Wealth Inequality By The Numbers

Monopoly Man

Source: Us Against Greed

Ten Numbers the Rich would like Fudged

The numbers reveal the deadening effects of inequality in our country, and confirm that tax avoidance, rather than a lack of middle-class initiative, is the cause.

1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.

According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.

2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.

In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.

The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.

Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.

4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.

After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.

That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.

That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.

For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.

6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.

>Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.

Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.

7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).

Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.

8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.

Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.

9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.

21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.

That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.

With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.

10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.

That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.

Bonus for the super-rich: A QUADRILLION DOLLARS in securities trading nets ZERO sales tax revenue for the U.S.

The world derivatives market is estimated to be worth over a quadrillion dollars (a thousand trillion). At least $200 trillion of that is in the United States. In 2011 the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reported a trading volume of over $1 quadrillion on 3.4 billion annual contracts.

A quadrillion dollars. A sales tax of ONE-TENTH OF A PENNY on a quadrillion dollars could pay off the deficit. But the total sales tax was ZERO.

It’s not surprising that the very rich would like to fudge the numbers, as they have the nation.

  1. #1 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 1:05 pm

    Not surprising at all.

  2. #2 by brewski on January 24, 2013 - 2:57 pm

    “1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.
    According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.”

    And?

    “2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.
    In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.”

    And?

    “3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.
    The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.
    Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.”

    I read the “source” for these numbers and I can tell you as an accountant and a CPA that most of what they said is factually untrue. Not opinion untrue but factually untrue. They seem to not understand what an LLC is and how it works, among numerous other ignorant statements. Whatever the case, the Tax Justice people are verifiable morons and liars.

    “4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.
    After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.
    U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.”

    This statement is untrue. What is true is that ARRA temporarily lowered corporate taxes paid on US income for years up through 2012 with the tool of bonus depreciation. So this temporary measure is ending in 2013. Also what is true is that the rest of the world has reformed their tax codes and the US has not. This lack of reform in the US has meant that international companies are choosing to recognize more taxable income in places like Canada and Germans and less in the US. Simple fix if you understand this stuff.

    “5. Just TEN Americans made a total of FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS in one year.
    That’s enough to pay the salaries of over a million nurses or teachers or emergency responders.
    That’s enough, according to 2008 estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN’s World Food Program, to feed the 870 million people in the world who are lacking sufficient food.
    For the free-market advocates who say “they’ve earned it”: Point #1 above makes it clear how the wealthy make their money.”

    And?

    “6. Tax deductions for the rich could pay off 100 PERCENT of the deficit.
    >Another stat that required a double-check. Based on research by the Tax Policy Center, tax deferrals and deductions and other forms of tax expenditures (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes), which largely benefit the rich, are worth about 7.4% of the GDP, or about $1.1 trillion.
    Other sources have estimated that about two-thirds of the annual $850 billion in tax expenditures goes to the top quintile of taxpayers.”

    I have been making this point for years on OU and just been told I was a racist.

    “7. The average single black or Hispanic woman has about $100 IN NET WORTH.
    The Insight Center for Community Economic Development reported that median wealth for black and Hispanic women is a little over $100. That’s much less than one percent of the median wealth for single white women ($41,500).
    Other studies confirm the racially-charged economic inequality in our country. For every dollar of NON-HOME wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent.”

    And?

    “8. Elderly and disabled food stamp recipients get $4.30 A DAY FOR FOOD.
    Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) has dropped significantly over the past 15 years, serving only about a quarter of the families in poverty, and paying less than $400 per month for a family of three for housing and other necessities. Ninety percent of the available benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households.
    Food stamp recipients get $4.30 a day.”

    Then why do they have all of this excess cash to buy cigarettes, booze, and nicer cars than I have?

    “9. Young adults have lost TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR NET WORTH since 1984.
    21- to 35-year-olds: Your median net worth has dropped 68% since 1984. It’s now less than $4,000.
    That $4,000 has to pay for student loans that average $27,200. Or, if you’re still in school, for $12,700 in credit card debt.
    With an unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds of almost 50%, two out of every five recent college graduates are living with their parents. But your favorite company may be hiring. Apple, which makes a profit of $420,000 per employee, can pay you about $12 per hour.”

    Blame Barney “roll the dice” Frank

    “10. The American public paid about FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS to bail out the banks.
    That’s about the same amount of money made by America’s richest 10% in one year. But we all paid for the bailout. And because of it, we lost the opportunity for jobs, mortgage relief, and educational funding.”

    Yes, the bank bailouts were done totally wrong. There were different options which were not done. I agree with this one.

    Your source for this is off the deep end. usagainstgreed.org and pictures of che? Poems about violent revolution? You have completely lost it.

  3. #3 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 4:02 pm

    Assemble enough ‘and’s and before you know it you’re talking a real interrobang.

    I’ve been cautioned about ‘!’s, but look at you and your ‘and’s.

    pull it together…for the children.

  4. #4 by brewski on January 24, 2013 - 7:28 pm

    The point is that reciting some observation without stating its relevance or its significance or the point one is trying to make presumes that the reader will infer the same thing from the observation that the author does. That is not a good presumption.

  5. #5 by brewski on January 24, 2013 - 8:05 pm

    This source would be analogous to someone citing the John Birch Society. This site is off the deep end. Richard, you need serious help if this is the stuff you are reading.

  6. #6 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 8:30 pm

    I’m going to try and get in front of what I suspect will be another trip to comment moderation with this advance warning”

    THE COMMENT I AM ABOUT TO SUBMIT CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT HAS PROVEN TO ACTIVATE THE SWINISH MODERATION FILTERS.

    SOMEBODY HELP ME!

  7. #7 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 8:31 pm

    Albert Einstein published the following peice in the first issue of the Monthly Review in 1949. The article is called “Why Socialism?”

    Here’s an excerpt:

    The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of [corporate] individuals.

    http://monthlyreview.org/2009/05/01/why-socialism

  8. #8 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 8:32 pm

    Boy, can I call em? Suckety sucketh.

    My apology to brewski for making you wait.

  9. #9 by Richard Warnick on January 24, 2013 - 8:38 pm

    brewski–

    Nice job ignoring the issue. Extreme inequality in America is undermining our economy and our democracy.

  10. #10 by brewski on January 24, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    Didn’t ignore anything. You citing numbers without making any point is presumptive. I could cite a pile of numbers without making any point too. Funny how you mention undermining democracy and cite as a source someone who seems to be advocating violent revolution. Try making a coherent argument as opposed to just expressing your envy.

  11. #11 by Larry Bergan on January 24, 2013 - 9:59 pm

    cav:

    Released your comment at #7.

    Took me a few tries. Kind of nostalgic, feeling like I’m back on dial-up.

    Pretty soon, Democratic Socialists will feel like they’re back on the Commodore 64, trying to access Compuserve.

    Meanwhile, “the haves” will be on the Sunday morning “news” shows in HD.

  12. #12 by Larry Bergan on January 24, 2013 - 10:04 pm

    Didn’t have time to read brewski’s novelette at #2, but maybe later.

  13. #13 by brewski on January 24, 2013 - 10:33 pm

    Larry,
    Richard’s sole source is a guy named Paul Buchheit. According to his employer, he “has numerous publications in Cognitive Science, with an emphasis on language development. He has founded several websites that promote awareness of critical global issues among Chicago colleges and high schools. His PhD in Computer Science is from the University of Illinois at Chicago.”

    In his impressive background in cognitive science and computer science, I don’t see any mention of any expertise at all in anything relating to economics, taxation, law, or pretty much anything closely related to anything that he seems to have strong opinions about. About the only thing he seems to have are really strong feelings. He seems to be like a geeky Rosie O’Donnell where as long as you feel really strongly about something then that must make you right.

    He and Richard seem to have in common an overriding feeling of envy and impotence. They are pissed off that other people make more money than they do. Oh well. Too bad. Grow up.

  14. #14 by Larry Bergan on January 24, 2013 - 10:50 pm

    Brewski:

    Paul Krugman is an economist, but he has kicked the journalists in this nation around like a soccer ball for over a decade. People with a passion for truth can usually be very good at more then one thing. There are countless examples.

    If Richard were in it for the money, he would run as fast as he could…

    Away from this blog!

    Nobody makes a single dime here, and I think that’s a good thing.

    Can you tell me what any of us have to gain, by using our real names and saying the things we do here?

  15. #15 by cav on January 24, 2013 - 11:54 pm

    Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of “American Wars: Illusions and Realities” (Clarity Press).

    http://www.commondreams.org/paul-buchheit

    Pick any article, enjoy, digest, be informed.

  16. #16 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 6:19 am

    Cav, being the founder of bitter ranting envious websites is not evidence of anything other than that he is a bitter ranting envious old man.

    Larry, I will listen to Krugman even though he has proven to be wrong about several things. He did say that Keynes was clearly wrong about a lot of things. So he has that going for him.

  17. #17 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 9:10 am

    Richard,
    According to your source, the most equal country in the world is Japan.

    So let’s be just like Japan, right? Your suggestion, right?

    Japan’s foreign born population is 1.6% of their total. The US has 12.8%. So if we were to deport the poorest 11.2% (say 35 million poor foreign born residents), as you suggest, then that would boost our Gini quite a lot. Interesting suggestion of yours.

    Japan’s median household income is $19,432. The US is $34,407. That is the middle household, not the mean. So the middle household represents by definition the middle of the middle class. So you also want the middle class in the US to take a 44% income cut to be just like Japan? Your suggestion.

    You really don’t know how to read numbers do you?

  18. #18 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 10:14 am

    And when is bitterness justified?

    When demands are first made of the poor – but because of their wealth, the rich can lobby to forgo sacrifice.

    We’ll attempt to transcend our envy…just do not kink our supply of cat food.

    Thank you very much.

  19. #19 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 10:38 am

    I’m just being a resentful peasant this morning. Pay me no mind….

  20. #20 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 12:06 pm

    The recitation of data (although much of that is incorrect) that some people have more money than other people is not “justified” bitterness. It’s just being bitter that he is a loser compared to his cousin who makes more than he does and his mother stopped breastfeeding him too early.

    He has no prescriptions at all for his bitterness other than “gimme their money”. Quite small minded.

  21. #21 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 12:55 pm

  22. #22 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 1:01 pm

    Like I said, we can be just like Richard’s Japan. We can all be more equal, more poor and more racially homogeneous in Richard’s world.

  23. #23 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 1:13 pm

    Or: I can have everything, and you, and yours, and all of your neighbors, and all of their neighbors, and theirs, and on, can have nothing.

    It’s MY due after all. So close to God am I.

  24. #24 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 1:46 pm

    You a paraphrasing no one. Like I pointed out about, the middle of the middle in the bad old USA is 44% better off than the middle of the middle in perfect equal Japan.

    So what would rather be? Well off and unequal or poor and equal? It’s Richard’s choice.

  25. #25 by Bob S. on January 25, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    To all those who feel that wealth or income inequality is a problem – I have a question?

    Are you donating all or most of your income over what is absolutely necessary to feed, clothe, shelter and keep yourself healthy to other people?

    If not, then aren’t you being a little hypocritical?
    You have the means to reduce that inequality (even if only a little) but do not. Right?

  26. #26 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 2:45 pm

    I am all for equality, but not at any cost. This has been tried before and it didn’t go so well. If you want the income of the bottom to rise then the best way to get there is to increase the demand for labor and reduce the supply of unskilled labor. Taxing employers for hiring people reduces the demand for labor. Saying that every low skilled peasant from the third world is welcome here lowers wages on the bottom end. It’s arithmetic.

  27. #27 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 4:54 pm

    I would suggest there are big differences in the ‘externality’ packets some of us are able to realize and those connected to the Captains of Capitalism – even though I’m partially reliant on their out-put. Just as they are partially reliant upon my own.

    And this hasn’t even touched the impact on non-humans all our combined externalities are having – which is to say, I, the fish, you, the birds, will all be going down as the capitalists ‘rock’ past the sustainability threshold – even while the meek and powerless are scheduled to inherit the remainder.

    Of course I paraphrase.

  28. #28 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 5:52 pm

    you use this phrase capitalists as if there was some other alternative which is so much better. I can tell you having been to a few communist countries, those places had far worse environmental concern and care than the big bad capitalists ever had. The bad air, water, and pretty much everything in the non-capitalist places was far worse. You show me a system which results in better outcomes and I’ll sign up for it.

  29. #29 by Larry Bergan on January 25, 2013 - 6:01 pm

    I always wondered why the richest people had to have SO MUCH MONEY. Well, other then wanting to retire at 35, or just needing to look down on the other; it takes a lot of money to do things like putting Sean Hannity on the New York Times best seller list before selling those same books for a dollar to recoup some of the loss or having your own army called Blackwater, (or something).

    These noble goals require money.

    As I am human and susceptible to wanting judicial immunity for wanton plunder, I’m really glad I never had more money then my great, great grandchildren could spend in a lifetime, because it’s just wrong.

  30. #30 by Bob S. on January 25, 2013 - 6:53 pm

    Cav,

    Soiunds like rationalization BS as one of my survival instructors was fond of saying.
    Yes, your contribution will be less than other – but as the saying goes “From each according to his ability” right?

    What I’m pointing out is the blatant hypocrisy of people like Michael Moore and even some of the folks on here. They don’t want to act less they can force everyone to act. Of course in the meantime, even a handful of people could be helped and raised up.

    Larry,

    Ever consider some of the greatest philanthropic charities were created by men and women who had more money then their great, great, grandchildren could spend?

  31. #31 by cav on January 25, 2013 - 8:03 pm

    Well, rationality and rationalization do share the same root. The BS part was, I am sure, quite well understood by your survival instructor.

    Nonetheless the more advanced operating principle: from each according to his powerlessness, to each according to his power, may not have caught on as yet, for the very reasons Richard outlined in his initial post.

    I’m all for raising people up, but feel too many of us have already done more than our share in lifting the already well to do. Now, if a minuscule contribution from folks at my income level to those even lower on the totem were really the answer, and each and every one of us (including the blessed .01%) made similar contributions, then perhaps ‘trickle down’ econ might not have such reputation. But, as it is, there are still those whose generosity is small simply because they are economically embarrassed. And, there are those who are an embarrassment to the race for exactly the opposite reason.

    From the news:

    The NRA issued a statement condemning the arrest of Mr. Bartashevitch and asking why the government isn’t looking at the root causes of such behavior, such as the popularity of that “Tiger Mother” book a couple years back.

    Buying that gun sure was a great idea. Made a real man out of him.

    Lo, the day has gone by, yet still, I remain a whiny peasant.
    May there be better days ahead.

  32. #32 by Larry Bergan on January 25, 2013 - 8:19 pm

    Bob S. said:

    Are you donating all or most of your income over what is absolutely necessary to feed, clothe, shelter and keep yourself healthy to other people?

    And then chimes in with:

    Ever consider some of the greatest philanthropic charities were created by men and women who had more money then their great, great, grandchildren could spend?

    Obviously the later didn’t do the former, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

    Philanthropy was born when Rockefeller’s lawyers told him his children might be in danger unless an advertising campaign was mounted to improve his image. And, it worked. It still does.

  33. #33 by brewski on January 25, 2013 - 10:20 pm

    Trickle down is a pejorative word, so it only has negative reputation since that is what is intended. Just like there is no positive reputation for looney lefty. It is meant to mean only bad.

    So if your only point is that really successful people should give more of their money away, then I agree.

  34. #34 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 8:08 am

    OK, good. I also think a regulation or re-regulation might be a little more persuasive than simply ‘should’.

    Bill Black: “Why the World Economic Forum and Goldman Sachs are Capitalism’s Worst Enemies”

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/davos-still-pushes-failed-global-vision.html#26Hy7UZyFSKoACt6.99

    Please read the fraud denier section at the very least.

  35. #35 by Bob S. on January 26, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Larry,

    There is a difference in philosophy. Rockfeller wasn’t pushing socialism like you are. He worked for what he had and chose a way of paying back to society using what he had.

    You want people to be forced to limit their income immediately — so it is fair to ask if you are living the ideals you espouse.

    Cav,

    Who gets to decide what is successful and how much they should get to keep? Isn’t that a rather personal decision ?

    What I find interesting is how most people approach the idea of socialism
    1.) Capitalism isn’t working because the government has been corrupted.
    2.) Since people aren’t doing the right thing (always their individual definition) we need to force them to do it.
    3.) Let’s use the (corrupt) government to pass yet another law.

    So instead of focusing on removing corruption from the government; they want to use it to force their vision on everyone else.

    Force is the right word because they could persuade but they are willing to use the guns in the hands of police and military to back up their views.
    Some vision of liberty, eh?

  36. #36 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Cav,
    That is a very good piece. I agree with a whole lot of it and in fact it says a lot of things which are identical to things which I have said in OU and been criticized for.

    The key distinction between what this piece says and what others on OU have said is that this piece argues against crony capitalism, against corrupt capitalism, against criminal behavior in capitalism. She (Susan Webber) does not make any case against capitalism itself. She is making the case of the undue influence of the captains of capitalism in government and law. I totally agree.

    Incidentally, she does lambast Greenspan (which I have done here), she does praise Brooksley Born (which I have done here), she does criticize both borrowers and lenders in liar loans (which I have done here).

    I would also note that Susan Webber is someone who knows of what she speaks. She works in the financial management profession and has a Harvard MBA and won a prize in finance.

  37. #37 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 9:17 am

    A couple of things struck me. One, as corrupted profits became such a motivator, there was a seemingly organic selection of the more corrupt players, shunning those with a broader community oriented moral compass. And, two, how the level of wealth enabled lobbying to practically write their own tickets – above government, above it all, as they were literally too big to prosecute – leading, of course. to still greater crimes.

    I wonder sometimes if the ‘Illuminati’ / ‘Bildeberger’ set weren’t just more, similarly en-compassed merchant types who, in their success, actually created the model and ‘by-laws’ our modern-day elite have found so useful.

    It’s a tempting road, but not for everyone – obviously.

  38. #38 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 9:37 am

    There are a lot of reforms I’d like to see but I realize are pretty unlikely since it is basically asking those in need of reform to reform themselves. Sort of like trying to ask Congress to reform themselves. Not like they have any interest in ending campaign contributions and lobbying. That is how they stay elected. So the ones we are asking to write new rules are the ones who are benefiting from the current system. It is a myth to think that any politician from any party is on our side. They are on their side. They are careerists. Do you think the junior senator from Illinois would ever get to where he is today by fighting corn or ethanol subsidies? Do you think the senator from Delaware is going to ask for financial services reform and credit card regulation. These guys are so deep in the shit themselves and part of the problem that it is delusional to think that they have any interest in controlling bad behavior by the large powerful megacorporations. They ARE the megacorporation.

  39. #39 by Richard Warnick on January 26, 2013 - 9:37 am

    brewski–

    I spent yesterday in the real world, just got back to Blogland.

    Nice job channeling Willard (“Mitt”) Romney, but no, I’m not envious of the rich. Like most Americans, I’d be happy to become one of them. Not the ultra-rich mind you, but the so-called “middle class” rich making $250 K.

    That said, I have lived in countries with extreme wealth inequality, Yemen and the Philippines. They function, but the vast majority of citizens are terminally screwed. Not want I want for America.

  40. #40 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 10:01 am

    “I spent yesterday in the real world…”

    How WAS that, Richard? Scary, I’d suppose.

  41. #41 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 10:16 am

    “The inauguration of a president is one of those spectacles of democracy that can make us remember we’re part of something big and enduring. So for a few hours this past Monday the pomp and circumstance inspired us to think that government of, by, and for the people really is just that, despite the predatory threats that stalk it.

    But the mood didn’t last. Every now and then, as the cameras panned upward, the Capitol dome towering over the ceremony was a reminder of something the good feeling of the moment couldn’t erase. It’s the journalist’s curse to have a good time spoiled by the reality beyond the pageantry. Just a couple of days before the inaugural festivities, The New York Times published some superb investigative reporting by the team of Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack, and their revelations were hard to forget, even at a time of celebration.

    The story told us of a pharmaceutical giant called Amgen and three senators so close to it they might as well be entries on its balance sheet: Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Democratic Senator Max Baucus (MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and that powerful committee’s ranking Republican, Orrin Hatch (UT). A trio of perpetrators who treat the United States Treasury as if it were a cash-and-carry annex of corporate America.

    The Times story described how Amgen got a huge hidden gift from unnamed members of Congress and their staffers. They slipped an eleventh hour loophole into the New Year’s Eve deal that kept the government from going over the fiscal cliff.”

    snip

    And lo and behold, among those 74 Amgen lobbyists are the former chief of staff to Senator Baucus and the former chief of staff to Senator McConnell. You get the picture: Two guys nurtured at public expense, paid as public servants, disappear through the gold-plated revolving door of Congress and presto, return as money changers in the temple of crony capitalism.

    Inside to welcome them is a current top aide to Senator Hatch, one who helped weave this lucrative loophole. He used to work as a health policy analyst for — you guessed it — Amgen.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/25/senators-secret-plan-to-give-amgen-half-a-million-in-fiscal-cliff-deal-reveals-capitol-hills-sordid-swamp/

  42. #42 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 10:29 am

    “Just weeks before this backroom betrayal of the public interest by elected officials and the mercenaries they have mentored, Amgen pleaded guilty to fraud.”

    IBID

  43. #43 by Richard Warnick on January 26, 2013 - 11:13 am

    cav–

    RL was a nice vacation. Nobody even mentioned the Second Amendment.

  44. #44 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 11:43 am

    cav:

    No wonder Moyers and Company got cancelled on KBYU. I still thank them for carrying it as long as they did. Sort of stunning, actually.

    Richard:

    Hope you were able to get out of the smog and not slip on the weird ice.

  45. #45 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 12:56 pm

    I take it you weren’t at the firing range.

  46. #46 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 3:03 pm

    Cav,
    So you want to give MORE power to these guys? I don’t see the logic of wanting to give more power to the corrupt.

    “In a 57-42 vote, the Senate failed to pass a procedural motion that would have set up a final vote on the bill by the end of the week. The cloture motion required 60 votes to pass.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Republicans for blocking the bill’s passage, and said he would schedule another cloture vote on Thursday.

    Most Republicans voted against the motion, arguing in favor of additional debate on amendments to the sprawling 1,500-page bill.

    Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Russ Feingold (Wis.) opposed the measure, while Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins joined Democrats in support.”

    So much for the progressivism of Cantwell and Feingold.

  47. #47 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 3:20 pm

    Richard,
    You haven’t explained why you want to be more like Japan with the lowest inequality ratio.

  48. #48 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 6:09 pm

    brewski.

    I’m not sure which bill you’re speaking of, and your take on my wanting to give them more power may have missed the point.

    Aside from my cynical perspective that those dems who choose to vote with the repubs effecting further stalemate, they seem to be doing so for at least two reasons, probably more. One, they can essentially ‘take one for the team’ (MOTU / PTB) – while maintaining the status quo, at the same time effectively deferring what ever it is the ‘people’ seem to be demanding. And two, because of their invested positions and the understanding that the real power behind them would have their fee-fees hurt were they to provide for the common good – because, they are so often such little puppets whose minimal interface with the people who hopefully stand before the voting machine in the mistaken view they’re involved in some democratic, patriotic act, the successful candidates are able to simply blow these little people off, sabotaging their own power in the furtherance of the criminal brain-trust that really handles the reigns.

    Any power I would give any of them would be contingent upon them actually representing us – and not simply those of us with the deep pockets.

    Still. I’m not sure of the specific bill you seem to have in mind, so I hope this makes some sense. Not too blatheresque

  49. #49 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 6:45 pm

    Standing before a urinal is much more satisfying then standing before a voting machine.

    I vote on a paper ballot which forces poll workers to plug stuff in and fret.

    I hate doing that, because my paper ballot gets run through a machine anyway.

    But don’t worry, because now you will be able to vote from the comfortable chair in your living room.

    AND, the Republicans are going to make a concerted effort to bring Hispanic people into the very large tent they don’t have.

    Am I being cynical?

  50. #50 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 8:10 pm

    “Any power I would give any of them would be contingent upon them actually representing us – and not simply those of us with the deep pockets.”

    Then lets get the horse before the cart and do that and not have the cart before the horse and give more power to the corrupt.

  51. #51 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 8:17 pm

    I’m still not sure you get that so long as the feelings of the wealthy are at stake, they do not want, nor will they accept the power we would imbue them with.

    Big difference from me giving them anything. They’re well taken care of, as you know. The rest is, as has been often described – Kabuki. There’ll always be blue-dog defection for this very reason.

    Still, getting the horse / cart in the proper configuration is apropos. What do you suggest?

  52. #52 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 8:59 pm

    brewski reprints:

    “Any power I would give any of them would be contingent upon them actually representing us – and not simply those of us with the deep pockets.”

    It would be helpful if you told us who said that.

  53. #53 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 9:39 pm

    BobS. Sorry about not acknowledging and/or responding to your #35 . I just now saw it.

    First you need to know WordPress, our host’s comment support, has a thing about the word S O C I A L I S M. Kinky but true. Using that word is a sure fire way to send your comment to the moderation filter. It’s a drag getting ditched in the conversation by such a ridiculous, glitchey set-up.

    When this happens, copy the comment, eradicate the offensive spelling and plop it down as early as you can. Someone will eventually salvage it but, for the sake of continuity just do this:

    “Who gets to decide what is successful and how much they should get to keep? Isn’t that a rather personal decision ?

    What I find interesting is how most people approach the idea of S O C I A L I S M.
    1.) Capitalism isn’t working because the government has been corrupted.
    2.) Since people aren’t doing the right thing (always their individual definition) we need to force them to do it.
    3.) Let’s use the (corrupt) government to pass yet another law.

    So instead of focusing on removing corruption from the government; they want to use it to force their vision on everyone else.

    Force is the right word because they could persuade but they are willing to use the guns in the hands of police and military to back up their views.
    Some vision of liberty, eh?”

    BobS

    And, of course, the answer, well, now I need to gather my thoughts…

  54. #54 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 10:03 pm

    The way I see it, is that any mention of socialism gets interpreted as Communism which can only end up at Stalin.

    Obama=Stalin.

    Simple math. :)

  55. #55 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 10:13 pm

    So, because that word; S O C I A L I S M, has such bad press even WordPress has a special place in hell for it – not to mention how the dip-shit conservatives feel – what it actually means in government is obscured.

    My perspective is that it has been part of our mix for ever – parts of it hard fought for over many a year. Much of it just plain good sense. I mean it is how the Interstate Highway System and the Internet came into being. Without it, there would be no weather satellites, railroads or doctors on reservations or in the Ghetto. And on and on.

    There’s corruption everywhere, but after a while some of corruption’s motivators should prompt ‘work-arounds’ that hopefully would disable them. Sadly, one of the hall-marks of corruption is that, past a certain point, the power just becomes indomitable. You’ve got to admit people are capable of doing ‘wrong’ things, as you’ve supported gun ownership as a remedy should it come knocking at your door. But what non-violent recourse is available when the corruption is well entrenched in a state-house. Yes, RESIST! And certainly the threat of armed violence can be credible. I’d just like to think we could separate the corrupt from the useful, be it Capitalist or Sociamalist (see what I did there?) in a non-violent way, while retaining our rights AND not giving free reign to the pathological.

  56. #56 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 10:25 pm

    But not giving free reign to the pathological is blasphemy.

  57. #57 by brewski on January 26, 2013 - 10:56 pm

    “What do you suggest?”

    I suggest not giving more power to the corrupt.

    I suggest giving less power to the corrupt.

  58. #58 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 11:29 pm

    Well, yea. But won’t that require some sort of coordinated, mass re-acquaintance with our own power? Whatever that may be. IOW, it’s easier said than done.

    We may have to attempt to see how their gain in power becomes the rope with which they strangle themselves. They’re not going over any fiscal cliffs. Nor will they be persuaded by appeals to their humanity. Maximal corruption cannot be life sustaining – so we may all go together when they go.

  59. #59 by Larry Bergan on January 26, 2013 - 11:33 pm

    I suggest giving more power to Unicorns.

  60. #60 by cav on January 26, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    Harness lemmings!

    *******

    Profit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve been banking apostrophes and semi-colons to exchange for ‘!’s, in case you hadn’t noticed.

  61. #61 by brewski on January 27, 2013 - 4:49 am

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/largest-hedge-fund-donors-show-bipartisan-support-democrats/story?id=10425809

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to scuttle efforts in Congress to more than double the tax rate paid by private equity firms, hedge funds and their managers.

    Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the senator is leery of pushing the issue too aggressively this year, citing the need for more hearings over concerns that a change in the tax treatment of buyout firms might affect the broader economy.

  62. #63 by Larry Bergan on January 27, 2013 - 10:27 am

    Personally.

    I’m laughing at the frozen rain.

  63. #64 by cav on January 27, 2013 - 12:34 pm

    It really is very funny how the narrative is that we are all supposed to work longer and not be takers in a jobless recovery created by the job creators who have failed to create jobs.

  64. #65 by Larry Bergan on January 27, 2013 - 1:17 pm

    cav:

    You’re talking in circles and making sense.

    You’re going to end up in jail.

  65. #66 by brewski on January 27, 2013 - 3:49 pm

    No, the narrative is that people’s life expectancy has increased by 15 years and all of those post-retirement benefits are supposed to magically appear from the ass of unicorns.

    The narrative is that health care costs per person per year have quadrupled in real terms over the last 50 years and that of that money is supposed to magically appear from the ass of unicorns.

    It’s arithmetic.

    The narrative is also that the US government has driven jobs out of the US and imported the lowest skilled workers.

    Not very funny.

  66. #67 by cav on January 27, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    And thank God for the Ass of Unicorns!

    (See the Federal Reserve)

  67. #68 by brewski on January 27, 2013 - 6:26 pm

    and those Fed-caused asset bubbles and crashes have gone so well.

  68. #69 by cav on January 27, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    The Federal Reserve creates large quantities of money out of ‘thin air’ on a regular basis already—this is where the trillions of dollars used in its Quantitative Easing and other stealth bank bailout programs comes from. But most money is created through the banking system as ‘private’ credit. There is no reason in principle why the Federal government shouldn’t create money directly and do so in the public interest.

  69. #70 by brewski on January 27, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    I am well aware where and how money is created.

    “There is no reason in principle why the Federal government shouldn’t create money directly and do so in the public interest.”

    I guess you don’t remember the 70′s, or are unaware of the problems that Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Zimbabwe and Germany, among others have encountered by following your advice.

  70. #71 by cav on January 27, 2013 - 7:04 pm

    Ok. A debt ceiling, a fictional cliff, a bursting bubble and a roosting chicken all walk into a bar.

    The bar-keep looks up from washing beer mugs and says, “…

  71. #72 by cav on January 28, 2013 - 12:01 am

    Here’s another.

    Low Unemployment, Solid Wage Growth, and Low Personal Debt Levels, walk into the same bar…

    God, I crack myself up sometimes. Really.

    “Standing before a urinal is much more satisfying then standing before a voting machine.

    Larry @#47

    You know, I just had a great idea…

  72. #73 by brewski on January 28, 2013 - 8:49 am

    Low Unemployment, Solid Wage Growth, and Low Personal Debt Levels, walk across the border into Canada and ask, how did you do it?

    Corporate tax rate 18.5%.

    No GSE’s.

    Sensible mortgage and banking laws.

  73. #74 by cav on January 28, 2013 - 10:09 am

    Once upon a time we had terrific public universities affordable to all. State legs supported them because, truth be told, business supported the notion of a publicly funded well-educated workforce. They reaped the benefits but it worked well for the rest of us, too.

    Then they shipped all the jobs overseas and didn’t need that workforce any longer. Support for education plummeted. Indeed, the incentive now is to keep us stupid.

    The resultant stupidity makes more and better republicans. See how well it works?
    .
    Sensibility = quaint. Privatization = the way forward.

    And further – TINA.

  74. #75 by brewski on January 28, 2013 - 11:06 am

    “Once upon a time we had terrific public universities affordable to all. State legs supported them because, truth be told, business supported the notion of a publicly funded well-educated workforce. They reaped the benefits but it worked well for the rest of us, too.”

    And then what happened?

    Public employee costs exploded. Public employee pension costs exploded. Public employee healthcare costs exploded. Medicaid costs exploded. K-12 costs exploded. Taxes increased everywhere. At some point someone had to lose and it was public university students.

    It’s arithmetic.

  75. #76 by cav on January 28, 2013 - 11:17 am

    The arithmetic that needs most to at least be acknowledged is that of bank bail-outs, wars, tax cuts for the well to do, and what tax money would be generated if there were a few well paying jobs still left around to share in.

    One doesn’t have to be a math-wiz – but it may help to have $omething to count (besides our toes).

    And somewhere in the equating, Fed interest rates to Mr. Big most certainly have an impact on all of the exploding areas you list.

  76. #77 by brewski on January 28, 2013 - 11:19 am

    public universities are largely paid for by states so bank bail-outs, wars, tax cuts for the well to do has pretty much nothing to do with the explosion of state employee costs and Medicaid.

  77. #78 by cav on January 28, 2013 - 11:23 am

    brewski – I sneaked a little something just before the buzzer that You may or may not agree has an impact – being as a chunk of the profitability of insurance spread on investment money is shattered by 0%.

    I think.

  78. #79 by brewski on January 28, 2013 - 1:36 pm

    Cav, you in one breath advocate printing free money for the alleged public good and then you criticize it in the next breath. Which is it?

  79. #80 by cav on January 28, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    brew,

    I’ll admit it’s an overwhelming monstrosity to grasp, which is why they get away with the kinds of crimes they get away with.

    As for advocating printing of more money – I support the idea that what is good for the ‘too big to fail’ ought to be good enough for the people whose failures are just a feature of the set-up forced upon us by the elite ‘makers’.

    As the Bernankes and Greenspans, you know, that crowd, printed money, they, at the same time lowered the interest rates. Many economists and some lawmakers felt like borrowing money at those rates for stimulus and infrastructure work was a no brainer. But that would preclude the ‘pain agenda’ so many other lawmakers and their friends, felt was required as punishment for our choice in presidents.

    So, you may have mis-perceived what I wrote as criticism of printing or striking, more money. My position is, we’ve done that all along. That it was so freely given to the banksters with so little accountability is where I have a problem. How was that in the public good?

    That bail-out multi-trillions would have amounted to hundreds of thousands of Dollars for every man woman and child,, but as it got sopped up in its passage through the upper crust, it kinda never made it passed them.

  80. #81 by brewski on January 29, 2013 - 5:00 am

    The bank bailouts were done wrong and it says a lot about our government.

    “Mr. Geithner succeeded in bailing out Citigroup and prevailed over Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Sheila Bair….Ms. Bair wanted to clean out Citi’s management and asked her fellow regulators to consider putting it into receivership. In her recent memoir, Ms. Bair writes that when she suggested in early 2009 that Citi’s private investors should take losses before the company received additional government assistance, “that was a nonstarter for Tim.”

    So the Obama administration made sure that the banksters kept their jobs and that investors were bailed out by the taxpayer. And you were worried that W or Romney were too close to Wall Street?

  81. #82 by brewski on January 29, 2013 - 8:39 am

    For all of the banks which failed, what should have been done was to follow normal bankruptcy law. For no apparent reason, this was ignored.

    1. Place the failed banks into receivership
    2. Wipe out all stockholders as is normal bankruptcy procedure.
    3. Creditors (counterparties in transactions such as swaps) could be wiped out to as is normal in bankruptcy. This would be part of the work-out
    4. Creditors (bondholders) would only get back some percentage of the face value of their bonds to be determined at exit of receivership
    5. Keep depositors whole
    6. Replace management. Note, since the stockholders were wiped out, all stock based compensation (options, etc) would be worth zero.

    Does this sound familiar? It should. It is basically what happened to GM. This is what should have happened to all the failed banks. But our Banksters in Chief (both W and Obama) and their in house lobbyists (Paulson, Geithner, Lew, etc.) all made sure this didn’t happen.

    This is not radical at all. This is called 1,000 years of bankruptcy law and English Common Law. But these things don’t seem to matter any more.

  82. #83 by Richard Warnick on January 29, 2013 - 9:46 am

    brewski–

    From what I’ve read, the TBTF banks owed money to Goldman Sachs, that’s why they were saved from bankruptcy.

  83. #84 by brewski on January 29, 2013 - 5:24 pm

    I don’t think it was that explicit, but the point is the same. All counterparties to all transactions including Goldman Sachs and dozens of foreign banks were bailed out by US taxpayers. No one was asked to lose a dime even though they will tell you that they are paid so much for taking “risks”. There are no risks when they have the ultimate backstop; Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson, W, Obama and you.

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