Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Supreme Court’s About To Hear A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse

The Supreme Court’s About To Hear A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse


"The Supreme Court’s About To Hear A Case That Could Make Partisan Gerrymandering Even Worse"
The original gerrymander
The original gerrymander
After a GOP-led attempt to impeach one of Arizona’s chief legislative map drawers failed — former Gov. Jan Brewer (R) complained that the state’s redistricting commission tried to “elevate ‘competitiveness’ over other goals” — the Republican-controlled legislature has turned to one of the GOP’s most powerful allies: the Supreme Court of the United States.
This fight between Arizona Republicans and the state’s redistricting commission is now before the Court in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, a case the justices will hear on Monday. The GOP-controlled state legislature challenges a 2000 ballot initiative that empowers a redistricting commission — and not the state legislature itself — to draw Arizona’s congressional maps.
This lawsuit follows another attack on the commission by state lawmakers and Brewer. In 2011, Brewer called a special session of the legislature to impeach commission chair Collen Mathis. Although the state senate obliged in this attempt to remove Mathis from office, the state supreme court later reinstated her. Under Arizona law, the commission chair may only be removed for “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office.”
The commission drew maps that, at least in 2012, produced a congressional delegation that was slightly more favorable to Democrats than the state’s vote totals might be expected to produce. Although more than half of voters who cast a ballot in the state’s congressional races preferred a Republican to a Democrat, Democrats controlled 5 of the state’s 9 congressional seats after the 2012 elections. In 2014, Republicans picked up one seat, giving them a majority of the state’s House delegation.
The case before the Supreme Court focuses on a provision of the Constitution which provides that “[t]he times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.” The state legislature, represented by Republican überlawyer Paul Clement, argues that “Legislature” means the state’s “representative lawmaking body.” So a ballot initiative that bypasses such a body and hands redistricting power to a commission is unconstitutional under this theory.
The commission, represented by Democratic überlawyer Seth Waxman, argues that the framers understood the word “Legislature” to refer to “the power that makes the laws.” Under this theory, legislative power can be held by the people of Arizona themselves, and can be exercised through a ballot initiative or similar practice.
This argument is supported by Supreme Court precedents. In the 1916 case of Ohio ex. rel. Davis v. Hildebrant, for example, the Court held that the state of Ohio could give voters an effective veto over the maps drawn by state lawmakers. Under that system, “the legislative power was expressly declared to be vested not only in the Senate and House of Representatives of the State, constituting the General Assembly, but in the people in whom a right was reserved by way of referendum to approve or disapprove by popular vote any law enacted by the General Assembly.”
Similarly, in 2012, a federal appeals court explained that the word “Legislature,” as it is used in the relevant section of the Constitution, “encompasses the entire lawmaking function of the state.”
If the justices ultimately side with Clement and the state lawmakers, it would open the door to very aggressive gerrymandering in Arizona. While Arizona’s current maps arguably offer a slight advantage to Democrats, partisan map-drawers have proved quite adept in producing maps that massively favor one party or the other. In 2012, for example, six states that sided with President Obama over Mitt Romney in the presidential elections nevertheless send lopsided Republican congressional delegations to Washington:

Two members of the Court’s Republican bloc, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, once joined a concurring opinion that relied on a similar reading of the word “Legislature” to the one now asserted by Clement (that case, by the way, was Bush v. Gore). Whether three other justices will share this view is an open question, however. Significantly, the the Court has mandatory jurisdiction over this case — meaning that the justices did not have their normal ability to simply turn the case aside if they weren’t interested in it. So the fact that the Court took up this case does not provide much insight into whether

How to interpret th Quran like a Christian

February 28, 2015 by Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo
There’s an unfortunately popular meme going around conservative social media depicting some horrific doctrines of “radical Islam and ISIS.”
In at least one case, from the Conservative Post, the meme’s accompanied by a message suggesting all American Muslims should have to deny the doctrine listed or “leave our country” [my emphasis].
The list includes things like: enslaving for sex, approval of beating slaves, and killing non-Muslims.
This is an example of a hermeneutic (which is a fancy way of saying “method of interpreting a holy text) which seeks to prove a point by cherry picking verses from the Qur’an rather than having a larger understanding of the overall text. It completely (and conveniently) ignores verses like:
But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace. – Qur’an 8:61
And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend. – Qur’an 41:33-34
Just to show the folly of approaching a text in such a simpleminded and shortsighted way, I thought it might be interesting to pull a few verses from the Bible, apply the same kind of hermeneutic and consider the results.
1) Kill all those who do not worship God.
They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. – 2 Chronicles 15:12-13 (NAB)
2) If a town is beginning to not worship God, kill them all! Oh – and burn it to the ground!
Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” – Deuteronomy 13:13-19 (NLT)
3) Kill you own relatives if they try to lead you away from worshipping God.
If anyone secretly entices you—even if it is your brother, your father’s son or your mother’s son, or your own son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your most intimate friend—saying, “Let us go worship other gods,” whom neither you nor your ancestors have known, any of the gods of the peoples that are around you, whether near you or far away from you, from one end of the earth to the other, you must not yield to or heed any such persons. Show them no pity or compassion and do not shield them. – Deuteronomy 13:6-8 (NRSV)
4) Not only is it okay to have slaves, you can beat them to near death as long as you don’t kill them.
When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.  – Exodus 21:20-21 (NAB)
5) You can sell your daughter as a sex slave, just make sure everyone treats her a little better than other slaves.
When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. – Exodus 21:7-8 (NRSV)
6) Spanking is probably good, but never rule out death.
Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. – Exodus 21:15 (NAB)
7) The only penalty for unfaithfulness is death.
If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death.  – Leviticus 20:10 (NLT)
8) Premarital sex is punishable by death! Well, for women.
But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her father’s house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst – Deuteronomy 22:20-21 (NAB)
9) It’s perfectly fine to rape an unmarried woman, but if you’re caught you must give her Dad 50 shekels and marry her.
If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. – Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)
If conservatives really want all Muslims to renounce the most horrific verses in their holy text, it would seem that Christians will need to do the same.
It’s time to stop masquerading hate and fear around in costumes of concern and piousness.
If you are not willing to apply the same scrutiny to your own faith that you insist on applying to other people’s faith, then at some point, you are going to have to admit that your issue is not with their actual faith but with the fact they are different from you and that scares the bejeebers out of you.
Like the Bible, the Qur’an has an over-arching theology which, ultimately, overrides the worst parts of the text.
For Islam, it can be summarized by the words with which they greet each other: “Assalamu alaykum” or “peace be upon you.” To which the response is: “Wa alaykum assalam” or “and peace be upon you also.”
For Protestants, it might remind you of this: “Peace be with you.” To which the response is: “And also with you.”
When you find those overarching points of commonality, it’s of little surprise that Muslims and Christians share a common ancestor in Abraham and believe in the common God Abraham worshiped.
With that in mind, let’s all put a little more time into peacemaking and stop the nonsensical fear-mongering.
Frankly, it’s what the God of Abraham would want.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Guerrilla Boycott

Guerilla Boycotts

Guerilla Boycott: featured Offenders
Guerilla Boycott: Featured Offenders
As we all know, many corporations engage in all manner of anti-social behavior from mistreating their employees to employing Bangladeshi sweat shops where fires and other unsafe conditions kill scores of workers on regular basis to using their fortunes to contaminate the political process. In order bring errant—and often avaricious— corporations to heal, we must hit them where it hurts most: their bank accounts. Hated by Conservatives because it costs them the thing they value most—money, the boycott has, for many years, been one of the most effective weapons consumers had in their arsenal to force companies to behave ethically, operate responsibly, and avoid relationships—especially advertising sponsorships—with controversial and often, as in the case of Rush Limbaugh noxious characters. But while boycotts can be effective, they often take many months and even years to bring the targeted party to heel. So the question arises is there any way to make boycotts more effective and meet their goals outside of attended group protest events which need planning, capital, and participation which is often hard to muster?
Yes, I believe there is: Welcome to the Guerilla Boycott.
What is the Guerilla boycott you ask? The Guerilla boycott works on two levels, on one level it denies the targeted organization income from the boycott participants, and on the second level it consumes their resources. In today’s world of hyper-marketing, we can take the boycott to this second level by applying the lessons of Ho Chi Min’s The Way of the Guerrilla Warrior and Che Guevara’s La Guerra de Guerrillas. The guerrilla warrior works behind enemy lines—silently, secretly, blending in with his adversaries, allowing no one to discover his true purpose. The guerrilla warrior is resolute, patient, alert, disciplined, and always seeking opportunities to attack. He embeds himself into his enemy’s network as a spy, a clerk, a servant, or a consumer. In this role he finds opportunities to undermine, confuse, and misdirect his foe, consuming his enemy’s resources wholesale. As Progressives we can use the guerrilla warrior’s techniques to undermine the big business money machine which has dedicated itself to acting against The People’s best interest.

The Pain of Loss

There are many ways to sap the resources commercial of operations while denying them your patronage. If you’re feeling bored and bit warlike, you can search for the business using your favorite search engine and click the target company’s sponsored links as many times as you like, knowing they’re paying for each click. To take things a step further, you can actually visit their web site—being certain to use one of their paid ads in any of the major search engine results or in your favorite social networking site—and join their mailing list. If they have a coupon mailing list that uses USPS services that’s best, but even sending electronic mail requires time and valuable processing resources. When you receive their marketing materials you can simply toss them in the trash bin or add the sending email address to your blocked/junk list. Or you can carry your attack one step further.
Make sure you claim any free items they may offer or by making a special shopping list which includes their loss leaders—items they sell below cost to generate traffic. Just be sure you confine your activity to the free and loss leader items. Don’t purchase anything else! Now you’ve not only denied them profit you’ve also cost them the money lost on the item and consumed resources from advertising to the checkout clerk’s wages. You can visit fast food outlets and request a cup of water, then buy nothing. If you have qualms about using the employee’s time in such tasks, just remember, they get paid the same to service paying customers as to honor your requests. And in many cases you’re working to improve their quality of life. And don’t attack the employees over their employer’s policies, Save that for management! To this list, you can add any other form of mayhem your imagination can conceive from complaining loudly in front of a crowd of other customers to making repeated calls to management. If you have a strong social network, you can even stage flash protests. Just be sure to get in and out faster than the store management—and local police—can respond. And be sure not to do anything that endangers anyone or that’s blatantly illegal. That is unless you don’t mind being escorted from the store or, worse, arrested or sued.
Catalogs and Free Samples offer another method you can use to cost these companies—especially the construction materials supply business owned by the Koch brothers. Among these businesses, sending out printed marketing materials, product catalogs and free samples is a regular part of their sales efforts. Often, their sales associates will try to follow up in order to make the sale. When they do, you can tell them you’ve decided not to do business with them due to their abhorrent policies. This is sure to create blowback from the sales staff and raise awareness among the organizations sales staff and management which can help drive positive change.  So be sure to keep this in mind. When they see their marketing costs rising and their sales remaining flat, they’re sure to investigate why this is occurring. We will post information on how to make these requests as the boycott develops.
Prescription medications present a special case, but you can even apply the Guerilla Boycott technique to Big Pharma. Here’s a trick my father uses and he never pays for prescriptions. When a doctor writes him a new prescription, he asks for a free sample and tells the doctor it’s the only way he’ll take the medication. So he leaves the doctor’s office with samples in hand. When the sample is gone, he calls the doctor’s office and tells them he’s out of the medication and needs to stop by and pick up more samples. Believe it or not they agree, and he drops by the doctor’s office and picks up a new supply from the front desk courtesy of Big Pharma. While this may not work for everyone, it’s worth a shot. Just think of the savings! And as an added bonus there’s the sweet taste of revenge when you stick it to the pharmaceutical industry instead them sticking it to you.

Right Wing Politicians, Super Pacs, & Groups

You can also apply the Guerilla Boycott technique to Right Wing politicians, foundations, Super PACs, and groups. The Koch Brothers, Tea Party, and the GOP spend massive amounts advertising on search engines and social media in their endless search for suckers who’ll buy their dogma. Use any search engine to begin your guerrilla attack. Just search for the current target. Then you can run up impressions as well as click their ads until your fingers grow weary as you have of the Faux News driven GOP agenda. Once you’ve loaded the search results, right click (control click for Mac) the target organization’s paid link–hint these are at the top of the page or in the right sidebar–and select “Open in New Tab” from the context menu. When the site opens you can close it. Or you can take your attack to the next level.
No Republicans Allowed
Block the Right Wing Agenda
Sign up for their mailing list. If there’s an option to receive traditional mail, be sure to choose it. When you get their email—and you will, add the return address to your Blocked or Junk list. When they call, add the number to your call reject or ignore list, but don’t opt out; for each call they make and each email they send consumes valuable resources they could use to contact supporters.
You’ll also see Right wing politicians, Tea Party, and other Right Wing groups ads in social media. Instead of blocking their ads, smile each time you see one knowing they just wasted some of their precious money.
If a thousand Progressives each did this ten times a day it could cost them additional tens of thousands per month. And if ten thousand Progressive do it each day, it could cost them hundreds of thousands or even millions each year and degrade their propaganda machine’s effectiveness.
Time is the most valuable resource. The more time they waste on those whose sole purpose consume their resources while providing no return, the less time they have to pay off their favorite Congress critters, build multimillion dollar homes with lakes, golf course and twenty car garages, and generally be leeches clinging to the ass of society.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
It’s easy to get started. You can attack from the comfort of your home, office, or on the run with your notebook or smart phone with none the wiser. It will fill you with the delicious feeling of empowerment denied so long by their obstructionist handmaidens in Washington and state houses across the nation. Even better,  Guerilla Boycott tactics free money they’ve lined their coffers with during the last thirty years of Reaganomics and its attack on the poor and middle classes and puts it back into a monetary system starved by their avarice, providing quantitative easing and, perhaps, creating employment opportunities when they have to hire more people to market to, clean up after, and service customers who represent a net loss. That’s Job Creation we can all support!
If you’re looking for a place to start your Guerilla Boycott, we’re creating list of deserving companies here. While we discourage everyone from doing business with all the companies on our list, each month we’ll feature an Offender of the Month and give them special treatment. We will include information you need to carry out your guerilla attack with the Offender of the Month. If you have a deserving candidate we missed, please send their name and website address to Also be sure to download our *.pdf list of companies that Have Cut Ties to ALEC and ALEC Sponsors and visit theALEC Exposed website for in depth information about ALEC and its anti-social activities. These will give you information needed to reward the good and punish the bad.
We’re giving special attention to the Koch Industries companies. Politics USA has a great list of Koch companies on their Koch Block It page.
So, what you waiting for? Join a Guerilla Boycott today-or start your own!

Offender of the Month 10/15/2013 – 11/15/2013: Walmart

Offender of the Month 11/15/2013 – 12/15/2013: Koch Industries

Offender of the Month 12/15/2013 – 1/15/2014: Koch Industries

Offender of the Month 1/15/2014 – 4/15/2014: Hobby Lobby

Offender of the Month 4/15/2014 – 9/15/2014: Monsanto

Offender of the Month 9/16/2014 – 10/15/2014: Mc Donalds

Dick Cavett on Ayn Rand

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Net neutrality cartoon

What is 'Right-to-Work'?

Florida Failure: Million Dollar Obamacare Alternative and No One Signs Up

Florida Failure: Million Dollar Obamacare Alternative and No One Signs Up

Florida Republicans have fought the Affordable Care Act tooth and nail. Whether over medicaid expansion or just accepting the law of the land, the GOP in Florida is determined to oppose Obamacare. One of the party’s efforts to undermine the national healthcare law centered on the GOP’s ability to provide an effective alternative, should they get their way and force the Affordable Care Act to go belly-up.
They failed.
Florida legislators established a rival marketplace to the federal healthcare exchange to try and compete with it and prevent Floridians from getting their insurance through the ACA. This effort, spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio came with a price tag of more than $800,000.
Through the GOP’s unwillingness to work with the federal government, more than 750,000 Floridians have missed out on their ability to gain health insurance.
The GOP-created Florida exchange, called Florida Health Choices, offered were so horrible that enrollment failed to even breach 100 users. That’s a far cry from the 750,000 still needing health insurance.
Republicans have tried to offer the Affordable Care Act as a scapegoat for the failure noting that they had hoped to see more activity but the presence of a competitor that can so drastically undercut them has produced a real problem they aren’t able to overcome.
Justin Lane
Justin Lane is a contributor to Ring of Fire. Email him at Follow at Twitter @liberalfire

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Debunking GOP's Obama Lies


Debunking Almost Every Republican Lie Against President Obama 

March 24, 2013 By Allen Clifton

I’ve read thousands upon thousands of comments by Republicans in the 18 months since I founded my pageRight Off A Cliff.  Usually what they say doesn’t bother me, because often it’s just ridiculous.  The thing that does drive me nuts is that about 95% of what they say is completely inaccurate. Let me shred some of their Fox News fed rhetoric: Obama has been the biggest spending President in history!  FALSE.  Year to year spending increases have been less than 1%.  They’ve also been at their lowest rate of year to year increases since Eisenhower. Obama has spent more than all other Presidents in history!  FALSE. On January 20, 2009 our national debt was $10.6 trillion, today it’s $17.6 trillion—for a $7 trillion increase.  For the mathematically challenged, $7 trillion is less than $10.6 trillion.  This also doesn’t factor in the money spent in 2009, which gets tagged to President Obama, was actually passed by Bush. *This also doesn’t take into account much of the cost of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had not been put on our books by the Bush administration. Obama is a Muslim!  FALSE. You’re an idiot and I’m not even going to explain why. Obama isn’t an American!  FALSE.  See above. Obama is responsible for the immigration crisis! FALSE. He’s actually just following the law signed in 2008 by George W. Bush dictating how we must treat immigrants from non-contiguous countries. Obama is the reason why our troops were pulled out of Iraq! FALSE.  Actually we pulled our troops out of Iraq because of a SOFA agreement that was signed by George W. Bush. Obama has ruled like a dictator with his use of executive orders! FALSE.  He’s actually on pace to issue fewer executive orders than both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Illegal immigration has been out of control under Obama! FALSE.  Actually, illegal immigration was much worse under Ronald Reagan. Obama is a Communist/Socialist/Fascist!  FALSE.  They’re all different—it’s impossible to be all 3.  Then with stocks setting new records and increasing by more than 100% since their lows in 2009 - he would be the worst Communist, Socialist or Fascist that has ever existed. Obama is always on vacation!  FALSE.  President Obama took 131 vacation days in his first 4 years in office.  That puts him on pace for 262 days during 8 years in the White House.  By contrast Bush took 1,020 days (including a 5-week vacation–the longest by any President in nearly 4 decades), and Reagan took 484 days.  Once again for the mathematically challenged, Obama is on pace to take fewer vacations than both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The economy has gotten worse under Obama!  FALSE.  Are you insane, have selective memory or both?  In February 2009, we lost  651K jobs.  In February 2014, we added 175K jobs.  Again, for the mathematically challenged, that’s a positive shift of 826K jobs from our losses in February 2009 to our gains in February 2014.  We’ve also created 9.9 million private sector jobs for 53 consecutive months of private sector job growth. I’ve seen the rebuttal to these numbers, so I’ll squash it right now before moving on: Those jobs numbers are a lie!  No, they’re from the same source which Republicans have used to saddle Obama’s job losses (from his first year in office… and only his first year).  So you can’t use a source to support your argument, then ignore that very same source when it no longer supports what you want to believe. Unemployment is at record highs!  FALSE.  Unemployment hit a high during November 2009 of 10%, it’s now at 6.2%. I can already hear the Republican rebuttal to this one as well, “But that doesn’t include the people who have stopped looking for work!”  I hate to burst your bubble, but the unemployment rate never includes those who have given up looking for work.  This isn’t a shift in what defines our unemployment rate, this is how it has been calculated for quite some time. Fun history lesson:  When Reagan took office, unemployment was at 7.5%.  Within his first 18 months in office unemployment shot all the way up to 10.8%. Obamacare is unconstitutional!  FALSE.  The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress, signed by the President and the Supreme Court ruled that it was in fact Constitutional. Obama has been terrible for business!  FALSE.  Corporate profits are up 171% since President Obama took office and are at their highest levels, relative to the size of economic growth, since 1947. Obama has waged a war on the rich! FALSE.  We’ve set a new record for number of millionaires in the United States at 9.6 million. Obama is out to take away our Second Amendment rights!  FALSE.  Well, not anymore than Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush wanted to.  He wants to put back in place the assault weapons ban that was supported by Reagan and Bush that expired in 2004.  He also wants to limit magazine size to 10 rounds and require universal background checks for all gun purchases–something that is overwhelmingly supported by most Americans, regardless of political affiliation. I’ll stop there.  I could have continued, but I’d risk going into fringe stories such as microchips and FEMA concentration camps that really don’t deserve anyone’s attention. The point is, these statements comprise the vast majority of comments I read from Republicans, and they’re completely inaccurate. This is why political debate goes absolutely nowhere these days.  It’s hard to have rational discussion with people who are starting their argument based on complete lies.  Not only do they base their argument on these lies, they want these lies to be true.  Even when you present them with indisputable factual data that contradicts their beliefs, it makes absolutely no difference. And therein lies the problem.  They’re suffering from cognitive dissonance.  Simply put, it’s where the brain creates it’s own reality when faced with two conflicting beliefs.  You see this often in abusive relationships.  One partner is abused, but wants to believe their partner loves them–because that’s what they’re told.  They then equate abuse to love and convince themselves that it’s okay, because they want to believe that the person abusing them actually does love them.  Their brain can’t comprehend the conflicting realities, so they create some alternate form of reality which justifies these conflicts. That’s where we’re at with Republicans.  They want to believe the lies they’ve been fed, even though reality doesn’t support them.  With this conflict they’ve created an alternate reality where facts don’t matter, science doesn’t matter, reality doesn’t matter, history doesn’t matter and math doesn’t matter… And that’s very dangerous. *Some changes have been made to this article to reflect updated numbers and events since the article was first published. Last edit on August 10th, 2014.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Corporate Debt to Society: $10,000 Per Household, Per Year

Published on

The Corporate Debt to Society: $10,000 Per Household, Per Year

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney once tried to make a $10,000 bet on live television. It seemed obnoxious at the time, but perhaps Americans should be more willing to have millionaires and billionaires put their money on the table. (Image: stock/with text added)
The Corporate Debt to Society: $10,000 Per Household, Per Year
That estimate is based on facts, not the conservative-style emotion that might deny the responsibility for any debt to the American people. Wealth redistribution to big business has occurred in a variety of ways to be explained below. And there's some precedent for paying Americans for the use of their commonly-held resources. The Alaska Permanent Fund has been in effect, and widely popular, for over thirty years. 

The Main Argument: Corporations Have Used Our Money To Build Their Businesses 

Over half (57 percent) of basic research is paid for by our tax dollars. Corporations don't want to pay for this. It's easier for them to allow public money to do the startup work, and then, when profit potential is evident, to take over with applied R&D, often with patents that take the rights away from the rest of us. 

All the technology in our phones and computers started this way, and continues to the present day. Pharmaceutical companies have depended on the National Institutes of Health. The quadrillion-dollar trading capacity of the financial industry was made possible by government-funded Internet technology, and the big banks survived because of a $7 trillion public bailout

A particularly outrageous example of a company turning public research into a patent-protected private monopoly is the sordid tale (here) of the drug company Gilead Sciences. 

Adding to the Argument: Publicly Funded Technology Is Taking Our Jobs Away 

Despite a continuing growth in productivity in the last 35 years, wages have fallen dramatically, and now it's getting even worse, as technology and new business models have begun to diminish the need for warehouse workers, bank tellers, cashiers, travel agents, and a host of other middle-income positions. Underemployment and long-term unemployment are on the rise. Jobs involving product delivery, driving, and serving food may be the next to go. 

We paid for the technology that is reducing us to low-wage workers. 

Corporations Owe $5,000 Per Household for the Public Research Bill 

According to the National Science Foundation (Table 4-3), public money pays for about 30 percent of all U.S. research, including basic, applied, and development. 30 percent of over $2 trillion in corporate profits comes to about $5,000 per U.S. household. 

Add $2,000 for Pollution and Disaster Relief Costs 

quarter of the fossil fuels produced in the U.S. in 2014 came from public land, much of it by the two biggest oil producers, Exxon and Chevron, neither of which pay much in U.S. taxes, and both of which claim mostly foreign profits despite using mostly U.S. resources. 

It is estimated that pollution costs run anywhere from $71 billion to $277 billion per year. The midpoint of $174 billion comes to about $1,500 per U.S. household. It is further estimated that federal and state disaster relief payouts cost every person in the US more than $300, which translates to well over $500 per household. 

Add Another $3,000 Per Household for Unpaid Taxes and Corporate Welfare 

Tax avoidance and federal tax subsidies add up to about $3,000 per household, per year. A lot more could be added if the industry-specific costs of excessive bank fees and overpriced medications were factored in. 

That's a total of at least $10,000 per household, per year. If the corporations plead poverty, they might be reminded about the 95 percent of S&P 500 profits spent on stock buybacks (which enrich stockowners) and dividend payouts, and the $2 trillion hoarded overseas in tax havens. 

The America Permanent Fund 

With an America Permanent Fund (APF), based on Alaska's successful program and further developed by Peter Barnes, all of us -- rich and poor alike -- would receive a share of our national productivity, as indeed we deserve. 

Not only is the APF fair, but it is also good business. Money earned by average Americans stimulates economic activity. A stronger consumer class will generate even more profits for the nation's corporations, if those big profit-makers will support the people who provided most of the labor and resources.
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at

A Litmus Test for Voters. Seriously?

Glenn Reynolds Asks If Voters Should Pass A Patriotism Test

Glenn Reynolds Asks If Voters Should Pass A Patriotism Test

Rudy Giuliani caused a massive commotion last week when he questioned if President Obama loved America. What followed was pretty typical these days. Some conservatives defended Obama from this callous view, while others backed up Rudy's claims. It was then taken up on the Sunday Talk Shows until Monday came along and Giuliani tried to walk back his comments.
You would think that would be that and the circle would be closed for the time being, but Professor Glenn Reynolds has found a new angle to approach this with and this time he's targeting the voters. Most of his USA Today article is about anything but testing the electorate to see how patriotic they are. It veered off into a discussion of passions mixing with reason and the virtues of rational emotions and irrational virtues or something like that. Reynolds really went off into a weird tangent until he finally made his point.
Perhaps we need to pay closer attention to these questions where presidents are concerned, but perhaps we should go a step farther: In a country like ours, where voters reign supreme, it seems as if concern about the patriotism of rulers ought to also apply to voters.
Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, in his famous novel Starship Troopers,envisioned a society where voters, too, had to demonstrate their patriotism before being allowed to vote. In his fictional society, the right to vote came only after some kind of dangerous public service — in the military, as a volunteer in dangerous medical experiments, or in other ways that demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice personally for the common good. The thought was that such voters would be more careful, and less selfish, in their voting.
So when the five-day wonder of questioning Barack Obama’s patriotism is over,perhaps we should address another question: How patriotic is the electorate? And how long can we survive as a nation if the answer is “not very”? And we should proceed from there.
Wow, that was a load full. First off how and who would determine if a voter is patriotic? Doesn't that sounds an awful lot like something a totalitarian government would impose? We've seen this over the decades with the end result being torture and gulags waiting for those who don't comply to whoever is giving the patriotism test. Also it violates the Constitution and whatnot since being an American citizen entitles you to vote, with no strings attached.
Actually bringing up Starship Troopers as an example of a voting society and implying in the next paragraph that maybe having voting and citizenship be earned somehow by “patriots” is so ridiculously and completely peg-the-needle fascist that I honestly believe Reynolds is pulling our leg here, but there’s not anything in the rest of the column that makes me think this is satire or parody.
I think he might actually be serious.
I mean isn’t this the next logical step for the party that’s trying to limit the number of people who are allowed to vote, those trying to depress the electorate to the point of apathy leaving only the true believers to cast ballots, who believes the Voting Rights Act is an outdated relic, and is actively blocking any attempt to try to update it for the 21st century? Why not open fascism where only the right people are allowed to vote? That would certainly prevent that whole “demography as destiny” problem the GOP is facing, yes?
I dunno, nothing really surprises me anymore about these guys.