You know, product placement for Coca Cola was even put in some educational films of the 1950’s and 1960’s… We’ve been programmed to like and accept it as a part of our culture…just like the rest of the world…
Be prepared to see more corporations using manipulative means and ‘social justice issues’ as advertorial material. We are being socially engineered- We are horses in blinders. They really have mashed us down into a one dimensional, pitiful excuse for a society.
A lot of the issues that are a big deal right now, are simply so for THREE reasons-
1. TO KEEP US LOYAL TO THIS ILLEGAL TAX SYSTEM.
2.TO KEEP US LOYAL TO BRAND NAMES THAT ARE KILLING US.
3. TO GIVE THE ILLUSION THAT THE HUMAN PERSON’S RELATIONSHIP/INTIMACY ARE TRULY THE BUSINESS OF THE STATE OR EVERYONE ELSE. (concentrating governmental energy on reproductive regulations, and the persona being reduced to a CIA monitored facebook page- IS FASCISM.)
THIS IS SLAVERY, THIS IS FASCISM. WHO WANTS TO START A GIANT CORPORATION SO THEY WILL TAKE YOU FUCKERS SERIOUSLY?? SERFS INC,
We make more quality workers with a smile! :)
Will Wilkinson over at The Economist’s Democracy in America blog. This sets off about a million bullshit alarms if you’re familiar with the tricks of the bought and paid for hacks of the bourgeois press.
As someone not much younger than Mr. Wilkinson myself, and probably substantially less financially secure, let me say on behalf of a large chunk of Generation X that Medicare and Social Security as we know them are pretty much all we have to look forward to. We’re not being too generous to Baby Boomers when it comes to entitlement spending, we’ve just pissed away our country’s financial security on tax breaks for the rich and wars based on lies.
Social Security is not that hard. It’s going to start falling short of promised benefits sometime around 2036, when the Trust Fund runs out. But after that, it’s pretty much level at 75% of promised benefits if we make no changes. To keep benefits at the present level, we’ll need to devote an additional 1% of GDP to payroll taxes. Slowly phase in an increase in the cap and an increase in the rate, and we’re all set. The other option is a return to large numbers of old people dying in poverty. Social Security is all many of us are going to have for retirement, and I say we ought to fight to keep it.
Anybody who says that “there is no alternative” is probably pushing some neoliberal scheme to screw the working classes. That was the slogan Thatcher used, and every enemy of the workers has since adopted the same logic.
Medicare is the difficult problem. Actually, health care spending is the difficult problem. If healthcare spending keeps increasing as a percentage of GDP, we’re going to go broke, whether it’s the government paying for it or the people. There are plenty of ways to keep healthcare expenses down, however. As a matter of fact, every other developed country in the world manages to spend far less on healthcare than we do. You know, that whole “socialized medicine” thing? Turns out it works better than leaving it to the market.
Seriously, I thought Will Wilkinson, despite noted libertarian tendencies, was better than this. This is simply, as Dean Baker of CEPR likes to put it, “turning class war into generational war”:
The public should realize that “generational warfare” is an agenda that was deliberately designed by the 1 percent to distract the rest of us from the class war that they have been successfully waging over the last three decades. Rather than have a public debate on the policies that have redistributed so much income upward, the 1 percent want to pit children against their parents and grandparents, forcing them to fight over crumbs.
It’s not even interesting, even if he manages to throw in some Gen X pop culture references. Don’t pay attention to the corporate fatcats enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else, look at those huge pensions your parents are getting. They’re going to use up all the money and there won’t be any left when you’re they’re age. Tune in next week so we can blame it on the immigrants.
Let’s hope the Republican Party is bought and paid for by the rich, because the other explanation for its obsession with raising taxes at the bottom is far more disturbing
Two explanations jump to mind. The first is that the modern Republican Party is funded by the very rich. Since the 1970s, electoral politics has gotten much more expensive (in real terms). As political scientist Thomas Ferguson and others have argued, modern political parties have adapted by granting leadership positions to those members best able to bring in large contributions—a strategy pioneered by Newt Gingrich but since slavishly imitated by the Democrats.
The result is that the parties’ platforms now reflect the wishes of their major funders, not their median voters. This is why Republican presidential candidates spent the primary season competing to offer the most generous tax breaks to the rich—while Paul Ryan’s budget slashes Medicare, a program supported by the Tea Party rank and file. For the rich people who call the shots, it’s simply in their interest to lower taxes on the rich and raise them on the poor. End of story.
The other, even-more-disturbing explanation, is that Republicans see the rich as worthy members of society (the “producers”) and the poor as a drain on society (the “takers”). In this warped moral universe, it isn’t enough that someone with a gross income of $10 million takes home $8.1 million while someone with a gross income of $20,000 takes home $19,000.* That’s called “punishing success,” so we should really increase taxes on the poor person so we can “reward success” by letting the rich person take home even more. This is why today’s conservatives have gone beyond the typical libertarian and supply-side arguments for lower taxes on the rich, and the campaign to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich has taken on such self-righteous tones.
Something else of note (pointed out in the article) is that the whole “47% of Americans don’t pay taxes” line that republicans like to use is pure bullshit.
It’s a myth. If you include payroll taxes, it turns out that only 18 percent of households pay no direct federal taxes.
It’s also worth noting that among those, The majority of people who don’t pay either income or payroll taxes are the elderly and that’s because Social Security benefits aren’t taxable for most beneficiaries and many of the elderly no longer work.
It’s nice that Mitt Romney is getting some scrutiny over his business career, because it’s a good opportunity for the people to learn how private equity works, and how it serves the interest of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. I mean, you’ve got Barack Obama’s Tumblr page posting this quote:
When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot… And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about.
Which is a lot less of leftist polemic than I’d put it, but pretty decent for the Democrats of today. And we’ve got Andrew Sullivan printing a couple reader emails that actually manage to correctly lay out what the heart of the matter is, and why private equity is pretty much a scam run by the investor class to increase their share of the returns from business. The first:
You take the Cash Cow, paying, say, 30% in taxes, and use various strategies to drive the tax rate to near-zero without killing the cash flow. Then you pocket the 30%, and the investors pay lower capital gains and “carried interest” tax rates on those extracted “tax savings.”
For roughly half of the companies receiving this “operation” will die because of the high debt and other obligations brought on by the Tax Arbitrage strategy. But you, the equity capital firm, get your investment out early. Half of the companies will prosper under this treatment (though not for existing employees who are outsourced or downsized), and you flip those to new owners for huge profits, taxed at capital gains rates.
And the second:
Dividend recapitalization is the most insidious subset of financial engineering - the owners take out a loan backed by the assets of the company and use the proceeds from the loan to write themselves a dividend check of roughly the same amount. The company is again forced to focus all of its attention on servicing this new debt, frequently groaning under the pressure. When it fails in that mission and tumbles into bankruptcy, the private equity backers toss the keys to the creditors and walk away, having already recouped most, if not all (or, in some cases, many multiples of all) of their investment. Loans are, fundamentally, supposed to be used to boost investment in productive enterprises, but in this case, the financial/private equity industry has bastardized that premise to funnel money away from productive uses and straight into their coffers.
I think that not only is this a perfectly fair thing to take Mitt Romney to task for, but it’s also a great excuse for us to look at how the 1% manipulate the system for their own benefit. Something the Democrats always seem to stop short of doing, lest they look like they’re engaging in class war and offend their big money donors.
If you’re the sort that really wants to dig deeper into the matter, Mike Konczal has a great post looking at the issues with private equity discussed above, and how they interact with each other. I hope more people start to make similar arguments. Not only is it good to help keep a cretin like Mitt Romney out of power, but we should start looking at how certain practices in the finance industry affect the rest of us, and what we can do about it. Because you know for damn sure the people who are gaming the system know what they’re doing, and are counting on the rest of us not figuring it out.
As someone who used to work in the heart of one of the largest private equity firms in the world, I can confirm that this is a very accurate explanation of how they operate.
Romney running for president is probably the worst thing that could have happened to the Private Equity Industry. They thrive on secrecy and now a lot of light is being shined on them.
Another dirty secret about Private Equity is who their investors are. They’re quick to tout pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations. And it is true that those represent a slice of the pie. But the largest investor class by far is sovereign governments usually investing petrodollars through entities called Sovereign Wealth Funds. The largest sovereign wealth funds are Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (valued at over $1 Trillion), China Investment Corporation (around $1 Trillion), Saudi Arabia SAMA Foreign Holdings (roughly $600 Billion), and many many more… Sovereign Wealth Funds also frequently make direct investments in the Private Equity Firms themselves, not just the funds.
In Economics textbooks, wherein students must learn a theory of free enterprise capitalism that bears absolutely no relationship to reality, we are taught that workers work harder because productivity gains result in higher wages. Except they don’t. Productivity by means of automation or outsourcing are but two obvious problems.
The deeper problem no one dares name is the structure of corporate capitalism itself. When profits are made, decisions about where to invest those profits are made by management (acquisitions? dividends to shareholders? moving work overseas? investments? wage increases?). Workers are not in the room. The company’s board of directors in theory has oversight over governance on behalf of the entire corporation, but boards are management-friendly in more ways than one. Workers are a cost of production, not people who contribute to the company’s success.
Workers or their union representatives are absent from the process of making fundamental strategic decisions about the company’s future. They can only live with the decisions made by others about what to do with the profits their labor has generated. From the above chart, you can see how the class of management decision-makers (the subjects) has treated the class of workers (the objects) below them.
Germany, which by numerous metrics is doing better than we are socially and economically, has a capitalist system wherein workers sit on boards and share decision-making with management. We can’t do that here in “the land of the free and the home of the brave” because that would be socialism.
Media voices (FOX, NBC and CNN alike) accuse Democrats of waging “class warfare” every time they bring up the modest idea that the rich might pay higher taxes, i.e., the same tax rates they paid under Clinton. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The class war started years ago and as the chart above shows, it was won long ago as well.