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If you are not a parent with children in school, you don’t know much about Opt-Out.  If you are a parent with children in school, you are very much aware about Opt-Out….

Essentially what is now called crony capitalism simply took over American education during the recession when money was very tight.  They immediately tried to classify all children into little corporate boxes which they designed to provide a continuous incoming revenue stream (for themselves)…

Parents knew that children should be learning more about what’s important in life and less about how to act like corporate schill,  and so parents looked for a way to stop it. Since all the corporate actions depended on having this one single test show beyond doubt that American children were more stupid they they really were, parents realized that if they could disable the credibility of these test results through not testing their children, then and only then would their requests have merit on boards overseeing education now staffed with crony capitalists.  Crony capitalists are those who preach the benefits of capitalism, but get their money from governmental handouts because of who they know in government.

The only way parents would get their wishes heard (they rightly concluded), was to refuse the test which if done on a massive scale would render the  published results untrustworthy, costing Capitalists lots of money, and therefore to the crony capitalists, the act of  fulfilling the parents’ demands would appear the cheaper option.

And at this point this article is going to leave the topic of education. Because I want to talk about the bigger issue at play here and it basically involves the future of every Americans’ economic freedom.

Throughout out years of history there is something uniquely America about the way we opt out.   Back when Britain’s Parliament decided that the Thirteen Colonies must pay some of their costly governance (Stamp Act), most Americans chose to opt out.  When the Brits relented and said, “ok, since you don’t drink very much tea, we’ll drop our tax on everything else”, the Americans opted out of drinking tea.

America was founded on opting out…

When the Pullman company said “no” to workers asking for a livable wage, workers opted out of working until those demands were met. Not willing to succumb to that loss of profits, the Pullman company reverted to violence to force people to work, and when that didn’t work, they convinced President Cleveland to force them back with a decree and he did.  They returned to work disappointed but the strike movement was born and would soon sweep across almost every industry.

It had to, because Opting Out is the only power (other than anarchy)people really have when things are stacked against them. Although  our nation is often deemed a representative democracy, under the surface enough representatives kow-tow to powerful interests, so the will of the powerful becomes the law of the land.

And that shuts the major door which working people have to implement their requests. As long as democracy continues as “majority rules”, you really don’t need “opt out” …  Instead, you opt not to return an official you despise and replace him with one more inclined to follow your wishes.

Now with Citizens United in play we are not even in the same world politically, as we were only one year into the Iraqi War (2004) .. As plainly seen by today’s Republican Party, very strange people as candidates are propped up by hidden money and it appears that with so much money, even without popular support weird candidates could still win.

So in those times when government and your bosses business are allied against YOU, you have to take non-governmental action to express your sentiments in a costly enough ways, so you too become part of the discussion….

Talk is cheap; money isn’t.

So if they don’t talk to you sincerely about your money, you hit them in their money…. You opt out of working for them. “Nope, not taking this today”

As Americans we tend by our altruistic nature to put other people’s interests above ours.  Not all of us, but most of us really do feel that way. It is why the rest of the world likes us. But the time to worry over your bosses profits before raising the prices for your services, has probably past…. Statistics show so much money in the top 1% came from YOU, because our Republican Congress this past decade let them run their hands through money which should have been yours.  You are working far shy of your income potential just because they are paying you much less for your services than they could easily afford. External factors have all been ruled out.  The  reason you are not seeing your income grow, is because THEY don’t want you to see your income grow.

The simplest way to get more money in today’s world, is to opt out of working for that boss, either permanently or on a strike. Every billionaire sports franchise has suffered a player strike in this century.  The owners first balk at not meeting players demands, and the players opt out of playing in their events.

No one can argue that NHL, NFL, MLB, or the NBA employees are impoverished. Players strike because the owners’ profits comes solely from their labor and as profits rise, they  certainly are entitled and deserve a cut in on the action. So do those who make cars.  So do those who work for airlines. So do those who cook your fast food. So do those who teach.

Strikes are simply about “cuts and percentages of profit”… as in do we cut you in on our huge profit, or on the other side, do we cut you out of your huge profits until you let us in on the action?

Today corporate overreach is so big, it is eating our public schools. Most likely that means it already owns your life…pinched between your bills and  your bosses demands.  But don’t you really deserve better?  Don’t you wish you were paid more for the amount of work you do? Why should you roll-over and resign yourself simply to settling for basic survival, instead of really enjoying your short time on this planet?  Don’t the rules businesses use against each other, apply to you too?  And the sad answer is that up to now, you DO settle for subsistence because you have been trained “not to rock the boat” or you’ll lose your job.  Your obligatory duty has been to keep the charade of normality continuing at your bosses pleasure, an action which plays directly into the hands of the 1%.

“Look at these fools, performing at the highest productivity America has ever seen and doing it for peanuts, while I’m beach-partying.”

For just a little bit more each week, you too could be partying… Which is why I think that the opt out movement is going national here in the US… jumping the confines of education to spread through out the workplace.

It is already prevalent among the millionaires.  They’ve been opting out of taxes for years now.  They opt out of regulations they don’t like implemented to protect the health of citizens.  They opt out of zonings they don’t like.  They opt out of environmental regulations. They opt out of following OSHA requirements.  They have been opting out a long time, which is why they are so afraid you will too.  They know its effectability.

Today, at no harm to your kid, you can opt him out of testing knowing full well that only then will changes get made. Once you succeed, apply that philosophy to the rest of your life…  HB 50 is nothing less than preserving YOUR right as an American Citizen, to opt out.  Imagine if asking for higher wages put you in jail.  It may one day. It has in corporate-run societies of the past.  But it will not happen here if your government preserves your basic American Right…. to opt out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Simple… it is unfair for hardworking innovative Americans to work for less while children of wealthy parents get fortunes handed to them for no reason other than the accident of birth.

This is bad for society at large.   Those children did nothing to earn their money…  If they want to be rich, they should create wealth on their own efforts, just as did their parents.  Even still, coming from luxury they have many steps up over the 99% of Americans who have to work to survive.  We should not reward insolence and luck, while penalizing potential and effort…

But that is what not having an estate tax does.

Most of a wealthy person’s assets are never taxed.  Under the “realized capital gains” clause, items that gain value but are never cashed in, have capital gains that are never realized and therefore no tax is assessed.  If you bought a ’69 Chevy with a 396, fluid heads and a Hurst on the floor, for $3500 in 1975…. Today at worth of $55,000 it would sit, untaxed, until sold and only after then would tax be assessed.

The Estate tax is the only time most of the wealth of wealthy people, sees itself taxed and the most typical item handed down is stock.

The push to eliminate the estate tax entirely is a concentrated effort to allow all this wealth to go forever untaxed. When the estate gets sold off,  that $50,000 car sold at Southbys goes straight to the owner’s heirs as realized capital gains, never getting taxed….

So what is wrong with that, you ask?

if that money is not paid by the wealthy at time of death before being divided up to its heirs, it must be paid in some other form by those earning less, and working harder.  The money is still needed.  Not getting that money here means that someone else has to pay for it…. and the question comes down to this….  If we must have this money, is it better to take it from a dead person who will never need it? Or a live person who desperately needs every dollar they get in order to live?

That answer is obvious.  Which is why to argue for the removal of the estate tax must hinge on class privilege.  Since one cannot justify forcing poor human beings to pay for the needs of wealthy people, one has to degrade those suffering as being sub human.  Like we did slaves.  Or native Americans. Or an entire race of dark skinned people allowed by an amendment of our Constitution after the Civil War to become citizens equal to all within our borders. We told ourselves they were not human and performed all sorts of atrocities upon them.

So if you accept the argument that non-wealthy do not matter, (47%) that only wealth has the right and obligation to run this country, then you get an argument that can be bought on repealing the estate tax.

It would have to feed on human negatives and state that you must allow the money to stay in family hands….. so THEY….. don’t get it…

Primarily, that is the only argument in favor of this act.  It is a base, selfish act that assumes the money belongs to the dead person….

Now if you take the economic perspective, and recognize that money is good only when it gets used, recognize that because our government prints money, all money really belongs to government, (it just lets us use it for free while we are alive), then true evidence pushes for raising the estate tax, not lowering it. Return as much of the estate as one can back to its real owners, “We The People”….

Estate taxes do fund programs.  Programs which pay people; which buy manufactured goods, which provide necessary services… all of which put that money back into the economy.   So taxing an estate at higher and higher rates, creates funds that can accomplish a lot of good.

  • They help reduce the deficit and national debt.
  • They help put people to work, and provide services making lives better.
  • They can be used to cut other taxes.

Currently estate taxes are levied only on the largest of estates…with amounts over $5 million dollars.  The gigantic estates do generate a lot of revenue to government.  If that tax is repealed that money would have to come from higher taxes elsewhere, or more incurred debt, or deeper cuts in services…. or most likely, from all three simultanously….

Finally, America is proud of its work ethic.  No matter what ones class, all are proud of the hard work they do to make a living and look down on those who don’t work, but have things given to them…. Repealing the estate tax throws this American value on its ear.  We are rewarding laziness, insolence, and debauchery by giving estates of great wealth to those who did not earn them.

America must remain the land of opportunity.  Everyone must have the same break as everyone else… But that does not happen when money is allowed to pass down within families from one generation to another.  Those children need to work hard like everyone else.

It is simply unAmerican to repeal any estate tax.  It must become America’s duty to raise it much higher so all begin on equal footing when making their future  economically solid…..

This will be a brief teaser for labor day… Why, is the middle class (labor) suffering so much today…..

US Corporations get around the US’s high tax rate of 35% by stashing money offshore.  The average corporation pays 12.6% according to the GAO in 2010….  This means that half of America’s corporations pay higher, and half of America’s corporations pay lower…  HALF OF AMERICA’S CORPORATIONS PAY LOWER THAN 12.6%?  REALLY?

During America’s boom times, when the middle class was almost guaranteed a job for life with a pension plan and a gold watch, corporate taxes were set as high as 52.8 percent. Later rates were lowered to 48 percent and then 46 percent.  It was only after 1986 when they were lowered to 35% that the middle class problem begin to emerge….

Across history there is a direct relationship between higher taxes and higher wages… When tax rates are high, wage rates are high. When tax rates are low, wage rates are low.  (As an additional benefit, the higher the taxes, the higher the employment level goes as well.) In fact there is such public good in charging the wealthy higher taxes with no downside, that is is literally amazing we aren’t doing it. Everyone benefits out the gazoo!)

The way America’s corporations get around this 35% rate, is by stashing cash abroad.  There is $2 trillion of America’s money kept overseas, and not brought home to keep it from being taxed… You pay taxes. I pay taxes, yet corporations think they shouldn’t… How fair is that?

Keep in mind.  This is by their own volition. They are not forced to keep that money offshore. They could bring it back anytime they wished.  They choose not to do so… And that money is what funds campaigns for cutting taxes.  That money is what buys both Democrat and Republican allegiance to no-tax pledges.  I would bet that some of that foreign money is in Tom Carper’s, Chris Coons’, and John Carney’s campaign slush funds right now..

$2 trillion at 35% is $700 billion that should have already been in our treasury… That is money we borrowed unnecessarily to cover our expenses which if a proper administration had been in the executive branch would have already been there, from corporations…  The balance, $1.3 trillion would have then been available here and could have been invested in our nation in the form of jobs…

There was some discussion, primarily from Michelle Bachmann, as to give a blanket amnesty on these taxes to get this money back,  But that is like saying you won’t prosecute a bank robber if he comes back and spends his money in your home town…  What bank will he rob next?  And what about all those people who had their money stolen from them?  Michelle and her Republican cohorts seem not to care.

So why are corporations really renouncing their “citizenship?” Simple answer, is they are doing this so they can pocket hoards of “deferred” offshore profits without ever paying the taxes they owe on these profits….

A (different) tax loophole called “deferral” allows companies to avoid being taxed on their non-U.S. profits until they “bring the money home.” Because of this loophole, corporations have been taking steps to make it look as if their profits are made outside of the U.S., and have piled up about $2 trillion in cash that they are keeping out of the country.

Dave Johnson explains. “Here is how the deferral scam works. An American company sets up a non-U.S. “subsidiary” in a tax haven. That non-U.S. company gets or produces goods, services, patents, whatever, at a low price. (This often involves shifting paper (and copyrights, patents) around to make it look like profits are not made in the U.S., but in too many cases this means the U.S. company actually moves U.S. jobs, factories, production, call centers and other assets out of the country.) The subsidiary sells to the U.S. company at a high price. Most or all of the profit is therefore made by the non-U.S. subsidiary, so the profits are considered to be non-U.S. and taxes on those profits are “deferred.” This still counts as profits for the U.S. owner of that subsidiary, but the U.S. company does not have to pay taxes (they are “deferred”) until they “bring the profit home.””

These corporations see that if they renounce their citizenship before the U.S. fixes this loophole, they can just keep the money….

But does this money REALLY stay offshore???  As you would certainly expect, of course not….  The non-U.S. subsidiary company “loans” money to the U.S. parent. So all of the non-U.S. cash actually is available to the U.S. parent. But wait, there’s more. The U.S. parent pays interest to the subsidiary, which is deducted from taxes and reduces the U.S. tax bill even more. ..

If complicated, it isn’t.  I hire you as my buddy in crime.  I give you all my money… I say, look, I’m broke, I can’t pay any taxes!  You lend me my money back to me… I spend it tax free and the money I do make, I write off as interest I give back to you… So I keep everything I make here … No taxes…

Ways to fight this… very important on this Labor Day…

A.  Hold Democrats accountable.  Don’t let them (Tom Carper, Chris Coons, John Carney) get away with helping corporations rob the American workers, who do pay all their taxes and who are subsidizing these corporations money-making schemes.

B.  Support proposals by President Obama to use executive action to stop “income stripping” and to keep “inverted” companies from getting government contracts

C.  Support the Stop Corporate Inversions Act of 2014 in the Congress… Obviously obstructed by Republicans.

D. Support a proposal to tax companies based on their percentage of sales that occur in the U.S.,..

One must wonder, why is this even in the tax code?  The reason is so U.S. companies can use “offshore” profits to invest in growth. This is a win-win because we want U.S. companies to do well, and because the U.S. is supposed to benefit when profits are brought home and taxes are paid….

A very simple way to fight abuse of deferral is to charge a fee of, say, 7 percent a year on all deferred profits. The full amount of taxes is to still be paid when profits are finally brought home, but we collect an additional 7 percent a year until they are….

So enjoy your Labor Day.  We’ve got some real work to begin tomorrow…..

 

 

 

Delaware's Heroes For What

We hail our fallen heroes.  Hopefully many of you stirred some dull roots with spring rain today:…  memories, both a blessing and a curse.

But for whom did they die?

Did they die for….

Top 5 Contributors, 2009 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC      Contributor      Total Indivs PACs
AstraZeneca PLC                                                                     $71,550                                               $36,550               $35,000
JPMorgan Chase & Co                                                          $58,200                                              $33,200               $25,000
Ashland Inc                                                                                $55,420                                              $25,700               $29,720
Blue Cross/Blue Shield                                                      $46,000                                                  $6,000               $40,000
Bank of America                                                                     $40,440                                                 $3,940               $36,500

Those were Tom Carper’s top 5 contibutors……

Or did they die for….

Top 5 Contributors, 2009 – 2014,        Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC     Contributor           Total Indivs PACs
Young, Conaway et al                                                        $121,300                                            $121,300                     $0
Skadden, Arps et al                                                              $92,600                                             $87,600                       $5,000
Grant & Eisenhofer                                                              $70,049                                              $70,049                       $0
Comcast Corp                                                                         $69,200                                            $44,200                       $25,000
Morris, Nichols et al                                                            $57,550                                              $57,550                        $0

Those were Chris Coons’ top 5 contributors……

Or did they die for…....

Top 5 Contributors, 2013 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC     Contributor           Total Indivs PACs
Investment Co Institute                                                $12,500                                                 $8,140                            $2,500
Skadden, Arps et al                                                            $10,640                                                 $8,140                            $2,500
National Multi Housing Council                                $10,500                                                 $0                                     $10,500
Bank of America                                                                  $10,250                                                 $750                                 $9,500
AstraZeneca PLC                                                                 $10,198                                                 $250                                 $9,948

 

These are John Carney’s top contributors……

Our state relative to nationally, is actually on the good end of campaign contribution spectrum.  Nothing here, is really out of line. You should see some in other states…

But let us isolate by industry…..

For John Carney…. 

Top 5 Industries, 2013 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte and Leadership PAC       Industry Total           Indivs PACs
Insurance                                                       $96,520                                                                   $2,820                     $93,700
Securities & Investment                          $93,000                                                                  $1,500                     $91,500
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $59,110                                                                   $45,610                     $13,500
Commercial Banks                                    $49,000                                                                  $1,250                       $47,750
Finance/Credit Companies                    $43,250                                                                  $5,250                      $38,000

For Chris Coons…….

Top 5 Industries, 2009 – 2014,      Campaign Cmt                                                Industry Total             Indivs PACs
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $1,495,387                                                    $1,341,519                    $153,868
Leadership PACs                                        $512,900                                                           $0                              $512,900
Lobbyists                                                       $345,302                                                       $325,472                        $19,830
Securities & Investment                        $296,800                                                       $235,300                      $61,500
TV/Movies/Music                                     $228,157                                                          $163,800                       $64,357

For Tom Carper……..

Top 5 Industries, 2009 – 2014,       Campaign Cmte                                            Industry Total               Indivs PACs
Insurance                                                     $371,710                                                          $94,470                         $277,240
Securities & Investment                        $320,340                                                      $125,840                       $194,500
Lawyers/Law Firms                                  $294,382                                                       $170,761                        $123,621
Lobbyists                                                        $214,262                                                     $207,042                            $7,220
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products      $207,710                                                      $50,300                         $157,410

And now, in what I believe is the first time ever…. here is the combination giving you an idea of who influences our 3 man delegation…  Compiled by adding together all three’s industry totals listed above and then ranking them top down…..

 

Lawyers/Law Firms   ……………..    $1,848,879

Securities & Investment …………….   $710,140

Insurance…..,,,,,,,,,……………. , ……   $668,257

Leadership PACs ………………………. $675,400

Lobbyists  ………………………………,…$568,779

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $486,108

Commercial Banks  …………………….$435,240

TV/Movies/Music……………………….$292,067

Finance/Credit Companies………….$208,865

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And that is who owns our delegation….  Just seeing the visual makes it clear why some of the anti-people votes cast by this delegation, … are ever cast at all….   No, contrary to how we exclaim… They are not insane.  They are practical….

It will get worse with McCutcheon passed…

Already the amount of dark money as shown by tallies done by the Center for Responsive Politics show that nondisclosing groups have already reported spending more than three times as much as they had at this point in the 2012 elections — a presidential cycle when higher spending would be expected.”

Did you get that?  The unprecedented spending done in 2012, a contested presidential year, as of now been tripled over the same point of time back in 2012…….. . And it is both sides. In the past dark money was 80% Conservative, 20% Liberal.  Today (2014), it is 60% Conservative; 40% Liberal…   Spending by liberal nondisclosing groups is more than four times higher than it was at this point in 2012, while their conservative counterparts have tripled their previous spending level……

Which means, no tv watching this summer… and social media will become a real turn-off….  Both mean that most of America will tune out this election…  Thank you, Supreme Court…..   What were you smoking?

And if most of America tunes out this election,   it again begs the moral and serious question…. for whom did they die?  Certainly not us.

Delaware's Heroes

 

 

 

 

Every once in a while a dumb Conservative will fall off the wagon and start blabbering about how bad unions are… Since Conservatives are today’s equivalent  of yesteryear’s Communists, and since the more they talk (as did those communists), the more the real truth emerges about their horrid ideal for America, it is my sincere wish that they keep it up.

However, just to make sure that not all conversation is one way, I wanted to give everyone a pat on the back who is Union, and thank them, by reminding them just of the powerful role they play…  When facts are on the table, the only way one can really be against unions in general, is if one shoots themselves up with heroin and looses all contact with reality … Today, you really got to be “on something” if you are anti-union…. For all realistic facts point in the opposite direction…

First, let us dispel the mentality that unions force people to be in them…. Once past that rhetorical device, one realizes there are no “forced unions” and therefore there can be no “worker’s choice” involving union ownership..  Or put in layman’s terms,  both forming, and disbanding a union operation, ARE the worker’s choice… As everyone knows,  (my goodness, I hope everyone at least knows)  it takes a majority of workers to form a union. Likewise as everyone knows, it takes a majority of workers to opt out of a union, should they find that union membership really doesn’t “do it” for them.

Workers have plenty of choices.  They can choose to make their shop a union. They can choose to undo their shop as  a union.  They can individually choose to work there under existing  union shop arrangements.  They can individually choose not to work there under existing union shop arrangements.

The argument that workers cannot choose is bogus.  It is based solely on the principle that a union has to cater to the whim of every prospective employee.  In today’s corporate world, would we expect Bank of America to have to cater to the whim of every single employee?  I wish.. huh?   So the entire argument behind “right to work” laws are about the  employer’s rights and the hirer’s rights… as in their right to be able to hire someone willing to work on the cheap, instead of what was called for in the contract he signed with the union….

Worker’s rights have never changed… if they don’t like it, they have always had the right to quit.  They are not being forced to do anything.  They have worker’s choice… The union laws don’t make unions compulsory; they merely prevent free-riding, whereby workers could get the benefits of a union contract without paying for it. ..  Would a corporation like Bank of America  keep free riders on their payroll who were getting paid and doing nothing?  I wish, huh?..

Most employers do prefer the consistency of having contracts over that of having strikes which are very expensive and are not penciled into the long term plan. Even employers are supportive of having closed shops, because only that provides the consistency they need and makes planning more accurate.

However, in attempting to close down unions in America, conservatives have stirred the ire of the American people…. “No matter their warts, unions ultimately reflect their members: typical Canadians just trying to earn a decent income, support their families, and (hopefully) retire with some security, in an economy which rewards the rich and powerful more than ever before..”

Unions represent America. After all, none of us really identify with the CEO making $1,000,000 an hour.  If he doubles his salary, it does nothing for us…  if he doubles his salary and we are the ones paying for it in lower wages, that does affect us.  Unions are the only defense America people have.

Wage gains have been small, strikes are historically rare, and even much-maligned public sector contracts have been rolled back substantially. In such a lopsided context, it’s simply impossible to convince most voters that unions are really Public Enemy Number One..

All those of us making less than $1,000,000 annually, innately understand that if the only institutional voice speaking for working class priorities is silenced, then the whole social contract will become even more tattered in the years ahead. Unions, to their credit, effectively emphasized their broader social impacts in their responses to ridiculous conservative fabrications of reality.

Every attempt to destroy unions, whether in the public or private sector, is now viewed a simply the rich, trying to take what does not belong to them, to make themselves even richer at our expense….  America can see.  It sees conservatives as mean spirited harbingers of middle class poverty.  We are on it’s doorstep now.

America can see.  it can see our fathers hard negotiated benefits they thought would one day help their children, get pulled back, and back, and back.  Health benefits, pensions, insurance,  all those things their fathers chose to take in lieu of more salary, are now clutched back into the hands of those who at one point in our father’s past, had to grudgingly fork them over… .

America can see.  Conservatives are mean spirited, hateful, selfish, brutal, and self-serving.  America can see.

Their anti Union views have pissed off moderate conservatives, who do see the benefits of being able to stand up to ones boss when he is wrong.  They blatantly offend labor unions and their families, by equating their representation with that of organized crime when the actual real criminal is the CEO running the economy into the ground. …

I hope Conservatives speak up all the louder.  For every time they open their mouth, America again realizes that Conservatives do not speak for the 99% of us… They may sometimes fool us with a quick turn of phrase.  But we’ve lived with them long enough, to know, that what they propose, and who they are, and what damage they will do to both the middle class and America… was not accurately reflected upon their original application to us for employment.

It’s past time  to fire Conservatives, for lying on their application…

I wanted to put some thoughts down on this, since it has begun at least locally to become a major thrust of conversation… Has America lost its Exceptionalism?

Be wary,  that is a very general question, and the wisest answer so far to date, has been Rick Jensen’s:  “Which definition of American Exceptionalism are we going to use?”

“If you define American Exceptionalism as Marilyn B. Young does i.e.: Liberals whose beliefs changed toward an exceptionalism that calls for imposing democracy worldwide, then, yes, the theory is likely. If the definition is Jay Lovestone’s (as in Lovestone v Stalin), then most people would likely agree with American Exceptionalism as our natural resources, strength, and capitalism prevents communism from being overwhelmingly popular. If you choose de Tocqueville’s original definition, then to deny American Exceptionalism is to deny the historical facts of a largely Puritanical population taking advantage of their opportunities to engage in commerce, worship as they choose, and live in a country whose government functions as a representation of the people, not of the ruling, royal class.”

So all “Exceptionalism” arguments are circular, because we are comparing bananas with apples and oranges, to see they all are better than watermelons… (they aren’t; watermelons rule; btw)

But,… what if we made up a new definition, one in which America was defined as being its people’s right to self determination?…. Simply put, it steals from our Declaration of Independence and states along Jeffersonian lines, that people have the right to go in the direction in which they want.

If that becomes one’s definition, then not only is our nation non-exceptional, but it is working hard to become as unexceptional as possible.

At the crux of this change, is the probably this facet:  Those rights and values that used to be held up as true for people, have now been usurped by big business, or multi-national corporations…

One could take it one step further, that at one time America was exceptional… With a wide open frontier growing faster than regulating authorities could keep up, best practices could evolve and become powerful, before the squelching counter-force of the status quo could take its effect….

In real life, we are facing the return of the status quo, as being defined as ruled by an elite, in all that has changed over the last 14 years.  I would mark the tipping point (based on my viewing stand) as tipping in 2007… Other’s may use different markers and put their finger before or afterwards, but the playing field has seriously changed based on Conservative principles which originally emerged out of the 1994 Gingrich neo-Conservative movement… Some of the changes occurred through their emphasis on lack of regulation, some through their pro-financial legislation, and some through their Conservative Court decisions…

But all have been enacted to embrace restraints and control over democracy, by those landed class having tremendous amounts of money at their disposal.  Ironically, for them to have the freedoms expressed in the Declaration of Independence, they must suppress yours….

What we are looking at transpiring over just the past few years, is a return to a ruling class, just like in Ireland, where the subjects have no rights at all, and if any amenities are to be given, it is only to keep them alive to keep the profiteering economic engines continuing to spit out money for its owners…

A topic recently discussed here was Wal*mart and speculation that some corporate pressure would now be upcoming to re-invest a bit more of America’s resources back into food stamps because one of its landed-gentry (the Waltons) was now foundering.. in other words, it is deemed to be good landed-gentry policy to put the boot into ones people, but only as far until one feels the effect applied to oneself, and then and only then, does the pressure get let off.

Under old American thinking, that never could have happened.  The majority would revolt through elections and the landed gentry would be forced to pull the idea off the table until another opportunity.

In arguments of this structure and magnitude the future use of adjectives such as “good” and “bad” to describe the two sides, is misleading.  For in any type of disagreement, one always sees oneself as representing the good they wish to represent, and the other with opposing belief, sees them as evil…

Therefore a more thorough distinction must be used.  Rich and poor is too general and too relative.  The most accurate definition I can think of how to delineate the two opposing parties, is that one employed by the Wall Street activists of the 1% versus the 99%…  That is such a convenient piece of language.   Realistically, of course the area between 90-99% would be full of people who had some fingers in some pies on both sides… And quite probably a more accurate delineation would be to draw the line at the 15% mark, at which a very clear line evolves between being either self-sufficient, or a supplicant…  But, for reference primarily due to its common use, it just makes sense to continue using the 1%–99% divide.  That polarization helps illuminate the major discrepancies and make arguing points for each side, .. much easier.  .

What we have seen since the century mark passed us with no Y2K disaster….. is the 1% making giant inroads into our government, our communications, our economy, and our employment….

Money can do that.

If one is wealthy, one can a) hire people to craft legislation,  b) pander it through Congress and state legislatures surreptitiously attached to campaign contributions, and c) hire scholars to invent and trumpet the advantages of each of those bills.   This creates a one-sided argument against which no one is immune… Those too poor to pay cash, those too poor to take off work, those too tied down to drive down to Washington or one’s state capital, have their side eclipsed.  The legislator could be one of the most benign to the principles of the Constitution, but if he is lied to and provided glowing accounts of how his vote will resonate glowingly among all voters, without a contrarian opinion, he is doing whatever they say.

Not to absolve their blame, but it is just as if you, saw me every day and said “how are things going” and I said “not so good”, you’d feel concerned and want to help.  But on the other hand if you stood in a checkout line with a mom and two kids using WIC paper to get necessary nutrients, and asked… ” how are things going”,… their negative answer would roll off your back… Not because you are callous; but because you don’t know them.   Excessive wealth has insulated our Congress, in fact, I would go out on a limb and say it has insulated the entire DC belt-way.  They just don’t know what average America goes through anymore.

When your most pressing problem is that you were invited to two important functions and have to figure out which one to snub and turn down, your prowess of representing your constituents is in question…. You have effectively been insulated from your constituent’s priorities…  As long as big money is allowed to be involved, it will happen to all we send there.

Against this, one would think that our communications industry would be implored to exploit for its own power, the divide between the ruling high gentry and the peasants supporting them.  Truth was, it WAS that way post-WWII. Perhaps their healthily dislike of the government came from seeing up close and personal it’s inefficiencies during the fog of WWII, but clear evaluations did take place inside our major media over the McCarthy Hearings, Civil Rights, the Vietnam War, and Welfare and Poverty. People always got a perspective different from the official government’s opinions.  And newspapers were far more partisan way back then, on both sides.

But big money bought them all. Big money owns them all.  Instead of competition, we have homogenization. with nothing ever wrong being pinned on big money…. We have arguments of why taxes need cut;  no one ever sees arguments of why they should be raised even though the paper receives 9 to 1 letters in favor of raising taxes… Our media no longer represents American thought;  it represents corporate mouthpieces, as was recently evidenced by NBC cutting away from the collapse of the USA to gargle over a troubled Justin Bieber in its networks competition over Neilsen ratings and getting the most “Likes” on Facebook..

When the reality of events shows Big Money in its correct light, the media does everything to discount it.  Whereas the media was once considered a courageous fourth element of government, it is now the house slave, whose whole survival depends upon the whim of his master… When one questions the slave if his master is a nice man, one can certainly pre-guess the only response one will get….

So when a wealthy power grab bill comes up in Congress, every media outlet sugar coats it.  UMMM Sugar Rush!!!! There is some good, there is no bad.  The top wealth has quenched all argument.  Of course the arguments burn inside of us.  Our frustrations grow.  For we see the reality.  But as in Eastern Germany, we tend to keep it too ourselves, since we must assume we are the only ones, and thinking such is dangerous…..

Besides government and communications, big wealth has taken over our economy.  When we sell low, they bought. They own everything.  When one owns everything, what is best for one, is not best for all others.  Hence, bundling securities in 2006-2007 which meant bundling very bad loans and selling them as very safe investments to all the world’s governments, was partaken without anyone having the right to answer, … “um did you say those were … “bad loans?”  

The how to “how this happened”, was that the very wealthy thorough their influence in Congress and through squelching all dissent in the media, were able to remove previous laws that required that risk to be disclosed.  There is a valid reason why such a deep crash never occurred in the interim between itself and the Great Depression.  It was illegal to do so.  But once pursuing those policies known to lead up to a great crash became unregulated and therefore legal,  guess what?  We got exactly the same result as when we tried it the last time….the 1920’s.

Other economic factors are its result of Big Wealth’s interference. Big wealth is the reason our college debt is too high.  Big wealth is the reason no new manufacturing investment is now taking place. Big wealth is the reason our government is cutting jobs instead of growing them.  Big Wealth is why your take home pay has gotten smaller, and now buys much less… Big Wealth is why Unions are less effective, being mostly illegal unless they apply by the tight rules Big Wealth has set for them…

But mostly all three of these came about by your fear of losing your job.  Big Wealth is your boss.  He may be your bosses’ bosses’ boss but Big Wealth controls you in your job.  Don’t believe me?  Just perform this test… Stand up in your next meeting and publicly say… “Occupied Wall Street was right about everything and dead on….”

i’m not going to dare you to do so, because I already know the answer.  You can’t say that, unless you don’t care whether you work there or not.   “Freedom is just another word… for nothing left to loose”…  If you have nothing to lose, only then are you free to speak your mind.  If you stand to lose your job for doing so, face it, you are silent for that reason…  If you are afraid to speak your mind, then essentually all your freedom is gone.  Stripped away. It may exist on paper, but your freedom today is not guaranteed in any way.

Sad thing… is that it used to be.  In my lifetime, one could keep one’s job and be a communist…  whatever…. Son, as long as you doing your work?  Then that’s ok.

But today one can never say that at one’s employment: “I agree with Occupy Wall Street”.  , for it is full of spies.One cannot even rant it on Facebook even jokingly, without being kicked out of ones job.  Our nation has lost its way.  Everything is controlled by the 1%.”

Now I’m sure some people will take issue with this, and do their best to weave it into whatever they want to weave it into.. That’s fine.  That is what the 1% is paying them to do and I am relatively confident that those people will stick out like sore thumbs for being the toadies they are: supplicants to the teats of excessive wealth.

If America is destined to go the way of all other past nations, then let it only speak in one voice and become a mouthpiece for its landed gentry, I can do nothing to stop it.  All I can do is point out, that today, the America we have at our disposal, is no different than that of ancient empires, than that of Roman control,  than that of medieval warlords, then that of imperialistic Europe, then that of Hirohito, than that of Soviet Russia, or even that of our own Guilded Age whose excesses led to the creation of the New Deal….

In fact,  I would go so far to stretch out on a limb that the current public perception of America’s Exceptionalism, was founded  upon the structures first put in place by the New Deal… I know that opens a theory up to a whole battery of counter-arguments, and most of them I have used myself to test out this hypothesis.  But after all the dust has settled, I have still to admit (and you probably will too), that with historical analysis outweighing whatever theoretical arguments get dashed against it,  the New Deal worked for 70 years until we started taking it apart…

With it gone, we are not exceptional anymore. We are just the same as everyone else.  A 1% ruling over the 99% peasant class beneath them…. The same as King George’s Great Britain. The same as Robespierre’s France. The same as Caesar.  The same as Babylon’s king… The same as the ancient Pharaoh….

None whose empires are still around today.  None today hold onto their power they once possessed.  With our expansionist opportunities now dimming, with the advent of a disturbingly stupid but powerful upper class, with our allowing them to usurp our edifices of democracy and force them to rule in their favor, not ours, America is now at a crossroads.  We can either choose to become comfortable slaves, grateful for the shelter, food, and Super-Bowls thrown for our benefit, … or we can choose to become the masters of our own destiny, and accept whatever that may befall.   The latter option worked best in our past. The later option was the Golden time of American Exceptionalism from which we have now removed ourselves…..

Should we go back?  Or accept the incremental slavery slowly wrapping its tentacles around us?

If my words ring hollow, then our time has already passed.  If you feel the same, then time is short.  It must change 2014, and in 2016 must make it even more clear…  After all, 2012 was writing on the wall…  America is only exceptional because its people are exceptional.  Its everyday simple people who wake up every morning and go to bed every night. That theme rolls through all the definitions of Exceptionalism listed above at this article’s very beginning. But when those people no longer own their nation, our fate will be sealed… and it won’t be pleasant….

..

.

Cons

Raises tax on gasoline by 10 cents  per gallon.  If gas costs $3.33 today, with tax it will cost $3.43.

Does not tax the wealth as much a percent of their income, as it would tax those on the lower levels.

Takes consumer’s money away from discretionary spending on other items.

Could cause truckers to fuel up in other states.

At a drive rate of 25,000 miles per year, at an mpg of 20 miles per gallon, the number of gallons used would be 1,250.  A ten cent tax on each of those gallons amounts to $125 per year…  Per month that would be .. $10.41… Per day…$ 0.32…  If one drives less, or has higher mpg, one pays less.

Gasoline tax has lost its value over the past decade. Changes in fuel-saving automotive technology and driving habits are resulting in less revenue to repair crumbling bridges, repave highways or upgrade buses and trains.

Pros

Jobs, jobs, jobs,  with funding highway construction can get into gear.

Solidifies the Transportation Trust Fund, which has been robbed to simply run government. That’s been squeezed and squeezed and squeezed, and specifically what has been squeezed out of it is the ability to build more capacity to deal with congestion. All that’s left, pretty much, in the capital budget at the state level (for roads), is maintenance and repair.

DelDOT’s capital budget would increase from $128 million this year up to $192 million next year.

Opens door of super high tax rate on the super high wealthy in this state. Those who should be paying 15%.

Encourages people to use less petroleum.  Smaller cars, higher MPG’s, more public transit, less pollution,  get bumps when gas rises higher.

Allows state to tap in on all those people using 95 who pull into the best service center on the East Coast, perhaps the nation.

County and local roads which have also have suffered, may now finally receive repair.

The current poor condition of roads costs drivers in Delaware cost $2,500 per person per year in extra fuel, wear-and-tear and lost time.  This cost must be balanced against the cost of an additional 10 cents per gallon. (Compared to the $125 per year cost of the tax.)

We paid more in the past.  Driving the same 25,000 miles back when cars ran on 10 mpg,  the same mileage would have generated.  $250 dollars…  Fuel efficiency has cost state transportation funds half of what they once used to receive….

The tax was last raised in 1995… Since then, what we could once buy for $250.00, we would now need $382.00.  The money we collect does not go half as far….

States with lower gas taxes actually pay more for the gas in the pumps because the market will bear it.  Sam’s Gas (Walmart) in Athens, Georgia, where there is  a 7.5 cents Georgia state tax on gasoline…. sells gas for $2.99….   Putting the price of  the cheapest Athens, Georgia gas today is $2.915… In Delaware, Wawa has $3.23 up on their sign, (as of a couple of hours ago.)  Today Delaware’s tax is 23 cents per gallon…  The cost of the gas minus taxes is $2.99….  some may say… aha!  Georgia is cheaper.  But that would be comparing Sam’s Club to Wawa.  One would expect Sam’s Club to be cheaper… It is a “club”… is it not?  The lowest priced national brand in Athens, Georgia is the Shell Station on Atlanta Ave. near Trade Street.  It’s pump cost is $3.19…  Deduct the 7.5 cent gasoline tax, and Georgians are paying $3.115 per gallon for gas;  the comparative Delawarean price with Delaware’s tax tacked on, would be… $3.35….  Today that is 8 cents higher than most stations sell in Delaware today…..  Point is… consumers don’t absorb the gas cost… The $4 billion dollar gas companies do!

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The benefits outweigh the cost.

——

With so many great benefits, it seems senseless to halt them all for a price jump that can occur on it’s own at a moment’s notice…  No more difference from driving past a gas station in night checking the price, and doing it again in the morning and cursing you didn’t fill up the night before…

Thus, are the pros and cons of raising a gas tax….  if the poor and middle class are being asked to sacrifice, come later, THE WEALTHY HAD BETTER BE FORCED TO DO THE SAME…. IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR YOU KNOW……  Pass this minor tax on the poor, then raise state income rates where they should be… As a reminder I’ve included them below…….

Recommendations for 2014:

Go to multiple tiered tax rates:

15% on $1 billion or more
10% on $100 million to $1 billion
9% on $10 million to $100 million
8% on $1 million to $10 million
7% on $500,000 to $1 million
6.75% on $60,000 up to $1 million

I was trying to find a ranking of states by their percentage of Free or Reduced Lunch Students and was frustrated that no one had compiled one.  So i did it myself.  It explains a lot.  As scientists of the 1870’s were affected upon first seeing Mendeleev’s Periodic Chart of the Elements, this should do the same for social scientists of this century.

It was compiled from this Appendix at the back end of some report by PRRAC (Poverty and Race Research Action Council) who did the original  legwork and compiled it from Census data. There is plenty of other data to mine as well.  This is just a starter.

Find your state’s percentage here.

Alabama 53.9%
Alaska n/a
Arizona 54.4%
Arkansas 57.5%
California 63.7%
Colorado 36.0%
Connecticut 21.4%
Delaware 44.3%
Florida 58.1%
Georgia 52.7%
Hawaii n/a
Idaho 37.5%
Illinois 39.4%
Indiana 46.1%
Iowa 34.0%
Kansas 39.0%
Kentucky 50.4%
Louisiana 75.2%
Maine 31.2%
Maryland 34.9%
Massachusetts 22.9%
Michigan 40.8
Minnesota 28.5
Mississippi 63.4%
Missouri 35.1%
Montana 36.8%
Nebraska 39.4%
Nevada 41.5%
New Hampshire 13.4%
New Jersey 22.2%
New Mexico 56.5%
New York 54.0%
North Carolina 34.9%
North Dakota 29.4%
Ohio 38.5%
Oklahoma 57.5%
Oregon 48.0%
Pennsylvania 31.2%
Rhode Island 34.7%
South Carolina 50.6%
South Dakota 28.0%
Tennessee 52.6%
Texas 55.4%
Utah 27.6%
Vermont 19.3%
Virginia 32.1%
Washington 37.2%
West Virginia 49.4%

Now… find it’s ranking … here…

48.Louisiana 75.2%

47. California 63.7%
46. Mississippi 63.4%

45. Florida 58.1%
44. Arkansas 57.5%
43. Oklahoma 57.5%
42. New Mexico 56.5%
41. Texas 55.4%
40. Arizona 54.4%
39. New York 54.0%
38. Alabama 53.9%
37. Georgia 52.7%
36. Tennessee 52.6%
35. South Carolina 50.6%
34. Kentucky 50.4%

33. West Virginia 49.4%
32. Oregon 48.0%
31. Indiana 46.1%
30. Delaware 44.3%
29. Nevada 41.5%
38. Michigan 40.8

27. Nebraska 39.4%
26. Kansas 39.0%
25. Illinois 39.4%
24. Ohio 38.5%
23. Idaho 37.5%
22. Washington 37.2%
21. Montana 36.8%
20. Colorado 36.0%
19. Missouri 35.1%
18. Maryland 34.9%
17. North Carolina 34.9%
16. Rhode Island 34.7%
15. Iowa 34.0%
14. Wyoming 32.3%
13. Virginia 32.1%
12. Maine 31.2%
11. Pennsylvania 31.2%

10. North Dakota 29.4%
09. Minnesota 28.5
08. South Dakota 28.0%
07. Wisconsin 27.9%
06. Utah 27.6%
05. Massachusetts 22.9%
04. New Jersey 22.2%
03. Connecticut 21.4%

02. Vermont 19.3%
01. New Hampshire 13.4%

There was no data given for Alaska and Hawaii.  They are usually separated from the rest in most poverty/income/educational reports, so those state’s data may be still floating in cyberspace somewhere….

But for those struggling to find answers for all of life’s questions… they should look at those near the top of the list and “do what they do”. Apparently going all out to celebrate Mardi Gras, is not one of our nation’s best practices.   Such a shame, too. 🙂

The causes of poverty are complex and varied:

Yet the list of solutions is strikingly short. Other than picking a kid’s parents, it amounts to giving all children access to a high-quality education.

Here’s the catch-22. While the only long-term solution to poverty might be a good education, a good education is seldom available to children living in poverty…..

Philadelphia has really screwed up a lot of kids. So has Milwaukee,  And Chicago.. And DC….  all places where education reform has bulldozed down the existing public school structure, allowed for charters, then walked away of all accountability…. It is about to happen here in Wilmington, as well.

It starts with the Chamber of Commerce.  Then the Newspaper and media jump on.  Then a mysterious foundation materializes and begins issuing communiques that miraculously always land on the front page or the editorial pages of the most read journals…  The theme is the same.  Our public system is failing and we have to go private…

And the question never gets asked… who is making money off of this?  For when it does and the trail gets followed, it ends at the Chamber of Commerce… types, I should add.  In this case, the Longwood Foundation stands to get (if all tenants come on line)  at bargain rates, $1.6 million per month in rent….

Remember the entire building was donated to them.  Remember the state is paying for the capital improvements (which is fine if only Delawarean out-of-work laborers are hired to do the renovations) and the foundation of which the head of the Republican Party, Charlie Copeland, is the treasurer, gets to collect $1.6 million each month….  $19.2 million per year.  Free money

Even I would be in favor of such a system if it worked.  But as we can see from studying the effects upon those who left Pencader Charter School, on those who will be leaving Moyer Charter School, on those who are to be leaving REACH Charter School… not only does that concept not work, it actually plays with people’s lives towards the negative….  It’s bad. And the public systems already in place are systemically better….

The Southern Education Foundation reveals that nearly half of all U.S. public school students live in poverty.   Secondly, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, reveals that poverty — not race, ethnicity, national origin or where you attend school — is the best predictor of college attendance and completion.

Delaware has 51.9% of its students classified as low income….  To gain some perspective, ride the elevator up to the Morris and James office in the WSFS tower.  Step out of their copper colored elevators and look south, then draw an imaginary line straight south as far as you can see.  Everyone on the left is affluent, and everyone on the right is in poverty… New Castle, Delaware City are affluent.  Middletown, Newark, Glasgow are in poverty… THAT… is the reality we are dealing with…  THAT… is about as bad as the stories I’ve heard about the Great Depression….

But we’re not in a Depression! And some districts like Christina School District, have 61.7% of its students low income!!   That is over 6 out of every 10 students!  Is this really America?  Why does the News Journal fail to report this most significant factor in Delaware’s entire being?

Because they are in bed and loyal to the Chamber of Commerce types.  Who never deal so never care about those of low income levels… Certainly not enough to pay a penny or two extra on the dollar to help a brother or sister out….  Actually they are very generous to causes they patronize… so this is not an ad hominen or anti-wealthy attack..  It is just a push to show all that our priorities are in the wrong spot….

The donations and lip service are indeed well intended, and in their small way, certainly appreciated…  but the problem has grown beyond receiving free cases  plug-ins and Febreez to spritz up the room.   it is time to figure how we are going to get the elephant and all it’s dung, through a door that is now too little for it to pass…..

We need to take out a wall, pull out the elephant, clean out the dung, rebuild the wall, and then, use the Febreez and plug-ins to make it smell nice…

That elephant is poverty.  The only way that 51.9% of Delaware’s children EVEN HAVE A SHOT OF ESCAPING POVERTY!!!!  is through a good public school education……

Yet every year with Charter Schools, we are taking tons of money out and away from public education….

We are closing the door on half of Delaware’s children…  SLAM, Lock, throw away the key…..

We need to start working on that elephant problem now!

This philosophy is at the core of America’s current demise.  Unless it changes, reverts back to caring about others and realizing we are only as good as our weakest link,  I ‘m afraid the writing is on the wall as far as America’s future prosperity goes…

Anyone to who says the fault of America is its firemen who are paid too much, it’s police force who retires too well, it’s workers who are too wealthy, it’s teachers  who do too little, is our number one enemy and should be eliminated just as any terrorist would…

Terrorists bring down buildings.  These people ruin great civilizations.