Adnan Al-Daini | OpEdNews | 11/30/2013
How does one assess the progress of the human race on our planet? To do that objectively let us IMAGINE WHAT AN ALIEN WOULD SEE #$%$/HE OBSERVES OUR DEVELOPMENT AS A SPECIES FROM OUTER SPACE. S/HE WOULD BE IMPRESSED BY OUR SCIENTIFIC, TECHNOLOGICAL AND MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS, BUT WOULD BE VERY DISAPPOINTED WITH OUR SOCIAL PROGRESS, AND THE SHEER INDIFFERENCE SHOWN BY A SMALL RICH ELITE TO THE PLIGHT OF BILLIONS OF FELLOW CITIZENS WORLDWIDE.
''In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.'' - Confucius
(image by QuotesEverlasting)
Research published by Merrill Lynch, quoted in the Guardian, shows that "THE NUMBER OF WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS IN THE WORLD HAS REACHED 10.9 MILLION - MORE THAN EXISTED BEFORE THE 2008 BANKING CRISES. THEIR COLLECTIVE WEALTH, $42.7 TRILLION, HAS ALSO TOPPED THE LEVELS IT REACHED IN 2007, BEFORE THE CRASH AND RECESSION." THIS ELITE GROUP REPRESENTS 0.15% OF A WORLD POPULATION OF OVER 7 BILLION. THIS IS AT A TIME WHEN ORDINARY PEOPLE, SOME OF WHOM ARE THE POOREST AND MOST VULNERABLE, IN THE US, EUROPE AND BEYOND, ARE BEING TOLD THAT THEY MUST TIGHTEN THEIR BELTS, AND ACCEPT AUSTERITY MEASURES THAT ARE SEVERELY BLIGHTING THEIR LIVES.
A report by the consultancy firm McKinsey commissioned by THE TAX JUSTICE NETWORK ESTIMATES THAT THE SUPER-RICH WERE HIDING AT LEAST $21 TRILLION IN TAX HAVENS BY THE END OF 2010. THIS IS AN UNDERESTIMATE AND COULD WELL BE AS HIGH AS $32 TRILLION.
What exactly is a tax haven? Here is Wikipedia's definition:
"A tax haven is a state, country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all. Individuals and/or corporate entities can find it attractive to establish shell subsidiaries or move themselves to areas with reduced or nil taxation levels relative to typical international taxation."
A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THAT COLOSSAL SUM HAS BEEN AMASSED AS A RESULT OF ENDEMIC CORRUPTION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD WHERE ASSORTED DICTATORS, KINGS, PRINCES AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TREAT THEIR COUNTRIES AS THEIR OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY, PLUNDERING ITS WEALTH AND KEEPING THE POPULATION IN ABJECT POVERTY. THE OTHER PART IS A RESULT OF A CORRUPTED CAPITALIST SYSTEM THAT HAS BEEN SIPHONING WEALTH FROM THE PEOPLE TO THE TOP 1%, WITH AN EVER INCREASING GAP BETWEEN THEM AND THE REST. A SYSTEM OF REWARDS HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO DEVELOP WHERE THE CHIEF EXECUTIVES OF UK'S BIGGEST CORPORATIONS ARE EARNING ON AVERAGE $6.5 MILLION EACH -- 160 TIMES THE NATIONAL AVERAGE WAGE, A JUMP FROM 45 TIMES IN 1998.
THE ABOVE WEALTH EXISTS IN A WORLD WHERE 870 MILLION PEOPLE WERE SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC UNDERNOURISHMENT IN 2010-2012, 16 MILLION OF WHOM WERE IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD. POOR NUTRITION PLAYS A ROLE IN AT LEAST 5 MILLION DEATHS OF CHILDREN EACH YEAR. ADDITIONALLY, "MORE THAN 3.4 MILLION PEOPLE DIE EACH YEAR FROM WATER, SANITATION, AND HYGIENE-RELATED CAUSES."
OXFAM, WORKING ON A SMALLER FIGURE, ($18.47TN) ESTIMATES THAT "P EOPLE USING TAX HAVENS ARE DEPRIVING THE WORLD OF MORE THAN $150 BILLION IN LOST REVENUE, ENOUGH MONEY TO END EXTREME POVERTY TWICE OVER." Oxfam estimates that " over a third - $7.18 trillion - is sitting in accounts in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies."
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A MARXIST TO FEEL A SENSE OF OUTRAGE AT THESE STATISTICS. I TRUST THAT MOST OF US WITH AN OUNCE OF SYMPATHY FOR THE SUFFERING OF FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS WOULD SENSE THAT THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC SYSTEM THAT ENGINEERS SUCH DISPARITY IN THE WAY PEOPLE LIVE IS DYSFUNCTIONAL AND REQUIRES SERIOUS REFORMS. THE LOVE OF WEALTH WELL BEYOND THAT NEEDED FOR THE MOST LUXURIOUS LIFE IMAGINABLE IS A SICKNESS AND NEUROSIS, DETRIMENTAL TO THE HAPPINESS AND HEALTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO POSSESSES IT.
Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist, in a piece in VANITY FAIR puts the economic argument against the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the very few thus:
"The rich do not exist in a vacuum. They need a functioning society around them to sustain their position. WIDELY UNEQUAL SOCIETIES DO NOT FUNCTION EFFICIENTLY AND THEIR ECONOMIES ARE NEITHER STABLE NOR SUSTAINABLE. THE EVIDENCE FROM HISTORY AND FROM AROUND THE MODERN WORLD IS UNEQUIVOCAL: THERE COMES A POINT WHEN INEQUALITY SPIRALS INTO ECONOMIC DYSFUNCTION FOR THE WHOLE SOCIETY, AND WHEN IT DOES, EVEN THE RICH PAY A STEEP PRICE."
How can it be right to have a system that allows tax havens to exist which the super-rich elite and corporations use to hide their wealth and to escape taxes that pay for a functioning civilized society?
Sentiment: Strong Buy
"The households in the top 20 percent by income paid 92.9 percent of net income tax revenues taken in by the federal government in 2010, said CBO. The households in the fourth quintile paid another 13.3 percent of net income tax revenues. Together, the top 40 percent of households paid 106.2 percent of the federal government’s net income tax revenue. - CSN News.
Re: ""The households in the top 20 percent by income paid 92.9 percent of net income tax revenues taken in by the federal government in 2010, said CBO..."
What you never point out, nobeach, is how remarkably fair and balanced that is since the top 20% do also hold 93% of the wealth of the country.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
"We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.” – Jim Rohn Political leaders should aim for the former but we are moving towards the latter. If the rich would do their best to inspire the poor they will become richer. If they continue short term greed they will get the results of the latter. Some poor deserve do be so and that is something that Libs have to admit. Some poor do not and that is something the Cons need to admit as well.
"THE ABOVE WEALTH EXISTS IN A WORLD WHERE 870 MILLION PEOPLE WERE SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC UNDERNOURISHMENT IN 2010-2012, 16 MILLION OF WHOM WERE IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD. "
So what's the solution Elk? Or more importantly, I hope that you're not suggesting that countries with favorable tax laws are the REASON for undernourishment - and or poverty in general.
Re: "So what's the solution Elk? Or more importantly, I hope that you're not suggesting that countries with favorable tax laws are the REASON for undernourishment - and or poverty in general." by nobeach
POPE CALLS HUNGER "GLOBAL SCANDAL," URGES LIFESTYLE CHANGES
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis denounced the "global scandal" of hunger on Monday, calling for an international "wave of prayer" to bring attention to the plight of the needy and homeless.
Since his election in March, Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, has frequently beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality.
"We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion - one billion people who still suffer from hunger today," he said in a video message launching a campaign by Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 164 Catholic charities working in 200 countries.
"We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone," he said.
The campaign, called "One Human Family - Food for All", kicks off on Tuesday when anti-hunger activists around the world will pray at the same time for a half-hour starting around 1700 GMT (12 PM ET).
Caritas has dubbed the initiative a "wave of prayer" and has invited members of all religions to join local events.
One inter-faith service will take place on the East Lawn of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C., where Congress is considering cuts to food stamp programmes.
Francis, leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, urged organisations, churches and individuals to "give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world".
The campaign urges governments to include the right to food in their national legislation.
The pope also appeared to call for lifestyle changes, urging people "to become more conscious in our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us".
Sentiment: Strong Buy
"In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.''
Really, then why are all of us here trying to make a ton of dough, including you Elk?
The truth is that in a capitalist economy money is God, and the more you have the better, so that you can pay your away into those Pearly Gates.
WHY REPUBLICANS CAN’T ADDRESS RISING INEQUALITY
Dec 6, 2013 | Joe Conason | truthdig
So far, the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s historic address on economic inequality has not veered from the predictable cliches of tea party rhetoric. It was appropriately summarized in a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner, complaining that the Democrat in the White House wants “more government rather than more freedom,” ignoring his challenge to Republicans to present solutions of their own.
But FOR REPUBLICANS TO PROMOTE REAL REMEDIES—THE KIND THAT WOULD REQUIRE MORE THAN 140 CHARACTERS OF TEXT—THEY FIRST WOULD HAVE TO BELIEVE INEQUALITY IS A REAL PROBLEM. AND THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THEY DO, despite fitful attempts by GOP leaders on Capitol Hill to display their “empathy” for the struggling, shrinking middle class.
Back when Occupy Wall Street briefly shook up the national conversation, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan both professed concern over the nation’s growing disparities of wealth and income. But their promises of proof that they care—and more importantly, of policy proposals to address what Cantor admits are “big challenges”—simply never materialized.
Meanwhile, working Americans learned what rich Republicans say in private about these sensitive topics when the “47 percent” video surfaced the following summer, in the final months of the 2012 presidential campaign. In MITT ROMNEY’S UNGUARDED REMARKS TO AN AUDIENCE OF SUPER-WEALTHY FLORIDA FINANCIERS, THE CONTEMPT FOR ANYONE WHO HAS BENEFITED FROM PUBLIC PROGRAMS (OTHER THAN BANKING BAILOUTS) WAS PALPABLE. Whether that sorry episode turned the election is arguable, but the GOP brand has never recovered—and the perception that Republicans like Romney and Ryan are hostile to the interests of working people remains indelible.
Of course, THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE NOTHING TO DIMINISH THAT IMPRESSION AND EVERYTHING TO REINFORCE IT. THEY HAVE SET ABOUT CUTTING FOOD STAMPS, KILLING EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS AND REJECTING MEDICAID EXPANSION, AS IF COMPETING IN DEMONSTRATIONS OF CALLOUS INDIFFERENCE. THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT THE LACK OF JOBS—SO LONG AS THEY CAN BLAME OBAMA—BUT UNDERMINE EVERY PROGRAM DESIGNED TO RELIEVE THE SUFFERING OF THE JOBLESS.
CALLOUS OR NOT, THEY ARE CERTAINLY INDIFFERENT TO THE INJURIES OF INEQUALITY. IN A PARTY CONSUMED BY RIGHT-WING IDEOLOGY AND MARKET IDOLATRY, THE FURTHER ENRICHMENT OF THE SUPER-RICH AT THE EXPENSE OF EVERYONE ELSE IS A FEATURE OF CAPITALISM, NOT A BUG. WHENEVER THEY BRAY ABOUT “GETTING GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE WAY,” THEY MEAN REMOVING THE LAST DEFENSES AGAINST THAT PROCESS.
With Pope Francis and Obama—a pair of the world’s most powerful voices—warning against the dangers of social exclusion and excessive greed, we can expect to hear expressions of remorse, as well as rage, from all the usual right-wing suspects. But what we shouldn’t expect is honesty. Republicans know worsening inequality disturbs the great majority of Americans, so they cannot confess that they aren’t troubled at all.
Congress could begin to address the income gap, which conservative policies have exacerbated for three decades. Raising the minimum wage significantly would be a first step toward restoring fairness. Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and school systems, rather than letting them continuously decay, would substantially raise employment and improve incomes. Removing obstacles to unionization would begin to level the gross disparities in economic power between the one percent and the rest of us.
Now the president has vowed to fight inequality for the rest of his days in office. He is taking that fight directly to the Republicans, who have frustrated so many of his initiatives. He will have to cast aside the last illusions of bipartisanship.
No matter what he says or does, he won’t not be able to win a higher minimum wage, serious jobs program or universal pre-school with the other party controlling Congress. But if he consistently challenges us—and his adversaries—to restore an American dream that includes everyone, he may yet fashion a legacy worthy of his transformative ambitions.
Sentiment: Strong Buy