Amazing speech by a real anti-establishment politician that will not get elected because the British are as dumbed down as the French and the Americans. They all vote for whom the media tells them to vote for.
Amazing speech by a real anti-establishment politician that will not get elected because the British are as dumbed down as the French and the Americans. They all vote for whom the media tells them to vote for.
Many wealthy Americans complain about the amount of government subsidies going to the poor. Their complaints demonstrate ignorance, or greed, or a total lack of fair-mindedness, or a combination of all those symptoms of entitlement at the top.
The Rich Get as Much of the Safety Net as the Poor
Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman have calculated that, on average in 2014, the middle class received more of the safety net than the lower class. Specifically, the 40% of American adults with incomes just below the top 10% received more in safety net government transfers (Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP, Veterans’ benefits, etc., but excluding Social Security) than the bottom 50% of Americans (Figure 11).
“Wealthy Americans complain about ‘entitlements’ for the poor, but they keep collecting their own entitlements, to a degree that average Americans can only dream about.” Even MORE STUNNINGLY, according to the same authors, when Medicare and Social Security are both included the richest 10% on average received approximately as much in government transfers as the poorest 50% (Figure S.13).
The BIGGEST SHOCKER: When Medicare and Social Security are both included, the average household in the .01%—those with OVER $100 Million in assets—received MORE in government transfers in 2014 than the average household in the poorest 50% (Table II-TG4b). Even without Social Security, the multi-millionaires got nearly two-thirds the government transfers received by the poorest 50% (Table II-TG4).
Over 90 percent of safety net entitlement benefits go to the elderly, the disabled, or working households. This helps to explain the various estimates that the poorest 20% of American households receive only about one-third of all government benefits, or about $250 billion of the total ‘welfare’ budget of $740 billion. That comes to about $10,000 for each of the 25 million households in the bottom quintile, an annual government subsidy that pales in comparison to the tax benefits enjoyed by wealthy households (to be described below).
The Rich Cash In on Medicare and Social Security
As the longevity of wealthy Americans increases relative to low-income Americans, they benefit more and more from Medicare and Social Security. A National Institutes of Health study found “a growing gap in projected lifetime benefits under programs such as Social Security and Medicare because higher earners are increasingly more likely to receive such benefits over longer periods of time relative to lower earners.” A Brookings report quantifies this, estimating that lowest-quintile Americans born in 1960 will receive “only 78 percent of the lifetime Medicare benefits received by the top income quintile.”
Middle- and upper-income Americans are even dipping into Medicaid, because of the program’s accommodating asset-exclusion limits. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, “15 percent of the elderly in the middle income quintile receive Medicaid benefits, 8 percent in the upper-middle quintile receive benefits, and 5 percent in the top quintile receive Medicaid benefits.”
The U.S. federal tax system is progressive, and thus big incomes lead to higher federal taxes and greater investments in Social Security. The Urban Institute calculates that a married couple with two low earners will pay only about one-third the amount paid by a married couple with one high earner and one average earner. However, 20-year annuities (ages 65 to 85) yield about $22,000 per year for the low earners and about $44,000 per year for the high/average earners (see analysis here).
Much, Much MORE Entitlement Money: Tax Benefits, Almost Entirely for the Rich
According to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, an ‘entitlement’ is “an individual’s right to receive a value or benefit provided by law.” This includes mandatory means-tested safety net programs and subsidies resulting from new or revised tax laws. Based on analyses by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Pew Research, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), and several trusted news sources, the following is a summary of tax entitlements taken by the households of the poorest 20%, the richest 20%, and the richest 1%.
The Poorest 20% of U.S. Households Get up to $3,000 Each in Tax Entitlements
CBO estimates that about 8 percent of tax breaks in 2013, or $72 billion out of $900 billion, went to the bottom quintile, while CBPP estimates 2.8 percent of $1.1 trillion, or about $30 billion. That accounts for anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 in government tax subsidies for the poorest 20%.
The Richest 20% of U.S. Households Get at least $18,000 Each in Tax Entitlements
CBO itemizes the ten main tax expenditures, including capital gains, employer health insurance, pension deductions, and state and local tax breaks. In 2013 over half of these benefits (or about $450 billion) went to the top quintile (25 million households). That’s $18,000 per household. CBPP’s estimate is much higher, with two-thirds of $1.1 trillion in benefits (almost $30,000 per household) going to the top quintile.
The Richest 1% of U.S. Households Get Over $120,000 Each in Tax Entitlements
Evidence that most of this goes to the super-rich is derived from various sources, including CBO, National Priorities Project, The Fiscal Times, and the New York Times. CBO estimates that 17 percent of the $900 billion in tax expenditures in 2013, or $153 billion, went to the 1.25 million households in the top 1%. CBPP’s estimate is much higher, with 23.9 percent of $1.1 trillion in benefits (over $200,000 per household) going to the top quintile.
Even MORE Lucrative Entitlements for the Rich
On top of everything else, there exists an incredible array of big-money tax breaks that primarily benefit well-positioned Americans: (1) The mortgage interest deduction for second homes, which might even be a YACHT; (2) Another luxury home benefit with UP TO A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS TAX-FREE when a couple sells their home; (3) Yet another rich-couple subsidy with properties worth up to $10 million TAX-FREE when an estate is passed on to heirs; (4) Deductions on rental properties for landlords, who are unlikely to be low-income people; (5) The $127,200 limit on Social Security taxes, which benefits only the richest 10% of Americans; (6) Tax breaks on 401(k) accounts, which are less likely to be owned by low-income people; (7) Higher education financial aid, especially from the prestigious universities that admit more students from families in the top 1% than the entire bottom 50%; and (8) Miscellaneous entitlement perks, such as business meals, gambling loss deductions, tax preparation.
And finally, for any defenders of high-end entitlements on the basis of federal tax paid, TOTAL taxes should be considered. It has been estimated that poor Americans pay about 25 percent in total taxes, while the 1% pays anywhere from 18 to 23 percent.
Wealthy Americans complain about ‘entitlements’ for the poor, but they keep collecting their own entitlements, to a degree that average Americans can only dream about.
A new report confirms how the rich become deluded about their talents, but also hints at a growing acknowledgement of inequality.
Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography, University of Oxford
May 5, 2017
The UK suffers from the highest levels of income inequality in Europe – partly because of the delusions of its rich. In countries where the rich have less, they tend to be less delusional, about themselves, about other people, about what is possible, and about why some become rich.
In the UK, it is unsurprising to read that an investment banker thinks £100m is a lot of money but “not a ridiculous amount of money”. In a report in The Guardian newspaper this week, we also heard that one particular banker is “fairly confident” that a driven and passionate individual could “start from zero and get to £100m within 20 years”.
However, there is hope. In the research report that kicked off this latest set of news stories, Katharina Hecht from the London School of Economics and Political Science found that one third of her sample of extremely rich people working in the City of London agreed that “the government should reduce income differences”. The sample is extremely small and this subset of the very rich has not been asked similar questions before, but what they say chimes with reports from the US last year which implied attitudes among the extremely wealthy are beginning to change.
In 2016 in New York, 50 millionaires wrote to the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, asking him to increase their taxes because they thought economic inequalities had grown too high. The group included Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Walt Disney, and Steven Rockefeller, a fourth-generation member of that very wealthy family. The offspring of the rich at least know they did not bring in their riches, let alone create them out of thin air.
In truth, no one creates wealth out of the ether as the mythic phrase “wealth creator” suggests. Most wealth is appropriated from others, not made. Wealth can grow but only when it is well shared, not corralled into the hands of a few. Wealth growth rates are highest in countries that are more equitable than their neighbours.
Four years after the great financial crash, Michael Lewis, one of the most successful people ever to write about the financial industry tried to explain to a group of Princeton University graduates why most of his own and his audience’s success would be down to luck. The author of The Big Short and Moneyball told them that the odds would just be tipped a little in their favour if they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth:
People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck – especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either.
The world Lewis was talking about was not the whole world, but the world as seen by the elites in unequal countries. By “world” he really meant “America”, and in particular he was talking about the “American Dream” – the idea that anyone can make it if they try hard enough and are talented enough, no matter how economically unequal the society is they are competing in.
The American dream is a myth, just like the London investment banker’s fantasy. Those who make money are often not very talented at all. They were just lucky at the right points in their lives. They might have worked hard and often are driven and greedy, but thousands of others will have worked as hard as them, been just as greedy as them, and not consistently struck it lucky. Most often, those who make money had money given to them in the first place, through inheritance that increased their chances; but it is always down to luck. Don’t believe the myth of the nice, kind, gifted, self-made entrepreneur.
We live in a world in which those who have got to the top have got there not out of great merit, but because they often had a few unfair advantages to start with, such as being born male, white and rich, because they had many lucky breaks on the way up, and often because they were willing to stamp on others’ chances as they rose. The human world does not consist of just a few superior beings able enough to do the key things that need doing, and a lumpen mass of inferior beings who could never do these things and so should be penalised appropriately.
When future historians look back at the beginning of the 21st century, they’ll note that we grappled with many big issues. They’ll write about the battle between nationalism and globalism, soaring global debt, a dysfunctional healthcare system, societal concerns around automation and AI, and pushback on immigration. They will also note the growing number of populist leaders in Western democracies, ranging from Marine Le Pen to Donald Trump.
However, as Visual Cpitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, these historians will not view these ideas and events in isolation. Instead, they will link them all, at least partially, to an overarching trend that is intimately connected to today’s biggest problems: the “hollowing out” of the middle class.
The fact is many people have less money in their pockets – and understandably, this has motivated people to take action against the status quo.
And while the collapse of the middle class and income inequality are issues that receive a fair share of discussion, we thought that this particular animation from Metrocosm helped to put things in perspective.
The following animation shows the change in income distribution in 20 major U.S. cities between 1970 and 2015:
The differences between 1970 and 2015 are intense. At first, each distribution is more bell-shaped, with the majority of people in a middle income bracket – and by 2015, those people are “pushed” out towards the extremes as they either get richer or poorer.
This phenomenon is not limited to major cities, either.
Here’s another look at the change in income distribution using smaller brackets and the whole U.S. adult population:
It’s a multi-faceted challenge, because while a significant portion of middle class households are being shifted into lower income territory, there are also many households that are doing the opposite. According to Pew Research, the percentage of households in the upper income bracket has grown from 14% to 21% between 1971 and 2015.
The end result? With people being pushed to both ends of the spectrum, the middle class has decreased considerably in size. In 1971, the middle class made up 61% of the adult population, and by 2014 it accounted for less than 50%.
As this “core” of society shrinks, it aggravates the aforementioned problems. People and governments borrow more money to make up for a lack of middle class wealth, while backlashes against globalism, free trade, and open borders are fueled. The populists who can “fix” the broken system are elected, and so on.
In his new book, “The Vanishing Middle Class,” Peter Temin, professor emeritus of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, warns that the US is moving backward and becoming more like a developing nation, as the “the vanishing middle class has left behind a dual economy.”
“We are still one country, but the stretch of incomes is fraying the unity of the nation,” Temin wrote in the introduction of his book, according to a copy obtained by Barnard College.
The economist describes a dual economy, where the gap between the rich and the poor has grown wider.
Temin points to a study from the Pew Research Center, which, he said, “shows that the income share lost by the middle class has gone to people earning more than double the median income.”
“In short, the rich got richer. The poor did not disappear, and the middle class shrank sharply,” Temin wrote. “We are on our way to become a nation of the rich and the poor with only a few people in the middle.”
Temin argues that American history and politics had a lot to do with the increasing wealth inequality.
Over a period of 40 years, from World War II to the 1970s, Temin said that wages grew with the rest of the economy. Then, starting in the 1970s, national production continued to grow, but wages did not.
“The middle class’s share of total income fell 30 percent in 44 years,” Temin wrote.
The wealthiest 20 percent of the population had access to education, good jobs and social networks, while the other 80 percent was increasingly burdened with debts, low-wage jobs, and health problems. Now, Temin said the conditions where many poorer Americans live in resemble developing countries, with dilapidated housing, crumbling public transportation, and roads and neglected social structures.
Temin splits the economy into the “FTE sector” (finance, technology, and electronics) and low-skill work. The economic gap between rich and poor began with the war on drugs, he said.
“The low-wage sector—like the FTE sector—was born in 1971 as President [Richard] Nixon replaced [President Lyndon B.] Johnson’s War on Poverty with a new War on Drugs and appointed Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court,” Temin wrote. “As the War on Drugs expanded in subsequent decades, it was enforced far more strongly for African Americans than for whites, becoming… the ‘New Jim Crow,’ revamping and renewing the racist intent of the repressive old anti-black Jim Crow laws that followed Reconstruction in the South.”
After that, Temin said, the FTE sector became driven by money and free-market individualism. They began to ignore the needs of the low-wage sector, turned away from public-spirited universalism to free-market individualism and even began to work against the low-wage sector.
The FTE sector was able to stay in power, Temin said, because of Investment Theory of Politics, which he describes as “the connection between the income distribution in the United States and political decisions.”
Investment Theory of Politics was developed by political scientist Thomas Ferguson, director of research at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), who said that there is a direct correlation between the money major political parties spend and the votes they win.
The evidence can be seen in a simple graph from a study conducted by the Roosevelt Institute on the influence money had on the 2012 presidential election.
Temin used a model created by Nobel Prize winner Arthur Lewis, which was designed to describe how far inequalities have progressed in developing nations. When Temin used the applied the model to the US, he said: “The Lewis Model actually works.”
“We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone — including some of the rich people,” Temin wrote, according to the Independent.
To break the cycle, Temin provides some recommendations, including reducing mass imprisonment, which costs around $1 trillion a year, or 6 percent of the total US gross domestic product, according to a 2016 study from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
He recommends using the money to increasing funds for public education, so families can escape the low-skill trap and integrate into the broader economy.
With permission from
What does the culture of cruelty look like under a neo-fascist regime?
First, language is emptied of any sense of ethics and compassion.
Second, a survival of the fittest discourse provides a breeding ground for racial and social sorting.
Third, references to justice are viewed as treasonous or, as at the present moment, labelled dismissively as “fake news.”
Fourth, the discourse of disposability extends to an increasing number of groups.
Fifth, ignorance becomes militarized, enforced not through an appeal to reason but through the use of the language of humiliation and eventually through the machinery of force.
Sixth, any form of dependency is viewed as a form of weakness, and becomes a referent and eventually a basis for social cleansing. That is, any form of solidarity not based on market-driven values is subject to derision and potential punishment.
Seventh, the language of borders and walls replaces the discourse of bridges and compassion.
Eighth, violence becomes the most important method for addressing social problems and mediating all relationships, hence, the increasing criminalization of a wide range of behaviours in the United States.
Ninth, the word democracy disappears from officially mandated state language.
Tenth, the critical media is gradually defamed and eventually outlawed.
Eleventh, all forms of critical education present in theory, method, and institutionally are destroyed.
Twelfth, shared fears replace shared responsibilities and everyone is reduced to the status of a potential terrorist, watched constantly and humiliated through body searches at border crossings.
Thirteenth, all vestiges of the welfare state disappear and millions are subject to fending for themselves.
Fourteenth, massive inequalities in power, wealth, and income will generate a host of Reality TV shows celebrating the financial elite.
Underlying this project is one of the most powerfully oppressive ideologies of neoliberal neo-fascism. That is, the only unit of agency and analysis that matters is the isolated individual. Shared trust and visions of economic equality and political justice give way to individual terrors and self-blame reinforced by the neoliberal notion that people are solely responsible for their political, economic, and social misfortunes. Consequently, a hardening of the culture is buttressed by the force of state sanctioned cultural apparatuses that enshrine privatization in the discourse of self-reliance, unchecked self-interest, untrammeled individualism, and deep distrust of anything remotely called the common good. Freedom of choice becomes code for defining responsibility solely as an individual task, reinforced by a shameful appeal to character.
Liberal critics argue that choice absent the notion of constraints feeds Ayn Rand’s culture of rabid individualism and unchecked greed. What they miss in this neo-fascist moment is that the systemic evil, cruelty, and moral irresponsibility at the heart of neoliberalism makes Ayn Rand’s lunacy look tame. Rand’s world has been surpassed by a ruling class of financial elites that embody not the old style greed of Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, but the psychopathic personality of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
The notion that saving money by reducing the taxes of the rich justifies eliminating health care for 24 million people is just one example of how this culture of cruelty and hardening of the culture will play out.
Dark Times are truly upon us. There will be an acceleration of acts of violence under the Trump administration and the conditions for eliminating this new stage of state violence will mean not only understanding the roots of neo-fascism in the United States, but also eliminating the economic, political, and cultural forces that produced it.
There is more at work here than getting rid of Trump, there is a need to eliminate a system in which democracy is equated with capitalism, a system driven almost exclusively by financial interests, and beholden to two political parties that are hard wired into neoliberal savagery.
The City of Santa Ana, CA has come up with an innovative and despotic way of keeping their homeless population in check — imprison them.
February 16th, 2017
Editor’s Comment: There are two major problems that come to mind – one, the level of homelessness, poverty and idle populations in California and across the country, and the divided world between the 1% and the struggling 99% is coming to a head. Economically, things are very close to the brink, and there are far too many people who’ve given up at the individual level. This crisis has given the impetus for cities like Santa Ana to take drastic action.
The other side of the coin, is that if they can do this to homeless vagrants, and out of work families, they can do it to anyone. If civil unrest comes, perhaps in combination with mass unemployment, a crashed stock market and monetary system and great misery, those keeping society in check will feel compelled to come down with a heavy hand. People will be rounded up, some of them unfairly. Entire communities can be disrupted, or forced under an emergency to evacuate and take shelter in FEMA centers while the cities become off limits. There are a lot of things that can happen – including to hard working, employment, head-above-water American families.
When this thing starts to unravel, making do in the current atmosphere won’t cut it; in the aftermath of what is coming, many people will be desperate. Tent cities and migrating Americans looking for temporary work will return; millions more will flock to government welfare programs, and be dragged into the dregs of collectivist measure to ride out bad times. They are moving to sweep up the disarray of a society that is crumbling, and a financial landscape that is no longer survivable for a wide sector of the general population.
City Erects Prison Camp To Deal With Homeless – Cutting Off Food And Water
by Matt Agorist
The City of Santa Ana has come up with an innovative and despotic way of keeping their homeless population in check — imprison them. The city is now party to a federal lawsuit over unreasonable seizure, false imprisonment, and due process violations.
Heading up the lawsuit on behalf of Michael Diehl, who has lived at the encampment for three years, is the ACLU of Southern California. The lawsuit demands the immediate removal of the 6-foot-tall chain-link fences penning in 75-100 people and their belongings.
“Defendants’ actions have not only illegally restricted the liberty of the homeless people living in the encampment, but it has also cut them off from access to food, water, and medical care thus threatening their health and well-being,” the lawsuit states.
According to Courthouse News:
Diehl was shot in the head at a Tustin convenience store in 2009. He lost his right eye and doctors were unable to remove the bullet from his head. He takes medication every day to control seizures that have become more frequent with the increased presence of authorities at the encampment, he says in the complaint.
When a woman suffered a seizure at the encampment after the fence was erected, Diehl says, paramedics had difficulty reaching her because the barriers have blocked parts of the sidewalks at Chapman Avenue and Orangewood Avenue where people used to come and go.
If people living at the encampment cut holes in the fences with bolt cutters, Orange County Public Works employees repair it. For the elderly and disabled it is neither safe nor realistic to scale the fence or navigate the river to get to a steep, rocky embankment on the river’s west side, Diehl says.
“Children, people with severe disabilities, the elderly and others are deprived of food, water and access to restrooms,” said ACLU homelessness policy analyst Eve Garrow. “The county should take action to rectify this egregious violation of basic human rights.”
Naturally, the county is claiming that they are not doing anything wrong and that the fence, put in place after the homeless community began growing there, is for ‘flood control.’
“The county is aware that there are homeless encampments in the project area. Flood control channels are not a safe place to live. Sign postings and in-person notifications about the project have been provided to those encamped along the county maintenance road,” the county said in a statement.
However, according to Diehl and the others who are imprisoned in the camp, police told them that they should move there to avoid citations for sleeping in public in the other parts of town.
What this case in Santa Ana illustrates is the state’s continued war on the right of people to exist. Every time a group homeless community finds a safe spot, located out of the way, they are targeted for removal, or, in this barbaric case — imprisonment.
Earlier this month, the Free Thought Project reported on another war being waged against the homeless population in California. Known as ‘The Promised Land,’ a group of homeless people in Oakland sought to improve their situation by creating a camp that would foster sobriety and help people to get jobs. It was located out of the way, under a series of overpasses. They had running water, were growing their own food, and did not allow drug or alcohol use within the camp.
As cops and officials allowed the other heroin riddled encampments to continue, they targeted The Promised Land for destruction.
Diehl now seeks an injunction ordering the county to provide him with “reasonable means of leaving the riverbed and being able to retrieve his property.”