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What will occur when the Covid-19 vaccine is fully distributed? What will happen if President Biden gets his stimulus? The assumed answer to both questions is that the economy will enter a business expansion, things will return to normal, and everything will be peachy. Maybe and maybe not.

Nearly 100,000 U.S. businesses disappeared from March to December 2020. Gross domestic product has dropped in the last three quarters. Despite the CARES Act and the last stimulus, the number of people applying for first time unemployment benefits has exploded to nearly one million people during each of the last two weeks, compared to less than 360,000 during the height of the Great Recession.

The underlying economy has been gutted by the billionaires, leaving a dying carcass in the place of a once healthy economy. According to a study by Carter Price of the Rand Corporation, the rich have been redistributing $2.5 trillion from the 99 percent to themselves on average for the last twenty-five years using their hired hands in government, which includes Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Wall Street’s favorite U.S. senator, Ron Wyden, who is appropriately the only U.S. senator to be called a “Useful Idiot” by a Nobel Prize winning economist in an op-ed in the New York Times.

A perfect example of this political corruption is the CARES Act signed into law on March 27, 2020. Congressional leaders made certain the billionaires were due to receive $4.994 trillion from the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill. You read that right. The $2.2 trillion included $454 billion for large corporations, allegedly in loans. The rich receive 66 percent to 100 percent of their income and wealth from, you guessed it, corporations. The bill was written with a proviso that the Federal Reserve could print up to ten times $454 billion and lend the total of $4.994 trillion with a nod and a wink to large corporations ($4.54 trillion + $454 billion = $4.994 trillion). The real total amount of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was $6.74 trillion ($4.994 trillion + $2.2 trillion – 454 billion). 

The combined profits of all US corporations in 2018 and 2019 were slightly over $4 trillion before taxes. The rich and their corporations, in other words, were getting more than two years’ worth of profits from the stimulus bill. Naturally, the stock market exploded as massive amounts of money was funneled to them through their corporations. The CARES Act, however, failed to authorize the Fed to loan money to those who truly needed it; to stay in the homes and put food on their tables, which would have also strengthened the underlying economy.

The CARES Act gave the 99 percent, numbering about 314,685,000 citizens, $1.75 trillion (about $5500 each on average) to help keep the economy afloat while the roughly 300,000 wealthiest shared close to $5 trillion, which comes out to a little over $16.6 million each.

Nearly 36 million people were thrown out of work from March to May 2020, and the best congress that money has bought saved the billionaires and threw crumbs at the rest of us.

There are numerous political ways the billionaires have used to redistribute income from us to them. Millions of U.S. jobs have been exported over the last forty years, for example, and the difference between the old high U.S wages and benefits and the new lower wages-only compensation in China, Vietnam, Mexico, Pakistan and elsewhere have gone straight into the pockets of the billionaires, thanks to their might-as-well-be-hired employees in the congress, the white house, and the supreme court.

Thus, there is no guarantee the economy will return to normal when the coronavirus is gone and the next stimulus has run its course. The impacts of every recession has gotten worse for the 99 percent because at least $50 trillion has been redistributed from 99 to the 1 percent over the last twenty-five years, depressing the demand for goods and services in the process. The top one percent are now stealing roughly 22 to 39 percent of all income produced in the United States, up from 8 percent in 1979. This trend has not been and will not be reversed with the political corruption in play. In reality, this trend has been exacerbated by the CARES Act.

So when the dust clears, and the virus is gone, there is no guarantee the economy will bounce out of this recession, which may prove to be another Depression. So maybe it will, but then maybe not.

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The political games of the billionaires and their political representatives are afoot and quite noticeable, if one cares to look. Did anybody notice over the last several months that Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell made it abundantly clear that he was not going to consider a stimulus package of more than $500 billion while House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was looking at a minimum of $2.2 trillion.

President Donald Trump tried to negotiate something in the middle since he had to placate both. Now that Trump is soon to be out of office, McConnell and Pelosi are looking at a $900 billion package. They put Trump in a hard squeeze for months, and both made certain he was not going to get a new stimulus deal that might help him win reelection. McConnell and Pelosi proved they are different sides of the same coin; they’re corporatists and globalists and controlled by billionaires. They put their desire for political power ahead of the welfare of millions of American citizens who are unemployed because of Covid-19. The terms of the March 2020 CARES Act are due to expire the day after Christmas. People will be evicted from their homes by the millions, while millions will lose their unemployment insurance, and all Pelosi and McConnell cared about for the last several months was increasing their political capital at the expense of everybody but the billionaires who control both of them.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that “More and more Americans are going hungry as the pandemic continues to spiral out of control and government aid dries up, with children bearing the brunt of the hardship.

More than 27.3 million or 12.7% of Americans — 17.5% among households with children — reported they either sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the last week, according to new data this week from the U.S. Census Bureau that polled people from November 25 to December 7. That’s the highest level dating back to the last week of April when the Census survey began.”

Even before Covid-19 struck, according to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, “78 percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet (up from 75 percent a year earlier), and nearly one in ten workers making $100,000+ live paycheck to paycheck. More than half of minimum wage workers say they have to work more than one job to make ends meet, while nearly three in four workers say they are in debt today. “A quarter of workers (25 percent) have not been able to make ends meet every month in the last year, and 20 percent have missed payment on some smaller bills. Further, 71 percent of all workers say they’re in debt — up from 68 percent” in 2016. “While 46 percent say their debt is manageable, more than half of those in debt (56 percent) say they feel they will always be in debt. It should be noted that 18 percent of all workers have reduced their 401k contribution and/or personal savings in the last year, more than a third (38 percent) do not participate in a 401k plan, IRA or comparable retirement plan, and 26 percent have not set aside any savings in the last year.” 81 percent of workers “have worked a minimum wage job, and 71 percent of them were not able to make ends meet financially during that time — more than half (54 percent) had to work more than one job.” According to a study by the United States Federal Reserve Bank, 61 percent of adults could pay for an unexpected expense of $400 with cash, savings, or a credit card they could pay off the following month. 27 percent would need to borrow or sell something to pay the expense, and 12 percent could never cover it. This was all before Covid-19.

If you think things were bad for the middle class in 2019, it surely has got to be worse for them nowadays. Below are some other statistics that place things in perspective, and all of these were calculated before Covid-19.

As of 2020, the average working citizen in the USA no longer could afford to raise a family on his or her yearly salary, demonstrating how badly off the middle class has become since 1980. In 1985, a middle class male had to work thirty weeks in order to pay the $13,227 it cost for housing, healthcare, transportation and education. By 2018, the average cost of those four items had risen to $54,441, and it took a male head-of-household fifty-three weeks to pay for them. This stark reality was even worse for female heads of households. Women had to work forty-five weeks to pay for the same things in 1985, but it required sixty-six weeks to earn them in 2018. By 2018, both male and female head-of-households had to work more than a year to pay for a year’s worth of those four items.

There are many reasons why millions of middle class people are in such dire straits; trade agreements, for example, have exported middle class jobs by the millions. Pelosi and McConnell supported every one of these boondoggles. This is why they are different sides of the same coin. Meanwhile, the fifty richest billionaires are worth as much as the poorest 165 million Americans. Both Pelosi and McConnell have worked hand-in-hand to ensure this outcome.

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SW Washington’s Take on the STATE’S Disparity STUDY

By

Bjorn Sorensen for NW & Associates, LLC

The purpose of this report is to start the conversation in suburban areas like the Greater Vancouver, Washington area, part of the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, and as Vancouver competes with Washington’s major metropolis of Seattle. We hope to clarify issues with those who choose to start and stay on this journey of the business founder who is looking for resources and technical assistance.

The United States has a thriving entrepreneurial culture, with a rapidly expanding landscape of small businesses in particular. Each new venture brings jobs, products, solutions, and the strengthening of communities. Our country is referred to as The Land of Opportunity for this very reason.

Yet it takes a lot to set up and maintain a small business: long hours, sources of cash and credit for growth and challenging times, networking with more experienced business owners, education, luck, and a lot more. We frequently hear about the mainstream tycoons who’ve beaten the odds, but not as much from the risk-takers who lost. Despite the risks, many brave it all because they believe in the value it contributes to our society.

When we look at where jobs are created around the country and in Southwest Washington, we know that a high percentage – and often a majority – come from small businesses.[1] That has been our track record.

We also know that many small businesses are women and minority-owned. “I’m not aware of any large minority-owned enterprises [businesses employing 250 or more] in the SW Washington area. They’re going to be small businesses,” says Tyrone Foster, the owner of Precision Landscape in Portland – a small, minority-owned business.[2] Mr. Foster would like to expand into SW Washington.

Nationally, the number of minority-owned small businesses has increased by 25 percent from 1997 to 2007. Women-owned businesses are up by seven percent. All White-owned businesses grew by only six percent.[3]

Yet this year, even in the midst of national social justice protests and heightened awareness about racial inequality, large imbalances persist in terms of race, class, and gender. The average Black person has 1/10th the wealth of the average White person in the U.S. today.[4] For the purposes of the discussion here, that means Black small business owners have less equity and credit to start and grow a small business.

While all businesses have been challenged in 2020, an analysis of U.S. Labor Department data by the University of California, Santa Cruz economist Robert Fairlie found that Black small businesses have been forced to shutter during the pandemic at well over twice the rate of White businesses.[5] Reports recently cited in The Week magazine show that Black business owners asking for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds in banks typically got less than Whites – even when the Black owners had better financial profiles.[6]

Since minority-owned businesses are closing at a far greater rate during the pandemic, local municipalities, such as Vancouver, can focus more on business diversity, providing a huge economic boost to our area as a whole. This effort would more accurately reflect the make-up of Washington school districts: Vancouver (43% minority students), Evergreen (42% minority), and Camas (26% minority) are reflective of larger trends. Almost half of the K-12 student body (46%) in the State of Washington is non-White. [7]

STATE CONTRACTS
For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at the awarding of state contracts vis-a-vis gender and race.

In 2015, Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed the Subcabinet on Business Diversity. The Subcabinet states: “Washington’s diversity is one of its greatest economic and cultural strengths. Yet for the fiscal year 2018, only 3.6 percent of the nearly $5 billion that the state spends with the private sector is with small businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans. We need to do better. Diversity in state contracting is good business and good for the State.”[8]

We all see SW Washington growing, as offering more business zones and fewer taxes than what entrepreneurs often find south of the river in Portland. We’ll examine business opportunities with the I-5 Bridge replacement, Vancouver’s waterfront development, and contracts offered by the City of Vancouver.

THE DISPARITY STUDY
NW & Associates, LLC started digging into these important questions regarding the diversity of small businesses via the State of Washington’s Disparity Study, released in 2019.[9] It details the number and dollar amount of state contracts awarded across dozens of industries, like transportation, construction, and banking. It breaks down what percentages of available and capable minority and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) typically are getting contract awards relative to the gender and racial ownership makeup of firms in the State.

The study was put out by the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE). As Sarah Erdmann, Deputy Director of OMWBE, told NW & Associates, LLC: “Diverse businesses create more competition, which in turn drives solutions that are innovative and cost-effective.”[10] The more companies that apply for a particular state contract, the more options for the State to choose from in satisfying taxpayer demand, providing services to the public, and expanding resources for businesses.

What emerges from the Disparity Study is that many qualified minority and women-owned business enterprises are underutilized relative to their availability to fulfill state contracts. Black-owned firms were utilized at 2.52% relative to their overall availability, while Asian-owned firms were utilized at 30.37% and White female-owned firms at 53.06%.[11] This illustrates overall patterns of large state work contracts being awarded to the same large, non-diverse firms year after year.

The Disparity Study concludes by saying that measures by the State to help all firms (“race- and gender-neutral” measures) do not go far enough in leveling the playing field for MWBEs. In other words, not having more specific and enforceable targets for gender and racial inclusion means we cannot reach our full employment and business potential.

“The good news about the Disparity [Study] is that, we have, for the first time, data. Every time we would share with legislators or stakeholders, particularly those who maybe weren’t as enthusiastic about supporting women or minority-owned firms. We could actually go in and say we have data,” says Lisa van der Lugt, director of Washington’s OMWBE. “The bad news is it confirmed everything we thought.”[12]

SCALING TO SIZE
Sophie Somers, owner of the Vancouver-area small construction firm Somers Design Build, echoes some of what the Disparity Study reveals, especially in how difficult it can be for small businesses to bid on huge contracts. For example: “Liability and insurance are much harder for a smaller company to deal with. [It’s] harder to deal with employee turnover, with the training. I pay my guys really well, so we don’t have turnover, whereas the larger companies sometimes pay less and can afford turnover.”[13]

Her situation is reflective of a larger pattern. Ten percent of construction firms in Washington state are women-owned, which would seem like a small number. However, it’s the highest percentage in the nation.[14] Rough data shows more than 25,000 women are working statewide in some form of construction that involves family-wage jobs.[15]

Access to capital is another issue for smaller businesses. “How do smaller firms get the additional money to be able to pay for the additional equipment and people?” asks small business owner Tyrone Foster. “Sometimes that’s what kills them! They don’t have a relationship with a bank like the larger companies.”²

OPPORTUNITY
With business zones opening up around Vancouver and development projects being completed along the waterfront, SW Washington could position itself as one of the state’s future leaders in diverse (and therefore overall) business development.

Within Washington state, we hear a lot about the Seattle/Everett area. We don’t hear as much about Spokane, the Tri-Cities – or the Greater Vancouver area. “Does a city’s strategic plan include values for diversity, equity, and inclusion?” van der Lugt asks. “Sometimes municipalities aren’t considering it. If you look at the leadership in that part of the state, there were no people of color, so it’s offering that assistance,” because there are a lot of new opportunities. There are also a lot of situations that hadn’t been faced before by an area’s political or business leadership. “Some of it is the fear of the unknown. How much is this going to cost me? What kind of work does this mean? You’re worrying about something that we [the OMWBE] may be able to help with [and] give you even an inclusion template to use. It’s just [that] getting the discussion going sometimes will spur other ideas, which is really exciting.”¹¹

Evidence of inclusion plans, whether enforceable or not, in projects like the I-5 bridge replacement, waterfront development, and in city contracts were difficult to find or to understand. Gramor, which leads the business partnerships for Vancouver’s waterfront development, did not respond to repeated calls for an interview with NW & Associates, LLC.

It should be pointed out that WSP, selected as the main engineering consultant for the bi-state I-5 Bridge Replacement Program, is working within a contract that will include a 15% Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)[16] goal, which opens doors to more minority-owned businesses.[17] This is based on federal mandates. In our conversations with Jackie Bayne, the Policy Manager in WSDOT’s (Washington Department of Transportation) Office of Equal Opportunity, the 15% DBE goal is “considered enforceable… contractors have to meet the goal, demonstrate Good Faith Efforts, or face penalties/sanctions.”[18] The engineering consultant has a Chief Equity Officer to guide the Program in following an inclusive process with equitable outcomes, and in meeting their commitment of 20% DBE involvement. The current phase of the I-5 Bridge Replacement Program includes public engagement, environmental analysis, and preliminary engineering, which will take an estimated three to five years. Ongoing outreach, diversity initiatives, and strategies to provide assistance to DBE firms will continue through the life of the Program, according to Casey Liles, Design Manager for the Program. The construction phase, if funded, could take more than ten years and would have a separate DBE goal.[20]

NW & Associates, LLC also spoke to Vancouver City Procurement Manager Anna Vogel about the importance of diversity in promoting business contract opportunities. Vogel talked about the City hosting or attending events like diversity fairs and reverse vendor trade shows – where government agencies sit in the booths and business owners walk around and visit them, learning about opportunities and how to take advantage of them. “The city attends one that typically would be held in October – of course, this year [it] won’t be held [due to COVID 19] – in Oregon, and then there’s a couple in the Seattle area that the City attends. We’ve hosted our own, but not in recent years.”[20]

Vogel also mentions Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) – run by the Federal Small Business Administration – which provides trainings and one-on-one sessions, which aim to pair more seasoned businesses with newer ones in order to learn how to navigate complex and sometimes daunting business contract offers and other opportunities.

In SW Washington, PTAC found a home in the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, but as of two years ago has been given a space to help small businesses at CREDC (the Columbia River Economic Development Council).[21] While PTAC is a free federal program for all businesses, many of the small business owners we spoke with had not heard of it. Others said that entities like the Chamber of Commerce are better at generating business leads between its members instead of holistically providing resources to small businesses that may be disadvantaged to begin with.

Vogel also mentioned small works project contracts the City puts out for bids of between $1,000-$35,000, but did say that large businesses can also bid on these projects.¹⁹

THE REPORT RECOMMENDS
Several recommendations and talking points are offered in the State’s Disparity Report that could be used to start and drive discussions in our Greater Vancouver area about how to develop more business diversity. Here is a refined list along with some local responses:

Adopt more mentor-protégé and other networking programs between larger and smaller firms to help better navigate complex state contract proposals. “A lot of small businesses are started by people who are not business people. Somebody who was an employee somewhere else who had a falling out with the owner, for example,” says Tyrone Foster. “The state [and city government] could help with training, whether that be through community colleges or nonprofits, guest speakers with access to capital, angel investors. and exchange business cards. It’s those connections that help small business build for the long term.”²
Reduce contract sizes – also known as “unbundling” – so smaller firms are better scaled to win bids and build their project resumes. ¹⁸ And OMWBE is starting to collect data from subcontractors – those smaller, often women and minority-owned businesses that might work on less sizable parts of large state contracts. Sophie Somers sees promise in this effort: “I would love more training from OMWBE about getting contracts. We need agencies to reach out to us and show more things we can bid on. Unbundling is a huge thing for small businesses.”¹²
Implement race and gender-conscious contract goals. Review what kind of creative incentives or requirements might be included to increase participation from firms of all sizes. Inclusion plans are a useful item to require, but without hard goals, have not proven consistently effective.[22] Offer bonuses based on enforcement: “It can be financial incentives earmarking more projects [for MWBEs] not only setting them, but enforcing them. Things get documented [by larger firms], but the goals consistently fall short,” says Foster. “The problem is larger firms didn’t put in the work. They didn’t go out and pound the pavement, press the palms, and engage with the communities [to bring MWBEs] in on those projects.”² So the State or City can award larger contracts to the bigger firms if they can document and achieve true networking and other assistance to help small businesses get more contracts and projects. A potential win-win.
A suggestion from NW & Associates, LLC would be to tie improvements in the state’s unemployment and income rates to efforts that improve business inclusivity, so that everyone could see the shared benefits.
Finally, there’s an effort, by some, to correct the assumption that local and state leadership leveling the playing field for MWBEs is a zero-sum game. According to van der Lugt, the goal is clear. “Not pitting equity requests against each other-that tends to happen-because there’s room for everyone.¹² In other words, more room for new businesses to open, to hire, to provide more services, and subsequently lead to the generation of more tax dollars. The tax dollars could flow back to small businesses in the form of grants, loans, and training, or, more generally, for education, technology, and transportation improvements.

MOVING THE NEEDLE: NEXT STEPS AFTER THE DISPARITY STUDY
What follows the Study? The OMWBE is continuing to assist in the development and completion of Community of Practice (CoP) standards, created with the state’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity, that provides diversity, equity, and inclusion resources to state agencies (including the inclusion plan templates and suggestions). This in addition to guidance on community outreach and engagement. By the end of June 2021, the plan is to have piloting completed with the six state agencies that represent 2/3rds of state spending. The remaining agencies (including all educational institutions) will be in the final report, targeted to be out by the summer of 2023. An updated electronic data collection system, which will capture subcontractor data, is in development.¹⁰

“I would encourage folks to reach out to us,” says van der Lugt. “Having conversations like we’re having with you [NW & Associates, LLC] are important because it elevates what’s happening in your area. There’s a lot going on out there that we don’t know about.”¹¹

The OMWBE is also asking the State for more language access assistance for contract bidding opportunities and more Internet broadband service, especially in rural areas.

THE PERSONAL APPROACH
Ask a small business owner in the Vancouver area: is SW Washington a good place to make business connections?

“I’ve talked to people in Vancouver who are business owners who say ‘I’ve got to drive across the river to Portland to do networking,’” says Tyrone Foster.

He concludes our interview by saying that the attitude of business owners both in Portland and Vancouver play a huge part in business developments large and small. “I’ve seen these things, I’ve heard things. I’m an optimist. To me, that sounds like an opportunity. It’s not where it should be. If like-minded people are really committed, I think that it is very possible to move in the right direction. It just takes smart people getting together and saying yeah, we’re really committed. We’re really going to roll up our sleeves.”²

SW WASHINGTON MWBEs and NON-MWBEs
We know that a good source of job creation is a healthy small business and start-up environment. So:

Have you heard of or read the Washington State Disparity Study?
Regardless of whether you’ve heard about the Study, what are your experiences with the issues it brings up?
Have you been a part of a successful mentor program or worked with incentives in ways that helped you and other businesses?
What can SW Washington do to lead the charge toward more business diversity?
Please share your comments and questions!

Bjorn Sorensen, M.A.T., worked for nine years as a K-12 classroom teacher in Oregon, Washington and abroad, three years in community organizing and the last 13 as a business manager in the Greater Vancouver area. He has spent much of the pandemic working out, camping, safely visiting relatives and dreaming about international travel.

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The electoral college is allowed to exist because the Republicans and the Democrats are indispensable enemies, at least for the billionaires who control both parties. If not for the electoral college, the last Republican United States president would have been George H.W. Bush from 1988 to 1992. The balance of power in Washington D.C. would have been in the hands of the Democrats for most of the time since. Those politicians serve many of the same billionaires who control the Republican Party. The billionaires and their corporate media divide the Republican and Democratic Party grassroots by social issues so as to take our eyes off the prize.

Nowadays, many of the grassroots of both parties are like European soccer fans. They root for their teams regardless of the economic issues that impact them, they engage in fistfights, protests and counter protests, and issue damning insults in person and on social media, much to the delight of the billionaires of both parties who have been pulling their strings as though they are mindless puppets.

George Carlin on education and political corruption

In the meantime, three billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans. According to Inequality.org, as of November 17, “the combined wealth of 647 U.S. billionaires increased by almost $960 billion since mid-March, the beginning of the pandemic lockdown—an increase of nearly $1 trillion in less than a year. Since March, there are 33 new billionaires in the U.S. Driving this exploding inequality are 12 companies whose profits are coming at the expense of workers and communities. These “Delinquent Dozen” companies are emblematic of the corporate greed that has grown rampant over the last 40 years. They include retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target, and Dollar Tree and Dollar Store, gig economy companies like Instacart, and food producers like Tyson Foods.”

Worse yet, this massive increase in wealth inequality is driven by a huge rise in income inequality. The top 1 percent now take roughly anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of the total income produced every year in the United States, depending on whose stats you use. This is up from 8 percent in 1980. Extreme poverty has risen over the last thirty years from 36 percent of the world’s people to roughly 50 percent as massive amounts of income and wealth have been redistributed from the poorest to the most wealthy. The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population, according to a recent study by Oxfam. See https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/worlds-billionaires-have-more-wealth-46-billion-people

During these decades our democracy has been turned into a plutocracy (government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich), our utterly corrupt Supreme Court has given massive power to the rich via their corporations while weakening our labor unions, which was once the primary counter balance to corporate power in the United States.

Sure, there are important issues the billionaires and their corporate news media have directed our attention to, such as transgender bathrooms, voter fraud, racism, gay rights, wars against Christmas, wars against women, global warming, abortion, wars for and against dirty diapers, etc…. While most of these are important issues for which many of us are passionate about, they are also issues intended to take our eyes off the prize.

Take racism, for example. Most of the people impacted by extreme poverty (defined in 1990 as living on $1.90 a day) throughout the world are our brown and black brothers and sisters from lesser developed nations. And yet, the policies which have pushed more and more of these people into extreme poverty, such as international trade agreements involving the United States, and lending actions by the U.S. dominated World Bank, are pushed by billionaire controlled politicians of both major political parties. Racism is never talked about in this context because the billionaires have directed our attention away from racist economic policies and how these policies have been directed by Republican and Democratic Party leaders over the last four decades and have pretty much kept our eyes off the big pictures of income and wealth inequality and how these two policies impact all working people, but in particular, black and brown people.

If the electoral college was eliminated, the Republican Party would be a largely permanent minority party unable to stop the Democratic Party leaders from enacting the demands of the Democratic Party grassroots for reforms, some of which would reverse income and wealth inequality, such as raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would cut into corporate profits, as well as ever rising share prices and dividends, which is the primary conduit by which the rich receive their income and wealth. Immigration reform would succeed, but the current policies are very profitable for a handful of publicly traded corporations, and which benefit billionaires.

The indispensable enemies must continue to coexist so as to provide the illusion of democracy. Eliminating the electoral college would go a long way toward destroying the illusion, which is something the billionaires do not want.

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The combined wealth of U.S. billionaires increased by $850 billion since March 18th, 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of over 28 percent. The billionaires like that.


The billionaires who control the Republicon Party want as small of fiscal stimulus as possible since it will be directed at the needs of the 99 percent. The billionaires who control the Democratic Party support a large stimulus directed at the 99 percent, perhaps because our severe recession is only beginning. Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives and have pared down a $3.4 trillion stimulus to $2.2 trillion in negotiations with Senate Republicons.

Republicon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already stated no stimulus will occur before the election of November 3rd. What if, as expected, the Republicons lose the senate and President Trump loses his reelection bid? Will the Senate Republicons pass a stimulus bill before President Biden enters office on January 20, 2021?

And the answer is; not a chance.

In 2008, McConnell made it a crusade to ensure that newly elected President Barack Obama was going to be a one-term president even as the nation was burning during the Republican created Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. Expect McConnell’s job will be to ensure Biden becomes a one-term president if he wins the election, which means letting the raging coronavirus financial conflagration lay waste the United States as much as possible before Biden takes office on January 20th. For the billionaires who control the Republicon Party, no pain and no suffering is enough to achieve this end so long as the 99 percent get all the pain and suffering.

Expect McConnell to oppose any stimulus after Biden takes office, except perhaps a tiny one. This means the economy will burn, and Republcons will try to blame the Democrats in order to retake the House and Senate in 2020. This tactic will not work since once the election is over changing demographics will ensure the Republicon Party becomes a permanent minority party whose influence at the national level will consistently decrease until it can no longer stop legislation in the senate with a filibuster, and that moment is no more than ten to fifteen years away.

On the other hand, a President Biden is unlikely to ask his other billionaire controlled Democratic senators to eliminate the filibuster for one time even to pass a much needed stimulus because to do so will mean the grassroots will demand they do the same for other issues, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, creating a public option for health care, raising the taxes on the billionaires who back Biden and other Democrats, immigration reform, and many other issues.

If President Trump wins but the Republicons lose the senate, McConnell is still likely to oppose a major stimulus package for the reason stated above. So don’t expect a major stimulus package to help fight off this economic disaster. We may get one, but it is unlikely or will be too small to be of much help. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Truer colors have never been more clear. As the economy continues to place more than 800,000 citizens on the unemployment rolls for many weeks in row, as the stock markets have tanked over the entire month of September 2020, as the number of people applying for welfare increase week after week, the Republicans have decided to divert all of their attention toward pushing through a Supreme Court nominee and the Democrat leadership have decided to say they intend do all they can to oppose that nominee.

Sure, there is talk of another stimulus package which lifted the stock market on Friday, but the two sides are so far apart that we can rest assure all discussion about a stimulus package is simply a joke perpetrated on us since the two sides are far apart and have been for months on this issue.

In the meantime, both Dems and Republicon Party leaders are using the Supreme Court issue to divert our attention from all of the above. There is not a whole lot the Dems can do to stop Trump’s choice. They insist if the Republicons go through with the nominee before the election, making 17 Republican senators liars and hypocrites in the process, the Dems will end the filibuster and pack the Supreme Court by pushing its number from 9 to 13 justices, if Biden wins and the Dems take the Senate.

Well, if Biden wins and the Dems take the senate the very last thing they will want to do is end the filibuster. Ending the filibuster means a simple majority vote is all that will be needed for the Dems to push through the agenda the grassroots of the party demand.

However, the billionaires who control the party do not want what the grassroots are demanding, such as a higher federal minimum wage like $15 an hour, greater healthcare coverage (such as Medicare for all or a public option), more legislatively enacted labor rights, a packed court, immigration reform, more paid time off for new parents, higher taxes on the rich and their corporations, enacting other legislation and federal action that would reduce income and wealth inequality, and a host of other things.

These things would drive corporate profits, share prices, and dividend payments down, and neither the billionaires who control the Republican Party and the billionaires who control the Democratic Party want that since this is where all their financial and political power, income and wealth emanate from. So all of the so-called Democratic resistance against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee will never be enacted.

There will not be an end to the filibuster because it allows both parties to not govern on behalf of their grassroots while allowing the billionaires who control both major political parties and the Supreme Court to get everything they want.

Questions about corporate power will not be asked of Trump’s nominee during the soon-to-be senate confirmation hearings. This is because Trump will choose a candidate who supports the billionaires and their corporations, somebody who will not want to say in public, “Yes, I believe that Amazon.com is a person deserving of Constitutional rights, including freedom of speech and religious choice, and yes when Amazon.com and Microsoft and any corporations spend money on politics this is Constitutionally protected free speech and the founding father’s believed it to be true.”

All Republican nominees to the court have pretended to believe this even though corporations are creations of state charters and have no ability to speak or spend money. Some rich person has to do all of this for corporations, and corporations are the center of billionaire financial power. Thus, Trump’s nominee will want to give the billionaires greater Constitutional rights than you and I have via their corporations. The Dem leadership also wants this.

If the nominee was to say in the confirmation hearings corporations (ie General Motors and TESLA) are people she will sound very stupid, and hideously biased in favor of the billionaires and their corporations, and therefore undeserving of the position since you cannot find any founding father who ever said or wrote anything so stupid.

The game is rigged folks, and not for you. It’s a rigged game for the billionaire club only. Divide and conquer the masses using social issues while ensuring the billionaires and their corporations can financially rape the 99 percent via their corporations and their corrupted Supreme Court is the name of the game. The leaders of both major political parties are playing the same game.

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U.S. democracy and the U.S. Constitution will sorely miss Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was one of the few honest judges fighting against a political coup that has taken place, whereby the US Constitution and U.S. democracy has been overthrown by the billionaires wing of the United States Supreme Court. This vicious attack has been ongoing for several decades now.

Now, one of the great defenders of the Constitution will likely be replaced by a corporate hack willing to say and do anything to deprive the vast majority of citizens of their constitutional rights by giving more to the rich and their corporations.

The corporate/billionaire wing of the court has been waging class warfare against the 99 percent for forty years in violation of the US Constitution and legal precedence. The corrupt activist members of the Court who blithely favor billionaire money, wealth and power over all else will now find it easier to subvert the United States Constitution once again by whatever corrupt means is necessary. Those justices corrupted by powerful vested interests are John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brent Kavanaugh. All claim to be “original intent jurists.”

In other words, when they rule on a legal issue, they claim they follow the original intent of the founding fathers. Nothing could be further from the truth. All five have shown that their job is to rob the 99 percent of their Constitutional rights and to give more legal rights to the rich, which they have done time and again. This legal corruption makes it easier for the rich to steal from the rest of us.

The rich derive the vast majority of their political, economic and legal power from their ownership of limited liability corporations. Quite naturally, all five so-called original intent justices argue that publicly traded corporations are persons with all of the legal rights of human citizens. Imagine, these corrupt justices believe General Motors, Amazon, Microsoft, Exxon and Apple Inc. are people. These justices are not ignorant little boys. They know exactly what they are doing. Time and again they have given more Constitutional rights to the billionaires via their corporations and this diminishes the Constitutional rights of all others. The corrupt members of the court know this.

They know publicly traded corporations did not come out of a woman’s womb. They know corporations are simply an idea of a form of business structure given life by state legislation and are made up of inanimate objects (like computers, buildings and desks) glued together by state charters. They know the United States Constitution does not even mention the word corporation. They know that not a single one of the founding fathers ever mentioned “persons” and “corporations” together in any sentence, paragraph, or chapter of any of their voluminous writings. The idea that corporations are people subverts the original intent of the U.S. Constitution, which gives only individual person’s legal rights. Ideas of business models were never given any constitutional rights by anybody until corrupt supreme court justices decided it was so.

Since the rich control the mechanisms of corporations, the court’s decisions in this regard is to hand greater constitutional rights to this legislatively created tool of the rich, giving the 1 percent greater power than the founding fathers wanted or been able to imagine.

For example, the activist Supreme Court declared in its 2010 Citizen’s United ruling that corporations spending money on political advertisements is free speech, but nowhere in the United States Constitution is such power granted or even recognized. Ginsberg knew this was not true and that is why she dissented against Citizens United. She knew that nowhere in any founding father’s writings is such a power to be found. Nowadays, and as planned by the Justice Roberts and his corrupt collaborators, corporate advertisements are drowning out the free speech of all others, especially during election season.

In addition, this ruling eliminated one hundred years of campaign financing laws. Two corrupt US Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, “participated in political strategy sessions” to advance this case with corporate leaders whose political aims were advanced by the decision,” according to Common Cause.

The idea of conservative judges being original intent judges is a fairy tale used to substantiate their other fairy tales that justify rulings with the deliberate intention of redistributing income, wealth, constitutional rights and political power from the 99 percent to the billionaires and their corporations. The fairy tale lies that properties, and only properties which are united under a state issued corporate charter, is a person with constitutional rights takes far greater imagination than even a genius fairy tale creator such as J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Our guns, bullets, teddy bears, cars, as well as our self-owned businesses, and our houses do not have constitutional rights, but the collective property we call shares in corporations gives that property constitutional rights, and the billionaires far greater constitutional rights through their corporations.

As for the argument that the constitution provides associations of people with constitutional rights, and corporations are associations of people and that somehow ownership of a corporation makes you an association with hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of other shareholders you will never meet and never know, much less associate wirh, is a complete made-up lie since the constitution only provides individual rights.

One of the great enemies of the Constitution and U.S. democracy is U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He gave sworn testimony in his confirmation hearings before the US Senate that he would respect legal precedents. Other than abortion issues, he, obviously, lied under oath. Think about it. A known perjurer in now the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. He has shown that his job is to overthrow the US Constitution on behalf of his class solidarity, on behalf of the billionaires, just like the other corrupt corporate members of the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been doing a marvelous job. These corrupt activist justices have simply been making up shit in order to give the rich and their business tools called corporations greater Constitutional rights while diminishing the Constitutional rights of the 99 percent in the process.

The lies, the made-up make-believe that ideas, such as corporations, are people and that money is free speech, the perjuries, and working with the rich on cases the justices are about to rule on demonstrate without a doubt that the sole purpose of the five and soon to be six corrupted members of the court has been to wage class warfare on behalf of the rich by subverting the US Constitution. Doing so has allowed for a greater political rule and constitutional rights for the billionaires, generated massive income and wealth inequalities, and these activist class warriors have succeeded against the original intent of our founding fathers.

We the people will sorely miss you Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the dictatorship of the billionaires use their Supreme Court, which is their primary weapon in their class war against the rest of us, to tighten their grip on both major political parties, as well as government at all levels.

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The news media has touted Kamala Harris as a good selection by Joe Biden. She will rally African-American supporters to vote in greater numbers for Biden, the press has touted. In reality, the very existence of Donald Trump will rally African-American supporters. Harris was selected by Biden because that is who the billionaires that control Biden wanted. The last person they wanted was Elizabeth Warren, who Biden could never seriously consider to be his running mate, because the billionaires opposed her.

The Guardian recently reported that “Harris was the early frontrunner for the VP slot in part precisely because her political record reveals only spotty and inconsistent ideological commitments. During her own presidential bid in the primary cycle, she moved left on Medicare for All, Bernie Sanders’ signature issue, but then backtracked right. She claimed to have evolved her thinking on law enforcement and incarceration in one instance, then touted her record as a prosecutor in another. Harris was by no means alone in this ideological shape shifting: she was no more willing to alter her positions for the sake of convenience than, say Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But the shifts signaled that what Harris was selling to the American people was not so much an ideological commitment, like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to her left, or Amy Klobuchar to her right. What Harris was running on was more cultural and affective. She was not selling a policy platform. She was selling her character; namely, the carefully projected impression that she was thick skinned, intelligent and unwilling to suffer fools.”

Like Biden, Harris is the choice of the billionaires who control the Democratic Party, willing to sell her soul to do whatever it takes, and for whomever it is necessary, to feed her ambitions. She has not been selected to be Biden’s VP because of her commitment to the welfare of the vast majority of Americans.

The selection of Harris may decrease Democratic turnout at the polls in closely fought states as progressive voters shun Biden, who has voted to export millions of American jobs, and redistributed trillions of dollars from working Americans to the idle rich during his time in Washington, and Harris, who appears to bend to the whims of the idle rich.

As such, Biden’s best campaign issue is Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Supreme Court Justice is ailing and may not make it past the next four years. A conservative nominee under Trump will provide more constitutional rights to the mouse clicking rich and perhaps overturn Roe Vs. Wade. No doubt, Biden and Harris prefer the rich receive more constitutional rights than everybody else, but progressives do not.

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U.S. Senate Republicans cannot figure out the math. As a political party of consequence, they are on the verge of historical irrelevance after the November elections. There are several red (Republican) states turning purple and or on their way to becoming blue (Democratic). Virginia is turning bluer by the moment, and so is North Carolina. Red states such as Texas and Arizona have a blue tinge and are getting bluer.

Now let’s count how many blue states are turning red. Oh, yes! That’s easy. The answer is zero.

According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will likely be the next senate minority leader come November, fifteen to twenty  Republican senators will not vote yes to a 5th coronavirus aid package even as the unemployment rate soars during the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

This crisis was triggered by the coronavirus pandemic to be sure, but forty years of Republican and Democratic Party legislation redistributing trillions of dollars from the 99 to the 1 percent have caused the crisis to be deeper and getting deeper than it otherwise would be. The 1 percent were getting about 8 percent of all income produced in the USA in 1980 while nowadays that number hovers around 38+ percent not counting money the rich have offshore to avoid their fair share of taxes. Three people (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett) had more wealth than the 90 percent of Americans as of a few years ago. Now it is possible that three people have more wealth than the bottom 95 percent of the population since Buffett has gotten richer since then but has fallen to number eight this year.

The rich receive 2/3rds to 100 percent of their income and wealth from corporations. This is why the CARES ACT legislation was easily passed back in March by both Democrats and Republicans. The two parties voted to give the rich $4.75 trillion in a $2.2 trillion package while giving the rest of us crumbs. Click here for that story. The two parties were voting to protect the financial engine of the rich.

One of the sticking points in negotiations between Democrats and Republicans this week is the $600 a week the unemployed were receiving and that officially ended on July 31th. Republicans argue that this paid more money to some unemployed people than they were actually earning on their jobs. Trump’s brain-dead, incompetent and hypocritical Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said this morning during an Interview with ABC’s “This Week” than nobody should be given more money than they earn but the Republicans did not mind giving away $4.75 trillion to the 300,000 richest of Americans for sitting on their asses and not doing anything.

Senate Republicans and House Democrats are negotiating this weekend to prevent the economic disaster from spreading.

McConnell and the Republicans could only offer a $1 trillion relief package in the current negotiations that will fall far short of saving the nation from this disaster. U.S. House Democrats, under Majority leader Nancy Pelosi, proposed and passed through the House the HEROES Act, a $3.4 trillion stimulus package two months ago, which is also likely to fall short of our nation’s needs.

The failure of the Republicans to take this economic crisis seriously means more states are going to continue to turn blue for generations to come, making the Republican Party a permanent super minority party for decades to come on its way to becoming the political party of irrelevance.

 

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U.S. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must be as stupid as U.S. Senator’s Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Paul and Cruz oppose the U.S. House of Representatives Heroes bill sponsored by the Democratic Party that will continue to provide $600 a week to the unemployed until January, as well as tens of billions of dollars to cities and states that are experiencing reduced tax dollars and will likely need to lay off tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or more, of public employees without further Federal aid.

Many Republican senators are opposed to the HEROES Act because it will not reward their billionaire owners to the same degree the CARES Act did, and which gave the superrich and their corporations $4.75 trillion in a $2.2 trillion bill. (Click here for that story.)

McConnell, appearing to be a dimwit, does not understand the issue that will decide the election in November. “It’s the economy stupid,” James Carville used to say. Carville was Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign manager in 1992. They won the election in 1992.

“We swears to serve the master of the precious.”

The U.S. economy is tanking big time. The only thing stopping the economy from further falling and moving into a Great Depression is the CARES Act, one of whose most important provisions for the 99 percent is about to expire. That provision is the $600 a week extra in unemployment benefits.

McConnell does not understand the economy needs people to spend money to keep it afloat. He opposes the $600 extra a week because some people are receiving more money than they were earning at their jobs, giving them an incentive to not look for work. Who cares? That $600 dollars is helping to keep the economy afloat, and there are not a whole bunch of available jobs out there right now anyway.

When cities, counties and states begin to lay off employees by the tens of thousands, along with those folks on unemployment who will stop receiving that $600 at the end of this month, the economy will likely move into a Great Depression, if we have not already done so.

The result will be a Democratic Party wave in November. Then it is likely the Republican Party will begin its fade into the history books as more and younger voters have become Bernie style Democratic Socialists, which is to say New Deal Democrats. McConnell and the rest of the Republican senators are about to send their political party into historical oblivion after voting to reward their billionaire backers $4.75 trillion while providing the vast majority of U.S. citizens crumbs with the CARES Act last March.

Meanwhile, U.S. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi decided to placate her Party’s base by sponsoring the Heroes Act, but not that saving the base and the economy from ruin was something she actually wanted to do. The Heroes Act is the fourth stimulus package since March and her attempts to save the billionaires who control her Party and neglect the financial needs of the 99 percent is most obvious by this fact alone. Something must have clicked in her brain to come up with the HEROES Act.

She likely came to understand saving the economy and the billionaires from ruin means having to save the rest of us. McConnell, Rand Paul and “tiny hands” Ted Cruz have not figured out this basic economic issue yet even as Texas, the state Cruz represents, is rapidly turning blue along with Virginia, North Carolina, and several other states the Republican Party reliably once controlled.

When these states turn blue, this will eliminate the Republican Party as a factor in national politics. This has already occurred on several state levels. The Republican Party used to control California. Now it is the super minority party in both of California’s legislative houses. McConnell, Cruz and Paul are hastening the Party’s decline by their economic stupidity. It’s the economy stupid!

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