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

——

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

 

Main Street: Your recovery will come from the left, not the right. #GetMoneyOut #NeverForget915

The American public got played (again) for chumps back in 1999 when we weren’t in the streets protesting Slick Willy’s signature of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

It wasn’t the first time. It undoubtedly won’t be the last time, either, unless we’re willing stand up once and for all time against the failed ideology of conservatism.

So, what has GLBA wrought? The ’08 crash, for one thing.

Now there’s hope for us and for Main Street:

As it happens, a trial just ended in Sacramento in which a jury was convinced that “executives intended to make fraudulent loans.” Here’s the thing, though: It wasn’t the government that made the case against the financiers; it was the defendants.
“Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy”; Thomas Frank, Salon, Sept 7, 2014.

The real estate bubble that Wall Street executives knowingly manufactured while knowing they’d escape unscathed is finally coming to some justice.

It’s about time. Their crimes and the travesty they created turns 6 years old next week.

NeverForget915

Now, I know some of you still believe the libertarian fantasies of Invisible Hands and “free market” solutions. Wake up, please. Those are fantasies conjured up in the imagination of a sub-par Russian novelist and then perpetuated by the likes of big business propagandists like Milton Friedman and the Koch Brothers. It’s not the real world, and you have been duped.

I know lots of you like to mix in large doses of Wall Street hero-worship, too. You think people like Jamie Dimon, Dick Fuld, and  Lloyd Blankfein are people of admirable character with great and endless ambition who make for exemplary role models because of the wealth and power they have amassed.

Again, you have been duped. Open your eyes. They and people like them play you for a fool. They are the ones who drove the economy right off the cliff. They have never paid a dime of recompense and, with extremely rare exceptions, have not done a minute of time behind bars for their crimes. What’s worse is that they’re still in charge.

Finally, there’s this. I know you hate hearing it because you know it’s true. Reaganomics.

Too many of you insist on believing the lie that is trickle down economics. The economy has been slow to recovery because the government bailed out Wall Street instead of Main Street. The rich got paid off for their mistakes and then took their money offshore. Banks have been operating at a federal funds rate of effectively zero for how many years now, and still no money seems to be reaching anyone except the largest and most profitable corporations.

Do you not get it yet? The government didn’t do enough 6 years ago and it still hasn’t done enough to stimulate true growth and real prosperity at its source – the MIDDLE CLASS AND THE POOR WHO ACTUALLY DRIVE THE ECONOMY WITH OUR SPENDING!

Please look at the facts. Please stop telling yourself that less regulation is always better.

Please stop voting for people who think money is speech and corporations are people.
(Does it surprise anyone that the 18 Senators who voted today against an amendment to overturn Citizens United were all Republicans?)

Please stop ignoring the fact that all the gains in our rigged economy are going to the top, that none of it will ever trickle down to you, and that all the gains are privatized while all the losses are socialized because too many of YOU insist on voting against YOUR OWN economic self-interests.

Please stop voting for Clintons and Bushes and Ryans and Pauls and Romneys.
(Yes, Clintons, too, and any other corporatist Democrats. They are part of the problem, too, just not to the same degree as Republicans and their pesky little brothers and sisters in the libertarian and tea parties.)

I get it. It’s your choice. You’re free to vote for whomever you like. You’re also free to keep playing the role of the rich person’s chump.

Just know this. There’s a growing number of people who will keep revealing the truth while you believe the lies. We will keep working to get money out of politics while you continue to vote for Big Money, whether you realize it or admit it, or not.

We will keep doing this in the hope that you’ll one day come to your senses. We will keep doing it with the certainty that if you don’t come to your senses, well, at least there’s hope for your (and our) children and grandchildren. Remember this. It’s their eyes we’ll all have to look into someday.

One more thing you must know. It’s the only logical conclusion anyone can come to in light of the last 35 years or so, and that’s this. Conservatism is a failed ideology.

Whether its ISIS or Westboro; whether its bin Laden or McViegh; whether it’s Bibi or Cruz, conservatism in all its forms and flavors is a failed ideology.

In political and economic terms, it has failed everyone except for the very rich and the very powerful who wish to go on subjugating and oppressing workers and ordinary citizens.

No society has ever advanced by being conservative, or by looking inward or backward, or by concentrating more and more wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands. This is the very definition of conservatism today in America. Make no mistake about it. There is one and only one political party embracing the failed ideology of conservatism. One.

Main Street, your salvation is not going to come from ideologues who want to conserve the status quo of unequal power and unfair capital distribution. You must see by now that nothing is going to trickle down to you. There’s nothing for Big Money to gain by pressing politicians for policies that help you to thrive.

Remember this. It wasn’t liberals and progressive who drove you and your fellow business owners to the brink of extinction by bribing or threatening local zoning boards in order to get sweetheart tax deals for the likes of Walmart. It wasn’t liberals and progressives who put Main Street out of business by driving down prices for goods and services by moving manufacturing overseas and then importing cheaply made products back to store shelves. It wasn’t the poor or the disenfranchised or the liberals and progressives who, once they had forced you out of business, continued to pass tax reforms that further enriched the rich, tried to kill unions, and who caused your standard of living to stagnate and decline by ensuring that the only jobs left in your communities were the ones paying minimum wage.

These are not liberal and progressive ideals, but they are at the very core of conservative ideology and it’s evil offspring, Objectivism – a perverse euphemism for a degree of vile greed and selfishness to qualify as a psychosis.

Look, it’s time we all became progressives. It’s how society will progress.

More than that, it’s time we all took the fight directly to conservatives and libertarians using the facts and history they cannot deny and which proves, once and for all time, to Main Streets everywhere that, on election day and with extremely rare exceptions, a vote for a Republican or libertarian is a vote against yourself, our economy, our society, and our future.

Have We Not Learned That Bigger Is Not Better When It Comes to Banking?

10 largest banks

How can this be a good thing?

The very people who legally crashed our economy – and those who did it illegally and still haven’t gone to jail – and have kept their bonuses are now even bigger than before.

This is when our government needs to – HAS TO – step in and say….

“You are a danger to the rest of society. You are no longer going to operate in this manner. You have abused the rights and privileges afforded to you in the law, and now the law is changing. You will be broken up, and you will be regulated such that your actions cannot threaten the global economy and the financial well-being of all of the rest of us ever again.”

If there was ever an industry that has repeatedly proven that it is populated with and largely led by people incapable of policing themselves, it’s the financial services industry. This isn’t a personal attack. It’s just the facts, and it’s just history.

There can’t be opportunity and protection without a balance between the private sector and the government. There is no balance today. The scales have been tipping for far too long toward Big Money. This is why it’s so important that we strike at the root of all of our problems – money in politics.

Caseyoncampaigning

We must change campaign finance laws in order to get the influence of Big Money out of our political processes and out of the halls of government. It’s the only way we can expect to have any influence as ordinary citizens over our elected officials.

What can we do? Plenty.

Join up with other concerned citizens who have come together to make their voices heard.

Here are some of my favorites. Please feel free to share this and to add others.

 

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/
Join the fight. Become a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://bit.ly/CitizenCoSponsor
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
http://www.wolf-pac.com/
https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge
Support MAYDAY.US Together we can end the corruption of money in politics. Pledge now: https://mayday.us/pledge

The Increasingly Unequal States of America: Income Inequality by State, 1917 to 2011

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

The rise in inequality experienced in the United States in the past three-and-a-half decades is not just a story of those in the financial sector in the greater New York City metropolitan area reaping outsized rewards from speculation in financial markets. Rising inequality and increases in top 1 percent incomes affect every state.

by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price, Economic Policy Institute

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

Read more: http://www.epi.org/publication/unequal-states/

Greg Russak‘s insight:

Data doesn’t lie.

 

Executive summary

Economic inequality is, at long last, commanding attention from policymakers, the media, and everyday citizens. There is growing recognition that we need an inclusive economy that works for everyone—not just for those at the top.

While there are plentiful data examining the fortunes of the top 1 percent at the national level, this report examines how the top 1 percent in each state have fared over 1917–2011, with an emphasis on trends over 1928–2011 (data for additional percentiles spanning 1917–2011 are available at go.epi.org/top-incomes). In so doing, this analysis finds that all 50 states have experienced widening income inequality in recent decades.

See on www.epi.org

It’s On #MiddleClass America to Save America

I can’t imagine anyone arguing that America does not need a healthier, more economically viable, active, and growing middle class. Sadly, I also can’t imagine much argument that the exact opposite is dramatically evident.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/decline-of-theus-middle-class-2013-10
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/decline-of-theus-middle-class-2013-10

The question now is what are we in the middle class prepared and willing to do about it?

I ask that question because I am completely convinced that the decline of the American middle class is reversible. I’m also completely convinced that the responsibility rests almost entirely and exclusively with all of us in the middle class. We can and we must do more to stop and then to reverse our decline.

Facebook posts and yelling at the TV might feel cathartic, but they don’t accomplish much. Let’s resolve in 2014 to do more and to take real action to take our democracy back from the corrupting influence of money.

What Can Be Done

It’s my opinion that we in America’s middle class need to do two things:

1. Stop waiting around for someone else to do something about it for us

2. Stop digging the hole deeper by no longer voting against our own economic self-interests

Let’s Stop Digging

I’ve written a lot over the years about point number 2, most recently herehere, and here.

There’s no other way to say it. All of the responsibility for point number 2 rests with Americans outside the wealthiest 2% who insist on voting against the economic interests of the middle class by voting FOR Republicans and tea party candidates who want to turn over control of our government and our economy to the very people and industries who got us into this mess.

The mess we’re in started with Reagan and his Rand/Friedman/Greenspan-inspired lies of trickle-down economics and the canard that government is somehow the only source of our problems. So long as some of us keep voting for the people representing those lies, we’ll keep digging the American middle class into a deeper and deeper hole.

I’m not saying we should never vote for another Republican. I have voted for Republicans in the past. I’m just asking – pleading, really – that we please just stop voting for the extremists in the Republican party.

We know – or we should know – who’s on that list. We know – or we should know – that it includes people selling us the fairy tales of unfettered free markets coupled with the failed economic and governmental philosophies of Milton Friedman, a.k.a. Reaganomics, a.k.a voodoo economics (thanks, btw, to G.H.W. Bush for that one), a.k.a. trickle-down economics.

Today, this describes one party and only one party. Anyone wishing to offer evidence to the contrary is invited to do so.

The Dangers of Being Kept In The Dark

To some extent and in a world where people still watch, listen to, and believe the likes of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and a whole plethora of ideologues masquerading as news media and opinion “journalism” (a very liberal use of that term, btw), it’s kind of understandable how so many middle class Americans can be duped into believing the lie of trickle-down economics.

Traditional corporate news media is almost as guilty. (In case you’re wondering, the answer is, “No, outside of a weather report, I do not count anything broadcast by Fox to be unbiased news.”) Corporate media spends almost no time or energy informing us about how and why the middle class is in decline. What time is spent on the subject is spent mostly with people meant more to drive ratings than to inform us about what the decline of the middle class actually means to America and to our geopolitical power and influence in the world on a long-term basis.

The reason for their silence seems clear. It’s not in their corporate economic self-interest for us to understand it, nor is it in the interest of the wealthy and powerful who run those corporations. They are beholden to their investors. Collectively, they exercise control over our government more than ever by funding campaigns with little-to-no oversight thanks to Citizens United.

Even worse for the vast majority of Americans, these are people who already seem to demonstrate little-to-no appreciation for the ramifications of their actions and that of a declining middle class. They are either willfully ignoring or inexplicably discounting in a dangerous and short-sighted way what a declining American middle class means for our economy, our country, and for the world.

If we move to a system where half of the country is either stagnant or losing ground while the other half is surging, the social fabric of the United States is at risk, and with it the massive global power the United States has accumulated. Other superpowers such as Britain or Rome did not have the idea of a perpetually improving condition of the middle class as a core value. The United States does. If it loses that, it loses one of the pillars of its geopolitical power.

(Read more: The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power | Stratfor)

Winners… and Even Bigger Winners

Every society throughout history has its ‘winners’ and its ‘losers’ in whatever terms each society chooses to define those words. Of late, it’s perfectly clear who the winners and losers are in America.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/decline-of-theus-middle-class-2013-10
Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/decline-of-theus-middle-class-2013-10

When it comes to the American middle class, the facts are in. The data are undeniable. The American middle class is in decline while the wealthiest accumulate even greater wealth and prosperity. This imbalance spells only trouble for us as a people and as a country.

Badly Tipped Scales

Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/01/a_graph_im_trying_to_understan.html
Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/01/a_graph_im_trying_to_understan.html

The balance that once existed between the income gains and the relative prosperity of the middle class and the wealthy – and which ought to exist again between free market capitalism and representative government – have tipped in dangerous and disturbing ways.

The scale seems to have tipped not between middle class and rich or between “corporatists” and “statists”, but instead in a third direction; Big Money.

Big Money, Bums, and Parties

Take a close look at the following chart. Appreciate and understand that it represents the average wealth of ALL of our representatives in Congress.

Wealth of Congress
Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/averages.php

As of 2011, that’s an estimated average wealth of $11.7million for a Senator and $6.5million for a Representative.

What, exactly, are we supposed to have in common with these people?

What, exactly, do we think motivates them and what, exactly, should we expect from them when it comes to the resultant policy and law they make?

Isn’t it clear that all of the opportunity, privilege, and entitlements – yes, entitlements – now flow almost exclusively to the wealthy and, by extension, to their Big Money interests in both the private and public sectors?

How’s that possible? How does one come to such conclusions? Simple. Take another look at the chart above. We are governed today almost exclusively by the rich.

We need to stop deluding ourselves about whom they serve. Our elected representatives represent the interests of Big Money. That means they do not represent the vast majority of Americans.

And, yes, both parties are guilty but it must be stated emphatically that they are NOT both guilty in equal measure. I’ve also grown weary of false equivalencies like that, too. Again, anyone wishing to offer credible citations to the contrary are invited to do so.

That said, the evidence is clear.

If the average Senator’s wealth is nearly $12million and the average House Rep is worth a cool $6.5million, then it stands to reason that these elected representatives don’t come from and don’t represent the middle class or the lower middle class or the working poor or the impoverished.

They represent Big Money, and without Big Money they can’t fund their campaigns.

The average winner in a Senate race <in 2012> spent $10.2 million, compared to $8.3 million in 2010 and just $7.5 million in 2008. That’s an increase of 19 percent since 2010. Senate Democrats seemed to have to work particular hard to win their seats, spending an average of $11.9 million, compared to the average Republican winner who spent $7.1 million.

On the House side, there was a smaller but still quantifiable increase in the cost of winning. On average, a winner in the House spent $1.5 million, compared $1.4 million in 2010 and $1.3 million in 2008. In the House, it was Republicans who had to work a bit harder: The average winning House Republican had to spend $1.59 million to win a seat, a bit more than the $1.53 million spent by the average Democratic victor.
(Source: http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/06/2012-overview.html)

Once in office, they are well on their way to amassing serious wealth. It begins on Capitol Hill with legislation and regulation (or more accurately, deregulation) in favor of the very industries they are supposed to be watching over for our benefit and protection. That’s just the start. Much bigger paydays await.

Being elected to office or appointed to one of the myriad departments or agencies is merely the step necessary before twirling through the revolving door that opens onto K Street and the private sector where their real rewards await them.

That is the heart of it. Money that concerns itself only with more money and not with the concerns and well-being of ordinary citizens.

This closed circle of money between government and private enterprise is precisely why a “throw the bums out” or even the dream of more viable third, fourth, and fifth political parties will not work to change anything.

Let me repeat that.

Simply replacing the current crop of politicians with a new group of elected officials – either from the current 2-party system or from a whole host of additional political parties – will serve to change very little if the underlying and fundamental campaign finance process and electoral systems by which these people are elected and reelected does not change.

Where We Come In

If we’re going to make our voices and our concerns heard, if we’re going to have a democracy that works for us, then we’re going to have to take the actions that serve to get Big Money out of politics.

The wealthy, both in and out of government, are continuing to prove that, outside of people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, we have very, very few people in Congress actually representing us.

It’s not just national politics, either. We need to be examining and pressuring our local and state governments about whom they actually represent. Is it us or their Big Money backers?

What we can’t expect politicians to do on their own is to work very hard at tearing down and rebuilding the very systems that got them elected and which make them rich (or richer) in the process.

There are lots of groups and lots ways for you to get involved and to add your voice to growing chorus. The ones that I endorse and that I strongly encourage you to learn more about and to get behind are listed below. Together, we can make our voices heard and we can make a difference.

We can save America. We’re the only ones who can.

http://anticorruptionact.org/
http://anticorruptionact.org/

The American Anti-Corruption Act (http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/)

https://represent.us/
https://represent.us/

Represent.us (https://represent.us/)

https://movetoamend.org/
https://movetoamend.org/

Move To Amend (https://movetoamend.org/)

http://www.coffeepartyusa.com/

Coffee Party USA no longer has my support or endorsement. Click here if you’re curious as to why that is, and please drop me a Comment if you see any links to them on this site I may have missed.

 

Sources:

The Crisis of the Middle Class and American Power,
http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/crisis-middle-class-and-american-power

Average Wealth of Members of Congress,
http://www.opensecrets.org/pfds/averages.php

The Decline Of The US Middle Class Is Getting Even Worse [CHARTS],
http://www.businessinsider.com/decline-of-theus-middle-class-2013-10

Some thoughts — and graphs — on inequality and income,
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/01/a_graph_im_trying_to_understan.html

Election 2012: The Big Picture Shows Record Cost of Winning a Seat in Congress,
http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/06/2012-overview.html