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Archive for August, 2018


Nowadays, United States middle-class families are making less money in almost every state. Since 1999, median incomes have dropped nationwide and, in states like Indiana, they’ve shrunk by more than 9 percent. This is because trillions of dollars of yearly income have been redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent by the billionaire controlled US government.

The folks at the financial website GOBankingRates used Pew Research Center and United States Census Bureau data, as well as data from real-estate site Zillow, to find the change in median household income in every state. The incomes are adjusted for inflation and the percentages reflect the increase in incomes from 1999 to 2014.

However, I should point out that the US government has been accused, and probably rightfully so, of deliberately understating inflation. In which case, real median incomes have dropped even further than the study shows.

You need to earn an annual household income of “two-thirds to double the national median, after incomes have been adjusted for household size,” to be considered middle class, according to Pew. The most recent national household median income estimate was $59,039, according to the U.S. Census.

“Although the middle class is shrinking,” the GOBankingRates report says, in some places “middle-income families continue to thrive.” Here’s where the numbers have gone up instead of down:

South Dakota

Median household income of middle-class families : $77,176

Median household income change of middle class : 1.7 percent

“South Dakota has the fifth-highest median household income for middle-class families, and it’s where middle-class incomes increased the most between 1999 and 2014,” according to GOBankingRates. It’s “one of only two states where middle-class incomes actually increased over those years, and it’s one of only four states where the proportion of middle income households has increased from 2010 to 2015.”

Vermont

Median household income of middle-class families : $75,540

Median household income change of middle class : 0.2 percent

Vermont is the only other state where middle-class incomes have risen; however, it’s also “one of the costliest states for an in-state college education,” the report finds, with the second-highest in-state tuition and fees in the country behind New Hampshire.

Middle Class Families Earning Less–Yahoo News

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Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has proposed legislation in which United States presidential and vice presidential candidates must legally disclose eight years worth of tax returns and place any assets that could present a conflict of interest into a blind trust to be sold off (neither of which President Donald Trump has done). Warren’s bill is part of new legislation she’s introducing to reduce the power and influence of big corporations and banks. Last week, Warren introduced the Accountable Capitalism Act, which would require corporations to be more accountable to their workers, communities, and less accountable to shareholders.

To Warren, the Trump administration’s nepotism is emblematic of everything that is wrong with Washington. But she doesn’t just want to replace Trump and his administration with better actors; she wants to blow up the existing system and start from scratch.

“Let’s face it,” Warren said. “There’s no real question that the Trump era has given us the most nakedly corrupt leadership this nation has seen in our lifetimes,” Warren said to an audience at the National Press Club. “But they are not the cause of the rot — they’re just the biggest, stinkiest example of it. Corruption is a form of public cancer, and Washington’s got it bad.”


Then again, think about what Warren is not saying. Both major political parties are corrupt to the bone. Big money owns the important politicians of both major political parties. The politicians of these two parties and their billionaire owners are what has corrupted our federal, state and local governments, as well as the corporate wing of the United States Supreme Court. Quite naturally, Warren is a member of the Democratic Party and understandably does not want to offend the billionaire-controlled leadership.

Warren wants a federal government in which the US president, vice president, Cabinet members, and congressional lawmakers have a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists, and other federal workers have restrictions — albeit less severe — on entering lobbying firms. The act would also bar federal judges from owning individual stocks or accepting gifts or payments that could potentially influence the outcome of their rulings. Conservatives Supreme Court members, such as Clarence Thomas and the laste Antonin Scalia are perfect examples of court justices ruling on issues in which they have a vested interest.

And in Warren’s plan — laid out in a new bill called the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act — this would all be overseen by a new US Office of Public Integrity, which would go after violators and usher in a new era of ethics law enforcement.

As expected, the Republican Party, the Koch Brothers controlled Tea Party, and the Wall Street controlled Democratic National Committee will oppose Warren’s proposed legislation.

Billionaires, Wall Street, Big Oil and other major vested interests have rigged politics for decades in their favor, and at the expense of the 99 percent. They will fight to the death to maintain the current corrupt system.
The idea is to “isolate and quarantine the ability of big money to infect the decisions made every day by every branch of our government,” Warren said in a speech on Tuesday. That means all three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

“Inside Washington, some of these proposals will be very unpopular, even with some of my friends,” she said. “Outside Washington, I expect that most people will see these ideas as no-brainers and be shocked they’re not already the law.”

Warren, one of the top potential 2020 presidential candidates who is staking out an early position for herself as a voice of working people, is laying out exactly how she would drain the swamp — in detail. She’s long railed against corruption in Washington, but she’s clearly setting herself up as the anti-Trump, proposing drastic reforms to prove it.

The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act is a wide-ranging bill that focuses on getting money and lobbying out of politics in all three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Here are the key parts:
• A lifetime ban on lobbying for presidents, vice presidents, members of Congress, federal judges, and Cabinet secretaries.
• Multi-year lobbying bans for federal employees (both Congressional staffers and employees of federal agencies). The span of time would be least two years, and six years for corporate lobbyists.
• Requiring the president and vice president to place assets that could present a conflict of interest — including real estate — in a blind trust and sell them off.
• Requiring the IRS to release eight years’ worth of tax returns for all presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as requiring them to release tax returns during each year in office. The IRS would also have to release two years’ worth of tax returns for members of Congress, and require them to release tax returns for each lawmaker’s year in office.
• Banning members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, White House staff, senior congressional staff, and other officials from owning individual stocks while in office.
• Changing the rulemaking process of federal agencies to severely restrict the ability of corporations or industry to delay or influence rulemaking.
• Creating a new independent US Office of Public Integrity, which would enforce the nation’s ethics laws, and investigate any potential violations. The office would also try to strengthen open records laws, making records more easily accessible to the public and the press.

“Yes,” Warren said, “public servants should be able to use their expertise when they leave government,” she said. “But we’ve gone way past expertise and are headed directly into graft. Padlock the revolving door.”

Warren wants to create an Office of United States Corporations inside the Department of Commerce and require any corporation with revenue over $1 billion — only a few thousand companies, but a large share of overall employment and economic activity — to obtain a federal charter of corporate citizenship.

The charter tells company directors to consider the interests of all relevant stakeholders — shareholders, but also customers, employees, and the communities in which the company operates — when making decisions. That could concretely shift the outcome of some shareholder lawsuits but is aimed more broadly at shifting American business culture out of its current shareholders-first framework and back toward something more like the broad ethic of social responsibility that took hold during WWII and continued for several decades.

More concretely, United States Corporations would be required to allow their workers to elect 40 percent of the membership of their board of directors.
In this Warren is wrong. 50 percent of the board members should be workers, like in Germany.

Taken together, the Accountable Capitalism Act and the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act are a return to Warren’s bread-and-butter issues, ones that she’s been hammering home since she was a Harvard Law School professor who helped establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the 2008 financial crisis.

https://www.vox.com/2018/8/21/17760916/elizabeth-warren-anti-corruption-act-bill-lobbying-ban-president-trump

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Why have US wages and salaries remained stagnate or even in decline during this economic boom? For one thing, there is the massive exporting of US white collar jobs to poverty wage nations. Then, of course, there is the outsourcing of US white collar jobs. Then again, there is the H1-B Visa program, among other issues. All of the above redistribute income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent of US citizens.

According to Bloomberg News, the United States Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs determined tech giant Cisco Systems secured visas for foreign workers instead of hiring U.S. citizens for certain jobs and paid the visa holders at a lower rate than their American counterparts. Indian corporations are the conduit whereby cheaper Indian workers use the H1-B visa to displace higher paid US workers. Indian corporations provide Cisco with the low wage contract workers who replace higher paid US workers.

The probe is one of several ongoing investigations into possible discrimination by federal contractors against visa holders. It is stunning there is a federal probe going on about how the billionaires who control US corporations routinely displace US workers with lower-paid Indian workers since this has been a common practice for over three decades, and is a primary conduit for redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent.

This is because the difference between the old higher US salaries and compensation and the new lower with no other H1-B visa compensation goes straight into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate share prices and profits that would otherwise not be so high.

“The usual punishment is a fine and disbarment from the H-1B program for a while,” said John Miano, an immigration lawyer and a former computer programmer, who is now working at the Immigration Reform Law Institute. “Want a bet that Cisco does not get barred from the H-1B program?” he added.

The leak comes as voters recognize that salaries for college-grads remain flat, despite the high-pressure economy, amid large-scale white-collar outsourcing and immigration. In contrast, blue-collar wages are rising slowly.

The anti-American discrimination at Cisco is also a political problem for GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder.

On July 25, Yoder used his political clout to get initial approval in the United States House of Representatives for legislation that would put roughly 300,000 Indian visa-workers on a fast-track to green-cards and citizenship.

Yoder’s H.R. 392 legislation is a gamble for him because it puts visa-worker Indians in his Kansas district ahead of the many young Americans who are losing jobs to the huge population of foreign visa-workers in the United States. Many polls show that Americans strongly oppose legislation which helps foreign companies displace Americans.

The population of foreign college-graduate visa-workers adds up to roughly 1.5 million — each of whom is holding a job that would otherwise have gone to the roughly 800,000 young men and women who graduate each year with skilled college-degrees in business, healthcare, science, software, math or design.

Yoder’s legislation will also allow Americans and Indian companies to annually award up to 140,000 fast-track green cards to Indian workers if they take Americans’ jobs at low wages by using H-1B or L-1 visas.

GOP leaders — including President Donald Trump — will decide in the next few months of Yoder’s pro-outsourcing measure becomes law.

Like many other Internet companies, Cisco employs many cheap-labor visa-workers. In 2017, for example, the company asked for 713 three-year visas to hire foreign college graduates from overseas. Roughly one-third of those applications were approved via a lottery.

The company also asked for 249 L-1 visas to transfer foreign employees to jobs in the United States. The approval rate for L-1s is unknown, but that large number suggests that the company may have imported more workers via L-1 visas than H-1B visas.

Nearly all of Cisco’s H-1Bs are from India.

Tech Giant Cisco Discriminated Against US Citizens Using H1-B Visa Workers — Bloomberg News

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Currently, the United States has the least efficient health care system with the highest per capita health care costs in the developed world. That makes it very profitable for the shareholders of the 1 percent.

As for the non-health care sector of the US economy, businesses are the biggest source of health care coverage, but they could completely exit the business of providing health care, if national or even statewide single-payer coverage ever happens. That could make U.S. businesses more competitive globally and leave a lot more profits for shareholders in the form of higher dividends and rising share prices. Any savings would not likely go to employees anymore than is currently the case.

A new analysis by Charles Blahous of the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University found that single-payer health care for all Americans would cost at least $32.6 trillion during the first decade, or $3.3 trillion per year. Total federal spending now amounts to $4.2 trillion per year, so adding Medicare for all spending to that tally would nearly double federal outlays, except it won’t.

A Bernie Sanders-style single-payer system would transfer all health care spending to the federal government. “I’m scoring the federal cost here, and it’s enormous,” Blahous told Yahoo Finance. “The other side of the coin is businesses, individuals, states and others are not going to be paying these costs. They’re going to be given to the federal government.”

On the whole, the Blahous analysis finds that total health spending would actually decline under the Sanders plan, compared with the status quo, with the feds paying a lot more, but everybody else paying nothing. And more people would have health coverage since everybody would be eligible.

And it would be less expensive than what the US has now, which is the most expensive per capita in the world. As the only buyer of health care, the government would have the power to demand deep discounts, and there would be lower overhead costs because there would only be one administrative structure. Of course, we’d all have to get care through the government and deal with the pitfalls that would entail.

Still, the tradeoffs for businesses could be attractive. Federal tax revenue from individuals and businesses will total about $3 trillion this year. So taxes would need to more than double to cover a giant new health care plan. Doubling everybody’s taxes sounds like a death wish for politicians. But it might not be as crazy as it sounds.

Businesses pay about $1.2 trillion in health care costs every year providing coverage for 49 percent of the United States. Federal income tax payments by businesses will total about $243 billion this year. So U.S. businesses pay five times as much for health care benefits as they pay in US taxes. If you tripled or even quadrupled corporate income taxes, while eliminating all their spending on health care, it would still amount to a net savings for businesses.

New Libertarian Study Shows Bernie Sanders Medicare for All Would Save Corporations Trillions of Dollars–Yahoo

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