November 8, 2012: it had just been two days since the re-election of President Obama in the US. That day, I shared, on Facebook, how who is in the White House doesn’t make a real difference to the US and the world. The basic argument I tried to make was that regardless of who is in that House in Washington DC, the system of governance with lawmakers making laws which run and control systems in the country, and the Government of the United States enforcing them, is completely rigged. The lawmakers in the US Congress, being mostly very wealthy themselves, do the bidding of the super wealthy. For over three decades now they have passed or repealed laws which enrich the very wealthy, and will continue to do so in the future instead of passing or upholding laws that benefit the country as a whole as well as the planet.
Anyway, what follows is a reproduction of that Facebook status update and the discussion I had with a number of friends. I reproduce it here because it was an interesting exchange even then and now especially so in light of everything that has transpired in the US and elsewhere during Trump’s presidency over the past year and a half.
Of course, I have redacted all the names to protect the privacy of my friends AND also because my intention behind reproducing the exchange is NOT to embarrass or humiliate anyone in any way.
What do you think?
The following articles, videos etc. provide support for my thesis that the systems in the US are rigged for the benefit of the wealthy, which, as a consequence, makes the rest of the Americans and the world suffer.
Money in Politics: Systems That Enable the Wealthy to “Buy” US Elections
- Dallas News (May, 2018). How Putin’s oligarchs funneled millions into GOP campaigns. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- The Story of Stuff Project. Story of Citizens United v FEC video.
Tax Cuts and How the Wealthy in the US Benefits the most from it
- Bloomberg (July, 2018). Trump’s Tax Cut Hasn’t Done Anything for Workers. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Business Insider (Dec., 2017). From private school tax breaks to bigger inheritances, 7 ways rich people win big if tax reform passes. “The GOP’s proposed tax reform bill will give a boost to the wealthiest in the country. Repealing the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax (AMT) are just two of the ways rich Americans could benefit. Meanwhile, the typical American family will get a tax cut of $1,182.” [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Daily Intelligencer (Nov., 2017). The Richest One Percent of America Gets Half the Trump Tax Cuts. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Financial Times (Nov., 2017). US richest 1% to gain most from Republican tax plan, report says. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Vox (Dec., 2017). The Republican tax bill got worse: now the top 1% gets 83% of the gains. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- NPR (Nov., 2017). CHARTS: Here’s How GOP’s Tax Breaks Would Shift Money To Rich, Poor Americans. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- NBCNews (July, 2018). What did corporate America do with that tax break? Buy record amounts of its own stock. “The White House promised ’70 percent’ of the tax cut would go to workers. It didn’t.” [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- The Hill (July, 2018). GOP chairman outlines plan for phase two of tax cuts. [Added on July 25, 2018.]
- Axios (July, 2018). Corporate CEOs took home more than you think. [Added on July 29, 2018.]
- Robert Reich on Facebook. Three things that happened six months since the GOP tax passed:
- $625 billion in stock buybacks for investors
- A $400 billion discount for multinational corporations on offshore profits
- A lower average wages for workers after adjusting for inflation
- Politico (July 30, 2018). ‘Eye-popping’ payouts for CEOs follow Trump’s tax cuts. “Some of the biggest winners from President Donald Trump’s new tax law are corporate executives who have reaped gains as their companies buy back a record amount of stock, a practice that rewards shareholders by boosting the value of existing shares.” […] “To be sure, 44 percent of companies say they also plan to reinvest some savings in their operations through initiatives like new factories, research and development and higher wages, according to Morgan Stanley. That’s the kind of uses that featured prominently in Republicans’ marketing of their tax bill.” [Added Aug. 1, 2018.]
- The Atlantic (July 31, 2018). Are Stock Buybacks Starving the Economy? “Stock buybacks are eating the world. The once illegal practice of companies purchasing their own shares is pulling money away from employee compensation, research and development, and other corporate priorities—with potentially sweeping effects on business dynamism, income and wealth inequality, working-class economic stagnation, and the country’s growth rate.” […] “Companies spent roughly $7 trillion on their own shares from 2004 to 2014, and have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on buybacks in the past six months alone.” […] “How much might workers have benefited if companies had devoted their financial resources to them rather than to shareholders? Lowe’s, CVS, and Home Depot could have provided each of their workers a raise of $18,000 a year, the report found. Starbucks could have given each of its employees $7,000 a year, and McDonald’s could have given $4,000 to each of its nearly 2 million employees.” [Emphases mine. Added Aug. 2, 2018.]
Systems and Tactics, and policies that Benefit or Work in Favor of the Wealthy, Directly or Indirectly
- Forbes (April 14, 2014). Report: Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance. [Added on July 22, 2018.]
- The Atlantic (July, 2018). Voter Suppression Is Warping Democracy. Voter suppression enables those in power in the US, those who are wealthy, can continue to remain in power. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Rolling Stone (Feb., 2018). Jeff Bezos, Amazon and Why ‘Charity’ Is the Wrong Solution. “The richest man in the world’s pledge to send Dreamers to college sounds great, but his company’s poor treatment of its workers is a bigger problem.” Systems allow the wealthiest people to get away with treating their employees differently from how they should be treated. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Le Journal International (Feb. 2016). Lobbying: the political influence in USA. “Lobbying remains intimately linked with financing. The main objective of a lobbyist is to mak his worries known to the political agenda, to influence the decision making, whether at an executive, legislative, federal or State level. Their influence can also be applied to block the decision-making process. Therefore, influence is created on the long-term by forming strong contacts with politicians and often accompanied by financial benefit relating to electoral campaigns.” [Added on July 25, 2018.]
- The Verge (April 16, 2018). Amazon warehouse workers skip bathroom breaks to keep their jobs, says report. “In the UK, an undercover reporter and a labor survey exposed harrowing work conditions.” [Added July 29, 2018.]
- Facebook video. Navy Veteran Experiences Amazon’s Horrific Working Conditions. [Added July 29, 2018.]
- The Guardian (May 18, 2018). 12 years in jail for shoplifting: how Walmart is helping prosecutors hike up sentences. “The case of a man facing 12 years in prison for shoplifting shows a growing trend in America: corporations successfully pushing state prosecutors to increase shoplifting charges to felonies[.]” [Added on Aug. 1, 2018.]
- The Atlantic (Aug. 1, 2018). Jeff Bezos’s $150 Billion Fortune Is a Policy Failure. “[H]is fortune is also a policy failure, an indictment of a tax and transfer system and a business and regulatory environment designed to supercharging the earnings of and encouraging wealth accumulation among the few.” [Added on Sept. 16, 2018.]
The Current State of Affairs with Wealth Inequality
- Wealth Inequality in America. Wealthy inequality in the US has been steadily growing again because of the kind of systems, laws etc. that have been enacted, benefiting the rich that the wealth inequality is what it is today. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- Global Wealth Inequality. The incredible inequality is of course has been influenced by US government and corporation systems and practices etc. [Added on July 24, 2018.]
- The Guardian (July 29, 2018). Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here’s why.
“Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation.” […]
“What’s going on? Simply put, the vast majority of American workers have lost just about all their bargaining power. The erosion of that bargaining power is one of the biggest economic stories of the past four decades, yet it’s less about supply and demand than about institutions and politics.” […]
“Today, fewer than 7% of private-sector workers are unionized, and public-employee unions are in grave jeopardy, not least because of the supreme court ruling.”
- The New York Times (July 26, 2018). In Our ‘Winner-Take-Most’ Economy, the Wealth Is Not Spreading. “Even as corporate America has unleashed insatiable consumer demand for innovative low-cost goods and technology, it has driven economic trends that continue to increase inequality, stall wage growth and strengthen the power of business. ” [Added on Aug. 1, 2018.]
- Market Watch (July 31, 2018). America’s 1% hasn’t controlled this much wealth since before the Great Depression. [Aug. 2, 2018.]
- Big Think (May 18, 2018). 43% of U.S. households can’t afford the basics. [Added on Sept. 16, 2018.]
- Vox (July 29, 2018). One chart that shows how much worse income inequality is in America than Europe. “The income share of the poorest half of Americans is declining while the richest have grabbed more. In Europe, it’s not happening.” [Added on Sept. 16, 2018.]
Truthdig (July 25, 2018). American Society Would Collapse If It Weren’t for These 8 Myths.
“Our society should’ve collapsed by now. You know that, right?
“No society should function with this level of inequality (with the possible exception of one of those prison planets in a “Star Wars” movie). Sixty-three percent of Americans can’t afford a $500 emergency. Yet Amazon head Jeff Bezos is now worth a record $141 billion. He could literally end world hunger for multiple years and still have more money left over than he could ever spend on himself.
“Worldwide, one in 10 people only make $2 a day. Do you know how long it would take one of those people to make the same amount as Jeff Bezos has? 193 million years. (If they only buy single-ply toilet paper.) Put simply, you cannot comprehend the level of inequality in our current world or even just our nation.” [Added July 29, 2018.]
- Axios (July 2018). Being 30 then and now. “In the mid-to-late-20th century, the American economy and culture were ripe for 30-year-old men, who — more than European and Japanese — typically landed well-paid careers, bought homes, and supported large families. But since then, getting ahead has become much harder. ” [Added July 29, 2018.]
- CBSNews (June 14, 2018). Minimum wage doesn’t cover the rent anywhere in the U.S. “A minimum-wage worker would have to put in lots of overtime to be able to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country. And downsizing to a one-bedroom pad barely helps.” [Added July 29, 2018.]
- The Institute for New Economic Thinking (April 6, 2018). The Corporate Plan to Groom U.S. Kids for Servitude by Wiping Out Public Schools. “Again and again, he found that corporate-backed lobbyists were able to subvert the clear preferences of the public and their elected representatives in both parties. Of all the areas these lobbyists were able to influence, the policy campaign that netted the most laws passed, featured the most big players, and boasted the most effective organizations was public education. For these U.S. corporations, undermining the public school system was the Holy Grail.” [Added July 29, 2018.]
- NBC News (July 20, 2018). Voter purge frenzy after federal protections lifted, new report says. Nine states with a history of racial discrimination are aggressively removing voters from the rolls, the Brennan Center for Justice says.
“A key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority voters from state disenfranchisement, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, allowing states to begin making changes affecting voting without first getting federal approval.” […] “Voter purges — cleaning up and pruning voter rolls down to remove inaccurate information — are a normal part of all election roll maintenance. But if purges are done too aggressively or with bad information, advocates warn, they can disenfranchise eligible voters, who may not know they’ve been purged until they go to the polls on Election Day and are unable to vote.” [Aug. 1, 2018.]
- The Rolling Stones (Dec. 4, 2013). Snowden and Greenwald: The Men Who Leaked the Secrets.
‘The more Snowden saw of the NSA’s actual business – and, particularly, the more he read “true information,” including a 2009 Inspector General’s report detailing the Bush era’s warrantless-surveillance program – the more he realized that there were actually two governments: the one that was elected, and the other, secret regime, governing in the dark. “If the highest officials in government can break the law without fearing punishment or even any repercussions at all, secret powers become tremendously dangerous.”’ […] “Another concern was what he viewed as the willingness of big business to further government secrecy.” [Added Aug. 5, 2018.]
- The New York Times (Aug. 5, 2018). Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans. “For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.” [Added on Aug. 6, 2018.]
- Institute for New Economic Thinking (April 6, 2018). The Corporate Plan to Groom U.S. Kids for Servitude by Wiping Out Public Schools. “Again and again, he found that corporate-backed lobbyists were able to subvert the clear preferences of the public and their elected representatives in both parties. Of all the areas these lobbyists were able to influence, the policy campaign that netted the most laws passed, featured the most big players, and boasted the most effective organizations was public education. For these U.S. corporations, undermining the public school system was the Holy Grail.” [Added August 8, 2018.]