Tax Time: How Corporations Are Cheating Schoolchildren

Paul Buchheit | April 04, 2016 | Common Dreams

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‘It’s a devious double whammy: Taxpayers are giving money to the corporations and then paying a second time to meet the needs of the underfunded public schools.’ (Photo: OdysseyOnline)

Many of the largest U.S. corporations aren’t paying the state taxes that should be funding our schools. Kids are the victims. So are the average Americans who are forced to pay higher property taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes to meet educational budgets. Government and media sources would have us believe there’s no alternative, for in a market-driven world it’s heresy to make demands of big business, even when the companies are flagrantly avoiding their taxes.

Illinois: Schools Held Hostage by Just Six Corporate Tax Avoiders

The mayor and governor of Illinois are blaming each other for the Chicago Public School budget crisis, and Illinois colleges are in danger of being shut down. But Illinois lost over $1.3 billion (more than the $1.1 billion school budget shortfall) in 2015 state tax revenue to just six companies (Abbott, ADM, Boeing, Deere, Exelon, United), which together paid much less than 1% of their profits in state taxes, just pennies on the dollar for the required rate of 7.75%.

“Government and media sources would have us believe there’s no alternative, for in a market-driven world it’s heresy to make demands of big business, even when the companies are flagrantly avoiding their taxes.”

Continue reading Tax Time: How Corporations Are Cheating Schoolchildren

And this is When the Jobs “Recovery” Goes Kaboom

Wolf Richter | Wolf Street | March 16, 2016

A party pooper showed up

The future for employment looks bright. The gig economy is firing on all cylinders. The FOMC, in its statement concerning its interest rate decision today, was practically gleeful about employment and where it’s headed:

A range of recent indicators, including strong job gains, points to additional strengthening of the labor market.

The Committee currently expects that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market indicators will continue to strengthen.
Elsewhere, employment has been cited as one of the strong points of the economy. Companies have been hiring and creating jobs by the millions since the Great Recession, bringing total “non-farm employment,” as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from a low of 129.7 million in February 2010 to 143.6 million in February 2016. That’s nearly 14 million more employed folks!

A lot of them might be part-timers, and there are some with more than one part-time job, and some have been counted twice, and many people are mired in the vast category of the “working poor.” But some sectors in some parts of the country have been booming and adding jobs that pay well, for example the “tech” sector, which includes all kinds of app-companies that are actually just trying to sell something to consumers, such as a craft-brew delivery service or Uber.

Some of these “tech” companies, from startups to broken icons like Yahoo, are running into trouble and are axing jobs, and so some unease has invaded the tech sector, but other “tech” companies are still hiring. And per our most recent employment reports, the party goes on.

But in July 2014, a party pooper showed up. That’s when total business sales in the US peaked, according to Census Bureau data. Since then, total business sales, which include US sales of all companies, not just the largest in the S&P 500, have fallen 5%, to $1.296 trillion in January, about where they’d been two years ago!

This has been confirmed by Corporate America. Revenues of S&P 500 companies, based on their earnings reports as parsed by FactSet, fell 3.6% in 2015.

Yet, despite sales cascading lower for a year-and-a-half, total non-farm employment during the same period has risen by 4.48 million jobs.

Continue reading And this is When the Jobs “Recovery” Goes Kaboom

What’s in Store for the Real Economy

Wolf Richter | Wolf Street | March 15, 2016

There is no escape

The Census Bureau announced today that total business sales in January did what they’d been doing relentlessly for the past one-and-a-half years: they fell! This time by 1.1% from a year ago, to  $1.296 trillion, and by 5% from their peak in July 2014.

They’re now back where they’d been in January 2013. Sales are adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences, but not for price changes. And since January 2013, the consumer price index rose 2.8%! This is why the US economy has looked so crummy.

That’s bad enough. But it gets much worse.

Total business sales are composed of three categories: sales by merchant wholesalers (33% of total), by manufacturers (36% of total), and by retailers (30% of total).

Sales by merchant wholesalers took the biggest hit: they plunged 6.4% from January a year ago, to $433.1 billion.

Symptomatic for the lousy state of business investment, sales of professional equipment dropped 4.1% year-over-year, with computer equipment and software sales plunging 10.2%. Sales of electrical equipment, the largest category among durable goods, fell 5.0%. Sales of machinery fell 1.4%. And “misc. durable” sales plunged 8.6%.

The economy’s kick-butt, take-no-prisoners winner? Sales of drugs soared 11.0% to $53.6 billion. As we found out today via Express Scripts Drug Trend Report, those sales increases weren’t caused by people suddenly taking more drugs; they were caused largely by price gouging.

Continue reading What’s in Store for the Real Economy

Job Cuts Pile up

Wolf Richter | Wolf Street | March 31. 2016

And it’s reaching far beyond energy.

Turning points in the vast US labor market rarely come with a big drumroll that no one can miss. Instead, they wedge themselves into the rosy scenario bit by bit, here and there, posing contradictions where none are expected. And today, we got one of those contradictions: unemployment claims v. job-cut announcements.

The number of people who applied for unemployment insurance during the week of March 20 to 26 rose by 11,000 to 276,000, the Labor Department reported today. While up, these initial claims are still near the low of 253,000 established on March 5, which had been the lowest level since the late 1960s!

So even at 276,000, initial unemployment claims are still very low by historical standards. Red flags go up when claims jump well above 300,000. Serious fretting begins when claims hit 400,000. That’s a sign that laid-off people can’t find new jobs and are filing for unemployment insurance to tide them over. It’s a sign that layoffs by one company can no longer be absorbed by other companies.

Continue reading Job Cuts Pile up

Right Now There Are 102.6 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have A Job

Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse Blog | October 04, 2015

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The federal government uses very carefully manipulated numbers to cover up the crushing economic depression that is going on in this nation.  For the month of September, the federal government told us that 142,000 jobs were added to the economy.  If that was actually true, that would barely be enough to keep up with population growth.  Sadly, the truth is that the real numbers were actually far worse than that.  The unadjusted numbers show that the U.S. economy actually lost 248,000 jobs in September and the government added more than a million Americans to the “not in the labor force” category.  When I first saw that number I truly believed that it was inaccurate.  But you can find the raw figures right here.  According to the Obama administration, there are currently 7.9 million Americans that are “officially unemployed” and another 94.7 million working age Americans that are “not in the labor force”.  That gives us a grand total of 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.

That is not an economic recovery – that is an economic depression of an almost unbelievable magnitude.

This is something that my friend Mac Slavo pointed out the other day.  I encourage you to read his analysis right here.  If we measured unemployment the way that we did decades ago, we would all be talking about how similar Obama’s economy is to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

But instead we let the feds get away with feeding us this completely fraudulent “5.1 percent” unemployment number and most of us believe the mainstream media when they tell us that everything is just fine.

Continue reading Right Now There Are 102.6 Million Working Age Americans That Do Not Have A Job

Is This Class Warfare?

Mike Whitney | Counterpunch | March 30, 2016

Is there a conspiracy to keep wages from rising or is it just plain-old class warfare?

Check out these charts from a recent report by Deutsche Bank and see what you think:

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(Feeling Underpaid, Zero Hedge)

Well, what do you know? Everywhere the global bank cartel has its tentacles, wages are either flatlining or drifting lower.

“Coincidence”, you say?

Not bloody likely, I say. There’s either policy coordination between the various heads of state and their central banks or wealthy elites have secretly seized the levers of power and imposed their neoliberal dogma when no one was looking. Either way, it’s pretty easy to see the effects of “extraordinary monetary accommodation” on wages. It’s done absolutely nothing, which is why inflation has stayed in check. Because if wages aren’t rising, then inflation remains subdued which gives central bankers an excuse for launching another one of their trillion dollar QE programs that further enriches their crooked friends on Wall Street.

Yipee! More free money for Wall Street and the investor class!

See how it works?

Continue reading Is This Class Warfare?

23 Percent Of Americans In Their Prime Working Years Are Unemployed

The Economic Collapse Blog | March 27, 2016

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Did you know that when you take the number of working age Americans that are officially unemployed (8.2 million) and add that number to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force” (94.3 million), that gives us a grand total of 102.5 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? I have written about this before, but today I want to focus just on Americans that are in their prime working years. When you look at only Americans that are from age 25 to age 54, 23.2 percent of them are unemployed right now. The following analysis and chart come from the Weekly Standard

Here’s a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren’t (28.9 million):

Americans-In-Their-Prime-Working-Years-Not-Working-460x341

“There are 124.5 million Americans in their prime working years (ages 25–54). Nearly one-quarter of this group—28.9 million people, or 23.2 percent of the total—is not currently employed. They either became so discouraged that they left the labor force entirely, or they are in the labor force but unemployed. This group of non-employed individuals is more than 3.5 million larger than before the recession began in 2007,” writes the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee.

Clearly, we have never recovered from the impact of the last recession.

But let’s try to put these numbers in context.

Continue reading 23 Percent Of Americans In Their Prime Working Years Are Unemployed

Jobs Report Blues

Paul Craig Roberts | April 02, 2016

On Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were 215,000 new jobs in March.

John Williams of ShadowStats.com reports that these “new jobs” result from the the Birth-Death model that “artificially inflates headline month-to-month payroll gains with add-factors that currently average well in excess of 200,000 jobs per month.”

In other words, the jobs are the product of a model’s assumption that unreported new start-ups created 200,000 more jobs than unreported business failures lost.

To look at the jobs report in a different way, assume March did bring 215,000 new jobs and ask, “which sectors had jobs gains?” The answer is the same as has been the case since I began years ago reporting on the payroll jobs report:

Retail trade accounts for 47,700 of the jobs.

Health care and social assistance account for 44,000 of the jobs.

Waitresses and bartenders account for 24,800 of the jobs.

Manufacturing lost 29,000 jobs.

Continue reading Jobs Report Blues

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

Will Obama and Lame Duck Congress pass TPP Trade Deal?

Bud Meyers / March 26, 2016

Just imagine . . . it’s late at night on Christmas Eve and lightly snowing in Washington DC when President Obama calls for a special midnight session with Congress, while most Americans might be at home sleeping or wrapping presents. The very last thing on their minds was some newfangled international trade agreement. After all, the mainstream media (who’s been busy bombarding them with Holiday commercials for weeks) has hardly even acknowledged that such pending legislation for a trade agreement had even existed.

The last time many Americans had heard any real and meaningful discussion about the TPP trade deal on cable news was when MSNBC (which is owned by Comcast) still had their host Ed Schultz on the air. But the very next day he was fired from MSNBC after having Senator Bernie Sanders appear on his show on July 29, 2015. That was when they had discussed Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to offer a clear and concise opinion on the TPP trade deal. (A month before on June 26, 2016 Comcast executive vice president David Cohen had hosted a $2,700-a-plate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. It’s all a quinky dink, right?)

Here is exactly what Hillary Clinton told Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston in a TV interview on June 16, 2015 about fast-track (TPA), and the program for re-training displaced workers (TAA) and the Asian trade agreement (TPP). Hillary Clinton had only opposed the trade bill if it excluded the funding for re-training displaced workers (TAA). She clearly seemed to support both the TPP trade deal and fast-track, and was only taking a stand on assistance for displaced workers — which, at best, is only a mediocre program that does very little for millions of workers who lose jobs to foreign low-wage countries. Just two days before that interview, she was explaining how Obama should get fast track.

Continue reading Will Obama and Lame Duck Congress pass TPP Trade Deal?