Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale

This is REALLY good!

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Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don’t want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren’t so sure. This land bears a startling resemblance to our land. For more info, www.cft.org.

WILL “Job Creators” Really Not Hire If They Have To Pay Taxes?

House Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority leader each claimed this week that higher taxes on the wealthy will cause the “job creators” to cut jobs and “hurt growth.” The Heritage Foundation makes specific claims about how this will happen. Let’s take a look.

The Heritage Claim

The Heritage Foundation purchased a Twitter promotion that shows up if you look for the hashtag #my2k, which President Obama has asked people to use when tweeting about the $2,000 he claims the average middle-class person will pay in additional taxes if the portion of the Bush tax cuts that was for people below $250K expire. (Note – almost all of that will be paid by people approaching that $250K top end. Regular middle-class people won’t pay anywhere near $2k in additional taxes.)
Heritage’s Twitter promotion sends people to a Heritage post, 4 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Wrong on Tax Hikes. Heritage trots out the old “job creators” myth, saying wealthy people are the people who “create jobs” with their money, and won’t hire people if they have to pay taxes. Here is one of Heritage’s 4 claims:

According to Treasury figures, 1.2 million Americans who employ people are paying their taxes through the individual income tax, and they would be hit head-on. The amount that their taxes would go up could be roughly equivalent to one employee’s salary, meaning that’s one person they can’t hire in the new year.

I heard about Heritage’s claims from several major sources including Marketplace and the Newshour (repeated to their audiences without examining whether it made sense.) So I think it is worth examining.

Let’s Dig Into This Claim

Let’s take a closer look at this claim that the average “small businessperson” will not hire one person because of the additional tax.
Let’s say the potential employee’s salary is $25,000. If the Bush tax cuts expire the top rate goes up by 4.6% on income above $250K (after all deductions.) $25,000 is 4.6% of about $544,000. So the Heritage claim is that a businessperson who has an income from their business — after all personal deductions — of about $794,000 ($250,000 plus the 544,000 on which the additional tax would apply) “can’t” hire a needed person.
(If the potential employee would have made more, this employer’s taxable income rises if the tax means the employer won’t hire someone. If the employee that can’t be hired makes $30,000 the employer has to have an income of $902,000 to pay that much additional tax.)

The Problems With The Claim

This claim relies on the reader not understanding how these taxes are calculated, why business hire and fire and how businesses make profits. Heritage bases the claim on the idea that a business-owner cold not hire someone they needed to make them around $800-900,000 after all deductions.
Businesses want to keep costs down and that means they don’t hire people unless they really, really need to. They hire people when doing so will make them more money, they lay people off when it will save them money. Employees are only hired or kept on the payroll if they are needed, and not hiring one necessary person would therefore hurt the business that was successful enough for the owner to make at least $794,000 after all deductions.
So assuming the business owner knew what he or she was doing, and only had the number of employees that were needed, the following year the business would do worse without that needed employee, and the owner would make less. Would an employer really do this? Of course not.
Let me ask another question. How come every time I closely examine a conservative economic claim it falls apart, and was really about fooling people into giving more money to rich people, not making things better for all of us?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Update – I bought Nexus 7, Cant Recommend Highly Enough, Apple Is Over

The other day I wrote about almost buying an iPad Mini but the price and lack of GPS stopped me. I Came THIS Close To Buying iPad Mini!,

I went looking around today. I went to Stanford Mall, where there are Sony, Microsoft and Apple stores. I almost bought an iPad mini, but Apple talked me out of it.
… It costs too much, but I would have bought one one the spot anyway. But then I found out it doesn’t have a GPS in it. To get one with a GPS you have to pay another $130 to get the cell-enabled device. …
Apple. This is the company that charges $30 for a 5-cent cord. So, no sale. Android devices have GPS, and I have a wireless hotspot on my phone so I do not need a pad with cell service in it.

So I finally bought the Nexus 7 and I just couldn’t be more impressed, especially with the new Android 4.2 OS upgrade. You can customize the OS to work the way you work, etc…
Between this and Windows 8 I feel like Apple is over, they have been leapfrogged. I’ll probably get a Windows or Andriod phone next, too.
The hardware is good but their pricing ruins it. I mean, we’re looking to replace a 15″ Macbook Pro and I go to the Apple store and it starts at $1800 but that’s with a slow 5200 RPM drive, and the lowest-available upgrade — $10 to $20 when ordering PCs — is $150. 512GB solid state is another $1,000, when PCs come with hybrid drives now and you can just buy a 512SSD for less than half that. Antiglare screen is another $100, etc. etc.
The “Retina Display” model runs from $2200 to $2800 before you add anything. ($3750 with more ram and a big flash drive. I don’t think you can pay that much for any PC laptop anywhere.)

Tell Congress We Want Jobs Not Cuts

I haven’t done this before, but I think today’s email from CAF is so spot on that I am going to reprint it here:
—–
The statisticians were right about the election. The scientists were right about the weather. And the economists are right about … the economy.
350 economists have signed a letter warning Congress, warning “too many in Washington are fixated on cutting public spending to balance the budget, not on how to put people back to work and get our economy going. We need jobs first. With recovery, deficit reduction will come of its own accord thanks to increased revenues in an improving economy.”
Tell your member of Congress to listen to the 350 economists who say it is time to focus on jobs, not austerity.
Yet Washington seems to be listening more to a much smaller group of CEOs fronting the “Fix The Debt” campaign who want to target Social Security and Medicare for painful cuts, yet have to audacity to demand lower tax rates for themselves.
We’re partnering with our friends over at Daily Kos to spread the word about the powerful statement from 350 economists that can wake up Washington.
Join Campaign for America’s Future and Daily Kos by telling your member of the House of Representatives to listen to the 350 economists who say it is time to focus on jobs, not austerity.
It is imperative that any budget deal recognizes that the path to fiscal stability is found through public investment into jobs and growth, and does not take this slowly recovering economy into relapse and recession.
That will only happen if Congress listens to the economists and not the CEOs. The folks who understand math, not the corporate ideologues willing to send our economy back into recession.
Help us make sure the economists are heard, and we make budget decisions based on real math that works for us, not the fuzzy math that only works for the CEOs.
 
Sincerely,

Roger Hickey
Co-director, Campaign for America’s Future


Hey check out what happens when you click these:

Saying “Fiscal Cliff” Is Taking Sides

The term “fiscal cliff” is a one-sided propaganda phrase that misinforms and triggers public fear and anxiety. The fiscal cliff is not a “cliff” and the country isn’t going to fall off anything at the end of the year. Journalists: don’t help the misinformers — don’t say or write “fiscal cliff.” Congress: when people are scared and misinformed our Congress should pause, step back and help inform us instead of rushing to take advantage of the fear.

What The Fiscal Cliff Is

At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire and several budget cuts start to phase in (including military spending cuts.) This reduces the deficit, and some of those cuts will slow the economy if nothing is done to restore them in the next several months. That is the “fiscal cliff” that you are hearing so much about. Except it isn’t a cliff, it kicks in gradually, Congress has a lot of time to work it out and can fix anything that is a problem.
That’s right, if nothing is done in the next several months — there is no “cliff” at the end of the year — some of those cuts will slow the economy. All the screaming and hysteria are about putting pressure on the “lame duck” Congress to do something in a big hurry, outside of the accountability of democracy and before the President and progressives have more leverage.

What The Fiscal Cliff Is NOT

Most people I talked to over Thanksgiving apparently think the “fiscal cliff” is the government runs out of money on December 31 because the deficit is so big and all kinds of terrible things happen on January 1. This is sort of the opposite of what is going on. Even the few who didn’t think it was about the country running out of money were misinformed in one way or another, with most thinking something terrible happens January 1.
The “fiscal cliff” is about taxes going up and budget cuts, which reduce the deficit. And absolutely nothing in anyone’s life will change on January 1, or for some time (weeks, months) after.
That’s right, all the people who were hysterically screaming about the deficit are hysterically screaming now because of deficit cuts. Go figure. But the reason is that they have an agenda.

Journalists Should Not Help Misinform And Scare People

The very term “fiscal cliff” misinforms and scares people. Some media outlets, like FOX News, exist to misinform and scare people. But responsible media outlets should try to help the public understand complicated issues, not help scare and misinform.
Any journalist using the propaganda phrase “fiscal cliff” is taking the side of misinforming and scaring.

Settle Down, Beavis

Everyone should settle down. There is no “cliff.” No one is going to fall off of anything. And after the first of the year the President and progressives have much more leverage in this fight than they do now — hence all the pressure to act before then.
When people are this misinformed and scared the Congress owes it to the public to stop, take a break, work to inform the public and not act in a panic. Journalists, especially, owe it to the public to inform, not misinform and scare.
Update – I wrote this and went to bed. I wake up, and there is a perfect example in the Monday NY Times titled, Debt Reckoning, The Fiscal Deadline In Washington. The write-up in the morning NYTimes email is “The New York Times is beginning a new online feature that will chronicle the talks on the fiscal cliff between President Obama and Congressional leaders.”
The clear message of this headline and summary is that the country is in crisis because of debt. The public cannot help but get the impression that the country goes broke in a few weeks. As I explained above (and as Paul Krugman explains today’s in Fighting Fiscal Phantoms) this is really the opposite of what is happening.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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I’m On Virtually Speaking with Richard Eskow at 9ET, 6PT

Virtually Speaking Sundays: Nov 18 at 6pm pacific / 9pm eastern
Listen live or later: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2012/11/19/rj-eskow-dave-johnson-virtually-speaking-sundays
RJ Eskow and Dave Johnson consider fiscal cliff scare talk, shock doctrine scripting, social security and medicare.
Richard Eskow: Consultant/writer at Campaign for America’s Future (econ, social policy, health finance, tech); occasional musician Follow @RJEskow
Dave Johnson: Writer, Seeing the Forest, Campaign for America’s Future ((economy, Labor, Social Security) Follow @DCJohnson
Call in: (646) 200-3440
Links:

http://www.ourfuture.org/

http://wageclasswar.org/

Help Change The Economy — Join Walmart Workers Striking On Black Friday

You can help change the economy! Big companies use their size and the fear of losing our jobs to force us to accept no raises or even lower pay and benefits. They can use their size to force communities, states and even the federal government to lower their taxes. You can help change the economy by standing with Walmart workers next week. They have the money but we have the people.
Continue reading

Benghazi

m4s0n501

I’ve been trying to figure out what the Republicans are going on about with Benghazi. They have themselves all in one of their frenzies. But no one can figure out why.
It started out with Romney saying Obama “sympathized with the attackers.” But now they’re going on about how there is a cover-up that is worse than Watergate. (But they always say that…)
So like most of us, I haven’t been able to figure out just what was supposed to have been covered up. But now I think I get it.
Here is what I think is going on: They are trying to say Obama covered up that there was an attack because the election was coming. They believe that all news of attacks helps Republicans and hurts Democrats! So they think if the pubic had known there had been an attack (which everyone of course did know) then they all would have decided to vote for Republicans. And that’s why they say Obama “covered up” that there had been an attack.
That’s why Romney did that weird thing in the debate about how Obama never said there had been an attack, and it turned out he had said it immediately.
Remember, when Bush was President, how they would make it seem like there was a terrorist around every corner? Two dark-skinned guys on a boat with a camera and the whole right-wing media machine would go nuts about “terrorists planning an attack.” They would make up stories about terrorist attacks at convenient times, and raise the alert level from red to dark-red, etc. Remember how they would use terrorism to silence everyone, and get more votes?
Republicans believe that news of an attack helps them, and hurts Democrats. That is what you have to understand, to understand this whole Benghazi thing. When you try to understand just what Obama is supposed to have covered up, that’s it.
They are screaming because Obama didn’t go all “noun verb 9/11.” They believe they own that.
Of course, everyone knew there had been an attack. But never mind that.

Sherrod Brown Reelected Voicing Middle-Class Populism And Class-War Campaigning

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown won reelection by “waging class warfare” using middle-class populism. Here is how.
Today the Campaign for America’s Future launches a new website – WageClassWar.org – to detail the new terrain of American politics. The site tells the story of key races, and compiles copies of ads, speech and debate excerpts, new stories that highlight critical moments.

Brown’s Fight

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, faced a tough battle for reelection. Huge amounts of Wall Street, multinational corporate, billionaire and undisclosed money (China?) — at least $35 million — poured in. Brown beat Ohio’s State Treasurer Josh Mandel and was reelected by more than 5% using a strong middle class populist argument. He called for curbing the excesses of Wall Street, and ending taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that send American jobs overseas. And Brown especially, especially championed American manufacturing over the interests of Wall Street and the giant multinational corporations.
Brown stood up for the class interests of Ohio’s blue-collar voters and won reelection. He took the side of the many against the side of the big-money few.
Earlier this year Brown was considered vulnerable because he had voted for the stimulus and Obamacare. But Brown supported the “auto bailout” and was a strong proponent of manufacturing, and of taking on China, especially over currency manipulation. Josh Mandel, Brown’s opponent, opposed the auto bailout.
On jobs, Brown stressed investing in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, developing a coherent national manufacturing strategy, and taking on China for manipulating its currency and other trade violations. Mandel stressed the Republican basics: tax cuts and cutting regulations — especially those limiting mercury and other air-pollution standards that affect coal-burning utilities. Also said we should “eliminate government bailouts of industries.”

“A Proud Labor-Populist”

Brown campaigned as, in EJ Dionne’s words, “A proud labor-populist,” (Note that the $20 million figure is from early October.)

A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him topped $20 million this week.
… Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.

In an Oct 24 email to supporters, Brown wrote about himself,

“I’m fighting to end “too big to fail” and put the reins on Wall Street banks. I want to end taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that ship American jobs overseas. I want to put an end to the torrent of special interest spending in our election process unleashed by Citizens United.
They’ve spent more than $21 million on attacks against me.”

Mandate

By campaigning with a middle-class populist class-warfare argument Brown has won a mandate to act in the interests of working people. And this is exactly what Brown is doing:
Fiscal Cliff, Taxes & Social Security: WFIN, Sherrod Brown Talks About Pressing Issues In Washington

Brown, siding with president Obama on tax increases for those making over $250,000 a year, should not be negotiable, nor should Social Security. Despite the market sell-off Brown said that the Dow is up nearly 100 percent since Obama took first took office.

Campaign Finance: Coshocton Tribune: Sherrod Brown calls for tougher finance rules,

It should come as no surprise that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s first post-election legislative push would be on campaign finance reform. After all, Brown won a second term in the U.S. Senate this past week despite a barrage of outside spending — about $40 million from conservative groups gunning for his ouster. …
He called for three steps:
• Passage of legislation called the Disclose Act, which would require independent groups to disclose the names of their high-dollar donors.
• Adoption of a measure giving shareholders the right to vote on a company’s political expenditures.
• An investigation by the IRS into whether some nonprofit groups are abusing their tax-exempt status by engaging in overt political activity.

Arguing For Working People And The Middle Class Works

Here is the point. The public understands that there is a war going on between the top few and the rest of us. The top few benefit from keeping unemployment high and wages low. They benefit from keeping We, the People from investing in a modern infrastructure and good schools & universities and good courts and the rest of the public structures that democracy builds, because it means they would have to pay taxes and follow the rules that benefit We, the People.
The top few can cough up a lot of money to run ads that tell people they shouldn’t support their own interests. And this can go a long way, so a lot of politicians go down the road of saying what the billionaires want to hear, and getting their campaigns funded, and getting themselves lucrative jobs after they leave office.
But when votes are on the line, when votes are the deciding factor, and when people understand where their interests really are — then a candidate needs to be on the side of We, the People.
If you are running for office take note: the big money bought a lot of campaign ads, but standing up for We, the People won the election. The public is behind this, and it works. Sherrod Brown’s reelection shows that it works.
Visit the Wage Class War website and see how candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Trying To Warn People

Just sayin’ … you should listen to Dave.
2007: Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Coastal Real Estate Prices,

People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.
Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?

2010: Real Estate Near The Gulf,

I was already concerned with the effect of global warming on real estate prices when it suddenly sinks in that a lot of land is going to be underwater. Seriously, would YOU buy a house anywhere in a coastal area that has an altitude lower than maybe 30 feet? One of these days everyone is going to realize what that means – all at the same time.

Fiscal Cliff Scare Talk Follows Shock Doctrine Script

Anyone who has read The Shock Doctrine understands exactly what this “Fiscal Cliff” scare is.
If you have already read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein you have probably been rolling your eyes at all this “Fiscal Cliff” scare talk. “Here they go again” you’re thinking… If you haven’t read the book, you should. You really, really should.

The Phony “Fiscal Cliff” Scare

At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire. When this happens tax rates will rise modestly to where they were when Clinton was President. Also at the end of the year budget “sequestration” occurs. This means that the various cuts Congress approved to end the debt ceiling “crisis” will begin to phase in. (Remember, the debt-ceiling “crisis” was when Republicans refused to allow the country to honor its debts, holding the economy hostage, unless they got deep budget cuts in the things We the People do for each other.)
That’s it. That’s the “crisis.” All of the people who had been hysterical about the budget deficit “crisis” are now hysterical that taxes will go up and spending will go down. Go figure. Maybe — just maybe — I shouldn’t even say it — these “serious people” weren’t … serious … when they said they were worried about the deficit. You see, the hysteria now is because tax rates at the top will go up (cutting the deficit), and because a big part of those budget cuts (cutting the deficit) is military spending. Unfortunately the sequestration also cuts important things that help a lot of people and our economy. But these cuts do not take place all at once (a “cliff”), they will be phased in over time, and the Congress can act at any time to halt any of these cuts.
The “Fiscal Cliff” is not a cliff and the language itself is intended to scare people. The name itself is designed to create panic, evoking disaster imagery of people and the economy falling off a cliff. It is the latest manufactured “crisis” and we are all supposed to be terrified and demand immediate and extreme solutions.
Again, the very people screaming loudest about deficits are the people who passed tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase, and started war after war. Then these same “serious people” terrify the public, telling them that budget deficits will lead to the destruction of the country — and soon. After a decade of screaming “9/11,” “9/11,” noun verb “9/11,” they screamed “deficit, deficit, deficit.” Now they scream, “fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff.”
Then after the public is suitably stirred up and terrified they offer “solutions” they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).
And the fixing all has to happen right now, in the “lame duck” Congress, before those new legislators We, the People elected can take office.

The “Grand Bargain”

The “serious people” are pushing for a “grand bargain” that they say will “solve” the “deficit problem” “once and for all.”
Of course, nothing in any “grand bargain” can bind the Congress, and any part of this “grand bargain” can and will be undone by Congress at the earliest opportunity.
The outline of this “bargain” involves “tax reform” and “getting a handle on entitlements.” Tax “reform” does not involve raising tax rates on the wealthy, it “reforms” taxes by getting rid of various deductions and lowering tax rates. “Getting a handle on entitlements” means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and the rest of the things that We, the People do for each other — the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy.
(Note — Social Security by law can not and does not contribute to the deficit — they just threw it in because it is “in crisis.” The Social Security “crisis” is that under certain economic projections its funding might run a bit short many years down the road. Compare this possible future shortfall to the huge, vast, bloated, enormous military budget which, unlike Social Security, has no separate funding mechanism and runs 100% short every year. But that is not a “crisis.”)
So a fix for a budget problem caused by cutting taxes, massively increasing military spending and crashing the economy will be “solved” by … not fixing those things. Once again the income and wealth of the country will be shifted away from We, the People and upward to the same 1% who have been benefiting from everything in our economy since the election of Ronald Reagan and the disaster-capitalism formula: cut taxes, raise military spending, then use the resulting deficits to scare people into accepting extreme “solutions.” Rinse and repeat.

The Shock Doctrine

The Shock Doctrine is a book by Naomi Klein that describes a “disaster capitalism” strategy used by wealthy and powerful people to take advantage of crises — even causing crises — to herd people into accepting “solutions” to those crises that really just enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
In times of crisis (real or perceived) the public is in a state of shock, distracted and ready to grasp at straws to get out of the panic. This is the perfect time for “serious people” to come in and offer pre-planned “solutions.” These solutions usually involve privatizing public institutions and wealth, cutting public services, cutting taxes on the rich, seizing property, lowering wages and pensions … well, just look at Europe’s “austerity” and you get the picture.
This shock-doctrine disaster capitalism model has become standard practice. We see this happening over and over again: crises occur or are manufactured, the media whips people into a panic, and then the “solution” is introduced. The solution involves a “reform” that transfers wealth or institutions into a few private hands.

The Real Problem And Real Solution

We have a jobs problem, not a deficit problem. The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work. The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets. We can’t cut our way to growth. These are not just slogans, these are solutions to real problems.
We need to invest in our economy, restoring and modernizing our infrastructure, retrofitting our homes and buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading our public schools and universities, and fighting to create the manufacturing ecosystems for the new industries of the future,. All of these investments create jobs while they are underway, and pay off by improving our economy for the long term.
Inoculate yourself by reading The Shock Doctrine. Inoculate your friends by telling them about the book, and how this game works, over and over again.

“Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” — Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay, 2003


This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Spam Folder

I’ve been getting something like 2 or 3 spam emails per minute for some time now, which makes it impossible to check the Gmail spam folder to see if anything is in there by accident.
So … sorry if you sent me something and haven’t heard back. It might be buried in there.