What Costco has to teach the 99-percenters who think they’re Republicans

It’s not complicated. Every retailer, restaurant, and corporation in America can do what Costco is doing, but they don’t.

Costco

Why is that?

I think it’s because the people who own and run these businesses refuse to look beyond next quarter’s financial statements. Their thought processes, their vision, and their values don’t include ways to share their wealth with their workers.

They are greedy, selfish, sons-of-bitches who want us to think that’s just how capitalism works.

That also seems to be how today’s conservatives who are outside the 1% think, too. What other explanation can there be for why they think they are Republicans?

Conservatives Don’t Seem to Understand Reality

Costco clearly has leaders, a board of directors, and shareholders who are visionary and courageous enough to implement ethical and moral business strategies that are profitable AND which include a more equitable distribution of those profits to workers in the form of livable wages.

Contrast that with the lies we’re told by Wall Street, by Big Business shills like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association and the National Federation of Independent Business, by libertarian mythologists like Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, and by Republican politicians who keep claiming that trickle-down economics works, that we should abolish a minimum wage and leave compensation to market forces, and that government interference and over-reach are stifling business and our economy.

How is it that conservatives don’t get that all of that is, of course, complete and total bullshit?

How is it that conservatives who make less than $340,000.00 – what it takes to be in the 1% – insist on voting for Republicans and their failed policies which have ALWAYS been designed to benefit the rich and powerful first and foremost?

Liberals: Time to “Welcome Their Hatred”

We need leaders like Bernie Sanders who welcome the hatred of Wall Street and Big Money.

Compare Bernie

 

We need people like Lawrence Lessig as politicians who represent us and who are willing and eager to confront Big Money for their lies and their failures.

 

As individuals, we also must welcome the hatred of the rich and powerful. We need to find the courage to band together. We need to shine light on the fact that conservatism and Republican policy is to blame for where we are now as a nation and as a society.

More than anything, we liberals need to stop surrendering to the all-too-common liberal weakness of always wanting to find compromise.

No more compromises. It’s how we got to this sorry state of affairs. We let conservatives move the center further and further to the right by acquiescing to their demands and our own desire to avoid confrontation and conflict.

No more.

Liberals didn’t elect Reagan and two Bushes. Liberals didn’t cause banks to fail. Liberals didn’t demand that government shrink and corporations become less and less regulated. Liberals didn’t funnel all of the recovery and wealth to only the absolute richest among us.

We liberals need to continue to point out these and all the inconvenient truths that stem from conservatism (and its absurdly juvenile and greed-driven stepbrother, libetarianism).

Our fellow citizens who self-identify as conservatives need to hear from us whether they want to or not. They need to hear the truth; that they are also part of the ever-shrinking middle class and the ever-growing class of working poor.

They need to hear from us liberals that they are wrong – plain and dead wrong – for voting for ANY Republican anywhere and at any level of government.

They need to keep hearing it. Conservative (and much of libertarian) ideology that informs and drives Republican policies have unequivocally been proven to be dead wrong for everyone on every issue, and that includes economic issues. That is true, of course, for everyone except for the rich and powerful.

The Parties Are NOT The Same

It’s pretty simple and absolutely obvious. The GOP is the party of big business and the rich.

For those who are tempted to trot out the b.s. false equivalence that, “Both parties are the same,” save it. As far as I’m concerned, you’re second in line as the greatest obstacle to making real progress in this country. You give Republicans cover, and you need to stop it.

Number one on the list of obstacles are actually those Americans living in households with adjusted gross incomes of less than $340,000.00 per year who insist that they are Republicans and who vote for Republicans. I have news for them. They are not in the 1%. The conservatives in the 99% mean precisely nothing to Republicans except as useful fools who can be counted on to vote for them.

Organized Labor Is the Path to Prosperity

It’s absolutely stunning that conservatives aren’t banding together with the rest of us in the middle class in support of organized labor. History proves that stronger unions are the path to better and higher standards of living for everyone.

It bears repeating.

If you make less than 340-grand and think unions are somehow the problem and Republicans are the answer, then you not only don’t understand reality, you’re the biggest obstacle to prosperity we have right now in America.

So, how about it, conservatives?

How about you wake up and stop voting against yourselves and the rest of us?

You’ll thank yourself and, more importantly, so will future generations.

95 percent

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Additional Reading:

Strengthen Unions

Wealth Inequality in America

Top 1 percent: How much do they earn?

Capital Eye Opener, March 8: The Fight Over Minimum Wage, and Rand’s Partisan Appeal

New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for Major Minimum Wage Increase

Activists Around the US Fight to Raise the Minimum Wage

 

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How Big Money Created the Most Polarized Congress in a Century: 5 Charts

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

The incredible growth of PACs, the death of vote splitting, and the demise of America’s cushiest retirement home

Greg Russak‘s insight:

An article with charts worth keeping at the ready, especially when the discussion turns to union versus corporate and trade group money.

See on www.theatlantic.com

When 1% is Bigger than 99%


What I love most about stats and math is that they are apolitical (or at least they used to be). They care not for party affiliation, for whom you vote, or where you get your news.

To wit…..
….If your household income isn’t at least $386,000 a year you’re in the 99%, not the 1%
….14,000 American families make up the top 0.01% and AVERAGE $31million a year

0.01% is 1 out of every 10,000 families. They earn 5%, or 5 out of every 100 dollars, of all income earned in America. That leaves the other 95 to be split up among the remaining 131,986,000 American households(1).

Is it any wonder poverty in America is now at 14.3%(2)? That’s 14 out of every 100 people. 14% is just over 2 out of the 17 people listed in the To: field of the original email from which this post was created. Think about that. 2 people out of every group this size in America lives in poverty. Not working poor. Not middle class. Not having to sacrifice that European vacation or third car in the driveway this year. Not cutting back on eating out or trading in filet mignon for ground chuck at the grocery store.

Poverty.

What is poverty? Poverty defined for a family of 4 is earning $22,314/year(3). That’s $10.72/hour if it’s full-time work; 40 hours a week, 2080 hours a year, at $10.72 per hour.

The second largest single employer in the U.S. (behind the federal government which, btw, includes everyone in the military before anyone starts ranting about the size of government) is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. Average employee take home pay at Wal-Mart is $250 a week, or $13,000 a year if they actually work all 52 weeks. Wal-Mart’s “full-time” employees average $6 – $7.50 an hour for working 28 – 40 hour weeks(4)

The federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour(5).

Am I the only one who thinks it’s madness for companies to be required by law to pay $3.50 an hour LESS than the poverty rate?

I’m not against wealth or the wealthy. I am not a communist.

I’m all for a strong, vibrant, and sustainably-consuming middle class because we are the true engine of the economy. Without us, there are no markets to whom corporations can sell their goods and services, make a profit, and create more wealth for themselves and their shareholders. I am perfectly fine with that.

Something has gone terribly wrong, though, over the last 30 years or so and we need to get back to what we know works.

I’m no big devotee, but for all his faults and his anti-union stance Henry Ford seemed to understand how things could work for himself, his company, and his workers. He knew that in order to build a big, successful company he had to:
a) build a product people would want,
b) price that product (based on cost and a reasonable profit) so enough people could actually afford to buy it and,
c) create a big enough and sustainable market to buy his cars, partly by paying his workers enough to actually buy the damned things.

Like I said, there’s a lot about Ford’s business methods I don’t like, but what confuses me now is how we seem to be living in an age when some of us in the middle class have forgotten this “symbiotic” reality between producing goods and services that markets want and can afford versus how much the people at the top want to earn from that buying and selling.

In other words, without all of us in the 99% underneath the 1% from where is their wealth supposed to come?

Oh, yeah. Wait. That’s right.

Their wealth can still come from record-level profits derived at least in part from continuing to outsource what we used to call middle class jobs to the absolute cheapest overseas labor markets. The government isn’t forcing them to do that. In fact, “free trade agreements” help to facilitate that. It’s a P&L decision made easier by government removing regulation.

If that’s not enough, their wealth can still come from duping some of us into believing that what we need to do is elect people who will bring “certainty” to their business, as if that’s ever supposed to be a component of a free market and capitalism. Exactly how does government provide certainty to those poor, abused, and fearful titans of industry and commerce? I thought government was supposed to get out of their way, not do things for them?

From what we’re being told by one party in particular (and only to a lesser degree by the other), certainty would come if only the following could be realized:

1) Deregulation
If corporations – and especially the financial services sector – were utterly and completely deregulated, the economy would just grow like crazy because who needs a watchdog when you have the “invisible hand” to guide you? We’ve seen – and even Greenspan has admitted – that hasn’t worked out all that well, but what does he know?

2) Lower – even zero – taxes
If only the wealthy “job creators” and corporations – which, when it comes to corporations, we are now told by the Supreme Court and certain GOP candidates are people just like us – could just pay even less – better yet, no – taxes they could hoard even more cash until “certainty” finally arrived. Then they would have the confidence they need to create all those wonderful minimum wage and non-union jobs, and everyone could stop all their occupying and whining about not being able to find a job and get back to work.

3) Fear-driven cuts and bailouts
And if all else fails? Well, the powerful elite will still have their bought-and-paid for minions in Big Government in both parties who will be more than happy to cut social programs for the poor (who have no power anyway) while they take that money – our tax dollars – and distribute what’s left to banks and private companies as tax breaks and bailouts for the mistakes they made because, as we all know, a free market based on libertarian principles and pure capitalism cannot afford to fail.

Sources:
(1) Where the One Percent Fit in the Hierarchy of Income, New York Times, 10/28/2011.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/10/30/nyregion/where-the-one-percent-fit-in-the-hierarchy-of-income.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=thab1

(2) U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts.
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

(3) U.S. Census Bureau Poverty Data.
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/

(4) Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, PBS.
http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/stores3.html

(5) U.S. Department of Labor; Wages.
http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/minimumwage.htm