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PatrickforB

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Gender: Do not display
Hometown: Not disclosed
Home country: USA
Current location: Not disclosed
Member since: Mon Apr 28, 2014, 07:28 PM
Number of posts: 13,518

About Me

Counselor, economist and public servant.

Journal Archives

This is a very thoughtful post. Thank you. Yes, greed is the major evil we all face here

in the end-stage capitalist utopia that is America (and much of the world, though nearly everyone is cheaper than we are in terms of cost of living). I just had a friend get back from vacay in Spain with her cousin, and she said they ate really well - full course meals with drinks, and never paid more than $40 for both of them. Try that here.

Maybe you ought to beef this up a little and make it an OP? We need to be coming back at these greed-heads every time, because they sure do shaft us every time. One more little vignette: I often shop on Amazon, and apparently the affiliated merchant who usually stocks the cat litter I use is temporarily out. So an alternate merchant is selling it for the same prices with $8.99 shipping, and another is selling it for $31 for 40 lbs - it is usually $18.99.

That's how it works. I imagine once the regular merchant gets stock it, the everyday price may well rise. It sure has been true for paper products. I get mine from Sam's now, because Amazon marks them up so ridiculously. You really have to shop.

The other thing is that Amazon used the tax loopholes provided through the giant, bloated, unnecessary 2017 Republican tax cut for billionaires and corporations to pay...wait for this....

$14,527


in taxes in 2021. They - again apparently - legally 'avoided' paying $5.4 billion. Gosh, that would fund a lot of healthcare, wouldn't it! Maybe if these fucking corporations actually paid their share in taxes, I wouldn't have had to take out a loan for healthcare 'services' this year.

And lastly, Amazon raised its Prime membership over 15% from last year.

So it's one big gouge.

What do I use Amazon? I'm disabled and not able to run all over the place with gas at $4 a gallon to shop in person for stuff, and have to buy almost everything online and have it delivered, including groceries.

Did you know that Kings (Kroger), Safeway, Wal-Mart and others contract with an outfit called Instacart? These drivers, like the Ubers and Lyfts, don't get any benefits, but work on solely a contract basis - when they want. For a big order of say, $250 or $260 (not that big anymore with inflation), they get paid a whopping $15 or $20. Now Instacart has it worked so if you sign up for a yearly membership at $99, there is no delivery fee, which is good, but if you have even a modicum of human decency, you're going to give the shopper at least a $15 tip. Seriously. Because the shoppers who have delivered my groceries are generally working part time at this with another job and are barely making ends meet.

Capitalism makes me want to puke everytime I see the fucking disgusting sausage of 'shareholder profits' being made at the expense of workers, consumers, whole communities and the earth itself.

It would be SO good if we:

1. Actually had the political courage to force changes in corporate charters so profits aren't held above everything else - a stakeholder approach forcing the corporations to hold worker welfare, consumer welfare and the environment as being equal in importance to shareholder profits. Then, perhaps, people wouldn't have to die or go without stuff they desperately need. Like insulin.

2. Raised taxes on corporations so they are paying more than 6.8% of the total tax revenue collected by the federal government while individual taxpayers are footing 86% of the bill. Think about that. A fair ratio would actually be the 35% (corporations) : 45% (individuals) we had ca. 1970. Seriously - HW was right in the way back when to call Reagan's supply side (cut taxes for businesses and they would create so many jobs the payroll taxes would more than make for the corporate shortfall) proposals VOODOO ECONOMICS. It was in 1980, and it SURE is now. Supply side never worked in the past, does not now work, and will never work. It's implementation forces the burden of paying out on all these defense contracts and prison contracts to us, while programs we need are cut, cut, cut. Witness the worm Manchin expressing his 'concern' over reducing the age of Medicare eligibility, and all the disgusting assholes who lie to our faces by telling we 'can't afford' Medicare for all Americans. We sure could if corporations and billionaires paid their fair share of taxes, and we had a tax on trades done by arbitrage 'bots on Wall Street, and we eliminated the payroll tax cap on Social Security. We could goddamned well afford these programs if we had the guts to reform our tax code so it is actually fair and balanced.

So now, folks, we have what we have - the end stage capitalist gouge, a war in Ukraine that is killing thousands and hurting the whole world, claims of supply side disruptions driving everything up even when not justified, and our species facing extinction if we can't learn to control our carbon emissions.

All for the sake of...wait for it...

SHAREHOLDER PROFITS


We might well go extinct because some greedhead billionaires can still line their pockets right up to the time its over.

Wow. That was quite a rant, particularly because of my hypocrisy in shopping at Amazon. But what else are we gonna do. We should all be calling our Senators and Representative every ten minutes on this shit, becaue the only thing we CAN do is get the people who supposedly represent our interests to actually DO that at a policy level.

This is a really good thoughtful post, and I have something personal to support your point.

Again, on a strictly personal note, there have been several times in my own life where events have forced me to a realization of how wrong I had been. I have heard this kind of thing be called an 'epiphany,' and so suppose I can call it that since the word is defined as a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, or an intuitive grasp of reality, where different pieces of the puzzle fall into place and suddenly you realize the enormity of something.

In the way back when, I was in my twenties during the 1980s, and was a 'Reagan Republican.' I was this because my grandma Max was, and shared screed after screed with me - long tracts in small font designed to gin up fear of the old Soviet Union - the 'commies.' This made me a truly obnoxious college student. I can remember being a horrible thorn in the side of the professor teaching a class called Social Change.

He taught the class from a Marxist perspective, which drove me bananas, and forced me to write my semester paper using a Marxist perspective. Of course, I bent over backwards putting qualifying language in it, because I didn't want anyone to think I was a 'commie' for goodness sake!

When I look back on my behavior in that class, I am truly ashamed because I was an awful bully during class discussions, and it was the very first class this professor had taught, and I drew him into a proverbial pissing contest. Horrible experience, I'm sure, for the rest of the students in the class, and all because of me. I suspect I ruined the class for everyone. Sigh.

Later on, as time passed, I learned things. I was exposed to different ideas by people I respected, and darned if I did not keep remembering things people had said in the class referenced above, things the professor had said, things his guest speakers had said. Since I am a curious individual and a voracious reader, I compiled a list of authors I wanted to read, beginning with the Communist Manifesto. You know, the USSR and Maoist China never reflected what Marx actually said. I ended up doing additional massive research in economics - looking at books on money supply and central banking, and on the doctrine of shareholder primacy - what capitalism really means.

And, of course, Noam Chomsky - I found him difficult reading. I liked Howard Zinn much better, and his book, "A People's History of the United States," literally blew me away. I learned about oligarchs, wedges, manufactured consent, and then read Klein and learned about shock and awe capitalism. We saw that applied here by Brownie in the aftermath of Katrina. The Bushies allowed private sector companies to maximize profits at the expense of the people who had lost everything in the hurricane.

Somewhere along the line I had the epiphany and became the fervent Democrat I am now.

I share this painful memory because I am human. I was wrong, and when I felt the full weight of my former zealotry, I was ashamed. Big time.

For this reason, I cannot support the assertion by many that no Republicans have any sense of shame. All human beings have a sense of shame. Oh, I don't hold out any hope for dirt-bags like Hawley, Cruz, little Marco, Bats**t Boebert, Marjorie 'Traitor' Greene, McCarthy, Cotton, Gohmert and the rest. They are useful idiots that are towing the line for the billionaire parasites, the oligarchs that have so corrupted our Republic.

But - I am an economist, and interact regularly with people in both parties - local elected officials, economic developers, chamber executives, businesspeople, postsecondary educators, and leaders in other community based organizations. Some, I suppose, are sociopaths. In fact a couple of them are, for sure. But not all, by a long shot. Most are basically decent, and DO have a sense of shame.

The problem is they get their 'news' from biased sources such as Fox and talk radio, because Reagan killed the Fairness Doctrine way back in 1987, and we have seen the growth of what Rachel Maddow calls the Right Wing Noise Machine. That is truth, and Trumpy took that to a whole new level, and now we have the Kluxers, Nazis, crazy-right Evangelicals and other tin-foil types crawling out from under slimy rocks everywhere.

This is why I harp on forcing changes to corporate charters to get rid of shareholder primacy. On identifying the government's role as providing services where the profit motive is in direct conflict with the interests of the people receiving the service - like healthcare. On why we should consider eliminating the Fed and having the US Government take over central banking. On why we need to beef up voting rights by passing that John Lewis Act. And so on.

Policies affect us, you know. And some of the policies put in place around taxation, courtesy of Reagan and the supply-side people at the Chicago School, have really, really hurt the Republic. They have.

Anyway, I am human. I was wrong. I have a sense of shame. I was ashamed. I changed.

So can nearly every other human being. But it is hard. When you believe something fervently and are confronted with facts to the contrary, it causes massive discomfort.

If we are to save this Republic, we must, it seems, change our minds as a people.

Sorry for the long post. If you have read this far, why, you get a nice gold star!

War is stupid, and Putin is in fact a war criminal. But how does the military industrial complex

feel about it all?

Well, I'll tell you.

If we want the world peace Zelinsky spoke of yesterday morning, then we need to force changes in corporate charters away from shareholder primacy to a stakeholder approach. For those of you who have read my little soapbox on this before, bear with me.

In 1919, the Dodge Brothers, who were shareholders in Ford Motor Company sued Henry Ford on the basis that raising the wages of his factory workers to the point where they could afford to buy the cars they produced deprived them of profits to which they were 'entitled' as shareholders. They WON that suit in a Michigan Supreme Court ruling and the doctrine of Shareholder Primacy was born.

It has hardened since then, to the point where 'the market' rewards CEOS who engage in sociopathic behavior. We often get called 'snowflakes' when we say our system holds profits over people, but this is a true statement. Profit is king, and people are nothing. Every. Single. Time.

Think - if you are CEO of a publicly held company, the first thing you're going to do is bust the union. Then, you will drive wages and benefits down, and steal the pension fund if you can. You will compromise on worker safety and cut costs at the expense of good working conditions.

You will downsize the packaging of your products and charge the same amount. If people are hurt by your product sometimes, you will decide, based on shareholder profits, if it is more 'cost effective' to just pay the claims of the people who are maimed or killed from your product, versus recalling the product and fixing the problem. Seriously. Most of you can cite at least several examples of this behavior off the top of your heads.

And the environment? LOL. You will foul it whenever you can get away with it, and if you get caught, or screw up in some other way, you will run to the 'gummint' for a bailout at the expense of taxpayers, but you'll pocket any and all profits. You won't pay any taxes, either, if you can find loopholes. Corporations only pay in 6.8% of the government's tax revenue, while individual taxpayers foot 86% of the bill. This is how you want it.

Finally, you will fund campaigns for as many Republican legislators as you can, because what could be a better investment in keeping this policy just the way you like it? You will also 'earn' millions per year because of a tax loophole that allows corporations to deduct much of your 'compensation.'

THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE NOW, PEOPLE. It is.

And until we force changes to corporate charters to a stakeholder approach that holds workers, consumers and the environment on an equal footing with shareholders, we will continue to have the problems we do. And the corruption we have.

I know this is an esoteric point, or so you may think. You may believe the average 'Murikan cannot understand such a complicated thing, and that's just what the oligarchs want you to continue thinking.

I say this because we have a military industrial complex (MIC) that is driven VERY MUCH by shareholder profits, with patriotism a distant second place. This MIC will NEVER, EVER allow the UN to have the power it should have, or allow Zelinsky's world peace organization to form. It would, after all, be BAD for PROFITS.

Biden should not be blamed for higher gas prices. It is an error to conflate Biden's policies

on Russian oil with the rise in prices at the pump and here's why:

I'd like to respectfully remind everyone that profits are up generally in the oil industry, and that they are using the war as an excuse to gouge us at the pump because they can - they are driven by the doctrine of shareholder primacy - profits over people, rather than by any patriotism or even decency.

To put the ban in perspective, the US imported around 700,000 barrels a day from Russia. In 2021, the United States consumed an average of about 19.78 million barrels of petroleum per day. So we imported around 3.5% of our oil from Russia.

According to the US Department of Energy, in 2021, the United States imported about 8.47 million barrels per day (b/d) of petroleum from 73 countries. Petroleum includes crude oil, hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs), refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and biofuels. Crude oil imports of about 6.11 million b/d accounted for about 72% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports in 2021, and non-crude oil petroleum accounted for about 28% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports.

In 2021, the United States exported about 8.63 million b/d of petroleum to 176 countries and 4 U.S. territories. Crude oil exports of about 2.98 million b/d accounted for 35% of total U.S. gross petroleum exports in 2021. The resulting total net petroleum imports (imports minus exports) were about -0.16 million b/d in 2021, which means that the United States was a net petroleum exporter of 0.16 million b/d in 2021.

The top five source countries of U.S. gross petroleum imports in 2021 were Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Colombia.

Here's who we export oil to:
The top five destination countries of U.S. total petroleum exports by export volume and percentage share of U.S. total petroleum exports in 2021 were:

Mexico—1.16 million b/d—13%
Canada—0.84 million b/d—10%
India—0.62 million b/d—7%
China—0.59 million b/d—7%
South Korea—0.56 million b/d—6%

Now here's the thing I cannot stress enough: The oil companies are governed by the doctrine that shareholder profits are king, and must be held above the interests of workers, consumers and even the environment. Period. They are out for profits. There is absolutely no patriotism there.

So for anyone to say that Biden's policies have driven prices up at the pump is a gross error. The market is far too complicated for such a statement to be true. This really is a price gouge. Nothing more. It is just sick that the media will for the most part conflate Biden's policies with price rises at the pump. Gas has been going up for months and has contributed a lot to the high inflation we're already seeing.

Fortune reports that Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and Total have all returned to profitability in this year's fourth-quarter earnings—in fact, reporting the biggest profits they've seen in eight years.

Here's a nice link to an editorial from Earth Justice that tells you that the oil companies already have a bunch of unused leases (because drilling costs money) on federal land. They are only trying to get the government to use our tax dollars to help fund them. It's the capitalist way - pocket profits and pass all the costs you can on to taxpayers. Corporate socialism at its best: https://earthjustice.org/from-the-experts/2022-march/the-oil-industrys-dishonest-effort-to-wring-profits-from-pain.

Fighting Disinformation Can Feel Like a Lost Cause. It Isn't.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/07/opinion/fighting-disinformation-education.html

This is a really provocative editorial. Worth the read. Here is a quick excerpt:

Over the past five years, Finland has become one of the world’s leaders in disinformation education. High school students there are given a series of political topics and asked to compile lists of stories and commentary from across the internet. They’re then tasked with investigating the veracity of claims. In some schools, even elementary school students are given a “tool kit” that provides them with ways to spot dubious information online.


When I read this, I thought, "What a great idea! We should do that here in the US."

But we don't. The article continues:

In my last newsletter about disinformation, I wrote about a study by the Stanford History Education Group that showed that American high school students were failing basic media literacy and disinformation-spotting tests. Today, I want to dive a bit deeper into the results, which were largely divided by class and race.


So there you have it.

As always, one must ask the pointed queston cui bono? Who benefits from keeping us in ignorance?

Oil Industry Uses Ukraine Invasion to Push for More Drilling

Source: New York Times

Russian troops hadn’t yet begun their full-on assault on Ukraine late Wednesday when the rallying cry came from the American oil and gas industry.

“As crisis looms in Ukraine, U.S. energy leadership is more important than ever,” the American Petroleum Institute, the powerful industry lobby group, wrote on Twitter with a photo that read: “Let’s unleash American energy. Protect our energy security.”

The crux of the industry’s argument is that any effort to restrain drilling in America makes a world already reeling from high oil prices more dependent on oil and gas from Russia, a rival and belligerent fossil fuel superpower.

The industry’s demands have focused on reversing steps the Biden administration has taken to start reining in the production of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/climate/ukraine-oil-lobby-biden-drilling.html



The problem, of course, is that the oil industry cares far more about unleashing higher profits than it does 'unleashing American energy.'

It is the way of capitalism, I know. But if we really cared about 'American energy security,' we'd be focused more on solar, wind and other renewables.

And, we'd be working together to ensure even more workers could work remotely to further reduce our carbon footprint...

It is my hope that Democratic Party movers and shakers will read my post on this thread.

Yes, American corporate culture is poisonous. It is. We are born, we go to a school to learn enough to be 'workers,' then we are sentenced to work for 50 years. After which we get a pension called Social Security that barely pays the bills and keeps us in grinding poverty. We have Medicare, but it is massively confusing to the point where you have to get a book or lawyer up to even understand it, and it has holes that could bankrupt you. WHY???

Now, we are told that we 'can't afford' to expand Social Security and Medicare, but we CAN afford trillions on forever wars and frivolous tax cuts weighted toward benefitting billionaires.

So...where IS our healthcare? Where are the subsidies for childcare so our kids and grandkids don't have to spend an arm and a leg on childcare just so they can work? Where is our dental care? Vision? And where are the defined benefit pensions? Why are corporations allowed to cut our hours so they don't have to give us benefits? Why is pay so low for the workers while CEOs earn in the millions? Why is that?

If government is a service, and we individual taxpayers pay in 86% of the tax revenue, WHY don't those we elect enact laws that materially benefit us? This IS a government of, by and for the people. Isn't it????

Our whole corporate culture, because the shareholder is king, and profits are ALWAYS counted as being more important than people, is a system of slavery - wage slavery.

And now, as workers are voting with their feet, and winning the battle, swinging the pendulum back just a tiny bit to their benefit, we are threatened with a war with Russia - a war that offers at best a Pyrrhic victory for us, and will likely result in bringing down the republic. We are split with one whole political party not in support of democracy, and they will NOT have Biden's back. Millions of Fox 'news' viewers are actually rootin' for Putin, you know?

If we end up in a war in the middle of a pandemic the Republicans have made sure isn't gonna end anytime soon, because they don't want to take no vaccine or wear no masks, 'cause their free-dumb, you know, then we are truly fucked. We working class stiffs will end up sucking wind, BUT THE OLIGARCHS WILL DO JUST FINE.

WHY, BY ANY STRETCH IS THIS OK? WHY DOES THE MEDIA NOT TELL US THE TRUTH?

OH, THEY ARE ALL CORPORATE OWNED.

So, yeah, right now I'm not feeling too good about these fucks. And you might not like 'the squad,' but AOC is goddamned right when she says that every billionaire is a failure in policy. That is NO SHIT.

Stakeholders, not shareholders.

Why do we have so very many workers who can barely make ends meet?

Because right now, and since the MI Supreme Court ruling against Henry Ford in 1919, we have done corporate business under a doctrine called 'primacy of the shareholder.'

This means that profits are king. Period.

Profits are more important than workers, than safety, than consumers, than the community, than the environment. It's all about shareholder profits. Tax loopholes allowing executive compensation to be deducted have contributed to stratospheric 'salaries' for CEOs.

And, hey, if you are a CEO of a publicly held company, and you are doing your job well, you will do the following:

For Workers
1. Bust the union, if there is one, first thing.
2. Participate in systematic wage theft, if you can.
3. Cut hours so you won't have to give your workforce benefits.
4. Steal back the pensions, if the workers have them.
5. Compromise safety on the workplace floor.

For Consumers
1. Cut cost of sales by using inferior parts.
2. Cut the size of packaging and charge the same amount or more.
3. Compromise product safety until paying out claims exceeds the cost of fixing the problem.

For the Community and Environment
1. Foul the environment whenever you can get away with it, and if caught try to pass the cost of cleanup to taxpayers.
2. Contribute to politicians who will 'owe you' and vote against regulation and for tax cuts.

This is why we have what we have right now. The doctrine of shareholder primacy. Replace that with a stakeholder system where the interests of workers, consumers, communities and the environment are held EQUAL to the interests of shareholders, cap C-Suite pay to no more than 10 times that of the worker on the floor, and impose a fairer corporate tax so that corporations are paying in more like 35% of the federal government's tax revenue instead of the current 6.8% (while individual taxpayers, like the workers, are currently paying in 86% - reduce that down to about 45%), beef up regulations that ensure quality, worker and consumer safety, and limit environmental polluting, and impose a wealth tax to eliminate billionaires and...

VIOLA!!!!

We have enough money for Medicare for all Americans including dental care, vision care and prescription drugs, expanded Social Security, affordable debt-free college, infrastructure improvements, improving our K-12 system, and even a guaranteed minimum income.

There’s PLENTY of money. It is just in too few hands.

Anne Rice, Who Spun Gothic Tales of Vampires, Dies at 80

Source: New York Times

Anne Rice, the Gothic novelist best known for “Interview With the Vampire,” the 1976 book that in 1994 became a popular film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, died on Saturday at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 80.

Her son, Christopher Rice, wrote on social media that the cause was complications of a stroke.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/12/books/anne-rice-dead.html



Rest in Peace, Anne.

Well, today I am 63.

As a present to myself, because God knows, I don't have any money to speak of, I called my two senators and my representative to give them a piece of my mind.

I began by saying that individual taxpayers pay in $0.86 out of every $1 the government takes in, while corporations only pay in $0.068, but we sure aren't getting anything like our money's worth because shareholder profits are king and constituents like me and my family are nothing.

I pointed out that we had to have the Congressional Budget Office 'study' the Build Back Better legislation to ascertain how much it would cost, BUT NO ONE IS BATTING AN EYELASH ABOUT THE $778 BILLION 'DEFENSE' BILL.

At this point, I was just getting going into my favorite issue, which is healthcare. I told these staffers that like most American working stiffs outside the beltway, people who struggle to make ends meet, I have crummy, rationed healthcare with financially crippling copays.

I went on to say that we knew my partner would need surgery and our financially crippling copay for her was $4,000. Took about a year to save that up. Had the surgery, but then she needed hearing aids. Well, la de da, that isn't covered, so I had to take out a $1200 loan, which I have paid down a bit. Then I lost a crown, which cost about $600 out of pocket, and I had to go to the periodontist and spend another $400 for a special x-ray Delta Dental doesn't cover.

The bottom line? I have no savings left, and getting my teeth fixed is going to cost ME $12 large. Out of pocket.

So, we can squander $4.2 trillion on two forever wars that ground up two of the kids in my family. We can fritter away another $3 trillion through a 2017 tax cut for billionaires and corporations, and now we can squander $778 billion on 'defense.'

WHERE IS MY HEALTHCARE?

WHERE IS MY DENTAL CARE?

WHERE IS THE AFFORDABLE, DEBT FREE COLLEGE FOR MY GRANDKIDS?

When is the last time Congress did ANYTHING that materially benefitted you and your families? Sure, they threw money at us during the stimulus, but the last time Congress passed legislation that actually materially benefitted me and my family was in 1965 when they passed Medicare.

Yeah, you can look at FMLA and the ADA, but those are still a struggle, because FMLA is unpaid, and the ADA, well - I have an ambulatory disability, and I will just say thank God I'm not in a wheelchair, because 'access' isn't all that and a bag of chips.

So, I'm pretty fucking disgusted with ALL OF THEM, if you want to know the truth. And I'm sick of the media not reporting things that are really important. I'm sick of the traitors that want to make this into a fucking dictatorship, and I am sick of the corporations that care more about profits than about our lives. I'm sick of the unavoidable corruption in our political system, and of dominionist 'christians'. I'm sick of politicians that pay lip service to me and my family but then vote in $778 billion in 'defense' because China has a supposedly better missile, but I HAVE TO TAKE OUT FUCKING LOANS FOR HEALTHCARE.

This is fucked up, and I know we are all Democrats, but you know, I sure wish they would be a bit less polite and at least enforce subpoenas on the traitors. Let alone expanding Medicare.

Yep. Today is my 63rd birthday AND I'M FUCKING FED UP.

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