Wednesday, January 09, 2013
The Soul of America
By Senator Bernie Sanders
January 9, 2013
"Despite such terminology as "fiscal cliff" and "debt ceiling," the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It is all about ideology. It is all about economic winners and losers in American society. It is all about the power of Big Money. It is all about the soul of America.
In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.
Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.
My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won't talk about is their spending. They won't discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal to let Medicare bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.
Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans' programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.
Republicans like Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who say the revenue debate is over don't want you to consider these facts:
- Federal revenue today, at 15.8 percent of GDP, is lower today than it was 60 years ago. During the last year of the Clinton administration, when we had a significant federal surplus, federal revenue was 20.6 percent of GDP.
- Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.
- In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent -- lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.
- In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.
- In 2005, one out of four large corporations paid no income taxes at all while they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period.
We know where the Republicans are coming from. What about the Democrats? Will President Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to "protect the middle class" or will he surrender to right-wing blackmail? Will Democrats in the House and Senate stand with the vast majority of our citizens and such organizations as AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and every other veterans' organization in the fight against cuts to Social Security and veterans' programs, or will they agree to a disastrous corporate-backed "chained CPI" concept which makes major benefit cuts to those programs and raises taxes on low-income workers?
The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis -- without attacking the elderly, the children the sick or the poor.
For example, we have got to eliminate loopholes in the tax code that allow large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas. This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the "home" to more than 18,000 corporations.
Further, we must also end tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the United State government continues to reward companies that move American manufacturing jobs abroad, despite the fact that millions of American jobs have been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other low wage countries over the past decade. The Joint Committee on Taxation (the official revenue scorekeeper in Congress) has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next decade by eliminating these offshore tax loopholes.
We must also recognize that Wall Street recklessness caused the economic crisis, and it has a responsibility to reduce the deficit. Establishing a 0.03 percent Wall Street speculation fee, similar to what we had from 1914-1966, would dampen the dangerous level of speculation and gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy and reduce the deficit by more than $350 billion over 10 years.
We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans -- working families, children, the elderly, the poor -- or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question." Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont sent the above to the Huffington Post. He expresses my worries exactly.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Attacking the moon
From the AP report-Alicia Chang, 12-16-2012
Twin NASA spacecraft named Ebb & Flow, hit the darkside of the moon at 3800 mph, one after the other.
Skid marks lead to the spot they landed, which will be named for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Did her female partner of many years get the benefits due married heterosexuals get,
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
From Scott Eyman's article in the Palm Beach Post, 11-19-12
Denis Brian's book, The Elected and the Chosen
, tells how a Jew, named Haym Solomon, "came forward and paid for..." the arms and equipment that George Washington needed, when his men were deserting and he was losing the war... John Adams said that no nation in the world had done more for civilization than the Jews"
Mr. Denis thinks only one president was overtly anti-Semitic...Andrew Johnson, who was outspoken about it, was also an alcoholic, and had never spent a day in school. But he did pardon a Jewish soldier who was going to be shot for desertion, after the War.
"Teddy Roosevelt was extremely pro-Jewish-he got Jews to join the NY police force at a time when the police were almost all Irish. People say FDR didn't do enough for the Jews, even though one of his Jewish advisers said: 'don't encourage the Jews to come here; it will increase anti-Semitism.'"
"FDR told Henry Morgenthau, 'my idea is that Jews have Palestine. We pay the Arabs to go to Iraq or other Arab lands, and we put up a barbed wire fence to protect the Jews.'"
Denis Brian says: "(President) Obama is the pro-Israel president we've had. Robert Gates, a Republican, has worked for 8 presidents, and he said that, in his opinion, no one had done more than Obama to help Israel."
He continues in Scott Eyman's article: "The problem is that Obama and Netanyahu don't get on, and they've known each other long before Obama got into national politics. Gates is a conservative Republican, and he says Obama has been an outstanding supporter, even more so than LBJ or JFK. And then there is the presence of people like David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel as Obama's close advisers. American Conservatives are ridiculously wrong."
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Here are excerpts: Us FL taxpayers are giving a $10 Million gift to Boeing, even as Repubs claim there is no money to care for the disabled and elderly in nursing homes, or to restore the Everglades, or to buy "Kilroys", a simple device that pinpoints where pollutants in our waterways are coming from?
“It’s the first real example of the transition of existing shuttle hardware and facilities that no longer have a purpose, and giving it new meaning and creating an environment where new jobs can be created and exploration can continue further,” said Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, the state aerospace economic development agency.
The renamed Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, or C3PF, and other nearby facilities are being readied for The Boeing Co. to manufacture, assemble and test its CST-100 commercial crew capsules, work that could eventually create 550 jobs... The state has committed $10 million to the Boeing partnership, which was announced about a year ago, using Florida Department of Transportation funds for space infrastructure upgrades. That’s about half the project’s total estimated cost, records show...
Boeing is one of three companies competing to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, flights targeted to begin in 2017.
Boeing also plans to lease the nearby Processing Control Center, a three-story office building, bringing its planned footprint to more than 227,000 square feet.
Despite the facility upgrades, there’s a chance the Boeing work won’t materialize. NASA might not select the company to advance in a competition with SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp., or the company could decide the business case isn’t compelling enough to proceed with a commercial crew program. If that should happen, Ketcham said, the state believes its investment would not be wasted but would help attract another tenant.
The state hopes the work on the hangar becomes a template for transitioning more facilities, possibly including two more hangars and the shuttle runway, to new users.
“The painful transition (from the shuttle’s retirement) isn’t over, and there’s still a lot of people who are unemployed that we need to find work for,” said Ketcham. “But at the end of the day, it’s encouraging to see facilities being refurbished for new purposes and programs.” ( James Dean, in FLORIDA TODAY)
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Representative Allen West
Just posted this in the Stuart news:
Actually, Allen West led his men from Ft. Hood to Kuwait to PRESERVE a Muslim Monarchy; and a really corrupt, arrogant one, that apparently spent Millions of $$ hiring American PR firms to publicize "horrors" like the incubator deaths, that were not true. So the first Bush "snookered" Allen West into risking his men's lives to keep those madrasses going? And the Second George Bush "snookered" West into helping destroy the only Secular country in the Mideast, thus strengthening Iran, and letting Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc., continue to use their wealth to spread Sharia law, since we're spending our money keeping them safe. Reading Wikipedia, Allen West seems to have gone on active duty 8 days after 241 marines were killed in Lebanon. President Reagan called it a "despicable" act. Is the word the only thing West remembered about Reagan's actions? At the same time Muslims in Lebanon were killing Americans, Reagan was spending Billions to arm and train other Muslims in Pakistan for the Jihad against the Soviet Union. Allen West is still looking for Commies. It sure would be easy to find them, if they were bogged down in Afghanistan, as they were in the 1980's.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Monday, November 05, 2012
"...eating & polluting ourselves right off this planet."
Rereading Ed Killer's Scripps Treasure Coast news article about Grant Gilmore:
After taking a trip to China in 1997, where there were no birds, and (the people) were catching tiny fish to eat, Mr. Gilmore "worries that humans are in the process of eating and polluting ourselves right off this planet."
In 1971, Grant Gilmore had been fortunate to hear of the new Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce starting up. "Years of Discovery" summarizes his work there.
"800 species of fish can be found within 10 miles of the St. Lucie Inlet; 400 of those in the Indian River lagoon."
Now, the seagrass north of Vero Beach around Wabasso, Sebastian, and on up to Merritt Island has been dying off for 2 years all the way to its roots. Grant Gilmore says one acre of seagrass can support 10,000 marine species. Is it herbicides or some other problem? No one knows yet for sure, he says.
What he does say, is: "This isn't them or us. It's just us, is how humans must think. Our mindset has to change, or we won't survive. We have to understand we're actually part of nature".
Grant Gilmore herein, objects to dredging the Fort Pierce inlet to bring in more, bigger cargo ships. "All the fish are coming to the Fort Pierce Inlet. That is the virtual lung for the lagoon, and the fish are telling us that. These fish are worth millions of dollars," said Gilmore, who opposes expanded cargo. "If anything happened to that inlet, if there's any water pollution that happened there, that would virtually finish off the lagoon."
"Other (opponents)... don't believe expanding cargo would create that many jobs and point to the $11.4 million in net revenue the Port of Palm Beach — a larger and deeper port — has lost since 2007.
Mr. Gilmore also points out: "There are some great plans for economic benefits with high-end hotels, museums, restaurants, which would be compatible with the existing port," Gilmore said. "You wouldn't need to dredge. At the same time, it puts all these fishermen up that are coming all over to fish in these tournaments. Those plans have been made. Those are the types of plans I thought would be the most beneficial for the most people in the community that would have a great economic benefit for the area."
But Florida Dept. of Transportation Strategic Development Manager Jeff Weidner has about $135 million to spend on intermodal projects at various seaports statewide, and it must be spent on capital projects, not maintenance.
My thought: Florida Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature, and Gov. Scott is a Republican. Why can't that money be spent to stop the storm run off from going into the lagoon, and start-in some small way, please, sending it to the Everglades?
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