Saturday, April 19, 2014

READING FOR THE EASTER WEEKEND


Cliven Bundy Syndrome: Why Christian conservatives think they're above the law (Salon).

After banks (with their wealth extracting swap deals) and corrupt politicians pushed Detroit into bankruptcy it's the city workers who end up paying the tab (Think Progress).

Feudalism 2.0 ... this is the dystopic Libertarian vision that the Koch brothers want to impose on America (Bernie Sanders).


GENDER ISSUES THAT MAKE YOU ROLL YOUR EYES
Rep. Marsha Black (R-TN) claims, against all evidence, that Republicans have 'Led the fight for women's equality' (Huffington Post).

Huh? ... Phyllis Schlafly claims that if women were paid the same as men that "simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate" (Christian Post).

Female CEO of a San Francisco based start up (Locket) says man told her that he would take a job if she slept with him (MediumThink Progress).

Female governor of Oklahoma bans minimum wage increases and paid sick leave laws (does that include maternity leave?) in an effort to look pro-business (Think Progress).


OBAMACARE
Obamacare enrollment hits 8 million (Nation of Change).

CBO Report: Obamacare will cost less than projected, while covering uninsured 12 million people by the end of 2014 (Huffington Post).

The "medically uninsured" gap between states that have embraced Obamacare and those who haven't grew by more than 2 points in one year (Think Progress).

This 32-year-old Florida woman died because her state refused to expand Medicaid (Think Progress).


ECONOMIC ISSUES-STORIES
Does the corporate tax rate of 35% really hurt the U.S. economy? No (247 Wall St).

Thanks to women in the workforce, the economy is 11 percent bigger ($1.7 trillion) today than it would have been if we had the same contributions we had in the 1970s (Think Progress).

The Reckoning: All evidence points to the U.S. economy failing in 2014 (SHTF Plan).

Is China already the larger owner as opposed to 'holder' of gold? (Zero Hedge)

What happened to fast-food workers when San Jose raised the minimum wage (Wall Street Journal).


WHAT'S WRONG WITH OUR ECONOMY
Senator Bernie Sanders provides a sweeping overview of what's wrong with our economy and society (Upworthy).

Things that make you go Hmmm ... like rigged markets (all of them) (Zero Hedge).

Antitrust in the new Gilded Age (Nation of Change).

After propping up Europe with billions in currency swaps the U.S. Treasury will pay half of Ukraine's energy bill - owed to Russia's Gazprom - with $1 billion in loan guarantee (Zero Hedge).


MISCELLANEOUS
Pele and Ronaldo meet on a plane ... actually in a commercial (sport.uk.msn).

This Republican plan to win the Latino vote explains why the GOP will continue to lose the Latino vote (San Diego Union-Tribune).

Nine countries that hate the United States the most (247 Wall St).

White House admits that CIA director was in Kiev, Ukraine over the weekend (Huffington Post).

Death spiral? One Harvard professor is suggesting that up to one-half of U.S. universities could fail in 15 years (Zero Hedge).

- Mark 

Friday, April 18, 2014

HOW OLIGARCHY THREATENS DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA

This is a must watch for anyone concerned about democracy in America. Senator Bernie Sandars (I-VT) presents a sweeping and compelling overview of the absurd wealth and income gaps in America, and what it means for our nation's future.

For me the money quote - that explains what's driving our new Gilded Age - starts at 13:20 ...


- Mark 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

YEAH, WE STILL REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH ... BIG TIME

Almost two years ago I wrote a post explaining how we redistribute wealth in America. I wrote it in response to claims by the GOP and numerous other conservative groups that the poor and the unemployed don't need help. Their rationale? America is not a nation that redistributes wealth. People should work and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

This was an easy topic to write about because, well, the United States has been redistributing wealth for a long time. In fact, we've been redistributing wealth for such a long time that we've been able to track the process over time. We can actually see who pays and who takes from Uncle Sam. An updated study helps make it very clear that those yelling the loudest about people mooching off the system are living in states that receive the most government funds.

Let me restate that. There's another study out that shows, once again, that the most conservative Red States are still mooching off those of us living in the Blue States.



According to the survey, for example, for every dollar that California sends to the federal government we only get about 94 cents back. This is an improvement from the end of 2009, when the we learned that over a 20 year period the federal government kept over $330 billion in federal taxes that Californians sent in (which was used to prop up those living in the Red States).

This story is so glaring that even the conservative Wall Street Journal couldn't ignore the federal redistribution of wealth to the Red States story.

Below are the numbers from the new survey, which you can read about here ...


RankState NameReturn on Taxpayer Investment(Category Rank)Funding as % of Revenue(Category Rank)Federal Employees Per Capita(Category Rank)
1Delaware$0.50
(1)
25.37%
(7)
6.17
(10)
2Illinois$0.56
(3)
26.23%
(8)
6.45
(11)
3Minnesota$0.56
(2)
28.47%
(12)
5.91
(8)
4New Jersey$0.88
(10)
27.53%
(11)
5.75
(6)
5Connecticut$1.28
(25)
23.68%
(4)
4.91
(1)
6Kansas$0.71
(6)
27.21%
(9)
9.19
(31)
7California$0.94
(14)
28.82%
(13)
6.65
(13)
8Nevada$1.15
(23)
27.48%
(10)
6.60
(12)
9Massachusetts$0.94
(13)
29.56%
(17)
7.09
(19)
10Colorado$0.84
(8)
29.24%
(15)
10.67
(35)
11New Hampshire$1.07
(18)
32.06%
(21)
5.61
(4)
12Michigan$1.08
(19)
34.12%
(25)
5.33
(3)
13Ohio$0.66
(5)
35.87%
(36)
6.78
(15)
T-14Utah$0.86
(9)
31.65%
(20)
12.58
(40)
T-14Nebraska$0.57
(4)
34.92%
(31)
9.06
(28)
16Washington$1.05
(17)
29.38%
(16)
10.73
(36)
T-17District of Columbia$1.15
(22)
23.90%
(5)
336.63
(51)
T-17New York$0.79
(7)
37.74%
(41)
6.06
(9)
T-17Iowa$1.12
(21)
34.85%
(29)
5.75
(5)
20Wisconsin$1.68
(38)
28.93%
(14)
5.08
(2)
21Alaska$1.42
(31)
20.01%
(1)
22.68
(48)
22Arkansas$1.1
(20)
34.52%
(28)
7.01
(17)
23Pennsylvania$1.31
(27)
30.91%
(18)
7.87
(24)
24North Carolina$1.34
(28)
33.91%
(24)
7.22
(20)
25Indiana$2.01
(41)
33.20%
(23)
5.76
(7)
26Virginia$1.75
(39)
24.81%
(6)
21.52
(47)
27Oklahoma$0.9
(11)
36.21%
(38)
12.78
(41)
28Oregon$1.28
(26)
36.16%
(37)
7.26
(21)
29North Dakota$5.31
(50)
21.04%
(2)
13.70
(44
29Hawaii$3.19
(46)
23.60%
(3)
25.32
(50)
31Idaho$1.4
(29)
35.16%
(33)
7.96
(25)
32Texas$1.43
(32)
35.13%
(32)
7.77
(22)
T-33Rhode Island$1.55
(34)
34.48%
(26)
9.80
(32)
T-33Georgia$1.05
(15)
38.86%
(44)
10.44
(34)
35Vermont$1.41
(30)
34.86%
(30)
10.38
(33)
36Missouri$1.05
(16)
40.83%
(47)
9.19
(30)
37Maryland$1.61
(35)
31.29%
(19)
25.06
(49)
T-38Wyoming$0.91
(12)
39.73%
(46)
13.17
(42)
T-38Florida$4.57
(49)
32.65%
(22)
6.96
(16)
40South Carolina$7.87
(51)
34.49%
(27)
7.03
(18)
41Kentucky$2.39
(43)
35.83%
(35)
9.10
(29)
42Arizona$1.62
(36)
39.35%
(45)
8.71
(27)
T-43South Dakota$1.16
(24)
41.53%
(49)
13.95
(45)
T-43West Virginia$2.22
(42)
35.46%
(34)
12.56
(39)
45Tennessee$1.64
(37)
41.27%
(48)
7.82
(23)
T-46Montana$1.55
(33)
38.54%
(43)
13.53
(43)
T-46Maine$1.79
(40)
36.63%
(39)
10.92
(37)
48Louisiana$3.35
(48)
44.26%
(50)
6.76
(14)
49Alabama$3.28
(47)
37.02%
(40)
11.66
(38)
T-50New Mexico$2.83
(44)
37.90%
(42)
15.22
(46)
T-50Mississippi$3.07
(45)
45.84%
(51)
8.67
(26)

- Mark

I want to make it clear that the Red State-Blue State tax redistribution process also happens within states, at the county level. The revenue redistribution maps of Washington and California below make this abundantly clear ...





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

TAXING LOGIC ON APRIL 15

FUNNY TAX PICTURES
Tax logic ... if we were doing it right.


Tax logic for the Tea Party?


Tax options ... for the middle class after 2008.




Tax logic for the rich.

- Mark

COOL PICTURE ... SILFRA FISSURE


Diver swimming between two tectonic plates in Iceland.

According to the one of the responses in the thread commenting on the picture this is ...

Silfra, the fissure between the continents
The Silfra fissure, is known as one of the top dive sites in the world two main reasons.
First, the Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year.
Silfra is the only place where one can dive or snorkel directly in the crack between two continental plates.
Secondly, the underwater visibility in the Silfra fissure is over 100 meters, which creates an underwater experience that will rarely, if ever, be surpassed. The reasons for this astounding water clarity are twofold: the water is cold (2°C – 4°C year round ) as it is glacial water from the nearby Langjökull and this water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years until it reaches the north end of Thingvellir lake, seeping out from underground wells. The Silfra water is as pristine as water can get and you can drink it at anytime during your dive or snorkel.
For some (almost) equally cool pictures of the Silfra fissure click here.

- Mark

Hat tip to Donna for the picture.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

FUNNY STORY FOR THE WEEKEND

This is cosmic Justice at its finest ...

An idiot BMW owner parked his brand new car - the registration was just two days old - in front of a fire hydrant. There was an 8-alarm fire on the street. Boston firefighters responded and did what they had to do ...


After getting a $100 fine, the owner of the BMW eventually drove the car away with two broken windows and a dent on the side. A friend of the car's owner said that he "was mad."

I suspect that he's not going to be any happier when he tries to get his insurance company to pay for this.

You can read the story here.

- Mark 

Friday, April 11, 2014

WEEKEND READING BEFORE TAX DAY (April 11, 2014)


Income tax stories to make you smile (America Comes Alive).

Dianne Feinstein is too emotional to judge CIA interrogation programs, according to former CIA director - and the obviously much more "objective" - Michael Hayden (Slate).

Businessweek has a cool interactive graph of the NSA's spy machine (Businessweek).

I missed this one ... the last Japanese World War II soldier, who didn't surrender until 1974, died at the age of 91 this past January (UK Mail Online / More on the soldier's life here).

It appears that Babe Ruth was quite the ladies man (Today I Found Out).


MORE REASONS WHY OUR ECONOMY IS MESSED UP
Tennessee Governor used $300 million in taxpayer funds to convince Volkswagen to go against the Volkswagen union vote in Tennessee (MSNBC).

This is what globalization means ... Caterpillar has no factories in Switzerland but dodged $2.4 billion in U.S. taxes by booking 85 percent of its profits there (TYT Network).

America's liquidity trap (i.e. periods where low to zero percent interest rates don't restore full employment) is determined by money hoarding oligarchs and big business (Paul Krugman / NY Times).

Overworked America: 12 charts that will make your blood boil (Mother Jones).

For-profit universities account for 13 percent of our nation's student population but their students make up almost half of all student loan defaults. Here's how their industry buys Congress (The Nation).

Retirement, 401(k)s, and how you're probably getting ripped off (Wall Street Cheat Sheet).


IN THE 'WTF' DEPARTMENT
It's hard being ridiculously good-looking, according to Rob Lowe (NY Post / Page Six).

Toddler charged with attempted murder in Pakistan granted bail by judge (The Independent).

Kansas Republican wants miscarriages to have birth certificates and reported to the government (Addicting Info).

Bigoted bakery owner would rather serve jail time than serve gay customers (Addicting Info).


CONSERVATIVE NOTES
How Republicans rationalize (in their world) voter suppression (Slate).

Conservatives unhappy when media reports on GOP voter repression bills (Slate).

Conservative 'family values' Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) caught kissing female staffer who is "not his wife" and asks for forgiveness from God, his wife, his kids, and his staff (Addicting Info).

Rand Paul (R-KY) says Dick Cheney pushed for Iraq War so Halliburton would profit (Mother Jones).


LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM?
We're not #1, we're not #1 ... when it comes to livability and social progress the U.S. is #16  (Nicolas Kristof).

Popular culture ... 50 signs that you watch too much Fox News (Addicting Info).

The Supreme Court gutted the voting rights act. What happened next in these 8 states will shock you (Mother Jones).


MISCELLANEOUS
Vintage sexist ads that wouldn't go over well today (Amusing Planet).

What causes headaches (Today I Found Out).

A history of the First World War in 100 moments: The Germans advance into Brussels (The Independent).

Why Sunnis and Shiites are fighting, explained in two minutes (Washington Post).

Abusive and frivolous patent suits (NY Times).

Former Russian oligarch and billionaire Boris Berezovsky found dead in London (Bloomberg).

- Mark 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

FOX MISLEADS ON CLIMATE SCIENCE ... BIG TIME

While all major networks present what ends up being misleading information from time to time the good people Fox at do it far more often than any other network, by far.

A recent Pew study found that 72 percent of all climate segments at Fox are simply misleading.


While 8 percent of climate segments at MSNBC and 30 percent of the segments at CNN were considered misleading it's clear that the Fox network is the worst when it comes to presenting climate information.

Is anybody really surprised by this? I'm not.

- Mark

Hat tip to my colleague, Donna, for the link.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM CONTINUES

America's race to the bottom has been going on for more than 30 years (as I point out here, here, and here). Bill Maher really nails the point with this one ...


- Mark

Hat tip to Tom for the post.