Statement on the Economy

Presented June 27, 2012, at the SPEAKOUT for Good Jobs Now
Before Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
John Conyers (MI), Hansen Clarke (MI), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Keith Ellison (MN)

Biography: Since 1964, (1) education and experience in (a) history, including U.S. history related to the Constitution anti-monarchy, anti-nobility clauses, in slavery context; (b) human resources, including pay practices; and (c) tax preparation, including analyzing monarchic tendency inequities in the system; (2) observing effects of disproportionate pay practices, unemployment, under-employment, losing one's home, in both long-term historical and short-term tax consequences, context.

Narrative: The U.S. Constitution is anti-monarchy, anti-nobility [Article I § 9 and Art. I § 10], it guarantees a republican form of government. [Article 4 § 4.] The monarchy system was a two class system -- the wealthy elite and the serfs or peasants [i.e., unequal distribution of the wealth. See monarchy system roots, by Heather Pringle, "The Ancient Roots of the 1%," Science, vol. 344, issue no. 6186, pages 822-825 (23 May 2014). “The transition from egalitarianism to societies rife with economic competition and inequality was 'the single most critical watershed in the last 2.5 million years of human history,' says archaeologist Brian Hayden of Simon Fraser University (SFU), Burnaby, in Canada. Over time, it paved the way for the development of 'chiefdoms, states, and ultimately industrial empires.'”]   The Middle Class came about in the U.S. primarily via labor unions and activism to require [compel, force] an equitable distribution of the wealth the workers produce.

As the Middle Class is being undermined and reduced, the danger is that America can deteriorate back to the monarchy system, the nobility system, historically the "default" mode of societies. [Example.] It takes continuing [egalitarian] activism to prevent returning to that default mode. [The U.S. was made a "republic if we can keep it" over the opposition of monarchists calling themselves "conservatives." Note that “the conservative goal is the Third Worldization of America, to reduce the U.S. working populace to a Third World condition, having people work harder and harder for less and less. This includes a return to the ‘free market,’ free of environmental regulations, free of consumer protections, minimum wages, occupational safety, and labor unions, a market crowded with underemployed labor, so better to depress wages and widen profit margins. Conservatives also seek the abolition of human services and other forms of public assistance that give people some buffer against free-market forces. Underemployment is a necessary condition for Third Worldization,” says Prof. Michael Parenti, Against Empire (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1995), Chapter 3, “Voodoo Economics: The Third Worldization of America,” p 170.]

Historically, during slavery, the pay ratio was 21:1 in favor of the master over the slave — clearly grossly inequitable. About the end of the 19th century, with industrialization, the general pay ratio was about 8:1 in favor of the master (employer) over the employee. Some considered this inequitable. One manufacturer, Samuel Milton Jones, became famous at end of the 19th century by agreeing to only a 7:1 ratio in favor of himself, he was elected Mayor of Toledo, Ohio.

Deterioration continued, by the time of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), the pay ratio was about 12:1. He considered this inequitable. We all know that every time Congress proposes to require paying employees an extra dollar, the hue and cry is raised, 'that will bankrupt the economy!" But when executives take an extra million, that doesn't arouse the same hue and cry! Example: Area factory workers at $18 per/hour, executive at $11 million, closed the factory as they were “paid too much,” so moved the factory to an area paying under one-third their rate.

FDR's solution was to propose a "MAXIMUM WAGE." That would set a maximum pay ratio. A benefit is it forces emphasis off the so-called "minimum wage," thus short circuits the hue and cry rants. Other nations, for example, Japan, follow that principle. America should too. Even the 8:1 ratio of the latter 19th century could be considered too disproportionate.

Excessive net worth and inheritances underlie the monarchy/nobility system. This generates disproportionate political power enabling corrupting the system. The U.S. lacks a net worth tax. The estate tax is clearly far too low. It should be set at something more democratic, more anti-monarchy, along "maximum wage" approach, for example, to ban any inheritance in excess of seven times the national average.

Unemployment is a major disaster for people and their families. In the 1930's, the government arranged employment for people, the CCC system, for example. Around the late 1940's, then Senator Hubert Humphrey proposed a Full Employment Law, a far better approach than mere short-term unemployment "benefits," at a mere fraction of one's prior pay, and taxed at that! thereby continuing and worsening the financial loss and suffering.

Recommendations: That to move the U.S. back toward its Constitutional republican government, anti-monarchy vision, to restore the Middle Class, and to reverse the extant monarchic pattern of recent years, Congress should (a) establish Full Employment, (b) set a Maximum Wage, (c) ban disproportionate inheritances, and (d) tax at 100% current disproportionate net worth. –– Leroy Pletten, /

U.S. Poverty Quiz

For further reference:

  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Second Bill of Rights" (11 January 1944), "FDR Second Bill of Rights Speech Footage,"   Background;   Search List;   AFL CIO Petition For Adoption (August 2012).

  • Samuel Pizzigati, The Maximum Wage: A Common-Sense Prescription for Revitalizing America - By Taxing the Very Rich (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 11 March 1992) (Background;   Search List;

  • Robert B. Reich, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Report (March 1996) (showing minimal impact of minimum wage on job losses, with benefits including reducing employee turnover, saving companies money and time for hiring and training replacements, increasing productivity, and circulating more money back into the economy)

  • Prof. Cass R. Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More Than Ever (New York: Perseus Books, 2004)

  • Samuel Pizzigati, Greed and Good: Understanding and Overcoming the Inequality that Limits Our Lives (Apex Press, 2004)

  • Prof. Gar Alperovitz, America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy (Wiley, 15 October 2004) (lays out a roadmap for the systemic economic change necessary to build a just society. . . . exploring questions of ownership, wealth distribution, cooperation, democracy, and what an economic future might look like that does not assume the dominance of corporate capitalism")

  • Robert Frank, Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich (Three Rivers Press, 24 June 2008)

  • Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (Bloomsbury Press, December 2009)

  • Ronald Brownstein, “Closing The Book On The Bush Legacy” (The Atlantic, 11 September 2009) (“Thursday's annual Census Bureau report on income, poverty and access to health care—the Bureau's principal report card on the well-being of average Americans—closes the books on the economic record of George W. Bush. . . . On every major measurement, the Census Bureau report shows that the country lost ground during Bush's two terms. While Bush was in office, the median household income declined, poverty increased, childhood poverty increased even more, and the number of Americans without health insurance spiked. By contrast, the country's condition improved on each of those measures during Bill Clinton's two terms, often substantially.”)

  • Naomi Klein, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (27 October 2009) ("the author debunks the idea that capitalism and peace go hand in hand. Instead, she discusses the role of greed in war, hitting on moments from contemporary Iraq to South America in the 1970s [and explains] the ideas and research behind her bestselling book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. In this riveting lecture and interview, Klein challenges and exposes the popular myth of the free market economy’s peaceful global victory. Around the world there are people with power who are cashing in on chaos, exploiting bloodshed and catastrophe to brutally implement their policies. They are the shock doctors. From Chile in 1973 to Iraq today, this is the chilling tale of how a few are making a killing while more are getting killed." Also documents the rich and powerful using torture and murder, including mass murder, to seize and retain more than their equal share of the planet's resources and wealth.)

  • Prof. Charles S. Merrill, "Americans returning to feudal times" (Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, 4 June 2011) ("a bunch of really sordid fat cats are pushing hard to reconfigure us as the Feudal States of America. . . . Either we wake up and push back, or they succeed, and we are all serfs. Again.")

  • Robert Parry, "How Greed Destroys America: America’s corporate chieftains are living like kings while the middle class stagnates and shrivels" (28 June 2011) ("the threat to a healthy democracy from concentrated wealth had been known to American leaders for generations. A century ago, it was Republican President Theodore Roosevelt who advocated for a progressive income tax and an estate tax."

  • Samuel Pizzigati, FDR Maximum Wage Background Narrative (31 July 2011) (Roosevelt said in April 1942, “'no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year,'” an income just shy of $350,000 in today’s dollars." Later, "under the newly enacted Emergency Price Control Act [Roosevelt] issued an executive order that limited top corporate salaries to $25,000 after taxes, a move, he pronounced, needed “to correct gross inequities and to provide for greater equality in contributing to the war effort.” America’s wealthiest, New Dealers explained afterwards to the press, “should be willing to get along on more than $2,000 a month while marines endure tortures on Guadalcanal Island for $60 a month and room and board.”

  • Michael Moore, "30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died" (5 August 2011) (Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, [under Ronald Reagan] Big Business and the Right Wing decided to 'go for it' -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves. And they've succeeded.")

  • Samuel Pizzigati, "A Tip for Joe the Machinist: Watch Your Back" (29 August 2011) ("Earlier this year, a trio of top business consultants openly challenged the notion that good employees doing valuable work deserve to see their paychecks steadily increase. This past July, the Harvard Business School circulated their challenge throughout corporate America's upper echelons. . . . The Booz analysts want America's Joe the machinists to swallow ever lower paychecks to help their U.S. corporate employers 'keep up with intense competition' from elsewhere in the world. Yet they demand no similar sacrifice from U.S. corporate executives. That makes no sense, particularly for analysts who are arguing we must 'narrow the gap' between exorbitant pay and actual 'market value.' U.S. CEOs currently take home far more than the global 'market' rate for executive talent. CEOs at companies with over $10 billion in annual revenue, The Wall Street Journal reported back in 2008, make twice as much in the United States as they do in Europe — and nine times more in the United States than they do in Japan. Corporate America, in other words, needs some serious 'labor cost retooling' at the top — before gutting pay for its most experienced and skilled workers at the bottom.")

  • "Political extremists and greedy corporate CEOs are engaged in a power grab to squeeze even more out of the middle class and leave workers with no job security, pensions or protections for working conditions," says the Michigan Education Association, quoted in Tim Skubick, "Senate leader prepares clash with MEA," The Macomb Daily, Friday, 16 September 2011, p 8A.

  • Michael Winterbottom, Mat Whitecross, and Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: Disaster Capitalism in Action (18 October 2011) ("Naomi Klein's . . . book which explores how both natural and man-made disasters are used to force disadvantageous political and economic changes on unwilling governments is brought to the screen in this documentary . . . . Using electroshock treatment as a metaphor -- a harsh jolt to the body and brain that, after being embraced as a healing method, was in turn discovered to cause more harm than good -- THE SHOCK DOCTRINE explores how the United States, with the help of the C.I.A., became enamored of Milton Friedman's interpretation of free-market capitalism and attempted to persuade developing nations of its value. However, since fully unregulated markets tended to create an unbalanced economic climate in which a small number of people became extremely wealthy and vast numbers were plunged into poverty, the United States was only successful at selling free market deregulation to countries in crisis who had no practical choice than to do what the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth demanded. The results led to both widespread privation and violence in Russia, Poland, Chile, South Africa and the Middle East, and THE SHOCK DOCTRINE explains how this happened, where it's still going on, and what can be done to stop it.")

  • "'Near Poor' Struggling Just Above Poverty Startle the Census" (Friday, 18 November 2011) (census data showing "51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it"). One reason is that "the federal minimum wage [has not] increased as quickly as CEO pay since 1990." Had it increased thusly, "it would today [2004] be $15.71 per hour, more than three times the actual minium wage," says Ralph Nader, The Good Fight (New York: ReganBooks, 2004), Chapter 8, "Increasing Burdens on the Working Class," § 1, "Wages," p 142.

  • Ishmael Reed, John D. MacArthur Fellow (Book Review, c. 1 Feb 2012)   ("the old feudal order is experiencing a resurgence with the assistance of wealth, a corporate media and official historians")

  • Matt Stoller, "Towards a Creditor State - One in Seven Americans Pursued by Debt Collectors" (Saturday, 3 March 2012) ("Ten years ago, one in fourteen American consumers were pursued by debt collectors. Today it’s one in seven. . . . There are now thousands of people legally jailed because they aren’t paying their bills, ie. debtor’s prisons have returned. Occasionally elites let it slip that this is not an accident, but is their goal – former Comptroller General David Walker has wistfully pined for debtor’s prisons overtly (on CNBC, no less). . . . the percentage of people being tracked down by third party collection agencies suggests we live in a different country than we did just ten years ago.")

  • Barbara Ehrenreich, "Looting the Lives of the Poor" (17 May 2012) (Edward Conard claims that "people should be out creating businesses and taking risks . . . the way to encourage that risk-taking is the promise of obscene wealth for those who succeed (and, implicitly, dismal poverty for those who don't). How obscene should that wealth be? In 2008, the top 1% commanded 21% of all income in America. Conard says our society would improve if only that figure were doubled!!")

  • Timothy Noah, Author, 'The Great Divergence: America's Growing Inequality Crisis And What We Can Do About It,'   "Why Edward Conard Is Wrong About Income Inequality" (Tuesday, 29 May 2012) (" from the early 1930s through the late 1970s incomes in the United States either grew more equal or remained relatively stable in their distribution. Then, starting in 1979, incomes grew more unequal. Middle class incomes stagnated relative to their growth in the postwar era and also relative to productivity (i.e., output per man- or woman-hours worked), which had dwindled during the 1970s but grew starting in the 1980s and took off like a rocket in the aughts. Meanwhile, incomes for the affluent, which had grown at about the same rate during the postwar years as incomes for the middle class, started growing much faster, and incomes for the super-rich started growing much, much faster. (Incomes for the poor actually came up slightly over this 33-year period, but dropped precipitously when the recession hit.")

  • Samuel Pizzigati, "A Bold New Labor Call for a 'Maximum Wage'" (26 August 2012) ("Back in 1968, minimum wage workers took home $1.60 an hour. To make that much today, adjusting for inflation, a minimum wage worker would have to be earning $10.55 an hour. In effect, minimum wage workers today are taking home almost $7,000 less over the course of a year than minimum-wage workers took home in 1968. . . . Count Larry Hanley . . . president of the Amalgamated Transit Union . . . called for a “maximum wage,” a cap on the compensation that goes to the corporate execs who profit so hugely off low-wage labor. . . . Throughout World War II, FDR enjoyed broad support from within the labor movement — and the general public — for his pay cap notion. Now’s the time, Hanley believes, to put that notion back on the political table. We need, he says, “to start a national discussion about creating a maximum wage law.”)

  • "Sound Off" in Macomb Daily, p A-8 (31 August 2012) ("In the near future, a crisis is approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow. The economic power will be concentrated in a few hands, and the Republic will be destroyed.--Shelby Township")

  • Robert B. Reich, Beyond Outrage: Expanded Edition: What has gone wrong with our economy and our democracy, and how to fix it (Vintage Books: 4 September 2012)   ("America’s economy and democracy are working for the benefit of an ever-fewer privileged and powerful people. ")

  • Alan Krueger, et al., Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage (PBS, 14 February 2013) (minimal prices increases result "to offset the minimuym wage")

  • Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Ph.D., The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (W. W. Norton & Co, 8 April 2013) ("A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist. America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries.")

  • David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills (Basic Books, 21 May 2013) (Review by Publishers Weekly: "Can the economic crisis have an effect on our health? Oxford Senior Research leader Stuckler and Stanford epidemiologist Basu offer insight into the economic crisis—including the Great Recession—and its effect on public health, arguing that countries attempt to fix recessions by balancing budgets, but have failed to protect public well-being. They demonstrate how maintaining a healthy populace is intimately entwined with the health of the social environment. Filled with graphs and charts, the book shows how government's investment in social welfare improves the public's health, due to the creation of unemployment programs, pensions, and housing support. Each chapter offers historical facts from the 1930s in United States, to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s, to present-day Greece, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., revealing how the government's mismanagement of the economic crisis has resulted in the public's poor health and an epidemic of diseases. The authors argue that it is the politicians' job to ensure that people's health needs are met, rather than their ability to pay. Societies will prosper when they invest in people's health both in good times and in bad. The question remains: what steps need to be taken to prevent widespread suffering both now and in the future?")

  • Nick Hanauer, "The Capitalist’s Case for a $15 Minimum Wage" (19 June 2013) ("The fundamental law of capitalism is that if workers have no money, businesses have no customers. That’s why the extreme, and widening, wealth gap in our economy presents not just a moral challenge, but an economic one, too. In a capitalist system, rising inequality creates a death spiral of falling demand that ultimately takes everyone down. . . . If the minimum wage had simply tracked U.S. productivity gains since 1968, it would be $21.72 an hour -- three times what it is now.")

  • Jennifer Agiesta, Dennis Junius and Debra McCown, "Exclusive: 4 in 5 in US face near-poverty, no work" (AP, 28 July 2013)   ("Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.")

  • Laura Gottesdiener, "The Backyard Shock Doctrine" (2 August 2013) ("Since 2007, the foreclosure crisis has displaced at least 10 million people from more than four million homes across the country. . . . approximately the entire population of Michigan.")

  • Richard (RJ) Eskow, "The Fast-Food Strikers are Fighting for All of Us" (Friday, 9 August 2013) ("The fiscal argument for raising these workers’ wages parallels the argument for raising the national minimum wage. Most minimum wage workers work for large corporations, and large corporations are making historically high levels of profit. What’s more, by keeping millions of their workers below the poverty level, these corporations are draining the public’s coffers whenever the government is forced to step in to provide Medicaid, food stamps, and other supplemental assistance. Funny how many corporate CEOs tell us the federal deficit is “urgent,” then suddenly disappear when this issue is raised. . . . It’s immoral to pay people less than a living wage for full-time work. . . . This nation didn’t abolish indentured servitude because our moral leaders reviewed the books of the Virginia Company and the great Southern plantations and decided that their bottom line could handle it. We abolished indentured servitude because it was wrong. Our consciences wouldn’t allow us to continue the practice.")

  • Senator Bernie Sanders, "The Political Crisis in Washington" (9 October 2013) (urging "people [to] understand that the real issue . . . is not just the desire of Republicans to defund Obamacare. At a time when the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing, these right-wing ideologues want to repeal virtually every piece of legislation passed in the last 80 years which protects the elderly, the children, the sick, the poor and the environment. The truth is that ending Obamacare is just a small part of the right-wing extremist agenda, which is heavily funded by the Koch brothers and other very wealthy and powerful special interests. Their full agenda includes privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, slashing Medicaid funding, eliminating the EPA and the Department of Energy and abolishing the concept of the minimum wage. Needless to say, they also want more tax breaks for the rich and large corporations. It should be clear to everyone that their long-term goal is to move this country into an oligarchic [monarchical] form of society in which billionaires completely control the economic and political life of this nation." And see Mary Bottari saying likewise.)

  • Richard Kersley and Michael O'Sullivan, "Global Wealth Reaches New All-Time High" (9 October 2013) ("Average wealth per adult has also hit a new peak of 51,600 US dollars, but inequality remains high. . . . personal wealth increased by 4.9 percent during the year to mid-2013 and now totals 241 trillion US dollars. . . . The richest nations . . . are headed by Switzerland, which in 2011 became the first country in which average wealth exceeded 500,000 US dollars. It dropped below this mark in 2012, but this year equity price rises resulted in a new peak value of 513,000 US dollars per adult. Australia (403,000 US dollars), Norway (380,000 US dollars) and Luxembourg (315,000 US dollars) all experienced an increase in wealth per adult and retain their respective second, third and fourth places from 2012. The United States, Sweden, France, Singapore, Belgium and Denmark are close behind, with average wealth per adult in the 250,000 to 300,000 US dollar range. . . . a person needs at least 75,000 US dollars to be a member of the top 10 percent of global wealth holders, and 753,000 US dollars to belong to the top 1 percent. Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1 percent of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest 10 percent hold 86 percent of the world’s wealth, and the top 1 percent alone account for 46 percent of global assets.")

  • Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz, Ph.D., "Inequality Is a Choice" (New York Times, 13 October 2013) ("I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do . . . I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.")

  • Samuel Pizzigati, "Greed at a Glance" (14 October 2013) ("If you added up all the wealth in the world, as of this past June, and gave an equal share to every adult on the planet, what would your share be? Researchers at the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse have an answer for you. Average global wealth per adult now equals over $51,000, they reported last week, up 4.9 percent over 2012. In the real world, of course, the vast majority of the world’s people hold next to no wealth at all. Over two-thirds of the world’s adults, 68.7 percent, have less than $10,000 to their names. Together these 3.2 billion people own just 3 percent of the world’s wealth. Those global adults sitting on over $1 million in personal net worth, on the other hand, make up just 0.7 percent of the world’s adult population. They hold 41 percent of the world’s wealth . . .")

  • Andrea Germanos, "In the United States of Inequality, CEOs Get 'Astronomical' Pay (CommonDreams, 22 October 2013) ("'This is the first time in the 11-year history of GMI’s CEO Pay Survey that two CEOs named in the Top Ten List of Highest Paid CEOs earned more than $1 billion in a single year, and the first where all 10 CEOs made at least $100 million.'")

  • Richard (RJ) Eskow, "The Road from Here: What About Medicare and Social Security?" (22 October 2013)   ("In twelve weeks or so our new system of government-by-crisis will resume its regularly scheduled programming: more threats, more confrontations, and even more extreme rhetoric. . . . . A recent poll by Lake Research shows that 82% of all Americans oppose cuts to Social Security, including 83% of Democrats, 78% of independents, 82% of Republicans – and, in one of the most startling findings of all, fully three-fourths of all self-described Tea Party members (74%). . . . The Republican Party, on the other hand, has been on the wrong side of Social Security and Medicare for a long time. There are no good guys on that side of the fence. . . . This divisive anti-entitlement talk overlooks some crucial facts. Social Security was not projected to run a deficit until two things happened: First, an enormous amount of our national income moved to the top 1%, above the current payroll tax; and second, the Wall Street-driven financial crisis left 22 million Americans un- or under-employed, depriving the program of even more revenue. . . . Those projected costs are, above all else, the result of runaway profit-taking in our medical economy – a problem which Washington’s insiders appear unwilling to address. . . . A serious conversation is [needed] about how to mitigate the effects of runaway profit-seeking on American healthcare.")

  • "Denmark Is the Happiest Country on Earth! You'll Never Guess Why (23 October 2013) ("Denmark supports parents . . . Danish children have access to free or low-cost child care. And early childhood education is associated with health and well-being throughout life for its recipients -- as well as for mothers. . . . Health care is a civil right -- and a source of social support. Danish citizens expect and receive health care as a basic right. But what's more, they know how to effectively use their health systems. . . . Gender equality is prioritized . . . Biking is the norm . . . . Danish culture puts a positive spin on its harsh environment . . . . Danes feel a responsibility to one another.") (Contrast with conservatives hostile to health care)

  • David C. Johnson, “Republicans Demand Social Security And Medicare Cuts, Is It Reported?” (25 October 2013) ( “most Americans don’t know that 'long-term reforms' to 'entitlement spending' specifically means cuts to Social Security and Medicare. . . . To many in the voting public the word 'entitlements' does not translate to 'Social Security and Medicare.' Ryan and the Republicans understand this. This is why they talk about 'reforming' something that is not clearly understood as Social Security and Medicare. . . . have any major news outlets explained to the public using words that the public understands that the Republican position in the current budget negotiations is a demand to cut Social Security and Medicare?”)

  • Pastor Alonzo Bell, "Fast-food companies cost us all" (Detroit News, 25 October 2013) ("Research released earlier this month by the University of California, Berkeley, found more than half — 52 percent — of fast-food workers nationwide and in Michigan are paid so little the taxpaying public needs to provide assistance for their basic needs. The low wages paid by fast-food companies cost Americans close to an astonishing $7 billion annually — $251 million in Michigan alone. . . . if companies . . . paid their workers higher wages, our nation could invest billions of dollars to repair our crumbling roads, fix our failing schools and create more good-paying jobs. Michigan’s economy would grow, and our communities would strengthen, workers could afford clothes and health care for their children, and they’d spend that money in Michigan.")

  • Stephen D. Foster Jr., “Nevada GOP Rep: If My Constituents Wanted Me To, I’d Vote To Bring Back Slavery (29 October 2013) (“[Rep. Jim] Wheeler is not the first Republican to stick their foot in their mouth over slavery. . . . Wheeler is not the first Republican in recent years to gin up conservatives by talking about slavery. Just last fall, Arkansas House GOP Rep. Jon Hubbard called slavery 'a blessing in disguise'. A few days later, another Republican said that slavery wasn’t bad because the Bible didn’t say it was. In 2011, Michele Bachmann also came out in support of slavery. And earlier this year, CPAC actually defended slavery during a forum on tolerance. . . . Clearly, many Republicans long for the days when people of color were in chains. And what’s truly frightening is that a GOP Rep is actually telling his conservative constituents that if they want him to vote for reinstating slavery, he’ll do it. A Republican like Wheeler is a dream come true for members of the Tea Party. . . . Considering that the conservative base has embraced blatant racism, it wouldn’t be surprising if they start demanding such votes from Republicans. Would the most conservative Republicans in government respond positively to such a demand from an extreme base that isn’t afraid to primary them? Maybe they wouldn’t do so in public just yet, but give them time.")

  • Andrea Germanos, “Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Increase in Minimum Wage”   (12 November 2013) (“New Gallup poll shows 76% of Americans want wage to increase; trend shows consistent support for increased federal minimum wage.”)

  • Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, “We Are In a Class War” (28 November 2013)   (“The people are fighting back and the elites recognize it. There is fear in the investor class as they see people organizing and mobilizing. Corporations are now investing more time and money in preparation to protect themselves from investor actions and legal challenges. The actions of corporations and governments against the people are a sign of their fear, and a sign of our unrealized strength. [Prof.] Noam Chomsky writes in his new book, Occupy: Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity [2nd Ed., Zuccotti Park Press, 5 November 2013], that the 'business class' is always engaged in class warfare. They continually act to protect their interests, wealth and power.”)

  • Prof. Thomas Piketty, Paris School of Economics, "Inequality & Capitalism in the Long Run" (Helsinki, 29 November 2013)

  • "Iceland Defies Banks: Advance $1.2 Billion Debt Relief Plan" (RT, 1 December 2013) ("Iceland’s government has announced that it will be writing off up to 24,000 euros ($32,600) of every household’s mortgage, fulfilling its election promise, despite overwhelming criticism from international financial institutions.")

  • Harold Meyerson, "Higher profits, smaller paychecks" (Washington Post, 12 December 2013) ("Profits are soaring — in 2012, after-tax profits of manufacturing firms hit a record high of $289 billion. Share values have soared with them. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Industrials Index has risen 59 percent more than the overall 500-stock index since 2009, Bloomberg reported last month. Wages, however, are falling. Although the average wage for all workers, adjusted for inflation, has declined by about 1 percent since May 2009 . . . it has declined by 3 percent for workers in the more-profitable-than-ever manufacturing sector. . . . Indeed, the median inflation-adjusted salary for American men is already lower today than it was in 1969. . . . The fight for higher minimum wages may be just the beginning of a long battle to rebalance the economy. If laws are not changed to enable workers to form unions without fear of being fired, the battle for higher median, not just minimum, wages will eventually be fought in the legislative arena as well.")

  • Harold Meyerson, "How to Raise Wages" (American Prospect, 30 March 2014)   ("Eight proposals to jump-start the incomes of workers")

  • Noam Lupu and Nicholas Carnes, "The Rich Are Running Latin America – And Why That Matters" (8 April 2014)   ("Government by the rich is not an irrelevant quirk of the political landscape.")

  • Eric Zuesse, "US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study" (14 April 2014) ("Who governs? Who really rules? . . . When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.")

  • Joan McCarter, "Report: Southern states resisting Medicaid expansion need it the most" (1 May 2014)   ("The South has the majority of people in the U.S. without health insurance—44 percent of the nation's uninsured are Texas, Florida and Georgia—and the highest rates of chronic disease.")

  • Prof. Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Harvard Univ Press, March 2014; Belknap Press, April 2014) (Review: "Piketty shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality—the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth—today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values.. Suggests a "global progressive wealth tax") (Interview: “The entrepreneur inevitably tends to become a rentier, more and more dominant over those who own nothing but their labor.”)

  • Jon Queally, "Seattle's $15 Wage Plan Proves Power of Radical Pressure" (2 May 2014)   ("a 'testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice'")

  • Prof. Paul Buchheit, "Why the Super-Rich Should Pay Super Taxes" (5 May 2014)   (Reasons: "1. $2 of Every $5 Owned Today was Created in the Last Five Years, and Went Mostly to the Richest 10%, Mostly Untaxed . . . 2. A Beggar Saving for a Hamburger will Pay More Sales Tax than the Entire Financial Trading Industry . . . 3. It's Not Possible for a Financial Person to be Worth 100,000 Teachers or Firefighters . . . 4. Corporations Make Billions by Appropriating Public Research and Federal Assets . . . 5. The Great Majority of Tax Breaks go to the Rich")

  • 'Bloodiest Thing the World Has Seen': David Cay Johnston on Inequality’s Looming Disaster” (Salon, 22 May 2014)   ("We will either, through peaceful, rational means, go back to a system that does not take from the many to give to the few in all these subtle ways, or we will end up like 18th century France. And if we end up in that awful condition, it will be the bloodiest thing the world has even seen. So I think it’s really important to get a handle on this inequality. After all, since the end of the Great Recession, one-third of all income increases in this country went to just 16,000 households, 95 percent of it went to the top 1 percent, and the bottom 90 percent’s incomes fell, and they fell by 15 percent. So we need to recognize that there is a very, very serious problem here that has to get addressed. But it won’t just go on forever because if you follow that to its logical absurdity, one person ends up with 90 percent of the wealth in the world. And that’s not going to happen.")

  • Matt Bruenig, "Two Theories of Poverty" (Demos, 28 July 2014) (distinguishes between the individual vs structural versions; the latter is correct, and needs to be applied to preclude the U.S. returning to the default system, monarchy)

  • Dominick Dunne (1925-2009), author of The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (1985), People Like Us (1988), and An Inconvenient Woman (1990), "the rich and powerful stop at virtually nothing to protect their privileged position.   Driven by passion, and greed, harboring secrets that could destroy them, the ruthless people . . . are meticulously drawn by Dunne. Interweaving glamor, romance, scandal, and intrigue, these are stories of the gilded class." For example, see The Koch Brothers Exposed (Documentary, May 2012), on pollution causing deaths, attacks on anti-pollution laws and on education, financing pro-pollution anti-education politicians, etc.

  • Accordingly, they, "the haves fearfully anticipate that more for the have-nots will only mean less for themselves . . . Rousseau [said in A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1752)] that the rich enjoy their fortune 'only in so far as others are destitute of it; and because, without changing their condition, they would cease to be happy the moment the people ceased to be wretched.' But something more than sadistic glee lies behind this feeling of the rich. As Rousseau himself adds [inThe Social Contract and Discourses]: 'We find our advantage in the misfortune of our fellow-creatures, and the loss of one man almost always constitutes the prosperity of another.' Let us develop this idea further: the haves sense that their privileges exist at the expense of the have-nots [their situation] denotes a social relation, one in which scarcity is preserved," says Prof. Michael Parenti, Ph.D., Power and the Powerless (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978), Chapter 7, "The Legitimation of Class Dominance," § 3, "To Have and To Have Not," p 91. Note pertinent definition, "Schadenfreude," "a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people."

    "The whole art of Conservative politics . . . is being deployed to enable wealth to persuade poverty [scam the middle class and poor] to use its political freedom to keep wealth [the rich and powerful] in power," says Aneurin Bevan, cited in William Blum, Killing Hope (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2004), Chapter 3, p 34.   “Feingold and other endangered Democrats face the oddest of coalitions [conservatives aka tea-baggers]. Working-class voters most damaged by corporate America have made common cause with new, faux populists to demand tax cuts for the wealthy, the continued under-regulation of corporations such as BP and Goldman Sachs and the repeal of Obama's health system overhaul so that insurers can decide who will and won't get care. What is best for business is best for America."   Conservatives aka Tea-baggers "seem willing to send clowns to Washington,” says Margaret Carlson, author of “Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House” and former White House correspondent for Time magazine, [now] a Bloomberg News columnist, in “Lifelong maverick senator faces angry electorate, Tea Party candidate,” in Macomb Daily (18 October 2010), p 8A. And see Eric Alterman, "The Tea Party’s Forebears Are a Movement of the Rich" (31 October 2013), saying “The rich and their allies 'practice a tradition' of recruiting the lower classes to their cause,” citing sociologist Isaac William Martin's book Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent (Oxford University Press, USA, 2 September 2013).

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