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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
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 Business/Economy: Labor Day Blues

HolidaysBy: Rosemarie Jackowski

We celebrate those who work - as opposed to those who inherit family wealth and those whose financial investments work so they don't have to. Outsourcing and increasing unemployment have caused some workers to experience hostility in the workplace. Below are typical statements made by bosses to their employees - just another day in the life of American workers under the corporate fist.

1. Look, it doesn't matter if the fumes are making you sick. OSHA says everything is OK.

2. I already told you that you couldn’t have the morning off. Your Father's funeral can wait till the weekend.

3. Union, did I just hear somebody say, "Union"? Fire that damn Commie !

4. You want a raise........hahhhhahhhahahahhhah. ....

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, August 31 @ 10:35:13 EDT (579 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Sick Pig Problems

Health
Rising prices aren't the only reason you should reconsider eating pork.

By Andrew Carter

A pound of bacon now costs more than $6. That’s a record increase from $3.86 a pound four years ago.

What’s driving this spike?

Blame Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus. The disease, known as PEDv, is rattling the pork industry after claiming over 10 percent of the U.S. pig population. Nearly all infected piglets suffer severe dehydration and die within the first few weeks of their life.

The cause of the virus is still up for debate, but many farmers suspect contaminated feed imported from China. Pork prices have shot up over 12 percent since May and relief could be more than a year away.

Though the illness doesn’t threaten human health, there are other reasons to cut back on pork. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, July 25 @ 20:32:09 EDT (897 reads)
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 Business/Economy: A New Front in the CEO Pay Wars

The News
State lawmakers are starting to say no to executive excess.

By Sam Pizzigati

Have you heard about Domino’s Pizza CEO J. Patrick Doyle? He pocketed $43 million over the last three years running an operation that stiffs low-wage workers and rakes in taxpayer subsidies.

That news prompted the New York Post to open its coverage with a rather brilliant quip: “Hey, J. Patrick Doyle, save some dough for the pizzas.”

Almost every day, the headlines remind us how outrageous CEO pay in America has become. Will these outrages ever end?

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in Congress give us no particular cause for optimism. But at the state level we actually may be in for a pleasant political surprise. Two new imaginative state proposals are now seeking to leverage the power of the public purse against executive excess. In California, lawmakers are zeroing in on how government taxes. New legislation pending in Rhode Island targets how government spends. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 29 @ 21:23:51 EDT (907 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Are We Doomed to Ever More Inequality?

Politics
New research suggests that we're certainly headed that way unless we go beyond token changes.

By Sam Pizzigati

America’s ongoing debate over economic inequality may be turning a new page.

Starting in the 1980s, during the debate’s first chapter, pundits and policymakers battled over whether the United States was in fact becoming more unequal. This initial debate is over now. No serious analyst argues any longer that the gulf between America’s rich and everyone else hasn’t jumped substantially.

The debate’s second chapter — over the impact of the wealth of the ultra-rich — is still playing out. A decade ago, mainstream orthodoxy held that we didn’t need to worry about how much wealth the ultra-rich were amassing. We needed to focus instead — and only — on creating opportunity for people at the bottom of the economic ladder.

This perspective has lost substantial ground. Most top analysts now agree that we endanger our democracy and destabilize our economy whenever we let income and wealth concentrate. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, February 12 @ 15:53:16 EST (1347 reads)
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 Business/Economy: The Perils of Watered-Down Regulations

Environment
The West Virginia chemical spill brought to light the failure of the government to assess either the dangers posed by industrial chemicals or the factories that manufacture them.

By Jill Richardson

“There’s a folksy saying my grandma taught me: ‘If it smells like licorice and tastes like licorice, it must be licorice.’ Now it has a corollary: ‘Or it could also be a 4-methylcyclohexane methanol spill into your water supply, so grab the children and run for your lives.’ It’s not quite as folksy anymore.”

My friend Bill Harnsberger was joking when he posted that on his Facebook page, but it hints at a deeper truth. The world we live in isn’t as simple as the world of our grandparents.

Back in Grandma’s day, there were plenty of dangers around, but most of them were due to nature — or your own stupidity. But now, a corporation you’ve never heard of can screw up and contaminate the water supply for 300,000 people in nine counties so badly that they can’t use it for anything but flushing the toilet.

By now we’ve all heard about the massive chemical spill in West Virginia. Freedom Industries, the company that spilled the coal industry chemical, has now declared bankruptcy. Authorities say the people of West Virginia can drink their water again – although who knows how many of them actually feel it’s safe to do so.

As for the big “clean up” plan used in the disaster, it was simple: let the chemical dissipate. It’s still out there — all of it — just really, really watered down. Hopefully so much so that it won’t cause any health or environmental problems, but who knows. Because as the The Washington Post pointed out, the answer to many safety questions for the licorice-scented substance is: “No data available.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, January 27 @ 20:33:50 EST (1512 reads)
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 Business/Economy: The Economic Recovery is a “Statistical Illusion”:

PoliticsMore Misleading Official Employment Figures

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The payroll jobs report for November from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the US economy created 203,000 jobs in November. As it takes about 130,000 new jobs each month to keep up with population growth, if the payroll report is correct, then most of the new jobs would have been used up keeping the unemployment rate constant for the growth in the population of working age persons, and about 70,000 of the jobs would have slightly reduced the rate of unemployment. Yet, the unemployment rate (U3) fell from 7.3 to 7.0, which is too much for the job gain. It seems that the numbers and the news reports are not conveying correct information.

As the payroll jobs and unemployment rate reports are released together and are usually covered in the same press report, it is natural to assume that the reports come from the same data. However, the unemployment rate is calculated from the household survey, not from payroll jobs, so there is no statistical relationship between the number of new payroll jobs and the change in the rate of unemployment.

It is doubtful that the differences in the two data sets can be meaningfully resolved. Consider only the definitional differences. The payroll survey counts a person holding two jobs as if it were two employed persons, while the household survey counts a person holding two jobs as one job. Also the two surveys treated furloughed government workers during the shutdown differently. They were unemployed according to the household survey and employed according to the payroll survey. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, December 20 @ 20:55:47 EST (2594 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Exposing Secret Trade Pacts

International
These deals endanger our democracy.

By Ron Carver

NAFTA. CAFTA-DR. TPP. TTIP.

That numbing spoonful of alphabet soup represents four so-called free trade pacts that benefit global capital at the expense of everyone else.

The North American Free Trade Agreement came first, and NAFTA will soon mark its 20th anniversary. The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, known officially as CAFTA-DR, went into effect a decade later.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are in the works now. President Barack Obama wants Congress to grant him “fast track” authority to expedite these deals.

Thanks to firm opposition by progressive and tea-partying activists and legislative gridlock, it’s looking like his administration won’t get this power. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 16 @ 22:39:14 EST (2694 reads)
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 Business/Economy: We’re Not Broke — We’ve Been Robbed

PoliticsSlashing government spending now is just going to make our nation poorer.

By Richard Kirsch

With the Friday the 13th December deadline for a federal budget deal, the cries of “we’re broke,” and “we can’t afford to keep spending,” are ringing again. But we’re not broke and acting like we are is making us poorer.

One of the biggest common misunderstandings is that governments are like households, which need to tighten their spending when times are tough. Actually, governments and households work in opposite ways.

Governments can and should spend more when times are tough. Government spending makes up for lack of spending by families and businesses, and it helps get the economy moving by getting people back to work, putting money in their pockets, and contracting with businesses.

If we needed a reminder of that, the recent government shutdown gave us one. Journalists reported story after story about how business was down, as federal workers were laid off and national parks closed. The estimates are that even though the shut down only lasted 16 days, it cost the economy $24 billion.

We need government spending and investment to get the entire economy moving forward. When families are back at work with decent wages, government tax revenues will rise and spending on social supports will fall. That’s when government can reduce spending without slowing down the economy. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 02 @ 18:38:22 EST (2232 reads)
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 Business/Economy: The Offshore Outsourcing of American Jobs: A Greater Threat Than Terrorism

InternationalBy Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Is offshore outsourcing good or harmful for America? To convince Americans of outsourcing’s benefits, corporate outsourcers sponsor misleading one-sided “studies.”

Only a small handful of people have looked objectively at the issue. These few and the large number of Americans whose careers have been destroyed by outsourcing have a different view of outsourcing’s impact. But so far there has been no debate, just a shouting down of skeptics as “protectionists.”

Now comes an important new book, Outsourcing America, published by the American Management Association. The authors, two brothers, Ron and Anil Hira, are experts on the subject. One is a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the other is professor at Simon Fraser University.

The authors note that despite the enormity of the stakes for all Americans, a state of denial exists among policymakers and outsourcing’s corporate champions about the adverse effects on the US. The Hira brothers succeed in their task of interjecting harsh reality where delusion has ruled. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, November 11 @ 19:27:44 EST (2002 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Beefing Up Food Safety

HealthBy Jill Richardson

In a 1968 comedy called The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Paul Newman is captured during World War II in Italy. After the prisoner of war spends several weeks trying to escape, his captor tells him some great news: The guards now have bullets in their guns.

The Food and Drug Administration news about food safety reminds me all too much of this scene. Guess what? They’re now going to start trying to make sure our imported food is safe!

“Under the proposed regulations…U.S. importers would, for the first time, have a clearly defined responsibility to verify that their suppliers produce food to meet U.S. food safety requirements,” reads the agency’s press release.

Let me translate this: The guardians of our food supply now have bullets in their guns.

Imported foods make up one fifth of the vegetables, half of the fruits, and more than 90 percent of the seafood we eat. The odds are that some of the food you eat is imported. And while Greek olives and French cheese sound divine, how about Chinese tilapia or Vietnamese catfish that ate human feces as part of their diet?

Yep, that’s gross, but I’m not making it up. When I reported on the safety of imported seafood, the experts I interviewed described fish farms in China where the family outhouse flows directly into the tilapia pond. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, August 06 @ 21:39:05 EDT (936 reads)
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 Business/Economy: American Common Good and Wages

SpiritualityBy Howard Bess

In the twentieth chapter of the Matthew Gospel, Jesus tells a story. The story was about the wage that was to be paid to poor farm laborers who waited each day to be called to the harvest fields. The issue in the story is the amount to be paid to each worker at the end of the day. Modern understanding of the economics of Galilee in the lifetime of Jesus defines the point of the story. A laborer is deserving of a livable wage.

At the time of Jesus, rich land owners regularly abused farm laborer by paying them less than a livable wage. The rich got richer. The poor got poorer. Jesus became the champion of the poor.

How much should be paid to a person, who works as a laborer? The history of this debate runs through all of American history. In the 19th century on multiple occasions, Congress passed and a U.S. president signed a minimum wage law. Each time, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law. In 1938 congress passed and President Roosevelt signed a minimum wage law. The law passed in 1938 has not been successfully challenged in our courts. The amount of the minimum wage has been raised several times and President Obama recently advocated for a minimum wage of $9.00 per hour. Today even $9.00 per hour is well below a livable wage for a person who is the only wage earner in a household. By the standards of the Bible, paying a person $9.00 per hour is below a livable wage and smells of immorality. A laborer is deserving of a livable wage. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, June 24 @ 20:30:39 EDT (437 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Supreme Court Hears Arguments Challenging Patents on Genes

HealthFrom: aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case seeking to invalidate patents on two genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil LibertiesUnion and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on behalf of researchers, genetic counselors, patients, breast cancer and women's health groups, and medical professional associations representing 150,000 geneticists, pathologists and laboratory professionals. The patents allow a Utah company, Myriad Genetics, to control access to the genes, thereby enabling them to limit others from doing research or diagnostic testing of the genes, which can be crucial for individuals making important medical decisions.

"Myriad did not invent the human genes at issue in this case, and they should not be allowed to patent them. The patent system was designed to encourage innovation, not stifle scientific research and the free exchange of ideas, which is what these patents do," said attorney Chris Hansen of the ACLU, who argued the case.

A federal district court invalidated all of the challenged patents in 2010. In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled for the second time that the patents on the genes were valid. Its 2-1 decision followed a Supreme Court order directing the appeals court to reconsider its initial decision in light of a related patent case decided by the Supreme Court last spring. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, April 15 @ 19:42:52 EDT (355 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats & Recover the Offshore Trillion$

The News
No Cuts! No Tax Increases On Ordinary People!

by: Dave Lindorff

Hold everything!

I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all. There can not be any justification for budget cutting while wealthy criminals, corrupt politicians and business executives are hiding what reportedly totals between $29 trillion and $32 trillion in offshore tax havens.

A massive data dump by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), working in conjunction with dozens of news organizations around the globe, has exposed the secret files of over 120,000 dummy offshore companies that have been used for years to hide the wealth -- much of it ill-gotten, all of it tax-dodged -- of the world’s rich and mega-rich.

Before we go further, let’s think about those numbers, which are really mind-boggling.

The US annual federal budget for 2012 was $3.7 trillion. The total US economy, largest in the world by far, was $15.8 trillion in 2012. That federal budget deficit that we hear so much about, which is growing by $1 trillion a year, totals about $16 trillion.

Now by comparison, the Philadelphia school system -- fifth-largest in the country -- is in crisis, with 27 schools being closed down because of a budget shortfall of $304 million. That shortfall (the direct result of tax breaks given to wealthy corporations in the city), is approximately one ten-millionth of a percent of the amount of money criminal politicians and business leaders -- many and probably the vast majority of them, Americans -- are reportedly squirreling away abroad in hidden accounts each year! ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, April 08 @ 21:34:45 EDT (455 reads)
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 Business/Economy: A Wall Street Powerhouse Attorney Talks Sense

The NewsTaxes can do more than simply raise revenue.

By Sam Pizzigati

With April 15 fast approaching, Americans are naturally thinking about taxes. But most of us won’t be thinking about them the same way our forebears once did. Over the past half-century, our nation has witnessed a profound transformation in attitudes toward income taxation.

How profound? Consider the perspective of Randolph E. Paul, the corporate tax attorney who helped shape federal tax policy during and after World War II.

Paul’s tax career had actually started decades earlier, back in 1918. By the 1930s, Paul had become one of Wall Street’s top tax experts. His clients ranged from General Motors to Standard Oil of California, and probably no one in America knew the tax code — loopholes and all — any better.

That knowledge made Randolph E. Paul invaluable to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 1940, Paul helped New Dealers write an excess profits bill. In 1941, right after Pearl Harbor, he joined the Treasury Department. From his government staff perch, he worked to make sure all Americans, the wealthy included, contributed financially to the war effort.

Paul succeeded. By 1944, the federal income tax had become a major presence in American life. Most Americans, for the first time ever, were paying income tax — and rich Americans were paying more than anyone. During the war, the top marginal tax rate on income over $200,000, about $2.6 million today, jumped to over 90 percent. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 03 @ 21:01:31 EDT (300 reads)
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 Business/Economy: Are We Resigned to Living Vastly Unequal Lives?

The News
Top academics are exploring why more Americans aren't protesting our nation's grand economic divide.

By Sam Pizzigati

Billionaire Warren Buffett is still paying taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz pocketed $117.5 million last year. The life expectancy gap between Americans of affluent and modest means has widened by five years over the last three decades.

Economic inequality in America hasn’t been this stark since the 1930s. But Americans took to the streets in protest by the millions back then. Why so little protesting today?

Americans aren’t loudly protesting, conservatives argue, because they really don’t care if some people become phenomenally rich.

Many Americans, progressives counter, simply don’t yet understand how staggeringly unequal the United States has become. With more awareness, they posit, would come more resistance to our unequal social order.

In 2011, a group of four top-flight academic researchers — including Emmanuel Saez, the world’s top expert on super-high incomes — decided to test this absence-of-information thesis. They prepared a detailed survey instrument and spent over 18 months quizzing a random sample of 5,000 Americans. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, March 25 @ 22:02:04 EDT (271 reads)
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