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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Wyden’

In the video above, was comedian George Carlin right about the US being a cesspool of political corruption? You better bet he was. Your vote is meaningless, and an academic study shows how true this is.

It is pretty obvious, isn’t it? We didn’t need an academic study to tell us the rich are using the government to financially bleed the rest of us dry. They’ve used the government to redistribute trillions upon trillions of dollars from the 99 to themselves over the last forty years.

Our democracy has been hijacked. Both major political parties have been hijacked. The United States Supreme Court has been hijacked, bought off really. Click here for more on this issue.

This is a no-brainer. The United States has one of the most corrupt governments in the world, aided and abetted by one of the most corrupt corporate news systems in the world if you can call it news. (Click here for how the media lies to us.) The billionaires use their corporate news media to manufacture public opinion in favor of whatever they want, regardless of how it might hurt average citizens (See Trans-Pacific Partnership below). If they can’t manufacture consent, most of the time they still get what they want, with rare exceptions.

Despite the obvious, academic research was conducted on this issue by political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern. The study has received lots of attention because the authors conclude that the US is a corrupt oligarchy where ordinary voters barely matter. Or as they put it, “economic elites and organized interest groups play a substantial part in affecting public policy, but the general public has little or no independent influence.”

The authors discovered that politicians, such as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, will be happy to fight in the halls of the US Congress for legislation that is desired by citizens of average means, but they “only get what they want if economic elites or interest groups also want it.”

You can see in the graph below that as the percent of average citizen’s who want something from government rises from 0 to 100 percent the odds of them getting it remains tiny.

On the other hand, the graph below shows that as the economic elites and organized interest groups that control both major political parties form ranks behind legislation they want, politicians happily respond to them.  Nobody knows this better than Wall Street’s Senators Wyden, Mitch McConnell, the entire Republican Party, and the majority of the Democratic Party politicians.

Sometimes, to avoid raising the political awareness of the masses, the oligarchs who control the US and many state and local governments will decide not to do something the rich want, such as when then President Obama decided he did not have the votes in the US house and senate to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade treaty that would have redistributed trillions of dollars a year from the 99 to the 1 percent. Public resistance was too significant, but that was a rare defeat for the economic elite.

Why is income and wealth inequality so unequal? Political corruption is the answer. Why is this so? It is the golden rule in action: He who has the gold makes the rules. The US is not democracy except in illusion only. Instead, it is an oligarchy of the rich.

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Do you ever wonder how much of your income has been redistributed to the rich since 1980? How much would you be earning now if the rich were only getting the same share of our total national income as they did back in 1980 or so? Back then the 1 percent stole only about 8 to 9 percent. We got the rest.

Now, thanks to the entire corrupt Republican Party, and the vast majority of corrupted Democratic Party politicians, the rich are officially stealing anywhere from 24 to 37+ percent of the total national income, depending on whose figures you are using. This is thanks in large measure to such Democratic Party politicians as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, as well as both Clintons’.

We can use Oregon as an approximate gauge for the entire nation since Oregon is only slightly above average in personal income compared to other states.

The figures in the graph above show that the typical Oregonian would be earning “nearly 3 times as much” today “had inequality remained at the 1980 level. Oregon’s actual median income in 2014 was $33,484, compared to $29,150 nationally.

In 2014, the average working Oregonian would have earned about $92,050, or nearly three times as much, had the 1 percent been only stealing from the rest of us at the same rate as they had been back in 1980. That suggests the average US citizen would have been earning around $83,000 a year in 2014, rather than the paltry $29,150.

Imagine how strong the demand for goods and service would be today for the 99 percent if the 1 percent had not rigged each of the three branches of the US government in their favor through corrupt politicians in both major political parties, and their complete corruption of the United States Supreme Court. (See the-editorial-the-rich-dont-want-you-to-read-corruption-of-the-united-states-supreme-court-what-the-rich-and-their-corporate-so-called-news-media-dont-want-you-to-know–JohnHively.Wordpress.com for more on this.)

When inflation is factored into income growth, notice which economic class has gotten the big raises since 1980 in the graph below, and which has not. Note also that the information presented is based on income tax returns, so the US rich have gained quite a bit more than it appears since they have stashed trillions of dollars abroad in Switzerland, Panama and elsewhere.

This means the real income gains of the rich are vastly understated. Thank you Ron Wyden. Thank you Bill Clinton. Thank you Hillary Clinton. Thank you all of you bought off Democrats and Republican politicians. Thank you corrupted US Supreme Court

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The New York Times has lied again. So does most of the corporate news media about certain issues.

The Times has long been a bastion of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which, since the late 1970s, has been completely dominated by billionaires of Wall Street and big corporations, as well as another group of billionaires, such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros and others. The chief aim of all of these folks and organizations is to keep Wall Street happy, stock prices soaring, and the liberal Democratic grassroots uninformed and keeping their eyes off the real issues.

The Times now officially has endorsed the lie that public employee pensions are the cause of local and state government budget shortfalls. In a story published on April 14 2018, they specifically used the case of Oregon. The Times claimed that funding for public employee pensions is crowding out other government services.

However, there are other things that are causing budget shortfalls in Oregon, and nationally, and the Times editors dare not mention them because it will offend corporate advertisers, the Democratic National Committee, and other billionaires whose plight the Times editors are sympathetic to.

Here is the reality.

Budget shortfalls in Oregon coincide with declining state corporate tax liabilities. A report by the Oregon Center for Public Policy shows that corporations now pay only 6.7 percent of all of Oregon’s income taxes today compared to 18.5 percent in 1970. No budget shortfalls would exist if corporations paid the same percentage of state income taxes as they did in 1970. Corporations have used their financial muscles to force legislators to reduce their state tax liabilities, and this has caused the shortage. (As an aside, some people call the links between cash and legislation corruption.)

In addition, hundreds of thousands of Oregon jobs have been exported since 1994 to third world nations, reducing the state’s tax base, and this has also helped to increase the budget shortfalls. Wall Street politicians, such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, have led the drive to export tens of millions of US jobs since 1994 (Wyden is supposed to be a US senator from Oregon but his voting record indicates he is in Wall Street’s back pockets as much as the Clintons).

What this really means is that income and wealth inequality have created the shortfalls since corporations are simply tools of the rich which are used to redistribute income and wealth from working Americans to rich investors. Reducing the tax liabilities of corporations has redistributed $2.36 billion dollars from taxpayers to the rich shareholders of corporations during the 2017-19 Oregon state budget. Notice the Times doesn’t mention this.

The same holds true with international income redistribution treaties. The difference between the old higher US wages and benefits of those tens of millions of exported US jobs and the new dirt low third world wages have gone straight into the bank accounts of the billionaires who control both major political parties, and the New York Times.

So redistributing income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent has created local and state budget shortfalls nationwide, as well as in Oregon.

What’s even worse, the Times story only uses examples of overly generous state pensions given to just a few, such as former Oregon Ducks football coach Mike Belotti. Belotti receives $559,000 a year from the public employee’s retirement system (PERS). There is no mention in the Times story that Belotti and these few others are exceptions. There is no mention of the elderly couples who worked thirty-four years each to get a combined $2000 a month in their deferred compensation called a pension, or the many who only receive a few hundred dollars a month, or the vast majority who receive between $400 and $2000 a month. There is no mention that pensions are deferred compensation.

In effect, the Times story was intended to generate public outrage at local and state pensions, and it was also specifically intended to turn our eyes away from the real reasons why there might be local and state budget shortfalls in Oregon and throughout the nation. The Times story was class warfare at its most insidious. No doubt the billionaires loved the story, even if it was a complete lie.

See 8 Key Things About Oregon Corporate Taxes–Oregon Center for Public Policy

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The idea that public school teachers need to go on strike in order to get livable wages and benefits is spreading, much to the dread of the billionaires who control both major political parties.

Early in March 2018, striking West Virginia teachers declared victory with a 5 percent raise and returned to their classrooms. Their organizing and their 13-day strike not only forced the legislature to raise their rock-bottom pay; it backed off corporate-linked education “reformers” on a host of other issues: charter schools, an anti-seniority bill, and preventing payroll deduction of union dues, and the rich who control the corporations that would benefit from these things are not happy state money went to impoverished public school teachers.

Emboldened by the success of the teachers of West Virginia, teachers in Oklahoma, Arizona, and Kentucky are now striking, sicking out, rallying, and Facebooking to push officials to raise their salaries and defend their benefits.

Teachers in Oklahoma are set to strike on April 2 if the legislature doesn’t grant a $10,000 raise for teachers and a $5,000 raise for school support staff. It’s been a decade since Oklahoma teachers got their last raise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pay for educators there ranks last in the country, with high school teachers averaging $42,460.

Like the case in West Virginia, Oklahoma teachers are emboldened by a shortage of qualified educators. “Teachers are fleeing the state,” said Molly Jaynes, a third-grade teacher in Oklahoma City. “You can go to Arkansas and make $15,000 more; you can go to Texas and make $20,000 more”—as did Oklahoma’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. The state issues hundreds of emergency certifications every year to anyone with a bachelor’s degree. (It should be pointed out there is a teacher shortage throughout the United States)

Arizona teachers signed up in droves for a new Facebook group, “Arizona Educators United.” Thirty thousand joined in its first 10 days. Teachers there are building a grassroots “Red for Ed” movement, spreading photos of themselves wearing red T-shirts to school every Wednesday and assembling en masse at legislative hearings at the Capitol.

The latest state to join the strike talk is Kentucky, where the fight is about pensions and funding cuts to schools. Having systematically underfunded pensions for over a decade, the legislature is now pushing to cut cost-of-living adjustments for teachers and other employees. Like teachers in 14 other states, Kentucky teachers do not collect Social Security, so they rely entirely on the state pension system.

These four states; Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia are dominated by the Republican Party, which is controlled by billionaires. Strong labor unions can often help defeat the billionaires in state and local elections. Keeping the memberships in poverty and financially starving public education has been a political strategy, effectively waging war against children, the poor and the middle class.

On the other hands, the billionaires of the Democratic and Republican parties have to a large degree gutted the tax base of the United States by voting to export tens of millions of US jobs over the last twenty-five years in order to redistribute the massive difference between the old higher wages and benefits of tens of millions of US workers and the new poverty third world wages of the exported jobs.

Democrat politicians such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ron Wyden and Earl Blumenauer have joined hands with Republicans such as George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and John Boehner to export those jobs, and creating the highest income and wealth inequality in US history.

On the state and local levels, the rich control contracting corporations that feed on useless public projects and services. Giving the teachers raises and higher benefits means that some public money will need to be diverted from those tax guzzling projects to the teachers, which may negatively impact the share prices of corporations.

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In exercising control of the political processes in the United States, and thereby determining the distribution of income and wealth, one of the foremost strategies the rich use to suppress US democracy is to divert the attention of the 99 percent from looking after their own economic interests by raising social concerns.

Republican Party leaders, such as the Bush family, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Orrin Hatch are awesome at this. So instead of Republican grassroots voters thinking how grotesque and anti-Jesus income and wealth inequality have become in the USA, they are led to think about war against Christmas, the Muslim peril, terrorism, President Obama is going to take your guns, the war against white males, transgender bathrooms, abortion, undocumented immigrants and much more.

Democratic Party leaders, such as the Clintons’, Nansi Pelosi, Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden and others, are also awesome at creating social issues that are shamelessly self-serving at diverting our attention away from their helping the rich redistribute our income into their pockets via trade treaties and other legislation. Think about the war against women, keeping abortion legal, transgender bathrooms, racism, undocumented immigration, and much more.

The corporate news media is also quick to divert our attention away from the income and wealth inequality since they also serve the interests of the rich, being linked by the need for advertising dollars to keep their profits and share prices rolling upward.

Diverting us is determined by a “collectively manufactured elite (meaning parasites) consensus,” according to Branko Milanovic in his book Global Inequality. Given the enormous amount of private money that is used in politics and media, one cannot but think that this is one of the aims of these investments.

A perfect example of this is being played out in the media as you read this. Pornstar Stormy Daniels is suing President Donald Trump over an adulterous affair he allegedly had with her at the same time President Trump is pushing for more deregulation of Wall Street. Most media attention is one the Daniels issue because the corporate media does not want you to know the president, the entire Republican Party, and sixteen Democratic senators support the president’s proposal.

The last time there was deregulation of Wall Street we came face-to-face with the Great Recession. The next recession should be even worse, even without the deregulation.

And so it goes again, around and around. Democratic grassroots are gloating over the Daniels issue, while Republican grassroots are rushing to his defense, all the while oblivious to the fact that legislation is about to be passed making it easier for Wall Street to rip the 99 percent off even more than it is already.

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The red line in the graph below represents borrowing to buy corporate shares. The blue line represents the growing value of the S&P 500 stock index. Notice the growth in the financial markets is being fueled by record amounts of debt. The growth of both clearly mirrors each other.

Eight months ago, I wrote, “The latest in a long line of stock market bubbles is being fueled by record amounts of debt according to the New York Stock Exchange. This debt is called “buying on margin” (BOM). Notice the acronym of BOM, which is pretty close to bomb, and this current bubble is going to explode. Total BOM hit a record high of $528.2 billion in February 2017.”

By November 2017 (the latest data that is available), total BOM hit nearly $581 billion. Stock prices, in other words, have been bid up with borrowed money, like at an auction.

Once the lunatic Trump tax cuts were passed, the already dangerously obese stock market bubble began expanding even more in anticipation of more after-tax cash going to the rich and corporations, to whom the vast majority of those tax cuts were targeted. This has given corporations and the rich the leverage to borrow on margin even more in anticipation of future increased after-tax earnings.

That is not necessarily always a big problem early in a business expansion when the market is going up, but it’s now late in the ball game. Our economic expansion is 103 months old (as of January 2018), making it the third longest in US history. In terms of numerous indices, such as job, GNP, and wage growth, this is one of the weakest expansions in US history. The vast majority of new income and wealth have gone to the top 1 percent, and not to the 99 percent.

All of this suggests the coming crash is long overdue. When we hit this soon to arrive recession, it should be a train wreck worse than the so-called Great Recession of 2007-09.

November’s total BOM was nearly $80 billion more than twelve months before. This increase is a sign of optimism or foolishness. People and institutions like hedge funds want to get in on the action while the stock markets are rising. What is going to happen when the bubble pops?

Suppose you have $10,000 to invest, so you purchase 100 shares of Home Depot at $100 per share. The market crashes and the share price drops to $40. Now your investment is worth $4,000. That is not a good result, but your investment is still worth something, and can potentially recover if you hang on to it in the long run.

Let’s say you borrow an additional $20,000 from your broker to buy another 200 Home Depot shares at $100 each for a total of 300 shares and at a total cost of $30,000. The market crashes and the share price quickly drops to $40. Now all 300 shares are only worth $12,000 — but you owe your broker $20,000 (plus interest) for borrowing money to buy the stock. The broker calls in his loan. You are forced to sell your shares to get the funds to pay your broker but at the lower share price. You lose $18,000 of your $30,000 investment. But your broker wants the rest of his $20,000 plus interest. You only have $12,000 remaining of your original $30,000 investment, so you owe more than $8,000 to your broker.

So your original $10,000 is wiped out, your loan of $20,000 is annihilated, and you need to come up with $8,000 plus interest to pay back your broker.

During most recessions, it is much more difficult to get credit to pay your broker back, so you may both be out of luck, although you’ll likely be in court defending against him, her or it.

On a massive scale, say trillions of dollars of investments, that’s a recipe for absolute disaster for the whole economy. Corporations of all types (which often borrow to purchase their own shares in order to jack up their share prices), as well as hedge funds, governments, investment banks, commercial banks, small businesses, other wealth management firms, etc…, will likely need to lay off employees in order to pay back the money they owe.

Side Notes

***Let’s also get something straight which the corporate media doesn’t want us to know; tax cuts for corporations are the same as tax cuts for the rich since corporations in great measure pass on their tax cuts to the wealthy via higher after-tax corporate profits, rising share prices and surging dividends.

***As an aside, your government has allowed a conspiracy in restraint of trade in the housing market to be the primary fuel that ignited this current stock market bubble. See The Big Banks Are Manipulating the Housing Market–JohnHIvely.wordpress.com.

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“With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it’s clear that the Democratic Party didn’t merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself.”

When Bill Clinton became president he took the party straight into the loving arms of Wall Street executives and investors, and the best way to do that was to get rid of labor unions by exporting tens of millions of labor union jobs to poverty wage nations. It began with Clinton and his Wall Street wife, Hillary, and NAFTA. The difference between the old US wages and benefits and the poverty wage workers in poverty-wage nations have always gone straight into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate profits, rising dividends, and surging share prices.

President Barack Obama followed the Clinton’s footsteps in redistributing income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent via this and other legislative paths. Of course, they were assisted in this massive redistribution of income and wealth by such Democrats as Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, who was ever so happy to join the Republican party stalwarts in doing this. The result was ominous, for the Democratic Party, the nation, and the 99 percent.

Between 1978 and 2017, the union membership rate in the United States fell by more than half — from 26 to 10.7 percent. Naturally, this decline coincides with the redistribution of income and wealth engineered by the entire Republican Party, as well as the Wall Street controlled Democratic Party with such luminaries as Ron Wyden, Earl Blumenauer, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The decline in labor union membership due to exported jobs also fuels the massive income and wealth inequality the United States suffers from today, thanks in large part to Bill and Hillary, Barack and Wyden and other Democratic Wall Street loyalists as Earl Blumenauer.

In a new study that will soon be released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper (NBER), James Feigenbaum of Boston University, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia, and Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution examined the long-term political consequences of anti-union legislation by comparing counties straddling a state line where one state is right-to-work and another is not. Their findings should strike terror into the hearts of Democratic Party strategists: Right-to-work laws decreased Democratic presidential vote share by 3.5 percent.

This could have been a golden age for American liberalism. The Democratic Party — and the progressive forces within it — have so much going for them. The GOP’s economic vision has never been less popular with ordinary Americans, or more irrelevant to their material needs. The U.S. electorate is becoming less white, less racist, and less conservative with each passing year. Social conservatism has never had less appeal for American voters than it does today. The garish spectacle of the Trump-era Republican Party is turning the American suburbs — once a core part of the GOP coalition — purple and blue.

If the Democratic Party wasn’t bleeding support from white working-class voters in its old labor strongholds, it would dominate our national politics. Understandably, Democratic partisans often blame their powerlessness on such voters — and the regressive racial views that led them out of Team Blue’s tent. But as unions have declined across the Midwest, Democrats haven’t just been losing white, working-class voters to Republicans — they’ve also been losing them to quiet evenings at home. The NBER study cited by McElwee found that right-to-work laws reduce voter turnout in presidential elections by 2 to 3 percent.

The Democratic leadership had a choice; side with the 99 percent or side against them and with the 1 percent. Obama, the Clintons, Wyden and other Wall Street Democrats chose to side with Wall Street and corporate parasites against their own grassroots. Now many of the grassroots have abandoned the Party that no longer represents them. Who can blame them? Oh, that’s right! The Democratic Leadership and their corporate news media blames the grassroots and calls them “deplorables,” but only after the leadership has exported tens of millions of working-class jobs.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/democrats-paid-a-huge-price-for-letting-unions-die.html?utm_source=fb&utm_medium=s3&utm_campaign=sharebutton-b

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