Tuesday, July 08, 2008

tax the rich, close the loopholes, regulate the hedges, grant a living wage, bring back electric cars, invest smart infrastructure, support the unions

In which we count the obvious ways to make Americans less deeply embarrassed for their country...

One would surely be hard pressed to find a way on a national scale to erase or re-direct 30 years of ideological brainwashing, especially as manifested in vigorous knee-jerking, historical revisionism and sentimentalism and tired clichés concerning the fundamental evils of "Socialism," spasms brought on by any brave whiff of skepticism directed toward the fundamentalist "free" (private) market madness. This senseless dogma and basic paranoia is so acute precisely because it is a badge of pride for pathetic creatures, a sort of group-identity grunt and license to avoid thinking altogether–a desirable thing to do as repressing residual guilt over supporting criminally high discretionary and non-taxable income, in this day of modern suffering and failure, is as American as...whatever. Attending a wedding recently, sipping a $6 yuengling, some elder gent in the Sheraton Hotel evinced this mentality exactly. His stock response to courteous and factual rebuttals? "Well really that's all your concern now, you know....It's no longer up to me; it's up to your generation to come up with something." What's a young man to do? Tactful charming and prodding, slipping in the truth whenever possible. More satisfying to break bottles over heads, but you know, it was a wedding, after all so it was merely "Well...thanks a lot."

The Nation's Special Issue proves indispensable: Gabriel Thompson rips the lid off hedge-fund elitists/US plutocrats Bruce Kovner and John Paulson:
The living wage as socialist plot, unions as massive drain on the economy and Walmart as corporate savior: this is the sort of scholarship that Kovner subsidizes. Without squinting too hard, the outlines of such a capitalist dream world–imagined by well-paid fellows and funded by a billionaire–comes into focus: out from under the thumb of Big Labor, workers are free to work long hours for whatever wages a boss feels like paying. If they fall il, they're free to visit the emergency room. If they're really sick, they're free to declare bankruptcy. With Wal-Mart as the model, all workers become associates, free from the bonds of health coverage and overtime pay.

And on a local note:
In 2006 the loophole allowed Kovner to avoid paying $28.6 million in taxes; last year, it allowed Paulson to pocket an additional $150 million.
The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that Levin's bill, which also eliminated the ability of fund managers to shift compensation to offshore havens, would bring in nearly $50 billion to the Treasury within ten years. Edwards, Clinton and Obama all came out in support of the legislation; even Fortune magazine concluded it was a sensible proposal On November 9 it passed the House.
The industry responded agressively. A primary target was Senator Charles Schumer, who sits on both the Banking and Finance committees and is close to the hedge-fund industry. Checks started flowing in to the Democractic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which Schumer chairs. Schumer, author of a book whose subtitle is Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority, publicly expressed his opposition to the bill, arguing that it unfairly targeted the two industries. In December the Senate overwhelmingly signed a bill leaving the tax loopholes in place.

On the day before the Senate vote, Frederick Iseman, then head of the private-equity arm of Caxton Associates, donated $28,500 to the DSCC. The day after the bill was passed, Paulson wrote the DSCC another $25,000 check. The gifts made up what was a record year for hedge-fund contributions, with individual giving more than doubling to nearly $10 million in the 2007-08 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. About three-quarters of those donations went to Democrats.

Whatever tortured excuse for this exists, I'm sure no working American wants to hear it.

See Firedoglake: Survival in an Economic Darwinism America

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