This so called “Booming economy” benefits only the rich, the rest of us are out of luck

 

Americans are not happy, and for good reason: They continue to suffer financial stress caused by decades of flat income. And every time they make the slightest peep of complaint about a system rigged against them, the rich and powerful tell them to shut up because it is all their fault.

One percenters instruct them to work harder, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and stop bellyaching. Just get a second college degree, a second skill, a second job. Just send the spouse to work, downsize, take a staycation instead of a real vacation. Or don’t take one at all, just work harder and longer and better.

The barrage of blaming has persuaded; workers believe they deserve censure. And that’s a big part of the reason they’re unhappy. If only, they think, they could work harder and longer and better, they would get ahead. They bear the shame. They don’t blame the system: the Supreme Court, the Congress, the president. And yet, it is the system, the American system, that has conspired to crush them.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, unemployment is low and the stock market is high. But skyrocketing stocks benefit only the top 10 percent of wealthy Americans who own 84 percent of stocks. And while more people are employed now than during the Great Recession, the vast majority of Americans haven’t had a real raise since 1979.

It’s bad out there for American workers. Last month, their ranking dropped for the third year running in the World Happiness Report, produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative.

These sad statistics reinforce those in a report released two years ago by two university professors. Reviewing data from the General Social Survey, administered routinely nationally, the professors found Americans’ assessment of their own happiness and family finances has, unambiguously, declined in recent years. But if Americans would just work harder, everything would be dandy, right?

No. Not right. Americans work really, really hard. A third of Americans work a side hustle, driving an Uber or selling crafts on Etsy. American workers take fewer vacation days. They get 14, but typically take only 10. The highest number of workers in five years report they don’t expect to take a vacation at all this year. And Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in other countries.

Americans labor 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more than Brits, and 499 more than the French, according to the International Labor Organization.

And the longer hours aren’t because American workers are laggards on the job. They’re very productive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that the average American worker’s productivity has increased 400 percent since 1950.

If pay had kept pace with productivity, as it did in the three decades after the end of World War II, American workers would be making 400 percent more. But they’re not. Their wages have flatlined for four decades, adjusting for inflation.

That means stress. Forty percent of workers say they don’t have $400 for an unexpected expense. Twenty percent can’t pay all of their monthly bills. More than a quarter of adults skipped needed medical care last year because they couldn’t afford it. A quarter of adults have no retirement savings.

If only Americans would work harder. And longer. And better.

Despite right-wing attempts to pound that into Americans’ heads, it’s not the solution. Americans clearly are working harder and longer and better. The solution is to change the system, which is stacked against workers.

Workers are bearing on their backs tax breaks that benefited only the rich and corporations. They’re bearing overtime pay rules and minimum wage rates that haven’t been updated in more than a decade. They’re weighted down by U.S. Supreme Court decisions that hobbled unionization efforts and kneecapped workers’ rights to file class-action lawsuits. They’re struggling under U.S. Department of Labor rules defining them as independent contractors instead of staff members. They live in fear as corporations threaten to offshore their jobs—with the assistance of federal tax breaks.

Last year, the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court handed a win to corporatists trying to obliterate workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and conditions. The court ruled that public sector workers who choose not to join unions don’t have to pay a small fee to cover the cost of services that federal law requires the unions provide to them. This bankrupts labor unions. And there’s no doubt that right-wingers are gunning for private sector unions next.

This kind of relentless attack on labor unions since 1945 has withered membership. As it shrank, wages for both union and nonunion workers did too.

Also last year, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations can deny workers access to class-action arbitration. This compels workers, whom corporations forced to sign agreements to arbitrate rather than litigate, into individual arbitration cases, for which each worker must hire his or her own lawyer. Then, just last week, the right-wing majority on the court further curtailed workers’ rights to class-action suits.

In a minority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the court in recent years has routinely deployed the law to deny to employees and consumers “effective relief against powerful economic entities.”

No matter how hard Americans work, the right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has hobbled them in an already lopsided contest with gigantic corporations.

The administrative branch is no better. Just last week, the Trump Labor Department issued an advisory that workers for a gig-economy company are independent contractors, not employees. As a result, the workers, who clean homes after getting assignments on an app, will not qualify for federal minimum wage (low as it is) or overtime pay. Also, the corporation will not have to pay Social Security taxes for them. Though the decision was specific to one company, experts say it will affect the designation for other gig workers, such as drivers for Uber and Lyft.

Also, the Labor Department has proposed a stingy increase in the overtime pay threshold—that is, the salary amount under which corporations must pay workers time and a half for overtime. The current threshold of $23,660 has not been raised since 2004. The Obama administration had proposed doubling it to $47,476. But now, the Trump Labor Department has cut that back to $35,308. That means 8.2 million workers who would have benefited from the larger salary cap now will not be eligible for mandatory overtime pay.

It doesn’t matter how hard they work; they aren’t going to get the time-and-a-half pay they deserve.

Just like the administration and the Supreme Court, right-wingers in Congress grovel before corporations and the rich. Look at the tax break they gave one percenters in 2017. Corporations got the biggest cut in history, their rate sledgehammered down from 35 percent to 21 percent. The rich reap by far the largest benefit from those tax cuts through 2027, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. And by then, 53 percent of Americans—that is, workers, not rich people—will pay more than they did in 2017 because tax breaks for workers expire.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers predicted the corporate tax cut would put an extra $4,000 in every worker’s pocket. They swore that corporations would use some of their tax cut money to hand out raises and bonuses to workers. That never happened. Workers got a measly 6 percent of corporations’ tax savings. In the first quarter after the tax cut took effect, workers on average received a big fat extra $6.21in their paychecks, for an annual total of a whopping $233. Corporations spent their tax breaks on stock buybacks, a record $1 trillion worth, raising stock prices, which put more money in the pockets of rich CEOs and shareholders.

That’s continuing this year. Workers are never going to see that $4,000.

No wonder they’re unhappy. The system is working against them.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/05/the-untold-story-of-trumps-booming-economy/?utm_source=push_notifications

LEO GERARD, INDEPENDENT MEDIA INSTITUTE – COMMENTARY

 

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Time to remove Attorney General Barr for office and put him in jail

The Chicken Shit Dis-Honorable Willaim P. Barr

William Barr is a lying sack of shit

Whether he’s busy deceiving the American people or lying to Congress, William Barr isn’t acting like an attorney general. Instead, he’s working full time to defend Donald Trump’s crimes.

The lies continued on Wednesday when Barr testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here are some key takeaways from the hearing:

Barr confessed that he has not looked at the underlying evidence — evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team compiled to draw conclusions — in the Mueller report.

Barr testified that he believes that a President can terminate a proceeding if he considers it unfounded, showing he considers the President above the law.

Barr lied when he said Mueller did not take the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion into account in his decision not to prosecute Trump — because Mueller specifically did.

Barr made up bogus, non-obstruction of justice related reasons to explain Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to fire Mueller and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Barr is doing his best to keep us from getting the accountability we deserve. He missed Wednesday’s deadline to comply with a lawful subpoena to provide the House Judiciary Committee the full, unredacted Mueller report. Then yesterday, scared of answering questions from committee staff, he didn’t show up to the Committee’s hearing to testify as promised.

and last but not least even he hadn’t done everything else listed above he should be arrested and thrown in jail for this.

Barr wouldn’t deny that Trump is still pressuring Him and the Department of Justice to investigate his political enemies. He also didn’t deny claims that Trump continues to ask the DOJ for information about investigations into him and his associates.

Trump hates being called a loser

Trump is facing stiff competition from five of the top candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President in the latest CNN poll.

And the Democrats are winning, by a wide margin.

At the top of the list: former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who beats Trump by 10 points, 52% to 42%.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders each beat Trump by six points. Biden 51% to 45% for Trump, and Sanders 50% to 44% for Trump.

Senator Kamala Harris beats Trump by four points, 49% to 45%.

And Mayor Pete Buttigieg beats Trump 47% to 44%.

 

Vladimir is outraged, his pretty spy is going to prison, maybe his bbf Donny can pardon her.

Vladimir Putin on Saturday described as “an outrage” the sentencing of Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina to 18 months in prison in the US, calling her treatment a travesty of justice.

The Russian president described the sentencing as an attempt by the US to “save face” in his first public comments in the wake of Butina’s sentencing in on Friday.

Her case has been high-profile amid the speculation over the extent of Russian interference in American politics after she tried to infiltrate US conservative groups and the National Rifle Association to promote Russian political interests around the 2016 election.

“It’s an outrage,” Putin told reporters, speaking in Beijing, Reuters reported. She has been in US custody since her arrest last summer and faces deportation after serving her prison time.

“It’s not clear what she was convicted of or what crime she committed. I think it’s a prime example of ‘saving face.’ They arrested her and put the girl in jail.

“But there was nothing on her, so in order not to look totally stupid they gave her, fixed her up, with an 18-month sentence to show that she was guilty of something.”

US prosecutors did not consider her a traditional spy but had concerns that she was a threat to national security.

Butina had admitted conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent for Russia at the US district court for the District of Columbia in December, and began cooperating with the US authorities. On Friday the Siberian native, her voice breaking with emotion, begged the judge for mercy and her defense lawyers said she had been overly punished.

“My reputation is ruined, both here in the United States and abroad,” she said, asking for “a chance to go home and restart my life”, the Associated Press reported on Friday.

Butina had built a powerful network that reached into Donald Trump’s circle, tried to infiltrate the NRA, and relay intelligence on American politicians to a Russian government official.

She had cast herself as a comparative innocent caught up in a massive geopolitical power game and at Friday’s sentencing hearing, and had implored Judge Tanya Chutkan to release her with nine months of time served.

Chutkan, however, fully complied with the government’s recommendation and sentenced Butina to spend an additional nine months behind bars, before being deported. The judge said the sentence was meant “to reflect the seriousness of [Butina’s actions] and to promote deterrence”.

Judge Chutkan did, however, note that the defendant did appear to be a diligent student who earned high marks during her time at American University and who supplied dozens of letters vouching for her character from friends, family, and professors.

“You are not the worst things you’ve ever done,” Judge Chutkan told Butina. “You are a young woman. You are smart, you’re hard-working and you have a future ahead of you.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/27/putin-maria-butina-sentence-nra-russia

 

The sweetheart of the NRA and full-on Russian spy is going to jail

Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of running a spy operation that sought to influence key conservative groups. has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Despite attempted inference from Trump crime boss flunkey attorney general William Barr, you tried to send her home with no more jail time. She has been sentenced to 18 months in prison which will be 9 months with credit for time served. She was found guilty of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government, in this case, Russia. Barr clearly dosn’t want her doing anymore talking.

When she’s done with that sentence she’ll be deported from the U.S.

She is quoted by Betsy Woodruff as saying her parents are suffering and “I have destroyed my own life.”

We have been writing about this sorted tale for a couple of years here are the links to our previous posts:

05.01.17

by tuluwat examiner

REPUBLICAN ATTORNEY SEES RUSSIAN AUTHORITARIANS AND SOUTHERN REPUBLICANS AS NATURAL ALLIES

Trump: “all you see are the Russia stories, the Russia stories and all these other phony stories” We wouldn’t want to disappoint “der gropenfuhrer” would we? In recent years, finding themselves increasingly ideologically alienated in the U.S., certain members of the far right have found sympathetic “kindred spirits” among Russia’s well-connected elite. According to a […]

01.18.18

by tuluwat examiner

ALEXANDER TORSHIN FROM RUSSIA’S CENTRAL BANK BANKROLLED THE NRA’S CAMPAIGN TO ELECT TRUMP?

FBI investigating whether Russian money went to NRA to help Trump Paid for by Russians through the NRA? WASHINGTON – The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter […]

07.16.18

by tuluwat examiner

A RUSSIAN AGENT, CONSPIRACY, THE NRA AND MORE TREASON

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/alexander-torshin-from-russias-central-bank-bankrolled-the-nras-campaign-to-elect-trump/https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/republican-attorney-sees-russian-authoritarians-and-southern-republicans-as-natural-allies/https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/the-republicans-putin-love-festand-dead-men-tell-no-tales/ The US government has charged a 29-year-old Russian woman with conspiracy to act as a Russian government agent while infiltrating political groups. Maria Butina had developed close ties with the Republican Party and had become an advocate for gun rights, according to US media reports. The charges are not (directly) related to […]

12.13.18

by tuluwat examiner

 

GUN TOTING RUSSIAN SPY MARIA BUTINA, WHO SERIOUSLY PLAYED TRUMP CONSERVATIVES, NOW TURNS ON THEM

Accused Russian spy Maria Butina revealed she was cooperating with U.S. investigators when she pleaded guilty as part of an agreement to cooperate with federal prosecutors. The 30-year-old Russian national agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to violate a law governing foreign agents operating in the United States, and she appeared […]

The similarities between a 1950’s UFO cult and today’s Trump Cult

In the 1950s, there was a famous study led by three psychologists into the inner workings of a UFO cult that believed space aliens were coming to take them away from the planet before a catastrophic worldwide flood. The researchers, who embedded by pretending to be cult members, described how the cultists repeatedly prophesized a date the aliens were supposed to come and were repeatedly disappointed when the prophecy did not pan out.

But instead of admitting that there probably weren’t aliens, the cult members cycled through a series of rationalizations, first writing off the failures as a test of their faith and then, eventually, settling on the claim that their demonstration of faith had somehow prevented the worldwide catastrophe and they had saved the planet. But what many of the cultists flatly refused to accept is that they had been wrong to believe in aliens in the first place.

This classic study, which laid the groundwork for the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance, can go a long way to explaining the ever-changing story that Donald Trump and his supporters have offered to explain away the Russian conspiracy to interfere with the American election by illegally stealing private emails from Democratic officials. The rationalizations Trump offers have morphed over the past two years, but what remains steady is the fierce conviction of his most loyal supporters that they were never wrong to vote for him and their refusal to accept that he is a corrupt person unfit to hold even a dogcatcher’s office, much less the presidency of the United States.

Phase one of the process was flatly denying that the Russian conspiracy even happened in the first place, even as journalists and American intelligence officials were amassing evidence that Russian agents had deliberately stolen emails and used them to stoke conspiracy theories designed, successfully, to suppress voter turnout for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump denied the hacking in many ways. In 2016, he flatly denied it was going on or blamed the Chinese government or “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds,” rather than Russia. Under pressure from intelligence officials, at times Trump would reluctantly concede the hacking was real, but he would return to the never-happened-or-someone-else-did-it line as soon as he could.

Most famously, Trump stood by Russian president Vladimir Putin in July 2018 and backed Putin’s denials that the conspiracy ever happened by saying, ” I don’t see any reason why it would be” Russia and denouncing the existence of the investigation into the conspiracy headed up by special counsel Robert Mueller.

But even by then, the story of the Russian criminal conspiracy was shifting from “never happened” to “no collusion,” that is, the claim that while the Russians may have been committing crimes, the Trump campaign was wholly innocent of any involvement. Instead, Americans were meant to believe that while the Russians were busy stealing emails and publishing them through Wikileaks, the bright-eyed innocents of the Trump campaign had no idea what was going on and were just as surprised as anyone, really.

This was always nonsense, starting with the fact that Trump is on tape from 2016 literally asking the Russian hackers to go after Clinton’s personal email accounts, which they immediately tried to do.  Or the fact that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort met with Russian operatives promising “dirt” on Clinton in exchange for sanctions relief. But Trump kept at it, reciting “no collusion” like a busted Teddy Ruxpin, hoping repetition of this catchphrase would overwhelm the evidence to the contrary.

But with the release of Mueller’s report, it’s clear that once again the story is shifting. The sheer number of contacts with Russian operatives, the evidence that Trump’s campaign was tipped off about Wikileaks publishing emails, and the efforts by the Trump campaign to obtain more stolen emails all serve to make mincemeat of the “no collusion” rationalization. So now the narrative is shifting into “collusion is not a crime” and efforts overall to minimize and downplay the importance of it.

“There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians,” Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said on CNN on Sunday during a segment in which he also argued, “Any candidate in the whole world in America would take information.”

That the “OK, maybe there was some colluding, but it wasn’t a big deal” narrative was the next move first started to seem evident Thursday morning, when Attorney General William Barr held a grotesquely misleading press conference meant to spin the Mueller report before the actual report came out.

As I noted at the time, Barr used legalistic language about how there was no conspiracy with the “Russian government” and made a point to argue that there’s nothing illegal about publishing or conspiring to publish stolen information. This legal parsing suggested that Barr was redefining “collusion” very narrowly in order to maintain the “no collusion” claim.

As soon as the report came out, it became evident that  Barr and Trump’s other defenders are excluding collusion with Wikileaks, excluding collusion with unofficial Russian agents, and excluding attempts to steal emails that fell through in order to maintain the claim of “no collusion” in the face of a staggering amount of collusion.

Having denied corruption for two years, the Trump administration is moving into the next phase, which amounts to denying that corruption matters. They will, as Barr and Giuliani’s statements suggest, say that so long as Trump avoids committing crimes himself, but instead just knowingly benefits from crimes, that it doesn’t count. And they will try to excuse Trump’s cheating and lying by claiming everyone else does it, too — or hypothetically would, anyway.

That isn’t true, of course, but Trump and his minions have a long history of using this tactic of claiming that all people are crooks and implying that Trump is just more honest about it. Trump did it when Clinton called him out for tax evasion, saying, “That makes me smart,” which is to say, implying that everyone wants to cheat on their taxes, but he’s the one who gets away with it. That was also the tactic used to dismiss the tape of Trump bragging about sexual assault as “locker room talk”. The implication is that all men do this and talk about it, and Trump was just unlucky to get caught.

All of this is why Democrats who control the House of Representatives need to start impeachment hearings for Trump, even if they fear doing so will be politically risky. Trump clearly benefits from instilling the belief that all politicians are dirty and that his corruption is business as usual. The only way to counter that narrative is to start impeachment hearings and signal that no, there are still plenty of people in politics who think that criminal and corrupt behavior is wrong and that people who engage in it should be held to account.

https://www.salon.com/2019/04/22/trumps-magical-shifting-russia-story-from-never-happened-to-no-collusion-and-now-who-cares/

Downey defends his MAGA god

King of Murder Mountain

Mike Downey who was worthless as our county sheriff and had the highest murder rate in Humboldt history continues to weigh in on everyday life on the local MAGA radio station.
In this morning’s edition of the “good ole boy” community comment, he offers his MAGA cheerleading and complete exoneration of the Trump administration. This is coming from the corrupt and/or incompetent guy that oversaw the pilfering in the coroner’s department and then decided to amalgamate the Jager and Paris grave-robbing team into his sleazy sheriff’s department.
Pay no attention to this fool, he has no creditability. Read the Mueller report for yourself it’s written by a lifelong Republican former FBI director and Marine and as much he pulls his punches and soft petals it all, it’s still a scathing indictment of the most corrupt, treasonous liar, to ever run the country.

Downey was a founding member of the far-right constitutional Sheriffs association, patterned after Joe Arpaio

It’s time to start the impeachment inquiry now!