Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hypocrisies of the Super-Rich

by Paul Buchheit

getajobThe hypocrisy is spread evenly among corporations, Congress, and free-market apologists, all of whom insult and imperil average Americans with their double standards. Here are some of the worst:

1. Poor People Just Need to Get a Job. But there are No Jobs.

This may be the greatest hypocrisy of them all, because it directly impacts so many Americans. When anti-food-stamp Congressman Stephen Fincher (R-TN) said, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” John Boehner had the answer: “Our job here is not to divide the American people…It’s to help every American have a fair shot at the American dream.”

But they don’t provide that fair shot. In October, 2011 Senate Republicans killed a proposed $447 billion jobs bill that would have added about two million jobs to the economy. Members of Congress filibustered Nancy Pelosi’s “Prevention of Outsourcing Act,” even as two million jobs were being outsourced, and they temporarily blocked the “Small Business Jobs Act.” In April, 2013 only one member of Congress bothered to show up for a hearing on unemployment.

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Understanding America’s Class System

Honk if you love caviar
By Joe Bageant, August 16, 2010

How about them political elites, huh? Five million bucks for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, 15K just to rent the air-conditioned shitters — huge chrome and glass babies with hot water and everything. No gas masks and waxy little squares of toilet paper for those guys.

Yes, it looks big time from the cheap seats. But the truth is that when we are looking at the political elite, we are looking at the dancing monkey, not the organ grinder who calls the tune. Washington’s political class is about as upwardly removed from ordinary citizens as the ruling class is from the political class. For instance, they do not work for a living in the normal sense of a job, but rather obtain their income from abstractions such as investment and law, neither of which ever gave anybody a hernia or carpal tunnel. By comparison, the ruling class does not work at all.

Moneywise, Washington’s political class is richer than the working class by the same orders of magnitude as the ruling class is richer than the political class. This gives the political class something to aim for. To that end, they have adopted the ruling elite’s behaviors, tastes and lifestyles, with an eye on becoming members. Moreover, it is a molting process that begins with the right university and connections, and culminates in flying off to Washington with the rest of your generation’s most privileged and ambitious young moths.

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Dear Dr. Krugman: Please Let Me Explain

By Joe Firestone, New Economic Perspectives

Paul Krugman can’t explain why the deficit issue has suddenly dropped off the agenda. He says:

. . . quite suddenly the whole thing has dropped off the agenda.

You could say that this reflects the dwindling of the deficit — but that’s old news; anyone doing the math saw this coming quite a while ago. Or you could mention the failure of the often-predicted financial crisis to arrive — but after so many years of being wrong, why should a few months more have caused the deficit scolds to disappear in a puff of smoke?

Why indeed are they so quiet? Could it be because the deficit hawks have succeeded in getting the short-term result they want, which is a likely deficit too small to sustain the private savings and import desires of most Americans, and also because the political climate is such right now that they cannot make progress on their longer term entitlement-cutting program until after the coming elections have resolved the issue of whether there will be strong resistance to such a campaign if they renew it? Let’s look at the budget outlook first.

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How Privatization Perverts Education

by Paul Buchheit

privatization-schools_0Profit-seeking in the banking and health care industries has victimized Americans. Now it’s beginning to happen in education, with our children as the products.

There are good reasons – powerful reasons – to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality. At the very least we need the good sense to slow it down while we examine the evidence about charters and vouchers.

1. Charter Schools Have Not Improved Education
The recently updated CREDO study at Stanford revealed that while charters have made progress since 2009, their performance is about the same as that of public schools. The differences are, in the words of the National Education Policy Center, “so small as to be regarded, without hyperbole, as trivial.” Furthermore, the four-year improvement demonstrated by charters may have been due to the closing of schools that underperformed in the earlier study, and also by a variety of means to discourage the attendance of lower-performing students.

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The Case for a 21st Century New Deal: Returning Excellence to Education with a Focus on Students & Teachers

1348727136_2096_educationAmerica used to have the world’s premier public education system that all other nations looked up to. And it was all within reach for all citizens to attend. That in turn led to a highly trained and educated workforce.

When WWII ended, President Truman passed the GI Bill so returning vets could get their education as a thank you for serving their country.

And it worked. That made the United States strong and made it the leader of the free world.

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The Case for Doubling the Corporate Income Tax

by Paul Buchheit

AbolishCorporateIncomeTax011314A recent New York Times Op-Ed by economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff suggested that we “Abolish the Corporate Income Tax.” His case for doing so, he explains, “requires constructing a large-scale computer simulation model of the United States economy as it interacts over time with other nations’ economies.” The computer determined that the tax cut would be “self-financing to a significant extent.”

Big business hints at serious consequences if we don’t comply with this lower tax demand. But abolishing the corporate income tax is not likely to reverse the long history of harmful corporate behavior. There are several good reasons why:

1. Corporations Have a Proven Record of Spending Tax Breaks on Themselves
The evidence comes from 2004, when a “repatriation holiday” allowed corporations to bring their profits home at a much-reduced tax rate. But they used over 90 percent of the money to “enrich shareholders and executives” by paying dividends and buying back their own stock. At the same time, they cut jobs and research spending. A Senate subcommittee called the whole affair a “failed tax policy” that shouldn’t be repeated.

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The Case for a 21st Century New Deal: Passing FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights

FDR’s Unfinished “Second Bill of Rights” and Why We Need It Now
by Democratic Underground, December 2, 2006

2ndbill lrgFranklin Delano Roosevelt first began speaking about our country’s need for economic and social rights to complement the political rights granted to us in our original Bill of Rights during his first campaign for President, in 1932. Through his whole twelve year Presidency and four presidential campaigns centered largely on advocating for and implementing those rights, it wasn’t until his January 11th, 1944, State of the Union address to Congress that he fully enumerated his conception of those rights in what he referred to as a “Second Bill of Rights”. The elements of that conception fall into two major categories – opportunity and security. Here is a partial introduction to and list of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights, as enumerated in his January 11, 1944 Message to Congress:

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all – regardless of station, race, or creed. Among these are:

Opportunity

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job…
  • The right to a good education.
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies…

Security

  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
  • The right of every family to a decent home.
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

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Honoring Dr. King’s Call for a Job Guarantee Program

By Fadhel Kaboub, New Economic Perspectives, August 28, 2013

rustin and kingFifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” Yes, jobs!

For the civil rights leaders, the fight for justice was not limited to providing equal voting rights for all Americans and abstaining from discriminatory practices against African Americans. A federally funded Job Guarantee program was a central theme articulated by Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin  (the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, and one of this year’s recipients (posthumously) of the Presidential Medal of Freedom).

Mathew Forstater’s work has frequently reminded economists and policymakers of our failure to address structural unemployment and to ensure a useful and productive employment opportunity for anyone who is ready, willing, and able to work.

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The Case for a 21st Century New Deal: The Jobs Program

WPA 1The Economic Bill of Rights

FDR’s January 11, 1944 message to Congress:
...It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty. …”

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

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