ihatepeacocks
ihatepeacocks:

The base Gulfstream G5 starts at roughly $45,000,000.00 million dollars. School lunch costs roughly $1.95. That’s 23,076,923 lunches. And yet there are children that go without because their parents can’t afford $1.95 a day. Across the country politicians try to pass laws, often on behalf of Lobbyists for Corporations, that cut programs at schools, like Free & Reduced Lunches. I challenge ANY CEO to sell their jet and use the money to pay for school lunches for EVERY child in any state for one year.

ihatepeacocks:

The base Gulfstream G5 starts at roughly $45,000,000.00 million dollars. School lunch costs roughly $1.95. That’s 23,076,923 lunches. And yet there are children that go without because their parents can’t afford $1.95 a day. Across the country politicians try to pass laws, often on behalf of Lobbyists for Corporations, that cut programs at schools, like Free & Reduced Lunches.

I challenge ANY CEO to sell their jet and use the money to pay for school lunches for EVERY child in any state for one year.

The number of Capitol Hill millionaires has grown in recent years to include nearly half of all members of Congress - 250 in all - and the wealth gap between lawmakers and their constituents appears to be growing quickly, even as Congress debates unemployment benefits, possible cuts in food stamps and a “millionaire’s tax.”

Representative Ed Pastor buys a Powerball lottery ticket every weekend and says he does not consider himself rich. Indeed, within the halls of Congress, where the median net worth is $913,000 and climbing, he is not. He is a rank-and-file millionaire. But compared with the country at large, where the median net worth is $100,000 and has dropped significantly since 2004, he and most of his fellow lawmakers are true aristocrats.

Largely insulated from the country’s economic downturn since 2008, members of Congress - many of them among the “1 percenters” denounced by Occupy Wall Street protesters - have gotten much richer even as most of the country has become much poorer in the last six years, according to an analysis by The New York Times based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group.

Congress has never been a place for paupers. From plantation owners in the pre-Civil War era to industrialists in the early 1900s to ex-Wall Street financiers and Internet executives today, it has long been populated with the rich, including scions of families like the Guggenheims, Hearsts, Kennedys and Rockefellers.

But rarely has the divide appeared so wide, or the public contrast so stark, between lawmakers and those they represent.

The wealth gap may go largely unnoticed in good times. “But with the American public feeling all this economic pain, people just resent it more,” said Alan J. Ziobrowski, a professor at Georgia State who studied lawmakers’ stock investments.

There is broad debate about just why the wealth gap appears to be growing. For starters, the prohibitive costs of political campaigning may discourage the less affluent from even considering a candidacy. Beyond that, loose ethics controls, shrewd stock picks, profitable land deals, favorable tax laws, inheritances and even marriages to wealthy spouses are all cited as possible explanations for the rising fortunes on Capitol Hill.

The median wealth of House members grew some two and a half times between 1984 and 2009 in inflation-adjusted dollars, while the wealth of the average American family has actually declined slightly in that same time period, according to data cited by The Washington Post in an article published Monday on its Web site.

Unsurprisingly, the New York metropolitan area has the largest number of very high-income households. Nearly 12 percent of top-income households live in the New York region, compared to about 7 percent of all households. Second-place Los Angeles is home to about 5 percent of the very rich, compared to about 4 percent of all households.
There are 54 metropolitan areas whose share of very high-income households exceeds their share of all households. These include 18 of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most very high-income households, several others among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas (including Hartford, Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, New Haven, Poughkeepsie and Richmond), some smaller university towns (Trenton, which includes Princeton, plus Boulder, Ann Arbor, Santa Cruz, Charlottesville, Durham, Ithaca, and Iowa City), and some other small metropolitan areas (Naples, Florida; Midland, Texas; Sebastian, Florida; Napa, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anchorage, Alaska; Reno, Nevada; Barnstable Town, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire; Lafayette, Louisiana; Tyler, Texas and Rochester, Minnesota).
Courtesy Brookings InstitutionA drill-down to the zip code level shows that the zip code with the largest number of very rich households is 10023 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with 7,621 such households. That zip code, plus one other on the Upper West Side, one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, each have about 0.2 percent of all the nation’s very high-income households. 
Rounding out the 20 zip codes with the most very high-income households are several in Manhattan (on the Upper East and Upper West Sides, Midtown East, and Greenwich Village), the New York suburb of Scarsdale, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Cupertino in Silicon Valley, the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, part of Houston’s west side, the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Princeton, a suburban area north of San Diego, and the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. Wall Street itself doesn’t make the list, since few people live there. 
There are Occupy movements in nearly all the metropolitan areas where the top 3 percent are concentrated. All of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most top-income households have groups listed in the directory on the Occupy Together Web site. So do all but six of the 54 metropolitan areas where the very rich are disproportionately located.  (The missing six are Bridgeport, Connecticut; Naples, Florida; Sebastian, Florida; Lafayette, Louisiana; Midland, Texas; and Tyler, Texas.) 
Yet movements in support of Occupy Wall Street also exist in many places other than those where the very rich are concentrated, including such seemingly unlikely locales as Anderson, Indiana, and Texarkana, Texas.  Geographically, their reach is greater than that of the very rich.

Unsurprisingly, the New York metropolitan area has the largest number of very high-income households. Nearly 12 percent of top-income households live in the New York region, compared to about 7 percent of all households. Second-place Los Angeles is home to about 5 percent of the very rich, compared to about 4 percent of all households.

There are 54 metropolitan areas whose share of very high-income households exceeds their share of all households. These include 18 of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most very high-income households, several others among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas (including Hartford, Austin, Raleigh, Charlotte, New Haven, Poughkeepsie and Richmond), some smaller university towns (Trenton, which includes Princeton, plus Boulder, Ann Arbor, Santa Cruz, Charlottesville, Durham, Ithaca, and Iowa City), and some other small metropolitan areas (Naples, Florida; Midland, Texas; Sebastian, Florida; Napa, California; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anchorage, Alaska; Reno, Nevada; Barnstable Town, Massachusetts; Manchester, New Hampshire; Lafayette, Louisiana; Tyler, Texas and Rochester, Minnesota).

Courtesy Brookings Institution

A drill-down to the zip code level shows that the zip code with the largest number of very rich households is 10023 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, with 7,621 such households. That zip code, plus one other on the Upper West Side, one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and the Washington suburb of Potomac, Maryland, each have about 0.2 percent of all the nation’s very high-income households. 

Rounding out the 20 zip codes with the most very high-income households are several in Manhattan (on the Upper East and Upper West Sides, Midtown East, and Greenwich Village), the New York suburb of Scarsdale, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Cupertino in Silicon Valley, the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, part of Houston’s west side, the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Princeton, a suburban area north of San Diego, and the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland. Wall Street itself doesn’t make the list, since few people live there. 

There are Occupy movements in nearly all the metropolitan areas where the top 3 percent are concentrated. All of the 20 metropolitan areas with the most top-income households have groups listed in the directory on the Occupy Together Web site. So do all but six of the 54 metropolitan areas where the very rich are disproportionately located.  (The missing six are Bridgeport, Connecticut; Naples, Florida; Sebastian, Florida; Lafayette, Louisiana; Midland, Texas; and Tyler, Texas.) 

Yet movements in support of Occupy Wall Street also exist in many places other than those where the very rich are concentrated, including such seemingly unlikely locales as Anderson, Indiana, and Texarkana, Texas.  Geographically, their reach is greater than that of the very rich.


What ‘Percent’ Are You? The Numbers Behind the Tax Divide Debate

When it comes to dividing up our class structure, the middle is a good place to start — namely, the 60% of households wedged between the poorest 20% and the richest 20%. These families make between $20,001 and $100,065 a year, and were the group hardest hit by the recession: In 2008, their average income fell by 3.6%, thebiggest single-year dropin history. At the same time, they were also devastated by rising unemployment, mass foreclosures, soaring tuitions and frozen wages. By comparison, households below the 20% line often qualify for social welfare programs, were far less likely to own real estate, and were less affected by massive layoffs. In other words, they had less to lose, and ended up losing less.


On the other end of the spectrum, many of those above the 80% line were shielded from the harsher effects of economic downturns. And over the last 30 years, the top 20% have done quite well: Their share of all wages paid in the U.S. has gone from 50% to 60%. Everyone else has lost ground.

The 53% vs. the 47%

The dividing line between the 99% and the 1% is stark, but some argue there’s a better one: The boundary between those who pay income taxes and those who don’t. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 53% of households pay federal income tax; the rest either break even or get back more in refunds than they pay.

In fact, thesecond-to-lowest20% of the country — households making between $20,001 and $38,043 — get back about 0.4% more income tax than they pay; for families who make less than $20,000, it’s about 6.8%.

Some conservatives — notably on the Tumblr blogWe are the 53%— have taken these numbers to heart, arguing that this means the bottom 47% is getting a free ride. But the 53%/47% division is a bit misleading.

To begin with, almost all households pay state taxes, Medicare tax, Social Security tax, excise taxes, sales taxes, and a raft of other government fees. When this broader, and more accurate, assessment of taxation is used, the 47% doesn’t look to be getting off so easy: Thesecond poorest quintile— the ones that got 0.4% of their income tax back — still paid more 10% of their incomes in various federal taxes.

In fact, when everything is factored in, 86% of the country pays more than it gets back in federal taxes.As for the rest, it’s not the split you might expect: More than half (8% of Americans) are senior citizens receiving Social Security.

And that last 6% — the ones who really pay nothing to the federal government? They are unemployed, disabled, in school, or making very low incomes. But even this small group pays state and local taxes, sales taxes, and other government fees.

Where the Poor Pay More


When it comes to percentage of income, the line is even clearer: For some taxes, the bottom 20% of the Americans pay more than the top 20%. For example, a household on the bottom pays almost 54% more of its income into Social Security than a household on the top. The same goes for excise taxes — fees attached to certain commodities like gasoline and alcohol: As a percentage of income, the poorest 20% pays more than four times as much as the richest 20%.

reagan-was-a-horrible-president

Members of the 1% are clearly at an advantage when it comes to opportunity, and that advantage carries through when it comes to finding a job.

While it’s common for people to find employment through family and friends, there’s a direct correlation between a father’s income and the likelihood his son will work for the same employer, according to a report last year in the Journal of Labor Economics (via Miles Corak, who co-wrote the paper).

The researchers found that that among its subjects, around 40% of young Canadian men had been employed by an employer for whom their father worked.

But for earners in the top percentile, that figure jumps to around nearly 70%.

Writes Corak:

All parents want to help their children in whatever way they can. But top earners can do it more than others, and with more consequence: virtually guaranteeing, if not a lifetime of high earnings, at least a great start in life.

Save the Rich by Garfunkel and Oates

Everyone knows these times are really tough
And we need to band together say we’ve had enough
All the jobless people need to learn to be content
Cause what we need to do is protect our one percent

Save the rich
Let them know you care
Don’t leave them to languish
In their penthouse of despair

Save the rich
Let their bonuses be swollen
And let them keep it all tax free
Even if it’s stolen.

Save the rich

Let’s give our job creators
More than their fair share
So they can go to Asia
And create jobs over there.

There’s loopholes and exemptions
And children to exploit.
So give them special tax breaks
Go fuck yourself Detroit!

And those who don’t create jobs
Really need help, too.
Cause without their 7th home
How will they make it through?

It’s not time for complaining
Not the time for class war
It’s time sacrifice yourself
To give them more and more and more
And more and more and more…

Save the rich!
America’s built on corporate greed
It’s not Wall Street’s fault
If you can’t get what you need.

Save the rich
Don’t go crying to mommy
Cause if you don’t agree
Than you’re socialist commie

Save the rich

Blame yourself for your problems
Not the bad economy.
So what if those who have the most
Are the ones who put it in jeopardy?

Fuck your student loans!
Fuck your kids and their health care!
It’ll only take 10,000 of your jobs
To put another private jet in the air.

Save the rich
It’s so easy to do
Just let yourself be ignorant
To what’s been done to you.

Save the rich
By doing nothing at all
Deny all sense and logic
And just think really small.
You should think really small
Or just don’t think at all!
And save the rich!

More than three years since the global financial crisis started, financial institutions are still blowing themselves up. The latest, MF Global, filed for bankruptcy protection last week after its chief executive, Jon S. Corzine, made risky investments in European bonds. So far, lenders and shareholders have been paying the price, not taxpayers. But it is only a matter of time before private risk-taking leads to another giant bailout like the ones the United States was forced to provide in 2008.

Any person who works for a company that, regardless of its current financial health, would require a taxpayer-financed bailout if it failed, should not get a bonus, ever. In fact, all pay at systemically important financial institutions — big banks, but also some insurance companies and even huge hedge funds — should be strictly regulated.

Critics like the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators decry the bonus system for its lack of fairness and its contribution to widening inequality. But the greater problem is that it provides an incentive to take risks. The asymmetric nature of the bonus (an incentive for success without a corresponding disincentive for failure) causes hidden risks to accumulate in the financial system and become a catalyst for disaster. This violates the fundamental rules of capitalism; Adam Smith himself was wary of the effect of limiting liability, a bedrock principle of the modern corporation.

Bonuses are particularly dangerous because they invite bankers to game the system by hiding the risks of rare and hard-to-predict but consequential blow-ups, which I have called “black swan” events. The meltdown in the United States subprime mortgage market, which set off the global financial crisis, is only the latest example of such disasters.

Consider that we trust military and homeland security personnel with our lives, yet we don’t give them lavish bonuses. They get promotions and the honor of a job well done if they succeed, and the severe disincentive of shame if they fail. For bankers, it is the opposite: a bonus if they make short-term profits and a bailout if they go bust. The question of talent is a red herring: Having worked with both groups, I can tell you that military and security people are not only more careful about safety, but also have far greater technical skill, than bankers.

Banning bonuses addresses the principal-agent problem in economics: the separation between an agent’s interests and those of the client, or principal, he is supposed to represent. The potency of my solution lies in the idea that people do not consciously wish to harm themselves; I feel much safer on a plane because the pilot, and not a drone, is at the controls. Similarly, cooks should taste their own cooking; engineers should stand under the bridges they have designed when the bridges are tested; the captain should be the last to leave the ship. 

No such pain faces bailed-out, bonus-taking bankers. The period from 2000 to 2008 saw a very large accumulation of hidden exposures in the financial system. And yet the year 2010 brought the largest bank compensation in history. It has become clear that merely “clawing back” past bonuses after the fact is not enough. Supervision, regulation and other forms of monitoring are necessary, but insufficient — consider that the Federal Reserve insisted, as late as 2007, that the rapidly escalating subprime mortgage crisis was likely to be “contained.”

What would banking look like if bonuses were eliminated? It would not be too different from what it was like when I was a bank intern in the 1980s, before the wave of deregulation that culminated in the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that had separated investment and commercial banking. Before then, bankers and lenders were boring “lifers.” Banking was bland and predictable; the chairman’s income was less than that of today’s junior trader. Investment banks, which paid bonuses and weren’t allowed to lend, were partnerships with skin in the game, not gamblers playing with other people’s money.

I believe that “less is more” — simple heuristics are necessary for complex problems. So instead of thousands of pages of regulation, we should enforce a basic principle: Bonuses and bailouts should never mix.

Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University Polytechnic Institute, is the author of “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.” He is a hedge fund investor and a former Wall Street trader.

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms.

Nearly 90 percent of that increase is concentrated in the 50 richest Members of Congress. Two years ago, Roll Call found that the minimum net worth of House Members was slightly more than $1 billion; Senators had a combined minimum worth of $651 million for a Congressional total of $1.65 billion. Roll Call calculates minimum net worth by adding the minimum values of all reported assets and subtracting the minimum values of all reported liabilities.

According to financial disclosure forms filed by Members of Congress this year, the minimum net worth in the House has jumped to $1.26 billion, and Senate net worth has climbed to at least $784 million, for a Congressional total of $2.04 billion.

bbpratt
But let’s just remember that, as the 53%, I am working SO HARD while those blue collar/poor people work lazy jobs like shoveling, melding, and standing all day at a cash register. But because you got a degree, for which you spent a substantial amount of money on, you get the luxury of a safer, more comfortable office job. 
See the reason some people are upset right now is that they feel they were tricked and coerced into taking on a horrible investment - preyed on like crooks prey on the elderly. We’re not just talking houses, but education as well. It used to be that you could work hard a few years and invest a lump sum of money (if you were lucky enough to have it) into a degree so that after that sentence, you could get a more comfortable job. A job where you could sit, indoors, with a computer or other boredom killers. And it used to be that those jobs paid more to cover the cost of that education. That made it a worthwhile investment. But the system has fallen apart because education prices have sky-rocketed since our parents went to school, yet our salaries have stayed at relatively the same stagnant level. We were bred on the mantra, you must get a degree to get a job these days. So we did. And we were told to go to a good school. We had rankings and schools gave out statistics on their 95% post-graduate employment rate within six months. But who the F**K has $15-50,000 PER YEAR just sitting around? So basically we were told, if you want to succeed in life you will take this loan. It all sounded like a must take deal. 
Oh, no more jobs? Salary hasn’t risen? Too bad, so sad. You should have known better at 18 years old. You shouldn’t have listened to ALL these professional adults, including your parents. So stop being a whiny brat and get a job. WTF? What rock have you been living under? And to all the people complacent in their austerity - your life is unfair. You shouldn’t have to sweat and stress as hard or harder than another person and live in squalor (or if you’re lucky, relative comfort but one accident or sickness away from squalor), whilst they live in luxury of services, medical care, technologies, educations, experiences YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ACCESS TO. This isn’t about complaining or being whiny. This is about justice and fairness. This isn’t even about taxing. This is about the whole system. How much we pay our workers and charge for education. That would be the “trickle down” we should have seen from the bail-outs. Instead that money disappeared into the bonuses of bankers. 
Do people really not see the problem? Without education we won’t see the sorts of progresses we would like to see under capitalism. Because people WILL start to decide against education if, when they look around, they begin to see that education is a bad investment. 
THIS is the problem, on a totally mathematical, economic, logical level - not on a bleeding-heart liberal level. 

But let’s just remember that, as the 53%, I am working SO HARD while those blue collar/poor people work lazy jobs like shoveling, melding, and standing all day at a cash register. But because you got a degree, for which you spent a substantial amount of money on, you get the luxury of a safer, more comfortable office job. 

See the reason some people are upset right now is that they feel they were tricked and coerced into taking on a horrible investment - preyed on like crooks prey on the elderly. We’re not just talking houses, but education as well. It used to be that you could work hard a few years and invest a lump sum of money (if you were lucky enough to have it) into a degree so that after that sentence, you could get a more comfortable job. A job where you could sit, indoors, with a computer or other boredom killers. And it used to be that those jobs paid more to cover the cost of that education. That made it a worthwhile investment. But the system has fallen apart because education prices have sky-rocketed since our parents went to school, yet our salaries have stayed at relatively the same stagnant level. We were bred on the mantra, you must get a degree to get a job these days. So we did. And we were told to go to a good school. We had rankings and schools gave out statistics on their 95% post-graduate employment rate within six months. But who the F**K has $15-50,000 PER YEAR just sitting around? So basically we were told, if you want to succeed in life you will take this loan. It all sounded like a must take deal. 

Oh, no more jobs? Salary hasn’t risen? Too bad, so sad. You should have known better at 18 years old. You shouldn’t have listened to ALL these professional adults, including your parents. So stop being a whiny brat and get a job. WTF? What rock have you been living under? And to all the people complacent in their austerity - your life is unfair. You shouldn’t have to sweat and stress as hard or harder than another person and live in squalor (or if you’re lucky, relative comfort but one accident or sickness away from squalor), whilst they live in luxury of services, medical care, technologies, educations, experiences YOU WILL NEVER HAVE ACCESS TO. This isn’t about complaining or being whiny. This is about justice and fairness. This isn’t even about taxing. This is about the whole system. How much we pay our workers and charge for education. That would be the “trickle down” we should have seen from the bail-outs. Instead that money disappeared into the bonuses of bankers. 

Do people really not see the problem? Without education we won’t see the sorts of progresses we would like to see under capitalism. Because people WILL start to decide against education if, when they look around, they begin to see that education is a bad investment. 

THIS is the problem, on a totally mathematical, economic, logical level - not on a bleeding-heart liberal level. 

Statistics indicate that the growing disparity is genuinely overwhelming. In fact, the 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the “lower” 150 million Americans put together.

Indeed, if you look at the reports it compiles on every country in the world, even the CIA has concluded that wealth disparity is greater in the US than in Tunisia or Egypt.

A New ‘Gilded Age’

In a book published in 2010, American political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson discuss how this “hyperconcentration of economic gains at the top” also existed in the United States in the early 20th century, when industrial magnates — such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan — dominated the upper stratum of society and held the country firmly in their grip for years.

Writer Mark Twain coined the phrase “the Gilded Age” to describe that period of rapid growth, a time when the dazzling exterior of American life actually concealed mass unemployment, poverty and a society ripped in two.

Economists and political scientists believe the US has entered a new Gilded Age, a period of systematic inequality dominated by a new class of super-rich. The only difference is that, this time around, the super-rich are hedge fund managers and financial magnates instead of oil and rail barons.

A Threat to the World Economy

The academics fear this change could have serious consequences for the country’s economic future. As they see it, this extreme inequality threatens to dramatically slow growth in the world’s largest economy. This is part of a development, they argue, that has been under way for years but remained largely hidden in the years of cheap credit, rising real estate prices and excessive consumption — when it seemed everyone was on the way up. And the problems only came to light with the arrival of the financial crisis.

Read more at the link.

[Mitt Romney] said in the debate, the last debate, that he wanted everyone to be rich. That seems to be the line from the Republican Party, which, of course, is just a complete fantasy. Herman Cain, of course, famously said recently that “If you`re not rich, blame yourself.” This is what really bothers me, this idea that somehow we can all be rich…that is one of the stupidest things I`ve ever heard any politician say. I want everybody to be rich. First of all, if everybody was rich, who would do the things that rich people hire people to do for them? Rich people need poor people to work for them.

And this idea that Herman Cain said “If you`re not rich, blame yourself” — this is what bothers me about rich people. They don`t, first of all, as Elizabeth Warren said, they don`t cotton to the idea they wouldn`t be rich if they didn`t have this great country that provides the roads and the schools and all the other things that allow them to be rich. But also this idea, they never understand - it`s a FLUKE mostly, that what you do is something that made you rich. Yes, if you throw a baseball 100 miles an hour or even what I do — I mean, I`m not humble about some things. But I`m very humble about the fact that telling jokes is something that gets you a lot of money. That is a complete fluke — and so is owning pizza parlors.

Yes, Herman Cain was good at business. Great. He became very rich from it. But what about teachers and cops and firemen? You know those people we always say are our “heroes”. They`re such heroes that we pay them like crap. Well, they do what they do very well. It just doesn`t happen to be something that is ever going to make you rich. So, this idea that if you`re not rich, blame yourself — oh, it really bugs me.

Bill Maher on The Rachel Maddow Show - The Interview on MSNBC (10-11-2011)