How Billionaires Are Bankrupting America

How Billionaires Are Bankrupting America - You and Me

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(Healingtalks) Economic health is akin to physical health. It goes  haywire when the “best treatments” are corrupted by the biggest financial interests.

Let’s note the following. America’s greatest period of explosive prosperity occurred exactly when the top 1% of wealthiest Americans were taxed at 90% of their income and when estate taxes were also confiscatory. This transferred wealth from the rich to the poor, and kept the powers to be in balance.

It prevented the wealthy elite  from harming the general economy, the middle class and poor, for their own purposes.

Now everything is upside down.

So predictably we are in the worst of manufactured recessions.

The trickle down theory (allowing ever more money to flow to the rich to best and move the economy forward) is more than a sham.

Life was far better, beyond comparison, in the 1950’s when labor movements were strong, when the average worker had two weeks vacation or when most mom’s tended to stay home to raise children rather than be forced to work to survive.

That American Dream has already been destroyed and the process continues.

It was accomplished via the systematic and deep corruption of Washington as well as consolidated takeovers of  the media (the latter thanks mostly to The Communications Act of 1996 passed by Congress, signifying a control of the collective consciousness by the rich, and the death toll of what was once the spirit of America).

Both Republicans and Democrats have been affected by this immense corruption.

This was evident in the recent federal debt-cutting compromise where neither side  raised taxes for the super-rich.

Perhaps if there is a further collapse of our economy then some kind of real grass roots revolution will take place.

The article from Op Ed below highlights a manufacture  “grass roots revolution” that is actually working against itself and how this hugely malevolent coup was achieved.

Nathan Batalion CTN

How Billionaires

Are Destroying

the American Dream

 

The recent US deficit reduction plan makes no sense at all– until you remember who’s behind the Tea Party movement.

Based on an article by George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian

Two Ways to Cut Federal Deficits

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending.

Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor.

Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the US they appear to be succeeding.

Partly as a result of the Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2003 and 2005 (shamefully extended by Barack Obama), taxation of the wealthy, in Obama’s words, “is at its lowest level in half a century”(1). The consequence of such regressive policies is a level of inequality unknown in other developed nations. As the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz points out, in the past 10 years the income of the top 1% has risen by 18%, while that of blue collar male workers has fallen by 12%(2).

Compromise Federal Debt Ceiling Deal,

It Cremates the Little Guy

The deal being thrashed out in Congress as this article goes to press seeks only to cut state spending. As the former Republican senator Alan Simpson says, “the little guy is going to be cremated.”(3) That, in turn, will mean further economic decline, which means a bigger deficit(4). It’s insane. But how did it happen?

Origins of the Tea Party

The immediate reason is that Republican members of Congress supported by the Tea Party movement won’t budge. But this explains nothing. The Tea Party movement mostly consists of people who have been harmed by tax cuts for the rich and spending cuts for the poor and middle. Why would they mobilize against their own welfare? You can understand what is happening in Washington only if you remember what everyone seems to have forgotten: how this movement began.

On Sunday the Observer claimed that “the Tea Party rose out of anger over the scale of federal spending, and in particular in bailing out the banks”(5). This is what its members claim. It’s nonsense.

The movement started with Rick Santelli’s call on CNBC for a tea party of city traders to dump securities in Lake Michigan, in protest at Obama’s plan to “subsidise the losers”(6). In other words, it was a demand for a financiers’ mobilization against the bail-out of their victims: people losing their homes. This is the opposite of the Observer’s story. On the same day, a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP) set up a Tea Party Facebook page and started organising Tea Party events(7).

The movement, whose programme is still lavishly supported by AFP, took off from there.

Who is Americans for Prosperity?

So who or what is Americans for Prosperity? It was founded and is funded by Charles and David Koch(8). They run what they call “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”(9), and between them they are worth $43 billion(10).

Koch Industries is a massive oil, gas, minerals, timber and chemicals company.

Over the past 15 years the brothers have poured at least $85m into lobby groups arguing for lower taxes for the rich and weaker regulations for industry(11). The groups and politicians the Kochs fund also lobby to destroy collective bargaining, to stop laws reducing carbon emissions, to stymie healthcare reform and to hobble attempts to control the banks. During the 2010 election cycle, Americans for Prosperity spent $45 million supporting its favoured candidates(12).

But the Kochs’ greatest political triumph is the creation of the Tea Party movement. Taki Oldham’s film AstroTurf Wars shows Tea Party organisers from all over the Union reporting back to David Koch at their 2009 Defending the Dream summit, explaining the events and protests they’ve started with AFP help. “Five years ago,” he tells them, “my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start Americans for Prosperity. It’s beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organisation.”(13)

AFP mobilised the anger of people who found their conditions of life declining, and channelled it into a campaign to make them worse. Tea Party campaigners appear to be unaware of the origins of their own movement. Like the guard in Geoffrey Household’s novel Rogue Male who has been conned into working for the enemy, they take to the streets to demand less tax for billionaires and worse health, education and social insurance for themselves.

Are they stupid? No. They have been systematically misled by another instrument of corporate power: the media. The Tea Party movement has been relentlessly promoted by Fox News, which belongs to a more familiar billionaire. Like the Kochs, Rupert Murdoch aims to misrepresent the democratic choices we face, in order to persuade us to vote against our own interests and in favour of his.

The Rich Man’s Political Coup

What’s taking place in Congress right now is a kind of political coup. A handful of billionaires has shoved a spanner into the legislative process. Through the candidates they’ve bought and the movement that supports them, they are now breaking and reshaping the system to serve their interests. We knew this once, but now we’ve forgotten. What hope do we have of resisting a force we won’t even see?

Follow George Monbiot on Twitter: @GeorgeMonbiot.

www.monbiot.com

References:

1. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/04/13/remarks-president-fiscal-policy

2. http://www.vanityfair.com/society/features/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105

3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/31/us-debt-crisis-washington-poverty

4. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/01/opinion/the-president-surrenders-on-debt-ceiling.html

5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/31/us-debt-congress-tea-party

6. http://www.cnbc.com/id/29283701/Rick_Santelli_s_Shout_Heard_Round_the_World

7. http://astroturfwars.org/

8. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?currentPage=all

9. http://www.portfolio.com/executives/features/2008/10/15/Profile-of-Billionaire-David-Koch/index3.html

10. http://www.forbes.com/wealth/forbes-400

11. Tony Carrk, April 2011. The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right. Center for American Progress Action Fund. http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2011/04/pdf/koch_brothers.pdf

12. As above.

13. http://astroturfwars.org/

 

Keyword tags – destroying the American Dream, who is behind the Tea Party, bankrupting America, origins of the Tea Party, billionaires are destroying the American Dream

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