Category Archives: Paul Buchheit

5 Ways NOT To “Make America Great Again.” And One Way To Do It

Paul Buchheit | March 28, 2016 | Common Dreams

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(Image: Photo detail/Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Image)

Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.

The visions of “greatness” coming from America’s political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the ‘exceptional’ people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society.

1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us

Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Government doesn’t listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, “The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues…[Young people] don’t even know that we are the only major country without healthcare for all. They don’t know that in Germany or in Scandinavia college is free…Media is not telling them that…If you talk about the real issues and people get educated on the real issues, you know what happens next? They actually may want to bring about change.”

2. Sell Arms to 96 Countries

As we continue to spend half our discretionary budget on the military, one of five U.S. children live in food insecure households. President Obama said, “They are not very good at feeding their people, but they invest a huge amount in their weapons.” He was talking about North Korea.

It would seem unthinkable, with fears of terrorism and new Middle East wars, to keep shipping arms to half the world, to countries where failed insurgencies leave weapons in the hands of the people who hate us. But according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 nations in the past five years. Here again our political leaders ignore us. Most voters favor defense cuts, but most politicians don’t.

Continue reading 5 Ways NOT To “Make America Great Again.” And One Way To Do It

Unsure About Socialism? Here’s More Evidence That Capitalism Is Killing America

by Paul Buchheit | March 14, 2016 } Common Dreams

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(Photo: wildwise studio/flickr/cc.)

A recent Gallup poll found that less people would vote for a socialist than for an atheist, a Muslim, or an evangelical Christian. Media-numbed Americans still believe that “government is the problem.” Yet evidence keeps pouring in that free-market capitalism treats public safety as a profit-killer, dismisses environmental issues as irrelevant to business, and eliminates jobs to please investors.

Reports from the past six months show that the ongoing record of capitalist greed and irresponsibility has plunged to new lows.

1. Mocking Public Health and Safety

It’s disturbing enough that Volkswagen and Ford and General Motors and other auto companies rigged emissions tests and took safety shortcuts to save money; and that the Southern California Gas Co. lied about its poisonous sulfur levels; and that Exxon was found to be hiding its own climate change research for four decades; and that tens of thousands of government-subsidized abandoned mines have been left to pollute our waterways.

Continue reading Unsure About Socialism? Here’s More Evidence That Capitalism Is Killing America

In Bed with a Nation-Wrecker: 5 Ways Hillary Is As Bad As Bill

by Paul Buchheit, published February 29, 2016 at Common Dreams

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Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton. (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

In 1996 Bill Clinton referred to the U.S. as “the world’s greatest force for peace and freedom, for democracy and security and prosperity.”

For PEACE he cluster-bombed civilians in Yugoslavia, wiped out a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, and stood by as Iraqi sanctions and Rwandan genocide killed hundreds of thousands of people.

For FREEDOM he oversaw the largest increase in prison population in U.S. history, with the great majority of prisoners in for nonviolent drug offenses, and with more people working in criminal justice than in social services.

For DEMOCRACY he backed NAFTA, which allowed corporations to undermine local governments with lawsuits against public health and environmental and food safety laws.

For SECURITY he dismantled the safety net for families with children, leading to a dramatic increase in extreme poverty in the U.S.

Continue reading In Bed with a Nation-Wrecker: 5 Ways Hillary Is As Bad As Bill

Why We Need Democratic Socialism to Fix Our Educational System

by Paul Buchheit, published February 22, 2016 at Common Dreams

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Rural schoolroom, Wisconsin, September 1939. (Photo: Archive/John Vachon)

Latoya and Jalesa, both 26, grew up on the west side of Chicago, attending Calhoun Public School during the day and stepping across the street to Marillac Social Center for after-school programs. They lived in a tough neighborhood. Latoya said the summer gunshots came as often as the sound of ice-cream truck bells in the suburbs. But everyone knew each other on those two blocks; kids walked together, to and from school and in the evenings. Parents—most of whom had gone to Calhoun—also knew each other, often through volunteer work at the social center.

In 2013 Calhoun was one of 50 schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It was shut down despite a committee recommendation that it remain open. Jalesa and Latoya, who still work at the center as they pursue other career interests, said the children are scattered now. Most of them take buses to a variety of public and charter schools outside the once-intimate neighborhood. Some have to walk a few blocks, some have to cross busy streets. None of them gather together before and after school, as they used to do on the grounds of Calhoun.

K-12 Education is Getting Worse

A shocking new OECD report says that among developed countries the U.S. has the highest percentage of youths ages 16-19 with low numeric skills, and the 3rd-highest percentage with low literacy skills.

SAT scores in 2015 were the lowest since the test was revised in 2005. Math scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders dropped for the first time since the tests were first administered in 1990.

Market “Reform” Isn’t Working

The unsatisfactory results, according to the Washington Post, “reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts.”

Continue reading Why We Need Democratic Socialism to Fix Our Educational System

5 Reasons the Top Tax Rate Should Be 80 Percent

by Paul Buchheit, published February 15, 2016 at Common Dreams

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(Photo: Ken Teegardin/cc/flickr)

5 Reasons the Top Tax Rate Should Be 80%

It came up in the Republican debate again, the curious notion that striving for less inequality is somehow a form of “class warfare.” The implication is that the richest people earned everything they have through their own initiative and hard work. But most of them have exploited an American financial system that has facilitated the transfer of our national wealth to the people who manage that wealth.

Informed Americans understand that an economic war has been waged against the middle and lower classes. As a result, there are at least five good reasons why the tax rate on the upper classes should be MUCH higher.

1. Massive Redistribution Has Occurred. Upward.

Total U.S. wealth increased by a stunning 60 percent since 2009, from $54 trillion to $86 trillion, but 3/4 of that massive increase went to the richest 10% of Americans. According to the New York Times, the wealthiest Americans have formed an “income defense industry” to shelter their riches, with, “a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.” From 2003 to 2012 the average income tax rate paid by the richest 1% went down, while for the 99% it went up.

2. Subsidies to the Rich are SIX Times Greater Than Subsidies to the Poor

The cost of the entire Safety Net is only about ONE-SIXTH of the $2.2 trillion in tax expenditures, tax underpayments, tax havens, and corporate nonpayment, the great majority of which went to the richest Americans.

3. The Super-Rich are the Main Beneficiaries of Our Nation’s Prosperity

All the technology in our phones and computers started with government research at the Defense Department, the National Science Foundation, the Census Bureau, and public universities. The Internet made possible the quadrillion-dollar trading capacity of the financial industry. Google is using some of its billions to buy technologies that were built by DARPA with our tax dollars. Pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t exist without money from the taxpayers, who have provided support for decades through the National Institutes of Health, and still pay over 80 percent of the cost of basic research for new drugs and vaccines. Big firms use intellectual property law (another gift from the taxpayers) to snatch up patents on any new money-making products, no matter how much government- and university-funded research went into it.

Continue reading 5 Reasons the Top Tax Rate Should Be 80 Percent

Who the Election Should Be For: The 7 Most Beaten-Down Americans

by Paul Buchheit, published February 08, 2016 at Common Dreams

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The election should be about the economy—but the economy of average Americans, not of establishment wealth.’ (Photo: Getty)

Wealthy Americans are afraid of too much change, the kind that might occur with a Democratic Socialist as president. But it’s too late for gradual change. Only a popular uprising against big business greed can restore a semblance of normalcy to our perversely unequal society.

The election should be about the economy—but the economy of average Americans, not of establishment wealth. The election should be about these beaten-down groups of Americans:

The Black American

“I cringed when people would ask me where I lived… Just to say ‘public housing’ was basically saying that you’re dirty, you’re bad, you’re dumb, you’re lazy, you’re a problem.”Shana Griffin, New Orleans activist

Emergency home repairs? Not for black families. The average African American family had readily available liquid wealth of only $200 in 2011, less than $1 for every $100 owned by whites.

Continue reading Who the Election Should Be For: The 7 Most Beaten-Down Americans

Our Jobs Are Disappearing

by Paul Buchheit, published February 01, 2016 at Common Dreams

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We need a new paradigm,” writes Buchheit. “We need guaranteed jobs. We need a guaranteed income to ensure that the benefits of 60 years of U.S. prosperity go to all Americans.”

Americans are feeling the impoverishing effects of the shift from middle-income to low-income jobs. The disappearance—or, more accurately, downsizing—of living-wage jobs is documented by numerous reports that reveal the suddenness and the extent of this affront to middle America.

First, the Neoliberal Explanation: It’s Not Really Happening

Business writer Robert Samuelson calls the post-recession low-wage recovery a “myth.” To support his claim he cites a study from the Economic Policy Institute which, according to Samuelson, proves that “the economy’s employment profile—the split between high- and low-paying jobs—hasn’t changed much since the recession or, indeed, the turn of the century.”

But the EPI analysis is based on average wages within industries, rather than on the median, which reflects unequal growth. If the median had kept up with the average over the past 15 years, the current median wage would be $1/hour higher, or about $2,000 per year. The employment profile has actually changed a great deal since the year 2000.

Continue reading Our Jobs Are Disappearing

The Great Potential of Poor Americans And How Plutocrats Just Want Them to Go Away

by Paul Buchheit, published January 25, 2016 at Common Dreams

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n this Jan. 9, 2016 file photo, Michigan State Representatives Shelton Neeley, left, and Phil Phelps, right, address people during a rally to talk about the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Ever since the full extent of the Flint water crisis emerged, one question has loomed above all others: Would this have happened in a wealthier, whiter community? (Photo: Sean Proctor/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP, File)

There’s plenty of evidence to support the work ethic of poor people.

Almost 63 percent of America’s work-eligible poor are working. Many of the remainder are plagued by a real unemployment rate that is two to five times higher than the official rate, as Congress has continually thwarted job creation proposals.

Immigrants comprise 13 percent of the population, but make up 28 percent of the small business owners.

Poor families don’t waste money. Two-thirds of their income is consumed by housing, food, transportation, health care, and insurance.

A study of 18 European countries found “increasing employment commitment as social spending gets more generous” — in other words, dividend payments encourage people to work harder, rather than the other way around.

Congress Ignores the Value of Average Americans

Continue reading The Great Potential of Poor Americans And How Plutocrats Just Want Them to Go Away

The Real Terrorists: The .01%

by Paul Buchheit, published January 11, 2016 at Common Dreams

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“The .01% go about their self-serving tax avoidance while 2.5 million children experience homelessness every year,” writes Buchheit. “The corporations of the .01% hoard hundreds of billions overseas while nearly two-thirds of American families don’t have enough money to replace a broken furnace.” (Image: Public domain)

They consist of 16,000 individuals, about the size of a crowd at a professional basketball game. The inequality horror they’ve fomented is reaching far beyond the half of America that is in or near poverty, for it now impacts those of us well above the median, those of us in the second highest of four wealth quartiles.

1. The .01% Have as Much Wealth as 80% of America

The combined net worth of the 16,000 richest Americans is approximately the same as the total wealth of 256,000,000 people. Details for this statistic and other facts to follow are at You Deserve Facts.

2. Americans with up to a Quarter-Million Dollars are Part of the Nearly 80% of Americans with Less Wealth Than the .01%

The 80% includes all Americans with a net worth up to about $277,000.

3. The .01% Own about as Much as 75% of the Entire World

The world’s poorest 75% own roughly 4 percent of total global wealth, approximately the same percentage of wealth owned by the .01% in the United States. Again, calculations are shown here.

4. The .01% – Who Are They?

It starts with the billionaires, the Forbes 400 and 136 more, for a total of 536 individuals with a total net worth of $2.6 trillion at the end of 2015.

Continue reading The Real Terrorists: The .01%

Three Middle-Class-Killing Industries for 2016

by Paul Buchheit, published January 4, 2016 at Common Dreams

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People are seen waiting in line to meet with recruiters during a job fair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: AP/file)

Capitalist enterprises have little incentive to work for ordinary people, and instead they do whatever is necessary to enrich the owners of their corporate stock. Choosing the leading job-killing industry is a difficult task with so many candidates. But technology, pharmaceuticals, and the “sharing economy” are clearly in the running.

The companies in the spotlight are specialists in the disdainful business practices that permeate their industries.

1. Big Pharma: Spotlight on Pfizer

Blowing Off Taxes: Pfizer had nearly half of its sales in the U.S. over the past three years, yet claimed losses in the U.S. along with $50 billion in foreign profits. Despite paying an effective tax rate of just 7.5 percent in 2014, and despite being one of the nine pharmaceutical companies among the top 30 Fortune 500 firms in offshore tax hoarding, Pfizer CEO Ian Read complained that U.S. taxes had his company fighting “with one hand tied behind our back.” So now his company is preparing to avoid even more taxes by merging with Allergan in what the Wall Street Journal calls the “largest so-called inversion ever.”

Taking from Taxpayers: Even more incredibly, Pfizer’s tax avoidance occurs in an industry that receives most of its basic research funding from the taxpayers, and which spends almost $20 on marketing for every dollar spent on R&D.

Spending on Itself: From 2001 to 2015 Pfizer spent an astounding 117 percent (!) of its income on investor-enriching stock buybacks and dividends, while slashing its post-recession employee base from 110,000 to 78,000. Continue reading Three Middle-Class-Killing Industries for 2016