You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'rich'.
Displaying 1 - 4 of 4 entries.

Poverty, John Edwards, and the American Dream

  • Posted on August 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

In the beginning of this video from John Oliver he talks about income inequality, you know whether you get your HBO legally or illegally.  I had to laugh from the get go as I have to go to watch John from YouTube because I don’t have HBO.   John has such a way of getting to the heart of things and explaining how we are too stupid for our own good.  It was even funny when he said we have to have some Brit telling us what we probably should already know, and wouldn’t you know it he is a Brit as well.

It isn’t easy for politicians to push in this area because corporations and the wealthy are really driving the political agenda.  The last politician that really talked about poverty and inequality was John Edwards.  His own personal issues took him down, you know having an affair on his cancer stricken wife, and this essentially put a damper on the issues he was talking about, poverty and inequality.  He was going to be the voice for the voiceless.  John’s agenda was the driving force of the 2008 election.  He took Senator Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 trip through Middle America to put a spotlight on the issues of the poor and disenfranchised.  It wasn’t Hillary or Barak that were driving the discussion.  John was the one hitting on Hillary and trying to get Barak to chime in during debates.  John was the one that talked about fair wages and single payer.  John may have been an imperfect messenger but killing the messenger seems to have killed the message.  It really makes me wonder why other politicians can do what John did and survive politically.  Could it be the message that was really the target?

Are politicians today so corrupt and tied to their corporate masters that they cannot see what it is doing to our country?Perhaps they just don’t care?  When I was young, I had politicians that I looked up to, respected, and even idealized.  Bobby Kennedy was one of them.  These are his words, “It is a revolutionary world we live in. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments.”

These timely words could have been spoken today.  Our country is far more concerned about the military machine than the plight of the poor and middle class.  The ideals of my youth have grown to skepticism in my maturing age.  The people that seem to make the most sense about political matters are entertainers like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and John Oliver.  With the exceptions of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I cannot name politicians that make me feel that sense of respect and admiration for standing up for what is right and just.  There is a gap in our country between the rich and the poor, the powerbrokers and the bottom feeders that just try to be that crab in the basket that wants so badly to reach the top.  Someone at the bottom keeps tugging him down and someone at the top puts a lid on the pot.  In the end, he is cooked into a system that has no freedom because he is stuck to a class system that only recognizes the rich and the connected.  If you have connections, you are going places.  If you are poor, you are probably stuck in a system that is working to keep you down and under control.  I always find it interesting that your credit report can be tied to so many things that help or hurt you.  If you have good credit, you get lower insurance, lower interest on loans, and more respect.  If you are poor and you have a tough time paying your bills, you can now expect even more problems because your credit is going to tie you to a life of debt.  They say we don’t have a debtor’s prison any more but that really is not true.  Students getting out of college soon discover they have a world of hurt when they start trying to pay back their student loans.  Those loans can follow them for their entire life if they are stuck in some low wage job with no chance of real promotion.

I know I tend to rant about certain things but I am an observer in a system that I see is stacked for certain people.  It doesn’t matter where you live today, there seems to be two different worlds:  The world for the rich and connected and the one for everyone else.  If you or your family is “someone” in your community, then you will have a better chance at those connections, even if you aren’t wealthy.  They can lead to jobs, scholarships, and ultimately success.  If you are poor with few or no connections, you are like the crab in the pot.  You have to work extra hard to climb to the top.  Some at the bottom will be pulling you down and sometimes it is through their own lack of understanding the system.  It always amazes me when the poor vote for people backed by the right wing establishment.  These people are controlled through religion and do-goodery.  Yeah, I made that word up, so deal with it.  They are so busy trying to be on the right side of the “Kingdom of God” that they forget about the here and now.  They believe that old Biblical saying about the rich and the camel through the eye of a needle when it comes to heaven.  They are kept stupid by a system that wants to maintain the status quo.  They sacrifice their kids for war because they are inclined to believe that wars really matter.  They don’t believe in global warming because they have been told that these things are cyclical.  They are waiting for the rapture and worried about public schools putting some harebrained idea in their kids’ heads.  Then there are the other poor:  The ones that are so down on their economic luck that they have lost all hope.  They don’t see how they can change anything.  They may not be into religion and surely don’t bother to vote because they don’t have the time to worry about such matters.  They are too tired trying to keep food on the table and their bills paid.  Life for them is just a continuous sucking machine of bad luck and meager existence.

From my perspective, as a nation we seem to be more concerned with the poor in other countries than in our own.  I used to feel that sense of pride in my country and what “we” stood for in the world.  Today I have many mixed feelings.  Maybe I have become immune to the propaganda.  It is hard when I watch protesters screaming at kids on the border.  That behavior is in direct contrast to what I thought we were as a nation.  It is hard when I can remember being a student at Michigan State University back in the seventies and I was full of idealism.  Reality is so much more complicated than that young idealism that I held in my youth.  I worry about the young students I teach today.  What kind of world we are leaving them?  If they are poor and not connected what do they have to look forward to, a world of debt and stress?  People used to be able to live a good life by working for GM on the line.  Today, that just isn’t possible.  Most families need two incomes and if you are poor, you are probably going to need some kind of assistance to have a decent life.  I do not have all the answers I just know that the politicians today disappoint me with their constant representation of their corporate donors and not the poor and the voiceless.

Wall Street Wives, Taxes and Privatization

  • Posted on April 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Whew!  Everyone has just breathed that big sigh of relief that their taxes are done and they don’t have to think about them for another year.  However, we should all be thinking about where our tax monies are going instead of focusing on the two parties that would have us believe that we must slash and burn “entitlement” programs in order to contain this unyielding budget deficit.  I, for one, don’t complain a lot about my taxes and I pay plenty in terms of percent of my income.  I am single with no dependents and I no longer run a business that might help for write off reasons.  This puts me in that tax space of hell that most single people understand.  When I add up all the money I pay for federal, state, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, property taxes and sales tax I could be screaming about the taxes I pay.  However, I don’t because I know that we need roads, public education, colleges, hospitals, airports, police, defense and many other things to make our society run.  I know I pay my fair share of the tax burden.  I don’t need any more and I know that many corporations pay nothing.  I also know that many wealthy people don’t share my percent of the burden.  I’ve been saying that we need to change the tax code so those at the top can do more for our country.  They have more, so they should do more.  After all they use more of these government resources than you or I will ever use.  They use the airports all the time to fly wherever they want to be in the world.

However, what I want to share with you today is how the rich have access to the government in a way that you and I will never have.  They take advantage of programs.  They even get programs written for them so they can dip into the honey pot of our tax payer monies.  Many of us that are old enough, remember John Wayne being paid not to farm.  Yeah, that’s funny.  That’s small potatoes compared to what I recently read in this  Rolling Stone article.

The Federal Reserve appears to be at the beck and call of the wealthy superstars.  Even though those wealthy bankers were basically crooks and liars and never had to pay for their shenanigans, we keep forking it over to them and now even, their WIVES!  This is important to read.  It’s from the link within the article about, “Why isn’t Wall Street in Jail?”

Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What’s more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even “one dollar” just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick “The Gorilla” Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.

So, we know these guys are crooked and the government knows it too, so what does the Federal Reserve do?  Our government has a “Shadow Budget”.  There is a budget that we see and then there is another one that the Federal Reserve creates.  You must watch this video because it is eye opening.

The Fed books have been opened up and now we are finding out about these secret transactions.  This was brought about by bi-partisan support as the video has stated.  Here is just a snippet from the article:

The Fed sent billions in bailout aid to banks in places like Mexico, Bahrain and Bavaria, billions more to a spate of Japanese car companies, more than $2 trillion in loans each to Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, and billions more to a string of lesser millionaires and billionaires with Cayman Islands addresses. “Our jaws are literally dropping as we’re reading this,” says Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “Every one of these transactions is outrageous.”

Here is more:

But if you want to get a true sense of what the “shadow budget” is all about, all you have to do is look closely at the taxpayer money handed over to a single company that goes by a seemingly innocuous name: Waterfall TALF Opportunity. At first glance, Waterfall’s haul doesn’t seem all that huge — just nine loans totaling some $220 million, made through a Fed bailout program. That doesn’t seem like a whole lot, considering that Goldman Sachs alone received roughly $800 billion in loans from the Fed. But upon closer inspection, Waterfall TALF Opportunity boasts a couple of interesting names among its chief investors: Christy Mack and Susan Karches.

Christy is the wife of John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley. Susan is the widow of Peter Karches, a close friend of the Macks who served as president of Morgan Stanley’s investment-banking division. Neither woman appears to have any serious history in business, apart from a few philanthropic experiences. Yet the Federal Reserve handed them both low-interest loans of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars through a complicated bailout program that virtually guaranteed them millions in risk-free income.

Obviously, I encourage you to read the whole article.  I also think we have to press congress to stop this outrageous transfer of money to the wealthy Wall Street fat cats.  It’s Robin Hood in reverse.  We all pay our taxes.  We aren’t crazy about paying them, but we know that we have to pay something to keep society going.  I have no desire to pay for the fat cats on Wall Street so they can keep their cushy lifestyles.  It’s time we all woke up and really learned more about how our government is being run.  Right now we keep getting brain washed into accepting what must happen to those “terrible entitlement” programs because they are truly the problem.  We are also being told about all those “terrible teachers” and of course now those sleepy, good for nothing, air traffic controllers as well.  This is all smoke and mirrors, so they can privatize everything.  It will just give those fat cats on Wall Street one more thing to control.  I ask everyone that reads my blog to just pass this on and think about who the enemy really is.  It isn’t the teachers and it isn’t air traffic controllers that are asked to work all night by themselves without so much as a potty break.  It’s okay for our Vice President to fall asleep because he isn’t bringing in planes but truthfully, who is really at fault for putting these planes at risk?  I can’t help but wondering why we are hearing about the air traffic controllers right now anyway.  Is there some new reason they’re falling asleep or is there something else in the works?

The next time you hear Rep. Paul Ryan blowing smoke your way, think about the real problems in government and where you tax dollars are being spent.  Here is a quick link for Rep. Ryan from Open Secrets.

Isn’t it nice to know that he rakes in so much money from insurance and health professionals?  Of course they will clearly make more money under his big proposal to privatize Medicare and Medicaid?

Now, that I’ve spoiled your Easter with all my happy talk on my blog, have a happy Easter!

Class Warfare

  • Posted on March 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

When I was a kid one of my many brothers would climb up on our huge Maple tree and throw sticks and stones down on anyone that tried to claim his roost in HIS tree.  I mention this here today because it’s a good analogy for Republican politicians and their huge attempts at limiting the power of the poor and the middle class.  The buzzword is “reform”.  However, the reform is ONLY about limiting the power and ability of the poor and the middle class.  There is no mention of any kind of reform that really will have an effect on the wealthy or upper classes.  These reforms can be anything from workers’ rights to health care to even the judicial system.  The tort reform we always hear them talk about is set up to limit the ability of the disenfranchised to make a claim against anyone above their stature, which would be most people and corporations.  The Republicans have tried for years to limit the amount that can be received in a lawsuit for inadequate health care claiming that this is the reason health insurance costs so much.  I noticed the steep change in the cost of health insurance right after September 11th 2001.  Do you really think it had something to do with the changes in our health care providers or was it something to do with the drop in revenue the insurance companies felt from investments that tanked after that time?  Just remember that the health insurance industry is a for “profit” industry.  They exist to make a profit.  There may be some like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, my company, which are supposed to be non-profit.  However, they still pay their CEO a huge compensation.

Republicans like to claim that it’s all about personal responsibility and the need for people to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and of course that they, themselves, never had a helping hand.  We all know that is ludicrous because so many of them have been groomed for the positions and posts that they currently hold.  Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know that gets you to the top of that tree.  Most of us sitting under the branches of that proverbial Maple tree are lucky enough if we can get a small perch we can claim as our own.  However, those at the top aren’t very willing to share their perch because they feel a sense of indignation that anyone would want to claim what is rightfully “their” perch.  They earned it!  They are the self satisfied, bloated, corrupt individuals we all know that don’t care about what is in the best interest of the common good of all the people.  It’s what is in “their” best interest that really matters.  By golly they clawed their way to the top and you better too.  However, once they get to the top they work very hard at taking all of the supporting branches away that helped them get to the top.  You know those things like low interest student loans, Pell grants, public education, and any aid programs like heating assistance for the poor.

Many people have talked about class warfare for years.  The Republicans have accused Democrats of creating this warfare to get votes.  That part might be true because Democrats always talk about these things around election time.  However, neither party has done enough of what they could to elevate our society so that everyone can get a little branch on that tree.  True class warfare is really happening right now and it is being instigated by Republican politics.  We have been pressured into believing that we all have to “share” in some kind of sacrifice for the good of the country.  We have been living way beyond our means and we must pay the piper what is due.

No one has really pointed out something that I can see so clearly.  Most of us people sitting under the Maple tree don’t use much resources of any kind in our country.  Most of us are not flying off in our private jet wasting tons of fuel.  Most of us haven’t been to a government created airport in the last month.  We might fly once in awhile for a family vacation but we aren’t the ones using that airport like it’s our own home base.  However, we are paying for it.  Most of us aren’t living in gigantic houses sucking up our natural resources with our rich and famous lifestyles.  Most of us live quite conservatively by shutting off our lights and dialing down our furnace in the winter and up in the summer months.  Most of us pay our bills and do everything we can to not declare bankruptcy.  However, for the rich and famous, it can be done any time they get in a tight pinch.  The rest of us will pay for it because the banking industry will get their money back one way or another.  That famous rich guy will eventually think he should run for the presidency because he knows how to run a business, so how about doing the same with our country.

In my opinion the great leveler in society is a good education.  If you have a good education, you can go far in life.  You may not become a millionaire sitting at the top of that proverbial Maple tree but more than likely you will be able to create a decent life for you and your family.  The true key to solving poverty is in education.  The statistics here from my state are interesting.  As the education level goes up the poverty level goes down.  That makes a lot of sense, so why do all of these new Republican governors seem to want to take away from education to pay for their tax breaks for the corporations?  It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

You can check your own state levels at these next two websites:

43 million people are below the poverty line in this country.  If you head on over here you will find some fascinating things to read but it won’t be surprising to most of you.

The Gini coefficient is a mathematical equation that basically shows the disparity between the income of the rich and the poor.  The closer the number is to zero, the more equal things are.  The closer the number is to 100, the more unequal things tend to be.  In 1929, you know during the times of the stock market fall and the beginning of the great depression the estimated number for the United States was 45.  We had a period after World War II when this number declined considerably.  This was a time when the middle class was really built and unions were a big part of that.  Since around 1980 we have gone back in decline with numbers as high as 46.9.  Most of us know there has been a change in who has more money and who has less.  This site just makes you think about things.  The rich just keep on getting richer and the poor keep trying to figure out how to strap those gold laced boots on to get to the top of that proverbial tree.

I always wonder why the wealthy seem to always want more.  They are already at the top of the tree, so you would think they wouldn’t mind letting some of that wealth trickle on down like Reagan assured us it was supposed to.  However, it turns out most millionaires don’t feel wealthy.

I want all of you to stop laughing.  I know you are because it really is unbelievable.  Even those workers at Ford are sharing in the profits these days.  That would sound great if they hadn’t already given up so much.  The real slap in the face for Ford workers is that CEO pay!  Just check this article out.  The rich get richer and the rest of us get whatever happens to land our way and we thankfully take it!

Finally, here is more information that those Bush tax cuts really aren’t all their purported to be.  It turns out if you are in the top 10%, you probably did all right.  The rest of us, not so much!  This has the gap in income tax and it’s a great site to really research.

Unfortunately, we do have class warfare in this country.  The politicians take care of the corporations and the wealthy with the many tax loopholes and tax incentive plans while the rest of us are left to “share a sacrifice”, whatever the hell that means.  What it really means is that we will get less and the rich will continue to get whatever they want and need built off the backs of the middle class and dare I say the poor.  Those of us in the 90% are the ones that prop up everyone else.  We do our jobs whether it is teaching children, policing the world, scanning goods at the airport so the wealthy can continue to feel safe, or assisting them in their pursuit of more wealth.  We are factory workers, nannies, waiters and bus boys but the one thing we all have in common is proportionately we are greatly under paid, over worked and abused by a system that asks for continual sacrifice from us when the rich are expected to just get richer!

Young Men and Murder

  • Posted on August 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Murder in New York

I was talking with my son who lives near Chicago about Detroit and I told him I couldn’t see why Detroit is still called “Murder City” when Chicago seems to be riddled with murders.  Chicago has somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 million people, Detroit has less than a million and New York has about 8 million.  I know there is a new show coming out on TV called “Detroit 187”.   Some aren’t happy with the show about crime but I say if they film it in Michigan, I’m all for it, anything to give someone a job.  I tried to check into the murder capital thing and I discovered something very disturbing.

I don’t know if Detroit is the murder capital but I do know that a murder map I found for New York was very upsetting to me.  According to the map it looks like young “Black” and “Latino” men are being killed left and right.

These are the stats:  61% of the victims are Black, 27% Latino, 8% White and 3% Asian.  The majority of both the perpetrators and the victims are male and young, you know, like under 34.

I find all of this very troubling for our country.  Our children are supposed to be our best and brightest.  Children aren’t born criminals.  Like an animal in a cage, treated with abuse, sometimes they will turn to violence.  I’m appalled that more isn’t being done to curb this violence and start these young children out on the right track.  No parent wants to raise a killer.  I cannot believe that this is something born in these people.  I do think there is a deep sense of hopelessness in our youth that are stuck in these huge cities with very few alternatives to make money except for selling drugs or joining the military.   I’m sure they can make more money selling the drugs or doing some other illicit deed than getting a real job.  Real jobs are hard to find any way, harder if you have little education and no familial structure to help support you.

There is a vast divide between the rich and the poor in this country.  History books try to cover this up with platitudes about how this is the “Land of the free.”   Much chatter is devoted to the “rags to riches” stories that are really just a bunch of bullshit like a carrot on a stick.  It’s something to appease the masses to make them feel that they too can become rich some day.  Some maybe make it, but for the most part, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  We can see this in all aspects of politics and entertainment.  We see legacies from different families for both those areas.  If you come from the right family, you will excel and be given special opportunities.  However, this isn’t just true with these two areas.  It is also true with most small towns and suburban communities.  We hire our own in these places and teacher’s kids and cop’s kids get breaks that aren’t necessarily available to the very poor.

I mention all of this because I wonder who is there for these young men in these cities to mentor them and give them special treatment.  Probably the only people left are the lowest elements of our society.  I am troubled that these young men seem to be “throw away people”.  Nobody seems to care about them.  If politicians cared, they would devote more money to education, cleaning up the blight in these big cities, and doing everything possible to promote a strong economy rather than just building more prisons and hiring more cops!  Where is the outrage of this blight in America?  Who cares enough about our troubled young Black and Hispanic men to actually do something about it?

So many people have touted the Bush tax cuts and so many loved Ronald Reagan but I find it interesting that the income gap between the rich and the poor is at an eighty year high.

If you look at it, the incarceration rate really went up since the time of Reagan.  I really don’t know what to make of this except that I also know that the rich got richer and the poor got poorer during this time.

There has to be connections between all of these factors.  I don’t have all the answers.  I just feel that our country has some pretty screwed up priorities.  It seems like we’d rather be perpetually at war, feeding the war profiteers and the oil industry or extolling the virtues of the wealthy through shows like Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Extra” that follows around the rich and famous to give us a birds eye view of their celebrity life; than educating our youth and creating a safe, productive environment where we can all have a piece of the pie.  Our number one priority in our country should be our youth and it simply is not!

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline