Published on Nov 6, 2013
Thom Hartmann talks about how the super-rich used our infrastructure and sent their profits overseas.
As they accumulate more and more wealth, the very rich have less need for society. At the same time, they’ve convinced themselves that they made it on their own, and that contributing to societal needs is unfair to them. There is ample evidence that this small group of takers is giving up on the country that made it possible for them to build huge fortunes.
1. They’ve Taken $25 Trillion of New Wealth While Paying Less Taxes
The 2013 Global Wealth Databook shows that U.S. wealth has increased from $47 trillion in 2008 to $72 trillion in mid-2013. But according to U.S. Government Revenue figures, federal income taxes have gone DOWN from 2008 to 2012. Even worse, corporations cut their tax rate in half.
Just how much have the super-rich taken over the past five years? Each of the elite 5% — the richest 12 million Americans — gained, on average, nearly a million dollars in financial wealth between 2008 and 2013.
2. For the First Time in History, They Believe They Don’t Need the Rest of Us
The rich have always needed the middle class to work in their factories and buy their products. With globalization this is no longer true. Their factories can be in China, producing goods for people in India or Europe or anywhere else in the world.
They don’t need our infrastructure for their yachts and helicopters and submarines. They pay for private schools for their kids, private security for their homes. They have private emergency rooms to avoid the health care hassle. All they need is an assortment of servants, who might be guest workers coming to America on H2B visas, willing to work for less than a middle-class American can afford.
The sentiment is spreading from the super-rich to the merely rich. In 2005 Sandy Springs, a wealthy suburb of Atlanta, stopped paying for most public services, deciding instead to avoid subsidizing poorer residents of Fulton County by hiring a “city outsourcer” called CH2M to manage everything except the police and fire departments. That includes paving the roads, running the courts, issuing tickets, handling waste, and various other public services. Several other towns followed suit.
Results have been mixed, with some of CH2M’s clients backing out or renegotiating. But privatization keeps coming at us. Selective decisions about public services threaten to worsen already destitute conditions for many communities. Detroit, of course, is at the forefront. According to an Urban Land Institute report, “more municipalities may follow Detroit’s example and abandon services in certain districts.”
3. They Soaked the Middle Class, and Now Demand Cuts in the Middle-Class Retirement Fund
The richest Americans take the greatest share of over $2 trillion in Tax Expenditures, Tax Underpayments, Tax Haven holdings, and unpaid Corporate Taxes.
The Social Security budget is less than half of that. Yet much of Congress and many other wealthy Americans think it should be cut. These are the same people who deprive the American public of $300 billion a year by not paying their full share of the payroll tax.
4. They Continue to Insist that They “Made It on Their Own”
They didn’t. Their fortunes derived in varying degrees – usually big degrees – from public funding, which provided almost half of basic research funds into the 1980s, and even today supports about 60 percent of the research performed at universities.
Businesses rely on roads and seaports and airports to ship their products, the FAA and TSA and Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to safeguard them, a nationwide energy grid to power their factories, communications towers and satellites to conduct online business, the Department of Commerce to promote and safeguard global markets, the U.S. Navy to monitor shipping lanes, and FEMA to clean up after them.
Apple, the tax haven specialist, still does most of its product and research development in the United States, with US-educated engineers and computer scientists. Google’s business is based on the Internet, which started as ARPANET, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency computer network from the 1960s. The National Science Foundation funded the Digital Library Initiative research at Stanford University that was adopted as the Google model. Microsoft was started by our richest American, Bill Gates, whose success derived at least in part by taking the work of competitors and adapting it as his own. Same with Steve Jobs, who admitted: “We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
Companies like Pfizer and Merck have relied on basic research performed at the National Institute of Health. A Congressional Budget Office study reminds us that The primary rationale for the government to play a role in basic research is that private companies perform too little such research themselves (relative to what is best for society).
5. As a Final Insult, Many of Them Desert the Country that Made Them Rich
Many of the beneficiaries of American research and technology have abandoned their country because of taxes. Like multinational companies that rationalize the move by claiming to be citizens of the world, almost 2,000 Americans, and perhaps up to 8,000, have left their responsibilities behind for more favorable tax climates.
The most egregious example is Eduardo Saverin, who found safe refuge in the U.S. after his family was threatened in Brazil, landed Mark Zuckerberg as a roommate at Harvard, benefited from American technology to make billions from his 4% share in Facebook, and then skipped out on his tax bill.
An Apt Summary?
Bernard Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot and member of the Forbes 400, had this to say about any American who might object to all the greed: “Who gives a crap about some imbecile?”
If you want to live the high life, you don’t have to become a rap star, a professional athlete or a Wall Street banker. All it really takes is winning an election. Right now, more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, and most of them leave “public service” far wealthier than when they entered it. Since most of them have so much money, you would think that they would be willing to do a little “belt-tightening” for the sake of the American people. After all, things are supposedly “extremely tight” in Washington D.C. right now. In fact, just the other day Nancy Pelosi insisted that there were “no more cuts to make” to the federal budget. But even as they claim that things are so tough right now, our politicians continue to live the high life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. The statistics that I am about to share with you are very disturbing. Please share them with everyone that you know. The American people deserve the truth.
According to the Weekly Standard, an absolutely insane amount of money is being spent on the “hair care needs” of U.S. Senators…
Senate Hair Care Services has cost taxpayers about $5.25 million over 15 years. They foot the bill of more than $40,000 for the shoeshine attendant last fiscal year. Six barbers took in more than $40,000 each, including nearly $80,000 for the head barber.
Keep in mind that there are only 100 U.S. Senators, and many of them don’t have much hair left at this point.
But hair care is just the tip of the iceberg. The following are 21 other ways that our politicians are living the high life at your expense…
#1 According to Roll Call’s annual survey of Congressional wealth, the super wealthy in Congress just continue to get much wealthier even though they are supposedly dedicating their lives to “public service”…
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is the richest Member of Congress for the second year in a row, reporting a vast fortune that in 2011 had a minimum net worth surpassing $300 million for the first time.
McCaul is followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who reported a minimum net worth of $198.65 million, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who reported a minimum net worth of $140.55 million. The two lawmakers swapped places since last year’s list.
The lawmakers who round out the top five, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), also flipped positions from 2010 to 2011, with Warner’s reported minimum worth rising about $9 million to $85.81 million and Rockefeller’s minimum worth rising slightly to $83.08 million.
#2 Amazingly, the 50th most wealthy member of Congress has a net worth of 6.14 million dollars.
#3 At this point, more than half of those “serving the American people” in Congress are millionaires.
#4 In one recent year, an average of $4,005,900 of U.S. taxpayer money was spent on “personal” and “office” expenses per U.S. Senator.
#5 Once they leave Washington, former members of Congress continue to collect huge checks for the rest of their lives…
In 2011, 280 former lawmakers who retired under a former government pension system received average annual pensions of $70,620, according to a Congressional Research Service report. They averaged around 20 years of service. At the same time, another 215 retirees (elected in 1984 or later with an average of 15 years of service) received average annual checks of roughly $40,000 a year.
#6 Speaker of the House John Boehner would bring home a yearly pension of close to $85,000 if he left Congress when his current term ends in 2014.
#7 At this point, quite a few former lawmakers are collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually. That list includes such notable names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.
#8 The U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollars a year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
#9 Nearly 500,000 federal employees now make at least $100,000 a year.
#10 During one recent year, the average federal employee in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.
#11 During one recent year, compensation for federal employees came to a grand total of approximately 447 billion dollars.
#12 If you can believe it, there are 77,000 federal workers that make more than the governors of their own states do.
Published on Jul 2, 2013
(Truthstream Media.com) During a discussion panel in Arizona State University’s Biotech department that took place on February 2, 2012, the inventor of genetically engineered edible vaccines joked about wiping out 25% of the population with a genetically engineered virus.
Dr. Charles Arntzen, head of The Biodesign Institute for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, responded to a question pertaining to whether feeding the 8 billion people of the world was worth it, or whether population reduction should be pursued.
The scientist quipped: “Has anybody seen ‘Contagion’? That’s the answer! Go out and use genetic engineering to create a better virus… 25 percent of the population is supposed to go in Contagion.”
Arntzen was the first to pursue an edible vaccine for use in the developing world while at the Boyce Thompson Institute in 1996 under funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. His signature delivery vehicle is the banana. He noted the possibilities for its use in both poor countries as well as the wealthier Western world: “Children of developing countries may not be the only beneficiaries of this new technology. Says Arntzen: ‘American kids will also probably prefer being vaccinated by an edible vaccine rather than by a needle.’”
Perhaps even more startling is the fact that Dr. Arntzen — and perhaps some of his colleagues in the room — developed the first effective, stable and storable synthetic Ebola vaccine capable of being stockpiled under grants from the Department of Defense and Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. According to a news report from Arizona State University: “If early efforts bear fruit, an Ebola vaccine could be stockpiled for use in the United States, should the country fall victim to a natural outbreak or a bioterrorism event in which a weaponized strain of the virus were unleashed on soldiers or the public.”
If not downright creepy and nihilistic, it is surely poor bedside manner to joke about depopulating the masses of the planet via an engineered virus when he and his department are actively involved in tinkering with such stuff.
The Ebola vaccine, while overtly for defensive measures, is the natural research companion to weaponized Ebola viruses that have been refined over the years by military researchers, including those in the United States, and classified as a Class A bioweapon.
Image Source : Anonymous ART of Revolution
We’re proud to collaborate with The Nation in sharing insightful journalism related to income inequality in America. The following post appeared first in Nation contributor Greg Kaufmann’s “This Week in Poverty” blog.
Congressman Paul Ryan recently said that Republicans “don’t have a full-fledged” plan to fight poverty “because we need to do more listening to people who are in the trenches fighting poverty.”
He had the perfect opportunity to do just that at a recent House Budget Committee hearing, “War on Poverty: A Progress Report,” which he chaired. California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee requested that Chairman Ryan allow Tianna Gaines-Turner — a mother and anti-poverty activist who has struggled with poverty and homelessness — to testify.
But Chairman Ryan balked.
“Ranking Member Van Hollen previously selected a witness to testify, and I won’t be able to make further additions to the witness list,” he wrote in a letter to Congresswoman Lee.
But the Chairman could have made additions to the witness list had he truly wanted to, he simply chose not to. He did, however, permit Gaines-Turner to submit written testimony.
The only problem with that is that written testimony normally sees about as much light of day as that old t-shirt with all of the holes that you keep in the back of your bottom drawer — the one you might take out again some day to workout in provided that no one you know is within ten miles of you.
Had the Chairman included Gaines-Turner at the hearing, this is what the American people would have learned:
Gaines-Turner and her husband both work and have three children — a nine-year-old son on the honor roll in 4th grade, and five-year-old twins who are entering kindergarten. All three of her children suffer from epilepsy and moderate to severe asthma.
She earns $10 an hour working part-time for a childcare provider, and her husband earns $8 an hour working the deli counter at a grocery store. They aren’t offered health insurance through work, and earn too much to qualify for medical assistance. She, too, suffers from asthma and writes that she “currently can’t afford to get an inhaler.”
Their children are covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and “take life-saving medication every day.”
“I worry about a day that might come where my children won’t be able to see a specialist because I can’t afford the co-pay.… Just like you want the best for your children I want the best for my children.”
She describes a time when their oldest son was hospitalized with seizures. She took off work to be with him while her husband took off to care for the twins.
“We were both unable to work, so we lost money that month, and ultimately had to make a choice — do we pay the rent or do we pay the light bill? Not to mention, how do we buy food…? Poverty is not just one issue that can be solved at one time. It’s not just an issue of jobs, or food, or housing, or utility assistance, and safety. It’s a people issue. And you can’t slice people up into issues. We are whole human beings.”
Gaines-Turner discusses a familiar story — low-income families working “two-to-three jobs to make ends meet,” with “wages so low and expenses so high” that sometimes work “may not be enough to even pay for the expense of child care.” She also describes what some call the “cliff effect” — when government assistance (such as child care) is taken away at the very moment someone begins to get ahead.
“Just when someone is moving forward, the rug is ripped out from under them. This cycle pushes people deeper into poverty than they were before they took the job. This system needs to change in order for people like myself to forge a better future for myself and my children, one where I will never need to turn to public assistance again.”
Like many of the Witnesses to Hunger I’ve had the opportunity to speak with, Gaines-Turner has particular expertise when it comes to food and nutrition issues. Witnesses to Hunger has chapters in four cities, including Gaines-Turner’s Philadelphia, where members use photography to document their experiences in poverty and learn to advocate for change on the local, state, and federal levels.
She describes families who “put their children to bed before dinner because there was nothing to eat,” and “others who look at food menus delivered to their door so they canimagine ordering dinner and trick themselves into thinking that they’ve eaten, when actually they haven’t eaten in days.” She says that most nights she and her husband “make our dinners on what is left over on our children’s plates — we call it ‘kids plate surfing.’ We are able to get by thanks to SNAP (food stamps) but we are not eating well.” Gaines-Turner argues against proposals to cut SNAP and offers data and her own every day experiences to make her case:
August 5, 2013
The House Budget Committee’s major hearing on poverty last week failed to include any person actually living in poverty, a move that upset lawmakers and advocacy groups alike. Instead, Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., encouraged victims of poverty to submit written testimony to the committee.
Now, Tianna Gaines-Turner, a woman living in poverty in Philadelphia, has submitted that testimony, and it’s a searing indictment of Republican policies and positions taken by Ryan in relation to the federal food stamp program, or SNAP.
“Chairman Ryan recently said that people need to get involved in their communities and help each other out, because getting together to help each other out is much better than government benefits,” she writes. “But, if you actually came into our communities, actually invited us to talk with you about what it’s like to be on government benefits, you would learn that government benefits are actually helping us stay healthy.”
Gaines-Turner, who is a member of the Witnesses to Hunger program, a program of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities at Drexel University that encourages parents in poverty to speak out about their experiences, describes working to support six children on her and her husband’s low-wage, part-time jobs, as they’ve been unable to get full-time employment. The federal food stamps program, she says, is what keeps her and her family from starving.
Published on Jan 22, 2013
Have you ever seen two people beg in the same subway car at the same time?
I’m sorry to trouble everybody but I’m trying to raise money for my next video: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr…
Produced by actor/comedian/jackass Gary Lee Mahmoud of Panhandler Party Productions, LLC. Special thanks to co-producer, editor, Padcaster inventor, and all around great guy Josh Apter at the Manhattan Edit Workshop.
Also thank you to Alex Grybauskas, Dennis Mitchell, and Alan Eisenberg at Refinery NYC. Thank you to Aida Artieda for her organizational skills and Alan Kudan for some amazing audio capture.
Great performances by: Jane Aquilina, Rob King, Jen Kwok, Nick Cobb, Andrew Ginsburg, Sean Allison, and Aguileo Ramos, Rigoberto Ramos, and Leopoldo Juarez of Mariachi Aguila y Plata!
And thank you to Josh Hyman, Elyse Brandau, Justin Hoch, Jessica Solce, Lauren Potter, Dan Jamieson, Dan Katz, Rishi Gandhi, and Jaime Ordonez for some great iPhone camerawork.
Panhandler Party creator (and actor) Gary Lee Mahmoud may be contacted at email@example.com. Other clips and reviews of his work can be found on his performance website at http://serfgary.com/Main.html.
Beijing (AFP) July 04, 2013 -
Xinxinyu, a domestic staff agency in the booming city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, provided wet nurses for newborns, the sick and other adults who pay high prices for the milk’s fine nutrition, the Southern Metropolis Daily said.
“Adult (clients) can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed,” the report quoted company owner Lin Jun as saying.
Wet nurses serving adults are paid around 16,000 yuan ($2,600) a month — more than four times the Chinese average — and those who were “healthy and good looking” could earn even more, the report said.
Traditional beliefs in some parts of China hold that human breast milk has the best and most easily digestible nutrition for people who are ill.
But the report sparked heated debate in the media and on Chinese social media, with most users condemning the service as unethical.
“This adds to China’s problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China’s rich,” said Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in various Chinese media, on his blog.
Xinxinyu has been ordered to suspend its operations and had its business licence revoked for multiple reasons including missing three years of annual checks, regulators in Shenzhen told AFP on Thursday, although the wet nurse service was not among the factors they cited.
Company officials could not be reached for comment by AFP.
There were nearly 140,000 postings on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, on the topic by Thursday afternoon.
In an online poll, almost 90 percent of participants voted against the service, saying it “violated ethical values”, a fraction over 10 percent deemed it a “normal business practice”.
“People become perverts when they are too rich and tired of other forms of entertainment. This is disguised pornography,” said a user with the online handle ricky_gao.
White Lotus, another weibo writer, said: “Please do not force motherhood to lose its grace and become ridiculous.”
Other postings voiced cynical approval.
“It’s just a business, nothing to blame it for,” said A Xiao Shuai. “People are insensitive about ethics when there is money on the table.”
Among the general population in China breastfeeding rates are low — just 28 percent according to a 2012 UNICEF report — due to time limits on maternity leave and aggressive marketing of formula.