STOP Framing "us"

How a select few of "them" are Framing all of "us"

Archive for the tag “corporate welfare”

The Ricketts use of Taxpayer Money to Enrich Themselves and Attack President Obama in the Process: Priceless!

The headline from the Washington Post on Thursday read Rahm “livid” at Ricketts.  Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, is supposedly not returning calls from the Ricketts family after he discovered Joe Ricketts intention to launch a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against President Obama.

The issue surrounding the Ricketts family demonstrates the need to shift our priorities from protecting and enriching a few privileged Americans, to protecting the most vulnerable among us, as well as provide an equal playing field for everyone to become prosperous.  As it stands, our political system is set up so that members of the privileged class like the Ricketts are able to use our taxpayer money to launch attack ads against those who seek to put an end to their number one priority, which is paving the path to prosperity for the top 1%, at the expense of the rest of us.

In the case of the Ricketts family, they plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund their smear campaign against our current President.  How do they plan on doing this? Simple. They are legally able to lobby our elected officials for taxpayer money to the tune of $100 million to make so called “renovations” to their privately owned stadium, Wrigley Field.  The planned attack ad campaign is expected to cost $10 million dollars, a mere 10% of the people’s money that will be transferred to the Ricketts family, courtesy of GOP members holding positions in public office.  According to the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, this form of corporate welfare is nothing new.  He claims that taxpayers are spending $2 billion dollars per year to subsidies the four major sports leagues (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey).

In an interview with Democracy now, David Cay Johnston reveals how the super-rich are getting away with transferring wealth from all of us to a select few at the top. He notes, “We have created in the United States, largely in the last 30 years, a whole series of programs, a few of them explicit, many of them deeply hidden to take money from the pockets of the middle class and working poor and funnel it to the wealthiest people in America.”  This interview was conducted shortly after the release of his new book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and stick you with the bill). As described in this interview, one of the key ways of doing this is to use taxpayer’s money to build sports stadiums so the super wealthy in the privileged class can profit from them.

David Cay Johnston describes how George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees, received over $600 million in taxpayer funding to build the new Yankee stadium.  The owners of the New York Mets also received over $600 million in taxpayer money, as well as an additional $50 million dollars in taxpayer money courtesy of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, so these wealthy owners could lobby our elected representative for more “free” money.

He also reported that the new owners of the Washington Nationals baseball team paid $450 million dollars for the team, but actually got the team for free!  We actually paid these people to buy the team, and gave them a bonus of over $161 million in the process.  He points out that taxpayer funding is the key to what makes these sports teams profitable.  That’s right, without taxpayer-funded money, also known as corporate welfare, the privileged folks like the Ricketts family would not be able to turn a profit! At the same time we are doing this, David Cay Johnston says that we are starving our public parks for money.  Due to the lack of organized activities in local communities, he says, we are seeing a rise in urban, and now suburban gangs, as well as an increase in violence.  This is what happens when we focus our priorities on transferring wealth to the privileged in this country, as opposed to ensuring prosperity for all.

As it turns out, we are literally taking money from everyone who is physically able to contribute to our common wealth and giving it to the privileged class, who believe they are entitled to it! To make matters worse, families like the Ricketts, who benefit from our tax dollars are also using the power of our Government to prevent anyone else from being able to own sports teams, such as other competitors, non-profit groups, etc.  The so-called “free market” is really nothing more than what David Cay Johnston describes as Corporate Socialism for the super wealthy, and true market capitalism for everyone else.

Can Socialism rescue ‘us’ again from the grips of Crony Capitalism? Corporations seem to love it!

Although the modern day GOP would have us believe that our economy functions better when those at the top continue to receive endless tax breaks, oil subsidies, corporate jet subsidies, and other forms of corporate socialism, our nation’s history proves otherwise.  When we enacted economic policies that favored higher taxes on those making over a million per year in today’s dollars, built the interstate highway system, and initiated a Government led program that put America back to work, everyone, including those at the very top benefitted.  The result of this courageous leadership led to the introduction of socialist programs that were designed to rescue ‘we the people’ from the grips of crony capitalism that resulted in the great depression.

This was real courage, unlike the current “frame” being fed to the public about how Paul Ryan is being “courageous” for introducing his austerity leads to prosperity plan.  If successful, Paul Ryan’s plan will result in forced ‘austerity’ measures on all of us in order to continue to pave the “path to prosperity” for those born privileged in America.

Despite the rhetoric coming from the right wing echo chamber, we have elements of both socialism and capitalism in the United States.  When we take our grandmother to see her doctor about health concerns, we are embracing socialism.  When we drive on paved highways to pick up the medication for our grandmother, we are embracing socialism.  When we send our disabled child to a local specialist, we are embracing socialism.  When our parents use their earned benefits from working their entire lives to pay the bills and fund their daily needs, we are embracing socialism.  When we serve in the Military, or care for the wounded veterans who have served our country in the past, we are embracing socialism.

The right wing echo chamber has become so successful at convincing people to fear socialism that many overlook the obvious benefits socialism provides their family members, not to mention those who actively serve in our armed forces.  Many people do not think about socialism in this way.  This is partly due to the lack of effectively communicating the benefits of socialism, not to mention touting the fact that Social Security and Medicare are two of the most successful, efficiently run, and popular socialist programs we have ever had in this country.

We are led to believe that capitalism is good and socialism is bad.  This message is coming primarily from those on the far right, of course, who actually benefit from socialism, at the expense of everyone else. According to David Cay Johnston, corporate socialism is alive and well in the United States (see clip below). The problem is that it only applies to the privileged class, and not the rest of us.  The trick for those born privileged is to privately benefit from socialism, while publicly decrying it as a solution to help the rest of us out of the current economic crisis their immoral tax policies actually created.  In essence, they seek to privatize profits and socialize losses, which amounts to taking from the many and redistributing it to the few, as explained by David Cay Johnston in the clip below.

Our elected representatives have a choice.  They can decide to continue implementing the failed economic policies of the past that have continually led to crisis after crisis, and that only benefit the super-rich, or they can choose the tried and true economic policies that made this country a household name where everyone benefitted equally from the fruits of our labor.  This would require real courage on behalf of our elected leaders to do what’s right!  Not only for the sake of struggling families and putting Americans back to work, but to stimulate our economy and help achieve a happier and healthier society for all.  Since income equality is proven to lead to happier and healthier societies, and income inequality has proven itself to lead to more poverty, crime, stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug addiction, and an overall less happy, and less healthy society, what are our elected representatives waiting for?  If ever there was a blueprint for courage this is it!

If we continue to pursue failed and immoral economic policies that strictly benefit the privileged in this country, then we are forced to inflict severe ‘austerity’ measures on everyone else.   As we can see by the example in Greece, the austerity leads to prosperity approach favored by Paul Ryan and backed by the GOP, is failing miserably.  Why not opt for an America that works together!

David Cay Johnston sheds light on two critical “frames” conservatives use to manipulate us: Government “Picking winners and losers” and a “Transfer of wealth.”

David Cay Johnston wrote an article entitled, “Taxed by the boss” where he discussed the implications of the more than 2,700 companies in the Unites States that are keeping the state income taxes they are collecting from hundreds of thousands of workers for themselves.  So, in case you were wondering why states are laying off teachers, firefighters, and police officers, among other drastic cuts to social services that affect millions of people’s lives throughout the country, look no further than the corporate socialism taking place, as pointed out by David Cay Johnston.

To make matter worse, big banks and businesses like Goldman Sachs, J.P Morgan, and Mitt Romney’s former company Bain Capital, are enriching themselves by a process known as “job piracy”, where one state diverts taxes in order to lure an employer from another state to relocate if they promise to create jobs.  The problem is that no jobs are ever created.  Instead, the money is transferred in an upward direction from workers to the corporate bosses in the top 1%, as indicated in the report by the taxpayer watchdog organization, Good Jobs First.  This report also discovered that “deals cut with states over the past two decades diverted $5.5 billion from public purposes to private gain.”  Talk about a transfer of wealth!!

Big businesses are getting away with diverting the taxes they collect from workers to enrich themselves because radical right-wing Governors like Chris Christie, who tops the list, has personally transferred a whopping $251.2 million from average workers to those in the “privileged sector”, who believe they are entitled to it!  No wonder why Chris Christie was being groomed for a spot in the Whitehouse.  He has done the most to enrich the privileged few at the expense of everyone else.  David Cay Johnston calculates that this transfer of wealth amounts to $80 per household in corporate welfare average families are spending to subsidize shareholders of the big banks and large corporations in the United States.

According to David Cay Johnston, “these deals typify corporate socialism, in which business gains are privatized and costs socialized. They also mean that Government picks winners and losers, interfering with competitive markets.” So, it turns out that radical right-wing Governors, in support of an ideology that advocates corporate socialism, are actively “picking winners and losers” (big business is always the winner) which amounts to a “transfer of wealth” from all of us (ie, workers) to a select few of them in the privileged sector (ie, CEO’s and shareholders).

Those of us who watch Fox news or listen to Glenn Beck, or some other radical right-wing talk show host are being framed to believe that Government is “picking winners and losers” in an attempt to benefit lazy people on welfare programs, which serves to create a society of dependency on Government.  Following this logic, believers of this frame are further inclined to believe that a “transfer of wealth” is occurring from the so-called successful people in the top 1% to those who are lazy and don’t want to work hard in order to carry out a socialistic agenda.

The problem with this logic and the rest of the radical right-wing frames is that the opposite of what they say is true!  In this case, Socialism is alive and well in America, as indicated by the Good Jobs First report and David Cay Johnston’s take on this issue.  However, the problem is that it’s only being applied to the top 1% instead of being used to benefit all of us!

The irony here is that the fear of socialism is being used to scare people away from supporting policies and programs that will benefit us all.  A prime example is the current ‘Budget for All being introduced by the progressive caucus in the House of Representatives.  This budget is more in line with our nation’s moral values, and will benefit all of us, as well as help prevent the abuses of power that lead to examples of corporate socialism mentioned above.

As expected, Allen West (R-FL), a conservative member of the tea party, initiated the latest socialism scare by telling people in a town hall recently that there are approximately 80 representatives in the House that are members of the communist party.  Although communism and socialism are not the same, they are used interchangeably as if they were in order to increase the fear effect, I presume, so people will not vote for it!

Unfortunately, if we continue to believe the conservative “frames”, we will never know the benefits that other nations currently enjoy, such as living longer, happier and healthier lives, not to mention being better educated, less stressed, depressed and anxious, as well as having the safety and security of knowing our family members will be taken care of if they get sick, or become disabled for any reason.  All of these benefits are not fantasy, but reflect the reality of countries that adopt moral budget priorities, and implement a system based on socialism for all, not a select few.

Two visions for America: One Progressive the other regressive. Which path will our elected representatives choose?

In reference to the choices we make today that will decide the fate of our nation tomorrow, Jim Wallis mentioned in a recent article, the choice Paul Ryan and members of the GOP have made, (which they are calling a “path to prosperity”) is really a choice to hurt people who don’t have the political clout to defend themselves.  In addition to not paying down the deficit, which is what the GOP claims, or should I say “frames” their budget plan does in order to convince people to support it, Wallis notes, “Two-thirds of the long term budget cuts that Ryan proposed are directed at modest and low-income people, as well as the poorest of the poor at home and abroad.”

He states that, “Cuts of this magnitude for people of modest and low-incomes will result in a direct increase of poverty and misery in America.”  This is what happens when we pursue economic growth at all costs, which is proven to only benefit a select few at the top at the expense of the health and well being of everyone else, including the planet!

This regressive vision for America the GOP chooses to embrace will allow those at the very top to prosper, while everyone else slowly sinks into poverty and despair.  This is evident in the massive transfer of wealth from all of “us” to a select few of “them” Paul Ryan’s “path to prosperity” for the super-rich plan will generate.

As pointed out by Jim Wallis, “In dramatic contrast, Ryan has chosen to help the people who need help the least. Wealthy individuals and companies reap a windfall of benefits in Ryan’s plan — with tax cuts and breaks, continued subsidies and loopholes for every powerful special interest, and increased corporate welfare payments from the government.”

As you can see, the only prosperity being achieved is for the already affluent and super-wealthy in the top 1%, who use members of the GOP to advance their radical agenda by passing laws to the detriment of ‘we the people’ in order to continue to re-distribute wealth up by showering the “privileged sector” with corporate welfare (ie, more of our tax dollars).

The actions of the GOP mentioned above represent a regressive vision for America, which ultimately leads to further pieces of radical legislation being introduced, not to mention the proposal of immoral budget priorities like the Paul Ryan plan that serves to perpetuate the status quo of income inequality, which amounts to further austerity for all of “us” in order to provide continued prosperity for a select few of “them.”

In opposition to Paul Ryan’s immoral budget priorities and regressive vision for America, the Progressive caucus in the House of Representatives put forth their own plan last week.  This moral budget, called the ‘Budget for All’, represents a progressive vision for America, which puts an end to the corporate welfare the “privileged sector” feels entitled to receive, and focuses on improving the livelihood of the vast majority of the population.  The Budget for All plan focuses on putting Americans back to work, as opposed to putting the burden on the backs of Americans.  The Budget for All reduces the deficit by focusing on the true cause of our deficit and rising debt levels, (ie, the transfer of wealth that is taking place from all of us to a select few of them).  This transfer of wealth is primarily occurring in the form of unsustainable tax cuts for the super-rich, out of control military and war spending, and many other types of corporate welfare to sustain the high society, upper class lifestyle the richest among us have become accustom to.

Amazingly, this progressive vision for America was shot down in the House of Representatives in a 346-78 vote, while the regressive, immoral budget plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 235-189.

Now what?

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