Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged class war

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This is America, Now: The Dow Hits a Record High With Household Income at a Decade Low

From The Atlantic:

Stocks surpassed the nominal record set in 2007, while the last recorded real median US household income was 8% lower than its 2007 peak.

This is where we are, in picture form:

image

image

Please, explain to me why this is good for the majority of people. Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.

[ETA]: A sharp-eyed reader noticed the alignment of the graphs is wonky. Here’s the alignment corrected as best as I can manage

Filed under inequality income Politics Economy Dow Jones median income income inequality class war

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mattbors:

An ad in The Economist, directly appealing to the 1% and how hard they work.

Just about every ad in The Economist is this one. Legit. Andrew and I received a subscription as a wedding present and don’t get me wrong — it’s interesting and we enjoy it. However, the ads feel like fascinating, slightly uncomfortable anthropological research.

mattbors:

An ad in The Economist, directly appealing to the 1% and how hard they work.

Just about every ad in The Economist is this one. Legit. Andrew and I received a subscription as a wedding present and don’t get me wrong — it’s interesting and we enjoy it. However, the ads feel like fascinating, slightly uncomfortable anthropological research.

Filed under occupy Wall Street 99% 1% Advertising Class War

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A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.
More findings:
Nearly one-third of Americans say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people, double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009.  
Conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension—between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old.
Younger adults, women, Democrats and African Americans are somewhat more likely than older people, men, Republicans, whites or Hispanics to say there are strong disagreements between rich and poor.
However, people’s perception of why the rich become rich has not changed much. Pew Research points out similar opinions to the ones below were found in 2008:

Pew uncovered one very interesting point:

The biggest increases in perceptions of class conflicts occurred among political liberals and Americans who say they are not affiliated with either major party. In each group the proportion who say there are major disagreements between rich and poor Americans increased by more than 20 percentage points since 2009.

Emphasis mine. Could this mean independents could be an even bigger influence than usual in 2012? And what does that mean for both parties? Maybe talking about jobs and the economy isn’t the worst move… The GOP’s constant denial of the existence of class warfare and incongruent insistence President Obama sparked it may also backfire.

A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

More findings:

  • Nearly one-third of Americans say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people, double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009.  
  • Conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension—between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old.
  • Younger adults, women, Democrats and African Americans are somewhat more likely than older people, men, Republicans, whites or Hispanics to say there are strong disagreements between rich and poor.

However, people’s perception of why the rich become rich has not changed much. Pew Research points out similar opinions to the ones below were found in 2008:

Pew uncovered one very interesting point:

The biggest increases in perceptions of class conflicts occurred among political liberals and Americans who say they are not affiliated with either major party. In each group the proportion who say there are major disagreements between rich and poor Americans increased by more than 20 percentage points since 2009.

Emphasis mine. Could this mean independents could be an even bigger influence than usual in 2012? And what does that mean for both parties? Maybe talking about jobs and the economy isn’t the worst move… The GOP’s constant denial of the existence of class warfare and incongruent insistence President Obama sparked it may also backfire.

Filed under Income inequality inequality politics class GOP Democrats Republican Republicans rich class war poor poverty Election 2012

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Occupy Wall Street Gets Union Backing; Approval Rating Double That Of Congress'

Occupy Wall Street is getting a shot in the arm, as some of America’s largest unions have announced that they’re now supporting the movement. The gain in momentum comes as off-shoots of the original Manhattan group plan marches and protests around the nation.

The group has attracted some mockery, largely for its members’ proclivity for dressing up like zombies. But a new Rasmussen poll finds that the group enjoys a higher approval rating (33 percent) than does Congress (14 percent).

Perhaps sensing a groundswell of opinion, several key Democrats have endorsed the group, including former Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. John Larson, who called it a sign of a coming "American autumn" — a reference to the Arab Spring protests that have reshaped parts of the Middle East.

I’ve seen this quote from Gandhi used in reference to Occupy Wall Street:

"First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."

However, I think this summary of social change from César Chávez, founder of the United Farm Workers of America, is also apropos to the movement:

"Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."

Filed under Congress Occupy Wall Street politics protest approval 99 percent 1 percent class warfare class war social change unions organized labor inequality

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From ThinkProgress:

The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to Chicago this week, where protesters have gathered outside the Chicago Board of Trade, the world’s oldest options and futures trading center. Like the protesters in New York and other cities around the country, the group gathered to protest our nation’s growing income inequality, as the top 1 percent of Americans continue to see their incomes rise rapidly and their tax rates fall. The Chicago traders, confronted by the protesters’ “We are the 99 percent" message, crafted their own not-so-subtle reply, hanging signs in eighth-floor windows that said, "We are the 1%”

Um, we know you’re the 1% - hence the folks congregated outside your office. No need to rub it in with the asshattery. Why not just toast the protesters with some champagne? This photo should go into History and Sociology textbooks as an example of blatant class warfare. 
I imagine there’s several traders in there who are one market crash away from joining the 99%. Hint: Many of them are probably in the 99% and don’t even realize it. Here’s some facts about the top 1%.

From ThinkProgress:

The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to Chicago this week, where protesters have gathered outside the Chicago Board of Trade, the world’s oldest options and futures trading center. Like the protesters in New York and other cities around the country, the group gathered to protest our nation’s growing income inequality, as the top 1 percent of Americans continue to see their incomes rise rapidly and their tax rates fall. The Chicago traders, confronted by the protesters’ “We are the 99 percent" message, crafted their own not-so-subtle reply, hanging signs in eighth-floor windows that said, "We are the 1%

Um, we know you’re the 1% - hence the folks congregated outside your office. No need to rub it in with the asshattery. Why not just toast the protesters with some champagne? This photo should go into History and Sociology textbooks as an example of blatant class warfare. 

I imagine there’s several traders in there who are one market crash away from joining the 99%. Hint: Many of them are probably in the 99% and don’t even realize it. Here’s some facts about the top 1%.

Filed under Occupy Wall Street Occupy Chicago Chicago Board of Trade protest politics inequality We are the 99 percent Top one percent class war class warfare asshattery

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Wall Street denizens mock Occupy Wall Street protesters by sipping champagne. Really. Gawker first discussed this with a posting about the Facebook event trying to organize the upper crust:

As the first week of the #occupywallstreet protest against corporate stuff draws to a close, some classy capitalists have decided to dust off their favorite Nixon-era jargon and hold a champagne-soaked counter-protest of their own. Free laxative-enriched muffins for all “hippies,” LOL.

A “pro-business Democrat” tipster sent us some screenshots of the Facebook event page for today’s corporate counter-protest, titled “Anti Hippy Protester Champagne Toast on Wall Street.”

Well, here’s the video. Police brutality, counter-protesting with champagne toasts… Who says there’s a class war? Nothing to see here, folks. </sarcasm>

Filed under Wall Street champagne class war politics inequality top one percent wealth poverty Occupy Wall Street Days of Rage

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When the Super-Rich Cry, "Class Warfare!"

"There’s class warfare, all right," Warren Buffett told The New York Times two years before the 2008 crash, "but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

I’ll say. Which makes the whining of the moneyed — in addition to the winning — all the more annoying. Especially after the Obama White House has bent over backwards for them - simply remember the concessions on health care and financial reform, for two - and all too often has vassaled itself to the knights of the Fortune 500, kowtowing all the way to the bank where they keep the big campaign contributions.

But I suppose in comparison to the Republicans’ even lower groveling for the corporate table leavings, it’s conceivable the President and his associates might seem to some of those residing in the economic stratosphere like wild-eyed populists. For one, that National Labor Relations Board of his is being too, too terribly annoying.

Some interesting reading…

Filed under class war class warfare super rich politics economy

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A sugar-coated Satan sandwich.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), quoted by Roll Call, describing the debt ceiling deal negotiated between the White House and Republicans.

And why would it be described as such? Roll Call has the details:

The deal framework appeared to give Republicans most of what they were seeking — with about $3 trillion in guaranteed spending cuts but no tax increases, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday.

In return, Obama gets to avoid another debt ceiling battle before voters head to polls in November 2012, and he will be able to argue that he was willing to compromise to help save the country from a default crisis.

But first, the president and Democratic leaders could face a backlash from liberals angry that they appear to have agreed to a revenue-free debt ceiling bill that includes a “trigger” only for automatic cuts in defense, Medicare and other programs if a second deficit reduction package isn’t enacted by the end of this year.

"This deal trades people’s livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it," ripped Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “The lesson today is that Republicans can hold their breath long enough to get what they want.”

The White House tried to tamp down the liberal unrest by making it clear that Obama still wants revenue in a final deficit reduction package later this year. National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling said on CNN that Obama would still insist on a balanced package that includes tax reform, and he noted that the president still does not support anything that would cut benefits for seniors without asking the wealthy to sacrifice as well. But there is no guarantee that Republicans will give an inch on revenues.

I predict they’ll hold the First Family’s dog hostage to avoid tax reform. Yet again, we’ve been sold out by a president who’s slightly to the right of Richard Nixon. But it’s not 100% his fault. The Tea Party caucus whined and threw tantrums until we are literally facing global financial collapse from a purely self-inflicted crisis. Obama should have sent them to their rooms and invoked the 14th Amendment. Instead, he’s reinforced their bad behavior.

Anyone who claims we don’t have class warfare in this country is either naïve or winning.

Filed under Tea Party tea party caucus class war economy politics debt ceiling Emanuel Cleaver Raúl Grijalva Obama Barack Obama deficit default

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I hear how they’re so caring for the poor and so forth. The poor need jobs! And they also need to share some of the responsibility. The top 1 percent of the so-called wealthy pay 38 percent of all income tax. The top 10 percent are paying 70 percent of all income tax. The top 50 percent pay somewhere near 98 percent of all income taxes. 51 percent don’t pay anything. Democrats say they [the 51 percent] pay payroll taxes. Well, everybody does that because that’s Social Security. They pay about one-third of what they’re going to take out over the years in social security.

Obamacare - a family of four earning over $80,000 a year - gets subsidies. Think about that. That’s what we call the poor? Now, we don’t want the really poor people who are in poverty to have to pay income taxes. But 51% of all households. And that’s going up, by the way, because of our friend down in the White House and his allies.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, claiming the wealthy are already doing too much, even as the nation’s effective tax rates are at their lowest rates in over 50 years, and suggesting the middle class and poor should be picking up the slack.

Hatch insinuated payroll taxes that the poor and middle classes pay towards Social Security gives them some kind of advantage in regards to future benefit. Not so. The first $106,800 in yearly income is taxed. After that, no social security taxes are paid. The Medicare tax has no cap. It’s been suggested that lifting the cap on social security would help. Well, it would. Observe:

Explanation: Currently, wages over a certain yearly total ($106,800 this year) are exempted from Social Security payroll taxes. Medicare’s payroll tax has no such cap. This has raised the question of how raising the cap could extend Social Security’s solvency. [T]he Congressional Research Service looked at this question in 2008 by evaluating three different proposals. The first would raise the cap so that 90 percent of wages are taxed and pay higher benefits to those affected; the second would eliminate the cap and pay higher benefits; and the third would eliminate the cap for taxes but would not increase benefits. [This is] how much of the Social Security shortfall is eliminated by each proposal. Completely eliminating the cap without increasing benefits actually creates a long-term surplus, and eliminating the cap while increasing benefits comes close.

The benefits aren’t lavish. I calculated the benefit for an person of retirement age who earned the average income for an individual every year since age 18. Monthly benefit? A whopping $1519.00 monthly, which is $18,228 a year. Incidentally, that’s just a little less than the average individual income in 1987.

As for a family of four receiving subsidies at $80,000 a year?

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the cost of coverage for a family of four has climbed 131 percent from 1999 to 2010. The average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2010 was $5,049 for single coverage and $13,770 for family coverage.

For a family of four making $80,000/year, that’s over 17% of their yearly income on insurance alone. Most families are carrying a deductible of $2,000, meaning they have to hit that before receiving full benefits. So we’ll assume that’s their only out-of-pocket health care expense. So yearly expenses are now $15,770 - nearly 20% of their yearly income.

That’s also assuming insurance pays everything. Average out of pocket spending for an individual is now almost $7,000/year. So we’ll assume little Billy broke his leg playing ball, coach freaked out, called an ambulance (was’t pre-approved), and that ambulance took Billy to an out of network provider where the doctor ordered x-rays and set his leg. So now we’ve added that $7,000 for a total of $22,770 - that’s now nearly 29% of their yearly income.

The median family income in the United States is $49,777. Once those health care expenses are lopped off, the $80K family is suddenly down to roughly $56,800, just $7,023 above the median. Keep in mind, the median family and below are dealing with these same numbers.

How about a CEO making the typical pay package ($9 million) for the head of a company in the S&P’s 500? How much of an impact would those health care costs be, just for funsies? $22,770/$9,000,000 = .253% of their yearly income. Sorry, but my pity well is dry.

Oh, and Hatch’s net worth was between $1,656,067 and $4,471,000, according to Hatch’s mandated financial disclosure statements. Whose interests do you think he’s protecting?

In summary, Orrin Hatch can suck it.

(Source: addictinginfo.org)

Filed under Orrin Hatch GOP politics poverty inequality Health Care taxes Senate Asshat asshattery conservative conservatives compassionate conservatism class war budget budget cuts

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[Warren] Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income…

It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Ben Stein, "In Class Warfare, Guess Which Class Is Winning?" The New York Times, November 26, 2006.

I’d like to point today’s GOP to Mr. Buffett’s nearly five year old quote, thank you very much. 

Filed under Ben Stein politics class war Warren Buffet inequality unequal distribution of wealth says what economy tax cuts Tax cuts don't solve everything

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Benton Harbor emergency manager wants you off the lawn

This is what I thought of when I read the headline. Turns out it’s pretty much the truth:

In Benton Harbor, a mostly black and poor town with an emergency manager, folks are just waking up to an order the manager issued on May 4 that restricts access to the public waterfront park. Jean Klock Park was deeded to Benton Harbor in 1917 “in perpetuity.” Part of it has been turned into a luxury golf resort, with the help of an economic development group that until recently included the sponsor of the emergency manager law on its board of directors.

Under the new order, first reported by the Michigan Messenger, people will only be able to use the park between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. What’s more, emergency manager Joseph Harris has decreed: “The annual season during which Jean Klock Park is open begins on each May 1 and ends on the following September 30, inclusive.” That would appear to mean that “in perpetuity” could stop in the fall and pick up again in the spring.

Friends of Jean Klock Park say it had been open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. Park advocate Clellen Bury has posted a letter to Mr. Harris suggesting that the park has been closed off because of preparation for upcoming athletic events, including a Senior PGA tournament next year. The new order violates both the deeding of the park and the city’s lease with the golf resort, the advocate writes. The message includes this: “As my tax dollars are being used to pay for your salary, I would appreciate a full and prompt response to the concerns and points I have raised in this letter.”

But Mr. Harris need answer to no one in Benton Harbor. He has stripped the local elected officials of all but their most ceremonial powers. Benton Harbor is now run by one state-appointed person.

This is not a democracy. This is a fiefdom. 

Filed under Benton Harbor Michigan politics fascism fiefdom class war inequality

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The Real Housewives of Wall Street Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs? 
By Matt TaibbiApril 12, 2011&#160;9:55 AM ET
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we&#8217;re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year&#8217;s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.
Most Americans know about that budget. What they don&#8217;t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the &#8220;official&#8221; budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.
Read more&#8230;

The Real Housewives of Wall Street
Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?

By Matt TaibbiApril 12, 2011 9:55 AM ET

America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we’re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year’s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don’t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the “official” budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

Read more…

Filed under Wall St. Matt Taibbi fraud bailout economic crisis economic collapse economic violence class war Rich versus Poor Rolling Stone Wall Street

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What 52 years of tax cuts looks like&#8230;

Why has the federal tax burden on the nation’s 400 highest annual income decreased by two-thirds, while the median American family’s is on the rise?

I think that&#8217;s a good fucking question. Follow that with asking why GE gets off with no federal tax, and it&#8217;s even better.

What 52 years of tax cuts looks like…

Why has the federal tax burden on the nation’s 400 highest annual income decreased by two-thirds, while the median American family’s is on the rise?

I think that’s a good fucking question. Follow that with asking why GE gets off with no federal tax, and it’s even better.

Filed under taxes class war