Tag: plutocracy

Jul 04

The Declaration of Political Independence

(My apologies to Thomas Jefferson)

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the citizen long guaranteed by our Constitution, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to that separation.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all humans are created equal, and that the People of the United States of America are endowed not only with certain unalienable rights, but also with certain rights and liberties given to them by the Founding Fathers via the Constitution of the country adopted at the birth of these United States, as well as via laws passed throughout the past 239 years. That to secure these rights and liberties, the Government has been instituted among people, deriving their power from the consent of the governed, and that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it.

Mar 24

TBC: Morning Musing 3.24.15

I have 4 things for your perusal this morning.

First, on the FISA Court:

To Protect Our Privacy, Make the FISA Court Act Like a Real Court

The expiration of key surveillance authorities this spring will force Congress to grapple with the sprawling spying activities exposed by Edward Snowden. Defenders of the status quo sound a familiar refrain: The National Security Agency’s programs are lawful and already subject to robust oversight. After all, they have been blessed not just by Congress but by the judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or FISA court.

When it comes to the NSA’s mass surveillance programs, however, the FISA court is not acting like a court at all. Originally created to provide a check on the executive branch, the court today behaves more like an adjunct to the intelligence establishment, giving its blanket blessing to mammoth covert programs. The court’s changed role undermines its constitutional underpinnings and raises questions about its ability to exercise meaningful oversight.

Jump!

Oct 25

Plutocracy: “The Remains of the Old USA”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Plutocrats Want to Own Your Vote

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winsap

The new Gilded Age is roaring down on us — an un-caged tiger on a rampage. Walk out to the street in front of our office here in Manhattan, look to the right and you can see the symbol of it: a fancy new skyscraper going up two blocks away. When finished, this high rise among high rises will tower a thousand feet, the tallest residential building in the city.

The New York Times has dubbed it “the global billionaires’ club” — and for good reason. At least of two of the apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each. Others, more modest, range in price from $45 million to more than $50 million. The mega-rich have been buying these places “looking for a place to stash their cash,” a realtor from Sotheby’s explained to the Times. “A lot of what is happening,” she said, “… is about wealth preservation.”

Simultaneously, the powers-that-be have just awarded Donald Trump the right to run a golf course in the Bronx, which taxpayers are spending at least $97 million to build — what “amounts to a public subsidy,” says the indignant city comptroller, “for a luxury golf course.” Good grief — a handout to the plutocrat’s plutocrat.

This, in a city where economic inequality rivals that of a third-world country. Of America’s 25 largest cities, New York is now the most unequal. The median income for the bottom 20 percent last year was less than $9,000, while the top one percent of New Yorkers has an average annual income of $2.2 million. [..]

It’s snowballing. Timeshare king David Siegel of Westgate Resorts reportedly has threatened to fire employees if Barack Obama is re-elected and Arthur Allen, who runs ASG Software Solutions, emailed his employees, “If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come.”

Back in the first the Gilded Age, in the 19th century, bosses in company towns lined up their workers and marched them to vote as a bloc. Now, the Gilded Age is back , with a vengeance. Welcome to the plutocracy — the remains of the ol’ USA.

Oct 25

Bill Moyers: Power & Privileges of the One Percent

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Matt Taibbi, contributing editor of Rolling Stone, and journalist Chrystia Freeland, author of the new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, joined Bill Moyers for a discussion on how the super wealthy use their increasing wealth to fund political candidates who will serve their interests.

Example: Goldman Sachs, which gave more money than any other major American corporation to Barack Obama in 2008, is switching alliances this year; their employees have given $900,000 both to Mitt Romney’s campaign and to the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. Why? Because, says the Wall Street Journal, the Goldman Sachs gang felt betrayed by President Obama’s modest attempts at financial reform. [..]

“We have this community of rich people who genuinely believe that they are the wealth creators and they should get every advantage and break,” Taibbi tells Bill. “Whereas everybody else is a parasite and they’re living off of them”

Freeland adds, “You know, 2008 is not so long ago, and already, the anti-regulation chorus is so strong. How dare they have the gall to actually argue that too much regulation of American financial services is what is killing the economy?”

Ms. Freeland also penned an interesting article at Huffington Post on the problems of plutocrats in the late nineteenth century and how it compares with today’s plutocracy problem:

Henry George is the most famous American popular economist you’ve never heard of, a 19th century cross between Michael Lewis, Howard Dean and Ron Paul. Progress and Poverty, George’s most important book, sold three million copies and was translated into German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, Russian, Hungarian, Hebrew and Mandarin. During his lifetime, George was probably the third best-known American, eclipsed only by Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. He was admired by the foreign luminaries of the age, too — Leo Tolstoy, Sun-Yat Sen and Albert Einstein, who wrote that “men like Henry George are unfortunately rare. One cannot image a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice.” George Bernard Shaw described his own thinking about the political economy as a continuation of the ideas of George, whom he had once heard deliver a speech. [..]

What George found most mysterious about the economic consequences of the industrial revolution was that its failure to deliver economic prosperity was not uniform — instead it had created a winner-take-all society: “Some get an infinitely better and easier living, but others find it hard to get a living at all. The ‘tramp’ comes with the locomotives, and almshouses and prisons are as surely the marks of ‘material progress’ as are costly dwellings, rich warehouses and magnificent churches. Upon streets lighted with gas and patrolled by uniformed policeman, beggars wait for the passer-by, and in the shadow of college, and library, and museum, are gathering the more hideous Huns and fiercer Vandals of whom Macaulay prophesied.”

George’s diagnosis was beguilingly simple — the fruits of innovation weren’t widely shared because they were going to the landlords. This was a very American indictment of industrial capitalism: at a time when Marx was responding to Europe’s version of progress and poverty with a wholesale denunciation of private property, George was an enthusiastic supporter of industry, free trade and a limited role for government. His culprits were the rentier rich, the landowners who profited hugely from industrialization and urbanization, but did not contribute to it. [..]

America today urgently needs a 21st century Henry George — a thinker who embraces the wealth-creating power of capitalism, but squarely faces the inequity of its current manifestation. That kind of thinking is missing on the right, which is still relying on Reagan-era trickle-down economics and hopes complaints about income inequality can be silenced with accusations of class war. But the left isn’t doing much better either, preferring nostalgia for the high-wage, medium-skill manufacturing jobs of the post-war era and China-bashing to a serious and original effort to figure out how to make 21st century capitalism work for the middle class. [..]

We are living in an era of comparably tumultuous economic change. The great challenge of our time is to devise the new social and political institutions we need to make the new economy work for everyone. So far, that is a historic task neither party is taking on with enough energy, honesty or originality.

Oct 25

It’s The End Of The Internet As We Know It (And Orrin Hatch Feels Fine)

Cross-posted to CandyBullets, MyLeftWing, The Stars-Hollow Gazette and firefly-dreaming

If you follow my website (CandyBullets) you’re probably well aware of the threat posed by the “IP PROTECT ACT” known more commonly as the Internet Blacklist bill. You’re may also be aware that this bill was recently halted in the Senate by the true Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who prevented the bill from coming up for a vote in the Senate (where it would doubtless pass) however a House version will be introduced this week with help of Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — probably tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with this bill then I suggest you become acquainted (the full text of the bill may be found here.)

Mar 30

How Naomi Klein can help save the world

What follows is an email I sent to Naomi Klein, today, requesting permission to freely reproduce “The Shock Doctrine”. In a nutshell, teachers could distribute a serialized version to students after school, from the the comfort of a public sidewalk where they have First Amendment rights. They would do this, hopefully, not just out of concern for their own livelihoods, but for a broader concern for stimulating deep reform in the US.

Mar 27

Faux Democracy

“The government did not want the people to communicate with each other, and it did not want the press to communicate with the public.”–Hillary Clinton speaking about Egypt at an Internet Freedom seminar, while a 71 year old man who had been standing quietly with his back to her was dragged out before her eyes.

Mar 13

Anonymous: Operation Empire State Rebellion

* We are a decentralized non-violent resistance movement, which seeks to restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.

* One-tenth of one percent of the population has consolidated wealth in unprecedented fashion and launched an all-out economic war against 99.9% of the population.

* We are not affiliated with either wing of the two-party oligarchy. We seek an end to the corrupted two-party system by ending the campaign finance and lobbying racket.

* Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlement and World Bank.

* We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.

* As a first sign of good faith we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman.

* Until our demands are met and a rule of law is restored, we will engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience.

* In our next communication we will announce Operation Empire State Rebellion.

“heh, to the indeedy.”

Feb 22

The plutocrats could use a good knee-capping.

Charles Blow of the New York Times has noticed that great sucking sound of our decadent empire in decline, and says, “It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country,” because among industrialized countries “we are among the worst of the worst.”  

Zoinks, Scoob!  It used to be that Americans didn’t want to know the truth, and the media had the courtesy not to tell us.

As for the cause of this decline to this “worst of the worst” status, Blow references “an increasingly cut-throat global economy” and shows an IMF chart indicating that the US has one of the highest Gini indices (i.e., measures of inequality) amongst industrial nations, just behind Hong Kong and Singapore.

I give Blow credit for his candor, as far as it goes, but let’s go ahead an nail that thesis to the door of the Church: Everything is going to shit because capitalism is an inherently psychopathic and monomaniacal drive for profits, all else be damned, and the plutocrats are taking increasingly large everything! for themselves.

State of Working America has some interactive graphs showing average incomes of the top 10% (in red hues) and bottom 90% (in blue) of wage earners between 1917 and 2008.  Moving the vertical bars in their graphs allows the user to select and summarize intervals of interest.  Data were compiled by economist Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley.

From 1917 to 1970 the bottom 90% of wage earners took home 72% of income growth, whereas the top 10% earners took home 28%.  The top 1% (light pink) took the smallest proportion of growth, whereas the next two largest income earners (rose and maroon)took the largest shares of the 28% cut.

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Over the past forty years or so, income inequality has ballooned.  Specifically, from 1970 to 2008, the top 10% wage earners took home all the growth in incomes.  The top 1% took the majority of that growth.  The bottom 90% got nothing.  For the past 40 years, the vast majority and poorest Americans have gotten nothing.  Bupkis.  Goose eggs. Zilch.  All the money has gone to the very top, the worst of the worst, for forty fucking years.

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Feb 20

The plutocrats could use a good knee-capping

Charles Blow of the New York Times has noticed that our decadent empire is in decline, and “It’s time for us to stop lying to ourselves about this country,” because among industrialized countries “we are among the worst of the worst.”  

How dare you notice, sir?  And since when is the NYT making such embarrassing revelations publicly?  To paraphrase Colbert, Americans don’t want to know how vile and corrupt our plutocratic overlords are, and the media used to have the courtesy not to tell us.

It’s all about inequality

State of Working America has some interactive graphs showing average incomes of the top 10% (in red hues) and bottom 90% (in blue) of wage earners between 1917 and 2008.  Moving the vertical bars in their graphs allows the user to select and summarize intervals of interest.  Data were compiled by economist Emmanuel Saez at UC Berkeley.

From 1917 to 1970 the bottom 90% of wage earners took home 72% of income growth, whereas the top 10% earners took home 28%.  The top 1% (light pink) took the smallest proportion of growth, whereas the next two largest income earners (rose and maroon)took the largest shares of the 28% cut.

Photobucket

Over the past forty years or so, income inequality has ballooned.  Specifically, from 1970 to 2008, the top 10% wage earners took home all the growth in incomes.  The top 1% took the majority of that growth.  The bottom 90% got nothing.  For the past 40 years, the vast majority and poorest Americans have gotten nothing.  Bupkis.  Goose eggs. Zilch.  All the money has gone to the very top, the worst of the worst, for forty fucking years.

Photobucket

This trend of the uber-wealthy getting uber-wealthier while the rest of us “suck on it” is only accelerating.  From 2000 to 2007 the top 1% took 75% of all income growth.

Jul 10

“Only the little people — should — pay taxes.” Right?

[BP Chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg] is no different than other corporate elitists who are surrounded by evidence of what they see as their superiority. Leona Helmsley referenced us when she said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

But this time, the truth cannot be hidden. The real evidence of what he and much of the corporate plutocracy thinks of us will be apparent to the residents of the gulf coast and likely well beyond for decades.

Is Financial Reform Good for the “Small People?”

George Mantor, RISMEDIA, 06/22/10

Only the little people pay taxes”   So says former Queen of the Elites.

Afterall, SOMEONE has to pay.

And we shouldn’t expect the Corporations and Millionaires to carry that weight —

They’re too busy Downsizing the Life out of the Economy, to be saddled with the burden, of paying for the Bush Years.

They really, really need that Bush Tax Cut ‘Free Ride’ to CONTINUE —

Or they just might LET the Economy GET EVEN Worse.

Best we not test them, eh?   Or they really might ef-it-up!

Jul 07

Dystopia 23: Birthday

At some point in the educational process most people are taught  in reverent tones about the Constitution, that is, what it contains and  what one should think and how one should feel about it. In Washington,  millions of awed tourists parade past this holy document preserved  within argon gas. But the vast majority of Americans are never invited  to critically examine the content of the Constitution, to ask what its  basic assumptions are and to question the legitimacy of those  assumptions…

…We have seen technical  discussions within the popular mass media about how the Constitution,  the physical document, is preserved. We-or, at any rate, I-have never  seen in the mass media a penetrating debate concerning the possible  creation of a new, better constitution.


In the hands of only the elite, the Constitution  and the government based upon it are merely tools for self-service. Only  a constitution in the hearts, minds, and hands of all of us can be  considered to be a document that truly lives for us all…The  Constitution’s very roots and foundation, its legitimacy, and its  quality and utility should always be subject to expert and popular  questions. We should not merely eternally reinterpret the current  Constitution but actively seek ways to transcend it and move another  evolutionary step as a society toward greater humanity and happiness.Roger Rothenberger Beyond Plutocracy



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