Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘wealth redistribution’


More than 200,000 people took to the streets in Washington, DC, Saturday April 29th for the People’s Climate March. Tens of thousands more joined via sister marches across the globe, including Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Uganda, Kenya, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica and more.

In the U.S., more than 370 marches in nearly all 50 states took place, from the town of Dutch Harbor in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to the streets of Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major American cities.

A coalition of communities, faith leaders, labor activists, civil rights champions and climate justice advocates led the march while demanding commonsense protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the health of the vulnerable communities who have the most to lose under President Trump’s administration.

The battle over climate change is a sticky one. The fossil fuel industry which own plenty of politicians in both major political parties spends millions of dollars a year denying it’s happening, but my rhododendron is now blooming in early December. Twenty-five years ago, it began blooming in late March and early April. Fifteen years ago, it began blooming in January. I also have roses blooming in snowy December, and that is something that never happened in the forty years I’ve lived in this house.

Quite naturally, the war over climate change is a battle over ever increasing profits and share prices. Major corporations and their shareholders, as well as Wall Street (which controls the Democratic Establishment like puppets), want ever increasing profits because this produces ever increasing share prices and dividends. Getting rid of fossil fuels will force the oil corporations out of business, and cut into the profits and share prices of other manufacturers.

This means the battle over climate change is a battle between ultra rich shareholders and millionaire and billionaire CEO’s on the one hand, and the rest of the world’s people on the other. Naturally, the rich and their corporations fund bogus studies showing global warming in not real in order to influence the voters of the 99 percent to believe climate change is a communist plot to destroy the American way of life, when it is really the rich destroying the US middle class way of life. My roses and rhododendron tell me climate change is real, but then, so is the class warfare the rich are waging on the rest of us.

I should point out that the folks at Exxon now admit fossil fuels are causing global warming. The company denied it for decades, but knew as early as the middle of the 1970s that it was happening.

Read Full Post »

President Donald Trump is proposing more tax cuts for the rich. He claims there will be no loss of federal revenue with his tax cuts. This is the standard Republican Party Establishment lie.

Given that Trump’s plan is similar to what Trump proposed on the campaign trail, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) did a rough cost estimate of his latest ideas and concluded they could cost $5.5 trillion in lost revenue during the first decade.

CRFB estimates the overall cost could go as high as $7 trillion if limits on tax breaks that the plan suggests apply only to high earners. Or the cost could fall to $3 trillion “assuming credits and exclusions are eliminated as well as deductions.”

This means sharp cuts to programs the middle class and poor need, while, no doubt, keeping welfare programs for the rich, such spending more on the military than the next 25 nations combined, 24 of whom are US allies. Corporate subsidies are also welfare for the rich since they help keep corporate profits and the stock market bubble growing, all of which mostly redounds to the rich.

Oh, and we can’t forget the next biggest lie; tax cuts for the rich trickles down the the 99 percent in the form of jobs. There is not one shred of evidence that giving tax cuts to the rich has created a single net job. There is plenty of evidence, on the other hand, that tax cuts for the wealthy have destroyed millions of US jobs.

That’s because the rich usually invest their tax cuts gains in the stock, bond and political markets. They buy up politicians by the barrel full and then have their politicians pass legislation that will keep inflating their stock, bond and housing bubbles, which means exporting millions of jobs overseas and then redistributing the difference between the old higher US pay and the new lower third world slave labor pay to the rich via higher corporate profits, surging stock and bond markets, and rising dividends.

In the meantime, due to the reduced tax revenue, our roads and bridges will continue to crumble, our public schools will continue to be financially gutted, the cost of entering a public park will continue to rise, the unemployment rate will rise, and so on and so forth.

Don’t be fooled by the same lies President Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney and Arthur Laffer fed us. Tax cuts for the rich will not pay for themselves, nor will they create jobs, but they will corrupt your government more, and it is already the most corrupt in the developed world. Both major political parties are corrupted to the core.

 

This suggests that any working class concerns addressed by Trump during the campaign has been rendered moot. Trump, in other words, is now completely owned and 100 percent influenced by Wall Street and the Republican National Committee and their corporate owners.

By the way, a story in Newsweek puts it a little less scary than I. “‘…while major tax cuts have been enormously beneficial to the wealthy by reducing their taxes and increasing their incomes the most, the distribution of benefit for working people has been comparatively negligible. That is not the argument of some liberal politician—it was the finding of Martin Feldstein, the chief economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan, in his analysis of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.'”

Feldstein, in other words, said the creation of jobs by tax cuts for the rich “has been comparatively negligible.”

Click here for the full Newsweek story.

Read Full Post »

Student Loans
Student loans are a scam intended to redistribute income from college students to wealthy individual and institutional investors. College students today owe more than $1.4 trillion dollars in student loans, and that figure is getting bigger by the day. Total student loans outstanding exceeded total credit card debt when it hit $1.2 trillion in 2014. Only mortgage debt is greater than student loan debt, but with home values going up, mortgage debt is an investment, whereas student loans have become something of a gamble for a large number of students. (Friedman)

Why do the student loans keep piling up?

About twenty-three years ago, somebody on Wall Street discovered student loans could be securitized. That’s a situation in which investment firms buy student loans from issuers, pool them together, and then issue bonds backed by the loans to wealthy investors. The loan originators earn hefty fees with every loan they sell. The investment firms also obtain a large fee with every bond they sell. (Carrillo)

student-debt-cartoon-englehart-495x354

For example, a private commercial bank might issue $10 million in student loans at 6 percent interest. A student spends four or five years in college, and then spends ten to twenty years paying off a loan. So that $10 million principal can earn another $10 million in interest or more over the lifetime of the loan. An investment bank might pay $2 million or more for the $10 million in loans from the commercial bank. Then the investment bank will turn around and collect millions in fees from investors for the same loans once they’re bundled together and bonds are issued. The investors might experience a growth in the value of their bonds, so they can sell them, in which case, somebody will get a fee for performing the task. There’s money to be had for all involved in this process, except for the borrowers. (Carrillo)

Most student loans are guaranteed by the federal government. So there’s no risk to investors. It’s free money. The federal government pays the interest on the loans to the investment banks even when the students are still in school. Once the students are out of school, they are required to pay on the interest and the principal to the bondholders. This is how your student loan payments mostly go directly into the pockets of the 1 percent via these bonds. Some of the proceeds go to the service providers.

The Wall Street business strategy on this matter has always been simple: Push the federal government to limit federal grants to college students, and expand the student loan program. That’s precisely what has occurred. In 2016, total outstanding student loans represented roughly 7.5 percent of the United States gross domestic product, up from 3.5 percent only ten years earlier. Nearly 43 million Americans are chained to student loan debt, each with an average balance of $30,000. (Wikipedia)

image

While the total number of Federal Pell grants has grown in current dollars since 1976, the cost of education has grown faster. In 1976, for example, the average Pell grant paid 72 percent of the maximum expense of attending a public four year college or university. This figure grew to 79 percent in 1979. Nowadays, the average Pell grant is less than half of that, hovering inside the 32 to 34 percent range. (ACE)

This forces many students to borrow money to help finance their higher education, and it also plays straight into the hands of wealthy investors. The interests of those investors seem to coincide with the concerns of many politicians within the federal government and both major political parties. Student loan default rates jumped from 2010 to 2013. Along with other corporate media sources, CNN reported in 2012 that “The percentage of borrowers who defaulted on their federal student loans within two years of their first payment jumped to 9.1% in fiscal year 2011, up from 8.8% the previous year, according to U.S. Department of Education data.” Investors began selling off their bonds, resulting in declining values. Something had to be done to restore investor confidence, and so the federal government doubled student loan interest rates on all new loans from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2013. (Sheehy)

This increased the return on investment while doubling the burden on the 99 percent who take out new loans to finance what is called the American dream, but it’s really becoming the American nightmare. This is rightly called income redistribution. The doubling of student loan interest rates benefited smaller Wall Street investment banks, as well as such Wall Street heavyweights as JP Morgan/Chase and Goldman Sachs. Loan originators and investment companies receive billions of dollars in fees every year from new student loans. Both JP Morgan/Chase and Goldman Sachs are publicly traded corporations. Both corporations are listed among the Dow Jones Industrials, and both keep their stock prices rising, in part, to the securitization of student loans, which benefits their affluent shareholders.

The more interest students are forced to pay, the higher the bonds can sell for, and the more attractive they are to investors, especially since the government guarantees them. (Carrillo) In this way, America’s higher education policies have been legislatively constructed so as to redistribute the income of the 99 to the 1 percent via higher student loan debt.

Wall Street banks also rigged the game even more against student loan borrowers by having the government make it almost impossible to discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy. Students are tied to the debt until it’s paid, or they die. This leaves less money for students to spend when they graduate, forcing them to curtail their purchases, and weakening the economy in the process.

When the US congress and President Obama allowed the interest rate of new student loans to double to 6.8 percent in 2013, the public outcry was so heavily against it that politicians had to reduce student loan interest rates within a year. The burden for students and their families had been too great. The rate was dropped to 4.9 percent in 2014, which was still 50 percent higher than in 2012. (Lobosco)

Bernie Sanders was right when he declared the government could provide free public education to its people. The money is there, and always has been. During the economic crisis of 2008-2009, the federal government and the Federal Reserve gave out tens of trillions of dollars to rich investors, investment banks and hedge funds. Politicians called these actions “quantitative easing” and “bailouts.” (Irvin) See The $26 Trillion Bailout to Save Incompetent but Rich Investors-JohnHively.wordpress.com. If trillions of dollars to bail out the rich are there whenever they need it, why isn’t that money also available when the rest of us need it?

The answer, of course, is simple.

Like many other issues, student loans are a corrupt, financially rigged game that shows how the government acts as a conduit in redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent when it doesn’t have to. Just follow the money and you will know who is corrupting your government.

Works Cited
Friedman, D. (May 17, 2014). Americans Owe $1.2 Trillion Dollars In Student Loans. New York Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/americans-owe-1-2-trillion-student-loans-article-1.1796606

American Council on Education, (ACE) http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/FactSheet-Pell-Grant-Funding-History-1976-2010.pdf

Merganser Capital Management, Investment Memo http://www.merganser.com/PDF/Memo/2015-Q3.pdf
http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/28/pf/college/student-loan-defaults/

Carrillo, R. (April 14, 2016). How Wall Street Profits From Student Debt, Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-wall-street-profits-from-student-debt-20160414

Irvin, N. (October 29, 2014). Quantitative Easing is Ending, Here’s what it did, in Charts. New York Times. October 29, 2014. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/30/upshot/quantitative-easing-is-about-to-end-heres-what-it-did-in-seven-charts.html?_r=0

Sheehy, K. (July 3, 2013). What the Stafford Loan Rate Hike Means for Students. US News and World Report. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2013/07/03/what-the-stafford-loan-interest-rate-hike-means-for-students

Lobosco, K. (June 30, 2016). Student Loan Intereest Rates Are Going Down. CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/30/pf/college/student-loan-interest-rates/

Wikipedia, Student Loans in the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Student_loans_in_the_United_States

Read Full Post »

images

The Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate by 0.25% on Wednesday. The corporate news media, both liberal and conservative, claimed this signified the Fed’s confidence in the improving U.S. economy. There may be some truth to this, but maybe not.

Anybody with any knowledge of US business cycles can see our current business expansion is nearly over, which makes this a poor time to raise borrowing rates. See The Coming Recession Is Going to be a Big One–Johnhively.Wordpress.com. The current expansion is 91 months old this month, which makes it the fourth longest on record. In February 2017 it will become the third longest in US history. All the variables indicate we’ll be hitting a recession sometime before or by June 2017.

Maybe Fed officials decided to deflate the stock market and housing bubbles the US economy is in the thrall of. The US economy has been powered by a series of federally created or federally condoned bubbles since the 1980s, which is radically different from the US economy of 1933-1981. The US economy will be suffering from a massive hangover when this next recession hits, which is why it will in many ways be far worse than the last recession.

Rising rates will affect millions of Americans, including home buyers, savers and investors by increasing the cost of which they borrow. In other words, trillions of dollars are going to be redistributed from the 99 percent to rich bank shareholders and bondholders. It’ll cost you more to borrow, and the difference between the old rate and the new rate goes straight into the pockets of the rich.

Income and wealth have been massively redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent by a series of deliberate federal government actions over the last thirty-five years. This is why interest rates have been historically low over the last eight years, and had been getting progressively lower since 1981. The demand for goods and services by the 99 percent is largely dependent on the ability to borrow to a much greater extent than earlier decades.

This is also means the Fed will have to enact negative interest rates to help bolster the economy during the next recession, which is currently the case in Europe.

Change in the form of a shift of political power from the billionaires to the middle class will finally come because of this next recession as millions more people vote via their wallets and take to the streets.

Fed officials raised its target for short-term interest rates by 0.25 percentage points to a range of 0.50% and 0.75%.

Read Full Post »

Editorial by Brian Schweitzer

Ever since I wrote the opinion piece on the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity that recently appeared in several Montana newspapers (for example, the February 19 Billings Gazette:Brian Switzer on the Koch Brothers in Montana , I’ve heard from a lot of friends and acquaintances in Montana and other states. Folks were as astonished as I was at the amount of government subsidies the Koch brothers receive from one ranch in one state while they hired 11 staffers to keep healthcare from people in Montana. And others have pointed out that the former state director of AFP, former state Senator Joe Balyeat, happily received generous government-paid healthcare.

I do need to correct one error in my opinion piece. My calculations on the state and federal grazing subsidies enjoyed by the Koch brothers in Montana were wrong. They were too low. I based the number of cattle on the assumption that during the driest year since 1960, the Koch ranch would have reduced cattle numbers down that year. I gave them the extreme benefit of the doubt, but they actually have 6,500 head, not 2,000 head.

That means the Koch brothers government subsidies, on just one ranch in one state, are actually 225% greater than I had calculated, meaning the government aid to run the Koch ranch in Montana is not 12.5 million bucks, but actually $28 million. My bad.

These government subsidies help pay for the AFP’s “political attack on the moderate wing of House Republicans,” – an attack reported on by Troy Carter of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Joe Carter on the Welfare Queens Known as the Koch Brothers in Montana). Carter says Americans for Prosperity is spending thousands of dollars on radio and TV ads to attack Republican legislators like Representatives “Geraldine Custer of Forsyth, Doc Moore of Missoula, Christy Clark of Choteau, Frank Garner of Kalispell, Jeff Wellborn of Dillon and Tom Berry of Roundup.”

These are good and honest legislators – some of whom I’ve disagreed with quite a bit in the past – but they are independent Montanans who are being pressured by one of the wealthiest families in the world to deny healthcare to Montanans.

This is the same AFP the Koch brothers announced will spend a “staggering” $889 million on the 2016 elections (National Public Radio, Koch Brothers to Spend More Than a Billion Dollars on 2016 Presidential Election) – more than any political party has ever spent during a presidential election year. This secretive fortune will be spent to ensure that you and I pay for the Koch brothers’ government subsidies while the elderly, students, poor people and working families get little-to-squat. In essence, according to a political scientist quoted in the NPR report linked above, the Koch brothers have bought and paid for a new political party run by the ultra-wealthy for the ultra-wealthy.

When the Koch brothers attacked labor unions, some people stood back because they weren’t in a union. When they attacked the poor, some looked the other way because they were middle class. When they attacked the Democrats, some stood aside because they weren’t a Democrat. Now, they are even attacking Republicans in Montana. Montana, let’s stand together and send the Kochs’ money and message back to Kansas, where they belong!

Read Full Post »

United States Senator Bernie Sanders easily explains the relationship between Wall Street and Congress above. Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden is a prime example of what Sanders is speaking of.

Senator Wyden was elected to do the bidding of the people of Oregon on the senate floor, and before that he was a member of the US House of Representatives. However, on all economic matters where the desires and interests of Wall Street diverge from the desires and interests of the majority of Oregonians, Wall Street Ronnie has always voted for Wall Street. He is the proud owner of a 100 percent voting record on this. Here’s what makes this record incredible. He doesn’t need to do this. He’s in a safe liberal district. In order to maintain this incredible voting record on behalf of Wall Street, Wyden has carefully cultivated a false image of himself with the help of the corporate propaganda media at making himself look like a liberal.

If the majority of the voting people of Oregon discovered that Wyden has a 100 percent record of voting to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, they would readily vote him out of office.

It’s a slow process but more and more people are coming to understand his real record, despite the best attempts of the Oregonian newspaper to misrepresent Wyden and his actions to the people of Oregon.

I’ve been to many churches over the last several months talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a giant trade treaty that will redistribute massive amounts of income from the 99 to the 1 percent. Wyden, like Wall Street, supports the TPP. However, people at my presentations are shocked when they hear that Wyden has a 100 percent record of voting to redistribute their jobs, their tax bases for schools, fire, social safety nets, the police and countless other public necessities to the 1 percent, and that supports doing this even more via the TPP. But they are learning the real truth about Wall Street Ron Wyden.

Read Full Post »

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the largest freely redistributing your income into the pockets of the rich treaty ever signed. It will jack up prices most people pay for pharmaceutical medications, for example. Wall Street Senator’s Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and Wall Street President Barack Obama want you to believe that they are redistributing your income and wealth to the rich on your behalf.  The TPP is sitting in congress as we speak, while President Obama is sitting in the White House, anxiously awaiting senate and house approval of the treaty so he can sign the treaty, before more and more Americans realize what a massive “corporate giveaway,” the TPP is, according to US Congressman Keith Ellison. The president wants to fast track this monstrous assault on the American people. Fast track means no debate in congress, just and up and down vote. If there was a debate, word would get out and the American people would be informed as to what the TPP is, even though the so-called corporate press, otherwise and more appropriately known as the corporate propaganda machine, has done its best to keep Americans ignorant of the TPP, which the Guardian newspaper of England calls “NAFTA on Steroids.”

Big Pharma became involved in the negotiations in a big way. 600 corporate lobbyists have been involved in the intensely secret negotiations of the TPP. What has Big Pharma gotten from Obama, Wyden, Hatch, McConnell, not to mention dozens of other Republicans and Democrats, via the TPP?

“It (lobbying) is an investment that appears to have paid off. The TPP is quite friendly to drug manufacturers, strengthening patent exclusivity and providing protections against bulk government purchasing (should it hurt profits). At the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. is also pushing to limit the ability of national regulatory agencies to support generic drug development. All of this suggests that the active lobbying has paid off. The result is going to be higher drug prices for the 99 percent, which will be demonstrated with higher Big Pharma profits, which goes to the 1 percent via higher dividends and share prices. Ergo, the TPP is a big income redistribution scam, and not just for Big Pharma. BTW, Big Pharma is already the number one most profitable industry in the United States. Now Wyden and the others want to make it even more profitable, but at your expense.

The more important question is, Why do Hatch, McConnell, Obama, Wyden and many other politicians want you and others around the world to pay for higher drug prices? Oh, that’s right. On the surface it appears that the TPP is all about profits, and Wall Street gains. And that’s true. But it’s even more true that the TPP is about political corruption on the highest levels of government. The current US government has been one of the most corrupt in history, and we’re talking about thirty years of immense political corruption. That’s why the game is rigged against the 99 percent. Wyden is a classic and most obvious example of this corruption.

Now check out the graph below.

Click on the link below for the full story.

How Big Pharma (and others) began lobbying on the Trans-Pacific Partnership before you ever heard of it–The Sunlight Foundation

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »