Fast-Growing Corporate Evils That Should Be Media Issues…and Campaign Issues

Paul Buchheit | August 01 2016 | Common Dreams

(Photo: teigan/cc/flickr)

Corporations are viewed as untouchable by big business media giants like the Wall Street Journal, which blurts out inanities likeIncome inequality is simply not a significant problem.” andMiddle-class Americans have more buying power than ever before.”

In the real world, inequality is destroying the middle class. The following four issues, all part of the cancer of corporatocracy, have grown in intensity and destructiveness in just the last few years. They should be campaign issues, given more than just lip service from corporation-funded candidates like Hillary Clinton, and given more than just passing reference in the news reports of an unresponsive, irresponsible mainstream media.

1. Monopolies: Increasing Prices, Cutting Jobs

The Busch/Miller merger is the latest attack on competition, joining the recent surge toward oligopolies in the banking industry, pharmaceuticals and hospitals, wireless companies, and airlines. Contrary to any condescending claims that mergers contribute to price-lowering efficiencies, they have actually led to price increases in 75 percent of examined cases, according to a Northeastern University study. The resulting corporate profits are often used for investor-enriching stock buybacks.

And jobs are cut. When Merck took over Cubist Pharmaceuticals, the latter’s research and development staff was eliminated, ending their studies of other promising medicines.

2. Finance: Now Costing Us More Than the Military

A Roosevelt Institute study estimates that “the financial system will impose an excess cost of as much as $22.7 trillion between 1990 and 2023. That comes to about $660 billion per year, more than the discretionary military budget. That’s over $5,000 per U.S. household in excess financial costs.

Continue reading Fast-Growing Corporate Evils That Should Be Media Issues…and Campaign Issues

Contradictions at the Kitchen Table: Sanders, Obama, and Clinton at the Democratic National Convention

Lambert Strether | July 29 2016 | Naked Capitalism

The “kitchen table” is a hoary political metaphor (“kitchen table issues”); it summons up a family, sitting round the kitchen table, looking at the wages that are coming in, and looking at the bills going out. In the days of pay envelopes, when everything was done on a cash basis, the wages might actually be distributed into envelopes, as my father did: So much for the mortgage, so much for the electric, so much for food, so much on that doctor’s bill, and maybe a little left over, for extra, to put in a coffee can in the middle of the table or on the sill of the kitchen window. Of course, with today’s fragmented and precarious work schedules, increased apartment dwelling, and the tendency of working people, especially poor people, to eat out because that saves time, the real life “kitchen table” hardly exists anymore. The kitchen table as an idea — the central household space where the working class family takes the exact measure of its material conditions — is as central as it has ever been. The kitchen table is also central to across all identities. Women, people of color, immigrants, GLBTQs, the religious: all, insofar as they are wage workers, have kitchen table issues, since they must all consider their material conditions as a prerequisite for anything else they might wish to do (“life, liberty, pursuit of happiness…”).

Given the centrality of the kitchen table issues[1] to the overwhelming majority of the American people, who are, after all, wage workers, one might assume that they would assume great prominence in the political life of the Republic. Oddly, or not (Givens and Page provide a clue why not) they do not. Perhaps it’s a difficult subject to have a “conversation” about. After all, the working class family can, with luck, control the expense side of the household balance sheet, but the income side of the balance sheet is not under their control at all; capital controls it. (Yes, it might be possible to risk leaving the $10.00 an hour job[1] to find one paying $12.00, but the $12.00 as such is no more under the individual worker’s control than the $10.00 was.) And so taking kitchen table issues seriously would require addressing power imbalances between capital, as such, and labor[3], as such, because the household balance sheet — the concrete material conditions discussed at the kitchen table — is the result of that balance. However, our political class seems incapable of taking anything seriously just now. As a superficial look the Presidential-level speeches at the Democrat National Convention will show!

Continue reading Contradictions at the Kitchen Table: Sanders, Obama, and Clinton at the Democratic National Convention

Growth of Income Inequality Is Worse Under Obama than Bush

Matt Stoller | April 11 2012 | Naked Capitalism

Yesterday, the President gave a speech in which he demanded that Congress raise taxes on millionaires, as a way to somewhat recalibrate the nation’s wealth distribution.  His advisors, like Gene Sperling, are giving speeches talking about the need for manufacturing.  A common question in DC is whether this populist pose will help him win the election.  Perhaps it will.  Perhaps not.  Romney is a weak candidate, cartoonishly wealthy and from what I’ve seen, pretty inept.  But on policy, there’s a more interesting question.

A better puzzle to wrestle with is why President Obama is able to continue to speak as if his administration has not presided over a significant expansion of income redistribution upward.  The data on inequality shows that his policies are not incrementally better than those of his predecessor, or that we’re making progress too slowly, as liberal Democrats like to argue.  It doesn’t even show that the outcome is the same as Bush’s.  No, look at this table, from Emmanuel Saez (h/t Ian Welsh).  Check out those two red circles I added.


Yup, under Bush, the 1% captured a disproportionate share of the income gains from the Bush boom of 2002-2007.  They got 65 cents of every dollar created in that boom, up 20 cents from when Clinton was President.  Under Obama, the 1% got 93 cents of every dollar created in that boom.  That’s not only more than under Bush, up 28 cents.  In the transition from Bush to Obama, inequality got worse, faster, than under the transition from Clinton to Bush.  Obama accelerated the growth of inequality.

Continue reading Growth of Income Inequality Is Worse Under Obama than Bush

Are We Witnessing an Obamacare Exodus?

Sean Williams | July 31 2016 | Motley Fool


It’s been more than two years since the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare,” was fully implemented, but the controversy surrounding the health law hasn’t died down one iota.

In one corner, supporters of Obamacare can rightly point to the lowest uninsured rates on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the uninsured rate as of the end of 2015 was just 9.1%, down 16% from the end of 2013, the year immediately preceding the implementation of Obamacare. Gallup’s Q1 2016 data shows an uninsured rate of 11%, down more than six percentage points from Q4 2013. Don’t forget that on top of the 11.1 million paying Obamacare customers enrolled in the marketplace exchanges as of March 31, 2016, there are nearly as many people who’ve gained access to medical care through the expansion of Medicaid programs in 31 states.

In the other corner are those who can be rightly critical of the program. Despite being told by President Obama that “you’ll be able to keep your doctor,” millions of Americans lost their primary care physicians and health plans because of beefed-up minimum benefit requirements. Additionally, many consumers aren’t too keen on the penalty associated with not purchasing health insurance.

However, premium inflation is arguably what’s drawing the most debate and ire surrounding Obamacare. A recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation of the lowest-cost silver plans in 14 major cities suggested that premium costs could rise by 11% in 2017.

And who do we find in the middle of this battle? Consumers and insurers.

Continue reading Are We Witnessing an Obamacare Exodus?

It’s as If They’re Trying to Lose: Democrats’ Optimism Ignores the Struggles of Millions

Jake johnson | August 01 2016 | Common Dreams

(Photo: The Globe and Mail)

Writing in 2008, months before the year’s presidential election, Ezra Klein — an ostensibly clear-headed, data-driven policy wonk — lavished effusive praise upon Barack Obama, praise that verged on the metaphysical.

“Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate,” Klein informed readers of The American Prospect. “He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.”

Though they so frequently congratulate themselves for their ability to jettison emotion and opinion in the service of objectivity and respectability, mainstream analysts often, as Klein did above, forget their self-professed role precisely when it would best serve the country.

For the eventual victory of Obama in 2008 was also — as Noam ChomskyAdolph Reed, and others noted at the time — a victory for the advertising industry: Obama’s success represented an astounding achievement for the politics of imagery and personality, for a political message that provides a kind of blank slate onto which voters can project their ideological preferences.

Having been enraptured by the brilliant oratory and soaring rhetoric, self-described wonks failed to notice that, behind this rhetoric, there was very little of substance.

Some, however, did get it.

“As far as political positioning goes, his strategy seems to be to appear as a sort of ideological Universalist, one who spends a great deal of rhetorical energy showing that he recognizes the validity of all points of view,” Matt Taibbi wrote of Obama in 2007. “His political ideal is basically a rehash of the Blair-Clinton ‘third way’ deal, an amalgam of Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and the New Deal; he is aiming for the middle of the middle of the middle.”

Continue reading It’s as If They’re Trying to Lose: Democrats’ Optimism Ignores the Struggles of Millions

U.S. is 240 Years Old and It Has Spent Over 469 Years Fighting Wars: List of U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad

will-rogersFrom Will Rogers:

“Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do. “

“I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – no nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one.”

Gen Smedley Butler
From Smedley Butler:
“War is a racket.  It always has been.  It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.  It is the only one international in scope.  It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.  A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about.  It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many.  Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.”


List of U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad

NameStartEndLength (yrs)NoteDomestic WarForeign War
Revolutionary War177517838YN
Chickamauga War1776179519YN
Northwest Indian War178517938YN
Whiskey Rebellion179117943YN
Quasi War179818002NY
First Barbary War180118054NY
US Occupation of West Florida181018101Less than 1 yearYN
1811 German Coast Uprising181118111Less than 1 yearYN
Tecumseh's War181118111Less than 1 yearYN
War of 1812181218153YY
Creek War181318141YN
Second Barbary War181518151Less than 1 yearNY
First Seminole War181718181YN
Texas-Indian wars1820187555YN
Arikara War182318231Less than 1 yearYN
Aegean Sea Anti-Piracy Operations182518283NY
Winnebago War182718271Less than 1 yearYN
First Sumatran Expedition183218321Less than 1 yearNY
Black Hawk War183218321Less than 1 yearYN
Second Seminole War183518427YN
Second Sumatran Expedition183818381Less than 1 yearNY
Patriot War183818381Less than 1 yearYN
Mexican-American War184618482YY
Cayuse War184718558YN
Apache Wars1851190049YN
Bombardment of Greytown185418541Less than 1 yearNY
Puget Sound War185518561YN
First Fiji Expedition185518551Less than 1 yearNY
Rogue River Wars185518561YN
Third Seminole War185518583YN
Yakima War185518583YN
Filibuster War185518583NY
Second Opium War185618593NY
Utah War185718581YN
Navajo Wars185818668YN
Second Fiji Expedition185918591Less than 1 yearNY
John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry185918591Less than 1 yearYN
First & Second Cortina War185918612YY
Palute War186018601Less than 1 yearYN
American Civil War186118654YN
Bombardment of Qui Nho'n (Vietnam)186118611Less than 1 yearNY
Yavapai Wars1861187514YN
Dakota War of 1862186218621Less than 1 yearYN
Colorado War186318652YN
Shimonoseki War186318641NY
Snake War186418684YN
Powder River War186518651Less than 1 yearYN
Red Cloud's War186618682YN
Siege of Mexico City186718671Less than 1 yearNY
Formosa Expedition186718671Less than 1 yearNY
Comanche Campaign186718758YN
U.S. Expedition to Korea187118711Less than 1 yearNY
Modoc War187218731YN
Red River War187418751YN
Las Cuevas War187518751Less than 1 yearYY
Great Sioux War of 1876187618771YN
Buffalo Hunter's War187618771YN
Nez Perce War187718771Less than 1 yearYN
San Elizato Salt War187718781YN
Bannock War187818781Less than 1 yearYN
Cheyenne War187818791YN
Sheepeater Indian War187918791Less than 1 yearYN
Victorio's War187918812NY
White River War187918801YN
Pine Ridge Campaign189018911YN
Garza Revolution189118932YY
Rio de Janeiro Affair189418941Less than 1 yearNY
Yaqui Wars1896191822YY
Second Somoan Civil War189818991NY
Spanish American War189818981Less than 1 yearNY
Philippine-American War189919023NY
Moro Rebellion1899191314NY
Boxer Rebellion189919012NY
Crazy Snake Rebellion190919091Less than 1 yearYN
Border War191019199YY
Negro Rebellion 191219121Less than 1 yearNY
Occupation of Nicaragua1912193321NY
Bluff War191419151YN
Occupation of Haiti1915193419NY
Sugar Intervention191619182NY
Occupation of the Dominican Republic191619248NY
Russian Civil War191819202NY
Posey War192319231Less than 1 yearYN
Korean War195019533NY
Vietnam War1954197521NY
Lebanon Crisis195819581Less than 1 yearNY
Bay of Pigs Invasion196119611Less than 1 yearNY
Simba Rebellion196419641Less than 1 yearNY
Dominican Civil War196519661NY
Communist Insurgency in Thailand1965198318NY
Shaba II197819781Less than 1 yearNY
Multinational Force in Lebanon198219842NY
Invasion of Grenada198319831Less than 1 yearNY
Tanker War198719881NY
Invasion of Panama198919901NY
Gulf War199019911NY
Somali Civil War199219953NY
Intervention in Haiti199419951NY
Bosnian War199419951NY
Kosovo War199819991NY
War in Afghanistan2001201615NY
Iraq War200320118NY
Haiti200420041Less than 1 yearNY
War in North-West Pakistan2004201612NY
Somalia Battle of Ras Kamboni200720071Less than 1 yearNY
2011 Military Intervention in Libya201120111Less than 1 yearNY
Jordan201220121Less than 1 yearNY
Turkey201220121Less than 1 yearNY
Chad201220121Less than 1 yearNY
Mali201320131Less than 1 yearNY
Korea201320131Less than 1 yearNY
War on ISIL201420162NY
Strait of Hormuz201520151Less than 1 yearNY
Intervention in Cameroon201620161Less than 1 yearNY
Totalover 469 years at war
Sources: Wikipedia
Encyclopaedia Brittanica

Since 1775, the U.S. Has Been At War With Someone Somewhere For 213 Out Of 242 Years (88% of its’ Existence)


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NDP Note (Also related to this post):

HONEST CAMPAIGN:  If Elected, I Promise To Give Trillions To The Rich, Spend Trillions On War, and Cut Everything for Working People





Deterrents to Terror that Very Rich People Can’t Comprehend

Paul Buchheit | July 26 2016 | Common Dreams

When you look out at the world from the deck of a luxury yacht, there is simply too much that you cannot possibly see. (Photo: Chris Nelson/flickr/cc)

As people gain in wealth, they depend less on others, and thus they have less reason to understand the feelings and needs of the less fortunate.

That makes it difficult to relate to people without jobs, and without proper housing, and without prospects for the future. It makes it difficult to understand that their states of deprivation and desperation can make them lash out against those they consider responsible for the injustices of extreme inequality.

The following are some of the reasons for violent ‘blowback’ reactions that are often called ‘terrorism.’ These reactions occur both globally and locally. By addressing them, we may be able to reduce some of the worst effects of our perverse wealth distribution.

Young Foreign Radicals Feel Cheated and Terrorized

Barack Obama said, “When millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future…resentments fester.”

But ISIS members are generally middle- or upper-class males in their 20s. Security expert Ömer Taspinar explains: “It is certainly true that breeding grounds for radicalism and terrorist recruitment emerge not necessarily under conditions of abject poverty and deprivation…It is precisely when people develop high expectations, aspirations and hopes for upward mobility that we have to pay more attention to the potential for frustration, humiliation and ideological radicalization.”

As a recent report by Mercy Corps put it, “Young people take up the gun not because they are poor, but because they are angry.”

Continue reading Deterrents to Terror that Very Rich People Can’t Comprehend


In case you were wondering, here are the top military contractors’ revenue and their corresponding subsidies for 2014 & 2015.

Surprisingly, in both 2014 & 2015, the individual subsidies are smaller than you might think; Boeing, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed-Martin are the only ones over the billion-dollar mark, which skews the total for the rest.

When you combine subsidies and loans/bailouts, General Dynamics tops the billion-dollar mark.

If the companies are diversified, like Boeing, then the subsidies represent the company’s overall business, which is more than just the Defense industry.

TOP 20 DEFENSE CONTRACTORS, 2014Source: Defense Systems Source: Good Jobs First - click on amount
RankTop Defense Companies
Defense Revenue 
(Fiscal 2013)
Subsidy Value (State/Local/Federal & Loans/Bailouts) over a number of years
1Lockheed Martin Corp.$10.402 billion$1,242,055,102 & $1,401,316,037
2Northrop Grumman Corp.$5.873 billion$1,033,786,317 & $456,264,000
3Raytheon Co.$5.016 billion$287,152,891 & $1,423,379
4Boeing Co.$3.585 billion$14,077,219,164 & $64,423,416,582
5General Dynamics Corp.$3.150 billion$462,551,498 & $610,997,248
6Hewlett Packard Co.$2.593 billion $1,196,418
7 DynCorp International Llc
$2.485 billionNot available
8Leidos Inc.$2.426 billion $2,426,906 & $20,511,523
9Booz Allen Hamilton$2.126 billion$165,844
10Fluor Corp.$2.079 billion$5,347,436 & $250,000,000
11L-3 Communications Corp.$1.600 billion$41,446,787 & $17,028,270
12ManTech International Corp.$1.501 billion $23,379,633
13CACI International Inc.$1.491 billion $770,939
14Computer Sciences Corp.$1.426 billion $64,696,225
15Exelis Inc.$1.350 billion $95,416
16BAE Systems Inc.$1.255 billion$260,099,106
17Harris Corp.$1.221 billion $80,476,616 & $32,148,472
18Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)$1.155 billion $77,111,252
19United Technologies Corp.$962 million $866,504,922 & $46,018,294
20Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.$837 million$225,677
Total$52.533 billion$82,523,836,342 ($82.52 billion)
TOP 10 U.S. DEFENSE CONTRACTORS (2015)Source: 24/7 Wall Street Source: Good Jobs First - click on amount
CompanyRevenueSubsidy Value (State/Local/Federal & Loans/Bailouts) over a number of years
Lockheed Martin Corp$40.13 billion$1,242,055,102 & $1,401,316,037
Boeing Co$29 billion $14,077,219,164 & $64,423,416,582
BAE Systems Inc.$25.45 billion $260,099,106
Raytheon Co.$22.23 billion $287,152,891 & $1,423,379
General Dynamics$18.56 billion $462,551,498 & $610,997,248
Northrop Grumman Corp$18.4 billion $1,033,786,317 & $456,264,000
Airbus Group$14.6 billion $159,235,137
United Technologies Corp$13.02 billion $866,504,922 & $46,018,294
Finmeccanica$10.56 billion $36,767,607 & $155,995,218
L-3 Communications Inc$9.81 billion $41,446,787 & $17,028,270
Total$201.76 billion$83,758,627,279 ($83.75 billion)


If you are interested a monthly list of DOD Funding Priorities by Christian Sorensen, you can find it at Sibel Edmonds’ site Boiling Frog Posts.  Every month, DOD contracts range in the billions of dollars.  For June 2016, the DOD spent $25,448,646,000+ on 292 individual contracts.


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NDP Note (Also related to this post):

HONEST CAMPAIGN:  If Elected, I Promise To Give Trillions To The Rich, Spend Trillions On War, and Cut Everything for Working People




U.S. is 240 Years Old and It Has Spent Over 469 Years Fighting Wars: List of U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad

Who Wants To Live Forever? The Rich, Of Course!

Motherboard | May 07 2013

Russian Billionaire Dmitry Itskov Plans on Becoming Immortal by 2045

Dmitry Itskov wants to live forever. The 32-year-old Russian billionaire and media mogul thinks he can do this by building himself (and everyone) an android body by the year 2045.

There are a few flaws to Itskov’s idea, but that hasn’t stopped more than 20,000 people from publicly supporting the site outlining his plan of using android bodies for immortality. Dubbed the 2045 Initiative, Itskov is selling his idea as the “next step” in human evolution, or “neo-humanity,” as he refers to it.

It doesn’t stop with android bodies, either. The 2045 folks are also calling for a new religion and set of ethics because they don’t believe any of the current ones can handle the societal implications of living forever—as most of the current ones have you dying first in order to achieve immortality.

Itskov has also gone ahead and registered his own political party in Russia called “Evolution 2045.”

But let’s back up a second. How exactly does Itskov plan to become immortal?

Continue reading Who Wants To Live Forever? The Rich, Of Course!


Dave Gilson | December 2013 | Mother Jones


Until Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) rode to the rescue this week, Pentagon brass and their allies had been issuing dire warnings about the nation’s military readiness: The armed services were being decimated, they said, by sequestration—the automatic budget cuts that were set to trim $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget over the next decade. “It’s one thing for the Pentagon to go on a diet. It’s another for the Pentagon to wear a straitjacket while dieting,”grumbled Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). The message got through: The House overwhelmingly approved the Ryan-Murray plan just two days after it was introduced.

But now, the Pentagon has once more gotten a reprieve from the budget ax: Under Murray and Ryan’s congressional budget deal, the Pentagon will get an additional $32 billion, or 4.4 percent, in 2014, leaving its base budget at a higher level than in 2005 and 2006. (The Department of Defense expects its total 2014 budget, including supplemental war funding, to be more than $600 billion.)