Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
You’re blowing it with Fox News. The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you’ve cast your lot with the destructive people. Fox has become an incredibly destructive force in our society. You can be better, and this is going to be your legacy if you’re not careful.
I work three jobs. I own a house. I have a family to support. I am the 53%.
Almost everything we know about wages and prices tells us that the typical household has suffered a Lost Decade for market wages. Just as important, the price of necessities -- such as health care, a college education, a house, and energy to heat your home and run your car engine -- is growing faster than our incomes. [...]
CBO found that in the three decades between 1979 and the beginning of the Great Recession, real household income grew 60 percent overall. But it didn't grow evenly.
Among the poorest fifth of households, income grew 18 percent. For the next three quintiles, it grew just shy of 40 percent. For the richest fifth, it grew 65 percent. And for the top percentile, it grew by a whopping 275 percent, which means it nearly tripled. Bottom line: Income inequality exists.
Inflation for the period Jan. 1980 through Dec. 2007 was 170%, and that staggering figure excludes energy and food (which, if included would add roughly another 40% or so to the figure.)
By the way, those inequalities get worse once you account for taxes paid.
In other words, the 53% still made out better than the 47%, even after you account for the fact that the 47% paid no income taxes!
And the only reason the 53% made out better is because the top 1% made out like bandits.
So I ask again, why?
Why are you working three jobs just to keep up? Why wouldn't you rather work one job at a living wage and have more time to enjoy the finer things that wage provides.
Finer things, like kids, and family time, instead of rushing off to job number two or three.
Why are you angry at the people who have it even worse than you? Why aren't you angry at the people who have sucked up every spare bit of money lying around like a vaccuum cleaner and stuck it in their pockets, rather than provide a decent wage that allows you to work to live, not live to work?
Why aren't you mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
On Monday evening at Zuccotti Park, Mahfouz was eager to model the fiery disobedience with which she's inspired so many Egyptians. "Let's march!" she said after an hour-long question-and-answer session, grabbing an Egyptian flag and flashing the victory sign with both hands.
A few hundred demonstrators fell in line behind her and Maher, who gamely joined the English chants. The police allowed the march onto Wall Street itself, and at each corner the American leaders consulted an officer about the preferred route. Weary of the somewhat stilted slogans, which lacked the umph and rhythm of Egyptian chants, Mahfouz and Maher taught the crowd the iconic cry of the Arab uprisings: "Al shaab yurid isqat al nizam," or "The people demand the fall of the regime." The crowd adopted its own hybrid: "Al shaab yurid isqat Wall Street."
As they wound back to Zuccotti Park, demonstrators awaited a cue from the police before crossing Broadway. It was too much for Mahfouz. She stopped in the middle of the intersection, stopped traffic, pumped a fist in the air, and demanded the fall of Wall Street. Nervous demonstrators skittered to the sidewalk, leaving Mahfouz with just the cameras and a few dozen stalwarts who seemed willing to accept her invitation to be arrested.
When the federal income tax was first imposed in 1913, the richest 0.1 percent of households reaped 8.6 percent of the nation’s income. In 2007, as the recession began, the share going to that sliver of megarich Americans was 12.3 percent.
Those numbers suggest that the Occupy Wall Street protesters can make a compelling case when they complain that the economic scales are unfairly tilted toward the wealthy. The megarich hold more of the nation’s wealth and collect more of the overall income today than at any time since right before the Great Depression.
You remember the Great Depression, right? A time of massive famine in the land, of 25% unemployment, people selling moldy apples to try to make a buck to feed a family of four for a week (they needed to sell 20.)
Back then, it was massive dust storms that sent people packing from their homes, the Great Foreclosure by Mother Nature as her home was raped and pillaged by farmers who only knew how to grow, but not conserve. Today, it's foreclosures by banks, who only know how to lose money, not nurture family fortunes.
You say that you pay the taxes that the 47% do not, and to a degree, you have a point. Most of those people earn so little that they are exempt from income taxes, but not Social Security, Medicare, and other payroll taxes. Nor are they exempt from sales taxes, gas taxes (because, you know, they have to get to their shithole jobs that barely keep them afloat,) or any number of myriad ways that governments reach into our pockets without us even thinking twice.
Many of those people earn enough to pay income taxes, but get to take advantage of deductions and credits that society as a whole deem appropriate: dependent care credits, tuition credits, mortgage interest deductions, and so they don't get taxed twice on the same money, state and local income tax deductions.
So it's really disingenuous for you to imply that you resent "paying" their freight when millions of people are struggling with a kid in college and a mortgage and making money in a state that is deprived of a fair return on the money it fronts to the Federal government just so some mega-rich corn farming conglomerate in Kansas-- you know? The 1%?-- can get subsidies for growing what amounts to an almost nutritionally useless junk food.
Yet you defend that corporation, its board and managers, for taking even more out of the nation than the corn subsidy. You want them to be wealthier, and that's a noble cause, to be sure, IF they're going to give back to the community.
Give back not in the form of a cancer wing to the local hospital that amazingly treats precisely the kind of cancer they've just been diagnosed with, but in jobs and infrastructure improvements that can benefit everyone who works the shithole jobs that allow that corporation to make money hand over fist AND THEN grab enough subisidies and credits to offset ALL their tax liabilities.
It's funny how you'll whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine about the 47%ers who take advantage of the "small beer" tax credits and deductions to reduce a four of five figure tax bill, but you won't raise an alarm about the seven-, eight-, and nine-figure tax bills that are *poof* gone with a blow on the magician's hands.
You want to understand what Occupy is about? Get your head out of your ass. It ain't that hard to get.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame, "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Perry will propose a 20 percent flat tax rate for income taxpayers. But taxpayers will be allowed to stay under current rates if they choose.
It wasn't enough that Herman Cain's "Nein! Nein! Nein!" plan was soundly ridiculed by everyone from the National Review to any number of economists. Perry had to double down on teh stoopid.
“On Tuesday I will announce my ‘Cut, Balance and Grow’ plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity. The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents. This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.”
Perry continues, “We will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a “territorial tax system”—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income. … Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes. To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings. We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.”
Perry will also propose raising the Social Security retirement age.
Now, in fairness to Perry, there's some interesting wrinkles to his tax plan. For example, the Alternative Minimum tax was devised way back in the 1960s as a way to force the rich to pay their fair share of taxes (funny how often that pops up in American economic history.) It was never indexed for inflation, meaning that any hikes in the floor income level were done manually, such that now, if you live in a high tax state, own a home and have a couple of kids with both parents working, you likely are affected by the AMT. It really needs to be re-indexed at least, or eliminated altogether.
But here's the thing: a flat tax that maintains mortgage interest deductions, charitable contributions, and state and local tax deductions is not a flat tax any longer if those deductions are income-dependent.
In effect, all Perry is doing is lowering the top rate of taxation...WHILE RAISING THE BOTTOM RATE FROM 15% to 20%!
Plus, he's eliminating the Earned Income credit for low-wage workers, education and dependent care credits, which will force millions of people to pay more in taxes, those least able to afford to.
All while cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us.
I term this an Epic Fail.
Monday, October 24, 2011
A group of leaders from Houston is taking a stand against a proposed Confederate flag license plate for Texas.
“The Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “The brutality of slavery and it is a symbol of fear and intimidation.”
The specialty plate is sponsored by Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson on behalf of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“They make it sound as if there’s some brazen banner on the plate,” said member Frank Johnson. “It’s a three by three logo. It’s not the battle flag! It’s the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo.”
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ board tied during their first vote on the plates in April. The next vote is scheduled for November.
One hundred and fifty years ago, a band of idiots made the biggest, most monumentally egoistical mistake of their lives: they decided they were bigger than the United States of America.
I'm pretty sure we don't need to be reminded, in this day and age where morons like Mickey Mouse...I mean, Bachmann, and Rick "Let's Secede Again!" Perry are taken as serious Presidential contenders for even an eyeblink, that idiots abounded in our history like dinosaurs in the muck of an Alabama swamp. We see that in our very founding documents, where slaves are allowed and Negroes are considered 3/5 a person (if only corporations were so shabbily treated.)
The larger question, however, is why any rational government would stoop so low as to placate people who would honor hatred? Shall we have an "American Nazi" commemorative license plate? After all, no Jews in this nation died in domestic concentration camps, yet those poor babies were humiliated after the big bad DC government got into the war over in Europe and Japan.
What will it take for those small fringe groups of Americans to finally coalesce into the greater citizenry? Because for now, we probably ought to consider them outlaws.