Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Outing of the Oligarchs

Shrillionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg has finally dropped all pretense of being a public servant, serving at the pleasure of the public. This arrogant King of the Plutocrats, who defied term limits by buying his way into a previously illegal third term, has broken the law once again.


He is deliberately ignoring a court order* which allows the Occupy campers back into Zuccotti Park, along with their tents, their tarps, their books -- and their power. Michael Bloomberg should be impeached, recalled, sued, criminally charged, in no particular order, separately or concurrently. While we're waiting for the justice that most assuredly will come, this craven smarmy little man deserves all the invective we can hurl his way, all the shame we can pile upon this smirking personification of  egotistical self-serving entitlement. At his press conference this morning, in which he took sole responsibility for evicting Occupy, Bloomberg claimed he'd heard rumors of the court order, but had yet to verify its existence.


He lied. He ignored the court order, because he considers himself above the law.  At the time of the 8 a.m. news event, he had already been served with papers.


New York City Public Advocate Bill di Blasio called Bloomberg's actions provocative and legally questionable. 


Zuccotti Park, of course, is only the latest in what seems like a lightning-quick falling of the dominoes of Occupy encampments throughout the country. If you think this is part of a coordinated effort, you are right. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has admitted as much in a BBC interview, saying she recently participated in a conference call with 18 other mayors to plan anti-Occupy strategy.  Was this week of preplanned violent crackdowns also coordinated with the president's convenient absence from the country? The mayors and their police chiefs even had identical talking points. How often have you heard the words "health and safety concerns" from officials' mouths this week?  Along with the NIMBY defense: of course they have a right to protest!  Just not here, there or anywhere. Public space for the public?  Hah!

November 15, 2011: A day of infamy. The day when the bankers and the corporations and the puppet politicians finally came out of the closet and proclaimed their fascism. The day when Democracy was officially flouted by the New Security State. The day when the Gestapo conducted a raid and even declared the airspace above the scene of their outrageous brutality their own private property, and announced that freedom of the press is subject to their whim.


And the whole world is watching.  

*Update, 5:23 pm:  A judge has now ruled that occupiers may return to the park, minus their tents and tarps and other means of survival. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was on TV just now, barely able to contain the glee under his dour exterior, vowing that the protesters will no longer even be permitted to lie down in the park. How they enforce this unilaterally-enacted law should be interesting. It's also fascinating how many mainstream media outlets are now proclaiming the entire OWS movement DOA. These people haven't a clue. 

Like every other strong arm tactic displayed by the police, this one will only make the movement stronger. It's not about the geographical location, pundits. The overwhelming anger, and the newfound solidarity among different kinds of people who have found a commonality in suffering, are here to stay. Call us protesters without borders.

32 comments:

DreamsAmelia said...

Yes, because we are a democracy, we only arrest or shut out our journalists to "protect them." Because we are a "free country," the "free press" stenographers unquestioningly post this rubbish from Bloomburg, and equally don't make a fuss about journalists or Councilman Rodriguez still in jail bleeding.
"This does not happen in dictatorships around the world," NYC councilman Scott Stringer said, "And we need to speak out when it happens."

Because we have a delusion of freedom, and we prove how far we've supposedly come on racial inequality because we have an African-American in the White House, we are willing to tolerate what is intolerable in other countries. Look at all the apologists in the comment sections saying we are different than true dictatorships. As long as you slap a smiley face of democracy on brutality and repression, you can fool at least half the people half the time (see Tea Party...)

Hopefully 11/15/11 will go down as another "reverse" 9/11/01--like 2/11/11 was...another double columned "11" day...

mac gordon said...

I've abandoned the US MSM for the BBC News, and the most excellent UK newspaper, The Guardian.
They've had great coverage of the OWS movement. Updated by the minute, with decent video.
The link is guardiannews.com

@DreamsAmelia
Well put! I believe we are a nation in denial, and delusional about being in any way 'democratic'.

I keep hearing a line from that old song - "Don't worry, be happy"!

Neil said...

Hot off the press, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is disturbed by detention of credentialed journalists at "Occupy" protests http://www.rcfp.org/newsitems/index.php?i=12237

"Washington, D.C. —The singling out of credentialed journalists in an attempt to separate them from the news events unfolding at the police disbanding of the Occupy Wall Street protests is outrageous and unacceptable, according to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish.

"It’s extremely disturbing that credentialed reporters would be singled out in a roundup aimed at preventing them from witnessing police activity at the disbanding of the Occupy Wall Street camp," Dalglish said. "What country are we living in?

"If it’s obvious to police that these are bona fide newspeople — they have visible press credentials and they have clearly identified themselves — they should be allowed to cover these news events without interference," she added."

And this Order by Georgia Judge Dennis Blackmon mocks US Bank in a foreclosure case, a must read. Judge Blackmon is a judge actually interested in justice for all, from Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/dennis-blackmon-georgia-judge-mocks-us-bank-denied-mortgage-modification_n_1094797.html

"Georgia Judge Dennis Blackmon is fed up with bailed-out banks refusing to help strapped homeowners. "Sometimes, only the courts of law stand to protect the taxpayer. Somewhere, someone has to stand up," Blackmon wrote in a five-page Nov. 2 order in Carroll County Superior Court. "Well, sometimes is now, and the place is the Great State of Georgia. The defendant's motion to dismiss is hereby denied."

Blackmon's order shot down U.S. Bank's request to throw out a complaint from Georgia homeowner Otis Wayne Phillips, who had tried to get a mortgage modification from the bank. Phillips could not be reached for this story."

Also on Matt Weidner’s foreclosure defense law blog http://mattweidnerlaw.com/blog/2011/11/bombshell-the-best-foreclosure-order-ever-signed-by-a-judge/

People are noticing, and the tide is slowly turning in favor of the people.

Valerie said...

Thanks for all the great links everyone! This is exciting!

Jay - Ottawa said...

"The mighty will fall."

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/this_is_what_revolution_looks_like_20111115/

Ormond Otvos said...

What about disabled people who bring their wheelchair?

What if someone flies an iPhone-controlled quad copter over the scene?

Does that violate airspace?

Hmmm... Geeks forward!

Patricia said...

I just knew it was too much of a coincidence that the occupy movement in at least three cities was simultaneously forced out of where they were protesting. I am sickened by the collusion, cover-up and blatant disregard of the right of every American to peaceably protest. I don't know how long it's going to go on, or how violent things will get before we finally take this country back. I feel like I am still in shock after watching Bloomberg on TV. It's like he thinks he has his own little kingdom. Didn't we reject a monarchy over 200 years ago? I remember that revolution being pretty violent. I am sure this one will be even worse.

Anne Lavoie said...

As we all know by now, this was part of a coordinated attempt nationwide to dismantle OWS occupations. Obama's press secretary made a statement about the need to maintain law and order, and the His Highness the Shrillionaire made a point of saying this decision was his and his alone. Oh really?

Why did Bloomberg feel a need to emphasize that anyway? He obviously has the authority to make those decisions as Mayor. Why bothering spelling it out? Maybe to deflect attention from the real Deciders.

My take is that Obama's Homeland Security orchestrated this nationwide crackdown, which is not to say that Wall Street doesn't really call the shots, but DHS is one of the most powerful, if not the only, domestic tool of the Oligarchs (the military being the other).

DHS wouldn't let each state handle the nationwide/worldwide movement of OWS independently when we are undoubtedly perceived as the enemy of the Homeland. That's just how they think - enemies and wars against whatever threatens the privileged status of the power elite.

OWS is properly focused on the very heart of the capitalist Empire and they are afraid we will drive a stake in it if we catch fire. They won't openly acknowledge our collective power, but their actions speak louder than words. That's why the Tea Party was left alone but we are attacked.

It is Obama's practice to let others take the fall, or credit, if it would be perceived as a negative for him. That's just how our War President operates on behalf of his owners, the Oligarchs. He is going to make sure HIS team wins.

John in Lafayette said...

Thr right wing has been curiously silent about this destruction of our first amendment right to peaceably assemble. I am reminded of the scene from "Bananas" where Miss America is testifying at the treason trial of Fielding Mellish:

"I think Mr. Mellish is a traitor to this country because his views are different from the views of the President and others of his kind. Differences of opinion should be tolerated, but not when they're too different. Then he becomes a subversive mother."

I wonder if the protestors might have to resort to "second amendment remedies" in order to earn the sypmathy of those freedom lovers at Fox. They seem to care far more about the second amendment than any of the others.

Why do our political and media masters hate the constitution so much?

George R said...

“Thr right wing has been curiously silent about this destruction of our first amendment right to peaceably assemble.”

No one’s right to peaceful assembly has been violated. I’m no fan of Mayor Bloomberg but his and other mayor’s duties usually include enforcing the law. He finally did it – good for him and the other mayor’s who said “enough”.

OWS looks more like a mob than a movement. Contrast OWS with the Tea Party which didn’t find it necessary to foul public spaces and cleaned up after their peaceful demonstrations targeting profligate government spending (borrowing) and disregard for the Constitution. They were organized, raised money, put forward candidates for public office and got them elected. They now have influence in Washington beyond their number. In other words, they acted like adults.

It’s unfortunate the OWS has blown it – I do sympathize with them to the extent the political system needs more than a bit of fixing. Perhaps they can recover but I’ve not read anything on this and other sites to lead me to believe it will happen.

OK, blast away.

Metro Journalist said...

Since Bloomberg and his ilk don't care about the Constitution, let the OWS and their peers elsewhere go for broke. March on Washington by the millions. If there can be a successful Million Man March year after year, there can be a multimillion person march that should scare the daylights out of Congress (and give them nightmares, as well). Just for good measure, there should be mock guillotines in front of every entrance and exit of the Capitol. If Eric Cantor thought he was unnerved weeks ago, a multi-million person march when Congress reconvenes in the winter of 2012 might make all the crooks resign out of fear. Maybe I'm being cruel, but I've reached my limit with all the bought officials.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Let's admit it, after Bloomberg's Raid, the plutocracy's intent and determination should be clear. This is about as clear a declaration of class war as we're likely to get.

The road ahead will not be easy for the young or the old in America. The new rich of our day will not be embarrassed into giving back what they took when few of us were paying attention. If we don't know that now, we never will catch on to the real game afoot.

As the schoolyard bullies used to say, "Possession is nine-tenths of the law, ha-ha," as they held your birthday Parker Pen behind their backs. (Ergo, my ability to hang on to what I took from your hands is my right to keep it.)

The rich now have the militarized police, the Congress, the White House and the majority of our Final Say Court, all of which, judging by their actions of the past decade or two, are beyond shame. Pretty much like the European scene in the Dark Ages. Bloomberg, Boehner and Scalia will laugh if you call out 'Shame!' as they pass.

In today's NY Times there's an report, put together by Stanford and Brown University academics, that documents in city after city the evaporation of middle class neighborhoods into poor neighborhoods while spot gentrification within the cities and broader sites in suburbs and exurbia concentrate more of the nation's wealth. Raw injustice is visible on the very maps of our land.

Read the article

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/us/middle-class-areas-shrink-as-income-gap-grows-report-finds.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha23

to learn the ramifications of having lots of poor across the land. There's the future for America if plutocracy prevails.

Ayn Rand won. The newest of the new rich are incapable of thinking like the contrite Carnegie, a baron who at least had the decency to give back a substantial amount to the Commons after he retired.

The New Greed has hit the US like a plague, killing people, crippling them, alienating the world and changing the nature of our society itself. The generous foundations, those still in operation, can only provide a patchwork to cover the needs of a society growing in poverty and grim need under a crumbling infrastructure.

Somehow, without the violence that leads to deeper problems, the wealth that is real must be redistributed more fairly. How can the rush into feudalism be reversed? After the de-occupation of Zuccotti Park the options are fewer. But we should remind each other that determination and renewed calls for justice are not violence.

"[T]he last battle for democracy means dissent, civil disobedience and protest," said Chris Hedges months ago. Dissent, civil disobedience and protest must continue, with or without camping rights to a park. Ideas don't need real estate to take root, just a lot of careful husbandry in the press, in our conversations around the water cooler, over coffee with friends and fence sitters, -- and in the streets if not the parks.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

The recent moves against the Occupy encampments by the governmental toadies of wealth and privilege will, ironically, strengthen the opposition.

In many parts of the nation, cold weather has already arrived, and no one in their right mind would argue that contracting pneumonia by spending a winter battling the elements will advance the movement. Napoleon did not take into account what a Russian winter would do to his troops, and they paid a heavy price.

Furthermore, I believe that it's time to increase visibility and contact rate by moving protest into more local, and variable, venues. As I've said before, protest should be a moveable feast. The economic issues that are indeed nationwide have local manifestations nearly everywhere --- poverty, corruption, undue business influence, branches of the national banks that contributed to an economic catastrophe, foreclosure auctions. Every town has issues worth protesting. But centralized encampments, though initially high profile, eventually lose the novelty for the mass media, and then are out of sight and out of mind to most people.

Finally, I believe that both the coordinated actions against the many Occupy encampments and particular behavior by many of the police have added to the raising of public consciousness. More specifically:

1) The ostensible right to peacefully assemble and protest in this country is a farce; for years, the requirement for permits to protest (an oxymoron if ever there was one) plus the herding of protesters into designated locations with much-reduced visibility have made a bad joke of our inalienable rights.

2) There is evidence (some circumstantial, some more definitive) that there was coordination between various municipalities, the F.B.I., and the Department of "Homeland Security" (read: all water carriers for the plutocracy) to move against "Occupy".

3) The excuses (generally, "health" and "safety") served up for the actions against the encampments are laughably transparent --- the same "standards" applied throughout the land would dictate that entire low-income neighborhoods would have to be shut down.

4) The willingness of the police to act against peaceful protestors, and the manner in which they have acted --- unjustified violence, KGB-like raids in the middle of the night, deliberate interference with reporting --- clearly shows that the police, despite in many cases a "working-class" ancestry, are not friends of those seeking economic justice or trying to assert other rights. When push comes to shove, most police will be quite willing to oppress --- and some will do it enthusiastically, even thuggishly. (That is no different than the historical experience in most of the world; the powerful have always been able to find enforcers).

So now the task is to move protest beyond the narrow confines of "Occupy" encampments.

Valerie said...

You really show that you get your news from Fox and that you are well-propagandised, George. And I find it really interesting - and telling - that you refuse to visit a real Occupy Movement to see for yourself.

The Occupy Movement hasn't blown it. They have done everything right. But the lens you want to look through - which is owned by the corporations and only provides you with biased news - is telling you otherwise so it must be true.

The Occupy camps clean up after themselves - they have a sanitation crew within the Occupy camps that cleans up constantly. In NY the OWS wanted to bring in porta-poties - at their own expense - and for a long time the city refused to allow it. The cops regularly send the homeless and troublemakers to the camp in the hopes of making the movement look bad. This whole the protesters are fitly and defecate everywhere is simply not true. The whole the protesters are a bunch of disgusting people society has thrown away is simply not true. And only people like you - who want it to be true - believe it.

Anne is right. If you were truly fair-minded and wanted to get to the real truth, you would go to the Occupy camp and protest and see for yourself. You would walk with the protesters and talk to them. You would see for yourself that while a few jerks have lobbed on to the movement, the great majority are people who have good reasons for being there and want justice and a government that works for all its citizens, not just the richest.

Quite honestly, George, a conservative point of view is welcome here. But your opinions are quite ignorant and come across as very propagandised. If you actually are searching for truth and understanding and a fair exchange of ideas, that is one thing. But if you are here to spread your ignorance and your propaganda, you will soon be ignored.

Valerie said...

I must apologize for the mistakes in my comments these last few days. I am studying for a statistics final and am quite tired; yet I find the discussion interesting and want to take part. I tend to write and then rewrite sections of my comments and, although I proofread, I seem to be overlooking quite a few mistakes. Your indulgence is very much appreciated.

Valerie said...

Please permit me to clean up my third to last paragraph to see if I can make my point a little clearer.

The Occupy camps clean up after themselves - they have a sanitation crew within all the Occupy camps that cleans up constantly. In NY the OWS wanted to bring in porta-poties - at their own expense - and for a long time the city refused to allow it. The cops regularly send the homeless and troublemakers to the camp in the hopes that these people will stir up trouble and make the movement look bad. This whole suggestion that the protesters are “filthy and defecate everywhere" and that "the protesters are a bunch of disgusting people society has thrown away” is simply not true. And only people like you (George) - who want it to be true - believe it.

Valerie said...

Here are three videos from YouTube showing how the sanitation crews are working to keep the Occupy camps clean and livable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT7-NEiCqhc&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bmxhv8pDzs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJzm10IUPPc

George R said...

Valerie wrote, "Quite honestly, George, a conservative point of view is welcome here. But your opinions are quite ignorant and come across as very propagandised. If you actually are searching for truth and understanding and a fair exchange of ideas, that is one thing. But if you are here to spread your ignorance and your propaganda, you will soon be ignored."

Well, being called ignorant is probably one of the less offensive terms I've encountered on this site. It’s terribly big of you to welcome ignorant and propagandized points of view. Condescension is a liberal/leftie trademark as is accusing others of what they themselves do.

Again, I appreciate all the invitations to visit a camp site but must decline. Although I might be able to find someone at one of the sites who can articulate specific goals and objectives; no one here has been able or willing to do it although one poster hinted at confiscation of private property for redistribution - where have I heard that previously?

As for being ignored, my modest venture into this site seems to have stirred things up a bit – a lone dissenter in the midst of conformity – I'm an “Occupier”.

Cheers.

George R said...

Valerie, do you really want to be successful? Change the name (Occupier has a negative connotation), clean it up, send people home at night, do what the police ask or tell you to do and state clearly and succinctly definitive mission, goals and objectives. In other words, transform OWS from what was initially perceived as an unruly mob into a legitimate political movement.

I do believe a lot of people are fed up with politics as usual but real support would come from showing them a better way. While you’re at it muzzle the Marxist/Socialists.

Valerie said...

George,

I have stated it several times - the Occupy Movement wants a Middle Class Republic. That is what we want - you just don't want to hear it.

And, of course, you didn't get my point which was, you are welcome if you are a true conservative - my father was a wonderful, compassionate and intelligent conservative - but what you are echoing is propaganda. And you seem to embrace your ignorance. Sorry if it sounds condescending but you haven't bowled me over with your intelligent thoughts. You might have made money through speculation and real estate - how inspiring just another rich guy that hasn't contributed anything to society - but you sure haven't shown yourself to be much of an intellectual.

You are the flavour of the week, George but unless you come up with something interesting to say . . .

Buckeye Nut Schell said...

George:

I am a conservative in many ways and I support having tea party protesters and OWS protesters join together because many of their frustrations are the same.

However, the tea party was organized and supported by the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey and several political oportunist took advantage of the collective anger of the people. Fox news, and to a lessor extent,just about every other cable "news" outlet fawned all over the tea party because the message was written by the very people trying to direct the anger of the real grass roots members looking to voice their frustrations with government.

I talked to many tea party activists who were irrate that their local message in which they were trying to get out was being drowned out by the national message being played over and over by the media. The money behind much of the tea parties message and election funding was not grass roots but rather the perpatrators controlling the message.

OWS is much more organically grown and therefore, much less organized. I'm sure there are people trying to co-opt the message and change it into whatever their interests are but for now, it is leaderless; and that's a good thing.

The wealthy are being taxed less today than they have in over sixty years. We have been told everytime they lower the taxes on the highest earners that it will create jobs. Look at historical data and the opposite is true. The wealthest 1% of the population own 40% of the wealth of this country and they pay the least percentage of their income in taxes (when you consider all taxes) than any other wage class.

I don't know if you are a Christian or not but the only time Jesus ever got angry at anybody in the bible was the greed of the money changers. Read the sermon on the mount. If you are a Christian then I cannot see how you cannot support the OWS.

Do you think Jesus would be calling these young people dirty hippies? Do you think Jesus would be approving shooting these peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and teargas canisters? Whose side would Jesus take and whose side are you on? This is a class warfare and 99% of us have already lost.

John in Lafayette said...

George: If you're still reading here, this is how I would respond to your points:

The OWS movement does have specific goals. In fact, their one goal can be summed up in one simple declarative sentence: We need to break the stranglehold large corporations and the uber-wealthy have on political power in the United States. This movement is not, as you suggest, about the large majority wanting simply to take what doesn't belong to them or to take what they haven't earned. What these people want - and I count myself among them - is an equal opportunity to earn something for themselves.

There are any of a number of ways we can accomplish this, but the demonstrations are more about focusing the public on the correct problem than they are about proposing specific solutions. And at this point I think the demonstrators are correct in this emphasis, as a large portion of the population still needs to be convinced that they have been robbed.

If you haven't been convinced that unequal wealth distribution is a problem - and from the tone of your posts I don't think you have been - ask yourself the following questions: How likely is it that any legislation that might have a negative impact on banks or large financial instituions will pass any time soon? How likely is it that any legislation that raises taxes on the wealthiest will pass? Or legislation taxing wealth at the same rate as income?

Now ask yourself how likely is it that legislation will be passed cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits? What percentage of the public would like to see taxes raised on the wealthiest to save those programs? Why is it the will of such a large majority is being thwarted?

I have a few pet solutions of my own, and they include the breakup of the "too big to fail" banks, the overturning of the Citizens United decision, the taxing of wealth at the same - or higher - rates than regular income, and the limiting of corporations to only those activities in furtherance of their charters.

These are proposals aimed at giving the large majority of people back the political power they once possessed but no longer do.

As for the constitution, you may have forgotten the first amendment guarantees our right to freely assemble and petition our government for a redress of grieveances. The OWS demonstrator in new York and other places were assembled peacefully, and their governments have sent in the police to disperse them. They may no longer assemble in those public places. That is blatantly unconstitutional.

George R said...

John in Lafayette, thanks for the most coherent statement regarding the OWS "movement" I've seen on this site.

I think people are focused on the problems associated with the influence of money on politics. They are also focused on the “unequal” distribution of wealth.

“How likely is it that any legislation that might have a negative impact on banks or large financial instituions will pass any time soon?”

Don’t know but probably unlikely in an Obama administration.

“How likely is it that any legislation that raises taxes on the wealthiest will pass? Or legislation taxing wealth at the same rate as income?”

Same answer.

“Now ask yourself how likely is it that legislation will be passed cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits?”

Same answer.

“What percentage of the public would like to see taxes raised on the wealthiest to save those programs?”

Probably less than half – depends who you ask.
http://www.nationaljournal.com/daily/voters-favor-balance-in-cutting-deficit-20110919

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/jul/15/barack-obama/barack-obama-said-80-percent-americans-favor-both-/

“Why is it the will of such a large majority is being thwarted?”

It’s not, that’s why it hasn’t happened.

Suzan said...

I support the ideas of Jay - Ottawa, John in Lafayette, and all the other commenters who see a day coming when all this plutocracy-supporting nonsense comes to a head.

I think it's almost a favor from Bloomberg and Obama's spokesman that we've seen the Homeland Security police types attack the news media as well as the protesters.

Do they want to see a millions-persons march on Wall Street and DC?

Maybe they think they'll arrest most of the troublemakers there and then have free rein/reign.

We have a journey to complete to guarantee a free country.

Speaking from the viewpoint of being a small part of the initial organization for OccupyGreensboro, it seems to me now that those in control of the country's finances are not afraid of the people and their displeasure at this lawless rule.

Wonder who will echo Dumbya's words "Bring It On?"

I hope it won't come to that but if they pass the Social Security/Medicare reductions and more tax breaks for the wealthy which are part of the SuperCommittee's report, I fear that it will.

Suzan

P.S. Is anybody else having trouble with your internet connections since that last mysterious "upgrade" by Juniper Net?

The New Greed has hit the US like a plague, killing people, crippling them, alienating the world and changing the nature of our society itself. The generous foundations, those still in operation, can only provide a patchwork to cover the needs of a society growing in poverty and grim need under a crumbling infrastructure.
_____________

George R said...

Buckeye Nut Schell wrote, “The wealthy are being taxed less today than they have in over sixty years. We have been told everytime they lower the taxes on the highest earners that it will create jobs. Look at historical data and the opposite is true. The wealthest 1% of the population own 40% of the wealth of this country and they pay the least percentage of their income in taxes (when you consider all taxes) than any other wage class.”

Point one is not true – check the table:

http://www.cbo.gov/publications/collections/tax/2009/effective_rates.pdf

Point two is probably true and over 60% of the wealth is business investment.

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html.

Point three is not true – see the same table as point one.

John in Lafayette said...

George: The polls I've seen say quite different things.

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/08/09/poll.aug10.pdf

http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/2292/americans-support-higher-taxes-really

The second site has a list of dozens of poll results showing American want higher taxes, especially on the wealthiest.

John in Lafayette said...

And one last comment, George:

You say, more than once, "unlikely in an Obama administration."

Quite true. But you also forgot to say, "when hell freezes over in a Republican administration."

George R said...

John, you’re probably right on the “hell freezes over” timeline.
I checked your recommended poll site and agree with your summary. Here is another useful site which includes the specific questions and responses:

http://www.pollingreport.com/budget.htm

Democrats want tax increases and more government spending, but tax increases only on the “rich”; Republicans want spending cuts and zero tax increases. Based on IRS 2009 data, confiscating all the income of the top 1% would require about 30 years to eliminate the national debt assuming spending were cut back to 2007 levels. The talk of eliminating deductions for “corporate jets” is meaningless – the numbers aren’t there.

Democrats have railed against the Bush tax cuts for years claiming the benefited only the “rich”. I say let them all expire plus let’s put the tens of millions who pay no income taxes back on the tax rolls. If the majority want more government spending in the form of benefits let’s raise taxes sufficiently to pay for them and pay down our debt.

We certainly can’t continue on the existing track.

There is one small problem which would need to be addressed. Federal spending has historically increase between about 115% and 170% of tax increases; higher taxes and more revenue made the debt situation worse instead of better.

John in Lafayette said...

George: You misrepresent what Democrats want, at least this Democrat. We do want higher taxes, because we understand we'll never balance our budget without them. We also want a more equitable system of taxation.

We also wnat higher spending, but only on some things. There are many things on which we'd like to see spending reduced. The military, for instance. And corporate welfare. And subsidies for giant agribusiness. And...well. you get the idea.

But there are things we would like to spend more money on, medical care principal among them. But the point you fail to see is that government spending isn't bad in and of itself, and the medical care situation is the perfect example of why more government spending can be a good thing.

Medicare - despite insuring the most expensive portion of the population - provides excellent medical care at a far lower cost than private insurance. So if we switched everyone in America over to Medicare tomorrow, government spending would increase dramatically, but total spending on medical care would decline dramatically, too. From a dollars and cents standpoint it makes perfect sense. Look at it this way: If you pay $1,000 a month to insure your family, would you switch if you were told you could enroll your entire family in Medicare for only $650 a month? If you answered yes, then you're also in favor of increasing federal spending by that same $650, but so what?

As far as getting people who pay no income tax to start paying, don't forget that many of them are quite wealthy. Of those who are not, I'm sure they'd like to be making enough to pay income tax, too. We can start getting them to pay by getting them jobs.

And please don't forget that income tax is far from the only federal tax we pay. The working poor and lower middle class may pay no income tax, but they Medicare tax (for medical care they can't get), Social Security tax, gas tax, alcohol tax, cigarette tax, and on and on. And since wealth (like capital gains) is taxed at lower rates than income, the working poor end up paying nearly as much in taxes as a percentage of total income as do the wealthy. Actually, about one third of the top 1% pay less of a share of their incomes in taxes than do the lowest 20%. Please don't perist in the lie that the poor aren't paying enough in taxes.

George R said...

John, I don’t think we are far apart regarding what needs to be done.

The biggest issue I have with government provided health care is cost and who will pay the cost.

I did some calculations regarding the cost of "universal health care" based on the Medicare model. My estimate of the annual cost came out to about $6,600 per worker based on 160,000,000 employed – over $1 trillion annually. Based on an average benefit cost of $12,000 per Medicare recipient the number seems reasonable. Since Medicare covers only a portion of the cost, you must add supplemental and drug insurance costs. Based on my experience that equals at least $220 per month and don’t forget the deductibles and co-pays plus the monthly Medicare premium. So the total annual cost is very near $11,000 per wage earner; there are about 113 million households and 160 million wage earners (probably less these days). However, the number of households is less than the number of wage earners. If my arithmetic is correct we need to increase the cost per wage earner by about 30% to reflect the cost per household. Now we are looking at a monthly cost of about $1,100 per month per household. This is not the cost per recipient; it is the cost per wage earner as somebody has to pay for the benefits.

How many households can afford to pay $1,100 per month in taxes to fund a Medicare type system? If you are paying it now for private insurance it’s a wash but it's quite a burden for a household making less the $50K per year - about 50% of all households.

Keep in mind the cost of medical care in the U.S. began to seriously escalate after the government got involved with the Medicare program, not before.

I don’t think a single payer system in the U.S. is unworkable but American taxpayers don’t want to foot the sizeable bill – they are not willing to pay what the average German pays in the form of taxes.

Could costs be reduced? Of course, by rationing care and cutting fees paid to providers. Every physician I’ve asked about it wants the government out of the health care business, admittedly not a valid sample. Lawyers would be the next to be tossed out of the system. Ask your doctor what percentage of his fees go to pay for malpractice insurance.

Perhaps your idea is the way to go but I want to know the real costs and who will pay, not the deceit that routinely comes out Washington DC today.

John in Lafayette said...

George: Let's stipulate that your numbers are correct. The problem is you calculate them based on the total US population, nearly 40% of whom are already receiving medical care paid for by the federal government. So it wouldn't cost us an additional trillion dollars to insure everyone, but something closer to $600 billion.

You also make the correlation/causation mistake. The rise in health care costs did, indeed, coincide with the advent of government involvement in health care, but it was the rise in costs that caused the government to get involved in the first place. Seniors simply couldn't afford to buy their own insurance. Government involvement was the response, not the cause.

Americans do want a single payer system, and more and more of them want one all the time. The reason why, I believe, is they are coming around to the notion that money taken out of their paychecks to cover medical insurance is gone regardless of whether it goes to the government or to Blue Cross. And if by sending it to the government they can reduce the amount that's taken out, the large majority of taxpayers are all for it.

Perhaps you are right that health care may be rationed under such a system, but health care is rationed now based on your ability to pay for it. I would suggest that that is the single most unfair way to go about providing medical care.

If we went to a single payer system doctors might, indeed, get less in fees (although nothing is stopping them from charging more than what Medicare pays out), but they would also eliminate the billions they spend each year on maintaining billing offices whose only purpose is to figure out whom to bill and how much.

You cite Germany as an example of high taxes, but the Germans spend only about two thirds of what we do on medical care as a percentage of GDP. I repeat: Money spent is money spent, regardless of who gets paid. If we could cut our medical costs by a third and have a German-style medical care system that covers everyone, why wouldn't we do it? Why haven't we done it already?

I'll tell you why, and so will anyone taking part in any of the Occupy events.

George R said...

John, here is a simpler way to arrive at the added cost to taxpayers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the total expenditures for health care in 2009 to be $2.5 trillion which translated to about $8,100 per person. It’s estimated to increase to $4.3 trillion, $12,300 per capita, by 2019 and from 17.6 to 19.4% of GDP.

Using CMS data for 2009, private health insurance and out of pocket payments totaled $1.1 trillion ($800 and $300 billion respectively).

Unless those costs somehow disappeared, the government (taxpayers) would have to pay those costs. Increasing the Medicare payroll tax to about 10% might cover it.

Aren’t physicians are prohibited by Medicare from charging some patients more or less than what they charge a Medicare patient – two tier pricing?