Thursday, March 31, 2011

Five Worst Things the Koch Brothers Have Done. Vote!

Original Link:

By Robert Greenwald

The billionaire Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to gain political influence and change America. Their work and spending is driven by the goal of increasing their own profit through decreasing regulations. The expansive and diverse nature of their efforts makes it overwhelming to keep tabs of all they’ve done that has caused harm. And that’s why Brave New Foundation is going to keep connecting the dots and telling the full story of what they’ve done to our country.

Our work at Brave New Films has always focused on the best way to tell the full story, to connect all the moving pieces and to highlight how one example of a problem in our democracy is always representative of a larger problem. Our producers did this with Outfoxed, where they exposed the unbalanced propaganda that is Fox News. And they did this with Wal-Mart, where they uncovered the damage done to our country by the high cost of low prices. In Iraq For Sale, they exposed the war profiteering and they were on the frontline of questioning the reasons for war in Rethink Afghanistan. With Sick for Profit, they fought against insurance company greed in the battle for health care. And they worked to stop the History Channel from hosting fiction and smearing President Kennedy.

And now we aim our focus at the Koch brothers. 
With a net worth of $43 billion the Kochs have already spent decades of their lives and over $324 million of their wealth exerting their influence.

The Kochs accomplish their goals by funding a massive array of right wing front groups, think tanks and tea party efforts. They largely operate outside of the public eye, and target their funding to infiltrate public opinion, the media, judicial decisions and legislation. Over three dozen organizations are funded by the brothers, and they spend additional money lobbying and backing political candidates.

Everything the Kochs do is to fight for a country free from protections and any degree of a social safety net for working Americans. The Kochs are not the only uber-wealthy in America who are using their money to buy political power that will increase their profits, but they are a key example through which to tell this story.

As a starting place of exposing the Kochs, we thought it would be useful to compile a video outlining the top five worst things the Koch brothers have done.

As the video outlines, there are a lot of “worst of” moments the Koch brothers have already created. Here is a rundown of the top five covered within the video.

Oil Spills

Koch Industries have made much of their money in the oil business. In 2000 they were fined the largest amount yet imposed upon a company under federal law. The $30 million fine was paid to resolve claims related to more than 300 oil spills in over six states, and an additional $5 million was ordered to be spent on environmental projects.

As the EPA reports, most of the spills occurred in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. One incident involved 100,000 gallons of oil spilled in Texas, which caused a 12-mile oil slick on Nueces Bay and Corpus Christi Bay.


The Koch brothers have spent more that $34 million on groups and organizations that work against workers rights. Koch organizations have targeted key union efforts, such as fighting against public sector union pay raises, and arguing against unions having any political or organizing power.

The Koch brothers also gave money to political candidates to achieve their goals. Mother Jones’s summarizes this diverse giving well:

According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker’s gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign’s second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin. The Koch’s PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used political maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly.

Additionally, the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, a tea party group, led the Stand With Walker campaign, which led support of the Governor’s efforts to bust unions and fight against workers rights.


The Kochs financed the tea party’s fight against health care reform through their tea party group, Americans for Prosperity.


The Koch Brothers have funded anti-immigration legislation through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a conservative group that writes policies and offers them to state legislatures throughout the country for use. ALEC has been involved in a wide range of anti-immigration work, including Arizona’s SB1070, which requires anyone thought to be an immigrant to produce paperwork.


The Kochs fund think tanks that push for foreclosures on working people’s houses. The Koch funded Reason Foundation has produced numerous reports saying that foreclosures should not be stopped. And the Koch funded Mercatus Center also presented congressional testimony stating that the foreclosures should not be stopped, and that there is no harm done to homeowners when their houses are foreclosed on.

Untold Millions

The Koch brothers’ spending is structured, such that it is difficult for the public to know the full range of their political influence. With the Koch-supported Citizens United, and other attempts to fight against campaign finance reform, this trend of lack of transparency is only to get worse. The spending numbers that we do know are only the tip of the iceberg.

As if that list isn’t frightening and offensive enough, there’s even more that could be added to it! Visit our Koch Brothers Exposed site and Koch Brothers Exposed Facebook page to vote on the options and suggestion you own thoughts on what the worst thing is that the Koch brothers have done.

Brave New Foundation is just getting started on our work to expose the Koch Brothers. Please join us to follow our upcoming videos. You can also donate to become a producer and receive a limited edition Shepard Fairey Koch Brothers Exposed t-shirt.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Republicans' Big Lies About Jobs

Original Link:

By Robert Reich

"And if all others accepted the lie which the party imposed -- if all records told the same tale -- then the lie passed into history and became the truth." ~ George Orwell, 1984 (published in 1949)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was in town yesterday (specifically, at Stanford's Hoover Institute where he could surround himself with sympathetic Republicans) to tell this whopper: "Cutting the federal deficit will create jobs."

It's not true. Cutting the deficit will creates fewer jobs. Less government spending reduces overall demand. This is particularly worrisome when, as now, consumers and businesses are still holding back. Fewer government workers have paychecks to buy stuff from other Americans, some of whom in turn will lose their jobs without enough customers.

But truth doesn't seem to matter. Republicans figure if their big lies are repeated often enough, people will start to believe them.

Unless, that is, those big lies are repudiated -- and big truths are told in their place.

What worries me almost as much as the Republican's repeated big lies about jobs is the silence of President Obama and Democratic leaders in the face of them. Obama has the bully pulpit. Republicans don't. But if he doesn't use it the Republican's big lies gain credibility.

Here are some other whoppers being repeated daily:

"Cutting taxes on the rich creates jobs." Nope. Trickle-down economics has been tried for thirty years and hasn't worked. After George W. Bush cut taxes on the rich, far fewer jobs were created than after Bill Clinton raised them in the 1990s.

To his credit, President Obama argued against Republican demands for extending the Bush tax credit on those making more than a quarter million. But as soon as Republicans pushed back he caved. And the president hasn't even mentioned that the $61 billion Republicans are demanding in budget cuts this fiscal year is what richer Americans would have paid in taxes had he not caved.

"Cutting corporate income taxes creates jobs." Baloney. American corporations don't need tax cuts. They're sitting on over $1.5 trillion of cash right now. They won't invest it in additional capacity or jobs because they don't see enough customers out there with enough money in their pockets to buy what the additional capacity would produce.

The president needs to point this out -- not just in Washington but across the nation where Republican governors are slashing corporate taxes and simultaneously cutting school budgets. President Obama says he wants to invest in American skills, but many states are doing the opposite. Florida Governor Rick Scott, for example, says his proposed corporate tax cuts "will give Florida a competitive edge in attracting jobs." They'll also require education spending be reduced by $3 billion. Florida already ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending and has one of nation's lowest graduation rates. If Scott's tax cuts create jobs, most will pay peanuts.

"Cuts in wages and benefits create jobs." Congressional Republicans and their state counterparts repeat this lie incessantly. It also lies behind corporate America's incessant demand for wage and benefit concessions -- and corporate and state battles against unions. But it's dead wrong. Meager wages and benefits are reducing the spending power of tens of millions of American workers, which is prolonging the jobs recession.

President Obama and Democratic leaders should be standing up for the wages and benefits of ordinary Americans, standing up for unions, and decrying the lie that wage and benefit concessions are necessary to create jobs. The president should be traveling to the Midwest -- taking aim at Republican governors in the heartland who are hell bent on destroying the purchasing power of American workers. But he's doing nothing of the sort.

"Regulations kill jobs." Congressional Republicans are using this whopper to justify their attempts to defund regulatory agencies. Regulations whose costs to business exceed their benefits to the public are unwarranted, of course, but reasonable regulation is necessary to avoid everything from nuclear meltdowns to oil spills to mine disasters to food contamination -- all of which we've sadly witnessed. Here again, we're hearing little from the president or Democratic leaders.

Look, the president can't be everywhere, doing everything. There's tumult in the Middle East, we're suddenly at war in Libya, Japan is struggling with the aftermath of disaster, and surely Latin America is an important trading partner.

But nothing is more central to average Americans than jobs and wages. Unless the president forcefully rebuts Republican's big lies, they'll soon become conventional wisdom.

Want to Cut the Deficit? Restore Fair Taxes on Corporations and the Wealthy

By Deborah Burger

If the deficit hawks in Congress are serious about righting our economic ship and reducing deficits in the federal budget and many state capitols, it would we worth listening to the voices rising from the streets suggesting a very different solution than more cuts in safety net programs, education, pensions, and worker’s rights.

Greed at the upper echelons of our society is bankrupting our governments at every level. "Suggesting corporations and the wealthiest Americans pay their fair share," writes Deborah Burger, "usually earns one the reproof of advocating class warfare. But class warfare when practiced by the elites is apparently perfectly acceptable. The average CEO who was paid $27 for every dollar earned by an employer 25 years ago – during which wages have mostly fallen or stagnated – now gets a ratio of about $275 to $1." This is not a budget fight, it’s a fight for the future of an America in which everyone should be able to retire in dignity, not worry about whether they can go to the doctor when they get sick, or whether there will still be schools for their kids.

How will we pay for it? By increasing the revenues from those who can most afford it, not by punishing those who have the least. By requiring corporations and the wealthiest individuals to pay their fair share, and stop blaming working people for an economic crisis created by Wall Street and exploited by their politician acolytes.

We’ve all heard the arguments. Pass more corporate tax breaks because that’s what makes the economy grow. Except it doesn’t.

Corporate profits per employee are at record levels. At $1.6 trillion, third quarter 2009 corporate profits were the highest ever recorded. Yet official unemployment still hovers near 9 percent, and the real jobless number is probably double that. Whatever big corporations are doing with their record profits, they are not hiring more workers.

Or the argument that our 35 percent corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. Except few if any major corporations pay anywhere near that amount. Half of foreign companies and about 42 percent of U.S. companies paid no U.S. income taxes for two or more years from 1998 to 2005, according to a recent Government Accounting Office study.

How do they accomplish this? Pages of corporate tax loopholes that render the supposed tax rate meaningless, loopholes not available to the average working family.

Who are some of those tax scofflaws? Bank of America and Citigroup, two of the financial institutions that, unlike workers did actually create the financial meltdown, paid no taxes in 2009. Boeing, just awarded a new $35 billion contract by the federal government to build airplanes, also paid no taxes between 2008 and 2010 despite recording $10 billion in profits those year, reports Citizens for Tax Justice.

Where’s the shared sacrifice from these corporate giants? Not from General Electric which, as the New York Times reported March 24, made $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, but paid no U.S. taxes, and was rewarded with the appointment of their top executive to head President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Apparently paying no taxes is a model for how to be competitive.

Then there’s the wealthiest Americans who won a two year extension on tax breaks in December and also profited from the near elimination of estate taxes, at a time when the richest 5 percent of Americans control 23 percent of total income, compared to just 12 percent for the 40 percent at the bottom.

According to Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini Consulting, there were about 3 million high net worth individuals and ultra high net wealth individuals in the US in 2009, those with investable assets, excluding primary residences and consumables, of from $1 million to $30 million.

Calculations by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, research arm of National Nurses United, shows that a one-time wealth surcharge of 14% on those assets would more than pay for the $1.6 trillion budget deficit projection for 2011. Or, it would support about 33.8 million households at the national real median income level for 2008, pay for a year’s worth of AIDS medication for about 142 million patients, or create 34 million jobs at $50,000 per year.

In other words, we could more than balance our federal and state budgets without cutting Social Security or slashing pensions for public servants or depriving students of access to a decent education or far too many Americans of access to healthcare.

Turn off the Fox News echo chamber and you can hear the sounds of those calling for economic justice and a more fair tax system every day in the streets of Madison, Columbus, Indianapolis, and other cities across America. They have opened a door that will not be closed, and their voices are getting louder.

Billionaires Flourish, Inequalities Deepen as Economies “Recover”

Original Link:

By James Petras

The bailouts of banks, speculators and manufacturers served their real purposes: the multi-millionaires became billionaires and the later became multi-billionaires. According to the annual report of the business magazine Forbes there are 1,210 individuals – and in many cases family clans – with a net value of $1 billion dollars (or more). There total net worth is $4 trillion, 500 billion dollars, greater than the combined worth of 4 billion people in the world. The current concentration of wealth exceeds any previous period in history; from King Midas, the Maharajahs, and the Robber Barons to the recent Silicon Valley – Wall Street moguls of the present decade.

An analysis of the source of wealth of the super-rich, the distribution in the world economy and the methods of accumulation highlights several important differences with major political consequences. We will proceed to identify these specific features of the super-rich, starting with the United States and follow with an analysis of the rest of the world.

The Super-Rich in the US: the Biggest Living Parasites

The US has the most billionaires in the world (413), better than one third of the total, the greatest proportion among the “big countries” in the world. A closer look also reveals that among the top 200 billionaires (those with $5.2 billion and more) there are 57 from the US (29%). Over one third made their fortune through speculative activity, predators on the productive economy and exploiters of the property and stock market. This is the highest percentage of any major country in Europe or Asia (with the exception of England). The enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of this tiny parasitical ruling class is one reason why the US has the worst inequalities of any advanced economy and among the worst in the entire world. Speculators do not employ workers, they secure tax loopholes and bailouts and then press for cuts in the social budget, since they do not require a healthy, educated workforce (except for a tiny elite). In 1976 the top 1% held 20% of the wealth; in 2007 they commanded 35% of total wealth. Eighty percent of Americans own only 15% of the wealth. The recent economic crises, which initially reduced the total wealth of the country, did so in an uneven fashion – hitting the majority of workers and employees worse. The Bush-Obama bailout led to the economic recovery, not of the “economy in general”, but was confined to further enhancing the wealth of the billionaires – which explains why the unemployment/under employment rate has hardly moved, why the fiscal debt and trade deficit grows and the state lowers corporate taxes and slashes federal, state and municipal budgets. The “dynamic” sector composed of parasitical capitalists employ few workers, exports no products, pays lower taxes and imposes greater cuts in social spending for productive workers. In the case of the US billionaires, their wealth is largely accrued via the pillage of the state treasury and productive economy and via speculation in the information technology sector which houses one-fifth of the top billionaires.

BRIC’s New Billionaires: Exploiting Labor of Nature

The leading emerging capitalist countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) hailed by the mass media for their rapid growth over the past decade are producing billionaires at a faster rate than any bloc of countries in the world. According to the latest data in Forbes (March 2011), the number of billionaires in BRIC increased over 56% from 193 in 2010 to 301 in 2011, exceeding that of Europe.

The high growth of BRIC has led to the concentration and centralization of capital, in every case promoted by state policies which provides low interest loans, subsidies, tax incentives, unrestricted exploitation of natural resources and labor, the dispossession of small property owners and the give-away of publicly owned enterprises.

The dynamic growth of billionaires in BRIC has led to the most egregious inequalities in the world. Among BRIC, China leads the way with the greatest number of billionaires (115) and the worst inequalities in all of Asia, in sharp contrast to its Communist past when it was the most egalitarian country in the world. An examination of the source of wealth of China’s super rich reveals that it has resulted from the exploitation of labor in the manufacturing sector, speculation in real-estate, construction and trade. China has surpassed the US as the world’s biggest manufacturer in 2011, as a result of the super-exploitation of labor in China and the growth of parasitical financial capital in the US.

In contrast to the US, China’s working class is making significant inroads into the profiteering of its manufacturing and real estate elite.As a result of working class struggle, wages have been growing between 10% and 20% over the past 5 years; protests by farmers and urban households against state sanctioned evictions by real estate speculators have exceeded 100,000 per year.

The wealth of Russian billionaires on the other hand resulted from the violent theft of public resources (oil, gas, aluminum, iron, steel, etc.) developed by the previous Communist regime. The great majority of Russian billionaires depend on the export of commodities, pillaging and devastating the natural environment under a corrupt and deregulated regime. The contrast in living and working conditions between the western=oriented billionaires and the Russian working class is largely the result of the siphoning off of wealth to overseas accounts, offshore investments, and extraordinary personal luxuries including multi-million dollar real estate. In contrast to China’s industrial elite, Russia’s billionaires resemble the parasitical rentiers found among Wall Street speculators and Persian Gulf sheiks.

India’s billionaires are a combination of old and new rich drawing their wealth by exploiting low wage industrial workers, dispossessing slum and tribal peoples, as well as from diversified holdings in real estate, IT, and software. India’s billionaires accumulated their wealth through their class-kin linkages to the very corrupt higher echelons of the political class, securing monopolies via state contracts. India’s high growth over the past decade (averaging 7%) and the upsurge in billionaires upward to 55 by 2011, are both linked the neo-liberal policies of deregulation, privatization and globalization, which have concentrated wealth at the top, undermined small scale producers and dispossessed tens of millions.

Brazil’s billionaire class has expanded rapidly, especially under the leadership of the Workers Party, to 29, up from single digits a decade earlier. Today over two-thirds of Latin America’s billionaires are Brazilians. The centerpiece of Brazil’s super-rich wealth is the financial-banking sector which has benefited enormously from the monetary, fiscal and neo-liberal policies of the Lula Da Silva regime. Billionaire bankers have been the principle beneficiaries of the agro-mineral export economy which has flourished over the past decade, at the expense of the manufacturing sector. Despite claims by Workers Party leaders, the class inequalities between the mass of minimum wage workers ($380 per month as of March 2011) and the super-rich continues to be worst in Latin America. An analysis of the source of wealth among Brazilian billionaires reveals that 60% accrued their wealth in the finance, real estate and insurance (FIRE) sector and only one (3%) in the capital or intermediary manufacturing sector. Brazil’s boom in economic growth and billionaires fits the profile of a ‘colonial economy’: heavy in conspicuous consumption, commodity exports and presided over by a dominant financial sector which promotes neo-liberal policies. Over the course of the past decade despite the populist political theatrics and paternalistic poverty programs sponsored by the “center-left” Workers Party, the major socio-economic outcome has been the growth of a class of “super-rich” billionaires concentrated in banking with powerful links to the agro-mineral sectors. The free-market high growth financial-agro-mineral class has degraded the manufacturing sector, especially textiles and shoes, as well as capital and intermediary goods producers.

BRIC are producing more,and growing faster than the established imperial powers in Europe and the US, but they are also producing monstrous inequalities and concentrations of wealth.The socio-economic consequences have already manifested themselves in increasing class conflict especially in China and India, as intensive exploitation and dispossession have provoked mass action. The Chinese political elite seems to be the most conscious of the political threat posed by the growing concentration of wealth and is in the midst of promoting substantial wage increases and greater local consumption which seems to be lowering profit margins among some sectors of the manufacturing elite. Perhaps the ‘historical memory’ of the “cultural revolution’ and the Maoist legacy plays a role in alerting the political elite to the political dangers resulting from “capitalist excesses” associated with the high levels of exploitation and the rapid growth of a class of politically connected kinship based billionaires.

Middle East:

Over the past decade the most dynamic country in the Middle East has been Turkey. Led by a liberal democratic regime of Islamic inspiration, Turkey has led the region in GDP growth and in the production of billionaires. The Turkish economic performance has been presented by the World Bank and the IMF as a model for the post dictatorial regimes in the Arab world – ‘high growth’, a diversified economy based on the growing concentration of wealth. Turkey has 35% more billionaires (37) than the Gulf and North African states combined (24). The ‘secret’ of Turkish growth is the high rates of investments in diverse industries and the intensive exploitation of labor. Many Turkish billionaires (14) derive their wealth via ‘conglomerates’, investments in diverse manufacturing, finance and construction sectors. Apart from the ‘conglomerate billionaires,’ there are ‘specialist billionaires’ who have accumulated wealth from banking, construction, and food manufacturing. One of the reasons Turkey has rebuked and challenged Israeli power in the Middle East is because its capitalists are eager to project investments and penetrate markets in the Arab world. Apart from the highly Zionized US political system, the ruling elites and public in Europe and Asia have looked favorably on Turkey’s opposition to Israel’s massacres in Gaza and violation of international law on the high seas. If a modern liberal Islamic regime can grow rapidly through the rapid expansion of a diversified class of the super-rich, so does Israel, a modern neo-liberal-Judaic state based on the rapid growth of a highly diverse class of billionaires. Israel with 16 billionaires is a country with the fastest growing class inequalities in the region — with the highest per-capita billionaires in the world… Israel’s ‘growth sectors,’ software, military industries, finance, insurance and diamonds and overseas investments in metals and mining are led by billionaires and multi-millionaires who have benefited from Zionist induced financial handouts from the US pillage of resources from the ex-USSR and transfer of funds by Russian-Israeli oligarchs and through joint ventures with Jewish-American billionaires in software corporations, especially in the “security” sector. Israel’s high percentage of billionaires at a time of sharp cuts in social spending puts the lie to its claim to be a ‘social democracy’ in the midst of Arab ‘sheikhdoms.’ As a matter of record, Israel has twice as many billionaires (16) as Saudi Arabia (8) and more super-rich than the entire Gulf countries (13). The fact that Israel has more billionaires per capita than any other country has not prevented its Zionist supporters in the US from pressing for an additional 20 billion in aid over the next decade. Unlike the past, today Israel’s wealth concentration has less to do with its being the biggest recipient of foreign aid. Israel’s receiving of handouts is a political issue: Zionist power over the Congressional purse. Given the total wealth of Israel’s billionaires, a five percent tax would more than compensate for any cut off of US foreign aid. But that is not about to happen simply because Zionist power in America dictates that the US taxpayers subsidize Israel’s plutocrats by paying for their offensive weaponry.


The “economic crises” of 2008-2009 inflicted only temporary losses to some (US-EU) billionaires and not others (Asian). Thanks to trillion dollar/Euro/yen bailouts, the billionaires class has recovered and expanded, even as wages in the US and Europe stagnate and ‘living standards’ are slashed by massive cutbacks in health, education, employment and public services.

What is striking about the recovery, growth, and expansion of the world’s billionaires is how dependent their accumulation of wealth is based on pillage of state resources; how much of their fortunes were based on neo-liberal policies which led to the takeover at bargain prices of privatized public enterprises; how state deregulation allows for plunder of the environment to extract resources at the highest rate of return; how the state promoted the expansion of speculative activity in real estate, finance and hedge funds, while encouraging the growth of monopolies, oligopolies and conglomerates which captured “super profits” – rates above the ‘historical level’. Billionaires in BRIC and in the older imperial centers (Europe, US, and Japan) have been the primary tax beneficiaries of reductions and elimination of social programs and labor rights.

What is absolutely clear is that the state, not the market, plays an essential role in facilitating the greatest concentration and centralization of wealth in world history, whether in facilitating the plundering of the treasury and the environment or in heightening the direct and indirect exploitation of labor .

The variations in the paths to ‘billionaire’ status are striking: in the US and UK, the parasitical-speculative sector predominates over the productive; among the BRIC — with the exception of Russia — diverse sectors incorporating manufacturers, software, finance and agro-mineral billionaires predominate. In China the abysmal economic gap between the billionaires and the working class, between real estate speculators and dispossessed household is leading to increasing class conflict and challenges, forcing significant increases in wages (over 20% the past 3 years) and demands for increased public spending on education, health and housing. Nothing comparable is occurring in the US, EU, or elsewhere in BRIC.

The sources of billionaire wealth are, at best, only partially due to ‘entrepreneurial innovations’. Their wealth may have begun, at an earlier phase, from producing useful goods and services, but as the capitalist economies ‘mature’ and shift toward finance, overseas markets and the search for higher profits by imposing neo-liberal policies, the economic profile of the billionaire class shifts toward the parasitical model of the established imperial centers.

The billionaires in BRIC, Turkey, and Israel contrast sharply from the Middle East oil billionaires who are rentiers living off ‘rents’ from exploiting oil and gas and overseas investments especially in the FIRE sector. Among the BRIC, only the Russian billionaire oligarchs resemble the rentiers of the Gulf. The rest, especially Chinese, Indian, Brazilian and Turkish billionaires have taken advantage of state promoted industrial policies to concentrate wealth under the rhetoric of ‘national champions’, promoting their own ‘interests’ in the name of a “successful emerging economy”. But the basic class questions remains: “growth for whom and who benefits?” So far the historical record shows that growth of billionaires has been based on a highly polarized economy in which the state serves the new class of billionaires, whether parasitical speculators as in the US, rentier pillagers of the state and environment such as Russia and the Gulf states or exploiters of labor such as in BRIC.

Post Script

The Arab revolt can be seen in part as an effort to overthrow ‘rentier capitalist clans’. Western intervention in the revolts and support of the ‘opposition’ military and political elites is an effort to substitute a ‘neo-liberal’ capitalist ruling class.This ‘new class’ would be based on the exploitation of labor and dispossession of current crony-clan-kin owners of resources Major enterprises would be transferred to multi-nationals and local capitalists. Much more promising are the internal working struggles in China and to lesser degree in Brazil and the rural based Maoist peasant and tribal movements in India which oppose rentier and capitalist exploitation and dispossession.

Fox News' Lies Keep Them Out of Canada

Original Link:

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

As America's middle class battles for its survival on the Wisconsin barricades - against various Koch Oil surrogates and the corporate toadies at Fox News - fans of enlightenment, democracy and justice can take comfort from a significant victory north of the Wisconsin border. Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all! The reason: Canadian regulators announced last week they would reject efforts by Canada's right-wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news.

Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may not broadcast ... any false or misleading news." The provision has kept Fox News and right-wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987.

Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the US airwaves. When Stephen Harper moved to abolish the anti-lying provision of the Radio Act, Canadians rose up to oppose him fearing that their tradition of honest non-partisan news would be replaced by the toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest news coverage familiar to American citizens who listen to Fox News and talk radio. Harper's proposal was timed to facilitate the launch of a new right-wing network, "Sun TV News" which Canadians call "Fox News North."

Harper, often referred to as "George W. Bush's Mini Me," is known for having mounted a Bush-like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency, and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.

Harper's attempts to make lying legal on Canadian television are a stark admission that right-wing political ideology can only dominate national debate through dishonest propaganda. Since corporate profit-taking is not an attractive vessel for populism, a political party or broadcast network that makes itself the tool of corporate and financial elites must lie to make its agenda popular with the public.

In the Unites States, Fox News and talk radio, the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons, have become the masters of propaganda and distortion on the public airwaves. Fox News' notoriously biased and dishonest coverage of the Wisconsin's protests is a prime example of the brand of news coverage Canada has smartly avoided.

Koch And Native-American Reservation Oil Theft

Original Link:

By Dave Johnson

Just what is this Koch Industries? Should it be called a "company?" If so we need to re-think the idea of what a company and a business is supposed to be. Even the brother of Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch called the company an "organized crime" operation.

Koch money is a key driver of the conservative movement. Almost every conservative-movement rock you turn over has Koch money crawling around under it. As the movement becomes more and more of a pay-to-play operation, conservatives of every stripe do more and more to protect and enrich the Koch operation. This has included blocking, disrupting and avoiding official investigations of accusations. It also includes funding front groups to advance the political and financial interests of the company and its owners.

Theft Of Oil From Reservations

Oppose The Future has the story of how Koch Oil was caught stealing oil from an Indian Reservation, reducing or removing the incomes of so many poor residents.

At some point in 1987, Thurmon Parton’s royalty checks for the three oil wells he inherited from his mother suddenly dropped from $3,000 a month to a little over $1,000. He and his sister, Arnita Gonzalez, members of the Caddo tribe, lived near Gracemont, Oklahoma, a town of a few hundred people on a small grid on the prairie.

Those modest royalties were the only source of income each of them had.

. . . What happened to Mr. Parton, Ms. Gonzales and Ms. Limpy had nothing to do with the wells or how they were producing. Their oil was being stolen. And all of the evidence pointed to the same culprit: Koch Oil, a division of Koch Industries.

This is an important story today because it helps us understand the nature of the Koch operation, which has so much influence over our politics and even livelihoods today. It also helps us understand why our government not only appears to be influenced, but often to be outright corrupted. From the story,

In the spring of 1989, a Special Committee on Investigations of the United States Senate’s Select Committee on Indian Affairs was formed to look into concerns that the path to tribal self-rule was impeded by fraud, corruption and mismanagement from all sides.

... Within a span of months, the Special Committee determined that “Koch [Oil] was engaged in systematic theft, stealing millions in Oklahoma alone.” BLM, even with a tip that Koch was behaving improperly, hadn’t done a thing.
Oppose The Future lays out the story and details of the oil theft. There is also story of the years following.

"A Broad Pattern Of Criminal Behavior"

Back in 1996 Business Week looked into the relationship between then-Senator and Presidential Candidate Bob Dole and Koch Industries and an apparent pattern of influence by the company, in BOB DOLE'S OIL-PATCH PALS. Here are some excerpts from their investigation, [emphasis added]

Koch has had a history of run-ins with the Justice Dept. and other federal agencies. In 1989, a special congressional committee looked into charges that Koch had routinely removed more oil from storage tanks on Indian tribal lands ... Dole tried to influence the Senate committee to soft-pedal the probe. Nevertheless, after a yearlong investigation, the committee said in its final report, "Koch Oil, the largest purchaser of Indian oil in the country, is the most dramatic example of an oil company stealing by deliberate mismeasurement and fraudulent reporting." The report triggered a grand jury probe. The inquiry was dropped in March, 1992, which provoked outrage by congressional investigators.

Then in April, 1995, the Justice Dept. filed a $55 million civil suit against Koch for causing more than 300 oil spills over a five-year period. Dole and other Senators, however, sponsored a bill ... that critics charge would help Koch defend itself ... legal sources say the government's ultimate goal is to use evidence in the two actions to establish that Koch has engaged in a broad pattern of criminal behavior.

... From Apr. 19, 1991, through Nov. 2, 1992, David Koch and the Koch Industries political action committee together contributed $7,000 to Nickles' campaign war chest. Around the same time, [Oklahoma Republican Senator Don] Nickles sponsored Timothy D. Leonard, an old friend of Nickles, for the post of U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City. ... initially, questions were raised in the U.S. attorney's office about whether Leonard should recuse himself because Koch Industries purchased oil from wells in which Leonard and his family had royalty interests ... Then-Deputy Attorney General William P. Barr granted him a waiver to participate in the case ... In March, 1992, after an 18-month investigation, the U.S. Attorney's office terminated the grand jury probe and informed Koch it anticipated no indictments. ... As the grand jury investigation was winding down, Nickles sponsored Leonard for a federal judgeship. He was nominated by President Bush in November, 1991, and confirmed by the Senate the following August.
Business Week lays out the evidence in detail. The timing, with Republican administration/committee/agency/department after administration/committee/agency/department impeding and/or dropping investigations into Koch activities is also clear.

In 2000, CBS' 60 Minutes ran a segment, Blood And Oil And Environmental Negligence looking at the activities of the Koch brothers and their private company Koch Industries,

As we told you when we first reported this story last November, the Koch family of Wichita, Kansas is among the richest in the United States, worth billions of dollars. Their oil company, Koch Industries, is bigger than Intel, Dupont or Prudential Insurance, and they own it lock stock and barrel.

William Koch, brother of company owners David and Charles, called the company an "organized crime" operation:

Koch says that Koch Industries engaged in "(o)rganized crime. And management driven from the top down."

"It was – was my family company. I was out of it," he says. "But that’s what appalled me so much... I did not want my family, my legacy, my father’s legacy to be based upon organized crime."

In March, 2001 the incoming Bush administration repealed the "responsible contractor rule" that barred companies that chronically defraud the government and/or violate federal pollution, wage and other rules from receiving federal contracts.

Then, in 2002 the Bush II administration awarded Koch the contract to supply oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (There were accusations that the government bought oil when prices were high, and sold it when prices were low.) The contract was renewed in 2004. Koch received tens of millions in other government contracts during the Bush years.

The story and timeline of the Koch operation (and its front-groups) go on and on, organizing and funding climate-denial front groups, front-groups run and funded by the Koch Brothers organizing and funding the Tea Party. (Please click the links.)

Think Progress in particular has been following the activities of this "company" and its front groups, and it is certainly worth taking a look. See REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions By Demanding Bailouts And Taxpayer Subsidies (Part 1),

Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics.

Koch Brothers Pump More Money To Scott Brown

Original Link:

By Brad Johnson

The Koch petrochemical billionaires are continuing to bankroll Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), the Tea Party Republican who won Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat in a special election last year, campaign disclosure forms reveal. The Koch Industries political action committee dropped $2500 on Brown in February, according to their March filing. Before Brown’s election in 2010, the Kochs had directed $50,400 to his campaign. Brown directly expressed his gratitude to the Kochs at the March opening of the David H. Koch Integrative Cancer Institute.
The exchange “belied Brown’s claims that he won’t be politicking until next year,” the Globe’s Glen Johnson notes. Brown “may spend $25 million on his campaign.”

Other recipients of the Kochs’ carbon cash in February include the PACs of Sen. Jim DeMint ($5000), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) ($5000), Rep. Steve Roskam (R-IL) ($2500), and Sen. Mitch McConnell ($2500), and the campaigns of Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) ($5000), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) ($3000), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) ($2500), Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) ($2500), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) ($2500), Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) ($2000), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) ($2000), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) ($1000), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) ($1000), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) ($1000), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) ($1500).

Ross, Rogers, Kinzinger, and Burgess are all part of the “Committee From Koch” — the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce who voted this week to overturn the scientific finding that global warming is a threat and block EPA rules against climate pollution.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pay Up Now, Corporations

Original Link:

By Paul Buchheit is an online effort to 'uncut' the cutbacks by promoting boycotts of corporations who pay little or no federal income tax.

According to a U.S. Senate subcommittee report, eliminating tax havens could save $100 billion a year. That's a conservative estimate. The IRS calculated that companies and individuals are holding up to $5 trillion in foreign tax havens.

Some of the worst offenders include General Electric, which had $10 billion in profits and received a tax rebate; Bank of America, whose financial statements, according to a Bloomberg report, were "so delusional that they invite laughter"; oil giant Exxon, which paid no U.S. taxes; and Citigroup, with an astounding 427 foreign tax havens.

The list goes on and on. In scanning the Government Accountability Office's list of tax abusers one is struck by the absence of companies WITHOUT tax havens, euphemistically referred to as "financial privacy jurisdictions." Indeed, only 17 of the 100 largest U.S. companies were listed as tax-haven-free.

The $100 billion per year lost to the taxpayers would cover most of the $140 billion budget deficit faced by the 50 states.

Several of the tax evaders are featured at, with brief summaries of their recent tax escapades, products to avoid, and links to online forms or email addresses to corporate management. The website was developed by US Uncut members. A Facebook "Pay Up Now" page has also been created.

As noted on the website, every effort has been made to provide truthful, documented information. But errors and omissions are likely in such a sensitive area. Corporations are adept at tax strategy. A New York Times story said "G.E. is so good at avoiding taxes that some people consider its tax department to be the best in the world, even better than any law firm’s."

Feedback is requested to correct inaccuracies, to add or remove companies depending on their tax-paying behaviors, to clarify company products, and to provide the most suitable modes of communicating to management (online forms or email addresses). The website includes message-sending help. Polite but assertive objection to tax avoidance is essential. Contact information for PayUpNow is offered as a substitute for a message-sender's personal information.

It is occasionally suggested that consumers end up paying corporate taxes anyway, through higher prices. This argument fails when the extraordinary increase in upper management pay is taken into consideration. Literally billions of dollars have gone to the richest 1% while their personal and corporate taxes have decreased. is, at the very least, a means of better informing the public of the truth behind the budget deficit.

NPR: The Saga Continues

Original Link:

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

There's no more scrupulous or versatile broadcast journalist than NPR's Daniel Zwerdling. He is one of those reporters who keeps his eye on the sparrow -- that is, on small details from individual lives that add up to significant issues of public policy. As he described in a special report this week how the United States Army is clarifying guidelines "that should make it easier for soldiers with traumatic brain injuries from explosions to receive the Purple Heart," it was mind-boggling to think that right-wingers in Congress were at that very moment voting to eliminate the modest federal funds that make such essential and authoritative reporting available to anyone in America who cares to tune in.

Zwerdling's collaborator on this report was ProPublica (the non-profit and equally independent newsroom that won the Pulitzer Prize last year for a harrowing account of deadly choices made by a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina). As a result of their reporting, the Army now intends to give special priority to reexamining the cases of soldiers who suffered battlefield concussions but who mistakenly may have been turned down for the Purple Heart, which historically has been awarded to soldiers injured by enemy action.

You may not think this such a big deal, but the symbolism of the announcement is potent. And it's part of a larger, ongoing investigation conducted by Zwerdling and ProPublica's T. Christian Miller into the military's widespread failure to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries, the "signature injury" among troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as they fall to roadside bombs and other explosives.

It's also typical of the comprehensive and essential journalism that has been a hallmark of NPR since its creation in 1970. Once upon a time, in the early glory days of radio, corporate media took on the challenge of providing Americans with the kind of information critical to citizenship. No longer. Conglomerates long ago bought up the country's commercial radio stations, closed down the news departments, and auctioned off the airtime to partisan polemicists or pre-packaged content devoid of journalism. Serious news on radio -- "the news we need to keep our freedoms," as the historian and journalist Richard Reeves once put it -- has become the province of NPR (Full disclosure: We two have spent most of the last forty years toiling in the vineyards of public broadcasting, although never for NPR.)

Take Zwerdling's investigations as just one example: Over the years, he has sorted out the complexities and secrets of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster and the warnings that preceded it, dangers posed to humans by the plant pesticide Chlordane (it eventually was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency) and the failures of the Corps of Engineers to maintain safely the dikes and dams around New Orleans -- among many other stories.

Multiply his efforts by those of all the modestly-paid but dedicated journalists at NPR and you have a forty year history that has given listeners a deeper and richer portrait of America and the world than any other broadcast news organization in the country -- with or without offense, as Byron said, to friend or foe.

In just the last few weeks, NPR has provided unique coverage of the job crisis in the United States, upheavals in the Middle East, and anxiety over the safety of nuclear power in the wake of the Japanese earthquake -- as a matter of fact, many of the issues the House of Representatives should have been debating instead of posturing and pandering to its rightward political base.

Hear Steve Benen of Washington Monthly on the House Judiciary Committee's vote the other day reaffirming "In God We Trust" as our national motto:

For months the new House Republican majority has wasted time on health care bills they know they can't pass, abortion bills they know they can't pass, climate bills they know they can't pass, and budget bills they know they can't pass. They've invested considerable time and energy on defending the Defense of Marriage Act, recklessly accusing Muslim Americans of disloyalty, going after NPR, and pushing culture-war bills related to vouchers, English as the 'official' language, and now 'In God We Trust.'
And yes, on Thursday, following a number of missteps by NPR executives, including what has now been indisputably exposed as a disingenuous and dishonestly-edited video by a disreputable right-wing smear artist of the network's chief fundraiser expressing some personal opinions, the House passed a bill cutting off government funding for NPR -- all of this part of the "vanity project," as Benen calls it, that House Republicans have been running in order to feed red meat to Fox News and the partisan talk radio hosts who have turned the public airwaves -- remember, the airwaves above our fair and bountiful land belong to you, Mr. and Mrs. and Ms. America -- into a right-wing romper room.

Opposing the bill to strip public radio of funding, Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas said, "My constituents turn to [public radio] because they want fact-based, not Fox-based coverage." The attacks, he continued, are "an ideological crusade against balanced news and educational programs."

And even Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss told an interviewer:

You know, an awful lot of conservatives listen to NPR. It provides a very valuable service. Should we maybe think about a reduction in that? Again, I think the sacrifice is going to have to be shared by NPR as well as others. But I think total elimination of funding is probably not the wisest thing to do.
Good for you, Senator. Because without public radio, the reactionaries among us will hold a monopoly on the airwaves.

And while we're on the subject of wise things, let's not forget NPR's other programming: the arts and entertainment coverage that plays its own distinctive role trying to keep our democracy spirited, diverse and imaginative. Think Garrison Keillor. Krista Tippett. Ira Glass. Think Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Car Talk (yes, many of us are would-be grease monkeys). On the Media (the single best analysis and critique of media anywhere). And -- well, consult your local listings.

We're talking here about something essential to American life. President Kennedy touched on it in a speech at Amherst College less than a month before his assassination in 1963. Speaking in honor of the poet Robert Frost, who had recently died, the President's words were directed to the role of artists but can also embrace the importance of a public media whose obligation is not to a political or corporate paymaster but to the integrity of the work and the trust of the listener.

"The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state," Kennedy said. "... In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man, the fate of having 'nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.'"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How You Can Boycott the Kochs

Original Link:

By Lauren Kelley

Over the past few weeks, the billionaire Koch brothers and their front groups have steadily increased their involvement in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's efforts to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights. The Kochs' outsized wealth and influence are forces to be reckoned with; that's why we should all be grateful that a Koch backlash, including a boycott of Koch Industries' products, has started picking up steam.

AlterNet has been keeping a close eye on the Koch-financed support for Walker's anti-union campaign. As we reported last week, Walker is deep in the pocket of the Kochs, having received some $43,000 from Koch Industries while running for governor in 2010. Once Walker was elected, he made sure to take care of his friends/financiers, giving out massive tax breaks to Koch Industries, and more recently, launching the ongoing effort to quash Wisconsin union workers' rights.

As AlterNet's Washington bureau chief Adele Stan puts it, Walker is "carrying out the wishes of his corporate master." But why are the brothers Koch so interested in stifling labor rights in Wisconsin? For one thing, they have significant business interests in the region, with at least 17 facilities and offices in the state and some 4,000 miles of pipeline through Koch Pipeline Company, L.P. Also, the Kochs recognize that the outcome of the battle in Wisconsin could have national implications: if Walker wins, workers elsewhere might be less inclined to put up a fight. And that would be good for the Kochs' bottom line.

With the almighty dollar at stake, the Koch-funded astroturf group Americans for Prosperity has launched a pro-Walker campaign, comprised of a propaganda-filled Web site and petition, at least $342,000 worth of ad time on network and cable TV, and anti-union rallies at the Wisconsin state capitol building, for which AFP paid to bus in Tea Partiers.

AlterNet also reported late last week that two of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal columnists are fronting for AFP and ginning up support for the union-busting cause as well.

Did the Kochs think no one would notice or care about the influence of AFP and Koch Industries in Wisconsin? If so, they were wrong. Word of a Koch Industries boycott is starting to spread around the progressive blogosphere. Daily Kos community site blogger geebeegee has a rather giant roundup of Koch products and notes, "Their major holdings are very difficult to boycott -- other than the promotion of clean energy and environmental laws, you may be stuck buying their energy products, directly or indirectly. However, they do produce some consumer products that you should put to memory to NEVER purchase again." There's also a Boycott and Defeat Koch Industries Facebook page that offers the same information and more. As of Monday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had "liked" the page.

Here's the colossal list of products being boycotted:

Angel Soft toilet paper
Brawny paper towels
Dixie plates, bowls, napkins and cups
Mardi Gras napkins and towels
Quilted Northern toilet paper
Soft 'n Gentle toilet paper
Sparkle napkins
Vanity fair napkins
Zee napkins
Georgia-Pacific paper products and envelopes
All Georgia-Pacific lumber and building products, including:
Dense Armor Drywall and Decking
ToughArmor Gypsum board
Georgia pacific Plytanium Plywood
Densglass sheathing
G/P Industrial plasters (some products used by a lot of crafters)
FibreStrong Rim board
G/P Lam board
Blue Ribbon OSB Rated Sheathing
Blue Ribbon Sub-floor
DryGuard Enhanced OSB
Nautilus Wall Sheathing
Thermostat OSB Radiant Barrier Sheathing
Broadspan Engineered Wood Products
XJ 85 I-Joists
FireDefender Banded Cores
FireDefender FS
FireDefender Mineral Core
Hardboard and Thin MDF including Auto Hardboard,
Perforated Hardboard and Thin MDF
Wood Fiberboard
Commercial Roof Fiberboard
Hushboard Sound Deadening Board
Regular Fiberboard Sheathing
Structural Fiberboard Sheathing

(INVISTA Products):
COMFOREL® fiberfill
COOLMAX® fabric
CORDURA® fabric
DACRON® fiber
SOLARMAX® fabric
SOMERELLE® bedding products
SUPPLEX® fabric
TACTEL® fiber
TACTESSE® carpet fiber
TERATE® polyols
TERATHANE® polyether glycol
PHENREZ® resin
POLARGUARD® fiber and
LYCRA® fiber

The boycott is in addition to several other creative backlashes against the Kochs. For instance, there was the prank call from progressive blog editor Ian Murphy, posing as David Koch, to Scott Walker. Some punny protest signs have been making an appearance at pro-union rallies in Madison and elsewhere: "Don't be a Koch sucker: Wall Street broke America, not the unions," "Walker sucks Koch," etc.

And then there's "Anonymous," the infamous hacktivist group that in recent months has launched coordinated DNS attacks on companies that refuse to do business with WikiLeaks. The latest news is that Anonymous has targeted the Kochs for their efforts "to usurp American Democracy." The group managed to take down the AFP Web site for a time over the weekend. (In response, AFP released a statement saying that "Americans for Prosperity will not be intimidated and will not be deterred from our effort to support responsible economic policies, including the efforts of Governor Walker and other democratically elected leaders in that state to balance the budget through common-sense reforms.")

So the anti-Koch movement has begun, and it is gathering steam. Labor supporters may not have the money the Kochs have, but we have something better -- a conscience. Combined with creativity and determination, it could get us somewhere.

Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand

Original Link:

By Chris Hedges

The liberal class is discovering what happens when you tolerate the intolerant. Let hate speech pollute the airways. Let corporations buy up your courts and state and federal legislative bodies. Let the Christian religion be manipulated by charlatans to demonize Muslims, gays and intellectuals, discredit science and become a source of personal enrichment. Let unions wither under corporate assault. Let social services and public education be stripped of funding. Let Wall Street loot the national treasury with impunity. Let sleazy con artists use lies and deception to carry out unethical sting operations on tottering liberal institutions, and you roll out the welcome mat for fascism. The liberal class has busied itself with the toothless pursuits of inclusiveness, multiculturalism, identity politics and tolerance—a word Martin Luther King never used—and forgotten about justice.

It naively sought to placate ideological and corporate forces bent on the destruction of the democratic state. The liberal class, like the misguided democrats in the former Yugoslavia or the hapless aristocrats in the Weimar Republic, invited the wolf into the henhouse.

The liberal class forgot that, as Karl Popper wrote in “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

Workers in this country paid for their rights by suffering brutal beatings, mass expulsions from company housing and jobs, crippling strikes, targeted assassinations of union leaders and armed battles with hired gun thugs and state militias. The Rockefellers, the Mellons, the Carnegies and the Morgans—the Koch Brothers Industries, Goldman Sachs and Wal-Mart of their day—never gave a damn about workers.

All they cared about was profit. The eight-hour workday, the minimum wage, Social Security, pensions, job safety, paid vacations, retirement benefits and health insurance were achieved because hundreds of thousands of workers physically fought a system of capitalist exploitation.

They rallied around radicals such as “Mother” Jones, United Mine Workers’ President John L. Lewis and “Big” Bill Haywood and his Wobblies as well as the socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.

Lewis said, “I have pleaded your case from the pulpit and from the public platform—not in the quavering tones of a feeble mendicant asking alms, but in the thundering voice of the captain of a mighty host, demanding the rights to which free men are entitled.”

Those who fought to achieve these rights endured tremendous suffering, pain and deprivation. It is they who made possible our middle class and opened up our democracy. The elite hired goons and criminal militias to evict striking miners from company houses, infiltrate fledgling union organizations and murder suspected union leaders and sympathizers. Federal marshals, state militias, sheriff’s deputies and at times Army troops, along with the courts and legislative bodies, were repeatedly used to crush and stymie worker revolts.

Striking sugar cane workers were gunned down in Thibodaux, La., in 1887. Steel workers were shot to death in 1892 in Homestead, Pa. Railroad workers in the Pullman strike of 1894 were murdered.

Coal miners at Ludlow, Colo., in 1914 and at Matewan, W.Va., in 1920 were massacred. Our freedoms and rights were paid for with their courage and blood.

American democracy arose because those consciously locked out of the system put their bodies on the line and demanded justice. The exclusion of the poor and the working class from the systems of power in this country was deliberate.

The Founding Fathers deeply feared popular democracy. They rigged the system to favor the elite from the start, something that has been largely whitewashed in public schools and by a corporate media that has effectively substituted myth for history.

Europe’s poor, fleeing to America from squalid slums and workhouses in the 17th and 18th centuries, were viewed by the privileged as commodities to exploit. Slaves, Native Americans, indentured servants, women, and men without property were not represented at the Constitutional Conventions.

And American history, as Howard Zinn illustrated in “The People’s History of the United States,” is one long fight by the marginalized and disenfranchised for dignity and freedom. Those who fought understood the innate cruelty of capitalism.

“When you sell your product, you retain your person,” said a tract published in the 1880s during the Lowell, Mass., mill strikes. “But when you sell your labor, you sell yourself, losing the rights of free men and becoming vassals of mammoth establishments of a monied aristocracy that threatens annihilation to anyone who questions their right to enslave and oppress.

Those who work in the mills ought to own them, not have the status of machines ruled by private despots who are entrenching monarchic principles on democratic soil as they drive downwards freedom and rights, civilization, health, morals and intellectuality in the new commercial feudalism.”

As Noam Chomsky points out, the sentiment expressed by the Lowell millworkers predated Marxism.
“At one time in the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, a hundred and fifty years ago, working for wage labor was considered not very different from chattel slavery,” Chomsky told David Barsamian.

“That was not an unusual position. That was the slogan of the Republican Party, the banner under which Northern workers went to fight in the Civil War. We’re against chattel slavery and wage slavery.

“Free people do not rent themselves to others. Maybe you’re forced to do it temporarily, but that’s only on the way to becoming a free person, a free man, to put it in the rhetoric of the day. You become a free man when you’re not compelled to take orders from others. That’s an Enlightenment ideal. Incidentally, this was not coming from European radicalism.

“There were workers in Lowell, Mass., a couple of miles from where we are. You could even read editorials in the New York Times saying this around that time. It took a long time to drive into people’s heads the idea that it is legitimate to rent yourself.

“Now that’s unfortunately pretty much accepted. So that’s internalizing oppression. Anyone who thinks it’s legitimate to be a wage laborer is internalizing oppression in a way which would have seemed intolerable to people in the mills, let’s say, a hundred and fifty years ago. … [I]t’s an [unfortunate] achievement [of indoctrination in our culture].”

Our consumer society and celebrity culture foster a frightening historical amnesia. We chatter mindlessly about something called the “American Dream.” And now that the oligarchic elite have regained control of all levers of power, and that dream is being exposed as a cruel hoax, we are being shoved back into the cage. There will be hell to pay to get back to where we were.

Slick public relations campaigns, the collapse of public education—nearly a third of the country is illiterate or semiliterate—and the rise of amoral politicians such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who posed as liberals while they sold their souls for corporate money, have left us largely defenseless.

The last vestiges of unionized workers in the public sector are reduced to protesting in Wisconsin for collective bargaining—in short, the ability to ask employers for decent working conditions. That shows how far the country has deteriorated. And it looks as though even this basic right to ask, as well as raise money through union dues, has been successfully revoked in Madison. The only hope now is more concerted and militant disruptions of the systems of power.

The public debate, dominated by corporate-controlled systems of information, ignores the steady impoverishment of the working class and absence of legal and regulatory mechanisms to prevent mounting corporate fraud and abuse.

The airwaves are saturated with corporate apologists. They ask us why public-sector employees have benefits—sneeringly called “entitlements”—which nonunionized working- and middle-class people are denied.

This argument is ingenious. It pits worker against worker in a mad scramble for scraps. And until we again speak in the language of open class warfare, grasping, as those who went before us did, that the rich will always protect themselves at our expense, we are doomed to a 21st century serfdom.

The pillars of the liberal establishment, which once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, have collapsed. The liberal church forgot that heretics exist. It forgot that the scum of society—look at the new Newt Gingrich—always wrap themselves in the flag and clutch the Christian cross to promote programs that mock the core teachings of Jesus Christ.

And, for all their years of seminary training and Bible study, these liberal clergy have stood by mutely as televangelists betrayed and exploited the Gospel to promote bigotry, hatred and greed. What was the point, I wonder, of ordination? Did they think the radical message of the Gospel was something they would never have to fight for?

Schools and universities, on their knees for corporate dollars and their boards dominated by hedge fund and investment managers, have deformed education into the acquisition of narrow vocational skills that serve specialized corporate interests and create classes of drone-like systems managers.

They make little attempt to equip students to make moral choices, stand up for civic virtues and seek a life of meaning. These moral and ethical questions are never even asked. Humanities departments are vanishing as swiftly as the ocean’s fish stocks.

The electronic and much of the print press has become a shameless mouthpiece for the powerful and a magnet for corporate advertising. It makes little effort to give a platform to those who without them cannot be heard, instead diverting us with celebrity meltdowns, lavish lifestyle reports and gossip. Legitimate news organizations, such as NPR and The New York Times, are left cringing and apologizing before the beast—right-wing groups that hate “liberal” news organizations not because of any bias, but because they center public discussion on verifiable fact. And verifiable fact is not convenient to ideologues whose goal is the harnessing of inchoate rage and hatred.

Artists, who once had something to say, have retreated into elite enclaves, preoccupied themselves with abstract, self-referential garbage, frivolous entertainment and spectacle. Celebrities, working for advertising agencies and publicists, provide our daily mini-dramas and flood the airwaves with lies on behalf of corporate sponsors.

The Democratic Party has sold out working men and women for corporate money. It has permitted the state apparatus to be turned over to corporate interests. There is no liberal institution left—the press, labor, culture, public education, the church or the Democratic Party—that makes any effort to hold back the corporate juggernaut. It is up to us.

We have tolerated the intolerant—from propaganda outlets such as Fox News to Christian fascists to lunatics in the Republican Party to Wall Street and corporations—and we are paying the price. The only place left for us is on the street. We must occupy state and federal offices. We must foment general strikes.

The powerful, with no check left on their greed and criminality, are gorging on money while they busily foreclose our homes, bust the last of our unions, drive up our health care costs and cement into place a permanent underclass of the broken and the poor.

They are slashing our most essential and basic services—including budgets for schools, firefighters and assistance programs for children and the elderly—so we can pay for the fraud they committed when they wiped out $14 trillion of housing wealth, wages and retirement savings.

All we have left is the capacity to say “no.” And if enough of us say “no,” if enough of us refuse to cooperate, the despots are in trouble.

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms,” Frederick Douglass said in 1857. “The whole history of the progress of human history shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle. ... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ...”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The birth of the People’s Party

Original Link:

By Robert Reich

Look at the outrage in Madison, Wisconsin. Look at the crowds in Des Moines, Iowa. Look at the demonstrations in Indiana and Ohio and elsewhere around America.

Hear what they’re saying: Stop attacking unions. Stop making scapegoats out of public employees. Stop protecting the super-rich from paying their fair share of the taxes needed to keep our schools running.

Stop gutting the working middle class.

Are we finally seeing average Americans stand up and demand a fair shake in an economy now grotesquely tilted toward the wealthy and the privileged? Are Americans beginning to awake to the fact that our economy now delivers a larger share of total income to the very top than at any time in living memory? That big corporations are making more money and creating more jobs abroad than in the United States?

That this concentration of income and wealth has so corrupted politics that corporations can extort whatever they want from the government — tax breaks, loan guarantees, subsidies — while the super-rich can take most of their income as capital gains (taxed at 15 percent), and the rest at the lowest top rate in 25 years? And that because of this our kids are crowded into classrooms, our streets and highways and bridges are falling apart, and our healthcare bills are out of control?

The Tea Party grew out of indignation over the Wall Street bailout — an indignation shared by the vast majority of Americans. But the Tea Party ended up directing its ire at government rather than at big business and Wall Street. Was this because billionaires Charles and David Koch and their like funneled money to the Tea Party through front organizations like Dick Armey’s Freedom Works, and thereby co-opted it?

Now we may be seeing the birth of a genuine populist movement. Call it the People’s Party. Like the Tea Party, the People’s Party doesn’t have a clear organization or hierarchy or single address. It doesn’t have lobbyists in Washington. It’s not even yet recognized by the mainstream media.

But the People’s Party seems to be growing in numbers and in intensity. And it’s starting to push elected officials — first at the state level — to listen and respond.

Corporate/GOP Attack on America's Middle Class

Original Link:

By Jim Hightower

The most revealing comments by politicians are rarely revealed. This is because they're made in unrecorded conversations, when politicos let their guard down.

However, in a recent sting, blogger Ian Murphy recorded a revealing phone call he made to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Murphy pretended to be David Koch, the far-right-wing billionaire who pumped more than a million dollars into Walker's election last year. The governor is very busy, but he spent 20 minutes regaling the fake David Koch with details of his effort to kill the collective bargaining rights of state workers.

For example, Walker's power play was being blocked by 14 Democratic senators, who have left the state to prevent any Senate action. Walker giddily told "Koch" that his legislative troops were ramming through a rule to require all senators to pick up their paychecks in person, apparently assuming the 14 absentees would care as much about money as he does and rush back.

The governor was especially excited about his scheme to use state workers as political pawns: "I've got layoff notices ready (for five or six thousand employees)," he exulted, delighted to sacrifice them as pressure on the senators to return.

"Beautiful," responded the Koch masquerader, who then suggested "planting some troublemakers" among the crowds protesting the governor's union-busting.

"We thought about that," Walker assured him, but dropped the idea because "the public is not really fond of this." Besides, he said, the public's protesting is "not going to affect us."

"Well, good," said the billionaire imitator, adding, "Once you crush these bastards, I'll fly you out (to California) and really show you a good time."

Now this offer from his super-rich corporate co-conspirator really excited the guv.

"All right," he replied, "that would be outstanding. Thanks a million!"

Actually, Scott, Koch is into you for more than a million, which explains why Walker's autocratic attempt to abrogate the democratic right of public employees to bargain with their governmental bosses is not wearing well with the public.

Recent polls show that a mere one-third of Wisconsinites favor his blatantly political power play and that if he had told voters in the last year's election that he intended to do this, he would've lost.

After only one month in office, Walker's approval rating has plummeted, and he's become a national poster boy for right-wing anti-union extremism — indeed, he's so out of step that he's even being jeered by democracy fighters in Egypt!

Yet, Walker is but one of a flock of far-right, corporate-crested Republican governors and congress-critters who're waging an all-out class war on unionized workers. It's a shameful effort to bust the wage structure and legal protections that support America's already endangered middle class.

In Washington, for example, loopy GOP leaders are out to abolish the legal mechanism through which workers can form a union and have their bargaining rights protected. Meanwhile, war-whooping Republican governors in Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana and elsewhere are slashing the health care and pension benefits owed to public employees, blaming these middle-class workers for their states' fiscal messes.

But state budgets have been depleted by the economic crash caused by Wall Street greed and massive tax giveaways to wealthy elites — not by a firefighter's pension or a teacher's health plan.

And check out Nevada, where the Chamber of Commerce is even pushing to eliminate the minimum wage. This corporate-funded Republican assault is not about fiscal responsibility. The corporate powers intend nothing less than to dismantle the entire framework of America's economic democracy and return us to the dark days of Robber Baron plutocracy.

To the barricades, people!

Americans for Prosperity Road Show is Classic Astroturf

Original Link:

By Anne Landman

For some, when the going gets tough, the tough gas up the custom-painted luxury motorcoach.

So it is with the Wisconsin branch of the Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), whose four-day, ten-city bus PR event across Wisconsin to support controversial Governor Scott Walker started in Kenosha March 3 and concluded in Madison on March 7 -- but not at the Capitol, where the bus would have been surrounded by the tens of thousands of people gathered to oppose Walker's union-crushing "budget repair" bill. Instead, AFP ended its tour at the Alliant Energy Center, where protesters against Walker's radical proposals who were outside in the cold easily outnumber the pro-Walker crowd in inside the rented space.

And so it went with AFP's "Stand with Walker" Wisconsin road show. At every stop, the AFP PR gambit was met by some supporters, but it was also greeted often by an equal or a substantially greater numbers of opponents. A little-watched YouTube video of AFP's stop at Serb Hall on March 3, 2011 shows a group of about a dozen Scott Walker supporters, and a sidewalk packed with what appears to be about several hundred demonstrators against the governor's extreme proposals.

Classic Astroturf

As we have already reported, AFP is also in Wisconsin with a $400,000 and counting TV ad-buy themed "Who Decides Wisconsin's Future?" in support of Governor Walker. The ad buy has been a subject of two ethics complaints filed with the state's Government Accoutability Board. AFP's "Stand with Walker" bus tour is classic astroturf, defined by SourceWatch as "organizations that appear to be grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions, but that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms."

AFP certainly fits the bill. By now, it's been widely reported, both within Wisconsin and in prominent publications elsewhere, that AFP was largely inspired by the man who serves as its chairman, David Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, one of the largest privately-held corporations in the world. AFP also possesses many characteristics indicative of a front group. It avoids mentioning its main sources of funding, engages in actions that benefit a third party, like a company, industry or political candidate. Its members are not its primary financial supporters, though it touts its membership while not revealing its biggest funders. And, last but not least, AFP can afford to send a custom-painted luxury coach on a highly-publicized road trip, even as the price of gas goes through the roof. The "star" of the road show was Ohioan Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher who gained some degree of notoriety during the 2008 presidential campaign.

PR Disaster on Wheels

Governor Walker has repeatedly attempted to dismiss the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have visited the Capitol over the course of the past month as out-of-towners. Judging from thousands of hand-made signs seen in the crowd around Wisconsin's Capitol building, many people see the billionaire Koch brothers (one lives in New York City and the other in Kansas) and the Washington, D.C.-based AFP as the real "out-of-town" political interference in Wisconsin politics.

Count AFP's road trip as a flop. Below is a selection of media from around the state.

La Crosse Tribune - Hundreds turn out at pro-Walker event -- some in support, more to protest: Several hundred protesters chanted and waved signs Saturday night outside the Radisson Hotel. Inside, about 100 people in a meeting room heard state Sen. Dan Kapanke, Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher and others express their support for Gov. Scott Walker... "I think (Walker) is basically sending Wisconsin over the cliff with what he is doing," said former La Crosse County Circuit Judge Roger LeGrand of La Crosse. He also is acting chairman of the Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission, which decides disputes between taxpayers and the state Department of Revenue.

Channel 2 WBAY - Walker Supporters Meet in Eau Claire: Outside officials say about 1,600 people gathered to protest the governor's budget plans. The crowd was so thick one of the Republican representatives scheduled to speak at the pro-Walker event couldn't make it inside. Instead, protesters stopped to ask Representative Warren Petryk questions, with one woman breaking down in tears over her concerns about the budget. "I felt like he listened to me. He said he was going to call Scott Walker," says Rozanna Bejin of Eau Claire. "My request was that Petryk talk to people in the Assembly and the Senate, all of his colleagues, to people sit down and talk to the 14 Democrat Senators who are in Illinois.

Americans for Prosperity's Pro-Walker Bus Tour Stops in Hudson Amid Pro-Union Protests: More than 100 Walker supporters attended a rally at the Best Western Hudson House Inn while more than 300 protesters demonstrated outside.

Wausau Daily Herald - Pro-Walker, Pro-union Rallies Square off at the Plaza Hotel: About 200 people gathered Friday in Wausau to support Gov. Scott Walker ... As the governor's supporters rallied inside, an equal number of union supporters from the Wausau area chanted, waved signs and drew honks of support from passing cars on the sidewalk outside The Plaza Hotel.

Fox 11 - Walker Supporters Hit the Road, Anti-bill Protesters Outnumber Supporters: The group's stop in Ashwaubenon drew local Walker supporters inside the Holiday Inn, and anti-bill supporters outside. "Americans for Prosperity, like, who isn't? I think that they're wrong and their hearts are probably in the right place as well, but I think they're wrong and misguided on what they're doing," explained anti-bill protester from Ashwaubenon, Nancy Daniels.

Wisconsin State Journal - Pro-Walker bus tour ends in Madison as protests at Capitol continue: Outside the Alliant Energy Center, the number of anti-Walker protesters appeared larger than the pro-Walker crowd indoors, a point Seaholm did not contest. Talon Williams, 24, of Madison, a non-union carpet cleaner and anti-Walker protester, called Sunday's Alliant Energy Center rally a last-ditch effort to generate support for a bill the vast majority of Wisconsin doesn't want. "They're trying to create the illusion of grass roots support," he said.

Koch Brothers and US Chamber: Polluting Our Earth and Our Democracies

Original Link:

By Bill McKibben

Among other truths made completely clear by the showdown in Wisconsin: the outsized role of the Koch brothers in American politics.

Charles and David, the third and fourth richest men in America, first gained notoriety in the fall, when a remarkable expose by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker showed how they'd funded not only the Tea Party but also the hydra-headed campaign to undermine the science of global warming, all in the service of even more profit for their oil and gas business.

But it was in Wisconsin that the down-and-dirty details of their operation began to emerge -- they'd not only funded the election campaigns of the governor and the new GOP legislature, but also an advertising effort attacking the state's teachers. They'd helped pay for buses to ferry in counter-protesters. We were even treated to the sight of new Governor Scott Walker fawning over them in what turned out to be a hoax phone call. The Kochs are right up there now with the great plutocrats of American history, a 21st century version of the robber barons.

The trouble is, they don't care. And they don't really have to care. Their business is privately held and answers to no one. Last week their spokesman said they would "not step back at all ... This is a big part of our life's work. We are not going to stop." So those of us who care about things like the climate will need to go on tracking them. But we'll also need to pay attention to their ideological twin, the Pepsi to their Koch. It's the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Unlike the Koch brothers, everyone's heard of them. That's because there's a chamber of commerce in almost every town in America -- they're the local barbers and florists and insurance guys, the folks who arrange the annual chili cook-off or the downtown Christmas lights. You know why Lindbergh's plane was called the "Spirit of St. Louis"? Because it was paid for by the by St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.

But that's not the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber is a hard-right ideological operation, which provides massive funding to conservative Republicans, including the new GOP majority in Wisconsin. If you want a sense of just how far right: Glenn Beck held a telethon on their behalf, and donated $10,000 of his money. "They are us," he said -- and an executive of the chamber called in to thank him. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money lobbying in 2009 than the next five biggest players combined; they spent more money on politics than either the Republican or Democratic National Committees. They're the biggest elephant in the jungle.

Despite their claim to represent three million American businesses, more than half their budget comes from just 16 companies. They don't have to identify them, but it's pretty easy to guess who they might be, since the chamber has devoted much of its time to thwarting any effort to control carbon emissions. For instance, they filed a brief with the EPA demanding they not fight global warming because "populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations."

And here's the thing: Unlike the Kochs, the Chamber has some real vulnerabilities. Though thanks to the Supreme Court they can keep their secret flow of money going, their credibility depends in part on the idea that they're representing all those millions of businesses. That's why we've launched a big nationwide campaign: "The U.S. Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me." Businesses big and small are already joining in -- a thousand in the first week -- making the case that in fact capitalism can adapt to new sources of energy. Capitalism's great virtue, after all, is supposed to be nimbleness and flexibility.

Those of us who work on climate change have spent years trying to figure out why Congress pays no attention to what's clearly the most dangerous issues the earth faces. For years we thought we simply needed to explain the crisis more skillfully. But in the last year the truth is becoming clearer: Hidden in the shadows are the guys with money who pull the strings. We need to illuminate those shadows, with the Kochs and even more with the U.S. Chamber.

The crisis is our unwillingness to make rich pay their share

Original Link:

By John Hallinan

U.S. corporations are sitting on $2 trillion in cash -- trillion, not billion. The same people who shipped millions of jobs overseas, caused the financial crisis, and pay themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses every year are now sitting on a mountain of cash. Yet both state and local governments feel the need to give them more tax cuts. To what end? So they can create more profits and sit on bigger piles of cash, so they can play monopoly as they buy each other out, or so they can give themselves even bigger bonuses? There is no indication that they are interested in doing anything to spur the economy.

In December we heard the Republicans tell us that people making over $250,000 per year couldn’t afford a 4 percent tax increase, and it would be terrible for the economy to increase their taxes. Thirty years ago they were paying 70 percent in taxes. Now they pay half that, but a 4 percent increase is just too much to bear.

Now we are told that state workers making $40,000 to $60,000 per year are stealing the state blind. The same workers who for the last two years have taken over a 3 percent pay cut in the form of furloughs are now told they haven’t sacrificed enough. Now they must forfeit 7 percent or more of their pay, and give up their right to negotiate their future. What is appalling is the state workers were willing to give up the money to help out the state. All they asked was to keep their right to negotiate. Yet the wealthiest in our country aren’t willing to give up anything to help our country out of the financial mess they created.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan told the biggest lie ever perpetuated on the American public. He condemned Jimmy Carter for running a $40 billion deficit, and then told everyone he could cut taxes and balance the budget. Voodoo economics -- that’s what George H.W. Bush called Reagan’s economic plan. He was right, and by the mid ’80s the budget deficit had ballooned to over $200 billion.

Of course it was the rich who walked away with virtually all of the Reagan tax cuts. During the last 25 years the Republicans have doubled down over and over again, giving more and more tax cuts to the rich. While the rich have gotten incredibly wealthy, the poor have gotten poorer. It is a reverse Robin Hood economy where we take from the poor and give to the rich. It has been the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of our country -- the 400 richest have more than the 155 million poorest.

Ballooning government deficits weren’t a problem when Republicans were in the White House, but with a Democratic president, it is suddenly a crisis. The recession we’ve been living through proves the fallacy of Milton Friedman, Reaganomics, Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan and the rest who told us that markets are self-correcting and regulation is bad. Banking regulations kept this country out of serious recession for 70 years, but once the regulations were repealed it took only a decade to bring the world’s economy to its knees. Yet Republicans refuse to acknowledge how wrong they were as they continue to try to gut government regulations.

Every time a politician tells you he wants to make the government more business friendly, what he’s really telling you is that he wants to increase taxes on your children and grandchildren. Every environmental law that is weakened will mean a cleanup to be paid for by future generations. Every bad business practice that is endured will be funded by taxpayers having to clean up the mess at some later date.

Now we are told that everyone must sacrifice to bring state and federal government budgets in line. But somehow the sacrifices once again all fall on those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Once again businesses are given tax cuts, money is found to increase spending on roads, but education, health care and help for the poorest in our society are cut.

There isn’t a financial crisis at either the state or the federal government. The crisis is our unwillingness to ask those who have gained the most from our society pay a fair and equitable share from the wealth this society has allowed them to accumulate. It is the honest, Christian, and patriotic thing to do.

Fox Wages War Against NPR As News Corp. Donates Millions To Support It

Original Link:

Fox News frequently lambasts National Public Radio as a "bias[ed]," "defamatory" news outlet, and attacks have intensified of late because of the recent forced resignations of two of its top executives. However, Fox News parent company News Corp. appears to harbor a different view of NPR's value considering the media conglomerate's subsidiaries have donated at least $2 million to fund and sponsor the nonprofit organization.

Fox Has Made A Habit Out Of Attacking NPR Over The Years
Fox Invents Conspiracy Theory That "NPR Is Working" With FCC To "Censor Talk Radio." From Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DICK MORRIS (Fox News contributor): We spend $500 million on NPR. And in the budget discussions that are going on now, I think the Republicans should insist on zero funding NPR. And it's easy for them to do. You simply don't pass an appropriations bill for them. You carve it out, you put it separately, and you vote it at zero. I think they can do that. But NPR has a backup plan.

NPR is working with the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, to basically censor talk radio. What they're going to do is set up community advisory boards for each station that will report to the FCC on how well the talk radio station is doing on serving the community. Ratings don't matter, but the opinion of this board matters. And the FCC can then fine the station and give the fine to NPR. And that's the plan that [President] Obama is going to be pushing this year.


STEVE DOOCY (co-host): One of the ways that I understand from your notes, one of the things they're trying to do to crack down on local stations that might run Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or the Brian Kilmeade Show, and that is that they would have a requirement that at least 25 percent of the programming be locally produced, and that's very expensive for little stations in some cases. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/9/11]

O'Reilly: "The Truth Is That NPR Is A Liberal Organization And Always Has Been." On his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly aired excerpts from a video released by conservative activist James O'Keefe showing controversial statements made by an NPR fundraiser, and stated:

O'REILLY: NPR announced today that Ron Schiller would be leaving the company and issued a statement saying they are appalled, appalled by Schiller's comments, which are, quote, "contrary to what NPR stands for," unquote. But does anyone believe that?

The truth is that NPR is a liberal organization and always has been. At times they do good reporting, but the culture is left-wing. That's why the feds can no longer fund it. NPR rightly points out that it did not accept a bogus $5 million check from the phony Muslims at the lunch. But like the ACORN sting, Mr. O'Keefe has succeeded in embarrassing an organization that takes public money. We once again urge Congress to stop the madness. NPR and PBS should compete in the marketplace. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/8/11]

O'Reilly: "Once Again, NPR Employees Are Seen Spouting Left-Wing Verbiage." The next day on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated:

O'REILLY: The head of NPR, Vivian Schiller -- out of there. Just one day after embarrassing undercover tapes of two NPR fundraisers were released, Ms. Schiller announced her resignation. That's because, one again, NPR employees are seen spouting left-wing verbiage. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting well knows it is on the verge of losing all federal funding because of this kind of stuff.

Last night on the Factor, we showed you the tapes where the two NPR fundraisers were seen to be sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. And they don't like Republicans very much either, so why should Republicans pay their salaries or at least a portion of them? No longer can funding for public broadcasting be justified in this country. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 3/9/11]

Monica Crowley: NPR Isn't "Interested In The Equal Exchange Of Ideas." During a panel discussion of NPR on America's Nightly Scoreboard, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley stated:

CROWLEY: A dollar is too much for NPR because of this kind of outrageous bias. And, like [legal analyst] Lis [Wiehl], in the mid-1990s, I actually served as a commentator for NPR for one year. They claimed that they wanted more conservative viewpoints, which I was happy to provide, but they constantly censored me, David; they constantly rejected my commentaries and wouldn't put me on the air. So any idea that they're interested in the equal exchange of ideas is outrageous. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 3/8/11]

Fox & Friends Accuses NPR Of A "Record Of Offensive, Bias Coverage." On Fox & Friends, co-hosts Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson repeatedly aired segments attacking NPR for its decision to terminate Williams' contract, often accusing NPR of having a "record of offensive, bias coverage" and of having employees with "histor[ies] of intolerance." Kilmeade asked viewers to weigh in on whether NPR should receive taxpayer dollars, "especially in light of what we now know they've done in the past" and what happened with Williams. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/22/10]

Hannity: NPR "Is Using Your Tax Dollars Yet Again To Showcase Their Liberal Bias." Discussing syndicated columnist Mark Fiore's satirical animated video about the tea party posted on NPR's website, Hannity stated that "National Public Radio is using your tax dollars yet again to showcase their liberal bias. Now in a new Web video NPR attacks the tea party movement. Now here's a portion of the 'Learn to Speak Tea Bag' video lesson. Keep in mind, you paid for this." After airing a clip of the video, Hannity said, "[W]e have NPR using your money to slam Americans who have the courage to voice their opinion." [Fox News, Hannity, 1/5/10, via Nexis]

•NPR posted Fiore's satirical op-ed, "Learn To Speak Tea Bag," along with an animated video on its website, writing: "Learning a new language doesn't have to be hard, especially when 'Tea Bag' is so minimalistic! Mark Fiore offers his personal take in this animation." [NPR, 11/12/09]
Krauthammer On NPR: "It's Completely Skewed Politically." In May 2005, Fox News contributor Mort Kondracke stated that "there is no reason why the government" should be funding public broadcasting, saying that "it is time for PBS to be, quote, unquote, 'liberated.' " Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer later stated: "I think that this is a completely obsolete idea of having a publicly funded network in an age of 500 cable channels." He added: "It's completely skewed politically, and it deserves a quiet, honorable death." [Fox News, Special Report with Brit Hume, 5/9/05, via Nexis]

O'Reilly: NPR "Uses Its Power To ... Advance Left-Wing And Defamatory Causes." In October 2003, O'Reilly discussed public funding of NPR and asked Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL): "How much longer do I have to pay for this outfit which is so blatantly unfair, and uses its power to, you know, advance left-wing and defamatory causes? What do I have to pay for this?" [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/8/03, via Nexis]

O'Reilly Suggested NPR Is "Censoring Right-Wing Voices." On the May 20, 2002, edition of his show, O'Reilly said that NPR "may be censoring right-wing voices, even though NPR gets close to $3 million a year in tax money, and much of that coming from right-wing voices." Fox News contributor Cal Thomas, who in O'Reilly's words, was "sacked" by NPR, later stated that "[m]ost of the news" at NPR "is filtered through the liberal prism, meaning bigger government is good, higher taxes to soak those terrible rich, successful are good. Gays are basically good. We ought to have gay rights for everybody. All feminist issues are true and correct." Thomas later stated that NPR is "[v]ery pro Palestinian." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 5/20/02, via Nexis]

O'Reilly: "NPR Is An Exclusionary, Politically Correct Propaganda Machine." On the January 7, 2002, edition of his show, O'Reilly asked if NPR should "be called the National Propaganda Radio Network." He later stated that "[t]he federal government gives [NPR] approximately $3 million in tax money each year. But for my money, NPR is an exclusionary, politically correct propaganda machine not at all interested in free speech." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 1/7/02, via Nexis]

But News Corp. Properties Have Given Millions Of Dollars To NPR
News Corp. Subsidiaries Have Given At Least $2 Million To Fund And Sponsor NPR. According to annual reports and donor lists posted on its website, NPR has received at least $2 million from News Corp. subsidiaries, including from the media company's cable, film, television, and publishing operations. Here is the complete breakdown from 2002 to 2008, the last year for which NPR has made its annual reports available on its website:


•$250,000 - $499,999: Fox Searchlight Pictures
•$100,000 - $249,999: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
FX Networks

•$50,000 - $99,999: Fox Broadcasting Company

•$500,000 - $999,999: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Fox Searchlight Pictures


•$50,000 - $99,999: Fox Searchlight Pictures
National Geographic Channel


•$50,000 - $99,999: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

•$50,000 - $99,999: Fox Searchlight Pictures

•$250,000 - $499,999: Fox Searchlight Pictures

•$50,000 - $99,999: FX Networks