Archive for the ‘wealth disparity’ tag
My new Maureen Dowd is on a roll this week. First, he declared an end to the era of opulence based on the rantings of a southern Baptist megachurch leader. Bobo made this bold proclamation during a time of enormous wealth disparity, and after poor taxpayers just dropped a couple trillion dollars bailing out Wall Street tycoons, who BTW, handed out record bonuses during the economic collapse.
Now, he argues that we are the middle of a “jobless recovery,” whatever that means. At first, I assumed he was talking about the people who wrecked the economy receiving fat bonuses, while the starving masses squirrel away food stamps. You know, “the right people” are recovering – prospering, even – while the undesirables suffocate under a mountain of debt and disease. After all, there’s not enough money for universal health care, but there’s enough cash to supply two ongoing military occupations.
Or perhaps Bobo was referring to America’s two tier justice system where the underclass forever toil and barely scrape by, occasionally bearing the full brunt of the courts, which imprison and enslave the working class for petty theft and drug-dealing, while the CEO of a company that dumped millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, along with poisonous chemical dispersants, gets to go yachting with his buddies.
Alas, Bobo appears to be talking about magical thinking. He writes, “After decades of affluence, the U.S. has drifted away from the hardheaded practical mentality that built the nation’s wealth in the first place.” In his revised history of the United States, sometime around 1800, the economy simply “took off.” Like a miracle.
I’ve been saying for a while now that the real threat to Social Security isn’t just the privatization hawks like Pete Peterson or retirement age experimenters like John Boehner, but also President Obama’s bipartisan Catfood Commission. Here we have a Democratic president, who has appointed a panel designed for the sole purpose of making drastic changes to benefits.
Of course, Republicans will have a long, difficult task ahead of them if they desire to privatize Social Security. Dubya tried that, and he failed simply because the program is wildly popular among people who don’t wish to starve in their twilight years. However, what the panel may succeed in is striking one of the infamous Washington “compromises” wherein Republicans win and Democrats lose, but pretend they’ve won.
See: healthcare. Democrats immediately abandoned the extremely popular universal healthcare option in pursuit of the public option, also a popular choice, which they also abandoned. And then they said they won. Hooray.
Republicans may not be able to win total privatization, but they could “compromise” with Democrats and raise the retirement age, Bohner’s cause du jour, and both parties will claim victory even though citizens ultimately lose. This strategy definitely appears to be the favored approach of Alan Simpson, Co-Chair of the Catfood Commission, who recently wrote in an email that Social Security is “like a milk cow with 310 million tits.” The email was addressed to OWL chief Ashley Carson, whose work, preserving the dignity of middle-aged and elderly women, Simpson describes as not “honest work.” He also refers to Carson and Company as the “Pink Panthers.”
I write a lot about how certain elite (pundits, politicians) have made it their quest to criminalize poverty. David Walker, a lackey of billionaire and Social Security pirate, Pete Peterson, openly pined for the days of debtors’ prison, which is actually already a reality in six states. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries. A particularly enlightened commenter on my blog summarized the logic behind the amendment thusly: “you gotta make sure they’re not on the crack pipe.”
Previously, I have also written about hiring practices that act to preserve America’s permanent underclass, and how some employers are now making it a practice to check potential employees’ credit scores. Poor people are buried under extravagant loans, which they might never fully pay back, simply for attempting to pursue higher education. Some students actually resort to killing themselves to escape debt, but these are isolated instances that shouldn’t overly concern anyone.
Then there was the embarrassing spectacle of the ruling elite dangling the carrot of unemployment relief before the noses of millions of jobless Americans. There were actual lengthy debates about if the country could really afford the lavish benefits ($300 a week per person) to help people survive the recession during a time when the U.S. is engaged in two separate tremendously expensive military occupations – not to mention the shadow wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc. – and after taxpayers spent trillions bailing out the crooks on Wall Street.
Now, a Tea Party favorite Carl Paladino has thrown his hat in the poor-bashing ring.
Paladino said he would transform some New York prisons into dormitories for welfare recipients, where they could work in state-sponsored jobs, get employment training and take lessons in “personal hygiene.”
Don’t worry. The program would be totally voluntary.
Back during the healthcare debate, certain Republicans claimed we didn’t need reform because when the existing healthcare system failed, private charity organizations would magically step in to fill the void.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told an uninsured woman with growing tumors that she should seek “existing government programs” or find charity.
CHURCHILL: I have a very close relative, a woman in her early forties, who did have a wonderful, high-paying job, owns her own home and is a real contributing member of society. She lost her job. Just a couple of weeks ago, she found out that she has tumors in her belly and that she needs an operation. Her doctors told her that they are growing and that she needs to get this operation quickly. She has no insurance. [...]
CANTOR: First of all I guess I would ask what the situation is in terms of income eligibility and the existing programs that are out there. Because if we look at the uninsured that are out there right now, there is probably 23, 24% of the uninsured that is already eligible for an existing government program[...] Beyond that, I know that there are programs, there are charitable organizations, there are hospitals here who do provide charity care if there’s an instance of indigency and the individual is not eligible for existing programs that there can be some cooperative effort. No one in this country, given who we are, should be sitting without an option to be addressed.
Frum Forum’s Andrew Pavelyev also advocated the private charity approach, though he acknowledged the “let them beg” model of handling sick people might lose the GOP some support.
This was how the right put a pleasant face on the movement to abandon sick people. Yes, Cantor was just regurgitating the same “public, bad, private, good!” mantra dribbling from the Republicans since Reagan, but by tacking on “charity” to the end of his abandonment plan, Cantor was able to shield himself in a cloak of altruism…if only for a little while…at least until people noticed his plan was ultimately, “Hope a nice person takes pity upon you, and can heal tumors. Thanks for the tax money!”
I find it disturbing that a major city being put on lockdown in order to accommodate the international elite and suppress the underclass has become standard — and acceptable — procedure.
Right now, the leaders of rich and developing nations are in Toronto, and the authorities anticipated that there will be a series of protests during the conferences because there are always protests during the G8/G20 meet-ups.
Capitalism is particularly unpopular right now because the US has unleashed a steroid-filled version of it unto the world, and this economic system has failed to provide for the majority of people. It has, however, created a dwindling elitist echelon who control a vast majority of riches. In the year of Hayward and his yachting adventures, there’s no reason to doubt there will be any fewer protests against the douchiest rich people among us.
Toronto was ready to suppress such dissent, and shape a nice, pleasant narrative for the city’s visitors, by implementing a complete and total lockdown.
The “lockdown” of central Toronto includes a 3m-high (10ft), 3.5km (2.2-mile) concrete and metal fence enclosing the G20 meeting area and a huge security presence. Banks and theatres will be closed, as will one of Canada’s most famous tourist attractions – the CN Tower.
It’s important to remember that the supposed goal of the G20 summit is “to continue the work of building a healthier, stronger and more sustainable global economy.” And what better way to express that kind of egalitarian unity than to build a 10-ft-high, 2-mile-long fence to keep out the serfs?
These kinds of global gatherings have also become a playground for authorities to experiment with their newest, shiniest crowd control devices. Last year, I reported that Pittsburgh police demonstrated the latest suppression technology on protesters near that year’s G20 summit. The weapon du jour were sound cannons.
As opposed to supporting raising wages and passing a public option in order to forge a more egalitarian future, it appears members of the elite have committed themselves to controlling the growing underclass by criminalizing poverty.
WALKER: You know, the fact of the matter is we have to change how we do things. We are on an imprudent and unsustainable path in a number of ways. You talk about debtors’ prisons, we used to have debtors’ prisons, now bankruptcy is no taint! Bankruptcy is an exit strategy! Our society and our culture has changed. We need to get back to the opportunity, we need to move away from entitlement, we need to provide reasonable risk but we need to hold people accountable when they do imprudent things. It’s pretty fundamental.
Right! We need to hold people accountable. Er, poor people – not the rich people, who sold them the shit mortgages, and gave them credit cards with astronomical interest rates. Those people are entrepeneurs and can go free.
Digby has been reporting on the demonization of the unemployed. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has proposed an amendment that would demand mandatory drug tests for welfare and unemployment beneficiaries. Because, as one of this blog’s less enlightened commenters put it, “you gotta make sure they’re not on the crack pipe.” After all, we know the only reason people are unemployed is because they’re all a bunch of Welfare Queen drug addicts. Mind you, cocaine addicted Yale and Harvard grads won’t face this obstacle when re-entering the business world. This is just a filter for the undesirables.
Pete Guither makes an interesting point about the timing of the warrant. The whole reason given for the night raid was that the suspect is a big, bad drug dealer, and the bust had to be a surprise because otherwise he’d transport his mountains of pot he definitely possessed out of the house through — as Pete hypothesizes — complex underground tunnels…or something.
The warrant authorizing investigators to enter Whitworth’s home at 1501 Kinloch Court was executed eight days after Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider approved it. [Police chief Ken] Burton said the state allows police 10 days to execute a signed warrant, and he thinks Columbia officers should have done so immediately.
Okay, so Tony Soprano Jonathon Whitworth is a criminal mastermind sitting on top of a heap of marijuana, he poses a grave threat to the very fabric of society, and he must! be taken down…next week.
At the inception of a typical Employer-Employee relationship, there is usually an implied or contractually guaranteed understanding that the Employer bears certain responsibilities.
However, the burden of the Employer-Employee relationship increasingly falls exclusively on the Employee. The Employer scrapes the bone by slashing the safety net, raking in huge rewards, while the Employee is told to fight for scraps of meat out on the tundra.
The biggest Employers, corporations, have enjoyed their privileged class for decades. Certain Fortune 500 firms enjoy social perks like getting to safely shelter their revenues in tax havens so they don’t have to contribute to any Socialist projects in the US of A like schools or roads.
There are also companies like GM that outsource jobs (and sell out employees), chasing the cheapest labor around the globe. Meanwhile, an army of corporate lobbyists has successfully bought off both political parties, and Citizens United now permits corporations to spend unlimited funds to elect the next asshole who will let them do whatever they want.
Another company, Wal-Mart, pays its employees such low wages that they qualify for food stamps and public assistance. And that’s legal. It’s even considered a good business model. Even plantation owners had to feed their slaves, but Wal-Mart found a loophole to that profit suck.
The horror! The horror!
Peter Cary “PC” Peterson, 18 years old and a senior at Dwight, is sitting at Philippe on the Upper East Side, talking about the way the world works, based on his extensive experience. “Everything in New York City is about connections,” he explains, his eyes glinting and head lolling back. “It’s who you know and how much money you have. It’s really sad. And I am not saying I’m like that. But that’s what New York is: money and power.”
Meet PC Peterson. He’s one of the stars of Bravo’s new Reality “WHY GOD??” Show: NYC Prep. If the name isn’t reason enough to cut yourself, check out this sweet ass premise:
The show chronicles the lives of six teenagers in Manhattan’s elite high school scene.
FINALLY. You know, in the midst of all this economic turmoil and environmental catastrophe, I selfishly forgot to worry about the lives of Manhattan’s elite.
You would think during a time of vast unemployment, wealth disparity, and economic instability that great minds would unite in order to imagine and build a new tomorrow in which the suffering of the masses could be lessened. Of course, that fantasy includes the provision that The Smartest Guys In The Room are also The Most Moral Guys In The Room, which is rarely the case.
Enter T.A. Frank, a New America Foundation think tank lackey, who believes the solution to horrific living conditions in the ghetto is to privatize Section 8 housing and ship black people out to the subprime suburbs.
This is a bad idea for obvious reasons laid out in The Exile by Yasha Levine. First, the area where Frank wants to ship poor black people isn’t that great, according to Levine.
My adopted home of Victorville, California, a McTractHome paradise on the edge of the Mojave Desert 100 miles east of LA, has a buttload of crime, non-existent employment options, racial isolation and a gestapo police presence—just like the real ghetto.