Socialism for the super rich and Capitalism for the poor

Michael Ferro resigned as chairman of publicly traded media-looting hell-company Tronc, Inc., just ahead of the publication of sexual harassment allegations against him. As a parting gift, Tronc paid him $15 million, voluntarily bundling up the total value of a three-year consulting contract into one lump payment expensed against the company’s earnings and putting itself $14.8 million in the red for the first quarter. Today, Tronc gutted the New York Daily News, laying off at least half of its editorial staff to cut costs.

It’s legal to do this. It’s legal, if you’re rich enough, or carefully enough obscured behind the legal fiction of a hedge fund or corporation, to borrow vast sums of money, purchase a company with it, and then simply pass that debt along to the people who do the company’s work and make its products, by stripping their jobs so you can redirect their salaries toward debt payment. It’s legal to decide, freely, that you will pay a disgraced former executive tens of millions of dollars all at once rather than over a period of years—or rather than going to court to argue you shouldn’t have to pay a guy $15 million for not being able to keep his fucking hands to himself!—and then recover some or all of the cost by just straight-up taking people’s livelihoods away from them. It’s legal for the parasites who buy an ownership stake in your company to decide they will appropriate your livelihood for themselves; it’s legal for them to say that your wages and health care must pay their debts for them. It’s legal for them to trade your employment for their enrichment; it’s legal to purchase a company for the sole purpose of liquidating it, laying off all its workers, and keeping the money for yourself.

In absolutely any moral sense these things are pure theft, but they’re all legal, because in America, despite all this society’s supposed hatred of “class warfare,” it’s legal for the rich to prey upon the rest of us. In America, a common person might go to jail for writing a bad check, but a billionaire vampire can destroy people’s careers and strip their healthcare from them and just straight-up hand that money over to one of his rich pals and nobody can even so much as write either of them a fucking ticket for it. Continue reading: How is this shit legal?

Hello I’m not a socialist or a communist or a capitalist either. If that disappoints you oh well. I was just born here and now I’m trying to make sense out of the bullshit you put me knee deep in. Does anyone else here remember when former president of these united idiots claimed to be using socialism to save capitalism? Pry not, but it was a real hoot (see video above).

But there’s nothing like having a damn drunk with no morals run the country, is there? Man that was eight years of pure hell on earth. I’m still surprised that any of us survived. Some didn’t, R.I.P. Let us pour some liquor on the curb for all of those who did not survive the tyranny of George W. Bush.

Here’s something they forget to teach us in class, did you know that in America it is socialism for the already wealthy but capitalism for the poor? It’s true. For instance, profitable multinational corporations receive three times as much welfare from the federal government as poor people do. Think about that for a second, profitable corporations get $170b in handouts each year from our taxes.

Now that’s a hell of a system, where the rich steal from the poor and get away with it. Oh come on, don’t act like you’ve never heard of subsidies before. Like the millions we gave to McDonald’s to help them promote chicken Mcnuggets in third world countries. Our taxes. Or the money the U.S. government gave to the Pillsbury Doughboy? C’mon as a citizen of this retched Republic your only responsibility is to “stay informed and vigilant” and you’re going to claim ignorance? Figures.

Oh my God Becky. My readers are as dumb as bricks and yet they think that they are educated and informed, what a hoot. Don’t they know that former tyrant Bill Clinton signed the disastrous Telecommunications bill and now every book, magazine, news station, radio station, television station, newspaper and movie producers are owned by six giant multinational corporations which control everything we see, hear and think?

Even worse than that:  Under Obama, as Business Insider reported, “The NDAA Legalizes The Use Of Propaganda On The US Public.”

Suppose you are rich and need a loan. All that you need to do is call up the bank and they will send you another credit card with low interest rates, right? They even have these loans for the super rich called “mezzanine” loans or something, I learned about them because Donald Trump got one from George Soros but you don’t need collateral and the really weird part is you don’t even need to pay the loan back.

Now let’s suppose you are not super rich and need a loan, suppose you’re poor and the banks won’t give you credit at all, then what? Check cashing places will loan you money if you have a verifiable income but only at loan shark interest rates, right? Or you could go with a car title loan and pay for that heap twice.

It gets worse. The rich can buy their own homes and sometimes have more than one and will rent you one but then you get stuck paying your owners mortgage. Because the bank sells a house to your owner and only charges him $750. a month for mortgage payments for that three bedroom home. But your owner is charging you $1,750. a month for the same home. In ten years he owns the home and you own nothing.

And then the slum lord won’t fix anything and you’re trying to sleep with pots and pans on your head because the roof leaks. The owner swears the repair guys on his way but day after day, night after night your bed is turned into a shower. With the roaches in the front and the rats in the back. While your owner lives in a part of town where the cops come get your cat out of the tree and everyone dies of old age. But it gets worse.

The U.S. government subsidizes farmers too. To keep prices artificially high so that poor people can only afford the worst possible food. Look it up, it’s called the Farm bill and it’s all rigged. I have no reason to lie to you because I don’t have a dog in this race. Remember I’m not a republican or a democrat, I’m not going to conform no matter how much you bully me and refuse to support my work. I will stay being me and fuck you if you don’t like it, okay?

Man, I wish I was one of those rich kids though, straight out of college and given some cushy government job at Northrop or NASA. Stealing my pay from hard working Americans everywhere. I could be producing WMD (instead of these crappy articles) and getting paid straight out of your taxes, while you have to work two jobs to survive like myself.

What company gets the most money from the U.S. government? The answer: the weapons maker Lockheed Martin. As the Washington Post recently reported, of its $51 billion in sales in 2017, Lockheed took in $35.2 billion from the government, or close to what the Trump administration is proposing for the 2019 State Department budget. And which company is in second place when it comes to raking in the taxpayer dollars? The answer: Boeing with a mere $26.5 billion.

See my folks were so poor I had to quit high school to support my little brother and sister, now I’m stuck on a free blog without advertisers. So no I’m not a socialist or a communist or a capitalist either, I’m just me.

Do you know how else the U.S. government is subsidizing the extremely wealthy? Didn’t George W. Bush, Barack Obama and then Donald Trump cut taxes for the super rich? The debt isn’t going away though is it? Each year it gets worse, so who’s going to pay the national debt if the rich get a tax cut? The poor will pay with fewer services and higher taxes, that’s who. Don’t believe the hype, God gave you a brain it’s high time that you used it. Everything in America is rigged, designed to keep the poor poorer and the rich even richer.

I know some idiots going to claim that banks lending to the super rich has nothing to do with the government right? But who bailed out the banks? Who controls the Federal Reserve and who prints the money? Anyone remember ’08? And the housing bubble caused by the government easing first time buyer restrictions? It’s all rigged. You can not look me in my eye and tell me that the struggle is not real. In America it’s all rigged but you are free to believe any dumb shit you want to believe.

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The New Welfare Queens: US Military Spending

Let’s look at how the federal government spends our money, discretionary spending explained: The pie chart below shows the distribution of the total federal budget spending for FY 2013. (for current 2018 spending levels scroll down)

The “Social Security & Unemployment” and “Medicare & Health” take on a major fraction of the federal spending, amounting to about 58% of the total outlays, whereas “Military” spending appears to amount to just 18%. The problem with this representation is that the Social Security & Medicare are parts of the mandatory spending directly financed by the dedicated revenue raised from payroll taxes, as imposed by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), not through the Federal income tax and thus represents a different Treasury account.

If we separate the mandatory spending and look only at the discretionary spending component appropriated by Congress on an annual basis and for which all the federal programs compete, a very different picture arises.

The Military (“National Defense” budget function 050) consumes nearly 57% of the discretionary budget in comparison to Education (6%), Science (3%), Energy & Environment (3%), etc. Military spending has sharply risen since the beginning of the War on Terrorism, from $294b in FY 2000 to $705b in FY 2013 (data from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables Fiscal Year 2013, Table 6.1).

Military spending in inflation-adjusted dollars is now greater than at any time since World War II — even greater than during the peak spending years of the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the Persian Gulf War (figure credit: RandomNonviolence).

A large portion of this spending goes to the military contractors, companies whose profits and viability critically depend on the size of the military budget. Defense contractors actively lobby and donate campaign money to the members of Congress who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees which oversee military spending. The table below shows the amounts of federal contracts awarded to the five largest defense contractors, and the corresponding expenses on lobbying and political campaign contributions for 2011.

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, FedSpending.org – a project of OMB watch

You can see that these companies are having an excellent return on their investment. To be fair we must also mention that defense companies do employ many workers across the country who are reminded by their bosses of potential job losses if spending decreases. Undoubtedly, the Military budget can be reduced at such a rate as to allow for natural job attrition from the defense sector to avoid the defense contractors having to fire their employees, but this is never discussed. Instead we hear that cuts to the Military budget will result in huge job loss for the economy; however, research shows otherwise.

The Political Economy Research Institute conducted a study of “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities” concluding that $1 billion spent on domestic priorities will create substantially more jobs within the U.S. economy than would the same $1 billion spent on the military: 1.5 times more in Clean Energy and 2.4 times more in Education. Therefore, spending shifted from the defense to the domestic sectors of the economy will actually create jobs not the other way around. You can watch interview with the institute’s co-director: Military spending: Bang for the Buck?

Similarly, reductions in the Military budget should be accompanied by a natural attrition of military personnel toward a more sustainable, leaner size for the Armed Forces. Veterans for Peace does not support pay cuts or forced lays offs of military personnel in order to balance a federal budget.

Reduction in the Military budget does not threaten our national security. Even if defense spending were reduced by half, the US would easily remain the world’s strongest military superpower. The figure below shows how the US military spending compares to the rest of the world. The US spends almost 5 times more than China on the military, 10 times more than Russia, and 95 times more than Iran!

And do not expect the DoD to be careful with that money. In 2001 the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that the DoD cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions, supposedly because of the complexity and the multitude of accounting systems which do not conform with each other. Read Rumsfeld’s entire speech.

The DoD continues on the goose chase after the loose money preparing for its first audit by 2017 amidst the Government Accountability Office’s sobering assessment of the department’s accounting issues.

The defense contracting systems is ripe with fraud and abuse and according to a DoD report hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade.

Proponents of high military expenditures commonly emphasize that military spending as a percentage of GDP has considerably declined since the end of the WWII as shown in the figure below suggesting that military spending is already at historically low levels.

The problem with this argument is that military spending as a percentage of GDP represents the burden such spending puts on the entire economy, but does not indicate the burden military spending places on the taxpayers. The general decline in military spending as a percentage of the GDP is a testament to economic growth, not to a reduction in military appropriations, which have continued to increase since the end of WWII even when adjusted for inflation as was previously shown. The accurate measure of the burden military spending puts on the taxpayer is the percentage of the discretionary budget spent on the military as shown below.

This fraction has changed significantly since the end of the WWII and does not manifest a consistent downward trend. On the contrary, since the beginning of the War on Terrorism the fraction spent on the military is on the rise.

In any case, the US spends more of its GDP on the military than any other major military power as shown below, and far surpasses those nations in spending when looking in absolute amounts.

In Trump budget, Lockheed gets almost as much as the State Department

The Washington Post

Of Lockheed Martin’s $51 billion in sales last year, nearly 70 percent, or $35.2 billion came from sales to the U.S. government. It’s a colossal figure, hard to comprehend.

So think of it this way: Lockheed’s government sales are nearly what the Trump administration proposed for the State Department next year in its recently released spending plan. Or $15 billion more than all of NASA. Or about the gross domestic product of Bolivia.

With a White House proposal to spend a massive amount on defense next year in what one consultant called an “eye-watering” budget for the defense industry, Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, could get even more.

Over the past decade, Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, which employs 100,000 people across the globe, has averaged about $38 billion a year in federal sales, a reign during which, year after year, Lockheed has received more federal money than any other corporation.

Boeing is in second place with annual sales of $26.5 billion in 2016, a year in which the top five defense contractors — including General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — had total sales of nearly $110 billion to the United States government, according to federal procurement data. The five biggest defense contractors took in more money from the U.S. government than the next 30 companies combined.

But no one can touch Lockheed, the manufacturer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The company is so big that some have likened it to a government agency and have quipped that Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s chief executive, is as powerful as a Cabinet secretary — or higher. When she gives her annual state of the company speeches, flanked by a pair of flags — one American, one with the company logo — she looks, well, presidential.

Over the past year, Lockheed’s stock price has jumped 36 percent to close Thursday at $361. Over the past five years, it’s up 300 percent. Boeing’s stock has doubled over the past year, driven in large part by increased demand for commercial airplanes.

Now, President Trump has opened the floodgates for defense spending, proposing $716 billion for the Pentagon, a 13 percent increase. And the defense industry is poised to profit, with Lockheed in the lead.

“Diplomacy is out; airstrikes are in,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace consultant with the Teal Group. “In this sort of environment, it’s tough to keep a lid on costs. If demand goes up, prices don’t generally come down. And, of course, it’s virtually impossible to kill stuff. You don’t have to make any kind of tough choices when there’s such a rising tide. Warren Buffett always said, ‘When the tide goes out, you see who is swimming naked.’ Well, this is the reverse of that.”

In 2013, Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis, now the secretary of defense, told Congress, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.” As Fred Kaplan noted in Slate, the Trump administration’s budget calls for a more than 25 percent increase in spending on missiles and munitions.

Jim McAleese, a consultant and analyst, covered the ” ‘Wow!’ moments from the 2019 DoD budget roll-out” in a recent note. Among them: Navy shipbuilding “hits juicy” $22 billion, he wrote; Navy aircraft “spiked” to $19 billion; and the nuclear triad “drove the majority of development ‘winners,’ ” he wrote, which included funding for the B-21 Bomber, the Columbia-class submarine and various missile defense programs.

The Pentagon wants to buy more Super Hornet fighter jets, a boon for Boeing. But in the history of defense programs, there has been nothing like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Over its projected 60-year life span, it’s expected to cost more than $1 trillion, making it the most expensive weapons program in the history of the Defense Department. As production has ramped up, sales of the stealthy fighter jet have continued to climb. Last year, Lockheed delivered 66 jets to U.S. and international customers, and this year that number is expected to grow to 90.

The company is also building the Orion spacecraft for NASA, for which the White House has budgeted $5.6 billion over the next five years.

There’s so much money that when the Pentagon decided last year it needed a new long-range missile it chose not one but two companies to develop it. It awarded $900 million contracts — each more than the entire budget of the Small Business Administration — to both Lockheed and Raytheon to develop the next Long-Range Standoff Missile, designed to deliver a nuclear warhead from a B-21 or B-2 bomber.

But ultimately, the Pentagon plans to select only one missile in a winner-take-all contract that could be worth as much as $10 billion. The loser? It would walk away with its $900 million consolation prize, leaving the Pentagon with missile technology that may never be used.

The top defense firms have gotten so large in recent years that in 2015, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer issued an unusually strong statement warning against further consolidation in the industry.

Frank Kendall, then the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said he feared a future in which the Pentagon “has at most two or three very large suppliers for all the major weapons systems that we acquire.”

Contrary to the promised “peace dividend,” the U.S. has maintained its military arsenal and used it to enforce its agenda with successive and intensifying military interventions–from the use of conventional troops in Iraq, to “humanitarian intervention” in Haiti, to drone wars in Central Asia.

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