Category Archives: Financial Crimes

Where are the tax returns, Mitt?

Washington Post carries story this morning about pressure from both sides to have Romney release more tax returns. I don’t think he is going to do it. I think he is going to try to tough it out and claim principled stand that he has shared enough personal information. That would fly better if his father, George Romney, had not staked out the bipartisan ground 40 years ago for transparency by releasing 12 years of returns.

I think the simple truth is ten or twelve years of tax returns is going to show how much money Romney has made and how little tax he has paid in that time period. I think the returns would also undermine his story about himself as a job creator as his personal income would be revealed to be derived from passive investments, job out-sourcing, smart investing, but not from economic activity that has any significant connection to job creation. And there is the problem for the Republicans and the 1%ers. They keep trumpeting about the Job Creators, but if anyone has failed in the current economy it is the job creators. Outsourcing for profit, moving manufacturing industries off shore to areas with low wages and non-existent environmental regulation has been very profitable to the 1%ers, but it has not created or sustained good jobs for Americans, just the opposite. Hence, the big lie: we have to give the job creators more tax breaks if working folks want good jobs. That is simply not the way this thing plays out.

Show us the returns, Mitt.

 

With or without tax return release, pressure on Romney ramps up from both sides


 

View Photo Gallery — Mitt Romney on the campaign trail: Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues his campaign to unseat President Obama.

 

 

 

 

By and , Published: July 17

  The political pressure on Mitt Romney to release more of his personal income tax returns is causing some divisions inside the GOP presidential candidate’s camp, according to a Republican strategist close to the campaign.

Although some advisers are arguing privately that Romney needs to release additional filings to curb the political fallout, others are resisting that suggestion, reflecting the candidate’s longtime reluctance to publicly disclose information about his personal finances.

Read the whole article? Why not? Read’m and weep.

Tax Rate Facts

 Washington Post has a story on tax rates. 

I know that a lot of people will think that the low tax rates are a good thing, and they may be in a few ways, but these low tax rates translate into austerity political decisions, cuts in services, cuts to environmental protection, cuts to education, cuts in regulatory functions.  The same folks who will cheer these low tax rates (even at the same moment that they complain about high taxes and advocate for more tax cuts) will also cheer the cuts in non-military governmental functions. 

This is fine, I support free speech.  I respect the right to espouse ideas, no matter how crazy they may be, but it is weird when working class and working poor, middle class folks start drinking this 1% koolaid.  This is our task.  Somehow we have to reach these folks and help them understand that our wildly expensive military adventures, drone murder program, kidnap and torture foreign policy is very destructive to our future as well as being morally indefensible.  We have to help these folks understand that the 1% oligarchy are cooking the books as well as the globe with their planet for profit approach to the natural world. 

We have to understand that taxes are necessary.  Here is what George Washington had to say about taxes:

It is essential to bear in mind that toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue, there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington, 1796

Here is a bit of the WAPO piece.  I think the facts are important.  If you have questions about tax revenue and trends, read this piece.

 

 

 

In 2009, Americans paid lowest tax rates in 30 years to federal government

 

By , Published: July 10

 

Americans paid the lowest tax rates in 30 years to the federal government in 2009, in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession, congressional budget analysts said Tuesday.

A sharp decline in income — especially among the wealthiest Americans, who pay the highest tax rates — also played a role, according to the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Household income fell 12 percent on average from 2007 to 2009, with income among the top 1 percent of earners decreasing by more than a third

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Pos

 

 

 

(The Washington Post/Source: Congressional Budget Office) – Average federal tax rates

Summer is here!

It finally got warm again here in Western Washington yesterday.  Much of the country has been suffering through a heat wave for a while already.  Some parts of the country have been on fire.  This is an aspect of global warming that will probably come to Western Washington.  We have large stands of timber that will burn if weather patterns were to change and reduce the amount of rainfall in the region.  People in the Hoh River Rainforest might appreciate a reduction in rainfall, but by and large, the Northwest needs a lot of rain and gets it. 

My grandsons were out and about and could not be located to grab our kayak/play boats and head to the river or Sound, so I scooped up my 5 year old granddaughter and we took the smallest kayak I have and spent a couple of hours playing and keeping cool in the Newaukum River.  (video is shot a few miles away from the stretch we were in).  The river has pretty good flow this early in the year, so granddaughter was not sure she wanted to be in the river, but by the end of our time there she was jumping off the bank and letting me catch her and be swept along in the current.  It’s possible to get swept off your feet, but the river is only a couple of feet deep in the lower reaches, so it’s perfect for playing, wading and kayaking.

I have noticed that the climate change deniers are getting desperate. They know that the US electorate is finding climate change to be real.  It’s too bad that it takes disastrous evidence and experience of global warming to persuade the folks who tune into traditional media in the US that the doubt about global warming is manufactured by the same folks who want to persuade folks that Obama is a dangerous socialist when he is simply another corporatist democrat, but this serves the goals of certain folks.

We get change in this country when the tea party folks wake up and realize that the occupy folks are their natural allies and have the story right where the media giants have the news all wrong. 

Not warm yet in your neighborhood?  Don’t worry, the warm weather is coming.  We need balance.  We need a carbon tax immediately to change the energy paradigm.  The explosion of research, development and manufacturing that would follow carbon tax implementation would solve our double dip recession problem and create jobs.  The tax would lower the deficit, but it could not/should not be large enough to solve our deficit problem, just enough to fund R&D on sustainable energy systems.  The deficit problem needs to be solved by reinstating the steep tax rate system that existed in this country when JFK stimulated the economy back in 1961.  We have flattened the tax rate so much since that time that there is little or no stimulus effect left in that approach, only increasing income inequality and deficits that threaten our way of life.  Things could get so bad in the US that we would have to cut the military budget.  Just try to imagine that. 

Record heat?  You want to deny that?  Here’s a piece from Think Progress and elsewhere:

What Is Causing The Climate To Unravel?

By Climate Guest Blogger on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

By Jeremy Symons, via  the National Wildlife Federation

Answer: One trillion tons of carbon pollution.

40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the signs of an unbalanced climate system have been felt in recent years not just in heatwaves, but increasingly in the form of unusually severe wind storms. This past weekend’s storm brought 80 mph wind gusts that snapped three trees in our backyard like pretzels, even though they were each a foot thick. Once again, my insurance company is teaching me new weather terminolgy to explain the latest climate disasters. A few years ago, the term was “micro-bursts” (not quite tornadoes, but similar impact). Now it is “derecho” (not quite hurricanes, but similar impact).


Read the whole piece at Think Progress?   Stay cool.

It’s the Climate, Stupid.

The economy is a financial shadow of the state of the physical world.  Economics is simply one way of measuring certain activity here on a small planet on a spiral arm of a somewhat non-descript galaxy in the known universe.   There are lots of planets, rocks, planetoids, stars, dust motes in the universe that appear to have little or no activity that could be measured in economic terms (other than zero) because the local climate and weather have reached steady states that are too hot or too cold for economic measurement.

Ouch!  Click me please We float around the galaxy in the goldilocks zone, neither too hot nor too cold for  lively economic activity, yet when our economic house of cards starts to shake, we can’t figure out that the climate in the goldilocks zone is the ultimate free lunch and that economics are a shadow of the physical world.  We appear to be willing to destroy the climate rather than upset the economic schemes of the dominant species on the planet.

Homo industrialis is a dominant and successful species, but maybe not too smart.  We need to evolve to become homo sustainabilis or we kiss it goodbye.  We better wise up soon.

Lots of weather news out there.  The Rio climate talks were disappointing.  No political will to re-order our priorities and realize that the economy relies on the climate, not the other way around.

Here are some news items about the weather, some things to think about as we enter the lazy days of summer:

  • East Coast sees sea level rise – not a good thing.  Is it related to global warming and the burning of fossil fuels?    Yes.    I will say it again.  Yes.   Burning fossil fuels is causing sea level rise.  Time to stop equivocating.
  •  Here’s a piece on record high temperatures and storms in the east.
  • Arctic ice is melting at record pace.

We have options.  We have to look at ways to prevent capitalism, the church of the profit, from burning the house down while we try to live in the house.

Here is an interesting piece about democratic capitalism in Spain.  I don’t know if this kind of thing is the answer, but it’s encouraging to see a less top-down model of corporate structure.  Mondragon Corporation.  Read all about it.   Thanks to Alternet for running this piece.

Chris Hedges has a piece on Alternet today about Crazy Horse.  It’s a good piece, but Chris is someday going to need to reconcile his “black bloc is a cancer” screed with pieces like this one where he glorifies warrior lifestyles.  I don’t say that I know which approach is right.  I agree with Chris on this article that includes a quote from the lesser-known Marx Brother:

Karl Marx was correct when he called unregulated capitalism “a machine for demolishing limits.” This failure to impose limits cannibalizes natural resources and human communities. This time, the difference is that when we go the whole planet will go with us. Catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Arctic ice is in terminal decline. There will soon be so much heat trapped in the atmosphere that any attempt to scale back carbon emissions will make no difference. Droughts. Floods. Heat waves. Killer hurricanes and tornados. Power outages. Freak weather. Rising sea levels. Crop destruction. Food shortages. Plagues.

Yep, it’s Monday morning.  Time to throw on the office clothes and get the work week underway.  Be careful out there. Stay cool.  Keep cool.

Been Busy at the Quarry

It’s hard to know what to do in the current political and environmental environment.  Scanned a piece today on Climate and Capitalism website.  This piece was a reaction to a favorable review of Derrick Jensen’s book Deep Green Resistance that ran on Canadian Dimension.  Jensen seems to catch a lot of reactionary ink to his proposals to create change.  I am pretty busy working the create change in many ways, so don’t have lots of time to read Jensen (or to blog these days) but I get the impression that Jensen embraces a Luddite sensibility at times.  Maybe also a  monkey wrench mentality that is attractive, but may be a dead end politically.  There is something about the monkey wrench mentality that I find both sexist and adolescent, which is not to say that I don’t also find it attractive.

This review of a review included a quote from Eugene V. Debs about the use of violence as a political tactic.  I liked this quote a lot:

“It is not because these tactics involve the use of force that I am opposed to them, but because they do not…. The force that implies power is utterly lacking, and it can never be developed by such tactics.”

 I suspect Debs is correct.  That violent tactics of wanton property destruction will never succeed.  But I fear that Jensen could also be correct when he asserts (per this review of a review) that:

“I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care…. The mass of civilized people will never be on our side.”

That elitist, greener-than-thou attitude permeates Deep Green Resistance.

The authors write:

“The vast majority of the population will do nothing unless they are led, cajoled, or forced. … there will be no mass movement, not in time to save this planet, our home.”

And:

“Humans aren’t going to do anything in time …[so] those of us who care about the future of the planet have to dismantle the industrial energy infrastructure as rapidly as possible.”

 There is something afoot in the world that makes it difficult to rouse the peasants.  It seems to me to be a strange mix of economic desperation brought on by wage stagnation, by labor outsourcing, by globalization of corporate profit and human exploitation combined with a media and consumption induced trance state where folks who are clinging to creature comforts and their hope of individual job security blinds them to the fact that the ground is shifting under our feet.  Our pensions, 401k benefits, Medicare, Social Security – none of this will be protected if we destroy the planet’s willingness to accommodate our species.  It may be difficult to see that hard reality with your head firmly planted in the sand of Fox News, or Time Warner, or any of the media giants who all spew a steady stream of distraction and infotainment.

In terms of the desperation of human labor, I came across  a piece on the Black Orchid Collective website (thanks to Austin Kelly for sending that along) that was reposted from Recomposition about human labor.  A rumination on the devaluation of human labor, that included this poem from Rilke:

The Machine endangers all we have made.

We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)

 Ah, yes.  A sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.  I will cut stone by hand on that project.  See you at the quarry.

The Other Black Bloc

Courstey Wiki Commons: Steve KaiserFor folks who have not been present at non-violent demonstrations it may be helpful to understand that the original black block is the riot police who come out and assault non-violent demonstrators in a wholesale fashion.

Some pretty peaceful and peace-loving folks have been assaulted by the police.

Some of you may know Dorli Rainey from Seattle who was pepper sprayed during Occupy events.

Dorli Rainey courtesy blog.ardes.com

Dorli was 82 years old when she got pepper sprayed. She is spry and spunky, but I think it’s a hard sell to convince a reasonable person that Dorli could look dangerous to a heavily armored police officer.

So this is the backdrop for the tactic known as the black bloc.  There are a lot of reasonable critiques of the black bloc.  The most persuasive to me is the potential for police infiltration, for agent provocateurs to join the black bloc and to then commit an act of property destruction that will trigger a violent peace riot.  There is also the opportunity for a genuine black bloc participant to choose unnecessary violence and/or property destruction that will trigger a violent street riot.

I will be facilitating a round table discussion regarding the Occupy movement and the domestic armies at the Olympia Occupy Social Forum this coming weekend.   Maybe I will see you there?

Click me please

World Life Expectancy – Interesting Website Shared by My Friends at TC Pro-Net

The Thurston County Progressive Network are a great bunch of folks who work year-round to produce a more progressive community in the Olympia area.  In this week’s calendar they share a link to World Life Expectancy website and a cancer cluster map. 

It’s an interesting website from an epidemiology perspective.  The suggestion in the cancer cluster webpage is that environmental degradation can be tracked to a certain extent by cancer rates.  I think there are a lot of regional cultural issues, like diet, wealth/poverty that also contribute to the cancer clusters, but environmental degradation is probably part of the story.  If you live in one of the black (high cancer rate incidence) counties, you can weigh in with why you think your county might have high cancer rates.

I am in Lewis County, WA.  It’s a relatively low income per capita by WA standards, so we probably have a lower rate of preventive click me pleasemedical care, but we also have a couple of superfund cleanup sites, one for PCBs, and we have a coal mine (not operational today) and a coal-fired electricity plant, known locally as the Centralia Steam Plant.  We try not to mention coal here on either shore of Coal Creek, but the steam plant and the steam mine have been a large part of Lewis County economy over the decades.

This website also has an informative interactive world life expectancy map that includes gender life expectancy.  Pretty cool website.  Lots of information.

oh, friendship is good for longevity, according to these folks.  Sounds right to me.

Don’t miss this page if you are a budding epidemiologist.

Thursday News Report from the South Shore of the Salish Sea

Good day yesterday in Cascadia as the Washington State leglislature moved gay marriage forward through Senate vote.  The gov put her weight behind this legislation, apparently trying to establish some kind of legacy public policy.  I am completely supportive of the gay marriage legislation, but I have to wonder why the dems will only push one small part of a progressive agenda at a time.  The public is crying out for significant change in public policy and the dem party is such a timid organization.

In another section of the Senate, I believe the Washington Investment Trust remains stuck under the thumb of roadkill Senators Steve Hobbs and Mary Haugen.  Lots of good information about public banks at Banking in the Public Interest.  This is an idea whose time has come.  Banks for the 99%.  Please.  Let’s do that.

Want to let Steve Hobbs know what you think about his roadkill status?

How about Mary Haugen?

Steve Hobbs
Steve.hobbs@leg.wa.gov

Mary Haugen
marymargaret.haugen@leg.wa.gov

Can we help these two get scooped out of the middle of the road where they are doing no discernible good?  Is there an election coming up?  Let’s help these folks join our neighbors who are out there looking for work, shall we?

Lean on the legislators folks.  They respond to two things, private money and public pressure.

Austerity Economics? Not Working in Greece. Real Utopias? Why not?

We need transcendent, transformative politics in this country and the world, but the mainstream paradigm remains a struggle between established power bases – one, a social democrat model as epitomized in Scandinavian models and the other, a Thatcher/Reagan model of social darwinism wearing a mantle of trickle down, supply-side economics.  There is no question that I prefer the social democrat model, but I think neither model is particularly well-suited to the challenges that the planet is cranking up to deal with a species that is out of control.  Wiki commons - Eusebius - needs a new roof

Greece’s experiment with austerity politics in a time of economic stagnation proves once again that pulling more money out of a economic system that has a crashing demand side will cause the economic system to slip to a lower state.  It doesn’t seem to matter if all of the most photogenic politicians that money can buy are spouting platitudes about “growing the economy” by reducing debt, austerity politics just don’t turn stagnating economies around.  You do austerity politics in good economic times, you do keynsian economics in economic downturns if you want somewhat stable economies.  You also need a stable and consistent tax policy that generates the revenue needed for public services.  You don’t flatten taxes in boom times because you will need the accumulated revenue when the boom times go…  well…  boom!

Boom and bust.  Bubble economies.  These cycles should not be a big surprise to anyone who has studied economic cycles.

Transformative politics?   Does that mean democrats?   uhh…   no…   I don’t think those folks misunderstand who is footing the bill for their elections.   Do you think Goldman Sachs money is showing up in the Obama re-election till because they think Obama’s ideas are great?   Well, maybe.    GS has done pretty well since Obama became president.

No, I am thinking about really transformative economics and politics.

Real utopias.  I like the sound of that .

Envisioning Real Utopias from West Coast Poverty Center on Vimeo.