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Posts Tagged ‘food stamps’

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The governors of the Federal Reserve Bank voted to keep interest rates at historic lows in their September 17, 2015 meeting. The bank has not raised interest rates in nearly a decade. Lucky us, or maybe unlucky us.

Chairwoman Janet Yellen cited a number of reasons why the bank decided to keep rates low. She mentioned, for example, the weakness of manufacturing in China.

However, she didn’t mention that nearly 50 percent of US manufacturing is done in China, which, quite naturally, indicates a slowing down of US outsourced manufacturing, which certainly impacts the US. Like a good politician, she also did not mention that the evil US trade deficit is fueled by US manufacturers exporting jobs overseas, like Microsoft, Apple, Nike and Adidas. These and hundreds of other companies manufacture their products in China and elsewhere, and export their stuff to the US.

a-group-of-economists-wrote-an-open-letter-in-favor-of-janet-yellen-and-the-list-of-names-is-stacked

This is precisely and the only reason why the US has a trade deficit. The US trade deficit, in other words, is with US job exporters, not with China, Pakistan, Mexico or elsewhere.

Anyway, keeping interest rates low was a good thing for the US economy. Typically, the Fed waits to raise interest rates until just after the US economy begins to slide into recession.

That process begins when US corporations see a slowdown in their earnings growth, in the aggregate. These businesses begin to lay people off, which jacks up their profits. Perhaps the folks running the Fed take this as some sort of sacred signal that everything is all right. However, laying enough people off throughout the economy ignites recessions in the process of jacking up those profits, because the demand for goods and services slackens, jobs and profits decline, and a recession begins even while corporate earnings expand.

This is why I mentioned the slowdown of Chinese manufacturing, which in all likelihood, represents something of a slowdown of US manufacturing abroad. Profit growth has been shaky the last two years, though still growing in fits and spurts with sudden quarterly declines followed by rapid growth.

In other words, the US and world economies are still quite weak, especially since the rich have stolen 95 percent of all income growth in the US since 2009, an historic high by a wide margin. This has meant sluggish US and world economic growth since the more money the 1 percent steal in the US and elsewhere, the weaker the demand for goods and services by the 99 percent.

Yellen has the brains to understand all of this. This is likely why the Fed has kept interest rates at historic lows for years. To maintain their standards of living, the 99 percent had to keep borrowing because they haven’t gotten a raise in 35 years on average and in real terms. Raise interest rates and the demand for goods and services begins to die.

Raising interest rates will likely be the straw that sends the world economy into the monstrous fangs of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This crisis may already be in its early less visible stages.

Not a single world leader has learned the lesson from the last Recession. The current US economic expansion is fueled by the same artificially created housing and stock market bubbles as the last recession. Wall Street executives are calling the economic shots in the White House, on Capital Hill and the US Supreme Court. That’s why nobody who could do anything did squat about the corrupt forces that brought about last recession, and now the bill is coming due.

The last recession was the worst since the Great Depression. The next one, as I have pointed out in my book, The Rigged Game: Corporate America and a People Betrayed, will be far more hideous.

The Fed has literally no tools to fight off this coming Great Depression, but it will print trillions of dollars to save billionaires and others from their foolish investment decisions. See breakdown-of-the-26-trillion-the-federal-reserve-handed-out-to-save-rich-incompetent-investors-but-who-purchase-political-power–JohnHively.wordpress.com

The federal government will be forced to expand the deficit, and instead of having 48 million people permanently on food stamps, the US will have 60 to 100 million, unless the madness of redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent via job exporting trade treaties, unsustainable and illogical immigration policies (both legal and illegal, HB1 visas), and privatization scams.

Much of this can be reversed simply by amending income redistribution schemes known as international trade agreements, limiting immigration by restricting the flow of people moving into the USA at least until wages begin to rise, enforcing current immigration laws, and putting a halt and reversing many privatization follies.

All three of these policies have stolen jobs from American citizens, while enriching the politically and financially affluent in the process, all at the expense of people who produce goods and services.

Of course, that is precisely what the corrupt US government (all three branches), and both corrupt major political parties, have been driven to do by the money unleashed in the political markets since and because of the Reagan tax cuts for the rich.

The ultimate end game of Reaganomics is coming to its ugly conclusion.

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Fron US Uncut:

“Walmart’s entire business model is based on paying workers so little they depend on food stamps to survive. And when impoverished families use their food stamps at Walmart, the company uses that as a loophole to dodge billions in taxes. Meanwhile, the 6 heirs of Walmart make as much in 3 minutes of dividends as one of their employees makes in an entire year.”

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A Walmart manager speaks out:

“Do you know how hard it is to go to someone who makes $8.85/hr and tell him, sorry but I have to cut you down to 25.5 hours. These people can barely pay their rent as it is and with no notice we cut their hours. The root problem besides greed is that Walmart’s culture changed drastically with Sam Walton’s death…”

Check out the real story at the link below.

http://bit.ly/1cbgBV1

How Walmart is able to provide its employees with so many benefits

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“After a conservative-led revolt against the Farm Bill, a five-year congressional funding program for agricultural and hunger programs, a deal will reportedly reach the president’s desk on Friday. The final iteration of the bill cuts $8 billion from food stamps, a key demand made by Americans for Prosperity, which aired advertisements and organized opposition to the initial Farm Bill because of the supposed waste of providing food assistance to needy families. Americans for Prosperity is controlled by the billionaire Koch brothers and their cohort. Koch groups claimed the Farm Bill serves “special interests and powerful corporations” over the taxpayers.

Yet, the final funding package contains a number of giveaways that benefit Koch Industries’ bottom line.” In other words, income is being redistributed from those who need the food stamps to eat, including millions of children and the elderly on fixed incomes, who lose $8 billion in meals and will go hungry, so that some of the richest people in the United States, including two of the top five richest people, the Koch Brothers, can get taxpayer welfare (cash) they don’t need. That’s about as rigged of a game as you can get.

Click on the link below for the complete story.

Farm Bill Cuts $8 Billion in Food Stamps, Preserves Handouts to Koch Industries | The Nation.

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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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We can also add to the list for the rich:

1. Redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent via free trade treaties. That’s how the rich have really gotten richer over the last three decades. Free trade treaties

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