Archive for wealth gap

"The Pitchforks Are Coming for the Millionaires", says Zillionaire to Politico

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frabz-The-Media-mentions-koch-brothers-I-picture-Randolph-and-Mortimer-16c057

Mike Allen swung by MSNBC to tell us just how up front even a center-leaning outfit like Politico is featuring on the stars of the new American plutocracy. Or oligarchy. The folks you see on the business end of a briskly waving pitchfork.

Personally, the Koch Broz. seem more like oligarchs, but that may because I always picture them in crowns that would put the ones adjacent to the Great Tower of London in the shade.

That's why they, the 1%er oligarchy plutocrats like the Koch Sons-a'-Bitches Brothers are so easy for us pitchfork wielders to find … they're large and sparkly. And probably slow.

 

Image, Cagle Cartoons

Image, Cagle Cartoons

Give a gander to mogul and model of American capitalism, Nick Hanauer. He kinda sorta helped blow up Amazon. And he's the one saying "I see pitchforks."

 

The actual article over at Politico is worth the read, excerpted here for a quickie.

Memo: From Nick Hanauer
To: My Fellow Zillionaires
You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries—from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor. Then I founded aQuantive, an Internet advertising company that was sold to Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. In cash. My friends and I own a bank. I tell you all this to demonstrate that in many ways I’m no different from you. Like you, I have a broad perspective on business and capitalism. And also like you, I have been rewarded obscenely for my success, with a life that the other 99.99 percent of Americans can’t even imagine. Multiple homes, my own plane, etc., etc. You know what I’m talking about. ...

Now I own a very large yacht. But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?

Cartoon, Jeff Danziger, GoComics.com

Cartoon, Jeff Danziger, GoComics.com

I see pitchforks.
Now that is refreshing. A rich guy who remembers what it was like to take his first big risk - who sees income inequality.

By Jeebus, he probably even believes in climate change. And I wonder what he thought about the SCROTUS Hobby Lobby debacle.

trickle-down

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"Think what Ballmer's play money could do to help farmers and their children."

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it's all about the money 2

Let's talk money. Few people have enough. A very, very few are sitting on craploads of money, *coughKOCHS, ADELSONcough* but most of us aren't.

GOP Congress members block any Democratic bill that aims to rectify that. *coughMINIMUMWAGEcough* Without wage hikes, the "have-nots" can't spend money. Without that money going into the economy, our situation remains stagnant. And Americans continue to struggle.

But that's okay with Republicans. That way they can blame it all on the president and use his/the Dems' "failure" as a fundraising ploy to win elections while claiming they could do better. Never mind that they've come up with no plan of their own other than that proven catastrophe called austerity. *coughPAULRYANcough*

Billionaires and corporations continue to hoard their money, while the rest of us agonize over how to stay above water, feed and clothe our kids, and simply make it through another day.

And with that, here are a couple of Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Thank you for Friday's compelling story about agricultural workers in the Central Valley ("Dreams die in drought"). I was moved by the plight of these families struggling to get by, and chagrined at the number of children they bring into the world and the stress that this adds.

If someone ever wondered about the differences between the haves and the have-nots, one need only read this story and the adjacent one about the obscene price Ballmer might pay for the Clippers ("NBA record $2 billion offered for Clippers," May 29) .

The fat cats sit game-side doodling on their cellphones while field laborers eke out an existence, or don't. Just think what Ballmer's play money could do to help these farmers and their children.

I only hope the Mormon missionaries in the moving Column One learn from the example of Jesus to not only feed the poor but also to fight for justice for the least of those among us.

Philip Spradling

Pasadena

***

Economist Brad Schiller cautions that President Obama's proposal to boost the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. He doesn't mention the multiplier effect of a wage increase. ("A higher minimum wage -- at what cost?," Opinion, May 27)

The multiplier effect is the single most powerful factor in growing an economy. It is to macroeconomics what compounding is to investing.

Schiller mentions the 500,000 jobs that "might" be lost (according to the Congressional Budget Officer report), but he conveniently omits the fact that the CBO also states that the wages of 16.1 million workers would go up. The positive multiplier effect on the 16.1 million workers would more than make up for the negative multiplier effect of the 500,000 who "might" lose their jobs by creating new jobs due to added demand.

In 1992, James Carville famously coined the phrase, "It's the economy, stupid." It's time for an update: "It's the multiplier effect, stupid."

Eric Geisterfer

San Pedro

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The Kochocracy

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la cucaracha Charles Koch KochocracyVia Lalo Alcaraz

Another snark-filled guest post by the one, the only Will Durst, who's having a little fun with those pesky, corporate 1%ers. Or as Will calls them, the Kochocracy. Take it away, Will:

THE KOCHOCRACY

In the bad old days, medieval German Lords figured out how to pocket some quick coin by charging a toll on the primitive paths meandering across their lands. The money wasn’t used to improve the roads or better the lives of the peasants or clean the rivers their pigs pooped in but rather heighten the piles in their treasury. Even back then, you just couldn’t have enough pewter candlesticks.

These were the first robber barons. Literally. Rich people whose sole pursuit was to survive to become richer people. A criminal aristocracy. A term history has proved redundant.

During the Gilded Age, the flushest 1% of the country held 1/3 of the national income. In the 1920s, this figure ramped up to 2/5ths. Molehills compared to today’s mountainous wealth, where the richest 400 American families control more money than the poorest 165 million of their fellow citizens put together. And if all 165 million were knelt end to end, those 400 families would have footrests from any compass point.

6 members of the Walton Family have accrued as much money as the bottom 41% of all Americans. Now, how hard would it be for them to cover the health care of WalMart employees? They’d still be worth as much as the bottom 34%. How many pewter candlesticks does one family need? You’d think they could get them wholesale.

In decision after decision the Supreme Court has equated money with free speech. Which would be great if it meant the more we spoke, the more we’re worth. But, alas, no. That’s not the deal. Pretty much the opposite, come to think of it.

Rich people have exploited these high court rulings like foxes given skeleton keys to the Tyson chicken empire. Any politician who espouses lowering taxes on the rich and blunting the powers of the poor gets backed. With unlimited sums. Of course the poor have free speech too, but we might as well be whispering downstage at a Metallica concert.

A plutocracy is a society where the rich make the rules- quickly becoming our norm. The 9th richest man in the world, Sheldon Adelson, focuses on politicians whose Israeli policies most closely mirror his. That’s it. One issue. In 2012, he gave 90 million to various GOP presidential candidates. And in the next election cycle, he is reportedly ready to triple that number, recently holding auditions in Las Vegas for his own personal presidential candidate American Idol. Once again: not Clay Aiken.

The most Darth- like of the new Robber Barons are the Koch Brothers, (rhymes with rock) David and Charles, each richer than Adelson. These self- made inheritors of a vast oil empire are responsible for jumpstarting the Tea Party and ALEC, and are now hand picking candidates all over the country; pouring in vast amounts of money to get them and their skewed legacies elected. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is one of the first generation Kochbots. And a bit glitchy.

If so desired, the Koch Family could spend a billion dollars a year for the next 85 years buying politicians. Bankrupting the rest of us through Kochbot legislated tolls on the primitive paths meandering across Koch owned lands. Especially egregious when ALL lands are Koch owned. Get ready for the American Kochocracy.

Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com to find about more about his new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” info about the documentary film “3 Still Standing,” and a calendar guide to personal appearances.

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DC ignores the real threats to national security including guns, climate change, Wall St.

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national security insecurityThis post about the actual threats to our national security, by my pal Mark Karlin via BuzzFlash at Truthout, is a must-read:

The most significant peril to our ability to live peaceful and comfortable lives comes from menaces that the DC politicians do little or nothing about.

You can start with allowing the NRA to impose an Ayn Rand vision of guns unlimited on the nation and its resulting toll in about 30,000 deaths a year (homicides, suicides and accidents) and the rippling psychological impact of insecurity on the nation. If al-Qaeda wanted to create the death toll of 10 9/11s each year, they might have gotten better bang for their buck by just financing the gun lobby.

Add to that the scientific validation that we may have passed the threshold on reversing impending catastrophic climate change, as DC elected officials throw campaign fundraising events while the world's environment is deteriorating rapidly. What could be a graver risk to the nation than a sixth mass extinction on this planet? Yes, we have a military-surveillance- intelligence -industrial complex that is a beast that feasts on our tax dollars - but killing civilians in a faraway land with drones is not only a hideous act of murder, it represents the triumph of the self-interest of the so-called defense establishment over what the pressing priorities of ensuring national security really are.

Shouldn't hundreds of billions of dollars be expeditiously transferred to a much-needed cabinet Department to Stabilize the Earth's Climate? [...]

Moreover, Thomas Piketty, in his groundbreaking book Capital, uses data from 20 countries dating back to the 1800s to prove that the increasing concentration of money and assets in the hands of a few threatens democracy. What is a greater hazard to our constitutional form of government, al-Qaeda or the oligarchy pulling the strings in Washington and playing fast and loose with the economy with impunity?

Please read the entire post here.

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Soros is no Koch brother

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Soros is no Koch brother, close up

Those on the right love to compare the Kochtopus to George Soros. Yes, both the Koch brothers (scroll) and George Soros are wealthy individuals who donate to the party and candidates of their choice. They're allowed to by law, even more so under the most recent (and terrible) Supreme Court decision.  But that's where the comparison should end.

Which brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor about the difference between these "big spenders":

Re "Big spenders," Letters, April 8

One letter writer asserts that exposing the Koch brothers' financial involvement in various conservative causes is mudslinging. He claims their political spending is no different than that of major Democratic donors such as George Soros and unions.

What the writer fails to acknowledge is that the Kochs fund a web of foundations and organizations created by and for themselves to promote their own views. Their political groups are given populist-sounding names — such as Americans for Prosperity — that distract from their real purpose, which is to protect the Kochs' extraordinary personal fortune.

And, but for their wealth, many of these organizations would either cease to exist or lack real political clout.

In comparison, when Soros and unions make political donations, they do not take extraordinary lengths to hide their involvement. We know to whom they gave and how much. The same cannot be said for the Kochs.

That is the difference.

Robert J. Switzer

West Hollywood

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Don't let Paul Ryan near your money

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Paul Ryan ugh this guy

He's ba-a-ack. Yes, Paul Ryan and his "budget" (quotes required, because it's not a budget, it's a redundantly cruel joke) have returned to make the 99% miserable as it caters to the top 1%.

In his Los Angeles Times column, the brilliant Michael Hiltzik takes Paul Ryan and his Very Serious Plan apart. He rips into Privatize Ryan's latest attempt to screw the middle class and the poor by cutting government programs, killing Medicare and Social Security, and thumbing his nose at everyone who knew better than to vote for him and his "severely conservative" running mate.

Read our lips, Paul: Austerity doesn't work.

Via AusterityNut.com

What's the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah:

insanity doing same thing over different results

Hiltzik also manages to get a word or two in about GW Bush's squandering of the Clinton surpluses on tax breaks for the wealthy and how he spent borrowed funds on wars without bothering to raise income taxes.

Take it away, Michael:

There should be a rule--or even a law--that politicians who propose "fixes" to Social Security should at least show they know something about the program. By that standard, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would flunk. [...]

But the trust fund is still growing, because Social Security's income streams--the payroll tax, interest on its bonds, and revenues from income taxation of benefits--still are sufficient to cover current benefits, and then some. [...]

As I've written before, when you hear people like Paul Ryan talk as though the country can't afford to pay back the money by redeeming the bonds in the trust fund, what you're hearing is the sound of the wealthy preparing to stiff the working class. [...]

[I]f Ryan has his way, yes, the money will be stolen. It's up to you and me to make sure that doesn't happen. So, to put all these pieces together, there's no "dubious government accounting" involved here--the dubious accounting is all Ryan's. [...]

The most important factor is the one that people like Ryan want you to forget: The money in the Social Security trust fund came directly or indirectly from the payroll taxes paid by millions of American workers--100% of it. It was paid by workers in the trust that the government would pay it back. Paul Ryan is hinting, pretty strongly, that he doesn't want to pay it back. 

So why would you trust him? 

Exactly. Why would anyone trust this guy? Especially after the abysmal response to his previous Kill Medicare/Social Security proposals.

paul ryan really really bad screen grab

Please read Hiltzik's entire piece here.

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Oops! Constituent to Rep. Paul Ryan: #Obamacare helps. Ryan: "Repeal it" is "urban legend."

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medicare poster paul ryan, eric cantor, boehner

Remember this? Hey America, guess what! Paul Ryan still wants to kill Medicare! Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan defends GOP "Kill Medicare" plan in new ad. Which was a sequel to VIDEO: Paul Ryan heckled at Iowa State Fair about killing Medicare, war on middle class and Poll-itics: Older and attentive Americans do not approve of GOP Kill Medicare Plan and La Cucaracha: Ryan "Kill Medicare" coupon found in newpaper! ...among others.

And, as Think Progress notes, Ryan has also been "one of the primary architects of the GOP’s ongoing crusade to repeal and replace Obamacare. But even his own Republican constituents have a thing or two to say about that:

Transcript courtesy of Think Progress:

MICHAEL MARTINCIC, 64: What Obama did was get this law passed. Whether it’s good, bad, or not, it got passed. It’s actually helping some people grow, helped this other guy [with] medication. The Republicans….By myself…I could actually…get some kind of subsidy, which would help me…

RYAN: With the ACA, one thing I want to say is we didn’t have 51 votes to repeal it altogether 51 times. I think that’s sort of like this urban legend that we said, ‘let’s repeal it.’ It’s like we did a repeal vote on the whole law. There are many pieces of this law that we’ve gone after—several of them that were made into law, so please know—I think even Democrats would acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with this law. And so we passed a lot of things changing this law—several of which were made into law—but I really do believe there’s a better way to do it than with this health care law.

My argument is that I think there are better ways at dealing with these extremely important and legitimate problems, like people with preexisting conditions—this is why I’m a big fan of risk pools. We had the [??] system in Wisconsin—it worked well, and then it had the federal government attached to it, so it was even more affordable for people with preexisting conditions. That was one of our proposals. So I do think that there are better ways of fixing this problem—affordable coverage for everybody, including people with preexisting conditions that’s a lot better than [this law]. It’s going to hurt our hospitals, it’s going to hurt Medicare, it’s going to make people buy things they don’t want to buy.

Wait what? "It's going to hurt Medicare"? Seriously, Paul Ryan? That came out of your mouth? You, the king of the Kill Medicare bills?

When ThinkProgress asked him whether he thinks Ryan sees the people like himself, who could benefit from Obamacare, Martincic shook his head. “He misses it.

Ryan's not just missing "it," he's missing a few things, like a few cans from his revered six pack.

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