Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Wall Street Has Us Fighting Over The Leftovers" The following is an excerpt from a guest editorial that appeared in the local paper here--The Medford Mail Tribune. It is one of the best summations of the runaway economic disparities in America today and why one party in particular seems bent on only a one-sided solution to our state and federal debt problems. The editorial by Mark Witt was inspired by cuts to a local special-needs student education program. It seems its all about what to cut these days and no balance given to returning tax revenue to the indexing standards of prior years, especially for the well off. Tax breaks that have been focused overwhelmingly on the few over the needs of a desperate middle and working class America is a state of affairs caused by the power of corporations over the political system through lobbying and unrestricted campaign financing. These disparities were decidedly was NOT typical in post-WWII American life until the 1980's, and do not exist in much of the developed world. ********************************** "U.S. corporations are sitting on the largest cash reserves and the largest profits in history, according to such pro-business sources as the U.S. Commerce Department and the Federal Reserve Board. The top 1 percent of Americans now own 42 percent of the financial wealth, while the bottom 80 percent own just 7 percent. The average corporate CEO makes 263 times the average worker — a gap that is six times greater than it was in 1980. "When will we stop arguing over which essential service to cut and start doing something about Wall Street billionaires and big corporations that don't pay their tax share? "Here are a few sample facts, readily available online from the Oregon Center for Public Policy, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Mail Tribune's own archives. "The wealthiest 400 Americans — people whose income averages $345 million per year — pay federal income taxes at an average rate of 17 percent once they've used their special loopholes, about one-third lower than what they paid just 20 years ago and less than the average teacher, nurse or firefighter in our valley. In December, Rep. Greg Walden and other members of Congress pushed through a tax cut of more than $60 billion per year for the richest 2 percent of Americans — at the same time that they were proposing a cut of that same amount in funding for student loans, public health and other programs. "Corporations such as General Electric, Bank of America, Exxon Mobil and Citigroup paid no federal income taxes in 2009 even though they each pocketed billions in profits. "When it comes to state and local taxes in Oregon, the wealthiest 1 percent pay at a lower real rate than the poorest 20 percent, and this reverse Robin Hood effect — taking from working people to give to the rich — is about to get worse. A tax cut for the wealthiest 4 percent of Oregonians that goes into effect in January will cost the rest of us $134 million. A proposed special tax break for capital gains would provide 68 percent of the new benefit to the wealthiest 1 percent and would drain away hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade from our communities. "Meanwhile, the share of Oregon income taxes paid by corporations has plummeted by nearly two-thirds since the 1970s. In 2011-2013, working Oregonians will pay more than 12 times what all corporations operating in Oregon — combined — will pay in income taxes. In fact, taxes paid by big corporations operating in Oregon have dropped to the point that we have the lowest combined state and local business taxes as a share of our economy of any state in the nation. "Every dollar of tax revenue should be spent wisely, and public services should be as efficient as possible. But robbing Peter to pay Paul and pitting one worthy service against another is not going to solve the crisis we are facing. "At some point, our public officials are going to have to take on the barnyard bullies and address the primary reason for our budget shortfalls. That will only happen when our communities stop fighting over the scraps and insist that deadbeat corporations and billionaires start contributing their share."************************************** Mark Witt is a freelance writer who lives in Talent.


  1. A class war is in the making. If things were progressing slowly, there might be time to make corrections through the vote and normal channels, but this isn't true of the current situation. The Republicans are not even trying to hide their true intentions which are to benefit their masters, the rich minority, who have purchased the United States. The American people have it within their power to utilize tactics employed by India against the British Empire, such as failing, en masse, to complete 1040 tax forms paralyzing the IRS and boycotting products, especially those made in other countries and imported back into the US. Soldiers should refuse to fight, officers should resign their commissions because they are fighting for special interest groups, not freedom, not even revenge. Every US and allied trooper wounded or killed in current wars is maimed or killed for nothing. These wars can in no way be compared to WWII. The next step up is a civil war which president Roosevelt once warned the Republican party could happen in the future if they tried to do what they are doing. Such a war would be catastrophic because rebels would have to seek money, weapons, and support from enemies of the USA. Even if the war was won, the country might slip beneath the waves as it were anyway. It would fall as very other empire has fallen.

  2. It seems to me that the Second American Revolution is long overdue Doug and I can't help but wonder when the downtrodden population will take to the street like they have in Egypt or Tunisia and overthrow the corrupt system. I look forward to seeing thousands of protesters camped out in Washington and New York like they were in Cairo and Tunis a little while ago. As I recall the corporate media are all in favour of 'people power' when it happens in North Africa (although much more reticent when it happens in Bahrain) so logically they should be equally enthusiastic to support 'regime change' in the United States I'd have thought. I hope that mighty throngs of Americans will close down Manhattan and seal off Wall Street until the gangsters that are hiding out there in safe houses like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs come out with their hands up. The entire world would support such an uprising which would start a chain reaction affecting the City of London, Frankfurt and Tokyo, this has all gone too far and it is time for radical change.

    We know from all their statements on popular uprisings elsewhere that the US government would never allow its armed forces to fire upon their own people, that only happens we are told in dictatorships in the Middle East. So it is time that people power in the US reinstated a civilised and orderly regime on what has become a rogue state, a criminal empire and a global pariah. Surely Americans now have nothing to lose but their chains the corruption is unsustainable and things must change very very soon I think Doug!

  3. An Army company fired on American protesters during the Vietnam college campus revolts killing and wounding students. A second Civil War would be a difficult conflict because soldiers would have to obey orders issued against their own people because of an obvious inequality within the nation perpetrated by the rich. It's somewhat like the first Civil War which was fought for economic reasons, and yet it isn't, because soldiers are not stupid, Most could probably recognize that in fighting for the established government, they were essentially Nazis. There is little difference between the United States government, particularly the Republicans and the rich, and Hitler's Germany today.

  4. I do understand that sfmystify but there are signs of progress in the US military that may help facilitate the resistance I think.....I commend March Forward for your support and the support of every rational person in America and all around the world :

  5. Doug, if you've got a ten-spot in your back pocket, you paid more in taxes than nearly 90% of all corporations here in Oregon.

    To say 'that's wrong' is a superlative.

  6. Your analysis is one I fear will be a likely scenario, Stephen, if the people do not bother to learn just where this country is headed and take heed from the other examples that history affords of republics were the government falls prey to plutocratic and military interests, as has occurred in parts of Central America for decades. I'm really trying not to be an alarmist, but I feel every day that the odds of achieving real reform through the ballot becomes less and less likely if our political system is so intent on raising money to finance campaigns to influence winning candidates. "You got what you pay for" is never more true here.

    Civil War in the United States would be a mega-disaster I agree. A peaceful solution to this is vital precisely because of the alternative you lay out, as well as the bristling amount of private weaponry in the USA that would fall into the hands of fanatics and special interest mercenaries and who knows what would come into play.


  7. I'll respond further when time permits. Thanks to all for your cogent and intelligent remarks.

  8. I'm not quite sure what is going to come from all this, AA. your guess is good as mine and perhaps better.

    I do know I would prefer a return to the 1960's over the 1860's. We do have in the former decade examples of "people power" moving a Presidential Administration toward Doing The Right Thing.

    I'm thinking of the Civil Rights movement throughout the South, especially the grassroots and non-violent "Freedom Rider" movement where young people of all races braved and experienced jails, beatings by Klu Klux Klaners and prison terms to bring a halt to the injustice in that region. This activity woke up the leaders of the Democratic Party in the Kennedy-Johnson years.

    Protesters for equality rallied behind Dr Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and the words of James Baldwin. Some died for that cause, and many whites ran to the Nixon/Reagan Republican Party when it became clear they were no longer to be allowed to have a permanent underclass of color in the heart of the Old South. Other racist areas in the North (Chicago, south Boston) did much the same thing for a time at least.

    Some choose violence. By this I don't mean a few trash can knocked over. Cities burned in the late 1960's. I doubt there has been anything in the UK to match the burning of the inner city of Detroit in 1967 for instance.

    I am concerned about a Civil War erupting in a nation which still has many millions of Americans who have instilled in them a "frontier mentality". Guns and semi-automatic weapons are so plentiful here as to be beyond anything European political foes could muster against each other in a civil breakdown. And we have no separate history form one another to draw from, unlike Scotland or England which were separate kingdoms for centuries. We are simply one nation, fairly new on the block, engaged in an Enlightenment experiment that seems to have gone awry.

    I'd like to think there will be a movement in the military to oppose violence against home grown civil disobedience. Knowing what I know about people who choose to serve in the Armed Forces, I know there are men and women of conscience there. Are there enough though? I leave that to those more experienced in the daily life of soldiers and sailors.

    I think such a program of progressive economic equality is possible, even likely, but in terms of getting middle class people to see beyond the synthetic fears engendered by the media and the powers-that-be in their car radios is a ways away.

    But change happens out of nowhere sometimes.

    I think the biggest challenge will be to turn the anger engendered toward the puppeteers on Wall Street and not those who curry their favor in Washington. Some Americans do understand that bankster capitalism must end. But more has to be done and somehow we need a real Left in America. Not just on the fringes but in the halls of power.

  9. That's the saddest thing about all this, Will, that corporations have been so successful in pushing their agendas in Salem.

    We seem to be suffering from a lack of organization for ordinary voters. Damn few private-sector unions. Little organization to encourage people to get out to vote; too much cynicism among non-voters as if "they are all the same" is a political stance. Trust me, the conservatives in my part of the state suffer no such illusions that there is no difference between candidates. They come out and vote and it seems too often others are content to live with their right-leaning incumbents.

    No hue and cry over the sheer cost of getting elected in this state. I could go on and on.

    We have so many apologists for corporate tax giveaways in Oregon that's its depressing. Even people who are worried about losing their house from some big bank stil think Big Government is the only bad dog on the porch of power. Go figure.

  10. The first step is to collect information-detailed information that can be used to educate many people in a logical way resorting to facts and figures, not supposition. I belong to an organization on multiply given over to this task. I like the direction taken because it serves as more than propaganda. Years ago I was in a position to accumulate information on the Republican party's activities during state elections in New Jersey. Many of my friends were young Republican members, so I had access to activities carried out by state and Federal officials, even congressman. I documented what I observed under the title: "THE SLAG HEAP". I wanted to publish it. I was warned that if I tried very bad things would happen to me. I wish I'd gone ahead and done it regardless of the consequences. I didn't.Years later, as a university professor, I , and my graduate students, selected from the departments of history and journalism, converted Instructional Technology systems thinking taught in university schools of education into the equivalent of government agency and military operations research methodology. OR involves multidisciplinary systems analysis almost completely absent from academic settings. Problems are viewed from every possible perspective and scenarios generated. Action is taken on the basis of the best scenarios. We in my department found we could generate programs far superior to lecture in any university department. Among the programs generated were WWII, India vs British, and modern third world urban insurgency programs ( covert and overt operations ). I hope to infuse OR methods into the group I'm working with. The Republican party, tax laws, and corporation logistics would eventually become primary targets.

  11. Thanks for working on means to get people to see things from a more reasonable perspective, Stephen. It doesn't surprise me that those you mention resort to thee sort of gestopo threats.

    This is how the Old Guard GOP recovered from their losses after the Depression and the Second World War as I see it, leading the way in using the weapons of blacklisting and loyalty oaths of academics and others. All to stampede many people to stop thinking independantly and simply react from fear. People who are afraid for their livelihoods or their families are less likely to rock the boat. Conversely those who speak out are tarnished as unAmerican. We see this happening more and more.

  12. Facts and figures are the tools of rational revolution. Those who rely on fear are fascists.

  13. I take all of the points you have raised here Doug in your very cogent analysis of the dangers of civil unrest and uprising in America. In some ways I think the situation has changed significantly since the conflicts and civil liberties struggles of the 1960s and indeed all of the earlier history of America, Britain and the world.

    In some very real sense these are I think outmoded concepts in the early 21st century. Nation states are now no longer the primary loci of political and economic organisation, they are I think largely illusory (if emotionally supercharged) notions in the privatised and globalised corporate 'virtual' economy which has no boundaries.

    So I do think that any future social change will have to take account of these changes and can only be regional or local responses and it is I think in the regions and localities where the 'struggle' has to take place.

    That is to say that smaller units of social organisation need to find ways of decoupling themselves from the global economy by establishing alternative networks of exchange that do not directly confront the power of the privatised state-like global entity, but seek to extricate themselves from its influence and control.

    That is that future revolution cannot hope to overthrow the state but must instead seek to ignore it as far as that is possible by new social relations of production and exchange.

    We are seeing something of that in the devolution dynamic in Britain whereby Scots devolutions has empowered Welsh ambitions for greater autonomy and by default has forced the issue onto the agenda of English politics too.

    It seems to me that the concept of the nation state is now under attack from all sides.

    It is I think, no more than a convenient fiction that keeps the elite in power, but progress in devolved 'subsidiarity' in one area has a knock on effect in all the other parts of the former union.

    Since the illusory state is both too big and too amorphous to take on as a whole like say the Russian Revolution did in the early 20th century a sort of progressive and positive 'balkanisation' is the only way forward in my view and it is to this that I think we need to direct our energies

    In the short term that is about co-operative enterprises and virtual currencies sidelining and rendering obsolete corporate control over all transactions and subdividing in cellular ways in uneven and locally idiosyncratic ways across many different communities of interest simultaneously.

    I think there may be some evidence that this sort of process may have already begun, but is as yet still in its infancy.

    From a revolutionary perspective I think Kropotkin may have more to say to us than Marx, but I don't think it is particularly helpful to be too hung on on any earlier ideology.
    The green revolution is a sufficient description I think of the process and there is no doubt that this has and is taking place and is the most significant ideological current of our present era in my opinion

  14. I think this process you describe of "decopling from Wall Street" is a good deal more inviting and helpful than a full-on industrialized or pre-industrialized social revolution one would find in histories of revolutionary France or Russia, AA. I think both of our respective nation-states might de-evolve economically first and leave the professional politicans in its wake, trying to catch up to public action---a not altogether upleasant result in my view. :-)