“Kochtopus” Matt Taibbi Joins Keith Olbermann, Thursday, October 21, 2010 by Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann
Koch: Even More Powerful and Well-Connected Than You Thought
Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch don’t just underwrite a huge right-wing infrastructure of front groups, think tanks and political campaigns, reports Think Progress; they also work with corporate “investors” who oppose health, energy, financial and other reforms. Details on their symbiotic relationship with moneyed interests from Glenn Beck and the Chamber to oil and insurance companies here; more on those connections from CounterPunch here. –Abby Zimet More…
In 2006, Koch Industries owner Charles Koch revealed to the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore that he coordinates the funding of the conservative infrastructure of front groups, political campaigns, think tanks, media outlets and other anti-government efforts through a twice annual meeting of wealthy right-wing donors. He also confided to Moore, who is funded through several of Koch’s ventures, that his true goal is to strengthen the “culture of prosperity” by eliminating “90%” of all laws and government regulations. Although it is difficult to quantify the exact amount Koch alone has funneled to right-wing fronts, some studies have pointed toward $50 million he has given alone to anti-environmental groups. Recently, fronts funded by Charles and his brother David have received scrutiny because they have played a pivotal role in the organizing of the anti-Obama Tea Parties and the promotion of virulent far right lawmakers like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). (David Koch praised DeMint and gave him a “Washington Award” shortly after the senator promised to “break” Obama by making health reform his “Waterloo.”)
Right-wing brothers Charles and David Koch, each worth over $21 billion, don’t just underwrite a huge conservative infrastructure of front groups, think tanks and political campaigns, reports Think Progress; they also strengthen a “culture of prosperity” through meetings with like-minded corporate “investors” who oppose health, energy, financial and other reforms. Details on their symbiotic relationship with big moneyed interests from Glenn Beck and the Chamber of Commerce to oil, health insurance, Wall Street and real estate companies here; more on those connections from CounterPunch here.
10 Reasons Not to Tax the Rich. And Why They’re All Bad by Paul Buchheit, Wednesday, October 20, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
We hear them all the time, the reasons for unrestricted capitalism, minimal government, lower taxes for the rich. But the facts reveal good reasons NOT to NOT tax the rich.
(1) The rich deserve what they earn because of hard work and initiative. They use other people’s money to create assets that don’t exist and then bet on them to fail [in] the murky world of derivatives and credit default swaps. Those who make the most money avoid taxes by calling their income “carried interest” instead. Others not directly involved in financial chicanery still make out well. The stock market has grown 7 times faster than America’s GDP since 1981, and two-thirds of the country’s stocks are owned by the wealthiest 1% of Americans. That’s not enough for some; many backdate their stock options to a time when the price was higher.
(2) It’s not fair to “soak the rich.” It’s been just the opposite for the past 30 years. In 1980 the richest 1% got one out of every fifteen income dollars. Thanks to tax cuts and deregulation, they now get THREE out of every fifteen dollars. Meanwhile, every U.S. taxpayer contributes about $600 a year to pay for the tax cuts that give $34,000 a year to each of the wealthiest 1% of Americans. And now a trillion dollars of public money is bailing out the failing banking system.
(3) “Spreading the wealth” and “redistribution” are other names for socialism. Not socialism, but social responsibility. Taxes support public infrastructure, including research and development for science and technology. Much of the tax burden disproportionately benefits the rich: laws protect private property and capital investment; trade pacts and national defense policies protect wealth. Bill Gates, Sr. explains, “The government…protects their business activities…that’s what creates capital and enables net worth to increase.”
(4) The great wealth of the rich stimulates the economy. Low-income earners have a higher “Marginal Propensity to Consume,” which means that they spend a greater percentage of their overall income on consumption. High-income earners save more; the very rich buy mansions, yachts, jewels, and art. [T]he Congressional Budget Service ranked 11 strategies to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Cutting taxes for the rich was lowest. The top 500 non-financial companies currently hold $2 trillion in cash that could be used to create jobs and stimulate new business.
(5) Large incomes provide incentive for success. Some hedge fund managers ‘earned’ enough money in one year to pay the salaries of every police officer, firefighter, and public school teacher in Chicago. A system that allows one man to divert the salaries of 50,000 public workers to his own pockets has gone well beyond “incentive-based.”
(6) The very rich pay it back through taxes. They pay less than 23% of their incomes in federal income tax. [T]he lowest-earning half of America pays 24% as much as the richest 1%. The top tax rate has gone from 90% in 1960, to 35% in 2008. But much of billionaires’ earnings is subject to only a 15% tax because of a loophole that allows hedge fund income not to be called income. Furthermore, about 500 people a year renounce their U.S. citizenship and repatriate themselves in Belize, the Cayman Islands, or elsewhere to avoid taxes entirely.
(7) The very rich lost massive parts of their fortunes in the recession. They lost no more money, percentage-wise, than average mid-level earners. Wealth data from the Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve show that the richest households have INCREASED their median incomes relative to other earners since 2006.
(8) “Income mobility” shows that the poor can get rich, and vice versa. This argument relies on a 2007 U.S. Treasury Department report that states “Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996 – the top 1/100 of 1 percent – only 25 percent remained in this group in 2005.” But nearly 9 out of 10 of those in the top 1% remained in the top quintile of earners over those ten years. They may have dropped out of the most elite 1% group, but they remained close. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
(9) The rich support worthwhile causes. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the wealthy “give their biggest donations” to colleges, hospitals, and cultural organizations and “rarely make large gifts to social-service groups, grass-roots organizations, or nonprofit groups that focus on the poor or minorities.” Hundreds of millions of dollars are flooding into congressional and state election races. Especially since the Supreme Court ruled against limits on corporate contributions.
(10) Inequality is necessary to sustain a healthy and productive society. This [is] the worst reason of all. Not only is it unnecessary, but dangerous: Numerous studies correlate inequality with shorter life expectancies, increased disease and health problems, and ever higher crime and murder rates. Rates of illness in an unequal society are higher at all levels of income, even for the very wealthy.
Paul Buchheit is a faculty member in the School for New Learning at DePaul University. READ MORE: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/10/20-1
After a two year loan to the United States, Michelangelo’s David is being returned to Italy.
Tags: America, anti-obama tea parties, charles Koch, culture of prosperity, David Koch, eat the rich, income mobility is a myth, keith olbermann, koch, koch brothers, kochtopus, matt taibbi, michelangelo, michelangelo's david, paul buchheit, reasons not to tax the rich, redistribute the wealth, rich cripple economy, rich elite are funding the overthrow of democracy, rich use tax loopholes in the cayman islands, rightwing infrastructure, rightwing think tanks, school for new learning, share the wealth, soak the rich, spread the wealth, tax the rich