Monday, January 6, 2014

He's Not OUR President (But You Already Figured That Out) And Whose President Is Getting Much Clearer As We Learn That He Favors the Centrist Liars' Positions - It Makes Him Feel Good! (The Year of the Great Redistribution)

I've been among the more reticent commenters (from the Left wing) about our President's actions since his winning of the White House. Sure, I've not been happy with many of his decisions and I've made my opinion well known in blogtopia about my feelings concerning his choices for financial advice which favored "change" schemes that enriched the banksters (again) and didn't do anything to reimburse the citizens (taxpayers) (who in large part voted for his stated "change") who have to ultimately pay (for many years in the future) for the bailouts (continuing bailouts).

Over time I've begun to add the pieces together, the invasion of more middle eastern countries for various poorly explained reasons (even worse in my opinion than Bush's outright lies), the use of fear-inspiring, deadly drones that kill so many innocent civilians in defiance of the Geneva Conventions against ghostly enemies (which heightens antiAmericanism throughout the world even more), the advocacy of limiting (if not ending most of) the benefits that citizens (who have been forced to pay for all their lives and need to be able to retire with some dignity) rely on absolutely, and the national surveillance scandal that should have been exposed by the whistleblowers (if it's valid whistleblowing and not just another "limited hangout" utilized to tighten the information screws) like Edward Snowden and reporter Glenn Greenwald, not only being ignored by but actually enhanced by this administration in which we are fed a line of blarney about them and their goals and almost nothing about the actual results of the "exposés" of past and present government spying on its non-terrorist citizens.

President Obama has himself been exposed over and over again as a pretender who really just wants to feel important, and on the "in team" as testified to by his love of being in the company of other pretenders who love to think that their audience values their inputs about which they have little real knowledge. Or worse.

The sessions, which have become more frequent in Obama’s second term — he held at least three in October — provide a stark contrast to the combative, sometimes cantankerous relationship between the White House and the press corps. They also serve as an alternate means of shaping the debate in Washington:  a private back-channel of genuine sentiment that seeps into the echo-chamber, while Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, delivers largely scripted responses in the public briefings. Obama holds the occasional off-the-record meeting with top White House correspondents, but they are few and far between — a fact that rankles some members of the press corps.

. . . At the same time, these bull sessions give validation to an oft-heard critique:  that Obama prefers the law school salon to the bully pulpit — that he would rather be regarded as smart by the people he regards as smart than be feared by the opposition or seen as effective by the people he governs.

You'd almost think when listening to Obama's much-touted mealy-mouthed renderings of the "centrist" position that he has no idea what the economic redistribution of wealth has meant to the people who voted for him.


The redistribution of earnings/wealth from those at the bottom of the U.S. wealth pyramid to those at the top has increased so dramatically this past year that whatever decisions are made soon (by the "hired help" in Congress) will not be able to be overcome by future laws for long after the demise of those who are suffering this sellout now. And it has not been a mistake that this has been a "do-nothing" Congress (and President). The plenty they've done by not doing anything to benefit regular citizens (taxpayers) is more than plenty for the owners.

They'll leave their contributions regularly as usual.

Karen at Sardonicky speaks for me and millions of others on this subject. Do yourself a favor and read her blog. You won't regret it.

On the off-chance that some of you think that the Democrats are really, really sincere this time about helping poor jobless people, and that Barack Obama really, really means it when he says he will make income inequality the defining issue of his second term, permit me to gently burst your balloon.

Just because Obama has stopped vocally espousing cutting the safety net as part of his Grand Bargain of deficit reduction with his GOP frenemies doesn't mean that his deeply ingrained desire for austerity for the masses isn't still merrily simmering on the back burner of his mind.

Need proof? Just read the latest stenography from his favorite multimillionaire muse and golfing buddy, Thomas Friedman. His Sunday column is simply a laundry list of the pro-business centrist policies beloved of the New Democrats and Obama's Bowles-Simpson Catfood Commission.
. . . It's impossible to read Friedman (or David Brooks, or David Ignatius, or the whole gamut of centrist Beltway elites) without also hearing the dulcet tones of Barack Obama in the background. And that is absolutely chilling. It's how democracy is subsumed by big money interests, and how public consent is manufactured.

The Year of the Great Redistribution

By Robert Reich

January 05, 2014

One of the worst epithets that can be leveled at a politician these days is to call him a “redistributionist.” Yet 2013 marked one of the biggest redistributions in recent American history. It was a redistribution upward, from average working people to the owners of America.

The stock market ended 2013 at an all-time high — giving stockholders their biggest annual gain in almost two decades. Most Americans didn’t share in those gains, however, because most people haven’t been able to save enough to invest in the stock market. More than two-thirds of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck.

Even if you include the value of IRA’s, most shares of stock are owned by the very wealthy. The richest 1 percent of Americans owns 35 percent of the value of American-owned shares. The richest 10 percent owns over 80 percent. So in the bull market of 2013, America’s rich hit the jackpot.

What does this have to do with redistribution? Some might argue the stock market is just a giant casino. Since it’s owned mostly by the wealthy, a rise in stock prices simply reflects a transfer of wealth from some of the rich (who cashed in their shares too early) to others of the rich (who bought shares early enough and held on to them long enough to reap the big gains).

But this neglects the fact that stock prices track corporate profits. The relationship isn’t exact, and price-earnings ratios move up and down in the short term. Yet over the slightly longer term, share prices do correlate with profits. And 2013 was a banner year for profits.

Where did those profits come from? Here’s where redistribution comes in. American corporations didn’t make most of their money from increased sales (although their foreign sales did increase). They made their big bucks mostly by reducing their costs — especially their biggest single cost: wages.

They push wages down because most workers no longer have any bargaining power when it comes to determining pay. The continuing high rate of unemployment — including a record number of long-term jobless, and a large number who have given up looking for work altogether — has allowed employers to set the terms.

For years, the bargaining power of American workers has also been eroding due to ever-more efficient means of outsourcing abroad, new computer software that can replace almost any routine job, and an ongoing shift of full-time to part-time and contract work. And unions have been decimated. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers were members of labor unions. Now, fewer than 7 percent are unionized.

All this helps explain why corporate profits have been increasing throughout this recovery (they grew over 18 percent in 2013 alone) while wages have been dropping. Corporate earnings now represent the largest share of the gross domestic product — and wages the smallest share of GDP — than at any time since records have been kept.

Hence, the Great Redistribution.

Some might say this doesn’t really amount to a “redistribution” as we normally define that term, because government isn’t redistributing anything. By this view, the declining wages, higher profits, and the surging bull market simply reflect the workings of the free market.

But this overlooks the fact that government sets the rules of the game. Federal and state budgets have been cut, for example — thereby reducing overall demand and keeping unemployment higher than otherwise. Congress has repeatedly rejected tax incentives designed to encourage more hiring. States have adopted “right-to-work” laws that undercut unions. And so on.

If all this weren’t enough, the tax system is rigged in favor of the owners of wealth, and against people whose income comes from wages. Wealth is taxed at a lower rate than labor.

Capital gains, dividends, and debt all get favorable treatment in the tax code – which is why Mitt Romney, Warren Buffet, and other billionaires and multimillionaires continue to pay around 12 percent of their income in taxes each year, while most of the rest of us pay at least twice that rate.

Among the biggest winners are top executives and Wall Street traders whose year-end bonuses are tied to the stock market, and hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose special “carried interest” tax loophole allows their income to be treated as capital gains. The wild bull market of 2013 has given them all fabulous after-tax windfalls.

America has been redistributing upward for some time – after all, “trickle-down” economics turned out to be trickle upbut we outdid ourselves in 2013. At a time of record inequality and decreasing mobility, America conducted a Great Redistribution upward.

(Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.)

And you thought no one had ever been brave enough to tell the truth about what had happened in the USA  USA USA!!! Janeane Garofalo provides insight into the late, great Bill Hicks' pungent political comedy.

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