Written by an American expat living in the E.U. (who holds a M.B.A. degree). This diary is a review of the Spiegel article entitled "Has America Become an Oligarchy?" from the perspective of a business librarian.
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spiegel quote: 2002 and 2007, 65 percent of the income gains went to the top 1%
For those following this year's Presidential election festivities (as well as keeping tabs on the GOP's ongoing record-breaking race to obstruct, deconstruct, vilify & destroy all possible progress in the United States), there's a possible minor news item that may be seized upon by the Right to try and take the wind out of the sails of President Obama's re-election bid.
The President is running on job creation, saving the auto industry, rebuilding the economy & creating new energy initiatives (among other things), and up to now his record hasn't been bad. Recent news from GM, however, may give some of the opposition party something to grab onto:
General Motors Co. said it will halt production of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid car for five weeks in an effort to control its inventory. The car maker had a stock of about 6,300 Volts on hand at the end of February.
Apparently, this will lead to the layoff of 1,300 workers. Make the jump»
Yesterday, after a year of battering by the forces assembled by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and funded by the likes of the Koch brothers, progressive America finally successfully fought back. But the victory is small, and will prove Pyrrhic (as 2008 victories have proven to be) if progressives feel they can now relax. Make the jump»
The Mitten only held out a position paper when it saw The Primary Voter. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had VERY long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
'Cheshire Mitt,' she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only pushed out the position paper a little further. 'Come, it's pleased so far,' thought The Primary Voter, and she went on. 'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?' Make the jump»
The following is my opinion, and is not to be taken as synonymous with or supported by the staff, writers and editors of ePluribus Media. It is my own take on my personal observations. - GreyHawk, August 2011
Over the past decade, the GOP gutted the US infrastructure as well as the social safety net while simultaneously killing revenues from corporations and the "elite" - in addition to starting two wars, the second of which was started based on carefully manufactured lies and which was used to justify multiple constitutional violations as well as the implementation of and reliance upon crimes against humanity. The second war was kept "off books" for the most part, was highly mis-managed and lost TRILLIONS of dollars.
To fix this mess, another stimulus - this time grounded in a strong infrastructure program and new energy policy - is needed along with single-payer health care, Wall Street & banking reform, closing of loopholes and tax revenues from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
Getting even 1 of those things will be a miracle with the current Congress.
The US people need to vote out the GOP and Tea Party from all levels of government - local, state & federal (and yank what they can from the judiciary - which is nigh impossible) - in order to foment effective change and positive growth.
Use this as an Open Thread, and add your comments below. Thank you.
It seems like an eon since I first learned of Bunny Greenhouse's work on the Defense Base Act. Most Americans best know her as the whistleblower who blew the lid off of KBR/Halliburton no-bid contracts in the run up to the Iraq War.
Few know that she is responsible today for ushering in significant reforms the Defense Base Act, the equivalent of workers compensation for overseas contractors. Over the years, I wondered if her work with the Defense Base Act played a part in the retaliation she faced. For too many insurance companies, the Defense Base Act was a cash cow.
Victory for Bunny Greenhouse
Press Release, Web Wire, July 26, 2011
Today, the National Whistleblowers Center announced that the United States District Court in Washington D.C. gave its final approval of a settlement between Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After a six year legal battle, the Army Corps agreed to pay Ms. Greenhouse $970,000 representing full restitution for lost wages, compensatory damages and attorneys fees. Ms. Greenhouse was notified that she was going to be removed from her position as the Army Corps chief contracting and procurement executive after being demoted out of the Senior Executive Service when she strongly objected, during the award of a secret contract granting Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (“KBR”), a no-compete, sole source, cost-plus $7 Billion contract as the invasion of Iraq was about to commence.
Her work with the Defense Base Act will over time save the American taxpayer billions of dollars.
Iraq, Contingency Contracting and the Defense Base Act
By Susie Dow, ePluribus Media, March 4, 2007
Hope everyone is enjoying a pleasant and long 4th of July weekend.
A suggested article from the Sunday edition of the New York Times, We Knew They Got Raises. But This?". The Times is updating an earlier study on executive compensation in the U.S. to reflect companies that had not previously disclosed pay packages on April 1, 2011.
The final figures show that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009. The earlier study had put the median pay at a none-too-shabby $9.6 million, up 12 percent.
Total C.E.O. pay hasn’t quite returned to its heady, prerecession levels — but it certainly seems headed there. Despite the soft economy, weak home prices and persistently high unemployment, some top executives are already making more than they were before the economy soured.
Read and weep.
Most ordinary Americans aren’t getting raises anywhere close to those of these chief executives. Many aren’t getting raises at all — or even regular paychecks. Unemployment is still stuck at more than 9 percent.
In some ways, chief executives seem to live in a world apart when it comes to pay. As long as shareholders think that the top brass is doing a good job, executives tend to be well paid, whatever the state of the broader economy. And some corporate boards were probably particularly generous in 2010 after a few relatively lean years for their top executives. In other words, some of this was makeup pay.
No doubt those executives have little to weep about, outside of the off chance they might see a tax loophole closed.
From the Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos:
A judge ruled Wednesday that prison officials can forcibly give the Tucson shooting rampage suspect anti-psychotic drugs in a bid to make him mentally fit for trial.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns' decision came after Jared Lee Loughner's attorneys filed an emergency request last week to prevent any forced medication of their client without approval from a judge. The judge said he did not want to second guess doctor's at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., who determined that Jared Loughner was a danger.
Defense attorneys said Loughner had been forcibly medicated since June 21.
This ruling can set a dangerous precedent - one that was already avoided in another case which may be familiar to our readers: the story of Susan Lindauer, as told in Symbol Susan - "Thought this be madness..." as well as other pieces, several by guest contributor Michael Collins. In particular, check out Michael Collins: Did Justice Order Forced Psych Medication?. It's an eye-opener.
While I'm certainly no fan of Loughner, and I'd like to see a trial, the history behind forced medication - particularly in light of events tied to the Susan Lindauer prosecution/persectution - raises some troubling questions.
What's your take? Comments are open below the fold.
I received an email from the Barack Obama campaign this morning - specifically addressed as if it was from Vice President Joe Biden - asking if I'd be willing to send in $5 for a chance at a drawing to enable 5 people to have dinner with the President.
I had to decline.
As folks may realize from the two diaries currently on the Rec list by shannika and stonedoubt, jobs are a big issue right now; the economy as a whole, of course, is a huge issue. And if you read a little into stonedoubt's diary, you'll find a comment from me that explains my response to Joe indirectly: I'm closing my business.
Below the fold is the short, simple text of what I sent back. I realize it will never be seen by Vice President Biden, or the President. I know it will likely never be read by anyone in Congress or in a position to pass along my simple response.
Nonetheless, I felt better sending it. No histrionics, no propaganda - just a simple statement and plea.
Make the jump if you'd like to read it, and perhaps add your own comment.
It's a great proposal, as it produces a federal surplus by 2021 without cutting services for the poor, the elderly and the middle-class. Instead, it basically just ends the wars, ends the Bush tax cuts, and reduces unemployment. Which, as we saw in the 1990's, is actually about all you need to do to balance the federal budget.
[Emphasis mine.] How 'bout that...simple, straightforward, and easily accomplished.
No wonder the GOP and Tea "Party" don't like it.
Anywho - it's Friday, 22 April 2011, also known as "Earth Day." What have you been up to in order to do your part to save the planet?
Comments are open, and remember: This is an Open Thread.
The ForeclosureGate scandal poses a threat to Wall Street, the big banks, and the political establishment. If the public ever gets a complete picture of the personal, financial, and legal assault on citizens at their most vulnerable, the outrage will be endless. (Image)
Foreclosure practices lift the veil on a broader set of interlocking efforts to exploit those hardest hit by the endless economic hard times, citizens who become financially desperate due medical conditions. A 2007 study found that medical expenses or income losses related to medical crises among bankruptcy filers or family members triggered 62% of bankruptcies. There is no underground conspiracy. The facts are in plain sight. Make the jump»
There's an excellent piece in Saturday's online edition of the Journal Sentinel by Marc Levine (hat-tip Jim Starowicz via Deb Romilly on Facebook). It's called You heard it here first: Tax the rich and solve budget shortfall. Right off the bat, he equates the Walker budget and refusal to consider any other options as exactly what they are: class warfare. The piece has a mix of straightforward and sarcastic elements that make it even harder-hitting:
The immediate crisis, according to Walker, is a $137 million shortfall in the current biennial budget. "We're broke; we don't have the money," says the governor, and only slashing the compensation and bargaining rights of public employees can get us through the crisis. (Let's ignore for the moment the inconvenient fact for Walker's "we're broke" trope that at the same time he was slashing compensation for teachers, he was increasing the deficit by bestowing $117 million in business tax breaks.)
Levine then goes on to point out
Rather than attacking the living standards of middle class teachers, prison guards and health care workers, Wisconsin policy-makers can easily close this budgetary gap - and reduce surging inequality in the state - by temporarily raising taxes on the superwealthy and corporations.
But, of course, that's not what Walker wants. He wants to further reduce corporate taxes. Levine's done his homework, tho, and provides some references to economist Dean Baker's facts, figures and reasoning that any such tax hike need only be temporary. Levine sums it up nicely toward the end (emphasis mine):
In short, contrary to the governor's repeated claims, Wisconsin does have options. Walker has made a choice: He would rather mandate 8% compensation cuts on teachers and abolish collective bargaining than levy a temporary 1.5% income surcharge on the superwealthy. Walker's choice, however, damages the state's social fabric, contributes to growing inequality in the state, and harms our prospects for future economic prosperity. [...snip...]
To be sure, Wisconsin still needs to manage a $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-2013 budget cycle. But rather than trying to meet that challenge by attacking middle-class workers and by gutting spending on, say, public education, we would be better served by a balanced plan that makes spending cuts where they would be prudent, and raises revenues in ways that reduce inequality and are least damaging to the most vulnerable.
Amen to that.
You can find the full piece at the jsonline website. Go read it, and share it widely. Thank you.
Originally posted 2011-02-11 12:29:30 -0500. Bumped and promoted. - GH
(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)
There are 59 million Americans who don't have medical insurance. There are 132 million Americans who don't have dental insurance. What if there were an alternate United States where everyone was medically and dentally insured? Well it just so happens that I live in what some call the United States of Europe otherwise known as the European Union and here everyone that I see everyday is fully medically insured. They live on average longer than we do in America and they pay less for their medical system than we do in America, even though they insure 100% of their populations.
Why can't the Teabaggers see this? If they could see it, would it change anything? Would it change you? It changed me. It is possible to change America, one person at a time. All we have to do is get the word out that universal medical works in every major industrialized country in the world, therefore it can also work in America not only to provide health care but also to become America's biggest employer with jobs that pay a living wage that can't be outsourced.