The Biggest Revelation in the “Panama Papers”

April 5.  The most important service done by the releasing of the “Panama Papers” is not revealing the names of the big shots hiding money in banks where they pay no taxes. Better it makes very public the fact that trillions and trillions of dollars are hidden away from the tax man and employees by the super rich.  The whining by the 1% that companies “can’t afford” raises or that taxes would “soak the rich” and kill the “golden goose” are shown to be spectacular lies.

It’s known for many years that trillions are kept “offshore”, but the writing of the tax experts never got that much attention. The term “offshore” applies to money supposedly invested in little island nations that charge little or no taxes for people to park their money there.  I say supposedly because lots of the money is actually being “managed” right in the U.S. with the overseas account as a fig leaf of foreign ownership.

Back in 2012 James S. Henry, former director of economic research for McKinsey and Company gave this estimate of the amount of money being held “offshore”:

“A significant fraction of global private financial wealth — by our estimates, at least $21 to $32 trillion as of 2010 — has been invested virtually tax free through the world’s still expanding black hole of more than 80 “offshore” secrecy jurisdictions. We believe this range to be conservative…”

Gabriel Zucman worked at the numbers a different way in his 2015 book “The Hidden Wealth of Nations” and came up with a much lower, but still amazing $7.6 trillion in hidden money. The book was widely and positively reviewed.  Henry and another hidden money researcher John Christensen say the number is “way too low”. They make a good case.

At any rate the amount of money hidden away by the really rich is really, really enormous. So when they say they can’t pay you can safely and precisely say, “Bull$**&”!

Here’s a mini-booklet on the subject from a couple of years ago here.  It doesn’t even have to be updated.

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Chris Hedges on Saudi Arabia and the Elections

chris hedges at saudi summit

Video of Hedges talk

CODEPINK last weekend had over 250 at a conference they called the “Saudi Summit” to examine the awful record of America’s oldest Middle East ally.

On March 6, Chris Hedges addressed the gathering. Chris Hedges is an author, activist, and former Middle East Bureau chief for the New York Times.  He calls for BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions against Saudi Arabia.

More video of the conference at “The Real News”

 

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You Can’t Make a Revolution in a Counter-Revolutionary Party – Jill Stein

Video of her talk in Portland, CT 2/13/2016

jill stein in portland2

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Constructive if Harsh Criticism of Parts of Stein’s Speech

Feb. 14. Some observations about Jill Stein’s talk yesterday in CT.  The crowd of about 30-40 was about 1/3 people in their twenties, almost no minorities, no “Middle Eastern” people that I noticed.  She said the Democratic Party officials would deny the nomination to Sanders and hoped this would lead to a lot of interest in the Green Party.

She spent a lot of time on “student debt”, calling for the debt to be forgiven.  Very good.  Also a lot of time on the Saudis which was excellent, except she seemed to go overboard.  She says “We know who funded 9/11, that was coming from the Saudis”.  This sounds like she’s saying the Saudi government financed the attack.  No proof of this astounding charge. Very discrediting.  Though she talked generally about Saudi mischief making she didn’t talk about their attack on Yemen.  She didn’t talk about Palestine/Israel until I brought it up in the questions.

She used the “Green New Deal” a couple of times. That might have been refreshing in 2012, but not today. Bernie talks about “socialism” and “revolution”. I know it’s mostly empty rhetoric on his part, but “Green New Deal” was tried and it’s time to move on. As she says we’re living through a global “emergency”.  We don’t need just a different “deal”. Suggest “Ecosocialism” or “Eco-revolution”.

I raised a number of points in my questions. 1) that Senator Murphy had called for halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia because of Yemen and that the Green Party should help lead the anti-war fight there. 2) I mentioned the court case in CA that was expected to be found against public employee unions and called for the Green Party to lead the charge against it (the meeting was held before news of the death of Justice Scalia.  That may change things.) 3) that the CT AFL-CIO passed a resolution calling for BDS against Israel and asking what she thought of that 4) that I was disturbed with her position on Russia calling for “collaborative dialogue” with Putin’s government.
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Sanders in Debate with Clinton Asks Saudis to Put “Skin” in Game

Again Bernie Sanders calls for the bigoted, cruel, imperial Saudi and Qatari
regimes to take the lead in solving things in the Middle East.

“And one point I want to make here that is not made very often, you have
incredibly wealthy countries in that region, countries like Saudi Arabia, countries
like Qatar. Qatar happens to be the largest — wealthiest country per capita in the
world. They have got to start putting in some skin in the game and not just ask the
United States to do it.” – from the 1/17 debate

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New York Values – You Got a Problem with That?

newyorkvalues1

for more pictures

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Is the Obama Cheap Money Boom Over?

So what’s Plan B?

headlines jan 15 2016

headlines from Bloomberg.com  1/15/2016

 

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Obama Left Out “Union” in His Last State of the Union

As a member of the American Federation of Teachers since 1969 I looked over the #SOTU speech to see what he had to say about unions and worker rights.

Well, in his (thankfully last) State of the Union speech Obama didn’t say the words “trade union” or “labor” or suggest that workers should join unions. He had nothing to say about labor legislation. He said nothing about Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the court suit that could weaken all public employee unions.

He did his best to boost the Trans Pacific Partnership job killing treaty, though.

Obama didn’t  say a word about Flint, Michigan where an un-elected official (forced on the city by a Republican governor) changed the water supply to the city and poisoned all the citizens.

Yet he spent a lot of time bragging how many bombs he dropped, as if Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen aren’t all disasters.

I understand they let an AFL-CIO officer into the gallery. Whoop-dee-do.

You know at one time working in elections was just a supplement to collective bargaining and strikes. Now it’s all that unions do.

How many of our current labor leaders have even been on strike?

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Stocks Drop Another 588 Points…Move Along…Nothing to See Here

girl on bull

The stockbrokers and newscasters put on their happy faces and tell the hoi poloi to stay calm, and to not sell off their stocks as the values crash.   On the other hand the big players are selling.  Otherwise there wouldn’t be a rout.  And some are making lot of money.  They saw this crash (sorry, I mean “correction”) coming and sold short.  That means they bought stocks on one date and agree to pay for it at a certain time in the future (when hopefully for them) the price is way down.  A number of hedge fund managers made out like bandits betting stocks would go down.

Irresponsible credit like subprime mortgages brought on the Great Recession.  Rather than fight it with jobs programs like FDR in the ‘30’s, or something even more radical,  Obama had the Federal Reserve open the spigot charging the big banks 0% for prime loans.  Eventually things picked up.  But the banksters and titans of coporate America didn’t invest all of the loans in new factories and machines, not by a long shot.  Last week Pam and Russ Martens of the site Wall Street on Parade wrote:

“Corporations have issued a stunning $9.3 trillion in bonds since the beginning of 2009. The major beneficiary of this debt binge has been the stock market rather than investment in modernizing the plant, equipment or new hires to make the company more competitive for the future. Bond proceeds frequently ended up buying back shares or boosting dividends, thus elevating the stock market on the back of heavier debt levels on corporate balance sheets.”

In other words the execs had the company borrow cheap money to buy back stock to raise its price so they could personally get richer.  Whatever.

Now it’s quite possible this all could be a kerfuffle with no lasting effect.  Stocks have crashed plenty of times in the past and then come right back.  This time it looks a little more real.  China’s economy is having real trouble.  Production and retail sales are slowing.  The Communist Party went long on stocks and bonds and their response to the crash is to send worker pension funds into the breach.

How does a falling stock market affect the “real” business of buying and selling?  Well, for one thing all those people who invested in stocks because banks were offering 0.000001% interest rates go into shock and stop buying refrigerators, cars, IPhones and the like.  Some companies who gambled in stocks go belly up…and so it starts.

Next Time Do it Right

Sooner or later there will be another crash, recession, depression or some other name that the big shots think is not too frightening.  Hopefully some clear thinking people will realize that neither another blank check to the banks nor the populist nostrums offered by Bernie Sanders and his ilk will do the trick.

We need to get rid of capitalism.  We need to replace it with eco-socialism, a planned economy based on 100% renewable energy with full workplace democracy.  All the rest is a diversion as we run out of time, as the clock ticks down and climate catastrophe is locked in and humanity is screwed.

 

 

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Joe Say Go (to War with Iran)

I got my job2Lieberman Wants You

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Six Memes To Convince Senator Blumenthal to Support the Iran Deal

 

 

You’re welcome to use

in what universesend them to war

billionaire's ads2stringent  religious fanatics2 overthrowing the iranian government

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Woman Starts “Tree-Sit” to Protest Spectra Pipeline

May 19, 2015

Contact: Sherrie Anne Andre, 401-474-7666

     Nick Katkevich, 401-572-8148nick@fangtogether.org

Social Service Advocate Launches Tree-Sit to Prevent Pipeline Construction

BURRILLVILLE, RI – A local woman launched a tree sit at the edge of a gas compressor station in Burrillville this morning to prevent its proposed expansion. The station, owned and operated by Spectra Energy, pressurizes and moves gas along the “Algonquin” Pipeline. Spectra is planning to nearly double the capacity of the compressor station as part of the highly protested “AIM” pipeline expansion project.

Sherrie Anne Andre, a member of FANG (Fighting Against Naturals Gas), and a Rhode Island native is holding the tree-sit “indefinitely”. The sit is aimed at preventing the tree clearing necessary for constructing the addition to the compressor station.

Andre is occupying a platform that is suspended 60 feet high on a tree located just yards away from the existing gas compressor station. A banner hanging from the platform reads “Spectra’s Toxins are Trespassing on Our Bodies, #StopSpectra”, highlighting the health impacts that residents face during the extraction, transportation and burning of fracked-gas.

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More “Productivity” Just Means the Rich Get More for Themselves

Over the last few years many writers and even some liberal politicians have pointed out the incredible gulf between the rich and everyone else, the inequality of income and wealth in the U.S.  Dean Baker on the website FAIR takes on Paul Samuelson who claims the “real problem for the middle class is not inequality but rather productivity growth”.   Samuelson’s idea is if we produced more things and more services working people would get more.  This in his mind no doubt would be better than doing dreadful things like raising minimum wages and taking away the power of companies to fire workers for trying to unionize.  Baker makes a lot of points against Samuelson, but one chart done by Dave Johnson on “The Contributor” does a much better job.  It shows that until the middle 1970’s productivity and wage pretty much rose at the same rate.  Then productivity took off, but wages barely went up at all.   In forty years wages went up roughly about 13% while productivity went up 154%.

The point is that workers can get as productive as all hell, but it won’t do them any good because the owners will take almost all of the gains for themselves.

Liberals use this fact to insist we go back to the “good old days” of the ‘40’s and ‘50’s when government was nicer and there were decent increases in wages.  I suspect those years were great exceptions in U.S. capitalism and that what we are living in now is the “normal”.  Until the companies are taken over and run democratically the yawning inequality will continue or increase.

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Disappointing Debate Yesterday on Ukraine on Democracy Now!

Just heard the 2/10 debate on Democracy Now!  Prof. John Mearsheimer, who opposes guns to Ukraine, based his argument on the Monroe Doctrine! He said the U.S. was right to force the Soviet Union out of Cuba and Russia had the right to do the same in Ukraine. Mearsheimer said powerful states naturally don’t want forces of other powerful states anywhere near their borders.

OMG!  The Monroe Doctrine has long been opposed by Latin Americans and the Left.  That’s the way to oppose the U.S. getting into another war?

On the other hand General Wald who wants U.S. weapons to go to Ukraine said states should abide by international law.  He said, “Putin has no claim to any sphere of influence whatsoever in Europe, other than Russia, period.”  In talking about Cuba, Wald disputed Mearsheimer by saying the Soviet Union had invaded Cuba. What a mess.

Though Mearsheimer mentioned the U.S. breaks international law when it feels it’s against its “interests”.  [I hate that word “interests”.  It’s an excuse to steal what’s not yours for the benefit of a country’s 1%.]  However, he never talked about NATO itself and why its only use now is to by-pass the shreds of U.N. authority and international law.  It’s a menace that should be disbanded?

Why can’t Democracy Now find some leaders of peace groups or left-wing professors who can talk about Ukraine?

Brand new petition from Promoting Enduring Peace No U.S. Weapons to Ukraine – Stay Out of the Fighting

For my thoughts on the crisis and an archive of article on Ukraine click here.

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Has the Blue Coup Started? How Can it Be Opposed?

The New York Post has revealed that New York cops are secretly taking a job action to protest being “betrayed” by Mayor deBlasio.  The so-called “betrayal” is the open admission by deBlasio that even he fears for his Black son at the hands of police.  The Post reports says arrests for minor crimes and issuing of parking tickets are down by staggering amounts, in some areas over 90%. 

The Post is brutally right wing and normally not to be trusted, but the New York Times editors believed the figures enough to use them to as the start of an editorial called:”When New York City Police Walk Off the Job”.  The Times says the actions amount “to a public act of extortion by the police.”  It calls for the police commissioner to take action.  Fat chance of that.

Is this the start of a “blue coup”?  Does police union head Pat Lynch now think he runs the 35,000 member NYC armed police force and that it is above all criticism?  In 1992 a police demonstration/riot destroyed then Mayor David Dinkins.  He became a one term mayor and New York suffered through two decades of Republican rule.  The same can happen now, a paralysis called “compromise” leading to popular disgust and another sharp turn to the Right.

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Methane Leaks Cancel Natural Gas Benefits

A few days ago the New York Times had a generally comforting article by John Schwartz about the natural gas boom and the enthusiasm for it by Obama and his people.  It was filled with pros and cons, but overall completely missed the necessary tone for these matters.  The proper tone should be one of loud alarm.

The article started with the “pros”. Burning natural gas creates half the carbon dioxide than coal does (for the same energy produced).  Because of fracking it’s also cheaper so many electric plants have switched from coal to gas.  The result is that in the U.S. carbon dioxide produced by electric power plants has been cut by about 20% since 2005.

Sounds good, but you can’t just look at one part of process.  To get the natural gas to the power plant you have to mine it and send it over pipelines. That creates a big problem of leakage.  Lots of it is leaking out into the air and adding big time to global warming.  Natural gas is almost entirely methane gas and methane is much worse than carbon dioxide as a climate warmer.  Schwartz writes, “Because of methane’s ability to trap infrared radiation more effectively than CO2, its effect on climate change is 84 times greater on a 20-year basis.”  Continue reading

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Kareem Jabbar’s Defense of Protest is a Slam Dunk

Awesome.  Kareem Abdul Jabbar is doing some great work as a columnist for Time magazine.  Two days ago he wrote a brave must-read pieceThe Police Aren’t Under Attack. Institutionalized Racism Is”.  The former pro basketball all-time scoring champ stood up to the bullies who are trying to use the murder of two NYC policemen to silence all criticism of police outrages.  He says, “This shrill cry of “policism” (a form of reverse racism) by Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics …rather than social justice”

This is a reaction to the outrageous comments of New York City police union head Pat Lynch who claimed New York Mayor DeBlasio has “blood on his hands”, apparently because DeBlasio mentioned that 

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Will There Be a Future for Public Education in Detroit?

Interview with Steve Conn who is in a runoff election for presidency of the Detroit Federation of Teachers.  Conditions in Detroit schools are pretty shocking with class sizes in the high ’30’s and many of the schools turned over to private “charter” companies.   

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Demand This Now from Our Broken Justice System

December 6.  There’s a “must read” piece in the New York Times by a man who was badly beaten as a youth by New York cops, later became a policeman, rose to the rank of captain and is now Borough President of the Bronx.  His name is Eric Adams.

He has this to say about training.  “After six months in the police academy, that instruction is effectively wiped out by six days of being taught by veteran cops on the streets.”  In effect the veterans told him to protect himself and the hell with the goody-goody stuff he learned in the academy.    This brings into doubt the usefulness of any new training the New York City Mayor DeBlasio wants for his officers.

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Three Comments about U.S. Police Brutality

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