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October 31, 2011

The Cain Accusations

I just posted this over at Smoking Politics (yes, it's back!) : The Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Accusation | Smoking Politics

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Why You Should Attend An Occupy Meeting

Please forward this to friends, relatives, "centrists" and conservatives you know. You may have heard about the "Occupy" protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren't what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.

A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.

This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the "muscles" of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You'll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You'll feel what it is like to be part of something important.

How To Find One Near You

The "Occupy" movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing 'Occupy' and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.

Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.

So now that you know where one is, come on down, and see for yourself. If you need a ride ask your niece or your aunt. If your aunt needs a ride, give her a ride.

What To Expect

Warning, there might be some people with beards, and God forbid, drum circles.

People are out there speaking for themselves, and learning how to be citizens again, instead of just consumers. This will have a lot of interesting outcomes, most of them good, some of them won't work out. But it will be people who want to be involved again.

Depending on your community, there will likely be a turnout of some people with signs and leaflets, maybe some people set up with tables to do things like register people to vote, organizations with literature, groups that know each other, people who don't know each other standing around, etc. There will be a diversity people people.

These events are self-organizing, no one is "running" these events, but volunteers will be helping to organize them. The character of the event completely depends on who shows up, who volunteers to help run it, and how much the people speak up. So it's up to you to do your part.

See the website How To Occupy and the Field Manual wiki.

Occupy events have a "General Assembly" meeting once or twice every day. In New York the meeting is at 7pm. At the recent Redwood City, CA Occupy event it was at about 6pm. As I said above, volunteers run things, which means that after you get to know the ropes you might want to volunteer.

From the Occupy Wall Street website:

The occupations around the world are being organized using a non-binding consensus based collective decision making tool known as a "people's assembly". To learn more about how to use this process to organize your local community to fight back against social injustice, please read this quick guide on group dynamics in people's assemblies.

These meetings are the heart of the movement. Please come attend one, even if it is just to watch. You'll feel what it is like to be say what is on your mind. (And you'll feel what it is like to sit there while so many other people say what is on their minds. ;-) Don't worry, it works, and people keep comments short.) This is what democracy looks like.

Occupy Redwood City

Friday I attended Occupy Redwood City (California), and took some pictures. It was the first Redwood City event, maybe 50 people showed up, and the General Assembly lasted a couple of hours. They'll meet again next Friday, and probably should expect a lot more people now that it is up and in operation and people are telling each other about it. If 50 people doesn't seem like a lot, this is not a huge city, and there are more than a hundred events like it going on, some with thousands of people turning out.

Scary, no? Especially the guy (me) with the little white dog. Was that a beard? Of, that first one is a short video, click here in case it doesn't work in this post.

Don't Let Them Scare You Away

Speaking of being scary: There will not be violence. This is a non-violent movement. The media outlets, talk show hosts, columnists, etc. that tell you there is violence are trying to keep you from showing up. They are trying to scare you. When they send large numbers of police to shoot tear gas into these events, it is an attempt to intimidate people, not just there but people who are thinking of showing up.

Another way they are trying to keep people from showing up is with humiliation. This is a remarkably effective technique. Make people ashamed to show up, tell them they will be laughed at, or shunned, and people will stay away. They tell you the "protesters" are "dirty," even "urine-soaked." They tell you they are "hippies" and thinkthis will make you ashamed to show up and speak your mind.

This is about what speech is "permissible" and what is not. The corporate-conservatives on the Supreme Court say that corporations are people who “speak” and can use all of their money to swamp our elections. But when people show up to complain about the 1% running everything, they are met with force. The big banks can crash the economy and commit crimes and are offered modest “settlements,” but when people show up to complain they are beaten, maced, tear-gassed and arrested.

Don’t let them make you feel scared or ashamed to stand up for your rights.

Show Up & See For Yourself

If you want democracy you have to fight for democracy. You have to stand up for your rights or they will go away. Please visit at least on Occupy event in your area, and see for yourself.

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 30, 2011

Another Dedicated To #ows

Absolute must hear this: The Haunted Windchimes, A Ballad Of Human Progress:


Ballad of Human Progress
(I. Lujan)

There's an old country road, leads to a river
An old wooden fence, surrounds all the sinners
Who stand by their graves
wonderin' what they done wrong
There's a train whistle blowing
Across a fiery dessert
In search for the New Land
There treacherous weather
Is headin' for the mountain
To preach a brand new way

And it's full of politicians, bankers and lawyers
A fast talking man, been armed to destroy us
And keep us from the truth
Consume, consume, consume.

Lies, lies
Don't believe them, don't believe them

and westward the head
Ravaging the villages
They burn all the dead
Their world is for the privileged
And you're not one of them
You're just a number

So they came up with races, boarders and fences
And job occupations, and classifications
Their aimed to conquer, divide, divide, divide

Lies, lies
Don't believe them, don't believe them

We're just one race, one color, one number
We're just one man, one father, one mother
We must unite, before they take our lives

..............................................

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 29, 2011

Dedicated To #OWS

Rolling Stones: Play With Fire

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:56 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 28, 2011

What Occupy and Tea Party have In Common

[PIC] What #OWS and #TeaParty Have In Common #TCOT #OccupyWallST #1U #Labor http://fb.me/1604XrtvC

It's this: http://i.imgur.com/hHtDY.jpg

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:31 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Austerity Didn't Work

Krugman, in The Path Not Taken - NYTimes.com

"Now, however, the results are in, and the picture isn’t pretty."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 27, 2011

Sabotaging The Economy

Sabotage: The Story Behind The Republican Party's "Top Political Priority"

"It's difficult to escape the conclusion that Republicans have made a political calculation that requires opposition to any policy that could improve the economy in the near term."

Duh!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Plutocratic Government Tries To Beat Down #Occupy

In Oakland peaceful #Occupy demonstrators were camping out in front of city hall. The city launched a police raid to clear out the camp, using tear gas, flash-bank grenades, rubber bullets and beating people with batons. An Iraq war vet was hit in the head by either a rubber bullet or tear gas canister and critically injured. These days this is the typical government response to non-Tea-Party "protesters." Let's look at how the Occupiers and protests would be treated if we were a functioning democracy -- a government of by and for We, the People -- instead of a dysfunctional plutocracy serving the biggest corporations and the billionaires behind them.

Citizens?

The first thing to understand about every single person involved in the #occupy movement is that they are citizens and human beings. Even the ones with beards. Alas, even the drummers. (What do you call a drummer who breaks up with his girlfriend? Homeless. What do you call a drummer with half a brain? Gifted.)

The people involved in the #occupy movement are upset that our country has abandoned democracy in favor of plutocracy. They are upset that every decision made in Washington is based on the wishes of the top 1%. They are upset that we do not have a reasonable health care system, no reasonable pension system, or child care system, or other benefits that people in democracies around the world receive. They are upset that most of the benefits of our economy instead go to a very few at the top. They are upset that a huge amount of our money goes to pay for a military machines that costs more than all other countries spend on military combined. They are upset that there is a "Super Committee" meeting in secret to decide how much money to take out of the economy to pay for the bailouts and other costs of the fiasco caused by Wall Street and the big banks.

So with their government ignoring their majority demands they have finally decided to voice their protests publicly. For doing this they have been met with smears, derision, and police attacks.

Police Ordered To Attack

Just as in countries like Syria, Egypt, Libya and Iran, the instinctive response of our plutocratic government and Wall Street-backed power structures has been to see those people who have shown up at these protests as somehow suspect, possibly even as an enemy, and to attack them. FOX News and the entire corporate/conservative media machine regularly attacks them. And the police are ordered to attack them.

This is not "protesters vs police." People who work in law enforcement are part of the 99%, just like us. They have families to feed, bills to pay, and have to do what they're told.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic Source: http://twitpic.com/6s2g4a

And this is what they were ordered to do, to people who were exercising their legitimate rights:


American citizens were treated as criminals and attacked just for speaking out about the injustice of Wall Street getting a huge bailout after they caused this mess, and now the rest of us are told to sacrifice to pay for it.

John Stewart on The Daily Show reacts to the Oakland attack:


If We Were A Democracy Instead Of A Plutocracy

The occupy movement clashes with federal, state and local governments the way they currently work. We really have an opportunity here to come back to an understanding of democracy and the role of government, and who government should serve. Currently government is really set up to serve the top few, and facilitate bigger businesses, and understands the people in their communities as consumers and corporate employees, and not as citizens.

So imagine how it cold be different, if we had a government designed to serve the people rather than keep them in their place. In a country with a true democratic culture the local governments would be serving these people and honoring their right to dissent and protest. They would instinctively be showing up at protests like this and offering to help with any sanitation problems, etc, setting up public toilets, and other services. They would even be offering tents. If there are security problems in the occupy camps a city would be posting police in the encampment to help the people there, with a clear mission to serve them. They certainly would not be seeing them as the enemy, and attacking them.

Imagine Real Democracy and its Implications

The #occupy movement opens up the space to imagine what the country could be if we really did have a democracy with a first instinct of serving the people, instead of serving only the wealthy and their big corporations.

Imagine a government of, by and for the people and the things that regular people want and need. Imagine everyone entitled to a free education through college? Imagine a transportation system that helps us all get around -- mass transit and high-speed rail systems instead of just roads and highways for those who can afford cars, with plutocratic pay lanes so those with more money can get around.

Imagine a people outraged at special passes through airport security for those with first-class tickets.

Imagine advertisers having to get people's permission before they are allowed to interrupt their attention. Imagine the things we would have if We, the People were in charge.

Imagine a modern, maintained infrastructure, good schools, and a guarantee of a job working on those for any9one who needed work.

Imagine a government that enforced laws even when the top few violated them, enforced job discrimination laws, enforced anti-trust laws... or a government that protected citizens from corporate fraud, fees, scams, etc.

Occupiers Are People Too

These occupiers are "the people' just as much as any other people in the community and government should exist to serve them just as much as any other group.

Alas, even the drummers.

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2011

Adjourn And Appoint! We Can’t Wait – For Recess Appointments

The Republicans are obstructing the government from operating. Judges, appointees, NLRB members, etc. are blocked with the purpose of keeping government from doing its job. This is taking a terrible toll on We, the People. The President has the power to do something about it, and it is time for him to use that power.

The NLRB Example

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB),

"Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy."

The law: The NLRB exists to protect employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining and to certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

But at the end of December the NLRB will again not have enough members for a quorum, and will be unable to make decisions. This is on purpose. Republicans have been blocking any appointments to NLRB in order to make this happen and prevent the Board from functioning. This will cause harm to the general the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.

A Look At One Case

Here is the kind of thing that’s going on because of this obstruction that is keeping the government from functioning. An example of the problems with the NLRB is the large backlog of cases, such as this one case that started in 2003. See this 2008 Variety story on the 2003 labor violation, NLRB rules against CNN, for background,

In a frequently scathing decision, a judge has ruled that CNN acted illegally and discriminatorily in terminating [in 2003] a subcontracting relationship with a firm that provided technical services in the cabler's New York and D.C. bureaus.

Arthur J. Amchan, an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board, ordered reinstatement with back pay for 110 dismissed workers. Amchan said the root of the trouble had been CNN's desire to avoid bargaining with a union.

CNN denied the charges and said it will appeal the ruling to the full NLRB.

How bad was CNN?

In his ruling, Amchan found that unit to be "a sham" used to limit the hiring of any TVS workers in order to avoid having to negotiate with the NABET-CWA. The cabler's ultimate motive was "to achieve a nonunion technical work force in its Washington, D.C., and New York bureaus," said the judge, adding that CNN's "widespread and egregious" actions constituted a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

From Broadcast Union News, NLRB vs CNN/Team Video Update,

He [the judge] ordered the immediate reinstatement of the 110 workers who were not rehired through CNN's scam hiring system, called for the restoration of the economic losses of all 250 workers and ordered CNN to recognize and bargain with NABET-CWA.

The judge declared that “CNN engaged in widespread and egregious misconduct, demonstrating a flagrant and general disregard” for workers' rights.

So CNN appeals to the full NLRB, and Republicans make sure there isn’t a full NLRB. (The rules are if one party objects to the decision it is suspended until the full NLRB can hear it. The strategy is every employer objects, and the Republicans keep the NLRB from being able to hear cases and make rulings.)

Now it is 2011, closing in on 2012. 110 workers terminated in 2003 to block a union, a judge ordered them back, Republicans block the NLRB from operating, and like hundreds of other cases, this case sits in purgatory...

The Value Of Recess Appointments

The NLRB is again about to be prevented by obstruction from doing its job, operating to protect America's employees and employers and to curtail certain private sector ... practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy. The President has the power to keep the NLRB and other agencies operating, by making recess appointments to fill positions when Republicans are obstructing.

But President Obama has been reluctant to use his Presidential power to make recess appointments. In 2010, after waiting 14 months, President Obama finally, finally, finally, finally, finally made just a few recess appointements to get the government operating,

Here is what is going on. President Obama is way behind in nominating people to vacant posts and judgeships. On top of this the Republicans have used the filibuster to block many of the candidates that Obama has nominated. In the case of the Labor Board there were only two people left serving on the 5-member Board when 3 are required to make rulings, and some 600 cases have backed up.

... Such use of legitimate power to make the government operate as it should is also known as "governing." Until today he has refused to use this power to get the government operating. Today he finally, finally, finally, finally put 15 people into positions where they can start getting their agencies operating.

Even that small gesture made a big difference to working Americans, which I wrote about in NLRB Success Shows Value Of Recess Appointments,

A government agency is blocked from functioning by obstructionist, party-over-country, Republican Senators. The President makes recess appointments to get government functioning again and the agency starts doing its job. The result: working people are protected. Today the NLRB issued modest new guidelines for union elections that will clear up many, many problems faced by employees.

... The Constitutional purpose of recess appointments is to keep government functioning. When vacancies are left unfilled it hurts all of us. But even though there are a large number of unfilled positions, many blocked by Senate Republicans, President Obama has made very few recess appointments. The result is a a public increasingly frustrated by the hobbled government.

President Bush made 171 recess appointments, Clinton 139. Bush used this power to appoint extremist ideologues, Clinton to get around Republican obstruction.

President Obama has been reluctant to govern make recess appointments because he does not want to upset the Republican opposition. He has made less than 40 such appointments so far.

The Constitutional Solution: Adjourn And Appoint

The NLRB, judges and other appointments are all being blocked by Republican filibusters. This is not politics, this is not bipartisanship, this is intentional obstruction to keep the government from operating. The Constitution foresaw this, and the President has a responsibility to apply the Constitution to do something about this. The Constitution gives the President the executive power. The President is supposed to do that job and use this power to get things done.

The Constitution is clear:

Article II Section 2: The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Article II Section 3: ...he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper;

If the House and Senate disagree on adjournment, the President can adjourn them. And when they are adjourned he can make recess appointments.

We can't wait. We have an extraordinary situation here, where one of the parties, as a political strategy, is obstructing for the purpose of preventing the government from operating. It is the duty of the President to keep the government operating.

Mr. President, the next time the Congress recesses without recessing, adjourn them and appoint the necessary NLRB members, judges, etc to get this government back in operation for We, the People.

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

People Distrust Government -- Conservative Mission Accomplished

The corporate/conservative plan for decades has been to turn people against government and democracy. Because when people stop accepting the idea of We, the People making decisions, guess who gets to make the decisions instead? Last month a retiring GOP staffer explained how it works, this month a new poll show how well it works.

Distrust

NY Times today: New Poll Finds a Deep Distrust of Government,

Not only do 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing, but 74 percent say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress — warnings for Democrats and Republicans alike.

... A remarkable sense of pessimism and skepticism was apparent in question after question in the survey, which found that Congressional approval has reached a new low at 9 percent.

The Gameplan

At the beginning of September a Republican Senate staffer retired, and wrote a widely-read "confession" that laid bare the conservative gameplan: turn people against government and democracy. In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren wrote,

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

Please read the whole piece. This Republican, writing from the inside, explains that they are doing it on purpose. They are making the government dysfunctional on purpose. They are making people hate government on purpose. They are working to turn people against democracy and put themselves and their corporate sponsors in power in its place.

#occupy Brings Signs Of Hope

There are signs of hope in the poll. Even with a dearth of media coverage (compare to the well-funded, billionaire-backed Tea Party!!!) the #occupywallstreet movement has changed the national conversation. From the NYTimes article,

Almost half of the public thinks the sentiment at the root of the Occupy movement generally reflects the views of most Americans.

With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.

[. . .] With the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, income inequality remains a palpable issue for Americans. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats, two-thirds of independents and just over one-third of all Republicans say that the distribution of wealth in the country should be more equitable, even as a majority of Republicans said they think it is fair.

There is hope. The public is not stupid, and can at least sense what is going on.


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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 25, 2011

Tax Holiday Generates Holiday Gifts For Big Multinationals

Have you heard about the "tax holiday" idea? The idea is to let corporations bring overseas profits back to the United States at a very low tax rate. These overseas profits were made in various ways, including schemes to move factories and jobs out of the country in order to avoid paying taxes here. With a "tax holiday" they would ... well ... get to bring that money back and pay even less in taxes, rewarding them for the offshoring and tax dodging. We did this in 2004 and it cost the country a lot of jobs but made the rich even richer. So of course they want to do it again.

This is a test of our Congress. Will they continue to do the bidding of the top 1% and reward offshoring and tax dodging, even as more and more people are in the streets demanding they instead start doing the bidding of the 99%.

What Is A Tax Holiday?

Companies that report profits outside of the US don't have to pay taxes on that money unless they bring it into the US. This encourages some companies to engage in various schemes that close factories and lay off workers here in order to report profits outside of the country. They use shell companies, foreign subsidiaries, post office boxes in tax havens as "headquarters," etc. Other companies make a lot of money by making great stuff and selling it or providing great services. This money builds up and naturally owners want to bring it back here so they can live it up even more than they do. They could just bring it back and pay taxes (some do) but some are asking Congress to give them a "repatriation tax holiday," letting them bring the money back ("repatriate" it) at a much, much lower tax rate than they would usually have to pay.

Of course, we are in a jobs emergency so they claim that giving even more money to those top 1% "job creators" is a good thing because it will "create jobs." If we were in a green cheese emergency they, of course, would call them selves the "green cheese creators" and say that giving them this huge holiday gift would "create green cheese."

They Tried It Before -- FAIL

In 2004 Congress passed a tax holiday bill named the "American Job Creation Act of 2004." The big multinationals promised that they wiould use the money to "create jobs." (Have we heard that somewhere before?)

The Institute for Policy Studies looked at the results of the 2004 tax holiday and found that "their holiday didn't just fail to create the promised jobs. Their holiday enriched corporations that actually destroyed jobs in the months right after they received their tax windfall." IPS found that 58 multinationals who used the "American Job Creation Act of 2004" tax holiday not only immediately laid off tens of thousands, they continued laying off, and laid off close to 600,000 workers between 2004 and now. From the IPS summary of the study,

One government study looking at the first two years after the repatriation windfall found that 12 of the top recipients laid off more than 67,000 American workers. These firms collectively brought back home more than $100 billion ...

The companies that gained the most from the tax holiday actually cut jobs, on top of that they used the tax gift money to buy back their own stock, increasing its value, and pay out dividends, both thereby enriching executives and shareholders.

Why Is This Even Being Discussed?

Why is such a bad idea even being discussed today, not to mention in a bill entertained by Congress? Well, why else? Nation of Change reprints iWatch's definitive tax-holiday post by Aaron Mehta and John Aloysius Farrell, Wealthy Corporations With a Trillion Dollars Stashed Offshore Lobby For a 'Holiday' From U.S. Taxes, and in it we find the (usual) answer,

A number of trade groups and corporations that would benefit have joined in a coalition called WIN America . New lobbying disclosure reports show that the group and its member firms have spent millions of dollars, and employed dozens of lobbyists, to press for the tax break, according to an analysis.

[. . .] WIN spent the first 9 months of this year actively lobbying for a repatriation bill in Congress. It spent $380,000 to hire two firms (Cauthen Forbes & Williams and Capitol Counsel LLC) and target lawmakers with a total of eight lobbyists. Among the lobbyists hired directly by WIN are several people with strong ties to Congress:

  • Jim McCrery, a former Congressman who represented Louisiana’s 4 th district until 2009.
  • Drew Goesl, who served as chief of staff for Rep. Mike Ross and communications director for Sen. Blanche Lincoln; Ross is a co-sponsor of the House bill.
  • Tucker Shumack, a former legislative assistant for Sen. John Isakson, a co-sponsor of the Senate bill.
  • Dena Battle, a former legislative director for Rep. Dave Camp, who as head of the powerful Ways and Means Committee has sway over tax policy in the U.S.
  • Jeff Forbes, a former staff director on the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Libby Greer, a former chief of staff for former Rep. Allen Boyd.
  • Millions of dollars lobbying... says it all.

    Where Are We Now?

    There is plenty of opposition being voiced. A strong New York Times editorial, No Holiday, make the case against this holiday gift,

    Big business has clearly decided that the economic crisis is too important to waste. While Washington debates how to create jobs and cut the budget deficit, major corporations — read major campaign contributors — are pushing Congress for an enormous tax cut on corporate profits. Lawmakers seem all too eager to grant their wish.

    [. . .] These days, corporations are flush with $2 trillion in cash that is not being used for hiring. As long as the economy is weak and consumers aren’t spending, tax cuts will add to the cash pile, not create jobs. A tax holiday also would add to the deficit, in part because companies rush to bring money home, rather than repatriating the earnings over time at the usual rate.

    At the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities blog, Chuck Marr writes in, Corporate Tax Holiday Would Be a Costly Mistake,

    A well-funded corporate lobbying campaign is pushing Congress to allow multinational corporations to bring profits held overseas back to the United States at a temporary, bargain-basement tax rate.

    ...Congress tried this in 2004 and it proved an embarrassing failure. Firms not only failed to use the “repatriated” funds to boost their U.S. investment and hiring, many of them actually laid off thousands of U.S. workers.

    Marr also writes that this tax holiday, following the 2004 holiday, would make tax holidays an expectation, and that,

    ... large revenue losses in later years would more than wipe out those gains as corporations shift more investments, profits, and jobs overseas in anticipation of yet another temporary holiday.

    Yes, anticipation of the next tax holiday. And the one after that.

    Even .. Heritage???

    In a shocker of shockers, Heritage Foundation agrees. (The check from the multinationals mush have gotten lost in the mail!) WSJ: Heritage: Repatriation Tax Holiday Wouldn’t Create Jobs,

    Giving U.S. companies a tax break for bringing home profits held overseas likely won’t create more jobs or spur domestic investment, an influential conservative think tank will argue in a report to be released Tuesday.

    In a break from many Republican lawmakers and a host of major U.S. companies including Google Inc., Apple Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Microsoft Corp., the Heritage Foundation said in a new study that a repatriation tax holiday would not motivate companies to hire new workers.

    Here are Jared Bernstein and Chuck Marr discussing whether Congress should give this holiday gift to the top 1% and their giant multinationals:


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 24, 2011

    E-Book Scam

    I got a Kindle because I read a lot, and the books were less expensive than books in a bookstore.

    Now that companies like Borders are gone, Kindle books are $13. Thar's more than 50% over the cost of a paperback.

    The Children of the Sky (Zones of Thought) [Kindle Edition]
    Vernor Vinge

    Amazon Price
    Kindle Edition $12.99
    Hardcover $15.22
    Mass Market Paperback $7.99

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:54 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 23, 2011

    I'm Back Up At Huffington Post

    Hey people the labor thing with Huffington Post has ended and I am back at Huffington with a Post: Dave Johnson: Is A Flat Tax Fair?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Is A Flat Tax Fair?

    Conservatives are always pushing for a "flat tax." It sounds so simple: One easy rate, so we all pay the same, easy to calculate... Get rid of deductions and lower the tax rates. So simple, but it turns out it is a simple trick, a scam to enrich the 1%, like so much else that conservatives are selling. Don't fall for it -- it means taxes will go up for the 99% of us who aren't really, really rich. See if you can guess what happens if you are in the top 1%. Or, just scroll down and see the chart.

    What We Have Now

    We have what's called a "progressive' tax system. This means as you make more you pay more taxes. The first "bracket" of $XX dollars you make is taxed at a low rate. The next $XX dollars are taxed at a higher rate, and so on. Many people think if you "go into a higher bracket" you pay more on all the money you make, but that is not how it works. If a bracket starts at $1 million, and you make $1 million plus $1 you only pay the higher rate on the $1 that is in that bracket. Yes, that means that a 5% increase on taxes over $1 million would mean that person pays a nickel. Yes, all that screaming by Republicans is over a nickel. Screaming is what they do best.

    The reason we have a progressive tax system is because we have a democracy. People who make more do so because of the investment in governent that We, the People make. We, the People pool our money collectively and use it to build the infrastructure that lets people make so much money. That's the roads, schools, police, courts, etc. -- they whole system -- that provides the foundation for our businesses to go out an compete in the world. And when our businesses do well, we ask them to pay back a dividend to the rest of us for enabling that to happen.

    No Deductions

    Conservatives always call for getting rid of deductions, because they are complicated. Get rid of deductions, they say, simplify the system, and you can lower tax rates. Here is the game they are playing. Suppose you have a small businesses, a grocery store. Suppose you buy $100,000 inventory and sell it for $130,000. If you get rid of deductions that means the small-grocery-owner pays taxes on $130,000 because that is the income of the store.

    If you say the business owner should be allowed to "deduct" the amount paid for inventory we're back to deciding which deductions to allow. So we are right back where we started, except now the conservatives have lowered tax rates (at the top) and their big corporate sponsors will be gaming the system to give themselves more and more and more deductions just like they already do.

    What Happens With A Flat Tax?

    Conservatives object to the idea of the rich paying back more. They say that taxes are theft -- government confiscating money that people have earned, ignoring that our democracy enabled them to earn it in the first place. They call taxation "redistribution" of wealth. Of course, as AlterNet's Joshua Holland points out, redistribution is the core job of government. He points out that when government collects taxes and builds a sidewalk that everyone can walk on -- or homeless people can sleep on -- that is redistribution. Courts, schools, police, ports, airports -- all of it is redistribution of wealth.

    So conservatives call for a "flat tax." Most notably Republican Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Herman are calling for various forms of this. Cain This means everyone pays the same tax rate as everyone else, regardless of income. Because this is about scrapping democracy's progressive tax system this necessarily means that the rich will pay a lot less. Guess who pays more to make up for that? A good example of this effect is the 9-9-9 tax plan.

    The 9-9-9 Plan

    The Tax Policy Center takes a look at Repubican candidate Herman Cain's "9-9-9" tax plan, in a post titled, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax Plan

    Herman Cain’s plan would eliminate the current individual income tax, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and estate and gift tax and substitute three taxes imposed at a 9 percent rate: 1) a 9 percent “national sales tax” 2) a 9 percent “business flat tax”, and 3) a 9 percent “individual flat tax.”

    They have a table here that shows how people's taxes would change under the 9-9-9 plan. Jared Bernstein made a chart illustrating these numbers in his post 9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph.

    So here you have it: the change in tax liabilities, compared to current tax policy, under 9-9-9, for different income groups, in one incredibly unsettling graph.

    In the following chart the blue lines that are above zero illustrate how much more most of us will pay. The red lines below zero show how much less the rich and really rich will pay. The blue lines -- representing taxes on most of us -- go up. The red lines -- representing taxes on the top few -- go ... well, see for yourself.

    Average-tax-change-from-9-9-9-plan-10-18-2011-OPT.jpg

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 22, 2011

    Citibank Knew Where Toxic Assets Were Because They Put Them There

    The financial system collapsed because it was full of "toxic assets." That collapse took millions of jobs, homes, businesses, retirements down with it. Years later we are nowhere near recovering.

    But even when markets are collapsing there is a lot of money that can be made. You can place bets against assets that are overvalued, and when their price drops those bets pay off. If they drop a lot, the bets pay off really big. (Oh - and when they do pay off the billionaires get special, lower tax rates.)

    And if you know where the toxic assets are, in advance, you can make a ton of money. And you can know that if you put them there, on purpose, in order for them to collapse, so you can make a killing when they do collapse.

    Here is a story in ProPublica about an SEC settlement with CitiBank for creating toxic assets on purpose in order to make bets that they would fail, Did Citi Get a Sweet Deal? Bank Claims SEC Settlement on One CDO Clears It on All Others,

    In the run-up to the global financial collapse, Citigroup’s bankers worked feverishly to create complex securities. In just one year, 2007, Citi marketed more than $20 billion worth of deals backed by home mortgages to investors around the world, most of which failed spectacularly. Subsequent lawsuits and investigations turned up evidence that the bank knew that some of the products were low quality and, in some instances, had even bet they would fail.

    In this case Citibank made a lot of money from these bets because they knew where the toxic assets were, because they put them there, on purpose, in order to bet against them. CitiBank created these CDO toxic assets in a way that was designed to fail, and sold them to customers as solid investments, and then made bets that these assets were worthless. When the designed-to-fail assets failed, CitiBank made money, the customers were wiped out.

    As I pointed out in the previous post, the corrupt SEC is "settling" a case with corrupt Citibank, and the corrupt Justice Department isn't doing anything about it. Everyone knows that the people in the SEC who are doing the settling will get lucrative jobs on Wall Street in a year or two. That is the quid pro quo. Everyone knows this.

    This sort of thing was widespread - and probably still is. Wall Street firms created toxic assets on purpose in order to make money betting against them as they imploded on the customers. Goldman Sachs, for example, also did this. In one case they worked with - and were paid millions by - a big hedge fund to create toxic CDOs that were sold to customers, while the hedge fund made bets that the CDOs would fail. When the CDOs failed as planned the hedge fund made billions, the customers lost. The SEC settled with Goldman - no one was prosecuted.

    And , of course, after the collapse these very firms were bailed out by taxpayers because they were so big. And now, with all the money that taxpayers have had to spent on the effects of the disaster that these firms created the Wall Street-backed Tea Partiers are demanding that taxpayers take "cuts" in pensions, health care, education, infrastructure.

    With this in mind, watch this video of Wall Street types on a balcony mocking the #OccupyWallStreet people as they march past.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Obvious SEC Corruption - Where Is Justice Dept?

    Here is just one more example of obvious corruption. So where is our Department of Justice? Not ONE prosecution of Wall Street fraud yet!

    Did Citi Get a Sweet Deal? Bank Claims SEC Settlement on One CDO Clears It on All Others - ProPublica

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 21, 2011

    Job Creation

    National Poop Council says putting poop in coffee would "create jobs."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 20, 2011

    NYTimes On Climate

    Here is how the corporate/conservative movement succeeds in keeping the public misinformed: No reporter will get fired for promoting big corporate interests, no reporter will have career advancement from taking them on.

    OK I just got around to reading this. A whole "how come?" story on how the US is an outlier on climate change, why isn't it in the national discussion anymore, and not mentioning Koch Brothers or oil company funding of the conservative movement even once. Sheesh. Whatever Happened to Global Warming? - NYTimes.com

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 19, 2011

    Scrap The Cap

    Just Scrap the Cap

    There is really only one way to fix Social Security and that is to scrap the cap: raise the limit on incomes that pay into Social Security. Income gains only go to the top few now, so the calculations that established the "cap" are wrong. So get rid of the cap and make the rich pay into the system.

    Cutting benefits only shifts costs onto seniors and their kids who will have to support them. This video shows what that will be like for the kids.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    61 House Republicans Co-Sponsored China Currency Bill, Now Side With China

    Last week, in These Are The House Republicans Blocking The Crackdown On China Currency Manipulation. Call Them. I named 61 House Republicans who had co-sponsored the China currency bill, but who now side with China by refusing to help force a vote on the bill. The bill has passed the Senate and Republican leaders are refusing to allow a vote in the House. This bill means jobs. This bill means confronting China over their trade cheating. Call these members of Congress and demand that they side with American workers instead of China.

    From last week's post,

    We buy a lot from China, and they don't buy much from us. Some call that "trade." The result is that our jobs, factories, companies, industries and wealth are moving to China. One very big thing we can do about this right now is to confront China over their currency manipulation and the Senate passed a bill to do just that. The House leadership, under the control of lobbyists siding with China, refuses to allow the bill to come up for a vote. You can contact co-sponsors of the bill and ask them to sign a "discharge petition" that will make that vote happen.

    Why Is This Important?

    From Trade Deals Pass Congress -- China Currency Bill More Important Than Ever,

    Congress just passed three more NAFTA-like trade deals, so our country's trade deficit is going to get even worse. And pressure on working people to accept pay and benefit cuts and longer and harder working hours is going to get even worse. And the rewards to the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us, are going to get even greater. But we can still win the fight over China's manipulation of its currency. If we win this it lessens the difference between prices of goods made there and goods made here and can bring some jobs, factories, countries, industries and wealth back to the 99% of our country that doesn't benefit from these trade deals.

    ... China manipulates its currency to keep it "weak" (low) compared to the "strong" dollar. This means that goods made in China cost much less - up to 40% less - than goods made here, even before any wage differentials, exploitation of the environment, trade cheating, special subsidies and other trade violations are taken into account. China does this in order to capture the jobs, factories, companies and industries that make a country strong. We have let them do this for many years, leading to the economic situation we find ourselves in today.

    One reason this continues is that big companies can threaten workers here with moving a job or factory there if they don't go along with big cuts in wages and benefits and working standards -- or just move the factory or company to take advantage of the differential. This benefits a wealthy few in the short term, and China in the long term after those wealthy few have sold the rest of out and cashed out for themselves.

    This trade situation with China, while greatly enriching the top 1% here (and there), has hurt the rest of us so much, and drained so much wealth from the country, that even some Republicans are willing to support doing something about it. There are 61 Republican cosponsors of the bill to confront China over their currency manipulation!

    The Club For Growth, a Wall Street front-group that backs China's positions on these issues, has demanded that Republicans side with China on this, and has called it a "litmus test." One Republican who actually did sign the discharge petition to force the House to vote, Harold Rogers, was forced by House leadership to remove his name!

    What You Can Do

    There are 61 Republican members of the House of Representatives who co-sponsored legislation to confront China over their currency manipulation: Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR639). Contact them and ask them to sign the "discharge petition." They are:

    Tim Murphy (PA)
    Todd Aiken (MO)
    Steve Austria (OH)
    Lou Barletta (PA)
    Brian Bilbray (CA)
    Rob Bishop (UT)
    Mo Brooks (AL)
    Dan Burton (IN)
    Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
    Howard Coble (NC)
    Chip Cravaack (MN)
    Rick Crawford (AR)
    Charles Dent (PA)
    Jo Ann Emerson (MO)
    Michael Fitzpatrick (PA)
    Randy Forbes (VA)
    Jeff Fortenberry (NE)
    Jim Gerlach (PA)
    Chris Gibson (NY)
    Sam Graves (MO)
    Morgan Griffith (VA)
    Gregg Harper (MS)
    Duncan Hunter (CA)
    Bill Johnson (OH)
    Tim Johnson (IL)
    Walter Jones (NC)
    Mike Kelly (PA)
    Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO)
    Steven LaTourette (OH)
    Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
    Donald Manzullo (IL)
    Tom Marino (PA)
    Thaddeus McCotter (MI)
    Patrick McHenry (NC)
    David McKinley (WV)
    Patrick Meehan (PA)
    Candice Miller (MI)
    Sue Myrick (NC)
    Tom Petri (WI)
    Joe Pitts (PA)
    Todd Platts (PA)
    Jim Renacci (OH)
    Scott Rigell (VA)
    Dana Rohrabacher (CA)
    Harold Rogers (KY)
    Mike Rogers (AL)
    Mike Rogers (MI)
    Dennis Ross (FL)
    John Runyan (NJ)
    James Sensenbrenner (WI)
    John Shimkus (IL)
    Bill Shuster (PA)
    Marlin Stutzman (IN)
    Glenn Thompson (PA)
    Michael Turner (OH)
    Lynn Westmoreland (GA)
    Ed Whitfield (KY)
    Joe Wilson (SC)
    Rob Wittman (VA)
    Frank Wolf (VA)


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 18, 2011

    Occupy (We the 99) By Jasiri X


    Occupy (We the 99) by Jasiri X

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Common Sense Jesus

    Common Sense Jesus says: Don't upset the money changers. They are the job creators, after all.

    Common Sense Jesus


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Eat the Rich

    Can't afford food anymore? Eat the Rich | Occupy Everything

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Welcome To The Occupation

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Warning About The "Protesters"

    Warning: some of them have beards.

    Lee Camp, Moment of Clarity

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    GOP - Deadlocked Convention?

    Hey, this GOP Presidential thing could go all the way to the convention, and the convention could be deadlocked. Sarah Palin or Jeb Bush could still be the candidate. Interesting...

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 17, 2011

    The People Have Figured It Out

    Over at CAF I write about jobs, in Jobs - Still The #1 National Emergency:

    While the mainstream corporate news sources refuse to inform the people just who is blocking the solutions, the people have figured it out. Wall Street and its billionaires have purchased the government and are blocking progress. People are fed up with the lack of response from our government and are angry. What started weeks ago with a small group of fed-up people "occupying" Wall Street has now turned into a national - and international - wide-scale protest against the lack of action on jobs and against governments captured by the greedy top 1%.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 15, 2011

    Deficit Propaganda

    You'd never be able to guess that the 2009 budget deficit was Bush's last budget. But that's how right-wing propaganda works.

    Headlines:

    Another Obama Record, Third Straight Year With Trillion Dollar Deficit

    Obama Surges to Another New Record – Third Straight Year With Trillion Dollar Deficit. (And look at the colors on the chart.)

    Under Obama 2009 and 2011 Deficits Highest In History

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:20 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    Connect The Dots

    Looks really good: Connect The Dots For Democracy, Connect The Dots USA

    In the confusion of today’s 24/7 spin machine, doesn’t it often seem like the “Flat Earth Society” gets equal or more time than the “Round Earth Society”? And, left unchallenged by journalists, people are free to just pick their own facts?

    The goal of these visual, easy-to-understand presentations is to help regular, busy folks like yourself understand the issues and what is happening with our political process. Then we can start to connect the dots to get our policies to work for the benefit of most Americans again.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 13, 2011

    Trade Deals Pass Congress -- China Currency Bill More Important Than Ever

    Congress just passed three more NAFTA-like trade deals, so our country's trade deficit is going to get even worse. And pressure on working people to accept pay and benefit cuts and longer and harder working hours is going to get even worse. And the rewards to the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us, are going to get even greater. But we can still win the fight over China's manipulation of its currency. If we win this it lessens the difference between prices of goods made there and goods made here and can bring some jobs, factories, countries, industries and wealth back to the 99% of our country that doesn't benefit from these trade deals.

    Message Of Trade Deals -- Loud And Clear

    The message of these trade deals is loud and clear: shut up and accept pay and benefit cuts and longer and harder working hours. And if you don't like it we will move your job to a country where working people can't complain. In fact, labor leaders are regularly murdered in Columbia, one of the countries that Congress just approved a trade deal with. If approving a trade deal with a country in which labor leaders are killed for trying to make things better for working people doesn't send a loud and clear message to working people here, I don't know what does.

    China Currency

    China manipulates its currency to keep it "weak" (low) compared to the "strong" dollar. This means that goods made in China cost much less - up to 40% less - than goods made here, even before any wage differentials, exploitation of the environment, trade cheating, special subsidies and other trade violations are taken into account. China does this in order to capture the jobs, factories, companies and industries that make a country strong. We have let them do this for many years, leading to the economic situation we find ourselves in today.

    One reason this continues is that big companies can threaten workers here with moving a job or factory there if they don't go along with big cuts in wages and benefits and working standards -- or just move the factory or company to take advantage of the differential. This benefits a wealthy few in the short term, and China in the long term after those wealthy few have sold the rest of out and cashed out for themselves.

    This trade situation with China, while greatly enriching the top 1% here (and there), has hurt the rest of us so much, and drained so much wealth from the country, that even some Republicans are willing to support doing something about it. There are 61 Republican cosponsors of the bill to confront China over their currency manipulation!

    Wall Street Sides With China

    The Club For Growth, a Wall Street front group, has made the China currency bill a "litmus test." They have said they will oppose any Republicans who vote for it, siding with America against China. From Politico recently, Club for Growth warns GOP on China currency bill,

    The influential Club for Growth is pressuring Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers to oppose bipartisan legislation cracking down on China’s currency policies.

    ... The Club for Growth has urged lawmakers to vote no on the bill, warning that the vote will be included in the group’s 2011 Congressional Scorecard, used to measure how fiscally conservative they are.

    The Wall Street group says we should instead pass tax cuts, deregulate controls over how businesses behave toward the environment, workers, customers and their communities, and get rid of unions so the United States can be more like China, which they say would bring companies back.

    What To Do

    We need to get the bill voted on in the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner is siding with China and refusing to let this bill come up for a vote. But there is a "discharge petition" circulating, that can force the bill to the floor for a vote. Click here for a list of 61 Republicans who cosponsored this bill but have not signed the petition to bring it up for a vote. Call these 61 Representatives and tell them you want them to help bring the bill to the House floor for a vote.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Help Verizon's Workers Try To Save The Middle Class

    Here is a practical application of the ideas and energy of #Occupy Wall Street. Verizon's workers are in a struggle against a giant corporation. They need your help leafleting at Verizon stores, reaching people to explain what is going on.

    Verizon is a huge, very profitable company. But Verizon is trying to make its workers take pay and benefit cuts, so that a few at the top can make even more money. If this sounds familiar it is because this is what is happening to our economy across the board. Big companies are using the fear caused by the unemployment crisis to take away more and more benefits, cut back wages, make people work longer hours, and basically shred the middle class. 99% of us are finding it harder and harder to get by while a few at the top are getting more and more.

    Fighting Back

    Verizon's workers are fighting back. In August they went on strike, and with the help of volunteers joining the picket lines they were able to get the company to back off some of their outrageous demands, and back to the bargaining table. But they are still at that table and are asking for people to help out again. One thing they are doinbg is asking iPhone users not to upgrade to the new iPhone on Verizon until this is settled. They are calling this action the iWon't Campaign.

    Companies that take away middle-class jobs should not be rewarded. Verizon's workers are asking people to buy or upgrade Verizon iPhones only when Verizon gives workers a fair deal and stops downgrading the middle class.

    The iWon't Campaign:

    The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, joined by allies including MoveOn.org, the AFL-CIO, US Action, Jobs with Justice, and the National People’s Alliance announced today the next stage in the fight for middle-class jobs at Verizon and Verizon Wireless.

    The groups are launching the nationwide iWon't Campaign, asking Americans to delay upgrading to the new iPhone on Verizon Wireless until the company agrees to a fair contract with its workers. The campaign, which includes online outreach by MoveOn.org and other groups, advertising, grassroots outreach and leafleting at hundreds of Verizon Wireless stores, is timed around the launch of Apple’s new iPhone expected on Tuesday, October 4th.

    Click here to find a local store where you can join Verizon's workers, and help fight to save the middle class.

    Leaflet at a Verizon Wireless store:

    45,000 Verizon workers are fighting for a fair contract and to preserve the middle class and the American Dream in the Northeast.

    If wealthy corporations like Verizon continue to outsource jobs and hold down worker wages, there is no hope for an economic recovery. This is why our fight is your fight and why your support is so important.

    Join us as we leaflet at Verizon Wireless stores to get our message out: Stand with Workers, Not Rich CEOs.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 12, 2011

    Here Are Reps To Contact On China Currency Manipulation

    We buy a lot from China, and they don't buy much from us. Some call that "trade." The result is that our jobs, factories, companies, industries and wealth are moving to China. One very big thing we can do about this right now is to confront China over their currency manipulation and the Senate passed a bill to do just that. The House leadership, under the control of lobbyists siding with China, refuses to allow the bill to come up for a vote. You can contact co-sponsors of the bill and ask them to sign a "discharge petition" that will make that vote happen.

    As Steven Capozzola explained yesterday in Why Should Congress Pass China Currency Legislation?,

    What few seem to understand is that we are already in a trade war with China. It’s not one that we launched, nor one that we wanted. But China’s undervaluation of its currency, which violates world trade rules, is part of a deliberate, well-coordinated strategy to undercut U.S. manufacturers.

    Currency manipulation has helped fuel China’s massive rise as a manufacturing powerhouse. And it’s also helped drive our massive trade deficit with Beijing, which reached a record $273 billion in 2010. This huge trade gap has cost 2.8 million U.S. jobs over the past decade—jobs in every state and congressional district, jobs in manufacturing, jobs in high-tech sectors… It’s a terribly one-sided trade relationship.

    How did this happen? China intervenes in the currency market to buy dollars and set its own currency at an artificially low exchange rate. This makes Chinese goods 40% cheaper when entering the U.S. market while making our goods significantly more costly when exported to China.

    ... This is a bipartisan issue, one that marks a clear chance for Congress to stand up to a very protectionist, predatory campaign. China can purchase dollars, which are freely traded, in order to set its currency peg. But conversely, it is illegal to buy China’s closely held currency.

    I wrote yesterday, in Will The U.S. House Side With China On Currency?

    If we want to bring jobs and wealth back to the United States for the 99% of us who have been under extreme pressure we're going to have to do something about trade. The huge trade imbalances -- especially with China -- are sucking our jobs and factories and companies and industries and money out of the country. The biggest thing that can be done right now is to take action on China's currency manipulation.

    ...Speaker of the House Boehner is siding with China and is refusing to allow it to come before the House for a vote. (Reminder to self: do some research into the Citizens United Supreme Court decision enabling foreign money to influence our elections.)

    The bill can be forced onto the House floor using a "discharge petition." You can take action to help get Republicans to sign the discharge petition so it comes to the floor. Click here to contact members of Congress and ask them to sign this discharge petition and end Chinese currency manipulation now.

    What You Can Do

    There are 61 Republican members of the House of Representatives who co-sponsored legislation to confront China over their currency manipulation: Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR639). Contact them and ask them to sign the "discharge petition." They are:

    Tim Murphy (PA)
    Todd Aiken (MO)
    Steve Austria (OH)
    Lou Barletta (PA)
    Brian Bilbray (CA)
    Rob Bishop (UT)
    Mo Brooks (AL)
    Dan Burton (IN)
    Shelley Moore Capito (WV)
    Howard Coble (NC)
    Chip Cravaack (MN)
    Rick Crawford (AR)
    Charles Dent (PA)
    Jo Ann Emerson (MO)
    Michael Fitzpatrick (PA)
    Randy Forbes (VA)
    Jeff Fortenberry (NE)
    Jim Gerlach (PA)
    Chris Gibson (NY)
    Sam Graves (MO)
    Morgan Griffith (VA)
    Gregg Harper (MS)
    Duncan Hunter (CA)
    Bill Johnson (OH)
    Tim Johnson (IL)
    Walter Jones (NC)
    Mike Kelly (PA)
    Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO)
    Steven LaTourette (OH)
    Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
    Donald Manzullo (IL)
    Tom Marino (PA)
    Thaddeus McCotter (MI)
    Patrick McHenry (NC)
    David McKinley (WV)
    Patrick Meehan (PA)
    Candice Miller (MI)
    Sue Myrick (NC)
    Tom Petri (WI)
    Joe Pitts (PA)
    Todd Platts (PA)
    Jim Renacci (OH)
    Scott Rigell (VA)
    Dana Rohrabacher (CA)
    Harold Rogers (KY)
    Mike Rogers (AL)
    Mike Rogers (MI)
    Dennis Ross (FL)
    John Runyan (NJ)
    James Sensenbrenner (WI)
    John Shimkus (IL)
    Bill Shuster (PA)
    Marlin Stutzman (IN)
    Glenn Thompson (PA)
    Michael Turner (OH)
    Lynn Westmoreland (GA)
    Ed Whitfield (KY)
    Joe Wilson (SC)
    Rob Wittman (VA)
    Frank Wolf (VA)
    Don Young (AK)


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 11, 2011

    Robert Reich And 7 Big GOP Lies


    MoveOn: What If Everyone Saw This Clip Of Robert Reich Exposing 7 GOP Lies?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    5 Conservative Economic Myths Occupy Wall St. Is Helping Bust

    A post I did for AlterNet: 5 Conservative Economic Myths Occupy Wall St. Is Helping Bust | Occupy Wall Street | AlterNet.

    Go read.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Will The U.S. House Side With China On Currency?

    If we want to bring jobs and wealth back to the United States for the 99% of us who have been under extreme pressure we're going to have to do something about trade. The huge trade imbalances -- especially with China -- are sucking our jobs and factories and companies and industries and money out of the country. The biggest thing that can be done right now is to take action on China's currency manipulation. Here are two things you can do today.

    The Senate votes today on a bill to push back against China's (and a few other countries') currency manipulation, and the bill is expected to pass. The bill also has to pass the House and be signed by the President before it can take effect. CNN explains, in Senate targets China's currency,

    For years, U.S. officials have been pressuring China to allow its renminbi -- or yuan -- to appreciate more rapidly. Between 2008 and 2010, China had pegged the yuan to the dollar, keeping its value artificially low and Chinese exports comparatively cheap.

    Besides hiking tariffs on Chinese goods, the bill also takes aim at the administration, which already has some ability to point out nations that purposefully manipulate their currency but has avoided doing so.

    The bill would:
    -- Force the administration to officially red-flag nations whose currencies are undervalued for long periods with the term "fundamentally misaligned currency."
    -- Make it tougher for the Commerce Department to ignore calls to investigate accusations of undervalued currencies.
    -- Force the administration to give Congress a list of nations with "misaligned" currencies.
    And if a nation is accused of having an undervalued currency and makes no effort to rebalance the currency for three months or more, that's when the tariffs kick in.

    Jobs And Wealth

    It's complicated, but by manipulating its currency instead of letting it "float" to world market value, China can sell goods to other countries at a much lower price than they would cost without the manipulation. In effect China puts its own money into the currency markets, which works out the same as subsidizing the products directly so they have a lower price, in order to get the orders. While this might seem like a dumb thing to do the long-term result is that China is buying themselves a very big chunk of the world's manufacturing business. In the long term this pays off for them in jobs, industries, wealth and power.

    And as we now know, the result for us is a big loss of jobs and wealth and factories and companies and industries -- in other words, our ability to make a living in the world.

    The House

    Even as the bill likely passes the Senate today, Speaker of the House Boehner is siding with China and is refusing to allow it to come before the House for a vote. (Reminder to self: do some research into the Citizens United Supreme Court decision enabling foreign money to influence our elections.)

    The bill can be forced onto the House floor using a "discharge petition." You can take action to help get Republicans to sign the discharge petition so it comes to the floor. Click here to contact members of Congress and ask them to sign this discharge petition and end Chinese currency manipulation now.

    Tell Congress to stop China's cheating on currency manipulation, which stands in the way of free and fair trade, job creation, and a higher standard of living for millions of Americans.

    Click here to see the actual discharge petition.

    The President

    In his news conference last week President Obama said that China is manipulating their currency but that he doesn't want a law that is just "symbolic." He was not clear about whether he would sign this bill or not, should it pass. He said,

    "...China has been very aggressive in gaming the trading system to its advantage and to the disadvantage of other countries, particularly the United States. And I have said that publicly, but I've also said it privately to Chinese leaders. And currency manipulation is one example of it. [. . .] My main concern -- and I've expressed this to Senator Schumer -- is whatever tools we put in place, let's make sure that these are tools that can actually work, that they're consistent with our international treaties and obligations. I don't want a situation where we're just passing laws that are symbolic knowing that they're probably not going to be upheld by the World Trade Organization, for example, and then suddenly U.S. companies are subject to a whole bunch of sanctions. We've got a -- I think we've got a strong case to make, but we've just got to make sure that we do it in a way that's going to be effective."

    So it is not clear if he intends to sign this legislation. You can sign a petition encouraging him to sign it, should it pass, and take other steps to push China to stop their trade violations. Click the following: WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Take Action to Stop China’s Job-Killing Currency Manipulation.

    Please take the time to urge members of Congress to sign the discharge petition, and to urge President Obama to sign the bill if&when it passes.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2011

    Blogger & Dog

    Dave and Paddington

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 8, 2011

    What's It About?

    If you don't get what #occupywallstreet is about, you've got some serious soul-searching to do.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 7, 2011

    Washington Ignored The People, And Now You’ve Got #Occupy

    What did the politicians in Washington think would happen? They forgot about the "We, the People" part of our Constitution. After bailing out the banks and bankers and interests of the top 1% they fiddled while our jobs burned and mortgages defaulted. With people losing their incomes, pensions and healthcare they worried about deficits instead of jobs and cut back on essential services. They smugly spouted slogans at us and thought we'd be fooled and pacified. People voted for change and they didn't get change. And now people are in the streets.

    Part of the fiddling was by plan, Republicans obstructing efforts to create jobs and help the economy hoping this will give them an edge in the next election. Part of it was an attempt at "bipartisanship," trying to accommodate the ultrapartisans who only wanted to to advance their obstructionist agenda, thusly deprioritizing the needs of the people. Whatever -- change did not happen.

    One Spark Could Bring Trouble

    The problem with big groups of angry people is that it is very difficult to maintain control. This sudden enthusiastic energy of people taking to the streets to voice their anger at Wall Street and Washington is growing fast and there is really very little to control and channel it. Large groups of people concentrated into crowds can become mobs all too quickly. One cop-with-baton too many and it could turn into something no one wants. Or one too-clever Wall Street type, hiring agent-provocateurs to start violence, thinking it will "discredit" the movement... (Yes, nonsense like this happens and never works out the way the strategerizers hope.)

    Look what happened in England, with terrible riots. Did it happen as a result of the austerity - putting the top 1% ahead of regular people? Maybe, maybe not. But the tensions in England, where they still have a good safety net and everyone has health care, were certainly not greater than they are here.

    Do not take the people for granted. Do not think you can engineer a population with slogans and ignore solutions. And when they take to the streets to express their unhappiness do not ignore them or think you can finesse things. It shouldn't have gotten to this point. People have had it, they are fed up, and they are telling the leadership that they have to remember just who is supposed to be in charge here.

    The New Left Pole

    So the "incoherent" street occupiers and marchers represent the new left poll of the spectrum. Suddenly groups like Campaign for America's Future, labor unions, MoveOn.org, and especially the coalition making up the Rebuild The Dream Movement now represent the center. More importantly, they represent a controlled, organized path to sensible solutions that give the people what they need.

    The Path Forward

    There is a path forward that has been clearly defined by the responsible organizers and members of Congress who have been trying to push the political system to respond to the needs and demands of We, the People. Start by passing the President's jobs bill. Then pass The People's Budget. Take a look at CAF's "Big Ideas" for a bold jobs agenda.

    It's time to get moving, and finally get to work on the side of We, the People. That is how it is supposed to work here.


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 3, 2011

    The iWont Campaign

    Companies that take away middle-class jobs should not be rewarded. Verizon's workers are asking people to buy or upgrade Verizon iPhones only when Verizon gives workers a fair deal and stops downgrading the middle class. On a call today Verizon's workers said that it was public pressure that brought the company back to the bargaining table, ending this summer's strike by 45,000 workers.

    This Is Your Fight, Too

    Big companies are using the fear caused by the unemployment crisis to take away more and more benefits, cut back wages, make people work longer hours, and basically shred the middle class. Since August Verizon workers have been fighting to protect their health care coverage and other standard employee benefits against Verizon’s demands for takebacks that threaten the living standard of tens of thousands of middle class families. The fight of Verizon’s workers is exactly the fight the rest of us are having to try to preserve America’s middle class.

    Now a number of national progressive-aligned organizations are joining in support of Verizon workers as they enter the next phase in the fight for middle-class jobs at Verizon and Verizon Wireless. These organizations recognize that this fight is our fight.

    iWont

    As Apple announces the new iPhone 5, the Communication Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, MoveOn.Org, US Action, Jobs with Justice, and National People’s Action are launching the nationwide iWont Campaign, asking Americans to delay upgrading to the iPhone 5 on Verizon Wireless until the company agrees to a fair contract with its workers.

    In addition, as Congress considers ways to close the deficit, these organizations will expose the “Verizon Tax Loophole.” This is Verizon’s use of tricks and tax dodges to pay nothing at all in federal corporate income taxes. Verizon makes billions in profits and pays their top 5 executives hundreds of millions of dollars. Avoiding taxes while paying a few at the top millions and asking their workers to take lower pay and fewer benefits undermines the American Dream of good middle-class jobs.

    Support Verizon Workers

    Click here to Send a Message of Solidarity

    45,000 Verizon workers are back to work and unified as one with their brothers and sisters and community supporters. Our collective fight for the American Dream continues.

    Our work is far from complete. Our strike objective from the beginning was a real collective bargaining process. Your support was essential to creating that opportunity. Now begins the hard work of negotiating a fair contract.

    If wealthy corporations like Verizon continue to outsource jobs and hold down worker wages, there is no hope for an economic recovery. This is why our fight is your fight and why your support is so important.

    Sign our solidarity message to Verizon workers today, and we'll deliver your comments to them.

    In addition there will be information campaigns, leafleting at Verizon stores around the country. Information will be posted soon.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Watch Take Back The American Dream Conference Live

    Watch live streaming of the Take Back The American Dream conference live here. I'm in DC for this.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:18 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 1, 2011

    Another Great Articulation

    The Occupy Wall Street movement is just forcing out so many great articulations of the problem we are all fighting. This from Chris Hedges:

    Also see Hedges' The Best Among Us,

    There are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution

    A video about Occupy Wall Street

    (The reason people repeat what the spokesperson is saying is to relay what they say back into the crowd.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos