Heavy debate is going on media-wide about the Occupy Wall Street/99% movements and whether or not these protesters have a real basis for their complaints. Are they just whining because they are not rich, or are their complaints real? Are the middle and working classes being pushed out of existence because of the symbiotic relationship between the rich/corporations and our government, or have Americans at large grown fat and lazy and expect the government to provide everything for them? Has the average American lost all ambition, and is he waiting for government handouts?

At the end of WWII the American dream was quite alive. Men came home from the war, bought a nice little house in the 'Levittowns" that were springing up all over America on the GI Bill. They bought a domestic made car, which they owned, and worked at the same job knowing that they had job security, with the understanding that at the end of their working days they would have a nice pension. They sent their kids to school with the anticipation of them going to college and doing better than them. College was affordable, even the elite schools such as Harvard, and they knew that upon graduation they would have a job.

But something went terribly wrong. We can all look back to that time and know that isn't what we have now. If that was the American Dream, then the American dream is dead. The middle and working classes are shrinking and so is their net worth, and that is the flash-point to where we are at this moment. The average American feels that they are being told, "Let them Eat Cake," and it is not their imagination. 

The Congressional Budget Office has been doing a long term economic study on the economic conditions here in the US. The study spans from 1979 to 2007 and the findings are shocking. The study looked at net income after it adjusted for inflation, and found that over this period of time the top 1% of earners had real income growth of 275% while the middle class has grown by 40%, and the poorest fifth of the nation has grown by 18%. 

Here is a graph that makes a bigger impact on this disparity:

According to the New York Times:

"The findings, based on a rigorous analysis of data from the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau, are generally consistent with studies by some private researchers and academic economists. But because they carry the imprimatur of the nonpartisan budget office, they are likely to have a major impact on the debate in Congress over the fairness of federal tax and spending policies.

Also cited as factors contributing to the rapid growth of income at the top were the structure of executive compensation; high salaries for some “superstars” in sports and the arts; the increasing size of the financial services industry; and the growing role of capital gains, which go disproportionately to higher-income households.

The report found that higher-income households got a larger share of the pie, while other households got smaller shares.

Specifically the report made these points:

¶ The share of after-tax household income for the top 1 percent of the population more than doubled, climbing to 17 percent in 2007 from nearly 8 percent in 1979.

¶ The most affluent fifth of the population received 53 percent of after-tax household income in 2007, up from 43 percent in 1979. In other words, the after-tax income of the most affluent fifth exceeded the income of the other four-fifths of the population.

¶ People in the lowest fifth of the population received about 5 percent of after-tax household income in 2007, down from 7 percent in 1979.

¶ People in the middle three-fifths of the population saw their shares of after-tax income decline by 2 to 3 percentage points from 1979 to 2007.

The study was requested by Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Finance Committee, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, when he was the senior Republican on the panel."

This is not the imagination of the American people. This is not Americans being lazy and expecting their government to do everything for them. This is not an issue of the unmotivated. The truth lies in the numbers, and what the numbers tell us is that the present system isn't working. That it favors a specific segment of our nation. That the tax code is written in such a way that it benefits only those at the top, and does little if anything to help those in the middle or at the bottom. That executives who fail miserably at their jobs, like those who were responsible for the banking defaults, will still get enormous bonuses, despite the fact that they got a bailout on the working man's dime, because our government allowed it. The fact that we need to end PACs and need campaign finance reform.

No, it's not the imagination of those protesting all over the US that our system is abusing the middle and working classes. The numbers speak for themselves. The system does benefit the 1% of the population, leaving the 99% to pick up the tab, and that is divisive. And although people shouldn't look upon this as a class war, which is actually destructive to this nation, our government needs to wake up and smell the proverbial coffee. If it continues down this path, the people are beginning to make it clear. It will not be tolerated. If the Middle East had "The Arab Spring," then this could be called "The American Fall."

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/124xx/doc12485/10-25-HouseholdIncome.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/us/politics/top-earners-doubled-s...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/26/income-inequality_n_103263...

 

Tags: 99%, Congressional-Budget-Office, Corporations, Middle-Class, OWS, Occupy-Wall-Street, Poor, Tax-Code, Working-Class

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Occidental College of Sex?

Terry (it took me a while to figure out that wmolaw was you),

Do you remember this... I wrote it in part to something you said...

I agree... Working hard and falling on hard times does not, by the confluence of those circumstances, endow any sort of entitlement. As individuals we make choices, and some of those choices may be the cause of the difficulties we encounter in life. Other difficulties may come to us through circumstances out side of our control. In either case, whether we are personally responsible for our difficulties or not, we still have no automatic entitlement to relief from those difficulties.

As individuals we also choose how we use our resources, including whether we want to use our resources to help those who have been less fortunate than we have been. As a society of many individuals we can decide to pool some of our resources to do things which are beneficial to the society as a whole, and of course we can opt NOT to do that as well. There are many different things that can be done with those pooled resources, including funding national defense, building infrastructure, and helping those who have fallen on hard times. Some people may object to using our pooled resources to help those who have fallen on hard times. They may argue there is insufficient benefit to the society as a whole or possibly no benefit at all to using our pooled resources in this way. They may also argue that there are people who will abuse such a social safety net, people who will make bad choices knowing the society will save them if they happen to fall on hard times, and even people who will deliberately defraud such a system. I agree, fraud and abuse is not only likely, but in society as large as ours it is inevitable. This is true not only for social entitlements but for all the programs that use our pooled resources.

As a self-described "Progressive-Socialist-Democrat" I feel the objections to social entitlements of those who do not share my views are absolutely valid. My feelings about social entitlements are rooted in my personal ethics, the foundation of which is The Golden Rule. I cannot enjoy the benefits of my success knowing there are others who have worked as hard as I have but have not had the success I have had. I have no wish to support those who are abusing the system. By the same token, I do not want to penalize those who have done nothing abusive simply because others are abusive. Of course I want to do everything possible to stop fraud and abuse, but for me, supporting some who do not deserve my support is a price I am willing to pay in order to ensure that those who do deserve support get what they need. Other people may not share my feelings on this matter, and I acknowledge their feelings are no less valid than mine.

In a society as big as America it is inevitable that whatever choices we make as a society will not be fully satisfying to everyone. In fact, it is likely that everyone will be dissatisfied with at least a few things. If we want to have a strong society, and because our society is comprised of diverse ideologies, we must figure out how we can accommodate the views of those who are most different from us. This kind of accommodation must be done with genuine reciprocity.

So my fellow conservative Americans, what say you to the words of this "Progressive-Socialist-Democrat"???

The issues of the 99% movement are not really about social entitlements (the comment above IS about social entitlements).  The 99% movement is really about leveling the playing field.  But you seem to bundle all of that together... not an unreasonable thing to do because, as someone who supports the idea of social entitlements and someone who sympathizes with the 99% movement, I do see a common thread running through it all... empathy.

In that comment I was trying to show you that I understand your view point... not only do I understand it, but I accept it as a reasonable view.  It's not a view that appeals to me. Nonetheless I am willing... even eager to work together with people like yourself to find a way to live together and work together to make our country, a country of very diverse views, a good place for all to live.  It appears to me that you have no such interest.  "Asshat" you say... Apparently you want only to disparage those who are not like you.  You lump everyone who sympathizes with the 99% movement together, and then characterize us as freeloaders who...

just want more and more and more.

All without working for it.  All just because, somehow, they "deserve" it for being asshats!

Hmmm... "more and more and more"... Where have I heard that before??? To be fair... I did say...

Because the 1% never seems to be satisfied with any amount of prosperity... they are constantly trying to get more... more... more...

So I guess I am lumping people together too...  On the other hand, I did mention (somewhere, I can't find it right now) that there are lefties in the 1% and righties in the 99%...

Some how your characterization of people who have little wanting more seems a little different to me than my characterization of people who have much wanting more. Anywho... Here is why I am writing this particular comment... to you... (BTW- I gotta hand it to you, Terry, you do inspire me to write... so thanks!)  When I engage in "discussions" like this one I find myself wondering whether people like you and I will ever be able to live together in peace.  I said I am eager to do that... You once told me (paraphrase), "There will always be a place for me at your table."  What does that mean???  After listening to you on this thread, it sure doesn't sound like it means there would be any of the things I want in my world at "your table."

Mal;

am composing answer, will get back.  

 

Why the outrage?

1)

http://www.newser.com/story/132493/30-top-corporations-paid-us-no-t...

30 Top Corporations Paid US No Taxes, Despite Profit

Few companies actually pay 35% rate

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 3, 2011 7:46 AM CDT
 
 
(Newser) – America may have a lofty 35% corporate tax rate—but who actually pays that? A new study from a pair of left-leaning think tanks examined 280 Fortune 500 companies from 2008-2010, and found that their average effective rate was 18.5%, with a quarter paying less than 10% and 30 paying no taxes at all, despite being profitable, Reuters reports. Least taxed of all was Pepco Holdings, a DC power company with an effective rate of negative 57.6%.

The free-ride list also included Boeing, Wells Fargo, and, of course, General Electric, according to the New York Times; Wells Fargo wound up with a tax benefit of $651 million, despite $49 billion in profit. While all the tricks companies used to shrink their bills were legal, the report’s authors chided them anyway, noting that “the laws were not enacted in a vacuum; they were adopted in response to relentless corporate lobbying.”

2)

As Corporate Profits Rise, Workers’ Income Declines

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/06/business/workers-wages-chasing-co...

THESE are the worst of times for workers, and the best of times for companies. At least that is one way to read the newly revised national economic statistics.

Multimedia

The Commerce Department last week reduced its estimates of economic growth in 2010 and early 2011. At the same time, it said corporate income was much better than it had thought. Using newly available data from 2009 corporate tax returns, the department raised its estimates of corporate profits by 8.3 percent for 2009 and 10.8 percent for 2010.

The new figures indicate that corporate profits accounted for 14 percent of the total national income in 2010, the highest proportion ever recorded. The previous peak, of 13.6 percent, was set in 1942 when the need for war materials filled the order books of companies at the same time as the government imposed wage and price controls, holding down the costs companies had to pay.

In the first quarter of 2011, the latest figures available, the new estimates indicate corporate profits accounted for 14.2 percent of national income, well above the 13.1 percent that had previously been estimated.

3)

Victims of improper foreclosure practices can submit claims

Fourteen mortgage servicers have begun mailing out 4.3 million letters to potential victims of robo-signing. The letters will invite borrowers to submit their cases for a free review by independent consultants.

Victims of improper foreclosure practices can submit claims

About 70% of those potentially slated to receive letters about submitting their cases for review are still in their homes. Above, Renzo Salazar of Ace Post Holding Inc. places a bank-owned sign outside a foreclosed home in Miami. (Joe Raedle, Getty Images / November 2, 2011)

Aggrieved homeowners ensnared by a foreclosure system riddled with misconduct and error are set to get their first shot at winning some cash back from the banks.

Under orders from federal regulators, 14 mortgage servicers on Tuesday began mailing out 4.3 million letters to potential victims of wrongful foreclosure practices. The letters will invite borrowers to submit their cases for a free review by independent consultants that are funded by the lenders but vetted by regulators.

Borrowers may be compensated if the reviewers and regulators find that the homeowners were harmed financially.

"These requirements help ensure that the servicers provide appropriate compensation to borrowers who suffered financial harm as a result of improper practices," said John Walsh, acting comptroller of the currency, whose agency regulates the nation's largest banks. The Federal Reserve has also issued the enforcement orders.

AND NONE OF THE CRIMINAL BANKSTERS HAVE BEEN INVESTIGATED, PROSECUTED OR JAILED!

BUT THAT'S ABOUT TO CHANGE!

Anyone who doesn't understand what precipitated OWS either does not want to understand because it threatens some right-wing political agendas, or, hasn't been victimized directly, or, is too blindly loyal to right-wing, THE-MARKETPLACE-IS-GOD ideology to realize they have, in fact, been victimized.

Don't bother to attack me personally ... because I'll throw FACTS in your face ... just rebut what I've posted ... WITH SPECIFICS, not rhetoric.

NOTE: Need more examples of why people are pissed at ORGANIZED WEALTH AND ITS OWNERSHIP OF BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ... got plenty.

For the record ... a pox on both their houses!

A.Mac:

Tell me buddy, WHAT and WHO made that happen? Don't give me that "right wing" bullshit.

You know, if you are honest, that the GUMMININT made that happen!

NOTE: Need more examples of why people are pissed at ORGANIZED WEALTH AND ITS OWNERSHIP OF BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS ... got plenty.

You ALMOST have it right there.

Why get pissed at the "wealthy" because they are able to buy crooked, corrupt politicians?  After all, the business of business is to increase and maximize profit and if buying/influencing politicians is the way to do that, that is what they should be trying to do.

How about getting pissed off at the corrupt politicians?  Why aren't the OWS and 99% pissed off at THE CORRUPT politicians like Obama, and the rest (almost every one, on either side of the aisle.)

For the record ... a pox on both their houses!

Yeah, right.  Your entire post is how the "Right wing" is this, that, and this and that, and the cause of everything including measeles.

And then you say that.  Why not start OUT with that and discuss politicians as a whole?

Why get pissed at the "wealthy" because they are able to buy crooked, corrupt politicians?

That question seems so absurd that it is hardly worth answering.  But I'll give it a try.  For starters... Because they scream and cry about every thing anyone does stop them from buying what they want (you know what I'm talking about... it is that "regulation" you think is so evil).  Are you saying only the recipient of a bribe is guilty and the briber is not guilty because he is only trying to make a profit??? Never mind that the briber is asking the bribee to do things that hurt people who have no means, opportunity, or desire to bribe.

After all, the business of business is to increase and maximize profit and if buying/influencing politicians is the way to do that, that is what they should be trying to do.

It absolutely is not!!!  Your notion that the ONLY responsibility business has is to maximize it's profits does not even make good business sense... to say nothing of the fact that is morally vacant!  Leaving aside the moral issues, the only circumstance in which it makes sense for a business to hurt the society upon which it is dependent for its profits, is when it feels the collapse of the society is imminent and there is nothing that can be done to restore societal health.  I know... I know... You think that if we could just get the evil government out of the way then everything will take care of itself... a healthy society will be "naturally" restored by the "ecosystem" of a "free market."

How about getting pissed off at the corrupt politicians?  Why aren't the OWS and 99% pissed off at THE CORRUPT politicians like Obama, and the rest (almost every one, on either side of the aisle.)

I am pissed at the corrupt politicians! But, as I am sure I don't need to tell you, you and I have a little disagreement about where the bulk of the corruption lies.

quick response.

Of course, if it is actual bribery, then both briber and bribee are acting illegally, throw them both in jail.

But that is not what we are talking about Mal, and you know that.  We are talking about legal contributions (according to, you got it, the government) which result in politicians being beholden to the contributor.

Not illegal. But, as we have discussed, ONLY the wealthy can undertake to contribute sufficient amounts so as to trigger the politician being beholden.

Because they scream and cry about every thing anyone does stop them from buying what they want (you know what I'm talking about... it is that "regulation" you think is so evil).

Hmm, not sure you are understanding what I am saying.  Those who have the dough are NOT complaining about the government regulations since such entities are easily able to pay such costs and such costs act as a hurdle which competitors must clear prior to being a serious competitor!

Take GE for example.  Or Microsoft, or any other huge company.  Generally, they LOVE most regulation (note the most, they don't cotton to anti trust legislation, LOL) since they are able to meet or exceed it and smaller competitors (who might in the future be larger competitors) cannot!  They are letting the government get rid of their competitors!

Hence, Perrie's "unholy" alliance.

Your notion that the ONLY responsibility business has is to maximize it's profits does not even make good business sense... to say nothing of the fact that is morally vacant!  Leaving aside the moral issues, the only circumstance in which it makes sense for a business to hurt the society upon which it is dependent for its profits, is when it feels the collapse of the society is imminent and there is nothing that can be done to restore societal health.  I know... I know... You think that if we could just get the evil government out of the way then everything will take care of itself... a healthy society will be "naturally" restored by the "ecosystem" of a "free market."

Again, you mistake me or aren't understanding what I am saying, or are making unwarranted assumptions.  It may well be that certain actions which you would consider to be "moral" are, in fact, in the best economic interest of the entity.  Why do you think so many are so involved in their communities in a philanthropic sense?  Why do you think they always advertise such involvement!  Clearly, for the economic benefit they know it will bring.

Acting in what you consider a proper way is not always acting in a way which is NOT profitable.

This argument reminds me of the argument Ayn Rand always had vis a vis her assertion that there was no such thing as selflessness.

Damn, call, gotta run.

Ayn Rand...

From AlterNet...

Ayn Rand was not only a schlock novelist, she was also the progenitor of a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

Damn if that doesn't sound just like you, Terry... Well... actually, I know nothing about any novels you may have written... sigh...

Have you ever read any Ayn Rand?

Would not expect to read anything else from Alternet!

However, Mal, all I was mentioning was her position that there is no such thing as selflessness.  That all of those actions which one asserts are "selfless" are actually selfish.

Can you dispute that?

It was...

a sweeping “moral philosophy” that justifies the privilege of the wealthy and demonizes not only the slothful, undeserving poor but the lackluster middle-classes as well.

that reminded me of you.

That all of those actions which one asserts are "selfless" are actually selfish.

I think it can be reasonably argued that everything we do has some personal motivation behind it.  If I say

I cannot enjoy the benefits of my success knowing there are others who have worked as hard as I have but have not had the success I have had. I have no wish to support those who are abusing the system. By the same token, I do not want to penalize those who have done nothing abusive simply because others are abusive. Of course I want to do everything possible to stop fraud and abuse, but for me, supporting some who do not deserve my support is a price I am willing to pay in order to ensure that those who do deserve support get what they need.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that part of what motivates me is the desire to comfort myself.  Furthermore, one can argue that the Golden Rule itself suggests a selfish baseline motive.  Nonetheless... I do not think having some personally beneficial motive negates the merit of any empathetic motives I might have.

Rand's assertion seems like a way to justify the abandonment of empathy.

How about getting pissed off at the corrupt politicians?  Why aren't the OWS and 99% pissed off at THE CORRUPT politicians like Obama, and the rest (almost every one, on either side of the aisle.)

OWS is in fact pissed off at the politics of Washington and its marriage to the 1% ... including Obama; OWS in not a political movment, it's populist.

But it's primarily and consistently the Republicans who are fighting reforms in order to protect the 1% and the tax breaks for the wealthy that go with it. Kissing Grover Norquist's ass, in effect shoves it up mine ... and yours.

The record shows ...

1) The Deregulation of Wall Street leading to the near depression of 2008

http://losangeles.injuryboard.com/miscellaneous/the-subprime-mess-a...

The Subprime Mess and Phil Gramm: An Experiment in Deregulation

Paul Kiesel
Contributor

Posted by Paul KieselJune 24, 2008 4:12 PM

In 1933, a few years following the stock market crash, Congress passes the Glass-Steagall Act, in hopes that regulating banks will help prevent market instability, particularly amongst Wall Street banks. The purpose of the act is to separate commercial banks that focus on consumers from investment banks, which deal with speculative trading and mergers.

The Glass-Steagall Act provided the proper oversight and entity separation that would prohibit banks and other financial companies from merging into giant trusts (conflict of interests) -- giant trusts or corporations being more powerful, naturally, and having the seemingly limitless capital to lobby their corporate interests, however, with a very myopic scope (particularly when it comes to factoring in potential losses -- most banks, as seen in contemporary times, chose not to anticipate losses in the mortgage market; they presumed home prices would continue to appreciate).

In 1999, former Senator Phil Gramm (who was, incidentally, Senator John McCain's economic adviser and cochaired his presidential campaign) set out to completely gut the Glass-Steagall Act, and did so successfully, replacing most of its components with the new Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act: allowing commercial banks, investment banks, and insurers to merge (which would have violated antitrust laws under Glass-Steagall). Sen. Gramm was the driving force behind the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, as he had received over $4.6 million from the FIRE sector (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate donations) over the previous decade, and once the Act passed, an influx of "megamergers" took place among banks and insurance and securities companies, as if they had been eagerly awaiting the passage of Gramm's Act.

2) http://dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc.cfm?doc_name=fs-110-2-171

FACT SHEET | October 10, 2008

The Credit Crisis: The Bush Administration's Record of Denial and Regulatory Neglect

For more than a decade, President Bush and/or Congressional Republicans have controlled Washington. During these Bush-McCain Republican years, Americans have seen their dreams of homeownership and a secure retirement gambled away by reckless economic policies that put Wall Street and special interests ahead of middle class families.  Not only did the Bush Administration ignore the warning signs about risky mortgages, they encouraged the very practices that are at the heart of the current economic crisis and stood in the way of efforts that would have prevented the crisis.

The epicenter of the current market turmoil has been caused by risky mortgages that the Bush Administration failed to regulate. Beginning in 2000, Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich warned that predatory lending would "jeopardize the twin American dreams of owning a home and building wealth." (1/18/02) In 2006, Moody's Economy.com warned that "problems in the mortgage-backed market would spill over into the rest of the U.S. fixed income and stock markets... The turmoil in the U.S. financial markets would immediately reverberate around the world, engendering a global financial event." (Moody's Economy.com, October 2006) Moreover, the Federal Reserve staff observed a prolonged loosening of standards for mortgages starting in late 2003. (Federal Reserve staff briefing for Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee staff, 3/20/07)

3)

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/21/us/politics/new-senate-battle-ove...

Obama’s Jobs Plan Is Blocked Again by Senate Republicans

WASHINGTON — For the second time in 10 days, the Senate on Thursday rejected Democratic efforts to take up a jobs bill championed by President Obama.

The vote to advance the bill was 50 to 50. Democrats needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

This time, the bill was narrowed to provide $35 billion to state and local governments to prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers and firefighters. To offset the cost, the bill would impose a surtax of 0.5 percent, starting in 2013, on income in excess of $1 million.

Obama, until recently, lacked the courage to call out Republicans/Teavangelicals for their continued sabotage of the economy for purely political gain.

Republicans indeed, as I have stipulated specifically, are the primary culprits in protecting corporate greed and crime.

The pox I place on the Democrats house is directed toward the blue dog cowards who forsake the citizenry as do the Republicans.

Terry,

If you can refute my specifics ... do it. If you can't, don't bother with rhetorical questions ... the case is laid out before you.

What specifics A.Mac?

You are the master of non sequiturs! 

 

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