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Posts Tagged ‘government’

How things have changed! Back in the 1960’s, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring warned about the human health dangers caused by insecticides. Industrial pollution ensured that US lakes and rivers caught fire. In 1970, conservative Republican US President Richard Nixon signed the legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA’s job was to clean up the pollution. The result is that much of that US industrial pollution has been exported to China, India and elsewhere.

US business leaders have long chafed under the chains of the EPA. The more pollution these folks are allowed to create, the more profits their corporations earn, the higher corporate share and bond prices rise. So big business has conspired to takeover the EPA, so as to bend the rules to their favor.

Scott Pruitt, a loyal servant of the profit needs of big oil now heads the EPA. President Franklin Roosevelt once said that businessmen had made certain that government had become an appendage of their profit making before he took office. Pruitt is now in position to ensure the EPA does not do its job in the USA. So expect human health considerations to be shunt aside in favor of the profit desires of big oil and Koch Industries, because as Attorney General of Oklahoma, that is precisely how he defined his job, as you can see from the video above.

Most of the politicians governing the US today are among the most corrupt in world history, and that includes US corporate apparatchiks, such as Mitch McConnell and Ron Wyden.

Think about this. Nixon is considered to have been one of the most corrupt president’s in US history. He was a man who’s crimes were considered so great that he was forced to resign from his office. Yet he ignored the advice and bribes of his corporate sponsors to create the EPA. And the crimes he committed pale in comparison to President Bush lying us into war, or to embroil us in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Something has gone terribly wrong with the USA since Nixon. Crimes are committed by people in high office, and there is no concern for punishment, because the criminals are in charge of the white house, the senate, the US house of representatives, and the US supreme court. There’s no one to answer to for ones crimes in government nowadays. The US government is rotten through the core with corruption.

Yet, there is an economic hurricane just around the corner. When that hits, we’ll be able to clean house, like FDR did in 1933. Get ready.

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where_does_all_the_money_go___pavel_constantin

As President-elect Donald Trump takes office today, January 20, 2017. the Pew Research Center reports “the public has starkly different expectations about which groups in society will gain influence – and those that will lose influence – under his administration.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) say wealthy people will gain influence in Washington when Trump takes office. Just 8% say they will lose influence, while 27% expect the wealthy will not be affected.”

I agree with the 27 percent who say the wealthy will not be affected. The reason is simple. The rich already control both major political parties, and through them, the rich control the federal government, virtually all state governments, and most big city governments, as well as a lot of local governments.

The wealthy are not going to improve upon that score a whole lot under Trump. Control of the legislative process has been the primary means by which the 1 percent has methodically increased its share of wealth and income of the United States year after year for the last thirty-five years.

That’s why the 64 percent who say wealthy people will gain influence are wrong inasmuch as wealthy people have so much power they can’t possibly gain anymore.

The difference is that those rich folks who use the Democratic Party as a vehicle to control the mechanisms of government and to profit via those mechanisms, have lost influence. Think Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gates and other Democratic Party billionaires. Their rivals who control the Republican Party will gain influence at their expense.

Those Republican billionaires include Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, Charles and David Koch, hedge fund managerz Paul Singer and Robert Mercer, and a lot of other Wall Street investors.

Together, the billionaire Democrats and billionaire Republicans form a kind of good old boy network with some rivalries among them. They also control the media in such a way as to ensure we don’t see this, although it’s pretty obvious.

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20150224_problemThe financial collapse of 2008 was the worst recession since the Great Depression. Give President Obama and his administration credit for saving the economy from the depredations of Wall Street despite massive Republic resistance to resuscitating it, which they did solely for political gain. However, this historically weak recovery masks a startling reality.

Only one perpetrator of Wall Street crimes was ever brought to justice, and he wasn’t a big figure in the massive corruption going on. In March 2009, Obama met with Wall Street leaders and said, “I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you.”

Only one banker from that era was prosecuted. That was Bernie Madoff, and the only reason he was carted off to prison was because he stole from rich people. And not one other Wall Street criminal executive went to jail after stealing billions via fraud, money laundering of Mexican drug cartel profits, and numerous other crimes. Many became his financial advisers, which meant Obama pursued policies to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent for eight long years.

At all times, Obama refused to bite the hand that funded his past, present and future, as well as funding much of the Republican and Democratic Parties. In other words, Obama was largely, if not completely, in the back pocket of Wall Street as were President Bill Clinton, both President’s Bush, Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Wall Street Senator’s Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.

Obama operated in a cesspool corruption. He was part of the problem, not the solution.

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John Oliver asks the right question. “What does congress really do?” The answer is that every senator and ever congress person must spend several hours every day raising money, or what are called campaign contributions. Pay careful attention to Oliver’s presentation of Congresswoman Eleanor Norton Holmes call to a prospective campaign donor. Norton actually says she’s working in congress on behalf of the donor, and this might be against the interests of everybody else.

There’s one more thing quite interesting. Every member of the US congress that belongs to the Republican or Democratic Party must raise sizable amounts of cash to give to the party.

The whole process of congressional representatives having to raise millions of dollars a year, even when they are in safe districts, demonstrates how easily corrupted the US government has become since every politician is at the mercy of those campaign contributors.

Worse yet, many of these campaign contributors put out bait to political office holders, like swanky vacations, thousands of dollars of speaking fees while in office, and high paying jobs once they’re out of office, to US representatives. Overall, the US congress and the White House are pigsty’s of corruption.

 

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Franklin Roosevelt

The next recession is unfolding, and it’s going to be the worst one since the Great Depression. I’ve been watching this historically weak US economic expansion unravel since November 2015. See https://johnhively.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/the-coming-recession-and-us-senator-elizabeth-warrens-seniors-and-veterans-emergency-benefits-act-save-benefits-act/. We will officially go into recession somewhere between late this year and June 2017.

Nothing can stop it. Not declining gasoline and oil prices, not falling interest rates.

The corrupt US government has passed legislation over the decades that have redistributed massive amounts of income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent. The 1 percent currently steal over 37 percent of all income produced in the US compared to 8 percent in 1980. See https://johnhively.wordpress.com/2015/12/29/new-study-the-middle-class-is-losing-ground-as-wall-street-senators-ron-wyden-mitch-mcconnell-orrin-hatch-and-others-continue-to-use-the-federal-government-and-the-federal-reserve-to-redistribute/. Now the 99 percent can’t purchase enough goods and services to keep the economy and the financial markets chugging along. The economy is set to collapse upon itself. However, there is even worse news.

Sometime between the November elections of 2016 and whenever the new president is inaugurated Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden will introduce the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) into committee. This is the largest income and political power redistribution scam in world history. The TPP is falsely marketed as a trade agreement, but it has virtually nothing to do with trade.

President Obama, ever the servant of Wall Street executives, has already signed this scam without a single word of debate in the halls of one of the most corrupt political bodies in the world–the US congress. So the TPP becomes law, unconstitutionally at that, if it passes through the US House and the US Senate.

quote-no-man-can-be-a-good-citizen-unless-he-has-a-wage-more-than-sufficient-to-cover-the-bare-cost-of-theodore-roosevelt-262926

The TPP will only make matters worse for the 99 percent as this recession swings into full gear. The TPP will redistribute trillions of dollars of income from the 99 to the 1 percent on a yearly basis, as well as steal their state and local voting rights in many cases.

Here’s how bad this coming recession will be without the TPP:

* Effective interest rates will sink into negative levels, like in Europe.
* The nation will flirt with deflation, and possibly fall into it, because trillions of dollars have been redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, so demand for goods and services will be weaker than at any time since the Great Depression.
* Instead of 48 million Americans on food stamps, like during the current so-called economic expansion, 60 to 90 million Americans will be on food stamps.
* Unemployment will hit 10 to 18 percent, and will stay above 10 percent for years.
* Mortgage defaults will hit record levels.
* Home prices will decline 20 to 60 percent, and maybe more.
* On average, stocks will lose 20 to 60 percent of their values, and maybe more.
* We’re still feeling the impact of the last recession, and so too will we feel the impacts of this recession for years and years unless….
* Anticipate a possible political revolution as grassroots insurgents take over both major political parties. Think Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic Party, and who knows for the Republican Party?
* Anticipate possible violence as the police and military crack down on protesters.
* Anticipate a US political and economic rejuvenation after many years of hard struggle. People like Wyden, one of the principal architects of this recession, will be a historical footnote.

This Depression will be worldwide.

Imagine what this recession will be like with the TPP.

Now, if we can just stop Wyden and the TPP in congress, that will make our task of a restored America for everyone much easier in the long run. And it will be in the long run that we win.

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H1B

The US government regulates the wages, salaries and benefits of US citizens in virtually all sectors of society in any number of ways, and the government has regulated wages, salaries and benefits downward for the last thirty-five years.

Sign a treaty, call it a trade agreement, and watch millions of jobs get exported overseas. The job losers contend for the remaining jobs, putting downward pressure on wages. The rich benefit because exporting jobs expands profits, dividends and share prices. The government also uses immigration to regulate US wages, salaries and benefits.

As you read this, US businesses are pushing congress and the white house to expand the H-2B program so that they can import more semi-skilled and low skilled foreign labor to replace US citizens. This is another case of the US government enacting a program to bring downward pressure on wages, and increasing unemployment among US citizens.

According to the Economic Policy Institute;

“…employment and wage data show no labor shortages in industries that employ H-2B workers. Many business groups have advocated for expanding the H-2B visa program to fill so-called labor shortages with low-skilled temporary guest workers. The report suggests that businesses support expanding the H-2B program because they can pay H-2B workers less than comparable U.S. workers. “It’s clear that there are not national-level labor shortages in H-2B jobs that would justify expanding the H-2B program or watering down rules requiring that employers first recruit U.S. workers before hiring an H-2B worker,” said Daniel Costa, the report’s author.

Costa reports, “Wages were stagnant or declining for workers in all of the top 15 H-2B occupations in 2014.” Many of these industries have been experiencing declining wages for a decade or more.

Hopefully, given the current US political climate, an expansion of the H-2B visa will not come about. That would be devastating to the 99 percent, but the rich would reap the benefits of lower wages.

The H1-B guest worker visa has been used to keep the wages of US high tech workers down for nearly thirty years. Wages in the high tech industry have been in the doghouse since the inception of the program, and three out of four US high tech workers are unemployed in their fields.

If the government was truly serious about raising US wages, and that time is nearing, both the H-1B and the H-2B programs would be curtailed or eliminated. The Trans Pacific Partnership would not become a fact of law. In addition, immigration would be curtailed until long-term wage growth became a reality, and the income and wealth gaps closed significantly.

During the last three decades and a half, immigration into the US has been explosive. That’s because the US government has been regulating wages downward. The folks at the Pew Research Institute call this hyper-immigration. According to some estimates, 90-95 percent of all US population growth since 1981 is due directly or indirectly to immigration.

Now I’m not suggesting immigration is a bad thing most of the time, especially if worker compensation is going up. But it does become a problem for the 99 percent, and a treasure chest for the 1 percent, if compensation is going down. When this occurs, such a process redistributes income to the super rich from the 99 percent. Let’s face it. Average real US wages have declined in real terms during this period of hyper-immigration while the US stock markets have exploded. Much, and perhaps most, of this is due to shipping jobs overseas, but a fair amount is due to hyper-immigration. Just look at wages in the US high tech sector.

 

To read the EPI report click here.

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income inequality

A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows that income inequality grew again last year, continuing a thirty-five year trend of rising income and wealth inequality that has been the defining feature of the American economy.

According to the study, “The way rising inequality has directly affected most Americans is through sluggish hourly wage growth in recent decades, despite an expanding and increasingly productive economy. For example, had all workers’ wages risen in line with productivity, as they did in the three decades following World War II, an American earning around $50,000 today would instead be making close to $75,000. A hugely disproportionate share of economic gains from rising productivity is going to the top 1 percent and to corporate profits, instead of to ordinary workers—who are more productive and educated than ever.”

As I show in The Rigged Game: Corporate America and a People Betrayed, our rising inequality is mostly the result of big corporations and the wealthy rewriting the rules of the economy via federal legislation to stack the deck in their favor. They’ve bought everybody from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, from Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden to Wall Street Senator’s Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch. The rich, in other words, are the monopolists who own the political markets on the federal and most state levels.

This government corruption has prevented the benefits of productivity growth from “trickling down” to reach most households.

A few years ago, President Obama called wage and income inequality the “greatest issue of our time.” Then some Wall Street hacks must have called him to their throne room and gave him a tongue lashing. So the president has never mentioned the “greatest issue or our time” ever again. And he’s done nothing about it either.

That’s why wage inequality continued to increase during 2015.

Among EPI’s findings:

* Wage growth occurred fastest in states with higher minimum wages.

* Overall, 2015 saw overall real wage gains driven only by a dip in inflation.

* Wage growth was faster for male workers and white workers, particularly at the top of the wage distribution, which continued to exacerbate racial, ethnic, and gender wage gaps.

* If the Federal Reserve makes decisions based on the data, it is clear that the United States is not in a period of inflation-spurring wage growth. (Editors note: So the Fed should not raise rates in June, although they likely will, but for other than inflation is on the horizon reasons)

* To see strong broad-based wage growth outside of the tightest of labor markets, policymakers could strengthen labor standards, such as by raising the minimum wage, expanding eligibility for overtime pay, and protecting and strengthening workers’ right to bargain collectively for higher wages and benefits.

Income inequality is destroying the US economy. It’s turning us into a third world nation, with a corrupt federal government, and corrupt corporate news media as bad as in any third world nation.

The less money the 99 percent has, the less demand there is for goods and services. This is why the last two economic expansions are the worst in recorded history for US job growth, as well as other economic indices. The more money the rich steal via government corruption, the more the stock markets roar. Currently, 1 percent of the population steal 37 percent of all income produced in the USA, up from 8 percent in 1980.

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