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OfflineRadioActiveSlug
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Registered: 03/14/03
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Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!!
    #1627815 - 06/12/03 01:53 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

We the Unreasonable
Jeff Gates, December 23, 2002

The facts below are ?pattern-recognition tools? meant to enable the reader to see what?s just over the horizon if we continue on the ?reasonable? path now embraced by both major political parties. As chronicled below, management of the nation?s affairs has been a disaster. Absent dramatic change, that disaster is destined to deepen. Change requires that we be Unreasonable:

The Management of Domestic Policy


? We know how to reduce the human footprint by 75-90 percent yet we?re taking no steps in that direction. For example, we?ve constructed 100,000 energy-inefficient office buildings since 1980 that could be retrofit to save 90 percent of their energy use, paying for the retrofit.


? More than 75,000-plus manmade chemicals are now in use worldwide; all are heading somewhere. Where? More than 500 measurable chemicals are found in our bodies that were not in anyone?s body before the 1920s, including a range of endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to an array of adverse (and transgenerational) health effects, including weakened immune systems, reproductive problems, metabolic maladies and functional deficits in intelligence, sexual function and behavior. EDCs are largely the downstream result of hydrocarbon-derived products (EDCs are also known as ?gender benders?).


? Relying on trend data indicating that almost half of U.S. males and one-third of females will contract a non smoking-related cancer, Dr. Samuel Epstein, a cancer specialist, documents as the causal factor non-optional exposure to carcinogenic elements, resulting in a particularly high incidence of cancer among children. Breast cancer now strikes one in eight women, up from one in 25 since our mothers? era. Autism rose 278 percent in California in the 1990s.


? With 4% of the world?s population, the U.S. generates 25 percent of the pollution that contributes to global warming.


? A 2.7 mpg increase in the nation's light-vehicle fleet would end the need for Middle Eastern oil. Instead, fuel efficiency fell again in 2002, to 20.4 mpg, and the Department of Justice filed suit against California to halt its newly proposed fuel efficiency standards. A key objective of the proposed war against Iraq is to lower the cost of oil, ensuring increased use.


? The U.S. relationship with oligarchy-run Russia also includes that oil-driven objective. One-third of Russians live on $38 or less per month, a key reason Russia has emerged as a source of weapons of mass destruction (imagine nuclear scientists supporting families on that basis).


? With political commitment, we reached the moon but we?ve yet to see any commitment to the planet?s obvious need: the need to shift from a hydrocarbon to a hydrogen economy.


? We manufacture 17 million cars each year. Yet we?re told it?s impossible to make 10 million windmills over the next 20 years. Research needed to advance the conversion to wind-power, photovoltaics and hydrogen instead is diverted to putting weapons in space.


? We began the 1980s $900 billion in debt ? already a huge burden on the next generation. That debt was projected to top $6523 billion in 2003 but that?s before the largest one-year budget swing in history, adding $330 billion for a potential $6853 billion in debt ? and that?s before the full fiscal cost of the War on Terrorism, the War in Iraq or Homeland Security.


? At every turn, that increase in debt has been structured to make the already-rich far richer (only 4 percent of U.S. taxpayers receive interest on government bonds). Imagine interest on $6853 billion. The war effort fails even to include an excess-profits tax, as in WWII.


? Forbes magazine reports that $91 million was required to make their Forbes 400 list in 1982. Average wealth was then $200 million.


? In 1981, a Reagan/Bush supply-side tax package was enacted at a projected cost of $872 billion -- 100 percent deficit-financed. That leveraging-up of the economy included a long-term GOP strategy designed to reduce the size of government by reducing its fiscal capacity, a budgetary ?crowding out? strategy acknowledged by then-Budget Director Dave Stockman.


? By 1986, average Forbes 400 wealth topped $500 million.


? Clinton/Gore also embraced a deficit-financed supply-side tax stimulus at a cost of $268 billion. By 2000, $725 million was required to make the Forbes 400 list as average wealth of those on the list topped $1.4 billion.


? From 1998-2000, the wealth of the Forbes 400 increased an average $1.9 million per day or $240,000 per hour, 46,602 times the minimum wage.


? Tax cuts enacted in 2001 came at a fiscal cost of $1,350,000,000,000 ($1.35 trillion). When fully phased-in, one-half of the benefits will flow to the topmost 1 percent.


? Making those cuts permanent will cost $4,000 billion commencing in 2010. Half the benefits will flow to the topmost 1 percent ? precisely when baby boomers most need those resources.


? Repeal of the estate tax will cost another $740 billion commencing in 2011. Half the benefits will flow to the topmost one-hundredth of 1 percent while dramatically reducing charitable bequests, de-capitalizing the nonprofit sector and creating a fiscally induced financial aristocracy. In 1999, half of all estate taxes were paid by 3,300 estates, 0.16 of the total, while a quarter of the taxes were paid by 467 estates worth more than $20 million each.


? The fiscal cost of tax subsidies for retirement plans now averages $110 billion per year (a projected $553 billion, FY 2002-2006). To date, pension fiduciaries have allowed executives to skim at least $500 billion while embracing an investment model that put $1,540 billion in the hands of just 400 families (the wealth of the top 30 families grew 10-fold, 1982-1997).


? Over the past 30 years, Fortune magazine reports that the average pay of the top-paid 100 executives (i.e., where the bulk of pension funds are invested) skyrocketed from $1.3 million to $37.5 million, or from 39 times the average employee?s pay to 1,000 times.


? The nation?s share of after-tax income received by the topmost 1 percent nearly doubled from 1979-1997. Over that period, the average income of the richest fifth jumped from nine times the income of the poorest fifth to 15 times. By 1998, the richest one percent had as much combined income as the 100 million poorest Americans. The top fifth of U.S. households now claim 49.2 percent of national income while the bottom fifth gets by on 3.6 percent.


? Between 1983 and 1998, half the total gain in real income (47 percent) flowed to the topmost one percent while 12 percent trickled-down to the bottom four-fifths. Sixty percent of the income gains captured by the top one percent went to the top 0.1 percent while almost half that flowed to the top 0.01 percent -- 13,000 taxpayers with annual incomes of at least $3.6 million. By 2000, the topmost one percent were pocketing 21 percent of national income.


? At one end of the market-fundamentalists? food chain, the annual pace of personal bankruptcies continues to hold steady at 1.4 million for each of the past five years, an average 7,000 per hour as household debt topped $7.6 trillion in 2001, a record-breaking 73% of GDP, while home mortgage foreclosures reached a 30-year high. At the other end, expecting brisk sales, Chrysler launched over the July 4th 2002 weekend its $300,000 Maybach luxury sedan while high-end boatyards report strong demand for super-luxury yachts, 150-feet or longer. On 9/11, ten of them were berthed in a Hudson River boat basin adjoining the World Financial Center, one block west of the World Trade Center.


? Fast-widening wealth and income disparities fueled one another as households worth $5 million doubled between 1983 and 1998 while those worth at least $10 million quadrupled, all with the help of retiree savings turbo-charged with massive tax subsidies for retirement.


? Money managers have thrived on tax-subsidized fees for managing funds that by 2000 exceeded $17 trillion, over half that due to tax subsidies provided for retirement. By 2000, money managers and stockbrokers accounted for 71 of the nation?s top 400 political contributors. Of the top-ten zip codes for campaign contributors, five run up the posh East Side of Manhattan, home to the nation?s money management and media elite. One fifth of the 275,000 households worth more than $10 million live in the New York area.


? Wall Street?s proposal to partially privatize Social Security would redirect $100 billion in job-tax revenues into financial markets where, from 1983 to 1998, 53 percent of market gains flowed to the top 1 percent of households. That?s also $100 billion per year that won?t be available to pay out to current Social Security recipients, ensuring more crowding out.


? By using pension assets to pursue short-term returns with no concern for long-term economic distribution results, pension fiduciaries created one family in Arkansas (the five heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton) with $100 billion. Taxpayers are now pressing for Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors financed with a Medicare tax (i.e., on jobs). Where will seniors fill those prescriptions? Wal-Mart has more than 2,500 drugstores.


? Now that the Bush Administration has given Bill Gates a pass on what a Reagan-appointed judge found to be a clear monopoly, Gates may be back on track to become a trillionaire by March 2005 and a quadrillionaire (a million billion) by March 2020 (according to Wired). By 1999, Gates?s fortune stood at 1.4 million times the net assets of median household wealth, already well beyond the 1.25 million to 1 ratio achieved by John D. Rockefeller.


? Meanwhile, the typical American works 184 hours longer than in 1970 (an additional 4-/12 weeks) and is paid roughly 10 percent more ? much of which they plowed into retirement plans. The bottom fifth saw their average after-tax income fall 9 percent from 1977-1999.


? With more people falling into lower-income brackets, the five-year fiscal cost of the earned income tax credit is projected to top $178 billion (FY 2002-2006), another crowding-out phenomenon that consumes $35.5 billion per year in budget resources.


? Social Security, a tax on employment, is the largest tax paid by 80% of Americans (90% of GenX) while the national economic policy remains full employment. The largest tax hike of the past two decades was enacted in 1983 after Alan Greenspan chaired a Reagan-era presidential commission that persuaded Congress to raise the Social Security tax, already the nation?s most regressive tax, a ?flat tax? now levied on the first $80,400 of income.


? Since 1980, prison outlays have increased at a pace six times that for higher education. In 1973, the U.S. imprisoned 350,000 people nationwide. By 2000, the prison population exceeded two million or roughly 687 per 100,000 (6,926 per 100,000 for African-American men). Europe-wide, the imprisonment rate is 60-100 per 100,000. Florida spends more on corrections that on colleges. California?s prison spending is projected by the Rand Corporation to top 16 percent of its budget by 2005. Prison guards were the second largest contributor to California Governor Gray Davis?s 2002 campaign (first in 1998).


? Federal statisticians predict that one of every three adult black males can anticipate being sentenced to a federal or state prison at some time during their lives. Nationwide, 1.4 million black males (13 percent) can no longer vote due to felony convictions (one of three in Alabama). In 1865, African-Americans owned 0.5 percent of the nation?s net worth. By 1990, their net worth totaled one percent.


The Management of Foreign Policy


? Every person on the planet has 50% less potable water than 40 years ago, and will have 50% less again in the next 10 years. The U.S. response: silence.


? The number of AIDS orphans in Africa now tops 11 million enroute to a projected 50 million, roughly the population of California. Our response: silence.


? Since 1985, economic decline or stagnation has affected 100 countries, reducing the incomes of 1.6 billion people. For 70 of those countries, average incomes are less in the mid-1990s than in 1980, and in 43, less than in 1970.


? Three billion people presently live on $2 or less per day while 1.3 billion of those get by on $1 or less per day. With population expanding 80 million each year, World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn cautions that, unless we address the ?challenge of inclusion,? 30 years hence we could have five billion people living on $2 or less per day.


? The UN reports that two billion people suffer from malnutrition, including 55 million in industrial countries. These trends suggest that, in three decades, today?s globally dominant ?neoliberal? brand of globalization could create a world where 3.7 billion people suffer from malnutrition, including 100 million in developed countries.


? The UN Development Program (UNDP) reports that roughly $35 billion per year is sufficient to address the minimal conditions required for the flowering of human potential worldwide: safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient nutrition, primary education, basic health care, and family planning for all willing couples.


? That $35 billion is nine percent of the FY 2003 budget for the Department of Defense, or roughly what the U.S. spent in 1999 to maintain the military readiness of its nuclear arsenal, a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For the developed world to raise $35 billion would require foreign aid totaling 0.7 percent of those countries? combined GDP, as compared to an average 0.22 percent presently contributed by donor countries (0.13 percent by the U.S.).


? Worldwide, the richest 20 percent of people presently account for 86 percent of global consumption while the poorest 20 percent get by on 1.4 percent.


? By the mid-90s, the income of the most well-to-do one percent worldwide (50 million people) equaled the combined income of the poorest 57 percent (2.7 billion people).


? In 1960, the income gap between the fifth of the world?s people in the richest countries and the fifth in the poorest was 30 to 1. By 1998, the rich/poor gap had widened to 74 to 1.


? At present rates of investment, the UN estimates that even universal access to safe drinking water cannot be expected before 2025 in Asia, 2040 in Latin America, and 2050 in Africa ? after a half-century of development assistance.


? UNDP reports that 1.1 billion people lack safe water. Adequate sanitation is lacking for 2.3 billion. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 36,400 people die each day from conditions related to malnutrition; most are children under five. One in seven children of primary school age is out of school. Universal access to primary health care for children remains a distant dream, even in the United States.


? Yet because of a lack of fiscal resources in developed countries, development experts propose that the human family wait another half-century to address critical human needs that were first identified a half-century ago.


? Meanwhile, today?s neoliberal-inspired ?emerging markets? development model is poised to replicate U.S. wealth patterns worldwide. In the four years to 1999, the world?s 200 richest people doubled their wealth to a combined $1 trillion (the combined income for the world?s 2.5 billion poorest is roughly $1 trillion). By 2000, the three richest Americans had personal wealth equal to the combined GDP of the world?s 48 poorest countries.


? Where this development model is considered a success, the economic distribution results are clear: 61.7% of Indonesia?s stock market value is held by that nation?s 15 richest families. The comparable figure for the Philippines is 55.1 percent and 53.3 percent for Thailand.


? The 30 most developed nations channel $362 billion a year in subsidies to their own farmers while (a) restricting agricultural imports from developing countries, and (b) insisting that debtor nations repay their loans in foreign currency, which they can earn only by exporting.


? According to a World Bank study, the elimination of import barriers against textiles, sugar and other key exports of developing nations would raise their export earnings by more than $100 billion a year. That is sufficient, had those restrictions been removed since 1982, to repay all debts presently owed.


? In 1999, G-7 leaders announced the debt initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, aiming to cap debt service for each of the world?s 41 poorest country?s at 15-20 percent of export earnings. By comparison, after World War I, the victors limited German reparations to 13-15 percent of exports, triggering a humiliating recession that led to WWII.


? Financial experts report that at least $5 trillion (possibly as much as $15 trillion) is hidden in tax havens, ensuring that many among the most well-to-do can harvest the benefits of globalization without incurring any of the costs. If rule-making identified the owners of those funds, held in an estimated 1.5 million offshore accounts (up from 200,000 just since the late 1980s), an annual ?freeloader fee? of just 3.5 percent, less than the typical value-added tax, could generate $175 to $525 billion each year for development assistance.


? Drawing on advice provided by our ?Chicago Boys,? Russia saw $150 billion in assets stripped out of its privatized firms while 12.5 million men in their prime have disappeared ? due to suicide, alcoholism, a failing health-care system and destructive behavior.


? UNDP?s 1999 assessment: ?we have entered an era of grotesque inequality.? UNDP?s recommendation: ?Development that perpetuates today?s inequalities is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining.?


? In all three ecosystems suffering the worst declines (forests, freshwater and marine), the most severe damage has occurred in the southern temperate or tropical regions. Thus, we must add to today?s fast-widening economic divide the fact that industrial nations, located mainly in northern temperate zones, are primarily responsible for the ongoing loss of natural capital elsewhere in the world, arguably the most dramatic redistribution of wealth in history.


? In its July 2001 report, the International Panel on Climate Change confirms that relentlessly rising global temperatures -- due primarily to hydrocarbon use in the world?s 30 most developed economies ? are poised to create catastrophic conditions worldwide. Agriculture, health, human settlements, water, animals ? all will feel the impact on a planet that?s warming faster than at any time in the past millennium. Throughout the 1,000 pages of predictions in the panel?s 2,600 pages of analysis, one theme remains constant: the poor of the world will be hardest hit.


? According to GEO 2000, a 1999 UN environmental report: ?The continued poverty of the majority of the planet?s inhabitants and excessive consumption by the minority are the two major causes of environmental degradation.? The report reflects the assessment of 850 specialists and thirty environmental institutes.


? The free enterprise component of democracy is founded on the sensible notion that free markets provide an opportunity for free people to freely express their free choices and thereby enjoy the dignity of self-determination, democracy?s most treasured freedom. At present, the globally dominant neoliberal map fails to match the real-world territory.


To equate markets with expression of the common will is misleading. Markets don?t respond to people, but to people with money and wealth. Embrace a policy mix, like today?s, that concentrates both, and that mix is destined to undermine both self determination and markets, the moral foundation of free enterprise democracies.


Similarly, private enterprise is based on the sanctity of private property as a bedrock component of democracy. Yet private property depends for its legitimacy on its lack of exclusivity. Embrace a policy mix, like today?s, that concentrates ownership, and that mix is destined to endanger both private enterprise and democracy.


According to a broad range of social, fiscal, cultural, political and environmental indicators, the world?s ?richest? nation is experiencing a steady 20-year decline across a broad array of key quality-of-life indicators and in numerous living systems. Anyone not outraged is out to lunch. Anyone not profoundly saddened is profoundly ill-informed. Yet now that even community-based broadcasting has been converted into a financial property ? and consolidated -- we find that a single firm, Clear Channel, owns 1,200 radio stations where HardRight icon Rush Limbaugh dominates drive-time eardrums, crowding out other perspectives like nothing ever experienced in American politics.


After several decades of both major political parties embracing Reverse Robin Hood policies, we face a future that?s dangerously dysfunctional: socially unjust, economically unworkable, politically destabilizing, fiscally devastating, culturally ruinous and ecologically unsustainable ? plus a militarized and exploitative foreign policy that?s a growing menace abroad, undermining the spread of democracy and jeopardizing our long-term national security.


As American politics waits for Americans to wake up, we face record-breaking debt, record-breaking trade deficits, reduced government services, an under-funded infrastructure, and three major public-sector programs ? Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid ? expected to double as a share of the economy, putting untold pressure on tax rates, the economy and the budget -- before taking into account the fiscal burden of waging a faraway and weakly justified war.


Today?s results make it clear: systemic corruption accompanies support for a model that is itself systemically corrupt. After two full decades of market fundamentalism wed to fiscal crowding-out, the future we face is a form of intergenerational financial and ecological terrorism. We?ve listened to the empty rhetoric of ?both? parties. A system meant to endure ?for the ages? requires better results. That?s why the well-informed will remain unreasonable until we detect some semblance of decency and plain, sane common sense.


Compiled by Jeff Gates, president of the Shared Capitalism Institute (December 16, 2002). Former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (1980-87), Mr. Gates is author of The Ownership Solution (1998) and Democracy at Risk (2000).

To discuss this Article and other issues please visit the Guerrilla News Forum



--------------------
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned." -Buddha
www.impeach-bush-now.org


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InvisibleDazedSol
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Registered: 08/01/01
Posts: 1,230
Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: RadioActiveSlug]
    #1631976 - 06/13/03 08:07 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Good read.


--------------------
Peace,
Adam


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: DazedSol]
    #1632120 - 06/13/03 09:48 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I used to read Utne Reader, then I realized I had a penis and didn't need to.


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OfflineGrav
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Registered: 02/06/02
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Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: Baby_Hitler]
    #1632133 - 06/13/03 09:58 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Is it safe to say that our government has greatly succeeded in fucking everything up?

Oooh boy, look at all these problems we get to deal with because old greedy motherfuckers couldn't fathom some sense of responsibility to a community...


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OfflineSolo
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Registered: 11/08/98
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Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: Grav]
    #1632151 - 06/13/03 10:16 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I was at a human rights seminar about 5 yrs ago. A liberal harvard professor reported at that time that aproximately (I forget the exact number) 260 individuals controlled 75% of all of the entire worlds wealth at that time.


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OfflineGrav
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Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: Solo]
    #1632724 - 06/14/03 06:21 AM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Should we bitch?

Or should we be satisfied that the dogbone they threw us has a little more meat on it than the rest.

You have drinking water and television, now sit down and shut up!


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OfflinePhred
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Registered: 10/19/00
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Re: Just some info to brighten up your DAY!!! [Re: Solo]
    #1632920 - 06/14/03 12:15 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Solo writes:

I was at a human rights seminar about 5 yrs ago. A liberal harvard professor reported at that time that aproximately (I forget the exact number) 260 individuals controlled 75% of all of the entire worlds wealth at that time.

The professor was wrong.

I wrote a post several months ago easily destroying that particular myth. Harvard professors are notorious for their inaccurate statements.

pinky


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