All posts by Mad Hemingway

The Growing Case for Massive Taxes on the Rich

Paul Buchheit | June 20 2016 | Common Dreams 

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Society’s takers, hoarders, and cheaters just ignore the injustice, and go on avoiding taxes while they blame the less fortunate for their own misfortunes. (Photo: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain/with overlay)

While candidates bicker and Congress stagnates and the rest of us dwell on the latest shooting tragedy, the super-rich enjoy the absence of attention paid to one of our nation’s most destructive issues.

The richest Americans are takers of social benefits. Yet they complain about paying 12% to 20% in taxes, even as respected researchers estimate an optimal revenue-producing rate of 80% to 90%, and even with the near-certainty that higher marginal tax rates will have no adverse effects on GDP growth.

The super-rich pay little in taxes because, as Senator Lindsey Graham said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally…It’s a game we play…I see nothing wrong with playing the game because we set it up to be a game.” In reality, it’s a game of theft from the essential needs of education, infrastructure, and jobs.

The Richest Individuals Cheat the Most

According to a recent IRS report, an incredible $406 billion annual gap exists between owed and paid taxes, with individuals accounting for over three-quarters of the total, and with the most egregious misreporting coming from the highest income-takers.

That’s about $3,000 per U.S. household in annual lost revenue. Yet even though the IRS retrieves well over $100 for every dollar in salaries paid to their agents, the agency has been rapidly losing staff, making the tax avoidance game a lot easier for the biggest cheaters.

Corporations Cheat Most Creatively

Relative to a dollar of payroll tax, corporations used to pay $3 in income tax. Now they pay 30 cents.

Exxon uses a theoretical tax to ‘pay’ its bill, and grandfatherly old Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway uses hypothetical amounts to avoid paying taxes.

Despite having billions in profits and nearly half of its sales in the U.S., Pfizer claimed enormous losses in the United States.

Continue reading The Growing Case for Massive Taxes on the Rich

Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Pathfinder | June 13 2016

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“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.” – Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations

I’ve made the decision. As of July, I have decided that Pathfinder Health Innovations will be moving our corporate office from Kansas to Missouri.

dickhead-300x201There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

More importantly, there’s a motivation of conscience that factors into it, too. It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.

Please note – this is a personal blog post, reflecting my views on the performance of the Kansas government, and specifically Governor Brownback. It should not be interpreted as the views of the company, our investors or employees other than me.

In recent years, Kansas has become a battleground for conservative ideals. Traditionally, Kansas was a moderate state, with the governorship switching every other election between Democratic and Republican governors. But the election of hyper-conservative Sam Brownback as governor heralded a new age of far right wing ideology.

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies.  He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.

Continue reading Pathfinder Health Innovations: Kansas Isn’t Home Anymore

Experts: Current Economy Could Be Worse Than The Great Depression

Washington’s Blog | May 24 2016

More Young Adults Are Living With Their Parents Than At Any Time Since the Great Depression

Pew reports:

More young adults in the U.S. are living with their parents than at any time since around 1940, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Across the European Union’s 28 member nations, nearly half (48.1%) of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents in 2014 ….

***

Similar long-term trends have been observed elsewhere. Canada’s most recent census, in 2011, found that 42.3% of adults ages 20 to 29 lived in their parents’ homes, up from 32.1% in 1991 and 26.9% in 1981. In Australia, about 29% of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with one or both of their parents (but without a partner or child) in 2011, up from 21% in 1976. And in Japan, the share of 20- to 34-year-olds living with their parents grew from 29.5% in 1980 to 48.9% in 2012.

There are many other measurements which are the worst since the Great Depression …

For example, we noted in 2009 that more Americans will be unemployed than during the Great Depression.

We noted in 2010:

The following experts have – at some point during the last 2 years – said that the economic crisis could be worse than the Great Depression:

We explained in 2011 that many economists agree we’re in a depression … and they only argue about whether we’re facing the “Great” depression of the 1930s or the “Long” depression of the 1870s. We also noted that housing prices fell farther than during the Great Depression.

Continue reading Experts: Current Economy Could Be Worse Than The Great Depression

The Presidential Scorecard©: Job Creation, Unemployment, Not in Labor Force, GDP

THE PRESIDENTIAL SCORECARD©: HOOVER TO OBAMA SUMMARY WITH TOTAL EMPLOYMENT & GDP

PRESIDENTYEARSAVERAGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE EMPLOYED DURING TERMJOBS CREATEDJOBS LOSTNET JOBSAVERAGE U-3AVERAGE LABOR PARTICIPATION RATENOT IN LABOR FORCE AT END OF TERMAVERAGE DISCOURAGED WORKERSAVERAGE MARGINALLY ATTACHED WORKERSGDP AVERAGE BY PRESIDENTIAL TERM
Sources:Source: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BEA
HOOVER1929 - 1932-9.3% (* see note below)
ROOSEVELT1933 – 1944 37,417,000 (* see note below)9.3%
ROOSEVELT-TRUMAN1945 - 194842,773,000-2.4%
TRUMAN1949 - 195246,486,0008,357,0001,070,519,8245,135,0004.4%5.1%
EISENHOWER1953 - 196051,830,00010,142,0001,067,179,8243,580,0004.9%3.0%
KENNEDY-JOHNSON1961 - 196456,231,0006,067,0001,073,351,8245,677,0005.8%4.7%
JOHNSON1965 - 196864,716,0009,983,0001,073,583,8249,825,0003.9%5.2%
NIXON1969 - 197271,660,0007,404,0001,072,361,8246,024,0005.0%3.0%
NIXON / FORD1972 -197677,966,0007,473,0001,071,446,8245,178,0006.7%2.6%
CARTER1977 - 198087,474,00011,714,0001,072,522,82410,495,0006.5%63.2%61,531,0003.3%
REAGAN1981 - 198896,290,00019,273,0001,070,431,82415,963,0007.5%64.7%62,780,0003.5%
GHW BUSH1989 - 1992108,703,0004,372,0001,071,959,8242,590,0006.3%66.4%65.780,0002.3%
CLINTON1993 - 2000121,617,00023,420,0001,073,556,82423,235,0005.2%66.8%70,488,000359,0008.8%3.9%
GW BUSH2001 - 2008133,824,0008,702,0001,067,152,8242,113,0005.3%66.2%80,380,000408,0009.2%2.1%
OBAMA2009 - 2015 (so far)134,998,00013,730,0001,068,313,8248,302,0007.8%63.8%94,103,000873,00014.3%1.4%
* FDR: partial data starting in 1939* Hoover: partial data starting in 1930

 

Average Job Creation (1939 – 2015):

Jobs-Created
Note: Click image to open full size image in a new tab

Source: BLS

Best Jobs Gains (Net job gains after losses):

  • Clinton (23.235 million)
  • Reagan (15.963 million)
  • Roosevelt (11.938 million) (partial data)
  • Carter (10.495 million)

Worst Job Losses:

  • GW Bush (6.589 million)
  • Eisenhower (6.562 million)
  • Obama (5.428 million) (partial data through 2015)
  • Truman (4.904 million) (Note: WWII vets returning home)

 

Average Unemployment (1949 – 2015):

Unemployment-Rate
Note: Click image to open full size image in a new tab

Source: BLS

Lowest unemployment:

  • Johnson (3.9%)
  • Truman (4.4%)
  • Eisenhower (4.9%)
  • Nixon (5.0%)

Highest unemployment:

  • Obama  (7.8%) (partial data through 2015)
  • Reagan (7.5%)
  • Nixon-Ford (6.7%)
  • Carter (6.5%)

 

Continue reading The Presidential Scorecard©: Job Creation, Unemployment, Not in Labor Force, GDP

Four Americans Who Should Be Crying Out For Socialism

Paul Buchheit | June 06 2016 | Common Dreams

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(Photo: Dan Cox/flickr/cc)

Beaten-down Americans are ignored by our neoliberal system of economics and government. A social democracy would help to restrain runaway capitalism by focusing on the needs of all citizens rather than just the money-makers. But unless our next president is Bernie Sanders, struggling Americans will continue to be ignored, as they have been since the Reagan years.

In particular, these four Americans should be clamoring for a change from a market-based to a people-based system:

1. The Children’s Advocate

There’s something terribly wrong with a society that allows a hedge fund manager to make a billion dollars while 16 million children are living on food stamps, and then House Republicans respond by attempting to cut back on lunches for over 3 million kids.

The ugliness of inequality is most apparent in the suffering of our children. For every THREE homeless children in 2006 there are now FIVE. Almost 40% of black children live in poverty. Yet spending on children’s programs recently declined for the first time in nearly 20 years, and states are spending less on schools than they did before the recession.

Continue reading Four Americans Who Should Be Crying Out For Socialism

To Pay for Subsidies to Massive Corporations, States Are Waging War on Poor Families

Jake Johnson | Jun 02 2016 | Common Dreams

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‘As wealthy CEOs and their politically influential companies gain unrestricted access to the Treasury,’ writes Johnson, ‘the most vulnerable are increasingly locked out.’

To witness the consequences of a political system captured by and utterly subservient to the interests of organized wealth, take a quick look at the state of Oklahoma.

There we see the embodiment of the economic trends that have, over the past several decades, harmed working families and lifted the wealthiest: While providing a windfall of cash to special interests, particularly big oil, the state is cutting education and slashing funds allocated for the earned income tax credit, widely recognized as one of the more effective anti-poverty programs.

As the state cuts benefits for the poor, “Oklahoma’s tax breaks for the oil and gas companies — among the most generous in the nation — gave the industry $470 million in tax relief last year,” a recent New York Times editorial observes.

“It’s despicable to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable population” while refusing to push any of the burden onto the wealthiest, lamented State Representative Emily Virgin.

One can look, also, to Wisconsin, where the Koch-backed governor Scott Walker achieved political prominence on the basis of his record of “taking on” unions and his philosophical approach to governance, which, though shrouded in libertarian garb, largely consists of socialism for the rich and austerity for everyone else.

Continue reading To Pay for Subsidies to Massive Corporations, States Are Waging War on Poor Families

Worst Jobs Report In Nearly 6 Years – 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have Jobs

Washington’s Blog | Jun 03 2016

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By Michael Snyder, the Economic Collapse Blog.

This is exactly what we have been expecting to happen.  On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. economy only added 38,000 jobs in May.  This was way below the 158,000 jobs that analysts were projecting, and it is also way below what is needed just to keep up with population growth.  In addition, the number of jobs created in April was revised down by 37,000 and the number of jobs created in March was revised down by 22,000.  This was the worst jobs report in almost six years, and the consensus on Wall Street is that it was an unmitigated disaster.

The funny thing is that the Obama administration says that the unemployment rate actually went downlast month.  Almost every month since Obama has been in the White House, large numbers of Americans that have been unemployed for a very long time are shifted from the “unemployment” category to the “not in the labor force” category.  This has resulted in a steadily falling “unemployment rate” even though the percentage of the population that is actually working has not changed very much at all since the depths of the last recession.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” increased by 664,000 from April to May.  If you believe that, I have a giant bridge on the west coast that I would like to sell you.  The labor force participation rate is now down to 62.6, and it is hovering just above a 38 year low.

When you add the number of working age Americans that are “officially unemployed” (7.4 million) to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (an all-time record high of 94.7 million), you get a grand total of 102.1 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

Continue reading Worst Jobs Report In Nearly 6 Years – 102 Million Working Age Americans Do Not Have Jobs

Obama’s Jobs Fig Leaf Falls to the Ground

Paul Craig Roberts | Jun 03 2016

Employment Lies

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the US economy only created 38,000 new jobs in May and revised down by 59,000 jobs the previously reported gains in March and April.

Yet the BLS reported that the unemployment rate fell from 5.0 to 4.7 percent, a figure generally regarded as full employment.

The May jobs increase only covers a small fraction of the monthly growth in the labor force and, therefore, cannot account for the drop in unemployment.

Moreover, the BLS reported that the labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, bringing the decline to 0.4 percentage points over the past two months. Normally, a strong labor market, such as one represented by a 4.7% unemployment rate, causes an increase in the labor force participation rate.

The question becomes: How real is the 4.7% rate of unemployment?

The answer is: Not at all.

Continue reading Obama’s Jobs Fig Leaf Falls to the Ground

How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.

RIVERA SUN | MAY 30, 2016 | COUNTERPUNCH

White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942

In June 1942, a pair of German university students formed The White Rose, a German resistance movement that used a series of leaflets to decry Nazi militarism and call for an end to the war. Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell wrote the first four leaflets between the end of June and beginning of July.  In the fall, Hans’ sister, Sophie Scholl, discovered that her brother was one of the authors of the pamphlets, and joined the group. Shortly after, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and Kurt Huber became members.

More than twenty others offered technical support for printing, supplies of paper and ink, funding, and distribution of the leaflets.  These leaflets were left in telephone books in public phone booths, mailed to professors and students, and taken by courier to other universities for distribution. The fifth (and final) leaflet was produced in 6,000–9,000 copies, using a hand-operated duplicating machine.

Their activities were highly dangerous. One White Rose member later reflected:

Continue reading How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.

Austerity Needed to Provide CAD$100 Billion in Tax Cuts to Corporations & Higher Income Individuals

DUNCAN CAMERON | MAY 31, 2016 | RABBLE.CA

Pro-austerity organization finds austerity increases inequality

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In the June issue of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) publication Finance and Development, Jonathan D. Ostry, Deputy Head of the IMF Research Department, and two co-authors examine two main tenets of the neoliberal doctrine, and find them wanting.

Does it make sense to pay down debt? When the evidence is assessed it turns out this fiscal consolidation — code language for austerity — increases inequality.

According to its proponents (those named in the article are Jean-Claude Trichet the former Governor of the European Central Bank, and Alberto Alesina a Harvard economist lionized by the Fraser Institute) austerity is supposed to promote growth. The IMF team shows the inequality increases that result from austerity feed back into slower growth.

Pro-austerity measures, such as cuts to public services, hurt more than reduced debt payments help. This would not be news, except that it is the very pro-austerity IMF that is saying austerity has undesirable consequences.

When Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien brought in their 1995 austerity budget it increased inequality, homelessness, health-care wait times, and resulted in post-secondary tuition hikes.

Continue reading Austerity Needed to Provide CAD$100 Billion in Tax Cuts to Corporations & Higher Income Individuals