Jim Hightower – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Wed, 21 Apr 2021 05:45:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.17 How the Pandemic spelled the end of Trickle-Down Economics: We need Wealth to Percolate up https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/pandemic-economics-percolate.html Sun, 11 Apr 2021 04:01:37 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197171

The past year has laid waste to the arguments behind “trickle down” theory. Instead, let’s have wealth “percolate up.”

( Otherwords.org) – The past year proves that a lot of conventional economic wisdom is neither true nor wise. For example:

1) “We don’t have the money.”

The power elites tell us it would be nice to do the big-ticket reforms America needs, but the money just isn’t there. Then a pandemic slammed into America, and suddenly trillions of dollars gushed out of Washington for everything from subsidizing meatpackers to developing vaccines, revealing that the money is there.

2) “We can’t increase the federal debt!”

Yet Trump and the Republican Congress didn’t hesitate to shove the national debt through the roof in 2017 to let a few corporations and billionaires pocket a $2 trillion-dollar tax giveaway. If those drunken spenders can use federal borrowing to make the likes of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg richer, we can borrow funds for such productive national needs as infrastructure investment and quality education for all.

3) “The rich are the ‘makers’ who contribute the most to society.”

This silly myth quickly melted right in front of us as soon as the coronavirus arrived, making plain that the most valuable people are nurses, grocery clerks, teachers, postal employees, and millions of other mostly low-wage people. So let’s capitalize on the moment to demand policies that reward these grassroots makers instead of Wall Street’s billionaire takers.

4) “Tax cuts drive economic growth for all.”

They always claim that freeing corporations from the “burden” of taxes will encourage CEOs to invest in worker productivity and — voila — wages will miraculously rise. This scam has never worked for anyone but the scammers, and it’s now obvious to the great majority of workers that the best way to increase wages… is to increase wages!

Enact a $15 minimum wage and restore collective bargaining. Workers will pocket more and spend more, and the economy will rise.

Percolate-up economics works. Trickle-down does not.

Via Otherwords.org

Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

The Independent: “‘Trickle-down economics doesn’t work’, says Joe Biden”

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Dismissing ‘Low Quality Voters,’ Republican officials no longer support democracy — and they aren’t bothering to hide it https://www.juancole.com/2021/04/dismissing-republican-officials.html Mon, 05 Apr 2021 04:01:49 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=197060 ( Otherwords.org) – Hey, you, get away from those polling places! We don’t want your kind here! Scram!

That’s a stupid, shameful, and ultimately self-defeating political message, yet it’s being pushed as the official anti-voter electoral strategy of Republicans. Admitting that they can’t get majorities to vote for their collection of corporate lackeys, conspiracy theorists, and bigoted old white guys, the GOP hierarchy’s great hope is to shove as many Democratic voters as possible out of our elections.

They’re banking on a blitz of bureaucratic bills they’re now trying to ram through nearly every state legislature to intimidate, divert, and otherwise deny eligible voters their most fundamental democratic right. Their main targets are people of color, but they’re also pushing to keep students, senior citizens, union households, and poor communities of any color from voting.

Unable to come up with any actual need for these autocratic restraints, the GOP vote thieves are fraudulently exclaiming in mock horror that millions of illegal immigrants, dead people, Chinese, and even pets are voting! “Lock down the polls!” they cry.

Again and again, these absurd claims have been thoroughly investigated — even by Republican judges, committees, and media — and repeatedly they’ve proven to be, well, absurd.

Let’s be blunt: You’re more likely to find Bigfoot than you are to find a case of mass vote fraud in America.

Even some GOP politicos have quit pretending that they’re searching for The Big Cheat, instead bluntly making an overt, right-wing ideological argument for subverting democracy: “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” explained Rep. John Kavanaugh, the Republican chair of Arizona’s election committee.

Slipping deeper into doctrinaire doo-doo, he asserts that it’s not just the number of votes that should matter in an election — “we have to look at the quality of votes,” too.

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that most Democratic voters would fall into his “low-quality” category. The ugly truth is that Republican officials no longer support democracy.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

CBS News: “Texas state Senate passes controversial voting bill in latest GOP initiative to curb franchise”

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A Mob Is Coming for Your Voting Rights https://www.juancole.com/2021/03/coming-voting-rights.html Mon, 22 Mar 2021 04:01:21 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=196782

It’s not a crowd of rioters, like on January 6 — it’s a group of legalistic autocrats like Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell.

( Otherwords.org ) – In February, Texas Senator Ted Cruz ran off to a luxury resort in sunny Cancún, Mexico during the deep freeze that devastated millions of his constituents.

But I wasn’t mad that Ted fled. What upset me was that the government let him back into our country.

Cruz is, after all, the self-aggrandizing ego that arrogantly and illegally tried to cancel the ballots of millions of voters in last year’s presidential election. Then he helped dupe a crowd of Trumpeteers into storming our nation’s Capitol in a violent and silly attempt to seize control of our government by force.

Now the wannabe autocrat is demanding that the Supreme Court suppress the people’s democratic will.

He’s teamed up with the sour old corporate plutocrat, Mitch McConnell, to back a ploy by Arizona Republicans to disenfranchise Latino, Indigenous, and Black voters.

Cruz and McConnell are demanding that the Court’s partisan Republican justices gut America’s landmark Voting Rights Act, which prohibits states from altering election rules to give minority voters less opportunity to participate in the political process than Anglos.

Arizona’s Republican lawmakers had passed a nasty provision declaring that any ballot cast in the wrong precinct, no matter how valid, must be tossed in the trash, rather than merely allocating it to the voter’s correct precinct. This almost entirely affects people of color, with whom GOP election officials play nefarious games — frequently moving their voting places, often at the last minute with little notice.

Instead of pushing their party to try winning these peoples’ votes, Ted and Mitch simply want to eliminate them. They’ve asked the Court to nullify the bothersome Voting Rights Act so their party can freely lock out minority voters.

The greatest threat to our democracy is not a violent mob, but a legalistic coup by thugs like Ted Cruz.

Via Otherwords.org

Featured Photo:

NC Rally to Protect Our Votes with Team Democracy (2020 Nov)
Date 7 November 2020, 15:07
Source NC Rally to Protect Our Votes with Team Democracy (2020 Nov)
Author Anthony Crider, Flickr

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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The Other Capitol Mob: How the Billionaires funded the Insurrection https://www.juancole.com/2021/01/capitol-billionaires-insurrection.html Sun, 24 Jan 2021 05:02:29 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=195731 Much to the embarrassment of major corporations, their political donations were traced to the mayhem of January 6.

( Otherwords.org ) – You can’t poke into any issue in Congress without stumbling over sacks full of corporate campaign donations. The recent eruption of pro-Trump mob violence inside the U.S. Capitol exposed boodles of that special interest cash to public view.

Much to the embarrassment of major Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech giants, and CEOs of brand-name corporations, hundreds of thousands of their political dollars were traced to the mayhem in our Capitol.

Specifically, their money was going into the coffers of 147 Republican lawmakers who backed the fraudulent Trumpster attempt to overthrow last fall’s presidential election.

Acknowledging the damage these revelations did to their public image, the corporate interests responded forcefully. How? They issued press releases condemning violence. Wow… that’ll make things better!

Okay, in fairness, quite a few firms added a bit of bite to their bark by suggesting that maybe they wouldn’t be so cavalier about tossing out political contributions in the future.

Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs announced they would “pause” donations to all candidates. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Marriott, and Dow said they were “suspending” donations to the 147 congress critters who voted to reject the people’s choice. Delta, Fed Ex, and Walmart declared they were “monitoring” the situation.

Notice the profusion of wiggle words in these professions of corporate principle.

The executives are really not biting the system, but merely gumming it for a while. Then, once public attention has drifted, the corporate-congressional complex will be back to business as usual.

After all, while they deplore Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, and overall immorality, they gleefully took it all to the bank, rationalizing, legitimizing — and profiting from — his corrupt presidency.

It’s not armed rioters from outside the system who are the main threat to our democracy, but the insiders who keep manipulating the system to take more money and power at our expense.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Thomas Hartmann: “Did Big Oil Fund Trump’s Insurrection? (w/ John Noël)”

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Fearing Rout, Republicans unleash their Inner Racist https://www.juancole.com/2020/10/fearing-republicans-unleash.html Sun, 18 Oct 2020 04:02:38 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=193903

Endangered GOP incumbents are launching increasingly racialized attacks against their challengers.

( Otherwords.org ) – If you’re a rich Republican who’s done nothing in the House of Representatives for so long that you’re essentially seen as a piece of furniture, what do you do when faced with a popular, well-organized, grassroots opponent who’s about to overtake you?

Apparently, you unleash your inner racist.

Across the country, endangered Republican incumbents are resorting to a shameful, Jim Crow-era political tactic in a panicky effort to deflect attention from their own records: assailing their challengers as zealots who will let Black, Latino, and other “criminal elements” rampage through white neighborhoods.

Take longtime Texas congressman Michael McCaul. Used to strolling to victory, McCaul has found himself in a dead heat with Democrat Mike Siegel, a former schoolteacher with a progressive-populist program of Medicare for All and worker and environmental protections. Siegel has forged a surging and enthusiastic movement for change.

So here comes McCaul with a last-minute, down and dirty, million-dollar TV blitz, howling that Siegel is a crazed criminal justice radical who’ll shut down the police and empty prisons. McCaul himself doesn’t appear in this ludicrous dog-whistle piece of racist fabrication. Instead, he’s put Joe Trimm, a white Republican constable (wearing his official uniform), on camera to do the dirty work.

The partisan constable cartoonishly tries to gin up voter fear: “Take it from me,” he dramatically intones, “Mike Siegel is a threat to your family.”

Problem is, Trimm is a notorious right-wing race baiter who justifies police violence against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, calling them “thugs.” But he’s just the dummy — McCaul is the ventriloquist mouthing fear and hate to save his political hide.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

CBS 60 Minutes: “Rick Wilson on racism in the Republican Party”

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Beware Corporate COVID Propaganda https://www.juancole.com/2020/09/beware-corporate-propaganda.html Mon, 21 Sep 2020 04:01:46 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=193380 ( Otherwords.org ) – CEOs say they’re cutting their own pay in solidarity with laid off or hurting workers — only, not really. By | September 16, 2020

COVID-19 has been a doubly-deadly disaster for millions of Americans, destroying both life and livelihoods. But one of the most heartening responses to the crisis has come from the least-expected place: corporate executive suites.

This spring, numerous CEOs made headlines by showing some class solidarity. If we’re having to wallop our workers because of a pandemic, these bosses told media interviewers, the least we can do is cut our own salaries.

Yes — all in this together! Only… not really.

An analytical firm looked at the books of nearly all major U.S. corporations, finding that a mere fraction had made any cuts to senior executive pay. The few that did only made little nicks in the boss’s take-home, rather than real cuts.

The trick is that the “sacrifices” only applied to official salaries. They are the tiniest part of a chief executive’s compensation, which mostly is made up of bonuses, stock options, etc.

For example, United Airlines, which is presently zeroing out the paychecks of 36,000 workers, docked its CEO’s salary by nearly a third — which sounds like a real gesture, but that works out to less than three percent of the $22 million he’s getting in total pay.

So middle-income workers get the boot, while the boss still has his job, gets more than $21 million in annual pay, and claims bragging rights for being an “ethical” corporate chieftain.

The ethical crime here is not merely in the cynical fudging of numbers, but that even in this unprecedented time of national crisis, the elites who’ve converted capitalism into a system of plutocratic plunder still feel entitled to cheat.

If a nation’s economic system doesn’t care about shared sacrifice in hard times and shared prosperity in good times, why should the majority who pay the price and are denied the gains care about that economic system?

Via Otherwords.org

Featured illustration: Shutterstock.

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There’s nothing left of the Republican Party but Trump’s Maniacal Cackle https://www.juancole.com/2020/09/nothing-republican-maniacal.html Thu, 03 Sep 2020 04:03:48 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=192949 ( Otherwords.org ) – The Republican platform — and the Republican Party itself — has been reduced to one word: Trump. By | September 2, 2020

With our national election looming, someone should put up “lost dog” signs in every neighborhood saying, “Missing: Republican Party Platform.”

Voters won’t find one though, for this so-called major political party has decided not to produce a specific statement of what it stands for this year, nor will it offer to voters an itemized set of policies its public officials would try to enact if elected.

Indeed, the GOP hierarchy is so disdainful of the electorate that it says the party will not present a platform until 2024 — four years after the election!

They even imposed their policy silence on their own grassroots delegates, decreeing that any attempt by them to adopt new platform proposals at the Republican National Convention would “be ruled out of order.”

Instead of a political party, the GOP of 2020 has become a pathetic puppet show of weakling officials and sycophantic subordinates being jerked around by the maniacal whims of a bloated ego with despotic fantasies. The once respectable Republican National Committee has meekly ceded its authority, duty, respect, and relevance to a single unhinged authoritarian.

In essence, they’re saying that the platform — and the party itself — is one word: Trump.

Whatever poppycock the Glorious Leader utters today, whomever he attacks tomorrow, whichever fantastical conspiracy he embraces next week, the GOP will applaud, bow, and in unison reply “Amen.” Sad.

Republican senators, governors, captains of industry, elders, and others who once had power, prominence, some prestige, and maybe even a little pride now meekly wear Trump’s collar and kowtow to his conceits, leaving an entire party with a sole operating principle: “What he said” — even when they can’t figure out what he’s actually saying, or why, or what it means for the U.S. and its people.

That’s not a party, it’s a national embarrassment.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

PBS NewsHour: “Trump’s path to the presidency — and the remaking of the Republican Party”

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The Virus That’s Really Killing Americans? Greed and Corporate Profiteering https://www.juancole.com/2020/07/americans-corporate-profiteering.html Thu, 30 Jul 2020 04:02:54 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=192283 ( Otherwords.org ) – Health care giants are taking COVID-19 relief money while cutting jobs and paying CEOs millions. By | July 29, 2020

The holy mantra of health professionals was coined about 2,500 years ago by the Greek physician Hippocrates: “Do no harm.”

Of course, that was before corporate healthcare took charge and asserted a new guiding ethic: “Jack up profits.”

Putting this in practice, America’s largest and richest hospital chains rushed to the front of the COVID-19 bailout line this spring to pull $15 billion from the government’s emergency fund. They pocketed the taxpayers’ money despite sitting on tens of billions of dollars of their own cash reserves.

But hold your nose, for it gets much stinkier.

The bailout was intended to keep hospital workers on the job. Yet the wealthiest chains have hit nurses, janitors, and other crucial frontline staffers with layoffs, pay cuts, and deadly shortages of protective gear.

For example, HCA, the $36-billion a-year health care behemoth that’s wallowing in profits, snatched a billion-dollar taxpayer bailout for itself, then demanded hospital staffers accept wage freezes and the elimination of company pension payments… or have thousands of jobs eliminated.

However, in a public show of compassion, HCA’s chief executive Samuel Hazen donated two months of his $1.4 million salary to an employee support fund. Magnanimous? Deceptive is more like it.

The trick is that a CEO’s “salary” is a miniscule part of total pay. Hazen’s annual bonus, stock payouts, and other compensation will raise his actual pay to almost $27 million.

So his donation is less than 1 percent of his pay, and he almost certainly will write that off his income taxes. That means we taxpayers — including the nurses and others he’s knocking down — not only underwrite his fat take-home pay, but we also subsidize his face-saving philanthropic gimmick.

What we have here is a raging virus of executive suite greed doing deeper damage to our society than COVID-19 ever could.

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

Thom Hartmann: “Pandemic Profiteers: Making a Killing From COVID! (w/ Richard Wolff)”

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Congress’ Relief Package was for Small Business, but pro-Trump Millionaires Grabbed up the Lion’s Share https://www.juancole.com/2020/05/congress-business-millionaires.html Fri, 22 May 2020 04:02:33 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=191043 ( Otherwords.org ) – Thanks to a specially carved loophole, one multi-millionaire claimed 339 times more than the average small business received. By | May 20, 2020

Monty Bennett was just another faceless right-wing millionaire on the long list of high-dollar donors to Donald Trump — until he suddenly surfaced in April as the nation’s biggest bagger of government cash in the emergency Paycheck Protection Program.

Bennett got $76 million from this fund meant to help small businesses keep people employed in today’s pandemic shutdown of the economy. But there’s nothing mom-and-popish about Monty’s business.

Operating through a maze of tightly interwoven financial trusts and corporate subsidiaries, Bennett runs a sprawling, Dallas-based conglomerate named Ashford Inc. that owns and operates 130 hotels and luxury resorts all across the country, including the Marriott Beverly Hills and the Ritz-Carlton in the Virgin Islands.

How does a multibillion-dollar empire get such payments while legitimate small businesses are shut out? The old-fashioned way: By paying lobbyists and lawmakers to rig the rules to let corporate thieves raid the treasury.

A major donor to Trump and GOP congress critters, Bennett pressured them to punch a special interest loophole in the program, decreeing that while a big business cannot apply for payments, each “unit” of a big business can.

So… gotcha!

In early April, before most of America’s Main Street enterprises even knew relief was available, Ashford’s squad of manipulators were running all-night sessions for each of the hotels it owns, getting them to rush out “individual” applications. This twisting of the PPP fund made the slick hotelier King of Bailout Hill, having scooped up 339 times more than the average applicant received.

In addition to stiffing small businesses, Bennett balked at the requirement that the bulk of taxpayer dollars be used to maintain the paychecks of Ashford’s hotel employees. Instead, he loudly insisted that government aid should be available to bolster corporate owners — i.e., him.

Did you know that “boss,” spelled backwards, is double-S.O.B?

Via Otherwords.org

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Bonus Video added by Informed Comment:

Republican Donor Benefits From Funds Meant For Small Business | NowThis

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