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Cartoon: The populist menace

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How the Elite stay in power

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and what we can do to change that

 

Congratulations chumps! You are now on the hook for $303 Trillion in Derivatives

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wage slave

Congratulations chumps! You are now on the hook for $303 Trillion in Derivatives

Daily Kos 12/15/14

Before Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999, Wall Street was on the hook for bad bets with derivatives. During the real estate bubble the taxpayer was on the hook for these casino chips.

Then came the 2008 meltdown and Dodd-Frank was pushed through. The taxpayer was off the hook for six years. But now Congress rolled over for Wall Street and the taxpayer is on the hook again…..

Did Wall Street Need to Win the Derivatives Budget Fight to Hedge Against Oil Plunge?

naked capitalism 15 Dec 2014

Conventional wisdom among banking experts is that Wall Street’s successful fight last week to get a pet provision into the must-pass budget bill (or in political junkies’ shorthand, Cromnibus) as more a demonstration of power and a test for gutting Dodd Frank than a fight that mattered to them. But the provision they got in, which was to undo a portion of Dodd Frank that barred them from having taxpayer-backstopped deposits fund derivative positions, may prove to be more important than it seemed as the collateral damage from the 40% fall in oil prices hits investors and intermediaries….

 

Cromnibus Pension Provisions Gut Forty Years of Policy, Allow Existing Pensions to Be Slashed

naked capitalism 15 Dec 2014

The Kline-Miller amendment allows multi-employer pension benefits to be cut. Shouldn’t Warren Democrats be against that? ….

Wal-Mart is concentrated neoliberalism

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Shopping ’til we all drop at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is concentrated neoliberalism. From working to weaken government at the same time it gorges on government subsidies, to exploitation of its workforce, to moving production to the places with the lowest wages and weakest laws, to underpaying taxes, the workers who walked out on Black Friday have no shortage of targets.

Some of the latest findings in a just released report reveal that Wal-Mart dodges $1 billion a year in taxes and is the recipient of an estimated $6.2 billion a year in indirect subsidies through social-welfare programs such as food stamps. A separate report also just published documents the poverty of Wal-Mart workers, many of whom regularly skip meals because their pay is so low……..    read more here

 

The Rise of American Cannibals

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The Economist  Nov 6th 2014

A NEW paper by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics suggests that, in America at least, inequality in wealth is approaching record levels. The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until well after the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks to collapsing wealth among richer households, broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and almost the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.

Read the full article here

The baleful influence of corporate power

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CorporateEarth2

Over 100 years ago, it was a Republican who warned us about the baleful influence of corporate power on representative government.

Today the business once transacted by individuals in every community is in the control of corporations, and many of the men who once conducted an independent business are gathered into the organization, and all personal identity, and all individualities lost. Each man has become a mere cog in one of the wheels of a complicated mechanism. It is the business of the corporations to get money. It exacts but one thing of its employees: Obedience to orders. It cares not about their relations to the community, the church, society, or the family. It wants full hours and faithful service, and when they die, wear out or are discharged, it quickly replaces them with new material. The corporation is a machine for making money, but it reduces men to the insignificance of mere numerical figures, as certainly as the private ranks of the regular army.

from  The Texas Economic Miracle Is Killing People by Charlie Pierce

 

95% of Income gains going to top 1%

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from The Benefits of Economic Expansions Are Increasingly Going to the Richest Americans

NYT 09/26/14       [Some call it Capitalism- looks more like Cannibalism…..]

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The age of rentier capitalism (we’re more exploited than ever!)

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     from the article: “….once economic liberalization [Neo-Liberalism] took off in the 1980s, the struggle was won decisively by capital, and labor’s share of total income has shrunk everywhere.”

   

Similarly, Neo-Libs and Neo-Cons have dominated politically, leaving little room for any who support social-democracy or justice. Power has consolidated against people.

 

How intellectual property makes us more unequal

Al Jazeera September 7, 2014 

 

It is well known that globalization has put strong downward pressure on wages and benefits of workers in wealthy countries, as companies have offshored and outsourced labor to lower-wage locations and justified wage cuts to try to stay competitive. But politicians and economists have yet to come to terms with the fact that in the rich world the income distribution system itself has broken down irretrievably.

The 20th century was the only century in which most income was divided between capital (profits) and labor (wages), with the struggle for shares mediated by the state through regulations, fiscal policy and a system of social protection. But once economic liberalization took off in the 1980s, the struggle was won decisively by capital, and labor’s share of total income has shrunk everywhere.

Meanwhile, rental income, linked to the control of natural resources, property, financial assets and intellectual property, has become a dominant force in the global economy.

This is the age of rentier capitalism; rich countries are becoming rentier economies. A rising share of global income is going to rent, rather than to wages or profits from productive activities. This perpetuates inequalities: It disproportionately favors the wealthy, and accentuates inequality over generations.  read more here

 

TPP Investment Map: New Privileges for 30,000 Companies?

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  Public Citizen

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens so much of what we hold dear — this secret agreement will censor our Internet, send jobs overseas, undermine environmental regulations, and remove our most basic democratic rights.

Under previous presidential administrations, the United States signed a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that grant foreign corporations extraordinary rights and protections beyond the rights of domestic companies. A little-known FTA mechanism called “investor-state” enforcement allows foreign firms to skirt domestic court systems and directly sue governments for cash damages (our tax dollars) over alleged violations of their new rights before UN and World Bank tribunals staffed by private sector attorneys who rotate between serving as “judges” and bringing cases for corporations. Using this extreme system, corporations have sued the U.S. government in foreign trade tribunals for enacting laws or regulations that “interfered” with the corporations’ expected profits.  This “interference” has included essential environmental regulations, health laws, and domestic court decisions. These cases are not just threats to domestic U.S. policies. U.S. corporations have also used FTAs to attack public interest laws abroad.

If a corporation wins its private enforcement case, the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill. Over $380 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in a series of investor-state cases under U.S. FTAs. Of the nearly $14 billion in the 18 pending claims under U.S. FTAs, all relate to environmental, energy, public health, land use and transportation policies – not traditional trade issues.

The Obama administration is currently negotiating a sweeping new FTA called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — the first FTA negotiated by the Obama administration.  Despite Obama’s many campaign promises to scale down investor-state enforcement in trade agreements, the leaked investment chapter of the TPP reveals that the Obama administration intends to expand even further the extreme investor-state model of past FTAs. If passed, the TPP would grant thousands of corporations these extraordinary rights to sue governments over public interest policies for taxpayer compensation.

Below are the maps of the locations of multinational corporations that would get these new rights if Congress would pass the TPP.  More than 6,000 corporations with nearly 30,000 corporate affiliates would be able to use these rights, including over 300 financial services companies that could challenge essential financial sector regulations through investor-state provisions. These corporations could challenge the local zoning and environmental laws of your community, so zoom in using the “+” button to see which corporations are in your city.  Click on the dots to see the names of the corporations and their industry. The color of the marker indicates the country of the parent company. The red lines on the map are the borders of the districts of the U.S. House of Representatives. Click here for a full list of companies based in TPP countries that operate in the United States, sorted by congressional district.

[read the rest (and see the interactive graphic) here]

Wealth Inequality in America: perception and reality

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Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.

References:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2…
http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealt…
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011…
http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/news/…

Written by laudyms

April 28, 2014 at 1:37 pm