss argue that since these skills are linked to academic achievement, productivity and collegiality at work, positive health indicators, and civic participation, they should be an explicit goal of public education.”

Currently, corporate profits determine US educational policy. The testing industry runs the show. They’re the corporations that insist on higher standards because higher standards mean higher profits.

When a child takes a state mandated test, a major publishing corporation, such as Pearson Limited of Great Britain, makes a profit on that test. When a child fails a test, that child is given the test again until he or she passes, and every time the student takes a test management and shareholders of Pearson get more profits, higher dividends and rising share prices.

The easiest way to get those pesky five to eighteen year old students to take more and more tests is simply to raise standards. More students will fail to achieve those higher standards, and will be forced to retake the tests, and every time they retake those tests Pearson’s profits rise.

This is precisely why US students are the most tested in the world, and by a wide margin. That’s why US educational policy has become an income redistribution program. It redistributes income from local taxpayers to shareholders of Pearson and other testing corporations via higher profits, rising dividends, and surging share prices.

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The Epipen delivers a dose of epinephrine, otherwise known as adrenaline, to treat extreme allergic reactions. It’s been around for more than a century. And the pen that delivers the medication has been around since the 1970s, when it was first developed by the US military with taxpayer dollars.

Epinephrine was invented in Japan. This jump-started other areas of emergency medication for heart and lung problems. The hormone is now used in hospitals around the world, and is included on the WHO’s list of essential medicine. It only costs a few dollars for a vial.

Mylan, which is the corporation with the legal right to the taxpayer funded Epipen, recently relocated outside the United States to avoid paying taxes.

Proxy filings show that from 2007 to 2015, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch’s total compensation went from $2,453,456 to $18,931,068, a 671 percent increase. During the same period, the company raised EpiPen prices, with the average wholesale price going from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase, according to data provided by Connecture.

Mylan was able to rip off the public because it bought legislation through corrupt politicians, and let’s face it, the US government from the White House to almost every US senator and almost every US member of the House of Representatives have been bought and packaged by big business so as to increase their profits at the expense of the 99 percent.

According to NBC News, “After Mylan acquired EpiPen the company also amped up its lobbying efforts. In 2008, its reported spending on lobbying went from $270,000 to $1.2 million, according to opensecrets.org.

Legislation that enhanced its bottom line followed, with the FDA changing its recommendations in 2010 that two EpiPens be sold in a package instead of one and that they be prescribed for at-risk patients, not just those with confirmed allergies. And in 2013 the government passed a law to give block grants to states that required they be stocked in public schools.

In 2007 the company bought the rights to EpiPen, a device used to provide emergency epinephrine to stop a potentially fatal allergic reaction and began raising its price. In 2008 and 2009, Mylan raised the price by 5 percent. At the end of 2009 it tried out a 19 percent hike. The years 2010-2013 saw a succession of 10 percent price hikes.

The stock price more than tripled, going from $13.29 in 2007 to a high of $47.59 in 2016.”

In other words, the US government aided and abetted a monopoly so that it could redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent. Furthermore, as a complete monopoly, the US government allowed Mylan to rip off the needy in violation of the numerous US laws, which include the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

That’s how corrupt your government is.

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According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the current economic expansion is the worst of all since and including the recovery of 1949. Robert Scott, the author of the report, blames government reduction of expenditures during this recovery for the weakness of it. You can see from the graph below that this recovery in Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is the lowest of the last 11 recoveries. No doubt government spending plays a role in how fast GNP grows, along with other variables, such as wage and job growth. This recovery is the worst on record for government expenditures. But there is another likely culprit that plays a role in making this the weakest of economic expansions.

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You will notice above that all of the economic recoveries since 1949 and through 1990 grew at rates of 4 percent and higher. The recovery under President Ronald Reagan was the last to top 4 percent GNP growth. Under President Bill Clinton GNP growth averaged 3.4 percent, under President George W. Bush it was 2.8 percent, and under President Obama GNP growth is 2.1 percent. Notice growth was less under Bush than under Clinton despite higher government spending. So what else could be going on? Look at the graph below.

Income inequality has grown since and during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and almost every year since has seen increasing income and wealth inequality. As inequality has grown, the demand for goods and services has been reduced by income stagnation or reduction.

income inequality

Since and including the 1980s, credit has been expanded in the form of credit cards, home equity credit lines, and home equity growth. In other words, much of the current expansion, weak as it is, is spurred on by credit for the 99 percent, with profits and other enrichment going to the 1 percent, who stole 99 percent of all income growth from 2009 to 2014, along with most of the income produced in the USA during 2016. The 1 percent has gone from stealing about 8 percent of all the income produced in the United States to roughly 37 percent, leaving us with less money to demand goods and services, along with historically slow job growth, wage stagnation, and lost opportunities.

Now the rich want more, and a weaker economy, weaker job growth, reduced real incomes, are the price we’ll have to pay for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), should it pass through congress. Wall Street President Obama has already signed it. Wall Street Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has voiced her support for and against it. No doubt Clintonis is really for it, since her vice presidential choice Tim Kaine is for it, as is her newly appointed head of her transition team Ken Salazar. See What the Corporate Propaganda Network Doesn’t Want You to Know: One of the Many Ways the Trans Pacific Partnership Will Destroy US Jobs and Redistribute Massive Income and Wealth From the 99 to the 1 Percent–JohnHively.Wordpress.com

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Email from Arthur Stamolis of Citizens Fair Trade

Dear John,

The biggest challenge we’re facing in the fight to stop the anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is that too many people still don’t know what it is.

That’s a real problem. And corporate lobbyists are hoping to exploit it to quietly rush the TPP through Congress this Fall. Fortunately, we’ve got a secret weapon to help sound the alarm: the Rock Against the TPP roadshow.

Shows are coming up this week in Seattle (Friday) and Portland (Saturday). Can you come to one? Click here for details.

TPP-relaced

We’re teaming up with an awesome group of musicians and celebrities like legendary guitarist Tom Morello (of Rage Against the Machine, Prophets of Rage, and Audioslave), Talib Kweli, Anti-Flag, Downtown Boys, comedian Hari Kondabolu and actress Evangeline Lilly, to organize a nationwide roadshow featuring high profile speakers and performers coming together to educate the public about the grave threat the TPP poses to our most basic rights.

Through a series of large-scale educational concert events, protests, and teach-ins, we’ll reach huge numbers of people who have never heard of the TPP before, and ignite a mass movement to stop it in its tracks.

The tour is coming to the Northwest this weekend, and we need to make sure the events are huge. Click here to RSVP!

Here are all the details for this weekend’s shows:

Seattle Rock Against the TPP Concert
Fri, August 19th, 2016. 6pm – midnight
@ Showbox SoDo,
1700 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA
All ages. Wheelchair accessible.
FREE! RSVP required, click here.

Seattle line-up includes: Hip-hop icon Talib Kweli, Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, comedian Hari Kondabolu, Anti-Flag (acoustic), Downtown Boys, Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba, Makana, Sihasin, Bell’s Roar, Evan Greer, Taina Asili, and more. Plus lots of information and ways to get involved in the fight to stop the TPP. Invite your friends on Facebook here.

Portland Rock Against the TPP Concert
Sat, August 20th, 2016. 5pm – midnight
@ Director Park
815 SW Park Avenue, Portland, OR
All ages. Wheelchair accessible.
FREE! RSVP required, click here.

Portland line-up includes: Punk legends Anti-Flag (acoustic), Golden Globe nominated actress Evangeline Lilly, comedian Hari Kondabolu, Downtown Boys, Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawamba, Makana, Sihasin, Bell’s Roar, Evan Greer, Taina Asili, and more. Plus lots of information and ways to get involved in the fight to stop the TPP. Invite your friends on Facebook here.

The TPP is a legally binding deal between 12 governments, including the U.S., that was negotiated in total secrecy with hundreds of corporate lobbyists helping draft the text. If ratified, it would be the largest backroom deal of its kind in history, and it poses a grave threat to good paying jobs, the environment, internet freedom, food safety, and our basic democratic process.

As Tom Morello says, “Corporate lobbyists want to sneak the TPP through Congress quietly; that means it’s time for us to get loud.”

Click here to join us at Rock Against the TPP in Pacific Northwest!

Thanks for all you do,

Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN
Online: citizenstrade.org
Twitter: @citizenstrade

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A Great Depression Homeless Camp

A Great Depression Homeless Camp. Looks a lot like a modern day homeless camp doesn’t it?

The US Bureau of Labor announced the United States created 255,000 jobs in July. While good news, and rightly praised by the pundits, there is trouble hiding behind those numbers. The US durable goods sector went into recession early last autumn, while the entire manufacturing sector followed by November. That’s over 12 percent of the economy. Here’s what isn’t well known.

The entire economy has followed the durable goods sector into recession in each of the last recessions since and including the Great Depression. Historically, it takes sixteen to eighteen months for the rest of the economy to follow durable goods. So we’re most likely looking at a recession hitting somewhere between October of this year and June 2017.

Given that 99 percent of all income growth from 2009 to 2014 went to the top 1 percent, an historic record, the next recession will likely be more severe than the last. That’s because the great middle class will historically have fewer dollars to spend during the coming recession, which means the demand for goods and services will be depressed at levels not seen in decades.

This is the fourth longest economic expansion on record, and also among the weakest when it comes to job and wage growth. The US experienced higher monthly job growth in the economic expansions of the 1960s (170,000 per month), 1980s (230,000 per month) and the 1990s (200,000 per month), despite a smaller population, smaller GNP, and less worker productivity. Those expansions also featured real wage growth, especially during the 1960s. The current boom period has seen only 184,000 jobs created per month. Contrast that with the much maligned President Carter. Job growth of 206,000 per month occurred under Carter, with a population 2/3’s the size of today, and a GNP roughly 40 percent of today’s economy. Wage growth was consistent under Carter.

In addition, the most recent housing bubble will burst, as it always has done when recessions hit. Typically, when a recession occurs along with a bursting of a bubble, things are significantly much worse than without a bubble.

So, given the bubble, and historic income and wealth inequality, we should be looking at a whale of recession that is coming down the pike at hurricane speed.

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In The Rigged Game: Corporate America and a People Betrayed, I wrote that we needed a tax on Wall Street transactions to help cool down the Wall Street speculators. A lot of people picked up on that, from Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren. Now the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is getting in on the action.

“In a new report, EPI’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair write that a financial transaction tax (FTT)—a small levy placed on the sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other investments—would raise between $110 billion to $403 billion in gross revenues annually. They argue that regardless of the level of revenues raised, an FTT would be a win-win for the U.S. economy by ultimately decreasing the fees Americans pay on their investments and shrinking unproductive parts of the financial sector.”

By the way, most of the financial sectors of the US economy are unproductive. Not all of course, but the parts that rip people off, that corrupt both major political parties, the part that corrupts government in Wall Street’s favor, the part that allows the Federal Reserve to bail out the bankers to the tune of trillions of dollars, the part that allows investors to force corporations to export jobs, etc….

For the full report from the EPI, click

A financial transaction tax would help ensure Wall Street works for Main Street

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DARK Act graphic

Showing what a complete Wall Street/Corporate Hack he is, on Friday, July 29, Monsanto/Wall Street President Barack Obama signed into law S. 764, which overturns Vermont’s GMO label law and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to come up with a national labeling standard at some point in the next two to three years. Don’t you wish Obama would represent the people, all of them, not just the billionaires who fund the Democratic Party?

GMO labeling

Under the new law, you’ll have to scan each product with a smart phone in order to figure out if they have GMOs in them. Obama still continues to lie when he maintains that GMOs have been proven safe. What he won’t mention is that GMOs have been proven safe only by the GMO corporations, such as Monsanto. He apparently refuses to look at the hundreds of independent and often peer reviewed studies which show how dangerous GMOs are. There are even two studies that have been performed by GMO giants, and subsequently leaked, that show how dangerous these things are to human health.

On the other hand, most of the Republicans in the congress voted for the DARK Act.

Check out these links for more information about how ignorant or dishonest your president is about the dangers of GMOs. Let’s face it. GMO’s have insecticides and herbicides in them, and you eat these things. Anybody think that’s healthy? Well, your president does.

A Valuable Reputation–the New Yorker

Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths from GM Corn

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