Tuesday, November 1, 2011

(What KIND of Fools Are We?) Welcome to the Greedocracy! (Karen Garcia at Sardonicky ROCKS!)

Robert Greenwald says it plainly with no apologies for being so presumptuous around his "betters."

Will we?

There’s the top 1% of wealthy Americans (bankers, oil tycoons, hedge fund managers) and there’s the top 0.01% of wealthy Americans: the military contractor CEOs.
If you’ve been following the War Costs campaign, you already know that these corporations are bad bosses, bad job creators and bad stewards of taxpayer dollars. What you may not know is that the huge amount of money these companies’ CEOs make off of war and your tax dollars places them squarely at the top of the gang of corrupt superrich choking our democracy. These CEOs want you to believe the massive war budget is about security — it’s not. The lobbying they’re doing to keep the war budget intact at the expense of the social safety net is purely about their greed.
In many areas, including yearly CEO salary and in dollars spent corrupting Congress, these companies are far greater offenders than even the big banks like JP Morgan Chase or Bank of America.

Egregious Military Contractor CEO pay 

The top 0.01% of earners make at least $9.14 million per year, a rarefied strata of income that includes defense company CEOs and Wall Street bank chieftains alike. But a deeper dive demonstrates how defense companies outpace the big banks’ knack for enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.
Military Contractor CEO Pay in 2010

Just to put that in context, consider how these annual payoffs compare to the people we’re used to thinking of as poster children for the top 1 percent:

Financial Sector CEO Pay in 2010

Considering how they stack up to financial sector heads, war industry CEOs aren’t just members of the 1%; they’re the super-elite among them, the one-hundredth of a percent.

Lobbying Domination

Disgusted by the overwhelming corporate influence in Congress? Look no further than the big military contractor companies, whose flagship companies spend enough on lobbying to dwarf even financial sector titans.

War Industry Lobbying Expenditures for 2010

Again, just to provide some context, here are the same lobbying totals for some of the most recognized names in the financial sector.

Financial Sector Lobbying in 2010

The war industry gets away with blowing our money on job-killing spending because it can bend Congress to its whim. In the process, the industry is like a vacuum sucking up brain power and engineering resources that could and would establish and grow entirely new wholesome industries. It’s no surprise that Americans confront a 9.1% unemployment rate and an under-employment rate flirting with 20 percent this year.

Want to know where all the money went that could be putting people back to work or keeping U.S. manufacturing industries competitive? The war industry CEOs dumped lobbying cash on Congress and diverted all that wealth to their private bank accounts.

Striking a blow for democracy

The war contractors’ iron grip on the wealth and politics of our country has caught the attention of our friends at Occupy Wall Street, who are targeting war profiteers in its draft list of demands with a call to bring home “all military personnel at all non-essential bases” and to end the “Military Industrial Complex’s goal of perpetual war for profit.”

We’re allies of the Occupy movement, which swells from the 99%’s disgust and dysfunction with our system. A democracy for and of the people that favors the 0.01% at the expense of the 99.99% of us is no democracy at all.

We here at Brave New Foundation and the War Costs campaign have been inspired by the incredible work of the Occupy movement, so we created our latest video to help push this critical piece of their message: war for profit has to end. We’re asking viewers to share our video with their local Occupy groups and organize a guerrilla screening at an Occupy protest in your city.

The Occupy protests have a lot to teach us, and the leaderless movement is at minimum an indictment of our political system. They’ve stopped whispering, and we’ve all started shouting.
Occupy your city and show this video to your community.

Karen Garcia at Sardonicky is always exactly on the money (the crooked money spent to advance the agenda of the richest people in the world at the expense of the poorest).

Sacrificing the Elderly Poor to Protect Tax Cheats

If you're a Social Security recipient on Medicaid, a bipartisan cabal plans to kick as many of you off the eligibility rolls as possible, just so corporations can get even richer.
It's all part of yet another back-door deal in which the Obama Administration pretends to be hoodwinked by Congressional Republicans.
In the latest act of Kabuki Theater, the GOP leaders have agreed to pass the most right-wing portion of the president's American Jobs Act: ending a requirement that the government withhold three percent of payments to federal contractors to ensure tax compliance.
But but but - only on condition that it becomes harder for poor people to qualify for Medicaid. Somebody's gotta pay to make the lives of the rich easier, and it ain't gonna be the rich. Besides, this change in eligibility was something Barry proposed way back when The Grand Bargain was the talk of the town.

It is unbelievable but true that in these times of social unrest and ever widening income disparity, the Democrats still buy into the conservative ideology that programs to further enrich the wealthy must always be paid for by our country's most vulnerable citizens.  And even more egregiously in this particular case, it's tax breaks for tax cheats!

From Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler, here's how the latest proposed social safety net slashing will work: 

The government uses a measure known as Modified Adjusted Gross Income to determine Medicaid eligibility. Currently, though, it only incorporates the taxable portion of Social Security income in that calculation. Under this proposal, it would factor in all Social Security benefits. That means some seniors who currently qualify for Medicaid would no longer be eligible. Doing this would save about $14.6 billion over 10 years — more than the cost of repealing the 3 percent withholding compliance measure.
In sum: make it easier for big contractors to cheat on their taxes, and covering the cost by limiting Medicaid eligibility for sick old people.
This stinks of more corrupt collusion between the Democrats and Republicans, two barely distinguishable factions of the same oligarchic uniparty.  And to think we were under the illusion that the OccupyWallStreet movement would strike fear into their venal withered hearts. They actually have no hearts. The Washington Post has all the sordid details here.

Obama himself was schmoozing at one of his endless series of $35,000-a-plate fundraisers just across the bay from Oakland the other night as riot police attacked peaceful protesters, lobbing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into their encampment.  Earlier yesterday, he joked with Jay Leno on the "Tonight" show before heading to yet another soiree at the home of Hollywood stars Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.

The usual Congressional Democrats, meanwhile will make their usual aggrieved noises over the latest Obama betrayal. Nancy Pelosi will remain stonily silent in her passive-aggressive way, but the deal most likely will go through. These deals always do, not in small part because Obama is the Earner in Chief, holding the key to an expected billion dollar Democratic war chest. Those who don't fall in line run the risk of having their careers redistricted out of existence.

Obama Fiddles....

While Occupy Oakland Burns
** Update 10/27: The House voted to move forward with both bills last night, with just a few Democrats making a noise against the deal. New rules designed to keep the more affluent poor off Medicaid will not take effect until 2014, when all of us will be magically under the thrall of the private insurance companies, and Obamacare theoretically swings into full gear. So if you're currently receiving Social Security plus Medicaid, you're okay for a few more years. Of course, who knows what other goodies the super-secretive Super Committee has up its sleeve to balance the budget?

Secret Ceremony

If you missed the gala signing of the much-ballyhooed free trade bill Friday in the Rose Garden, it's because it didn't happen. Now, before you get all excited: the President didn't have an attack of conscience and veto it. He did his duty to his corporate masters and signed it with all due somber diligence, to their enthusiastic applause. However, there was a change of venue, which is what accused people ask for when they know das volk are kind of fed up, and Occupying Wall Street. His advisers probably told him: If you're going to flush away as many as a quarter million American jobs down the offshoring toilet, better to do it in the safety and comfort of the Oval Office.

Barry Take a Bow: CEOs Applaud Their Puppet in Semi-Darkness

Witnessing the deed was one lone Yellow Dog Dem, the nominal Labor Secretary, an AP photographer, and a handful of the richest and most powerful CEOs in the nation  - who just happen to be among his closest advisers.

There was no big official White House photo on the email propaganda sheet known as "West Wing Week", which usually glorifies bill signings, no matter how insignificant.  No MSNBC and CNN cameras. No Nancy Pelosi. No John Boehner. No phonily smiling American workers whose jobs are being sacrificed as photo-op props. No Bipartisan hugging and kissing. No gaffeably lovable Joe Biden open-micing: "This is so effing awesome!"

But it was so Bipartisan!  Congress broke the gridlock and passed something for a change! Well, that's the trouble.  It was a Republican bill, originally crafted under George W. Bush.  And the 250,000 jobs it is forecast to create by Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce boosters will not be American jobs. That's why it was delayed.
The Democrats insisted on adding a little token assistance to middle-aged American textile workers who are expected to lose their jobs to 40-cent/hour North Korean wage slaves allowed to work in the DMZ.  Even so, 75% of all the Congressional Democrats balked at Barack and voted against the package.
There's that little matter of trade unionists being murdered in Colombia by hired corporate thugs.  But the White House made sure to announce that Barack called Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos  after the signing and made him promise to call off the goons. He'll be on the honor system, apparently.

The FTA passage simply doesn't fit in with the president's new campaign rallying cry: "We Can't Wait!" which puts the entire blame for the unemployment crisis on the obstructionist Republicans. The FTA has been strangely absent from Obama's list of talking points in such blighted areas as North Carolina and Nevada.
After all, while he railed against NAFTA during his first campaign, he has just succeeded in at least doubling the damage which "free trade" has already done with a few more strokes of some cheap souvenir pens.

About the only people cheering and grabbing for their grubby pens were the millionaire CEOs of the Business Roundtable (BRT) super-lobby, who stand to profit handsomely from the latest round of foreign profiteering and outsourcing. After some initial kvetching about not getting their mugs on TV Friday, they posted on their website the obligatory thank-you note to their White House and Congressional minions:

“Business Roundtable commends the President and Congress for bowing to our relentless pressure and campaign contributions working together to approve these pro-growth (for us), job- killing creating trade agreements and bipartisan TAA legislation,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of Cheating Defense Contractor The Boeing Company.  “It’s now time to build on this milestone and focus on the future.  With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States,(and the number ofconsumers with money or jobs rapidly dwindling here at home)  our manufacturers, service providers and farmers stand to benefit from a fair and accountable international trading system.  Pursuing additional international trade and investment initiatives will open new markets for businesses of all sizes, and fuel U.S. economic growth and job creation.  If we do not seize the opportunity to lead, others will, and the accompanying economic benefits will accrue to their nations rather than ours.”  (We want more after this. We will not rest until we own the entire universe).  
The fact that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Boeing broke the law this year in building its Dreamliner plant in anti-union, "right to work" South Carolina, did not bar McNerney from being invited to the ceremony as guest of honor by the President.
Far from it: not only is McNerney chairman of Barry's Export Council, he also sits on the hilariously named Council on Jobs & Competiveness. (CoJoCo - or how about CutJob/CuJo? These greedheads are one slavering pack of rabid attack dogs!)

Big Bipartisan Bill-Signing Witnessed by Ten Whole People (All Richer than You)
Also on hand for the exclusive signing ceremony was Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Export Council vice-chair and (you guessed it) another member of CuJo.  Burns cut 4,500 American jobs during the first six months of this year alone. But Xerox net income is up 28% from a year ago. Her annual salary is listed at $4.08 million by Forbes.

McNerney and Burns and their CuJo cohort are also big proponents of repatriating corporate profits in exchange for an empty promise of job creation (the mythical "creationism") and dismantling the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (which prevents publicly traded companies from defrauding investors).
Obama is dutifully mulling over both those proposals as he pitches his latest gimmick of refinancing the mortgages of a few select homeowners who are actually still paying their mortgages on time. The banks, like Colombia, will be on the honor system to do the right thing by their customers.

Back to that ever-increasing executive compensation combined with ever-decreasing tax payments to Uncle Sam. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the World Trade Organization has actually taken the drastic step of reprimanding Obama about the U.S. government's over-the-top coddling of the CuJo's.

Corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes. Corporate outlays for CEO compensation - despite the lingering Great Recession - are rising. Employment levels have barely rebounded from their recessionary lows. Top executive pay levels, by contrast, have rebounded nearly all the way back from their pre-recession levels.
For example: McNerney, with an annual salary topping $13 million, earns more than his entire company pays in U.S. taxes every year.

So with friends like multinational CEOs voraciously whispering in the president's ear, who needs Republican enemies?  "We Can't Wait" has suddenly replaced "Win the Future" as the new Obama slogan. Lots of W's, which is apt, seeing that this is Dubya's third term.  Personally, the only "W" I like is the one in OWS. At long last, there are tens of thousands of people protesting and saying "WTF!!!!" about being eaten alive by the Corporate States of America.

When Corporate Greed Attacks!

From The New Bottom Line:

Wells Fargo Closes Doors to Community Concerns

Robin Hoods went to the gated community of Tom Honig (Western Regional CEO of Wells) & Nathan Christian (Regional President for Colorado for Wells) to deliver 99 letters from the 99% via #occupytheboardroom
 in Littleton, CO
Protesters shut down the Wells Fargo Center today as the Wall Street bank locked its doors to homeowners who are in jeopardy of losing their homes. In response, members of the Colorado Progressive Coalition and Occupy Denver rattled the doors of the building before surrounding the Wall Street bank and setting up Fargoville outside the doors where they made their demands.
Watching through the windows of the building, bankers watched as over 150 protesters angered at Wells Fargo's use of high-interest subprime loans directed at communities of color and "robo-signing" tactics demanded Wells Fargo and other "big" banks put a moratorium on all foreclosures till it can be ensured that home owners are truly in violation of loan contracts. In addition, the group called on Wells Fargo to pay back home-owners who helped bail them out by resetting mortgages to their true market value.
“We are not taking it from them any more. They can hide behind their little glass windows they can close their doors and they can pay the 99 percent $7.50 an hour, but we are coming back. And we are getting stronger,” Cassandra Lewis, who is in foreclosure proceedings with the bank. “We are getting greater than any bank. We are greater than any hurricane or tornado. That is how powerful we are getting.”
While a heavy police presence showed up in riot gear and lined the action, CPC members remained peaceful in their protest and returned from the demonstration after about 45 minutes of demanding change for the 99 percent.
Vicki Dillard, one of the protesters who is experiencing difficulties with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage after she was a victim of predatory lending, explained the group's objective was to ensure that home owners are not the ones being blamed for the crisis.
“We are trying to name who the villain is, and that is truly Wells Fargo and the big banks. I believe that we are starting to refocus and get the target back on who the target really is.” Dillard said. “I hope that this motivates people for folk to begin using their voice and to get our elected officials, the law, and hopefully the banks to do some things are on their own.”
Protesters marched from the CPC offices on Santa Fe Drive to the Denver Performing Arts Center where they joined Occupy Denver in a protest at the Colorado Chamber of Commerce's annual luncheon that featured Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both groups are vehemently opposed to the U.S. Chambers investment of $750 million in the last 15 years to heavily influence elections and gain corporate-friendly policies for the benefit of the 1 percent. 
With swelled numbers the group then marched to the Wells Fargo Center.
The event was part of the Colorado Progressive Coalition's Mile-High Showdown, a week of action focused on making Wells Fargo and other "big" banks accountable for the wrongs they have committed on the tax-payers who bailed them out.

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