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Member since: Thu Dec 30, 2004, 02:05 PM
Number of posts: 12,663

Journal Archives

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." - Art of War

By Sun Tzu

Half-a-Billion dollar Giveaway to Big Pharma Hidden in the 'Fiscal Bluff' Legislation

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.

Amgen, which has a small army of 74 lobbyists in the capital, was the only company to argue aggressively for the delay, according to several Congressional aides of both parties.

But critics, including several Congressional aides who were stunned to find the measure in the final bill, pointed out that Amgen had already won a previous two-year delay, and they depicted a second one as an unnecessary giveaway. “That is why we are in the trouble we are in,” said Dennis J. Cotter, a health policy researcher who studies the cost and efficacy of dialysis drugs. “Everybody is carving out their own turf and getting it protected, and we pass the bill on to the taxpayer.”


It's not funny. They pass a bill to 'reduce the deficit' that winds up costing Medicare more - in order that they have an excuse to cut the benefits, presumably, as well as enrich their benefactors.

Gun FAILS: Second Amendment Rights Gone Wrong In Honor Of 'Gun Appreciation Day' (VIDEO)

Please, no more guns or cops in schools!

The Grand Bamboozle: "A tax deal only the ultra-rich could love"

How much do the newly enacted tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans actually affect them? Hardly at all.

Almost all of the debate that convulsed Capitol Hill in December concerned the reinstatement of the highest marginal tax rate on earned income — that is, on wages and salaries. But as Fitzgerald said, the rich are different from you and me, and one of the primary ways they’re different is that they don’t get their income from wages and salaries.

In 2006, the bottom four-fifths of U.S. tax filers got 82 percent of their income from wages and salaries, a Congressional Research Office study found. The richest 1 percent, however, got just 26 percent of their income that way; for the richest one-tenth of 1 percent, the figure is just 18.6 percent.

The study also looked at dividends and capital gains. The bottom four-fifths got just 0.7 percent of their income from those sources. (Those who believe we’ve become an “ownership society,” please take note.) The wealthiest 1 percent, however, realized 38.2 percent of their income from investments, and the wealthiest one-tenth of 1 percent realized more than half: 51.9 percent.

The tax deal Congress passed last week raised the top rate on wages and salaries from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. The rate on income from capital gains and dividends, however, was raised to only 20 percent from 15 percent. There has been no rending of garments nor gnashing of teeth from our super-rich compatriots; they got one sweet deal....

Yet wages, which are descending, are taxed at a higher rate than income derived from corporate profits — capital gains and dividends. Far from mitigating the consequences of this shift, the U.S. tax code reinforces the redistribution from wages to profits. Broadly speaking, it rewards the winners of this epochal shift and penalizes the losers, who are the vast majority of Americans.

The lower tax rates for capital gains and dividends, then, effectively reward offshoring more than work done within the United States, increase economic inequality and deprive the federal government of revenue it will need to support an aging population and meet its other obligations. None of this upsets Republicans, but it would be nice if Democrats realized that these tax breaks undermine everything they stand for.



“Zero Dark Thirty”, or How People Lose Their Humanity

"While Obama has made some cosmetic changes, he has not stopped the systematic use of torture in the basic functioning of the U.S.’ repressive apparatus. In the U.S. itself, there are tens of thousands of prisoners (though no one knows the exact number) kept in solitary confinement, robbed of human contact, and suffering full sensory deprivation and violent “cell extractions,” practiced regularly. By any moral or legal standard, this constitutes torture. Obama decriminalized and codified torture when he refused to prosecute those responsible for this during the Bush regime, letting war criminals off.


Zero Dark Thirty is a terribly harmful film. It upholds—and trains people in—an America-first fanatical get-the-bad-guy-at-any-cost patriotism. It celebrates ignorance of the crimes of this government and tremendous and violent arrogance. It is a film that celebrates imperial revenge.

After Maya’s colleague is killed by a suicide bomber, she says, “I’m going to kill everyone involved in that op and then I’m going to kill Osama bin Laden.” She calls herself a “motherfucker” and you’re supposed to cheer. Someone who won’t take shit, America first and fuck the rest, we’re not fucking around with that namby-pamby human rights bullshit, we’re coming after “America’s enemies.”

Think I’m exaggerating?

The official website of the movie has a link to a video game, “Medal of Honor Warfighter,” with a special “Zero Dark Thirty” edition advertising the ability to “join the greatest manhunt in history.” It goes on to say that “Medal of Honor Warfighter allows players to step into the boots of the soldiers who led the hunt for Bin Laden and takes you to the locations where only the most elite dare enter.” They advertise one game where you can “roam the treacherous hills and navigate the unforgivable terrain to take down enemies and achieve victory.”

This from a film where you never meet anyone from the countries the CIA is operating in who is not some form of evil incarnate. In fact, the only favorable Muslim character in the film is a CIA agent in a DC office.

All this calls to mind the glee and titillation of the Roman coliseums where the audience could watch torture and torment as a spectacle. Or to draw on a more recent, if fictional, example, the sick excitement of those in the capital watching “the hunger games.”

We need to stand on principle, give voice to and make common cause with the people of the world in opposition to the crimes our government is committing in our name. We don’t need sycophants to a system of brutality, exploitation and murder.

Do not become numb to the crimes of your government because it is unpleasant to confront.

Do not stand by in complicit silence or enthusiastic cheers while the humanity and rights of others are systematically stripped away.

Wake up, speak out, stand up.


If We Can Afford A New War in Mali, We Can Afford Every Non-Military Budget Item. Period. EOM

Costly Trade Agreements Have Shipped 5.5 Million Jobs Overseas Since 2000

"So-called Free Trade is destroying our national manufacturing base. According to a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, free trade relations with China, beginning in 2000, are responsible for cutting 30% of the manufacturing jobs we have in this nation. You can see this decline in the raw numbers. Around 2001, there were 17 million manufacturing jobs in America.

Today – that’s dropped off drastically to 11.5 million. And according to the Economic Policy Institute – nearly 3 million of those lost manufacturing jobs went directly to China since 2001.
Thanks to so-called Free Trade, our policymakers are exporting those crucial blue-collar jobs that sustained a prosperous middle class, from the end of World War 2 all the way until the 1980’s.

And without those jobs, Americans are forced into the minimum wage service sector, asking, “Would you like Fries with that?” or greeting people at the door saying, “Welcome to Wal-Mart.” This is exactly what the transnational billionaires who push for these trade agreements want.

And until we drop out of these so-called free trade agreements, and once again begin protecting domestic manufacturing with tariffs or VAT taxes – the middle class will continue to shrink – and America will look more and more like a collapsed nation that’s exported all of its wealth to the rest of the world." - http://m.thomhartmann.com/forum/2013/01/free-trade-vs-middle-class

Has Obama released a plan detailing his cuts and tax increases for the next budget deadline?

"A 10% Cut from the NIH Budget (the so-called sequester) Would Save 0.008% of Federal Budget"!

"Because of the budget shenanigans, NIH has been forced to cut or delay funding to almost all new projects.... And just to be clear: these are only the best projects. 80-85% of projects submitted to NIH, many of them excellent, don’t make the cut because NIH just doesn’t have enough funding for them....

For readers who might think I’m asking for a lot, think again. The entire NIH budget comes to about $31 billion, which supports research on hundreds of diseases. The total U.S. budget last year was 3,729 billion (3.7 trillion), so the NIH budget is less than 1% of the total. A 10% cut from the NIH budget (the so-called “sequester” plan) would save 0.008% of the federal budget. This matters not a whit in the overall budget debate – but it would be a huge blow to biomedical research, crippling some research programs for years to come.

And for those who want to look at this from an economic perspective , NIH funding is a terrific investment. A nonpartisan study in 2000 concluded:

“Publicly funded research in general generates high rates of return to the economy, averaging 25 to 40 percent a year.”

So I’m asking the leaders of Congress (yes, I’m talking to you, Congressman John Boehner and Senator Harry Reid) to put aside the fighting for a few minutes. Bring up the NIH budget and pass it. Don’t cut it by 10% (the “sequester” plan), which would be devastating to biomedical research and would save only 0.008% of the budget. Don’t bundle it into some omnibus “grand bargain” that everyone knows is neither grand nor a bargain."


Wages have fallen to a record low as a share of America’s gross domestic product.

Until 1975, wages nearly always accounted for more than 50 percent of the nation’s G.D.P., but last year wages fell to a record low of 43.5 percent. Since 2001, when the wage share was 49 percent, there has been a steep slide.

“....We went almost a century where the labor share was pretty stable and we shared prosperity,” says Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. “What we’re seeing now is very disquieting.” .... The share of wages going to the top 1 percent climbed to 12.9 percent in 2010, from 7.3 percent in 1979.....

From 1973 to 2011, worker productivity grew 80 percent, while median hourly compensation, after inflation, grew by just one-eighth that amount, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group. And since 2000, productivity has risen 23 percent while real hourly pay has essentially stagnated. Meanwhile, it’s been a lost economic decade for many households. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, median income for working-age households (headed by someone under age 65) slid 12.4 percent from 2000 to 2011, to $55,640. During that time the American economy grew more than 18 percent.

Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, found that the top 1 percent of households garnered 65 percent of all the nation’s income growth from 2002 to 2007, when the recession hit. Another study found that one-third of the overall increase in income going to the richest 1 percent has resulted from the surge in corporate profits.

MANY economists say the stubbornly high jobless rate and the declining power of labor unions are also important factors behind the declining wage share, reducing the leverage of workers to demand higher wages. Unions represent just 7 percent of workers in corporate America, one-quarter the level in the 1960s.


One can not ignore the negative effects of Costly Trade Deals, and the slashing of tax rates of corporations and the ultra-rich.

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