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Sat, 17 Nov 2018
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9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes

Puppet Masters
© berkleyillustration.etsy.com

For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity - so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman's ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980.

For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which President Obama has agreed to continue for two years.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades. You would think the practitioners of the dismal science of economics would look at their demand curves and the data on incomes and taxes and pronounce a verdict, the way Galileo and Copernicus did when they showed that geocentrism was a fantasy because Earth revolves around the sun (known as heliocentrism). But economics is not like that. It is not like physics with its laws and arithmetic with its absolute values.

Tax policy is something the framers left to politics. And in politics, the facts often matter less than who has the biggest bullhorn.

Rocket

911 Survivor Won't Back Down

Image
© Unknown
Perhaps the most compelling direct testimony regarding the harrowing events of Sept. 11, 2001 comes from survivor and former Army Spec. April Gallop, who - with her two-month-old child, Elisha, in tow - arrived at the Pentagon just minutes before a powerful explosion rocked the building that Tuesday morning. Ms. Gallop spoke out on her experience at conferences where this AFP writer heard her story - which has never wavered.

Ms. Gallop wants justice. So, in coordination with the Center for 911 Justice, she filed a federal lawsuit and is staying the course, whatever the odds. The defendants are former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Gen. Richard Myers (USAF, retired), former acting Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman.

Heart - Black

The Real Housewives of Wall Street: Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?

Christy Mack ,Susan Karches
© Victor Juhazz
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we're broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year's retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don't know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the "official" budget in size - a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

Eagle

US: Congress voting Thursday on budget-cutting plan

Image
© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., at podium, declares that he was 'disappointed' in President Obama's speech on a federal spending plan, Wednesday, April 13, 2011, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. From left are: House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., Ryan, Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va.
The House and Senate are ready to vote on legislation cutting almost $40 billion from the budget for the current year, but President Barack Obama and his GOP rivals are both eager to move on to multiyear fiscal plans that cut trillions instead of billions.

Lawmakers were to vote Thursday on a long-overdue spending measure funding the day-to-day budgets of federal agencies through September. Later in the day, Republicans dominating the House will launch debate on a 2012-and-beyond plan that promises to cut the long-term budget blueprint Obama laid out in February by more than $6 trillion.

Obama countered Wednesday with a new call to increase taxes on wealthier people and impose quicker cuts to Medicare, launching a roiling debate in Congress and the 2012 presidential campaign to come.

Obama fired a broadside at the long-term GOP plan, which calls for transforming the Medicare health program for the aged into a voucher-like system for people under the age of 55 and imposing stringent cuts on Medicaid, which provides health care to the poor and disabled, including people in nursing homes.

More immediate, however, is the 2011 spending measure. It combines more than $38 billion in cuts to domestic accounts with changes to benefit programs, like children's health care, that Congress' own economists say are illusory.

Obama said Wednesday that spending cuts and higher taxes alike must be part of any deficit-reduction plan, including an end to Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. He proposed an unspecified "debt failsafe" that would go into effect if Congress did not make sure the national debt would be falling by 2014 relative to the size of the overall economy.

USA

US: Pentagon warns on big defense cuts

Robert Gates
© Reuters
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates walks out of the Pentagon for an honor cordon ceremony in Washington
The United States may have to scrap some military missions and trim troop levels if President Barack Obama sticks with his goal of saving $400 billion on security spending over a 10-year period, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Arms makers' shares sold off after Obama made a speech on the budget deficit in which he called, in effect, for holding growth in the Pentagon's core budget, excluding war costs, below inflation through 2023, starting in fiscal 2013.

The squeeze on the Pentagon's budget, which has roughly doubled since 2001, is part of a larger drive to cut the budget deficit by $4 trillion over the 10-year period.

Standard & Poor's aerospace and defense index declined 0.9 percent on Wednesday, underperforming the S & P 500 index, which closed up .02 percent. Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon's No. 1 supplier by sales, dropped 2.6 percent to close at $80.37 on the New York Stock Exchange.

"It's not just a math exercise which is 'cut $400 billion'," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. "It's 'let's review our roles and our missions and see what we can forgo, or pare down, in this age of fiscal constraint, where we are all collectively trying to work with the deficit problem.'"

Analysts said a selloff of arms makers' shares was an overreaction.

War Whore

U.S. Doing Limited Airstrikes for NATO in Libya

Image
© The Associated Press
A crew member watches a Rafale fighter jet before being catapulted for a mission over Libya from France's flagship Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, in the Gulf of Sirte, off the Libyan coast, April 13, 2011.
Pentagon says jets operating under NATO command, Rebels ask for stronger air campaign

The Pentagon revealed for the first time Wednesday that U.S. fighter jets have continued to strike Libyan air defenses after turning the mission over to NATO.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the jets were assigned to NATO and are operating under NATO command. They can be used when needed to take out enemy defenses as part of the enforcement of the no-fly zone.

CBS News National Security correspondent David Martin reported the missions, announced in an oh-by-the-way fashion by the Pentagon, have involved a handful of F-16s that have dropped a half-dozen bombs. While officials may claim American is taking a back seat in the campaign, U.S. jets have attacked Libyan targets three times in the last 10 days. Add in aerial refueling, reconnaissance and electronic jamming missions and the U.S. is flying 35 percent of all the NATO missions.

Separately, the U.S. has said that since the Libyan mission was turned over to NATO last week, special requests must be made for American fighters to conduct airstrikes to protect civilians. Lapan said there have been no requests for that kind of help.

Eye 1

TSA looks at airport screening process after video surfaces

tsa,nazi
© Unknown
The TSA says it is exploring ways to revise its airport screening procedures for children.

This after video surfaced of a 6-year-old girl being given a pat-down.

The latest example of the sensitivity comes from a video, now making the rounds on the Internet.

It was recorded by the parents just last week, at the airport in New Orleans.

It shows a girl, said by the unidentified parents to be 6, at the security checkpoint.

The mother is heard asking if the child can't simply be screened again instead of patted down: "Can't she just be re-scanned?"

The female screener uses the back of her hand part of the time, and also runs a hand around the inside top of the girl's waistband, explaining every step in advance as the child's mother watches.

Vader

Israeli minister talks live... from the toilet

Lieberman
© Associated Press
Israeli officials often conduct radio interviews at home, but listeners got an unexpected insight into just where their foreign minister was when he punctuated his comments with a toilet flush.

Israeli news site Ynet.com reported Tuesday that the unusual soundtrack to foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman's interview came as he was addressing the issue of a flare-up of violence with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

During the Monday interview, the controversial head of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu made reference to the group, telling the public radio station: "We know who we're dealing with." And then apparently flushed the toilet.

War Whore

Ponerology 101: Rising to the Top

Morrissey and Genoways

Kevin Morrissey (right) committed suicide after the workplace bullying of Ted Genoways (left).
Last year, I wrote about corporate psychopaths and the "five-phase" process they use to maneuver their way into positions of influence and affluence. Heck, I might as well add "effluents" to that list. After all, an interaction with a psychopath will leave the same taste in your mouth and may just end up killing you. Plus, it rhymes. Take the example of Kevin Morrissey, managing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, who was driven to suicide after repeated harassment and belittlement by his boss, Ted Genoways.

Morrissey's plight is a perennial one, and it gets right to the heart of ponerology. Criminal psychopaths get drunk, get in fights, lead lives of serial criminality, and when they kill people, they tend to use weapons, or any convenient object that happens to be laying around. Successful psychopaths, on the other hand, lead relatively "normal" lives. They don't break the law (at least overtly) and can come across as ideal and highly successful citizens. But whether it's after years of pushing boundaries, tearing down a person's will to live with soul-eating mind-torture, or the "collateral damage" caused by the toxic chemicals their corporations release simply because they just don't care and can make a quick buck, successful psychopaths kill too. The main difference is, they kill a lot more, and they get away with it.

But it's not just the corporate bigwigs and Tucker Max-esque "boyfriends". As we've seen, a look at the machinations of political groups like the Soviets and the Nazis with the same perspective is quite revealing. Psychopaths gaining access and prominence in political groups use the same five-phase process as the those studied by Babiak. And not only does the five-phase process occur within the cutthroat dynamics of "power politics", it also occurs as the group as a whole strives for and achieves political domination. Or, to add a little color to counter that somewhat academic exposition: scum rises to the top. It's how it gets there that is interesting, and those early stages are the most elusive and poorly studied. Until Lobaczewski wrote his book, that is.

Stormtrooper

US: Message to Department of Defense workforce on potential government shutdown

soldiers
© US Army
The Department of Defense released this statement from Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III:

"The department remains hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted. The President has made it clear that he does not want a government shutdown, and the administration is working to find a solution with which all sides can agree. However, prudent management requires that we plan for an orderly shutdown should Congress be unable to pass a funding bill before our current funding expires on April 8.

"The President and the secretary know that the uncertainty of the current situation puts federal employees in a difficult position, and are very much aware that a shutdown would impose hardships on our military and civilian personnel as well as our military families. As we approach the expiration of the current continuing resolution, we will provide you with updated information as soon as it becomes available. For now, I want to provide you with information on how the potential shutdown - should it occur - will impact our military and civilian personnel.