Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wealth and Taxes

Lately, Limbaugh and others are concerned that their, not your, taxes are going to go up and you, not them, may benefit from this. They call this wealth distribution. The fact is, wealth distribution has been alive and well in this country every since the Reagan era but in reality, what wealth the poor and middle class had has been distributed to rich people and some of that has been made possible through the taxes. Clearly free trade, deregulation of financial markets and plain old fashioned greed are also culprits.

Here are some facts about wealth and taxes:

Currently, the top earners in the US earn 440 x the amount of the bottom 50%, a number which has doubled since 1980. Or you could say a CEO earns 440x the amount as their employees. So much for trickle down economics; gush up is more like it. In 1982 the top 15 wealthiest people owned $92 Billion and by 2000 their wealth increase to $1.2 trillion so the Clinton tax rates, which Obama wants to return to, weren't hurting them at all.

During WW 2 and the Korean wars the top tax rate was 90% and the economy was booming.

Over the last 50 years the top tax rate has continued to decrease from 90% to 35%. In 1980 the top rate was 70% which declined all the way down to 28%. We call those the deficit years. Through most of the Clinton years, the ones with a balanced budget, the top rate was 39.6%.

Obama proposes to restore the 39.6% tax rate on the top 1% and a 36% (1% increase) on the top 2% and lower taxes on everyone else in 2011. Capital Gains will be 1/3 the rate it was under Reagan yet the right still spins this as a tax increase.

80% of American families own less that $250,000 of wealth, the bottom 20% have nearly 0 wealth.

The richest 10% of families own 85% of all outstanding stock and 90% of all business assets. These are the guys conspiracy theorists talks about.

Eight of the top fifteen richest people in America inherited their wealth and never worked a day for it. The Estate Tax only affects 2% of the population, which accounts for over 45% of all wealth, and never exceeds 50%.

The top 10 best paid CEOs in the US made more than a half billion dollars in 2007 while the profits for their companies shrank dramatically.

In 2007 Rick Wagoner, CEO of GM, announced the closing of 4 plants producing SUVs and trucks, posted a 39 billion dollar loss and increased his pay by 64% to 15.7 million.

The CEO of KB homes earned $24.4 million in 2007 while his company lost $930 million and 60% of its stock value.

So, who are the rich? Who will be affected when Bush's tax cuts expire?

The income bracket for the top 1% income earners based on 2005 numbers is $364,657 per year all the way up to 100 million per year and beyond.

The top 1% receive 21.8 % of all income and own about 39% of all wealth in the U.S and pay 39% of all taxes.

The top 5% make about $145,283 per year, pay about 59% of all taxes and own about 59% of all wealth.

The top 10% receive 48.5 % of all reported income ('05), own 71 % of all wealth and pay 70% of all taxes.

The top 0.1 % receives an average salary of 5.8 million per year and up.

In 2005 incomes (reported incomes) rose 9% but the bottom 90% of income earners saw a .6% decrease while the top 1% saw a 14% increase and this is the new trend.

The top 300,000 income earners in America received more income than the bottom 150,000,000 Americans.

According to the US Census Bureau, people in the United States living at 50% or less than the poverty line (the extremely poor) went from 3.3% in 1976 (7 million), to 5.2% in 2007 (15.5 million)

35% of the poor in the US are children under the age of 18. And no, they aren't poor because they are lazy and unwilling to work.

In 2007, 46.8% of the people living in poverty worked, 10.9% worked full time, year around, probably a lot harder than you or Rush Limbaugh works. In 1978 the percent of full time workers in poverty was at 7.7%.

58% of Americans between 25 and 75 will spend at least one year below the poverty line.

The US has the highest rate of relative poverty in the industrialized world.

Only 21.5% of the people over the age of 16 living in poverty didn't work at all

Under the Clinton tax rates poverty hit a 26 year low in 2000 and has risen since then.

The poverty level for a family of 3 is $17,600.

So what exactly are rich people worried about?

Lesson: Trickle down economics is a myth. By giving rich people more money and lowering their taxes, they only got greedier and outsourced American jobs to the Chinese. Upon doing that, they have just transferred the wealth of the middle class to themselves, the rich. Oh ya, and when you loose your job and can no longer pay your mortgage, the same rich guy will come and repossess your house thus transferring even more wealth to the rich.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Enough With the Teleprompter

Ok, I get that it is a hard concept for Republicans to understand that we have a President who can actually read, but everyone who gives speeches uses a teleprompter or a speech written on paper. With a teleprompter the speaker can actually look into the camera and speak into the mic as opposed to looking at his notes and speaking into the podium.

And another thing that pisses me off is that people are now actually saying that because Limbaugh didn't use a teleprompter at the Nazi convention or where ever it was he last spoke, that he would easily defeat Obama in a debate. Ok, so he used notes, not a teleprompter, it doesn't make him Yoda. But for the record, lets break down their qualifications when it comes to depating policy:

A.Obama has won several nationally televised debates against very formidable opponents such as Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee for President
B. Rush has never debated anyone. Rush has never appeared on Hardball, Chris Matthews Show, Real Time, This Week, Daily Show, Meet the Press, etc. No debates with any hostile opponents. Even Ann Coulter has the balls (literally perhaps) to face these guys.

A. Obama got a degree in Political Science from Columbia University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School where he became the first black President of the Harvard Law Review.
B. Rush Graduated from Cape Central High School and flunked out of Southeast Missouri State University after 2 semesters

A. Obama was once a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago
B. Rush was once a disc jockey in Pennsylvania

A. Obama wrote a book which remained on the best sellers list for 30 weeks
B. Rush wrote a book which remained on the best sellers list for 24 weeks

A. Obama is the leader of the free world, digging us out of the mess Rush's hero, George W Bush got us into
B. Rush is an uneducated, three time divorcee, overweight, drug addict who is nothing more than a Monday Morning QB who can't offer any solutions of his own except for shitting on every move Obama makes and saying, "I hope he fails".

A. Obama loves America and wants it to succeed
B. Rush hates America and wants it to fail

A. Obama can dunk a basketball
B. Rush can dunk 5 doughnuts and a cheeseburger into his mouth at one time

A. Obama is half black
B. Rush hates black people

A. Everyone listens to Obama when he speaks
B. Only morons who don't know anything and get their kicks out of bug zappers listen to Rush

A. Obama uses a teleprompter just like Bush did when giving speeches
B. Rush probably uses a teleprompter on his radio show because how would anyone know otherwise but in reality he doesn't really need one because after all, he says the same shit over and over again: "Democrats are Socialists", "I hope he fails", "Its all the liberals fault", "The Government forced all mortgage companies to give loans to the homeless and then forced Wall Street to buy those bad assets", "I love cock and hillbilly heroin", etc.

Ya, I am sure Limbaugh would win a debate against Obama.

What a joke.

P.S. It might have been nice if Bush had a teleprompter on 9/11 instead of doing his deer in the headlights routine. Having someone other than Cheney telling him what to do or say would have actually been a good thing.








Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The AIG Antithesis

From CNN:
Heroes of the Economy

Heroic act: Cut his own salary to $0
Position: CEO, Vail Resorts
Hometown: Vail, Colo.

Things are still sunny at Vail Resorts, which operates five ski and snowboard slopes in Colorado and Lake Tahoe, Nev. The company's revenues rose in the second quarter, boosted by real estate sales. But CEO Rob Katz expects the situation to head downhill.

To prevent layoffs, he decided to take the biggest cut himself. Unlike the AIG executives taking big bonuses and salaries, Katz cut his $840,000 a year salary down to $0 for 2009, and he will take a 15% cut when it is reinstated.

Seasonal employees were asked to a 2.5% pay cut, and executives agreed to a 10% reduction. The company's board of directors has agreed to reduce their annual cash retainer by 20%. Total saved: More than $10 million annually.

"If I was going to ask someone making $8 an hour to take a pay cut, they needed to know I was doing something that would really affect me," Katz says. "No one wants to see their salary reduced, but at least in this case those at the top are making the biggest sacrifice."
In order to adjust to a $0 salary this year, Katz said he will cut back on expenses like travel and food.

"I'm making changes, but you can't compare the challenges I go through to some of our folks," he explains. "I've saved money because I've made more over my time. They need to find a way to put food on the table."

"People here would rather take a pay cut than see their colleague lose their job," he adds. "Everyone at the company is a hero." -- Julianne Pepitone

Let's see: Running a successful business, not dependent on government handouts or subsidies, good business plan, realizes that he is already rich and has the best job in the world and would like to keep that job for himself and his employees, AKA NOT A GREEDY FUCKING IDIOT!

Just so everyone knows where I stand, not every rich person is an asshole and not every CEO is a rich asshole. I mean, how much money do you need and what are you willing to do to get it? Layoff 100 people? Ruin the economy? or just go skiing for free?

I agree with Sen. Charles Grassley, the execs at AIG should admit failure, take the blame, take no money or just kill themselves. Or perhaps we should publish their names and addresses (all their addresses) and let the tax payers take back what is theirs.

The next time I go skiing out west, which wont be this year, I will go to a Vail resort.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Conservatives Who Claim Bush Isn't One of Them

CPAC is a gathering of the top conservatives in the country. Some would claim that the economy failed and America's standing in the world has fallen because Republicans and or Bush, abandoned true conservative principles and thus started acting like liberals and that is the reason we are in this mess. Well, I do agree that Bush and conservative principles are what got us into this mess but to me Republicans have been acting exactly like Republicans and here is how:

Over the last 8 years the Republicans who have controlled Washington, have been cutting taxes on rich people, deregulating big business while regulating peoples personal lives, continued the war on drugs, continued its lopsided support of Israel, started wars, interfered in countries where we weren't needed or wanted to further the interests of big business,restricted civil liberties, circumvented law, appointed complete idiots whose education consists of Jerry Falwells Law School to important posts, cut welfare, cut education spending, increased defense spending, ruined the economy, tortured, cut veteran benefits, they have been hating and demonizing some minority, increase the deficit.... The list goes on. That is about as Republican as you get because these principles are not liberals principles.

Here are the main points about this clip 8 months before the ship started sinking and yet more proof that Bush and the Congressional Republicans and the conservative base have gotten us into this mess by acting exactly like conservative Republicans and how the conservatives at the time supported every measure and thought Bush was doing a terrific job:

A. The crowd starts out by chanting "four more years". If he abandoned conservative principles, why does the group of the most eclectic conservatives in the country want him to continue his reign of terror?

B. Bush mentions Cheney and that he was the best Vice President in history, to a standing ovation.

C. When a member of the audience yells, "We love you George" she incites another round of applause and cheers.

Since this was just one year ago, what did Bush do in his last 11 months, that he didn't do in his first 7 years, that all of the sudden abandoned conservative principles? The answer is nothing, it was par for the course. The Republicans have to now pretend that they were against Bush at the time but this clearly shows they were in lock step with the President on almost every issue.

Don't believe the bullshit when someone tries to tell you that the Republicans only screwed things up when they started acting like Democrats. I'm sorry but it's not a platform of the Democrats to take money away from poor and working people and redistribute it to rich bankers; only a Republican could come up with such a scheme. Remember, Democrats are Socialists, they take money away from rich bankers and give it to the poor, not vice versa. Republicans take money from the poor and the middle class and redistribute to the wealthy.

Oh, and when someone asks what Obama has changed or what is different about Obama all you need to do is refer to my list above.