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Posts Tagged ‘bill moyers’

There is a straight forward relationship between tax cuts for the rich and growing income and wealth inequality. The conduit for financial inequality is the political markets. Tax cuts for the rich allowed them to corrupt the federal and state governments to the core. The rich used their ill gotten gains from Reagan’s tax cuts to purchase legislation in the political markets that redistribute income and wealth from people like you and me and “Aunt Millie” to the CEO’s and shareholders of corporations, namely the 1 percent. This legislation included free trade treaties that shipped jobs overseas, reducing labor costs while increasing profits. The legislation included privatization scams, deregulation schemes, and actions toward war, such as in Iraq, and Afghanistan, both of which are extremely profitable to the one percent. The rich also purchased the No Child Left Behind Act, which benefited only the major publishing corporations of educational books and tests, such as McGraw-Hil, and the McGraws have been neighbors and best friends of the Bush’s since the Great Depression. Yes, that’s precisely how corrupt President George W. Bush was. There are a ton more legislation that has been purchased by the one percent to redistribute income and wealth to themselves from the 99 percent, but I don’t have that much space. That’s why the economic and political markets are a rigged game.

The press has been a tool of the 1 percent, used to mislead and lie us into wars, deregulation, free trade agreements, privatization, anti-labor union tirades, as well as poisoning ourselves with GMOs by claiming they’re harmless, regardless of what all independent studies show. Yes, they lie to us a lot.

All of this corruption has sent the Dow Jones higher, as well as the NASDAQ and other financial markets. All of which benefits the 1 percent.

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From the Economic Policy Institute:

“The vast majority of Americans primarily rely on their earnings from work—not investment income, not government support payments—to get by. That’s why we can’t address inequality without addressing wages. And what has been happening to wages is not pretty. The pay of most workers has been stuck for decades even though productivity and earnings at the top are escalating. Between 1979 and 2013, productivity grew eight times faster than median worker pay. Americans are working harder, more productively, and with more education than ever, but are treading water, as an enormous and ever-increasing share of income growth goes to corporate profits and executive pay. Just in the last decade—between 2002 and 2013—inflation-adjusted wages were stagnant or fell for the bottom 70 percent of wage earners. This widespread wage stagnation, which afflicts even the college-educated, hurts economic growth, curtails the aspirations of lower-income families, and constricts middle-class incomes.

The central economic policy issue today is the challenge of generating broad-based wage growth. Broad-based wage growth is the key to addressing income inequality, ensuring social mobility, reducing poverty, boosting middle-class incomes, and enjoying stable economic growth.”

These are brave and accurate economic words from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), but dealing with these matters is a political problem, which is how income has been redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent during the last thirty-four years.

It’s also a misinformation challenge as the corporate press dutifully lies to us about how our income and health is being redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, but that’s another story.

Free trade treaties are written and approved by congress and the president with an eye toward jacking up the profits reaped by major corporations (which are tools through which the 1 percent redistribute income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent), and for shipping jobs overseas.

The primary US export is American jobs. The difference between the old and higher US wages and the new lower overseas wages is redistributed to the 1 percent via higher profits, surging share prices, and mounting dividends. The rich get richer, while the middle class sees a reduction in jobs, pay, tax revenues for schools, fire, police, road maintenance, and more, and all of that “more” is negative, for the 99 percent.

Currently, the Obama regime is negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest income redistribution treaty of all time, and it’s being negotiated with an eye toward exactly that. Obama is being helped by the entire Republican Party, and many Wall Street Democrats such as Senator Ron Wyden, an always loyal and corrupt servant of the 1 percent.

Don’t believe me? Check out the video below.

The point here is the challenge of meeting the needs of the nation, of creating US economic vitality, as EPI pointed out above, is an issue of money in politics because with such obvious economic decline as experienced by most of the 99 percent during the last 34 years, President Obama (along with the help of key Republicans and Democrats in congress) is planning on doing the same old thing in ramming the TPP through congress.

Albert Einstein reportedly said the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

Obama and the congress people who support the TPP are not insane, nor are they stupid, they’ve merely been corrupted by big money, such as Wall Street and the Koch Brothers.

And that’s the big challenge facing the 99 percent today, because money in politics is precisely why the government has been redistributing you and your children’s future, as well as your income, and tax dollars to the 1 percent over and over again for thirty-four disastrous years.

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According to Reuters, “Pacific trading partners hope to have a free trade agreement ready to present to the public and stakeholders in November, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.

He said the aim was to have a document to discuss with other leaders of Trans-Pacific Partnership nations when he travels to Asia in November, a trip that will include the Group of 20 leaders meeting in Australia on November 15-16. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders also meet that month.

The United States holds mid-term elections on Nov. 4, and many trade experts had despaired of finalizing the TPP this year because of the risk that it could cost Obama’s Democrats votes at the poll, given the party’s links to trade unions worried about the impact of trade agreements on jobs.”

Here’s what Reuter’s doesn’t mention.

Leaked documents on the negotiations of the TPP show that the purpose of the treaty is to jack up prices consumers pay on numerous items, like prescription drug prices that will help Big Pharma increase profits for the 1 percent; restrict the ability of the US government to regulate Wall Street (and Wall Street and the 1 percent likes this; ship more US jobs overseas, as well as export more jobs in Latin America to lower wage nations like Vietnam (which includes the entire textile industry of the United States (240,000 jobs in the US, and hundreds of thousands more in El Salvador, Honduras and elsewhere in Central America: and possibly curtail Internet freedom. The difference between the old higher wages and the new lower wages overseas goes into the pockets of the 1 percent. And that’s just a few of the things we know about the TPP since this is the most secretive falsely called trade treaty ever negotiated by the US government.

The TPP is not a trade treaty; it’s an income redistribution treaty with money being legislatively stolen from the 99 percent and handed to the 1 percent.

This is Obama’s war on the middle class. It’s also Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden’s war on the middle class, as well as the entire Republican Party and many Democrats. In other words, the TPP is another legislative accord designed to rig the economic and political game even more against the middle class.

See more about the TPP by clicking on the BIll Moyers video below.

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Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich asked the following on

“Why has America forgotten the three most important economic lessons we learned in the 30 years following World War II? Before I answer that question, let me remind you what those lessons were:

First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth.

In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting raises, and had enough purchasing power to buy what expanding businesses had to offer. Strong labor unions ensured American workers got a fair share of the economy’s gains. It was a virtuous cycle.

Second, the rich do better with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than they do with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.

Between 1946 and 1974, the economy grew faster than it’s grown since, on average, because the nation was creating the largest middle class in history. The overall size of the economy doubled, as did the earnings of almost everyone. CEOs rarely took home more than forty times the average worker’s wage, yet were riding high.

Third, higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments — better roads, bridges, public transportation, basic research, world-class K-12 education and affordable higher education – improve the future productivity of America. All of us gain from these investments, including the wealthy.

In those years, the top marginal tax rate on America’s highest earners never fell below 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower the tax rate was 91 percent. Combined with tax revenues from a growing middle class, these were enough to build the Interstate Highway system, dramatically expand public higher education and make American public education the envy of the world.

We learned, in other words, that broadly-shared prosperity isn’t just compatible with a healthy economy that benefits everyone — it’s essential to it.

But then we forgot these lessons. For the last three decades the American economy has continued to grow but most peoples’ earnings have gone nowhere. Since the start of the recovery in 2009, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent.

What happened?”

Then Reich explains a lot of true stuff, while leaving out a ton of things the Clinton administration did to bring about our current state of massively unequal income distribution.

For starters, instead of defending the middle class, President Clinton joined his Wall Street masters in redistributing income from the middle to the top via free trade treaties, such as NAFTA. Take a look at the graph below.

The US free trade regime began during the 1980s, during the regime of President Ronald Reagan. Jobs, however, had been exported from the US since the 1950s. Under Clinton, and Wall Street Congressmen, such as Ron Wyden, the exportation of jobs accelerated with NAFTA, as anybody with half a brain can see from the graph above, though not Wyden, who apparently still clings to fulfill the desires of his Wall Street masters.

In this case, the financial markets are a Ponzi Scheme. They need to increase steadily in value over the course of time. Otherwise, they’ll accelerate downward. That’s the primary purpose of redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent, that is to keep the Ponzi scam known as Wall Street from collapsing, as it did during the Great Depression.

Furthermore, free trade treaties also pave the way for US corporations to create jobs overseas. Millions have been created over there rather here because of NAFTA, the South Korea free trade treaty and more.

And finally, with all the jobs begin shipped away, or created away, from the United States, that meant downward pressure on wages, benefits and salaries. And the difference between the old higher wages and the new lower wages have been redistributed from the pockets of the middle class to the already fat wallets of the 1 percent.

This is precisely why the stock markets tripled in value, more or less, during the last four years of the Clinton regime.

It’s accurate to conclude that the primary purpose of the regime of free trade is to redistribute income upward, and to lower wages, salaries and benefits.

The result of all this has been to diminish the middle class by redistributing the tax bases for our schools and social safety nets to the 1 percent, increase poverty, and corrupt democracy in the USA. And that’s just a few of the negative things this inequality has done.

Now Wall Street Ronnie Wyden wants to continue this process of redistribution via the Trans Pacific Partnership, the biggest income redistribution scam of all time in favor of Wall Street and the 1 percent.

As for the Clinton regime, there were plenty things President Clinton did to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, but Reich has no intention of letting you in on this, like the free trade scams.

In other words, the political and economic game has been rigged, and Bill Clinton and his labor secretary Robert Reich played big roles in creating this inequality, and now Reich is trying to pretend that his boss and he played no role in creating this rigged game.

For the rest of Reich’s semi-accurate story, click the link below.

Why the Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten–BillMoyers.com

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The Great American Class War: Plutocracy Versus Democracy (via Moyers & Company)

This is an edited version of a speech Bill Moyers recently delivered at the Brennan Center for Justice. It was first published at TomDispatch.

That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration. How I wish he were here now — and still on the Court!

I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him. Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision. The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, “He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him.” Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, “It was the first time I had seen him. Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way.”

Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known — the Framers knew — that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up.” And he didn’t.

The Donor Class and Streams of Dark Money

The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,

Why are record numbers of Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests and demands that our political class push for further austerity. Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do. Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality.

Class Prerogatives

Listen! That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract.

We are this close – this close! – to losing our democracy to the mercenary class. So close it’s as if we’re leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon waiting for a swift kick in the pants.

When Justice Brennan and I talked privately in his chambers before that interview almost 20 years ago, I asked him how he had come to his liberal sentiments. “It was my neighborhood,” he said. Born to Irish immigrants in 1906, as the harsh indignities of the Gilded Age brought hardship and deprivation to his kinfolk and neighbors, he saw “all kinds of suffering — people had to struggle.” He never forgot those people or their struggles, and he believed it to be our collective responsibility to create a country where they would have a fair chance to a decent life. “If you doubt it,” he said, “read the Preamble [to the Constitution].”

That was the essence of what I told Justice Brennan. Now, I wish that I could talk to him again, because I failed to mention perhaps the most important lesson about democracy I ever learned.

Those women in Marshall, Texas, were among its advance guard. Not bad people, they were regulars at church, their children were my classmates, many of them were active in community affairs and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional class in town. They were respectable and upstanding citizens all, so it took me a while to figure out what had brought on that spasm of reactionary defiance. It came to me one day, much later: they simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.

Fiercely loyal to their families, to their clubs, charities and congregations — fiercely loyal, in other words, to their own kind — they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. The black women who washed and ironed their laundry, cooked their families’ meals, cleaned their bathrooms, wiped their children’s bottoms and made their husbands’ beds, these women, too, would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show for their years of labor but the creases on their brows and the knots on their knuckles. There would be nothing for them to live on but the modest return on their toil secured by the collaborative guarantee of a safety net.

The Unfinished Work of America

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

I should make it clear that I don’t harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy. Remember, I worked for Lyndon Johnson. Nor do I romanticize “the people.” You should read my mail and posts on right-wing websites. I understand the politician in Texas who said of the state legislature, “If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents.”

But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens (something otherwise known as social justice) and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That can be the difference between democracy and plutocracy.

Toward the end of Justice Brennan’s tenure on the Supreme Court, he made a speech that went to the heart of the matter. He said:

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses… Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”

(more…)

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