Archive for income inequality

Mid-Day Links - Friday

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Image: The Verge

Google reveals Android Wear, an operating system for smartwatches

What’s at Stake in the Supreme Court Birth Control Cases? More Than You Might Think.

CNN's Headline News channel asks psychic to weigh in on missing plane

Creationists Demand Airtime On 'Cosmos' For The Sake Of Balance

Conservative Media Freak Out Over Coat Hanger Abortion Symbol

Putin’s Iron Fist Meets Obama’s Iron Will as US Announces Potentially Crippling Sanctions

80 Tage umsonst (Equal work for equal pay - the day until which women in various European countries have to work to earn as much as a man in the same job.

Kimmel Tricks SXSW Attendees Into Saying They Love Fake Bands

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Chris Christie compares the poor to petulant teens, but, see, he's the real victim here.

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Chris Christie red meat

Chris Hayes and David Cay Johnston should have added the now-famous quote from Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich to this discussion of Chris Christie: He "deserves an ass-kicking":

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Christie speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago:

I think that the problem we have is an opportunity gap, not an income equality gap. And I think that one of the big discussions in conversations over the course of the next two years in national politics is going to be, do you want mediocrity or do you want greatness?  You want income equality? That's mediocrity. Everybody can have an equal mediocre salary. That's what we can afford. Or do you want the opportunity for greatness? ...

Greatness is going to be based on your intellect, your hard work, your creativity. And government can play a role in helping to create that opportunity. But not in being the perpetual referee of what sounds like a fight between my 13-year-old son and my 10-year-old daughter: "You did this for him, that's not fair. Well, that's not fair, I want this to be fair." I grew up in an America that said, "Life isn't fair."

Yes, you heard right: Chris Christie is confusing income equality with salary equality. He thinks Democrats want every employed person in the country to be paid exactly the same salary.

Then he had the unmitigated gall to compare struggling families, people who are hurting, with petulant children, in effect blaming them!

family values my ass

To paraphrase Keith Olbermann, "That man is an idiot."

Here's a bonus video from The Rachel Maddow Show, just in case you're not up on the latest in the Bridgegate scandal:

chris christie bridgegate fundraise msnbc

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow, on how the GOP is throwing a pity party for their guy Chris:

The New Jersey State Republican Party is now trying to raise money on the Bridge scandals. Specifically, they are trying to raise money by saying that news organizations should not be covering the scandal, and that's the real problem here.

Seriously, I'm not kidding... This is from the Star Ledger... They're quoting a fundraising email that the New Jersey Republican Party has sent out asking people to pledge $25 a month to the New Jersey Republican Party because of the Bridge scandal....

"Send us money because MSNBC keeps reporting on this story"??

To the people of Fort Lee, to the people who missed the first day of school or the first day of work, to the people who were late to appointments or their jobs by hours, for not just one day but for four days, to the person having a heart attack and the four people who were injured and needed to be moved by ambulance after a car wreck, to the parents of a missing child, to all those people who found that police and first responders could not get to them those days, to the people of Fort Lee and the hundreds of thousands of other New Jersey residents and commuters who had four days of this gridlock inflicted on them-- on purpose-- thanks to still-unexplained orders that came out of Gov. Christie's office, to all of the hundreds of thousands of people who were hurt here-- on purpose-- the New Jersey Republican Party would like you to know that the real outrage here is that this TV network [MSNBC] is reporting on what happened and trying to figure out the answers, but the Christie administration still won't provide.

They want you to know that we're the real outrage, and that they're the real victim. Not you.

They want the people of New Jersey to stand up! Not against this kind of corrupt and abusive outrage by their government. They want the people of New Jersey to stand up against us covering the story.

It's amazing, but it's good to know.

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Gov Scott Walker tax plan gives an extra $50 million tax cut to... guess who? Right!

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gov. scott walker cronyopoly gameImage via.

What will Gov Scott Walker do to endear himself to voters next? So far a state appeals court rejected challenges to the WI John Doe probe targeting conservatives. Then Walker wouldn't reveal whether 86 grand that his campaign used to pay attorney fees was connected to said John Doe case. And to further convince us how disconnected to reality he is, Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin said "he senses no gay marriage movement."

But now we see that he is actually endearing himself to some voters after all. The upper-incomiest of residents of Wisconsin owe Gov Scott Walker another big, sloppy, wet kiss.

But before we go there, as Julie Andrews sang in "The Sound of Music," let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. There's this law that Congress passed back in 1969 that called for a federal alternative minimum tax, because "155 affluent Americans had actually paid no federal income taxes." Wisconsin thought that was such a good idea that they passed their own version of the AMT back in the '80s.

Via The Cap Times:

The measure is designed to capture at least some revenue from individuals who have so many deductions or credits they otherwise would owe no income tax at all.

Why, what a splendid and fair way to level the playing field!

But Wisconsin Republicans had second thoughts. After all, they have a group crush on the wealthiest, filthy-richest residents (read: political donors) and wouldn't want to ruffle their currency-lined feathers.

And the man with the biggest heart-on of all decided to bring them flowers and bon-bons in the form of (say it with me now) tax cuts:

[T]tucked into Gov. Scott Walker’s $504 million basket of tax cuts are significant changes to the state’s alternative minimum tax that could deliver some $50 million in savings to roughly 30,000 filers by 2016 and beyond, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo. [...]

[T]he alternative minimum tax changes will mainly benefit the wealthiest in Wisconsin, including factory and farm owners already benefiting from another huge tax break passed specifically for them in 2011. [...]

If all three provisions are adopted, revenues would be reduced by an estimated $11.3 million in 2013-14, $25.5 million in 2014-15, $40.5 million in 2015-16 and $50.8 million in 2016-17 and thereafter, according to the LFB.

So to those who have their eye on Potential Presidential Candidate Walker, I ask that you please share this news with your fellow not-filthy-rich voters. They're sure to appreciate who he gives hand-outs to and who he doesn't. Indeed, it seems the "makers" are the real "takers," and everyone else can eat cake.

Tell a friend.tell a friend

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Wealth gap watch: "Marie Antoinette Bakery reopened, is proud to be serving day-old cake."

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taxes wealthy 99 percent

Another guest post by the one, the only Will Durst who's having a little fun with :

GUILLOTINE TIME

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said the rich are different from us. To which Hemingway snorted, “yeah, they have more money.” And now seems like a good time to offer up a few words of sympathy for the rich. Because our wealthy brothers and sisters are going through some tough times. Not financially. No, no, no. They’re doing pretty good on that end. Last year the stock market shot higher than the 4:20 break at a Denver pot dispensary on Jerry Garcia’s birthday.

The fortunate among us are comfortable alright, but becoming increasingly uncomfortable, if you catch my drift. It’s us nasty poor people. Again. It appears that we’re picking on them. You know. Whining. Complaining. Jealous. Hungry. Rather than pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps like they did when their daddies left them all that money.

Cries of financial inequity have been so alarming lately that venture capitalist Thomas Perkins felt compelled to compare we poor to the Nazis. He wrote that while Germany’s 1% were the Jews, America’s 1% are the Well-Heeled. And did it in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. No surprise there. Where did you think he’d get it published? The San Francisco Chronicle? Progressive Magazine? Rachel Maddow’s blog?

Sporting a Richard Mille watch which lists for $330,000, Perkins later apologized for using the term “Nazi” but doubled down on his assertion that the rich are being demonized. The bellyaching billionaire: a uniquely American phenomena. Pretty sure the Romanovs expressed similar sentiments. The Marie Antoinette Bakery has reopened and is proud to be serving day-old cake.

Apparently, acute affluence causes the outer epidermis to shrink profoundly. Causing the prosperous to exhibit super-sensitivity to the slings and arrows tossed at their outrageous fortune. To say that reaction was loud and swift is akin to implying that Mr. Everest slopes. Many malcontents called for the Perkins to have his analogy completed by tattooing a serial number onto his arm.

But in America, that anti-rich stuff doesn’t fly because folks worry that any restrictions on the loaded and bloated will come back to haunt them when their ship comes in and they themselves start rolling in it. Wealth projection. Another American exclusive.

A recent study revealed that 85 people in the world now control the same amount of wealth as half the population of the planet. 85 people have as much money as 3.5 billion. Admittedly, some of those 3.5 billion people have taken a vow of poverty. But not all.

4 of America’s 9 richest are members of the family that owns Walmart. Really? Couldn’t they pay their workers a tad more and still be 4 of the top 30 richest Americans? Top 100? 2 million employees and the last year’s profit was 16 billion dollars. That’s 8K profit off every employee. Imagine how much more stuff Walmart could sell if each employee made $2,000 extra?

They call sharks-eating machines. And corporations are sharks that eat money. But even stockholders are starting to question the $100 million CEO salary. Although, its nice to know that when there’s a run on guillotines, Walmart will stock a nice selection of attractively priced models. But if you want something extra sharp with a built in timer, might want to check out Richard Mille.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new CD, “Elect to Laugh” and calendar of personal appearances including "BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG," Wednesday the 5th @ Angelica’s in Redwood City.

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Homelessness in South Carolina

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welcome

Please welcome our newest guest contributor, "hardybear" from Free Range Talk freerangetalk.com. She was kind enough to offer to swoop in to help us out while we get our sea legs back following Paddy's passing. She's a sweetheart, a lifesaver, and a terrific journalist. Thank you from all of us, Ms. Bear!

Here's her first post, on homelessness:

Homeless in South Carolina

Photo credit Eric Campos, The State.

Original story from thestate.com

Does the GOP even bother to include the modern American homeless population in their pithy 47% calculation?

It would seem that the homeless in one of Governor Nikki Haley's more prominent South Carolina cities of distinction -- her capital, in fact --  nearly had the long term hospitable choices of being detained then bussed far out of sight (and, ideally, pocketbook) or being forcibly herded into proposed 'emergency' shelters by hosts with guns. The third option was arrest.

The Columbia City Council unanimously approved the evacuation, er, Emergency Homeless Response measure on August 13, 2013. Within hours, police officers realized that they were to be charged with the duty of regularly chauffeuring its area's approximately 1,500 homeless belles, gents and children into real or implied lockdown.

You see, they threaten the fledging shoots of an economic upturn for the fortunate. The Have Nots are standing in the way of post-recession profit and some City Council leaders decided that the most disenfranchised of all should be 'held accountable'.

Along with many American cities damaged by the Bushee economy, Columbia rightfully seeks to revitalize its core.  In this case, 181 prime acres of Capitol City land formerly occupied by the state mental hospital near their historic center. It may not have the number of zero's attached to say, a Hoboken, New Jersey development project ... but the City Council believes their Bull Street Development will lay golden eggs aplenty for the Makers if handled properly.

Which includes evicting the growing homeless population of Takers from their coveted Downtown. And keeping them out ... the Council ideally wanted armed police on guard to keep it clear of the unwashed/unwanted. There are even grandiose hopes for a multi-million sports $tadium. Revenue and dignified rebel yells.

Prudently, wiser minds and a public outcry prevailed. The Council's Draconian accommodation measures were rejected, reversed and evinced proper amounts of disgust by September 3rd. ||Free Times original story  ||  A Richland county council member was quoted as saying they had barely avoided "concentration camps".

Now how might enough of these neatening 'shelters' for Columbia, S.C. have magically appeared, given both the city and state's much-touted dedication to fiscal responsibility? Never fear, the conservative members of the City Council proposed the perfect storm of Republican solutions:  appropriate these homeless slackers' collective wealth,  in the form of food assistance monies, disability benefits or any other government handouts the recipients might be mishandling.

Presumably they'd each be handed Seinfeldean Puffy Shirts in exchange.

Columbia Councilman Cameron Runyan*, the savant co-creator and champion of the homeless relocation program called the Emergency Homeless Response" [ PDF here:  ] would know well the plight of the homeless in the historic downtown - he and his family proudly attend the First Presbyterian Church -- a stroll from the Bull Street development and re-gentrification project. Runyan said the city must maintain “a healthy tension” between caring for the homeless and holding them accountable.

According to The Free Times, Runyan has made this issue a personal crusade.       ||  Story here  ||  Not unsympathetic, he merely believes in the Lipton Brigade slash Randian boot-strap model of upward mobility, saying "We have to understand that the only cure for poverty is commerce. That is the only true response to poverty, to get people out of poverty. So if poverty is left unchecked, it will destroy commerce. So we've got to protect commerce to have a response to poverty."
Corporations may now be people, but in conservative southern climes commerce is clearly valued over y'all.

Homeless in South Carolina

Photo credit: dcexposed dot com

Original story

Photo by Sean Rayford - Free Times

Two people walk past an urban camping scene on Main Street in Columbia in August 2013. Photo by Sean Rayford - Free Times

Original story

Southern-fried irony: Columbia threw itself a splashy 50th year celebration of their importance to the Civil Rights movement.
Original story

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Switzerland fights Income Inequality

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AlpenhornGroup

Because of Swiss banks' privacy policies, (no longer as private as they once were) we tend to think of Switzerland as a bastion of capitalism in the 'free enterprise - if you don't make it, that's your problem' libertarian sense.

But that's just not the case.

I was talking with a Swiss pilot yesterday about how much I admire his country (which I've often visited).  One thing which always struck me about it was how well government and free enterprise work together (not against each other as the right-wingers here see the way to go) to create prosperity for all.  The Swiss would never tolerate the type of income inequality we (now after years of Republican obstruction and destruction) take for granted.

Take a look at this story from Bloomberg Business Week:

The Swiss Join the Fight Against Inequality

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Jobs: "There's a reason the U.S. eats China's dust."

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doonesbury jobs smaller

Jobs, income inequality, minimum wage, and the economy in general are expected to be major topics that will likely be covered extensively by the media and in campaign ads in 2014.

Speaking of which, are any of you fans of Jeff Danziger's political cartoons? I love his stuff, both artistically and politically. Why, here's one on income inequality now!

danziger cartoon minimum wage income inequality jobs

Which leads us to his op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times on "where the jobs are." Please read the whole thing, because he has a lot to say and managed to say it in a relatively short piece.

Danziger simplified the issue so that even a Republican could understand it. He offered some real-life examples of how the "global economy" has affected all of us, including stories of people he knows personally or has simply encountered in his daily travels. And some of those people were woefully ignorant.

Here's an excerpt from the post, but again, this one deserves a read, so please follow the linky:

Over the last 20 years, countries around the world have ditched their communist governments, or at least turned their backs on strict communist economic principles. At the same time, India and other Asian nations have rapidly moved into global trade. This has meant billions more workers around the world competing with American workers to make stuff and offer services. At the same time, shipping has become more efficient and economical, and international communication has become cheap, instantaneous and simple. And since the international workers are willing to accept extremely low wages, they have the advantage. Around the world, subsistence farmers have transformed themselves into subsistence factory workers.

And during this entire period, what did the United States government do to meet this challenge? Nothing.

Happy New Year, Big Corporate Biz! Underpaid workers, among others, thank you, as do dying American industries.

As Danziger notes, "Perhaps unemployment is how we learn economics." That's us, alright, always learning the hard way.

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