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As the price of meat continues to skyrocket, will it soon be considered a "luxury item" for most American families? This week we learned that the price of meat in the United States rose at the fastest pace in more than 10 years last month. Leading the way is the price of shrimp. According to the [...]
HAPPY TAX DAY, AND WHY THE TOP 1% PAY A MUCH LOWER TAX RATE THAN YOU
It’s tax time again, April 15, when our minds turn toward paying the taxes we owe or possibly getting a tax refund. But what we don’t think about enough is whether our tax system is fair. The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they’d pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else.
But you’d be wrong. Many millionaires pay a lower federal tax rate than many middle-class Americans.
Some don’t pay any federal taxes at all. That’s because they‘re allowed to deduct from their taxable income such things as large interest payments on mortgages for huge homes, also the costs of business entertainment and conferences (aka vacations at golf resorts), and gold plated health care plans.
Some also take advantage of tax loopholes that let them park some of their earnings in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas or the Netherlands Antilles.
And other loopholes that allow them to treat some income as capital gains – subject to a much lower tax rate than ordinary income. If you happen to be a hedge-fund or private-equity manager, there’s a capital gains loophole designed especially for you.
Consider the Social Security payroll tax and the situation is even more lopsided. That tax applies to every dollar of income up to a cap — which this year is $117,000. Anything earned above the cap is not subject to Social Security taxes at all – meaning anyone with a high income pays a much smaller percentage of it in Social Security taxes than most people do.
Put these all together and you see why Warren Buffet, the second richest person in America, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, as he readily admits.
State and local taxes are even more regressive. The poorest fifth of Americans pay an average state and local tax rate of over 11 percent, while the richest fifth pay only 5.6 percent. This isn’t small change. State and local taxes account for about 40 percent of all government revenues.
Believe it or not, Republicans want to make all this worse by cutting taxes on the wealthy even more. Paul Ryan’s new budget doesn’t just slice Medicare, education, and food stamps. It also lowers the top federal tax rate to 25 percent.
When the rich are let off the hook in all these ways, the rest of America has to pay more in taxes to make up the difference – or have services cut because government doesn’t have the funds.
Dark Legacy documentary trailer Eight months after President Kennedy’s assassination, the US 1% staged the “false flag” (and here) Gulf of Tonkin incident to escalate invasion and unlawful War of Aggression on Vietnam. This lie-started US 1% War of Aggression … Continue reading →
JFK assassinated by US 1% War Criminals: 4 powerful learning resources was originally published on Washington's Blog
426 Dead Syrian Children? US 1% Heartlessly Poverty-Kill 1 Million Children/Month in Gruesome Slow...
File photo shows Iran Najm supertanker.
A recent report shows that China's February crude oil imports from the Islamic Republic of Iran have increased by more than eighty percent compared to the corresponding period last year.
China, Iran's top crude oil customer, bought nearly 2.0 million tons of Iranian crude in February, equivalent to about 521,330 barrels per day (bpd). The figure rose 81 percent from 288,576 bpd a year earlier, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, China's biggest refiner announced that it will process more Iranian crude oil at its second-largest plant in 2013 than in 2012.
"We have followed the government's requirement to maximize our import volume from Iran (this year)," Yu Xizhi, president of Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Corp, said.
"After all, China and Iran enjoy good relations," he noted.
At the beginning of 2012, the United States and the European Union (EU) imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.
On October 15, 2012, the EU foreign ministers agreed on another round of sanctions against Iran.
The illegal US-engineered sanctions were imposed based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran rejects the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The owner of British Gas is running the gauntlet of public anger as it revealed a £606 million profit haul at its residential arm months after hiking customer tariffs.
Centrica said an 11% rise in profits at British Gas residential came after last year's colder-than-normal weather saw gas use leap 12% and in spite of a 1% fall in customer accounts to 15.7 million in 2012.
The results are likely to raise questions over the fairness of energy bill increases after British Gas raised tariffs by 6% for around 8.4 million households at the end of last year.
Group adjusted operating profits rose 14% to £2.7 billion, but Centrica said it paid more than £1 billion in tax and invested £2.7 billion in 2012.
Directors from the company have appeared on television to defend the results.
Chris Jansen, managing director of services and commercial at Centrica, said a colder winter last year contributed to the rise in profits. He told Daybreak: "I completely understand our profits announced today will create a reaction with customers.
"I think it's important to remember that in 2011 it was a very, very mild winter ... so the country used a lot less gas, and actually our profits in 2011 were 20% down on 2010."
Asked whether customers would face further price increases, Mr Jansen replied: "It's impossible for me to say that, that's like looking at a crystal ball. The general trend for energy prices are prices are increasing. All we say to customers is let's do what we can to control energy bills. Prices might be going up but bills don't need to if we control our energy use."
Ian Peters, managing director of residential energy for British Gas, said: "If I look into the future we have no plans to put prices up even higher, the gas prices are relatively calm."
Asked on BBC Breakfast how long into the future - and if the firm was committing to not putting prices up - he said: "I can't do that because the gas market is volatile. But right now, as I say, it is very early in the year, we work in a very competitive market and it is not in our interest or our customers' to put prices up. So we will do everything we can not to do that."
When unions decline, inequality soars and we all lose.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
February 6, 2013 |
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If you truly care about economic justice, then you've got to worry about the precipitous decline of labor unions in the United States. Just take a look at these two charts. The first shows the rise and decline of union membership in the private sector from the depths of the Great Depression to today. You can clearly see that unions were a very big deal from the mid-1930s to the early 1980s. By 1953, more than one out of three American workers were members of private sector unions. That means there was a union member in nearly every family.
Through the late 1950s and 1960s, the percentage of union members declined, but the absolute number continued to increase, peaking at nearly 21 million members in 1979, (largely due to the influx of public sector workers during the 1960s and 70s). Then the decline accelerated as the share of union members fell by half between the mid-1970s and the early 1990s. (If we include public employee union members, the current rate is 11.3 percent.)
The second chart traces the share of our national income grabbed by the top one percent of U.S. households. It's basically the inverse of the unionization chart. When unions were at their strongest, inequality was the lowest. In 1928, the top one percent hauled off 23.94 percent of all U.S. income. As unions grew, the income share for the richest dropped to less than 10 percent. And as unions declined, the income share going to the wealthiest shot right back up to 1928 levels.
It's not a coincidence. When unions are strong, they bargain for higher wages and benefits. At the same time, non-union employers increase wages and benefits to attract qualified workers and prevent unions from coming in. Also, unions work for legislation that benefits middle- and low-income people (unemployment benefits, minimum wage, progressive taxation, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security etc.). Overall, those efforts shift income from the top to the middle and bottom of the income ladder. (For more information on inequality, please see my new book, How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning Off America's Wealth ).
What Happened to Unions?
While working with the labor movement over the past 35 years, I've heard myriad explanations for the decline: unions are not democratic enough; they don't know how to organize the community; they're victims of globalization; they are too bureaucratic; they don't work hard enough in politics; they don't embrace young people and minorities...and so on. While many of these problems are real, I don't believe they explain what's really going on -- namely that unions and the rest of us are on the losing side of a gigantic class war.
The top one percent understands that unions are the only institution in America that stands in the way of the rich getting richer. As a result, the assault on unions has been deliberate and merciless. Step by step, labor laws have been weakened so that organizing new members has become nearly impossible. For example, employees get fired right and left for organizing activities in violation of labor law. But, employers are rarely charged by the National Labor Relations Board. And when they are, the only penalty is that the discharged workers get back their jobs and back-wages -- minus what they earned in the meantime.
Republican-dominated state governments are attacking public employee unions and further weakening labor protections. Almost every day we see laws proposed that would weaken the ability of unions to engage in political action. The goal is clear -- zero percent unionization.
Via Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.
- Henry David Thoreau
Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.
- Edward Abbey
When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.
- Jean-Paul Sartre
The Stock Market: Food Stamps for the 1%
For most of the past four or five years, I have spent the majority of my time studying the dominant forces that fuel the power structure that exists in these Unites States today, and indeed throughout the world. My education began quite suddenly and unexpectedly in the middle of the last decade when I started understanding fiat money, Central Banking and the global monetary system. Since then, I have expanded my understanding to mainstream media brainwashing, the military-industrial complex, the role of the political oligarchs in Washington D.C., the corruption of the food industry under the complicity of the FDA itself and much more. The more I peered under the curtain, no matter what the industry, the clearer it became that the system had no chance of survival under its current form. What’s worse, it became obvious that the very small 0.01% of the population that I call oligarchs (financial and political), who are actively gaming the system for their own pleasure, are well aware of the system’s terminal nature. That’s why they are rapidly putting in place the police state grid.
That said, this article is not about the implementation of the surveillance state. I cover that pretty much daily these days. This post is more of a philosophical stream of consciousness; a guilty pleasure that I have not engaged in as of late.
I have mentioned many times in the past that food stamps are just a payoff to the poor. While I think a permanent and expanding welfare state is completely and utterly destructive to an economy and culture, I do not demonize these folks. The vast majority of them would like to work and be productive. They are victims and this is being done to them quite intentionally. It creates dependency. It keeps them off the streets. It’s an unspoken bribe plain and simple. The oligarchs do not want angry, roving, hungry masses on the streets while they strip mine what’s left of the economy. Food stamps, disability and all sorts of other freebies take care of this segment of the population as the oligarchs continue on with their crimes and prepare for the day of reckoning (hence the surveillance grid).
However, the oligarchs have another problem to deal with. This problem is the huge group of people that resides in between them and the poor. Ideally, they would like to shove all of them into the poverty category and keep them barely alive and on dole of the government. That way, the politically connected large corporations that do not pay taxes and receive bailouts can continue to pay them peasant wages while the government takes care of the rest. It’s a win-win. The situation I just described is exactly what is happening as we speak and has been occurring at an ever frequent pace since the coup of 2008. This is exactly why people are buying guns, gold and are extremely negative on the economy and the future of the United States. I recently discussed this in my post Gallup Poll: Americans Most Negative on the Nation and Economy in 30 Years. If you read the Gallup data in detail you will see that this level of negative readings only occur during very bad economic times. The average person can feel themselves getting poorer despite the nonsense spewed by the mainstream media. Their standards of living don’t lie and no amount of false statistics can change that. As John Adams famously said: Facts are stubborn things.
Stubborn indeed; and this is where the stock market comes into play. Banana Ben Bernanke has not made it a secret that he is directly targeting a higher stock market with his purchasing power destroying money printing. He has made that clear from pretty much the beginning. The idea is that a higher market will improve the balance sheets of pensions, individual retirement accounts and also create a psychological impact that will make people feel confident and thus boost the economy. It is the last point that is of course most important. If the latter does not happen then the boost in stock prices is merely an unsustainable bubble that will burst and all the “good” that was done to balance sheets will be undone with a vengeance at some point in the future. The latter did not happen.
As much as people like to talk about the 1% versus the 99%, the real winners since 2008 have been the oligarchs. The 0.01% have benefited much more than any other class in terms of both money and power. It’s the 0.01% versus everyone else and the quicker we recognize that, stop fighting amongst ourselves, and push them aside the better it will be for our species.
As I have repeatedly stated, the oligarchs are using the current period in between financial panics to put in place the surveillance grid they plan to use on the population once the SHTF. It is of extreme importance that the masses stay apathetic and obedient in the process. Hence food stamps for the poor and the stock market for the 1%.
I grew up around the 1%. It’s my socioeconomic class. I know the 1% intimately. There’s nothing special about the 1%. Most of them are very average and very lucky. Of course there are many, many exceptions but there are exception in all classes. Sure they are slightly more educated than the rest of the population, but on average are not any more intellectually curious than the 99% and are just as easily manipulated by propaganda and more importantly money.
More than any other group, the 1% has been convinced that the stock market represents some sort of leading indicator of wealth and prosperity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, the stock market can function as such an indicator. It is such an indicator when the rising stock market reflects a dynamic, capitalist economy where new industries and companies are rising to the top and improving standards of living for the populace. It represents the opposite indicator when it merely reflects the ownership interests of the oligarchs in a crony-capitalist, fascist economy that is picking away at the dying carcass of what little economic freedom still remains. This is what a rising stock market actually represents today. When people look at it they should understand it is merely a measure of the oligarchs getting wealthier and more powerful and you becoming more of a debt slave. It represents their interests in multinational corporations with record profit margins because they refuse to pay their employees a living wage. A rising stock market today is actually a leading indicator of the destruction of the middle class, cultural destitution and a society in collapse.
The stock market is like slop in a pigpen. It is a key instrument used to keep the 1% from getting antsy. Unlike the middle class (a group that isn’t falling for any of the tricks), many of the 1% work on Wall Street or related industries and own stocks. Many of the people in the 1% are at least wealthy and connected enough to still cause serious problems for the oligarchs. They must be kept quiet as the coup that started in 2008 is brought to fruition. Then they will be left high and dry like everyone else. This is the role that the stock market is playing at the moment.
So as the 1% sits around analyzing a casino, the poor collect food stamps and the middle class dies. Many in the 1% look upon the poor on food stamps with disdain, yet little do they realize they are on food stamps as well. It’s called the stock market.
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The ten things you need to know on Friday 11 January 2013...
1% FOR YOU, 32% FOR US
Who says MPs are out of touch, eh? From the Mirror's splash:
"Grasping MPs sparked fury yesterday - by demanding a £20,000 pay rise.
"A poll showed 69% thought their £65,738 salary was not enough.
"Just days after capping benefits and branding hard-up families scroungers, they whined that they should get an average 32% increase."
That would take their salary to £86,250. According to the Guardian, the survey of MPs carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) found that Conservatives - the guys and girls behind the below-inflation 1% rise in benefits - were "the most likely to believe they were underpaid, with 47% saying so, while 39% of Labour MPs and 9% of Liberal Democrats held the same view".
Personally, I think there is a case to be made for higher salaries for MPs - but clearly now is not the time to make it. It's difficult to disagree with Unison's Dave Prentis: "At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32 per cent increase is living in cloud cuckoo land."
2) HERE COME THE GERMANS
First, Barack, now Angela. From the Times:
"David Cameron's hopes of negotiating looser ties between Britain and Brussels are all but impossible, according to an ally of Angela Merkel.
"Gunther Krichbaum, chairman of the Bundestag's European Affairs Committee, said that the Prime Minister's strategy was unwise and risked opening a Pandora's box that would threaten European stability.
"He also urged Mr Cameron not to "blackmail" the rest of Europe with threats as he tries win opt-outs from EU treaties."
The paper notes how his intervention comes "after President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Europe warned that Britain would be diminished in America's eyes if it marginalised itself within the EU.
"The flurry of diplomatic activity underlines the high stakes for Mr Cameron and his Europe policy with Britain's closest allies. The Prime Minister will promise a referendum in the next Parliament on a new relationship with the EU in a speech this month."
However, the Sun reports that
"David Cameron will hit back at President Obama’s attack on his EU referendum plan by unveiling a major European ally — the Dutch.
"The Sun has learned the PM will spell out his vision of a post-crisis Europe on January 22.
"And he will almost certainly make the speech in The Hague. Dutch leader Mark Rutte will back his bid to fight for powers and money to be returned to nation states."
3) GIVE MONEY, GET A JOB
You could not make this up. From the Independent:
"A Conservative Party donor and venture capitalist whose charity funds two academy schools was appointed an education minister today.
"Labour raised questions about a possible conflict of interest after John Nash was named as the successor to Lord Hill of Oareford, who was promoted to Leader of the Lords on Monday following the surprise resignation of Lord Strathclyde.
"Mr Nash, his family and companies have donated about Â£300,000 to the Conservatives since the mid-1980s. The charity he founded, Future, sponsors the Pimlico Academy and Millbank Primary Academy in London. He is a former chairman of the British Venture Capital Association."
Nash will be made a peer but won't take a salary and won't take any decisions in which his charity is involved.
Well, that's okay then.
4) BLAIR'S BANKING UNION
There was a time, not so long ago, when Tony Blair had to make do with a modest MP's salary.
Nowadays, however, as the Times reports, the ex-premier is able to do things like this:
"Tony Blair is in talks about a commercial alliance with one of the most highly paid bankers in the world.
"The combination would bring together Michael Klein's unrivalled contacts in global finance with the former Prime Minister's relationships in politics and government, particularly in the Middle East.
"The discussions, which could lead to a merger of their companies, highlight Mr Blair's ambitions for his commercial operations, which generate millions of pounds a year from advising governments and companies around the world.
The paper says "Mr Klein was co-head of Citigroup's investment bank, which made billions of dollars of losses on holdings of mortgage securities in the financial crisis".
A shameless alliance? You tell me.
5) 'SOCIAL ENGINEERING'
The former defence secretary and darling of the Tory right, Dr Liam Fox, has written a letter to 60 constituents. So what, I hear you ask?
Let the Daily Mail explain:
"Liam Fox has become the most prominent Conservative yet to announce that he will vote against gay marriage.
"The former defence secretary dismissed David Cameron's 'absurd' plans as a form of 'social engineering' that is 'divisive, ill-thought through and constitutionally wrong'.
"In a letter seen by the Daily Mail, Dr Fox said same-sex unions will alienate Conservative Party members and weaken the Church.
"He warned that pressing ahead with plans to introduce gay marriage is enraging 'sections of the British public who are not normally stirred to political anger', and called for a rethink before 'things get out of hand'."
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR..
Watch this video of two cats sharing one bowl of food. Go on, you know you want to..
6) PHONE HACKING, PART 557
The Guardian splashes on "the first hacking conviction":
"Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty of misconduct in public office at Southwark crown court after the jury decided she had tried to sell information from the phone-hacking inquiry, which was set up in 2010, to the News of the World."
Meanwhile, my colleague Ned Simons reports:
"The government will look 'absurd' if it rejects the Leveson Report’s recommendations for the regulation of the press in favour of a Royal Charter, a former chairman of the Conservative Party has said.
"Lord Fowler, also a former chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, has urged David Cameron to reverse his opposition to Lord Justice wrLeveson’s suggestion for the statuatory underpinning of the independent self-regulation of the press.
"On Friday peers will debate the Leveson Report, the recommendations of which has split parliament, the coalition and the Tory party down the middle."
7) WERE THE CURTAINS DRAWN, MATTHEW?
From the Daily Mail:
"Skills Minister Matthew Hancock missed his chance to publicise a flagship policy to help unemployed youths become more employable - by oversleeping.
"The red-faced minister was spurned by ITV's Daybreak after he was late for his primetime breakfast slot just before 7am.
"He has admitted that he could not get out of bed on time, despite the broadcaster sending a chauffeur-driven executive car to get him from his West London home."
8) 'THE RAPE OF JUSTICE'
A shocking story on the front of the Independent (with an eye-catching infographic as its image):
"Fewer than one rape victim in 30 can expect to see her or his attacker brought to justice, shocking new statistics reveal.
"Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people – the vast majority of them women – suffering the trauma of rape – according to the new research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.
"The figures have reignited controversy over the stubbornly low conviction rates for sex crimes, as well as the difficulties in persuading victims to go to police in the first place."
9) 'BARBARIC SLAUGHTER'
Is Pakistan's Sunni majority engaged in a war on its Shia minority? From the Guardian:
"The vicious double bombing of a snooker club capped one of the bloodiest days in Pakistan for many months yesterday, leaving more than 100 people dead and hundreds injured in three different attacks.
".. Many of the dead and wounded, Murtaza said, were from the Shia sect of Islam, which extremist groups drawn from Pakistan's majority Sunni population regard as heretics.
"Shias, many of whom are members of the Hazara ethnic community in Quetta, have been particularly targeted by sectarian terror groups. Human Rights Watch said the government's failure to protect Shias 'amounts to complicity in the barbaric slaughter of Pakistani citizens.'"
10) 'ONESIE NATION' LIB DEMS
'Call Clegg' on LBC yesterday morning didn't go so well for the deputy prime minister. Even though he had a little 'help' from his friends..
From the Daily Mail:
"After half an hour of tough questioning, Nick Clegg must have been relieved to get a light-hearted question about whether he had worn a onesie.
"But caller 'Harry from Sheffield', was later unmasked as Harry Matthews, 20, a Liberal Democrat student activist and former intern in Mr Clegg's office - who bought the outfit for him.
".. He describes himself online as 'King of the Young Liberals', and gave Mr Clegg the green Incredible Hulk onesie at a party.
"Speaking afterwards, Mr Clegg denied the call was a stunt, saying: 'Of course I had no idea who the guy was.'"
Nick Clegg's 'Incredible Hulk onesie' can be seen here.
The Huffington Post UK's picture desk has done a mock-up of Clegg wearing his green onesie here.
“My core philosophy," the Lib Dem leader joked in front of the parliamentary press gallery lunch yesterday, "is of the Onesie Nation"
PUBLIC OPINION WATCH
From the Sun/YouGov poll:
Lib Dems 11
That would give Labour a majority of 112.
140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
@DavidJonesMP Huge gap in my zeitgeist awareness. Until today I didn't know what a onesie was and thought it was pronounced "oh-kneesy".
@StewartWood Big paradox for UK Eurosceptics that their view that EU membership holds back our engagement with US & China is not shared by the US & China
@caitlinmoran Nadine Dorries: "The teenagers ask me a lot of questions now." "What about?" Unspoken answer: what it's like eating balls. #bbcqt
900 WORDS OR MORE
Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "If David Cameron wants to win in 2015 he must find a big problem to take on. Championing care of the elderly fits the bill."
Menzies Campbell, writing in the Guardian, says: "Britain's future in Europe must be defined by its national interests, not those of the Conservative party."
Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The Tories have a moral mission – and David Cameron should say so."
Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol