Friday, November 11, 2011

Behind the Scenes at OWS

Rick McKee - The Augusta Chronicle - Occupy Protester Costume - English - Occupy Wall Street, protester, Occupy, Halloween, costume, wealth redistribution

Danny Schechter, Press-TV, directs and narrates an excellent 25-minute documentary about behind the scenes at Occupy Wall Street.


The New GOP Tea Party Quiz Show Game: #1 Purveyor of Non-Truths!

Via The Daily Beast

Most Ignorant GOP Presidential Hopefuls, from Herman Cain to Mitt Romney

Biggest whopper: The candidate with most falsehoods hails from the state where more is always better. Rick Perry’s biggest whopper has been repeated at several debates, including in Tampa in September and in Hanover in October: namely, that Texas created 1 million jobs while the country was losing 2.5 million jobs. The good governor goes back to January 2009 to get the national number, and during that span Texas created only about 100,000 jobs. Must be that Lone Star optimism. By 11 / 11
Biggest whopper: The former governor of Minnesota’s 2012 presidential bid lasted just four months, with Pawlenty bowing out in August. Still, he lasted long enough to score a couple of untruths. During the first debate in New Hampshire, he claimed when President Bush asked for National Guardsmen at the U.S.-Mexico border, he was “one of the few governors” to follow through. But Factcheck says that all 50 governors took the president up on his request. Tim Pawlenty: not so unique after all. By 3 / 11

Monday, November 7, 2011

Faceoff: Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party Movement (Infographic)

Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party |

The Conservative Misconception of Socialism

Today, for the Tea Party Republicans the new 'red scare' in society is the concept of Socialism. Conservatives have created a negative niche by equating 'Liberalism' with 'Socialism.' In order to educate the conservative side of the political scale, Nurse Pam does an excellent job "Explaining Socialism to a Republican."

I was talking recently with a new friend who I’m just getting to know. She tends to be somewhat conservative, while I lean more toward the progressive side.

When our conversation drifted to politics, somehow the dreaded word “socialism” came up. My friend seemed totally shocked when I said “All socialism isn’t bad”. She became very serious and replied “So you want to take money away from the rich and give to the poor?” I smiled and said “No, not at all. Why do you think socialism mean taking money from the rich and giving to the poor?

“Well it is, isn’t it?” was her reply.

I explained to her that I rather liked something called Democratic Socialism, just as Senator Bernie Sanders, talk show host Thom Hartman, and many other people do. Democratic Socialism consists of a democratic form of government with a mix of socialism and capitalism. I proceeded to explain to her the actual meaning terms “democracy” and “socialism”.

Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens take part. It is government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Socialism is where we all put our resources together and work for the common good of us all and not just for our own benefit. In this sense, we are sharing the wealth within society.

Of course when people hear that term, “Share the wealth” they start screaming, “OMG you want to rob from the rich and give it all to the poor!” But that is NOT what Democratic Socialism means.

To a Democratic Socialist, sharing the wealth means pooling tax money together to design social programs that benefit ALL citizens of that country, city, state, etc.

The fire and police departments are both excellent examples of Democratic Socialism in America. Rather than leaving each individual responsible for protecting their own home from fire, everyone pools their money together, through taxes, to maintain a fire and police department. It’s operated under a non-profit status, and yes, your tax dollars pay for putting out other people’s fires. It would almost seem absurd to think of some corporation profiting from putting out fires. But it’s more efficient and far less expensive to have government run fire departments funded by tax dollars.

Similarly, public education is another social program in the USA. It benefits all of us to have a taxpayer supported, publicly run education system. Unfortunately, in America, the public education system ends with high school. Most of Europe now provides low cost or free college education for their citizens. This is because their citizens understand that an educated society is a safer, more productive and more prosperous society. Living in such a society, everyone benefits from public education.

When an American graduates from college, they usually hold burdensome debt in the form of student loans that may take 10 to even 30 years to pay off. Instead of being able to start a business or invest in their career, the college graduate has to send off monthly payments for years on end.

On the other hand, a new college graduate from a European country begins without the burdensome debt that an American is forced to take on. The young man or woman is freer to start up businesses, take an economic risk on a new venture, or invest more money in the economy, instead of spending their money paying off student loans to for-profit financial institutions. Of course this does not benefit wealthy corporations, but it does greatly benefit everyone in that society.

EXAMPLE American style capitalistic program for college: If you pay (average) $20,000 annually for four years of college, that will total $80,000 + interest for student loans. The interest you would owe could easily total or exceed the $80,000 you originally borrowed, which means your degree could cost in excess of $100,000.

EXAMPLE European style social program for college: Your college classes are paid for through government taxes. When you graduate from that college and begin your career, you also start paying an extra tax for fellow citizens to attend college.

Question - You might be thinking how is that fair? If you’re no longer attending college, why would you want to help everyone else pay for their college degree?

Answer - Every working citizen pays a tax that is equivalent to say, $20 monthly. If you work for 40 years and then retire, you will have paid $9,600 into the Social college program. So you could say that your degree ends up costing only $9,600. When everyone pools their money together and the program is non-profit, the price goes down tremendously. This allows you to keep more of your hard earned cash!

Health care is another example: If your employer does not provide health insurance, you must purchase a policy independently. The cost will be thousands of dollars annually, in addition to deductible and co-pays.

In Holland, an individual will pay around $35 monthly, period. Everyone pays into the system and this helps reduce the price for everyone, so they get to keep more of their hard earned cash.

In the United States we are told and frequently reminded that anything run by the government is bad and that everything should be operated by for-profit companies. Of course, with for-profit entities the cost to the consumer is much higher because they have corporate executives who expect compensation packages of tens of millions of dollars and shareholders who expect to be paid dividends, and so on.

This (and more) pushes up the price of everything, with much more money going to the already rich and powerful, which in turn, leaves the middle class with less spending money and creates greater class separation.

This economic framework makes it much more difficult for average Joes to ”lift themselves up by their bootstraps” and raise themselves to a higher economic standing.

So next time you hear the word “socialism” and “spreading the wealth” in the same breath, understand that this is a serious misconception.

Social programs require tax money and your taxes may be higher. But as you can see everyone benefits because other costs go down and, in the long run, you get to keep more of your hard earned cash!

Democratic Socialism does NOT mean taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It works to benefit everyone so the rich can no longer take advantage of the poor and middle class.

There is a misconception spread by conservatives that lower taxes will lower individual costs. By spreading this misconception, the rich pay less tax, the middle class pay more while social services, that benefit everyone, get cut. The rich get richer while the poor and middle class have less money and less services. What is that called? It is called 'trickle down economy' and time and time again it has been proven not to work.

No Taxes, No Services

Steve Greenberg - Freelance, Los Angeles - Yapping creature - English - Grover Norquist,Republicans,tax,taxes,pledge,No New Taxes,GOP,GOP

Here's a great message by Stephen D. Foster Jr. about the "102 Things NOT To Do If You Hate Taxes."
So, you’re a Republican that hates taxes? Well, since you do not like taxes or government, please kindly do the following.

1. Do not use Medicare.
2. Do not use Social Security
3. Do not become a member of the US military, who are paid with tax dollars.
4. Do not ask the National Guard to help you after a disaster.
5. Do not call 911 when you get hurt.
6. Do not call the police to stop intruders in your home.
7. Do not summon the fire department to save your burning home.
8. Do not drive on any paved road, highway, and interstate or drive on any bridge.
9. Do not use public restrooms.
10. Do not send your kids to public schools.
11. Do not put your trash out for city garbage collectors.
12. Do not live in areas with clean air.
13. Do not drink clean water.
14. Do not visit National Parks.
15. Do not visit public museums, zoos, and monuments.
16. Do not eat or use FDA inspected food and medicines.
17. Do not bring your kids to public playgrounds.
18. Do not walk or run on sidewalks.
19. Do not use public recreational facilities such as basketball and tennis courts.
20. Do not seek shelter facilities or food in soup kitchens when you are homeless and hungry.
21. Do not apply for educational or job training assistance when you lose your job.
22. Do not apply for food stamps when you can’t feed your children.
23. Do not use the judiciary system for any reason.
24. Do not ask for an attorney when you are arrested and do not ask for one to be assigned to you by the court.
25. Do not apply for any Pell Grants.
26. Do not use cures that were discovered by labs using federal dollars.
27. Do not fly on federally regulated airplanes.
28. Do not use any product that can trace its development back to NASA.
29. Do not watch the weather provided by the National Weather Service.
30. Do not listen to severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service.
31. Do not listen to tsunami, hurricane, or earthquake alert systems.
32. Do not apply for federal housing.
33. Do not use the internet, which was developed by the military.
34. Do not swim in clean rivers.
35. Do not allow your child to eat school lunches or breakfasts.
36. Do not ask for FEMA assistance when everything you own gets wiped out by disaster.
37. Do not ask the military to defend your life and home in the event of a foreign invasion.
38. Do not use your cell phone or home telephone.
39. Do not buy firearms that wouldn’t have been developed without the support of the US Government and military. That includes most of them.
40. Do not eat USDA inspected produce and meat.
41. Do not apply for government grants to start your own business.
42. Do not apply to win a government contract.
43. Do not buy any vehicle that has been inspected by government safety agencies.
44. Do not buy any product that is protected from poisons, toxins, etc…by the Consumer Protection Agency.
45. Do not save your money in a bank that is FDIC insured.
46. Do not use Veterans benefits or military health care.
47. Do not use the G.I. Bill to go to college.
48. Do not apply for unemployment benefits.
49. Do not use any electricity from companies regulated by the Department of Energy.
50. Do not live in homes that are built to code.
51. Do not run for public office. Politicians are paid with taxpayer dollars.
52. Do not ask for help from the FBI, S.W.A.T, the bomb squad, Homeland Security, State troopers, etc…
53. Do not apply for any government job whatsoever as all state and federal employees are paid with tax dollars.
54. Do not use public libraries.
55. Do not use the US Postal Service.
56. Do not visit the National Archives.
57. Do not visit Presidential Libraries.
58. Do not use airports that are secured by the federal government.
59. Do not apply for loans from any bank that is FDIC insured.
60. Do not ask the government to help you clean up after a tornado.
61. Do not ask the Department of Agriculture to provide a subsidy to help you run your farm.
62. Do not take walks in National Forests.
63. Do not ask for taxpayer dollars for your oil company.
64. Do not ask the federal government to bail your company out during recessions.
65. Do not seek medical care from places that use federal dollars.
66. Do not use Medicaid.
67. Do not use WIC.
68. Do not use electricity generated by Hoover Dam.
69. Do not use electricity or any service provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
70. Do not ask the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild levees when they break.
71. Do not let the Coast Guard save you from drowning when your boat capsizes at sea.
72. Do not ask the government to help evacuate you when all hell breaks loose in the country you are in.
73. Do not visit historic landmarks.
74. Do not visit fisheries.
75. Do not expect to see animals that are federally protected because of the Endangered Species List.
76. Do not expect plows to clear roads of snow and ice so your kids can go to school and so you can get to work.
77. Do not hunt or camp on federal land.
78. Do not work anywhere that has a safe workplace because of government regulations.
79. Do not use public transportation.
80. Do not drink water from public water fountains.
81. Do not whine when someone copies your work and sells it as their own. Government enforces copyright laws.
82. Do not expect to own your home, car, or boat. Government organizes and keeps all titles.
83. Do not expect convicted felons to remain off the streets.
84. Do not eat in restaurants that are regulated by food quality and safety standards.
85. Do not seek help from the US Embassy if you need assistance in a foreign nation.
86. Do not apply for a passport to travel outside of the United States.
87. Do not apply for a patent when you invent something.
88. Do not adopt a child through your local, state, or federal governments.
89.Do not use elevators that have been inspected by federal or state safety regulators.
90. Do not use any resource that was discovered by the USGS.
91. Do not ask for energy assistance from the government.
92. Do not move to any other developed nation, because the taxes are much higher.
93. Do not go to a beach that is kept clean by the state.
94. Do not use money printed by the US Treasury.
95. Do not complain when millions more illegal immigrants cross the border because there are no more border patrol agents.
96. Do not attend a state university.
97. Do not see any doctor that is licensed through the state.
98. Do not use any water from municipal water systems.
99. Do not complain when diseases and viruses, that were once fought around the globe by the US government and CDC, reach your house.
100. Do not work for any company that is required to pay its workers a livable wage, provide them sick days, vacation days, and benefits.
101. Do not expect to be able to vote on election days. Government provides voting booths, election day officials, and voting machines which are paid for with taxes.
102. Do not ride trains. The railroad was built with government financial assistance.

The fact is, we pay for the lifestyle we expect. Without taxes, our lifestyles would be totally different and much harder. America would be a third world country. The less we pay, the less we get in return. Americans pay less taxes today since 1958 and is ranked 32nd out of 34 of the top tax paying countries. Chile and Mexico are 33rd and 34th. The Republicans are lying when they say that we pay the highest taxes in the world and are only attacking taxes to reward corporations and the wealthy and to weaken our infrastructure and way of life. So next time you object to paying taxes or fight to abolish taxes for corporations and the wealthy, keep this quote in mind…

“I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
It is time to face facts. Without the rich and the large corporations paying a higher tax rate, society will suffer. The American dream will be difficult unless you are rich and pay lower taxes than the rest of us.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Herman Cain: Truth or Not!

Herman Cain, a Republican candidate for president, is the former president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. PolitiFact has looked as several of Cain's statements while on the Presidential trail and has concluded that truth is not part of Cain's campaign strategy.

A few examples of Cain's statements lacking any shred of truth, include:
~Said Cain: ”We have the best healthcare in the world. We have a healthcare cost problem.”
~Reality: NOT!
"The U.S. does not have the “best healthcare in the world.” In fact, as the Commonwealth Fund reported, Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system."

~Said Cain: The 9-9-9 plan "does not raise taxes on those that are making the least."
~Reality: NOT!

Cain's math doesn't add up! The Tax Policy Center analyzed Cain’s plan and found that Cain’s tax plan would result in tax cuts for many of the wealthiest tax payers and tax increases for the poorest tax payers. That equates to 83.8 percent of tax filers would get a tax increase under Cain’s plan, compared with current tax policy.

~Said Cain:
In the U.S. Constitution, "there’s a little section in there that talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

~Reality: NOT!
It's not there. That phrase is in the second paragraph of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which was written in 1776, 11 years before the Constitution was drafted during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.

~Said Cain: "If we had been on 'Obamacare' and a bureaucrat was trying to tell me when I could get that CAT scan, that would have delayed my treatment."
~Reality: NOT!
A bureaucrat won't review individual cases. "Obamacare," is the Republicans' mocking name for the health care law that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010. But there is no part of the health care law that allows a government bureaucrat to weigh in on an individual's course of treatment -- not Cain's nor anyone else's.

~Said Cain: China is "trying to develop nuclear capability."
~Reality: NOT!
They've had it for more than 40 years. According to the U.S. State Department, China conducted its first test of a nuclear weapon in 1964. So Cain’s approximately 40 years behind the times. China is a long-standing nuclear power.

PolitiFact has more. Just click on the ruling to see all of Cain's statements for that ruling. As you can see, Cain has zero statements in the the TRUE category.
For Herman Cain truth may be elusive. But for all Americans, truth should be an absolute!!! requirement!

Is Your State Giving Corporate Welfare?

Joe Heller - Green Bay Press-Gazette - Corporate Taxes - English - Corporate Taxes, GE, general electric, income tax, profits, april 15, irs, 1040, rate, taxpayer, ceos, corporations loopholes

David Cay Johnston, a Reuters columnist, expresses his opinion about some employers being allowed to keep state income taxes, particularly in Illinois in "Paying taxes your employer keeps."

Hard earned income taken as a state tax is being given to some employers, not the state of IL

Painful as it feels to have a lot of hard-earned income taken from your paycheck for taxes, a new Illinois law does something Americans may find surprising. It lets some employers pocket taxes for 10 years.

You read that right — in Illinois the state income taxes withheld from your paycheck may be kept by your employer under a law that took effect in May. Continental Corporation, the big German tire maker; Motorola Mobility, the cell phone maker; and Navistar, the maker of diesel trucks for industry and the military, are in on the deal. State officials say a fourth company is negotiating a similar arrangement.

Chrysler and Mitsubishi arranged deals with the state in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009; Ford got one in 2007, since revised to let it keep half of its Illinois workers’ state income taxes. (See chart below.)

Instead of paying for police, teachers, roads and other state and local services that grease the wheels of commerce, Illinois workers at these companies will subsidize their employers with the state income taxes they pay.

Diverting taxes from public purposes to private gain

The deal to let employers keep half or all of their workers’ state income taxes represents a dramatic expansion of a little-known trend in the law: diverting taxes from public purposes to private gain.

Throughout the United States, big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Cabela’s, and in some cases entire shopping malls, often negotiate deals to keep sales taxes that customers pay at the cash register, using the money to finance construction of their stores. This gives them a huge advantage over retailers without such subsidies, while reducing revenue to local governments, which in turn creates pressure for higher taxes.

The pipeline industry


The pipeline industry, a collection of legal monopolies with rates that are regulated, gets to include the federal corporate income tax in the rates charged customers even though nearly all pipelines are exempt from the federal corporate income tax because they are organized as master limited partnerships. Evidence in one federal court case showed that collecting this tax, plus state income taxes, and then pocketing the taxes increased ultimate net after-tax profits by 75 percent.

The Illinois deal shows how competition between the states, and with other countries, helps big corporations wring subsidies from state governments even as the states are being forced to fire teachers and other public workers because of a weak economy that has cost jobs and tax revenue.

Why would the state let companies do this? Most big companies pay little or no state corporate income tax, because companies arrange to take expenses in higher tax states and profits in states with little or no corporate income tax. So the only way to finance incentives without the state writing a check is to let the companies pocket their workers’ state income tax.

Corporate Socialism

The Illinois deal also shows how government, rather than the market, picks winners and losers. While America promotes the dream of a free market and competition, this sort of corporate socialism has been around since before the founding of the republic and has played a key role in the rise of many industries, including railroads, aircraft, as well as computer hardware and software.

Warren Ribley, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said “it’s a fair question” as to whether taxpayers should be subsidizing businesses. He said elected leaders and the public should debate the issue.

“In the meantime,” Ribley said, “I am out there competing every single day with states and countries across the entire globe and I have got to have the tools and I have to use the tools provided by the General Assembly,” as the Illinois legislature is formally known.

State Representative Jack Franks, a Democrat from the northern end of Illinois, said the deals “are fundamentally unfair” to taxpayers and other companies.

“Our current governor had the genius idea of giving to Motorola and Navistar and others, he said to retain their business here, yet he is allowing Navistar to fire up to 25 percent of their workforce and still get millions from the state” by holding onto the income taxes of employees.

Money diverted from state needs to private corporate coffers


The Illinois law lets companies retain all of the income taxes withheld from the paychecks of workers whose hiring expands the payroll and half of the taxes for existing workers whose jobs are retained.

For Continental the deal means $22 million over 10 years diverted to its coffers from the state income taxes withheld from worker paychecks to help pay for a $224 million expansion of its Mount Vernon tire plant in southern Illinois. The deal will retain 2,500 jobs and create 400 more rather than prompt the plant to move to Mexico, Brazil or another state.

The hourly tire workers, under a two-tier pay scale that means lower wages for new hires, make either $19.35 an hour or $16.31 an hour. For a year that is pay of just under $34,000 to $40,000.

Based on a 3 percent average Illinois state income tax rate for people in that income range, and assuming Continental’s 2,500 hourly workers remain at the higher wage rate and 400 new workers are hired at the lower wage rate, the annual diversion of their income taxes would be as much as $1.9 million of the average $2.2 million annual benefit from the deal. Taxes paid by supervisors and managers, and expected higher wages in future years, account for the other $300,000 per year or so for the next decade.

Failure to create or retain jobs

Navistar is getting the deal even though its application shows it plans to reduce its workforce of 3,100 to about 2,200.

Ribley said companies that got earlier deals in which they avoided the state corporate income tax and then failed to create or retain jobs as promised have actually paid back the benefits.

The three companies that got the deal are not named in the law enacted in May, but the language of Public Act 97-2 defines them by describing the industry, employment level and other specifics that show how the law was tailored to benefit just them.

Here’s a prediction: other states soon will also authorize diverting income taxes withheld from worker paychecks to their employers, if some have not done so already — unless, of course, voters speak up on behalf of competitive markets and against this sort of corporate socialism.

The message
to employers from the State of Illinois is to hold out for corporate welfare. The message to the voter from the state of finances in Illinois is to fight against corporate socialism.