Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Taxpayers Once Again Pay for the Screwing Up of US: Shining A Bright Light On the Poverty-Creation Industry

Paying off the banksters for the bailouts needed for their inept financial screwing of the populace was just the start. We're now told that the taxpayers (not the corporations who pay very little if any taxes already) are going to pay for all cleanups needed for the environmental damages of privatization. Brought to us by and large by the banksters who finance it.

Time for another round of bonuses?

President Obama, One Corporate Puppet Among Many

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

14 April 13

his year, the New Deal turned 80. And those same New Deal programs championed by FDR, a Democrat, defined the bedrock of the American left political achievements for all others who would seek the presidency. Now, the corporate takeover of our government has proven that those New Deal programs can be slowly dismantled by a Democrat president, as the Obama administration fully digs its heels in on an austerity agenda.

He's not the one running the show, but rather, his strings are being pulled by Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers like Pete Peterson, who is most of the wallet behind the corporate-funded "Fix the Debt" sham campaign. Even one of Fix the Debt's key spokesmen admitted that their goal was to create an "artificial crisis" that would justify gutting Social Security.

Jack Lew, Obama's Treasury secretary, is leading the administration's doublespeak on austerity. In Europe, he's told political leaders to lighten up on austerity measures. But in America, Lew is telling Congress to endorse President Obama's proposals to cut earned benefits for vulnerable Americans who need them to survive, even though Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit. Lew is also a pawn of the corporate and financial string-pullers, coming from Citigroup before his years in the Clinton administration's division of budget. He was even guaranteed a bonus by Citigroup if he was able to secure a "high-level" federal job.

The corporations running our government want our public resources, too. The White House is currently mulling a proposal to sell off the Tennessee Valley Authority, which FDR's New Deal established as the nation's largest publicly-owned power company. Privatization of public resources is one of the key austerity measures being forced by the European Union right now, particularly in scorched-earth economies like Greece and Spain. Privatization of public resources, the selling off of a public good for corporate profit, means that the people who depended on that service are usually subject to frequent price gouging, while under the thumb of an unaccountable private corporation.

Privatization is especially high on the agenda, considering the ten oil spills that happened in America over just two weeks' time and the Senate's recent endorsement of the Keystone XL pipeline. A large public drinking water supply was tainted with 5,000 barrels of tar sands oil in Mayflower, Arkansas. Yet Bill Clinton, the only former US president from Arkansas, has been noticeably silent on Exxon's catastrophe even though Little Rock is just 25 miles North of Mayflower.

The silence from both Clinton and Obama on Mayflower is deafening, especially as Exxon has declared the area over the spill a no-fly zone, which has been enforced by Obama's FAA. Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, has even privatized oil spill cleanup, allowing a company that investigative journalist Steve Horn recently revealed is notorious for oil spill coverups.
And since a loophole in federal law says that Exxon's spilled tar sands oil is bitumen and not oil, they won't have to pay for the cleanup.
The cleanup and coverup job for Mayflower will be paid for by the taxpayers, while the corporations who created the entire mess draw more record profits. BP did the same thing after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that ruined an entire region's economy -- wrote it off on their taxes as a loss, shifting the cost to suckers like us. The corporations who run our state and federal governments don't care which party is in power, as long as they can still control their agenda.

President Obama is also caving to the meat industry's demands to privatize poultry inspection, despite mainstream chicken producers like Tyson just recently paying a multimillion-dollar settlement for ammonia accidents. Obama's quiet signing of the Monsanto Protection Act, which exempts GMO crops from judicial review and was written by a senator who received money from Monsanto, is another indicator of the White House's subservience to big agriculture.

None of these measures are because corporations are struggling and need help from the government to survive. On the contrary, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 have rallied to zoom past pre-recession levels, and corporate profits are at record highs, precisely because workers' wages are so low. Yet the only bone Obama has thrown to the poor was a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. This would make an unremarkable difference in the lifestyles of low-wage workers. As Elizabeth Warren rightly pointed out, had the minimum wage kept up with executive pay, or even just the cost of living, it would be roughly $20 an hour today.

The left has made plenty of fuss over the president's latest proposal to gut one of the programs near and dear to Americans of all political stripes. They've even promised to offer primary challengers to all Democrats running for re-election who support Obama's plan to gut Social Security. Obama has been hearing for years from the left about how Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, and has been quoted saying that he would raise the pay-in cap to ensure the program's solvency when he was campaigning for his first term. But the corporate owners of our government want our Social Security money to become a treasure trove of poker chips for their next gambling spree, and have finally gotten a Democratic president to begin chipping away at his own party's key legislative victory of the 20th century.

Instead of following his own words of the past, or heeding the calls of the people, President Obama is meeting with Wall Street bankers to enlist their help in selling his austerity agenda to the American people. While most Americans voted for the lesser of two evils last November, we still voted for evil. And with the revealing of Obama's latest plans, that evil side is showing its face even more these days. In his "American Dream" monologue, the late George Carlin warned us of our "owners" taking our retirement money, because "they don't give a fuck about you." Turns out, he was right.

The people of the United States should rightly interpret this latest slew of betrayals in government as proof that we live under the thumb of a corporate tyranny, not a legitimate constitutional republic. And we should come together to decide what a functional new government would look like, and reject the assumed legitimacy of our corporate ownership's puppet government.

That we've been living in a all-consuming, poverty-creating environment since the Reagan Junta should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. And that the Mainstream Media/Press has gone along with it out of fear for their own poverty avoidance is just a given. To ignore or remain blissfully ignorant of the numbers game inherent in this strategy is execrable.

It's Time to Shine a Light on the Poverty Creation Industry

By Alnoor Ladha, Joe Brewer, Martin Kirk

April 15, 2013

"Think Africa Press" - It's about time we called out the great myth that mass poverty just is, as if it were a natural part of some universal moral order. Such thinking is both profoundly untrue and disastrously misleading.

Poverty is human-made. It is created – knowingly and with scientific efficiency – by a vastly sophisticated industry that includes private companies, think tanks, media outlets, government policies, and more. This ‘Poverty Creation Industry’ is about the least talked about feature of our global economy and yet it is perhaps the greatest market force in the modern world. Until we acknowledge this startling truth, progress towards global prosperity and sustainability will fall far short of what is possible.
This isn’t to suggest that there’s a dark, smoky room somewhere in which a small cabal plots to cause immeasurable misery just because they can. This isn’t a conspiracy theory. In truth, it happens in big boardrooms and political conferences, where people create rules and execute strategies to ‘maximise self-interest’ as economists say, by extracting wealth from others. This is largely driven by a maniacal focus on short-term profit or advantage while ignoring one of its primary effects – the impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people. Wilful ignorance, though, as any legal scholar will tell you, is no defence in law. It’s about time we applied the same standard to our economic rules and realities.

Revealing the culprits

You don’t need to dig very deep to find the main culprits. If we apply the old Latin rubric cui bono? – literally 'who benefits?' – there are some very clear and unsurprising suspects.

The richest 0.001% of the world control 30% of the financial wealth; the wealthiest 0.1% about 81%. So the rich are indeed extremely rich. More important than their static worth, though, are trends over time.

Over the last two centuries, global inequality has steadily increased. We know this because whilst ratios of absolute poverty have been decreasing over the last two centuries, the standard measure of inequality – the Gini coefficient – has risen from 43.0 in 1820 to 70.7 in 2002. (A score of 0 means everyone has exactly the same amount and 100 means one person controls everything.) This trend has been accelerating since 1980, when the latest round of 'free market' policies was put in place. It is being exacerbated still further in most countries by both the economic crisis and climate change.
Of course, just because someone benefits from a system doesn’t automatically mean they are controlling it. To investigate who is doing that, we need to look at the industries that have been built, who has built them this way, and observe their strategies and business operations. The best place to look is the industry at the heart of it all, whose very purpose is the management of wealth: banking and finance.

The global shadow economy

What we find is a two-tier system comprised of, 1) a global mainstream economy where basic rules of fairness and transparency apply, and 2) a global shadow economy where fairness is an irrelevant concept, transparency a state to be avoided at all costs and the social contract is ignored.

This shadow economy has been steadily and systematically created through a series of very clear strategies. Its sole purpose is to provide a place above national tax laws, where profit and capital can be hoarded without limit. It is extremely popular with those who can afford to access it. It is vast. It is comprised of over 80 tax havens, innumerous trade agreements and legal frameworks, and employs a small army of people to lobby policymakers, provide legal defence, manage and buy-off elected officials.
Somewhere between $21 and $32 trillion – or 10%-15% of all privately held wealth – is hidden behind the great walls of secrecy. Of the 100 largest companies on the London Stock Exchange, 98 routinely use tax havens. Over half of all global trade flows between and within them so that profits can be siphoned off untaxed.

In other words, the shadow economy is not only immense, but it is intricately sewn into the mainstream economy. Like a parasite, it is attached to the body of its host and drains its financial lifeblood at a rate and scale that is large enough to perpetuate global inequality and poverty.

There could not be a clearer case of an industry designed to benefit through active and willful exploitation, and at the expense of the majority of the world’s people. An industry designed with rules that enrich some through the impoverishment of others: the Poverty Creation Industry.

Let there be light

This industry relies on one thing above all others: secrecy. It is only through the ‘discretion’ of tax havens and the creativity of lawyers, accountants and bankers that they can operate in the way they do.

This is where hope lies. The ability to maintain this secrecy is dependent on the public not seeing, and not using its collective power to demand change. With public pressure, rules can be enacted that shine a light onto these secret places. The gross imbalances of our current system can be corrected so that wealth is more equally shared; and advantage and profit enjoyed within reasonable bounds.

In service of this vision, we have helped create one avenue for action: /The Rules is a new global citizens movement aimed at tackling these root causes of inequality and poverty. By coming together in common purpose and with a common understanding, using smart organising and global communication networks, we believe ordinary people have the power to stand up to the Poverty Creation Industry, and bring about new rules. Our first step is to demand transparency in the global hub of the tax haven system, the City of London. It will take a massive and ongoing global effort – to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice. We believe change is possible only if the citizens of the world demand change.

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