Corporate socialism: suckling billions in profits from the government teat

More proof that multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonald’s are quite successfully bilking the American taxpayer to increase their own take-home profits:

Video: McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps – Salon.com — An audio recording released by labor activists Wednesday afternoon captures a staffer for McDonald’s’ “McResources Line” instructing a McDonald’s worker how to apply for public assistance.

The audio – excerpted in the campaign video below – records a conversation between Chicago worker Nancy Salgado, a ten-year employee currently making the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25, and a counselor staffing the company’s “McResources” 1-800 number for McDonald’s workers. The McResources staffer offers her a number to “ask about things like food pantries” and tells her she “would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits” which she explains are “food stamps.” After Salgado asks about “the doctor,” the staffer asks, “Did you try to get on Medicaid?” She notes it’s “health coverage for low income or no income adults and children.”

“It was really, really upsetting,” Salgado told Salon Wednesday, “knowing that McDonald’s knows that they don’t pay us enough, and we have to rely on this.” Noting that McDonald’s was “a billionaire company,” she asked, “how can they not afford to pay us?”

Of course McDonald’s (and other fast-food / big box retail corporations) could afford to pay their employees better wages and stop draining so much out of the taxpayer-funded safety net, but that would mean the corporate big wigs would have to share or reinvest some of their profits.

The new video follows two reports released last week… which estimated that fast food workers utilize nearly $7 billion annually in public assistance, while fast food corporations last year netted $7.4 billion profits.

And, by the way, many of these companies (and their executives) don’t contribute as much to the safety net as, proportionally speaking, the average middle-class taxpayer. As Scott Klinger recently noted:

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year… corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue.

Over the past year, one in nine of the companies listed on the S&P 500 paid an effective tax rate of zero percent–that’s zero as in nothing–and that’s on top of taxpayers picking up the tab on public assistance for those profitable corporations who won’t pay their workers a living wage.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion). Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Even though Mitt Romney tried to convince us that “corporations are people, my friend,” the majority of corporations today are not our “neighbors,” they don’t contribute towards the greater good of whichever country they’ve parked a headquarters—in fact, today’s corporations (and their executives) actually seem to do whatever is necessary to get out of contributing their proportional share towards the society which benefits them so greatly. Today’s corporations are run by people who are low on talent and basic morality, but are paid enormous sums of money. And they are nothing like those who came before them. Vanity Fair remembers,

In 1914, [Henry] Ford decided to pay his employees a rich wage and otherwise improve the working conditions…

In January 1914, (Henry Ford) startled the world by announcing that Ford Motor Company would pay $5 a day to its workers. The pay increase would also be accompanied by a shorter workday (from nine to eight hours). While this rate didn’t automatically apply to every worker, it more than doubled the average autoworker’s wage. While Henry’s primary objective was to reduce worker attrition—labor turnover from monotonous assembly line work was high—newspapers from all over the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.

After Ford’s announcement, thousands of prospective workers showed up at the Ford Motor Company employment office. People surged toward Detroit from the American South and the nations of Europe. As expected, employee turnover diminished. And, by creating an eight-hour day, Ford could run three shifts instead of two, increasing productivity.

Henry Ford had reasoned that since it was now possible to build inexpensive cars in volume, more of them could be sold if employees could afford to buy them. The $5 day helped better the lot of all American workers and contributed to the emergence of the American middle class. In the process, Henry Ford had changed manufacturing forever.

Or, as Henry put it, raising wages “has the same effect as throwing a stone in a still pond,” creating an “ever-widening circle of buying” that increases the prosperity of a nation.

It’s simply a fact that Henry Ford didn’t base his decisions on what Ford Motor Company’s net profits would be the next quarter–he had much greater things to accomplish. Because of Henry’s decisions, an entire nation benefited for years, and you know what? So did his company. Unfortunately those times are over (Reaganomics was the beginning of The End), Henry Ford would be run out of most corporate boardrooms today, and the word Patriotism now holds some twisted meaning that includes offshore bank accounts for the wealthy and easy access to guns for the rest of us. There is no longer a balance or any kind of mutual respect between industrialists and workers—negotiated, contrived, or otherwise. And each one of us ought to ask ourselves, “how did we allow this to happen?” and more importantly, “how can we change it?

Here’s Bill Maher from last week:

“Now when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well… yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business. You know, like taxes or making a product. If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.” 

“…And, look, even if you’re not moved by the Don’t-Be-Such-a-Heartless-Prick argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers (whose average age, by the way, now is 29–I’m not talking about kids) are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising… when even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, daycare. This is the welfare that conservatives hate but they never stop to think: if we raise the minimum wage and force McDonald’s and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack. This is the question the Right has to answer: do you want smaller government with less handouts or do you want a low minimum wage–because you cannot have both. If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to. And I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.” 

America’s billionaire welfare kings: the high cost of the wealthy on the rest of us

*Updated title to read welfare kings instead of queens. Seems more appropriate.

For anyone who wonders why the deficit is so large and why, at the same time, income inequality between the super-wealthy and the rest of us is at a record high, consider the various ways which the Republican Party, starting with Ronald Reagan, has gamed the system to funnel our incomes directly into the bank accounts of the one-percent.

FIRST, THANK RONALD REAGAN AND HIS “TRICKLE-DOWN” REAGANOMICS. 

GOP tax bonus for the rich ignores failure of Reaganomics

REAGAN / JULY 1981: “This represents $750 million in tax cuts over the next five years. And this is only the beginning.”

RACHEL MADDOW: “And thus was born a new economic philosophy Reaganomics, cutting government spending, cutting regulation and cutting taxes–cutting taxes especially for the richest Americans. President Reagan’s tax plan cut the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 70 percent to 50 percent. Why cut taxes so dramatically for the richest of the rich in the middle of a recession? […]

“Trickle-down economics. The idea of trickle-down economics is basically this: you cut tax rates for the richest Americans, therefore the richest Americans have more. They have more money in their pockets, therefore they have more money to spend and invest. And as they spend and invest, the effect of rich people’s good fortune and rich people spending trickles down to everybody else in the economy. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? That was the idea. That was the plan. That did not happen.

Reaganomics was a spectacular success in some ways. It was a spectacular success for the richest Americans in the country who benefited the most from President Reagan’s historic debt- exploding, budget-busting tax cuts. In 1980, the top one percent of Americans earned wages about $110,000 a year. By 1990, after about 10 years of Reaganomics, the top one percent had seen their wages rise by 80 percent. Trickle-down economics, though, right? What’s good for the rich is good for all of us, right? Not quite. Here’s the average wages in the rest of the country in 1980 and here is what happened for the rest of the country after about 10 years of Reaganomics flat. A whopping three percent rise in wages in 10 years. The richest people see their fortunes go up like the Matterhorn. Everybody else, nothing. This is what family income growth looked like during the 1980s:

1.1

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THEN THANK RONALD REAGAN FOR HIS “GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION” message, which the tea party carries on today:

The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

Reagan sold Americans on his core vision: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Through his personal magnetism, Reagan then turned taxes into a third rail of American politics… 

“[Reagan] convinced many voters that the government’s only important roles were funding the military and cutting taxes.”

Yet, instead of guiding the country into a bright new day of economic vitality, Reagan’s approach accelerated a de-industrialization of the United States and a slump in the growth of American jobs, down to 20 percent during the 1980s. The percentage job increase for the 1990s stayed at 20 percent, although job growth did pick up later in the decade under President Clinton, who raised taxes and moderated some of Reagan’s approaches while still pushing “free trade” agreements and deregulation.

Yet, hard-line Reaganomics returned with a vengeance under George W. Bush – more tax cuts, more faith in “free trade,” more deregulation – and the Great American Job Engine finally started grinding to a halt. Zero percent increase. The Great American Middle Class was on life-support.

[…] Through its ideological media and think tanks, the Right continues to hammer home the Reagan-esque theory that “government is the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Left still lacks comparable media resources to remind U.S. voters that it was the federal government that essentially created the Great American Middle Class – from the New Deal policies of the 1930s through other reforms of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, from Social Security to Wall Street regulation to labor rights to the GI Bill to the Interstate Highway System to the space program’s technological advances to Medicare and Medicaid to the minimum wage to civil rights.

Many Americans don’t like to admit it — they prefer to think of their families as reaching the middle class without government help — but the reality is that the Great American Middle Class was a phenomenon made possible by the intervention of the federal government beginning with Franklin Roosevelt and continuing into the 1970s. [For one telling example of this reality — the Cheney family, which was lifted out of poverty by FDR’s policies — see Consortiumnews.com’s “Dick Cheney: Son of the New Deal.”]

Further, in the face of corporate globalization and business technology, two other forces making the middle-class work force increasingly obsolete, the only hope for a revival of the Great American Middle Class is for the government to increase taxes on the rich, the ones who have gained the most from cheap foreign labor and advances in computer technology, in order to fund projects to build and strengthen the nation, from infrastructure to education to research and development to care for the sick and elderly to environmental protections.

Meanwhile…

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30 YEARS LATER, THE REST OF US ARE SUPPLEMENTING MINIMUM WAGE JOBS WITH GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS, helping corporate officers and shareholders who pay the shitty wages walk away with massive profits. 

“Taxpayers are spending nearly $7 billion a year to supplement the wages of fast-food workers, even as the leading fast-food companies earn billions of dollars in annual profits, according to a pair of reports released Tuesday.”

Washington Post — More than half of the nation’s 1.8 million “core” fast-food workers rely on the federal safety net to make ends meet, the reports said. Together, they collect nearly $1.9 billion through the earned income tax credit, $1 billion in food stamps and $3.9 billion through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to a report by economists at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois.

Overall, the “core” fast-food workers are twice as likely to rely on public assistance than workers in other fields, said one of the reports, which examined non-managerial fast-food employees who work at least 11 hours a week and 27 weeks a year.

Even among the 28 percent of fast-food workers who were on the job 40 hours a week, the report said, more than half relied on the federal safety net to get by. […] Those workers are left to rely on the public safety net even though the nation’s seven largest publicly traded fast-food companies netted a combined $7.4 billion in profits last year, while paying out $53 million in salaries to their top executives and distributing $7.7 billion to shareholders, according to the second report, by the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

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“The cost is public because taxpayers bear it. Yet it remains hidden in national policy debates about poverty, employment and federal spending.”

Salon — The first study finds that 52 percent of families of workers employed at least 27 weeks a year and 10 hours a week in rank-and-file fast food jobs are enrolled in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (the program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children under “welfare reform”). That includes a majority of those workers who are employed at least 40 hours week. The study, “Fast Food, Poverty Wages,” was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning, and funded by the labor group Fast Food Forward. The estimates were based on government data.

second study, by the pro-union National Employment Law Project, extended the analysis to individual companies, estimating that McDonald’s workers received $1.2 billion in public assistance while the corporation netted $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 profits, and devoted $5.5 billion to dividends and stock buybacks.

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“Companies … are basically pushing off part of their costs on the taxpayers.”

The Guardian — The estimated total cost of $7bn annually is likely to be low, researchers said, because they only looked at four types of public assistance: food stamps; healthcare; the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the program typically best known as “welfare.” They did not include subsidised housing, school lunches, home heating assistance or state programs in their analysis.

“The high participation rate of families of core fast-food workers in public programs can be attributed to three major factors: the industry’s low wages, low work hours and low benefits,” the Berkeley report said. […] Earlier this year, a report by House Democrats estimated that the cost of Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance – including food stamps, healthcare and other programmes – is $900,000 per year at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores.

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For the vast majority of these workers, there’s little hope they’ll ever move up the socioeconomic ladder and escape this cycle of poverty and dependency.

Time This combination of low pay and limited work hours yields an average annual salary of only $11,056.14. And while it’s certainly true that some people flipping burgers and taking drive-thru orders are teenagers, that report finds that only 18% are under the age of 18 and living with their parents. Even when you includes minors who don’t live with their parents and college kids living at home, the total adds up to just under a third of all fast food workers.

Of course, fast food companies aren’t the only ones that rely on minimum- and low-wage workers; big-box retailers like Wal-Mart have also come under fire for what they pay employees. But researchers found that 44 percent of restaurant and food service workers were enrolled in one or more assistance programs, the highest of any industry.

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Naked Capitalism how low the pay really is:

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How is supplementing minimum wage jobs with taxpayer-funded government programs NOT income redistribution? Especially when you consider the results.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS TAKEN GOVERNMENT AWAY FROM THE REST OF US to benefit the one percent exclusively. 

Transplanting Taxes from Corporations to the Rest of Us

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year, thanks to the antics of Pfizer and other examples of overly creative accounting, corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue. This dramatic shortfall shows up in two ways — federal budget deficit growth and the growing trend of individual taxpayers paying an increased share of the costs of government.

Naturally, that’s resulted in some income inequality:

“The top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927.”

The income gap between the richest 1% of Americans and the other 99% widened to a record margin in 2012, according to an analysis of tax filings…

Income inequality in the US has been growing for almost three decades. Overall, the pre-tax incomes of the top 1% of households rose 19.6% compared to a 1% increase for the rest of Americans.

And the top 10% of richest households represented just under half of all income in the year, according to the analysis.

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So 30 years after Ronald Reagan… here we are. With George W. Bush’s unpaid wars and tax cuts and bank bailouts, we’re left with a record deficit, no new revenue (the GOP insists on spending cuts only to “entitlement programs”!), no manufacturing (most of it off-shored by companies like Bain Capital years ago), a crumbling infrastructure, millions of people working minimum wage service-sector jobs, and with income inequality at a record high. The rich are richer than ever! 

And yet for the past few years, the Republican Party has spent all of its time and energy trying to defund or postpone a law which will make health insurance more affordable for most Americans—this month even going as far as shutting down the government, risking default, and costing the rest of us ANOTHER $24 BILLION and a loss of services and programs for 16 days.

What Republicans really mean when they say ‘government is the problem‘ is: (1) it’s a problem if the wealthy have to contribute / don’t profit and (2) it’s a problem if the not-wealthy benefit from government services / don’t help the wealthy to profit.

The GOP has redefined the purpose of government and who it should benefit. Where everyone used to contribute for the good of most, now most people contribute for the benefit of only a few—and those few happen to be worth millions, if not billions. The one percent reap all the rewards of living here without having to invest or contribute a proportional amount of their fortunes. And the rest of us, the American taxpayers, subsidize their lifestyles with money that could be benefiting us personally and building a better future for our children.

What’s really the bigger problem today: government or living with the Republican Party’s economic plan for the past 30 years?

Deficit reduction and priorities


questionall: via thetruthnow.org

And how about all that defense spending when we’ve supposedly ended the Bush Wars? Or all the federal money paid to highly profitable oil companies? Or $77,000 tax deductions for dancing horses for the super rich? The GOP needs to trim their favorite expenditures before they talk about tapping into the safety net that millions must rely on to simply live.

Republican priorities with fiscal cliff negotiations: estate taxes for the 0.01 percent!

Kevin Drum reports on what the fiscal cliff negotiations have come down to:

Senate negotiators labored over the weekend on a last-ditch plan to avert the “fiscal cliff,” struggling to resolve key differences over how many wealthy households should face higher income taxes in the new year and how to tax inherited estates.

….Negotiators were trying to resolve a dispute over the estate tax, a critical issue for Republicans who have dubbed it the “death tax” and argue that it punishes people who build successful businesses and family farms.

In an agreement brokered between McConnell and the White House in 2010, estates worth more than $5 million are exempted and taxed above that amount at 35 percent. Republicans want to maintain that structure, while Democrats want to drop the exemption to $3.5 million and raise the rate on larger estates to 45 percent.

Do you know how many people leave estates valued at more than $3.5 million? Something like 0.01 percent, give or take a bit. This is a tax that’s a huge deal for the super-rich, but completely irrelevant for nearly everyone else, including the merely ordinary rich. And needless to say, all the talk about small businesses and family farms is just a pretense. Virtually no family farms are affected, and the ones that are have extremely generous rules for dealing with estate taxes.

Meanwhile, Republican base voters are super-focused on gay marriage and buying as many guns as they can at Walmart. Because they’re smart!

President Obama this morning on the Republicans “only overriding, unifying theme”

“They say that their biggest priority is making sure that we deal with the deficit in a serious way, but the way they’re behaving is that their only priority is making sure that tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans are protected. That seems to be their only overriding, unifying theme.”

— President Obama, on Meet the Press, blaming Republicans for failing to reach a deal to avert the fiscal cliff.

True.

1947 FBI Memo Re: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Yesterday vs. today:

1947 FBI Memo Re: “It’s A Wonderful Life”

With regard to the picture “It’s a Wonderful Life”, [redacted] stated in substance that the film represented rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists. [In] addition, [redacted] stated that, in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.”

Related: 

Darden Restaurants promises to keep prices low — by screwing over its employees

The company that owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden is feeling the effects of its well-publicized tantrum plan to not provide its employees — who get paid very low wages — with health insurance coverage. Of course we can expect that Darden’s owners / upper management will continue to receive outlandish salaries and bonuses, because that’s how American capitalism works.  But that has nothing to do with anything… right?

How not to succeed in business: Promise to dodge Obamacare mandates — Darden began testing a plan under which it would hire more part-time employees in October, who would work fewer than 40 hours a week. That would exempt the company from the health law’s mandate to provide health insurance coverage to all full-time workers. Separate research from YouGov suggests that other restaurant chains that have recently criticized the Affordable Care Act have seen their favorability dip shortly thereafter… As much as Americans have negative opinions about the larger health-care system, they also tend to have pretty positive views of their own health insurance. Politifact has sifted through this data before, and found that polls that ask Americans whether they’re satisfied with their health-care plan can find upwards of 80 percent of respondents agreeing with them.

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Darden Restaurants Inc. shares fell 9% in premarket trades on Tuesday after it said it expects adjusted second-quarter profit of 25 to 26 cents a share. The Orlando, Fla., operator of Olive Garden and Red Lobster eateries was expected to earn 46 cents a share, according to a survey by FactSet.

Sweet, sweet irony

The Atlantic: With 47 percent of the popular vote, Mitt Romney may become the president of nothing more than Ironystan. Yes, the final general-election tally is trickling in and, as fate would have it, Romney’s total might look more like that mythical number after all. Well, according to David Wasserman of the Cook Political report, it’s more like 47.49 and dropping, which, of course rounds down to 47 — the same percentage of Americans he said were moochers and takers in a video that was one of the nails in the coffin of his presidential campaign. […] Wasserman projects that Romney’s vote share will actually head more toward 47 percent flat — 47.1 percent or 47.2 percent — because many of the outstanding ballots in the presidential race come from California and New York, which both voted for Obama by a large margin.”

Memories:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax. [M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” — Mitt Romney, May/2012

The high price we all pay for low-wage workers

The consumer is the true job creatornot the one-percent business owners who hoard their profits instead of fairly compensating their workers.

“The more that we can have a conversation about the employer role, it takes business, it takes government, it takes individuals to sort of create a social contract, a middle class in this country, and employers have simply walked away from that bargain,” and from accountability, said Heather McGee, vice president of policy and outreach of Demos. She claimed one Demos study found that increasing minimum wages at the biggest retailers to $25,000 year would create 130,000 new jobs by putting more money in the pockets of the “real job creators in this country, the low-wage workers who spend every dime that they get.” It would also “lift a million and a half people out of poverty or near poverty” and that if the retailers passed the entire cost of those wage increases to consumers, it would cost an additional thirty cents per shopping trip, she said. —  The real job creators are ‘low-wage workers who spend every dime that they get’

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average full-time retail worker earns between $18,000 and $21,000 per year. But if retail workers got a raise, would consumers have to pay higher prices to make up for it? A new study by the think tank Demos reports that raising the salary of all full-time workers at large retailers to $25,000 per year would lift more than 700,000 people out of poverty, at a cost of only a 1 percent price increase for customers. And, in the end, retailers would benefit. According to the study, the cost of the wage increases to major retailers would be $20.8 billion — about one percent of the sector’s $2.17 trillion in total annual sales. But the study also estimates the increased purchasing power of lower-wage workers as a result of the pay raises would generate $4 billion to $5 billion in additional retail sales. — Robert Reich

Tax-paying consumers are paying a high price now:

Stand with Walmart employees on Black Friday: do not shop at Walmart


image: nohelp

Robert Reich: Why You Shouldn’t Shop at Walmart on Friday

A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits.

Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits.

There are many reasons for the difference – including globalization and technological changes that have shrunk employment in American manufacturing while enlarging it in sectors involving personal services, such as retail.

But one reason, closely related to this seismic shift, is the decline of labor unions in the United States. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do. As a result, the typical American worker no longer has the bargaining clout to get a sizeable share of corporate profits.

Walmart earned $16 billion last year (it just reported a 9 percent increase in earnings in the third quarter of 2012, to $3.6 billion), the lion’s share of which went instead to Walmart’s shareholders — including the family of its founder, Sam Walton, who earned on their Walmart stock more than the combined earnings of the bottom 40 percent of American workers.

Is this about to change? Despite decades of failed unionization attempts, Walmart workers are planning to strike or conduct some other form of protest outside at least 1,000 locations across the United States this Friday – so-called “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day in America when the Christmas holiday buying season begins.

But if retail workers got a raise, would consumers have to pay higher prices to make up for it? A new study by the think tank Demos reports that raising the salary of all full-time workers at large retailers to $25,000 per year would lift more than 700,000 people out of poverty, at a cost of only a 1 percent price increase for customers.

And, in the end, retailers would benefit. According to the study, the cost of the wage increases to major retailers would be $20.8 billion — about one percent of the sector’s $2.17 trillion in total annual sales. But the study also estimates the increased purchasing power of lower-wage workers as a result of the pay raises would generate $4 billion to $5 billion in additional retail sales.

Continue reading….


changewalmart: From ArtistsVsWalmart.Tumblr.com


via: christopherstreet

Walmart’s employees aren’t compensated with a living wage or benefits, so we — the taxpayers — pick up the tab for what their greedy owners won’t pay for: food, shelter, medical care, etc.

This situation has worked out really well for CEO Michael Duke, upper management, and the Walton children for decades — but it hasn’t worked out so great for the rest of us.

What’s wrong with America? Walmart ethics.

Bobby Jindal wants the Republican Party to look less like the Republican Party

“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), urging Republicans to “stop being the stupid party.”

Andrew Sullivan remarks: “I’ll believe him when he names Limbaugh as one critical source of the problem. I’ll believe him even more if he were able to find space within the GOP for those who support marriage equality, efforts to combat climate change and a non-absolutist position on abortion rights. But he cannot change theology in a religious party – especially when he is one of its high priests.”

And Charles Johnson laughs at this newly found “enlightenment” from the guy who mocked volcano monitoring: “Politico’s article doesn’t mention it, of course, but Gov. Jindal is rather infamous at LGF for pushing the very stupidest of stupid right wing positions; he enthusiastically promoted and signed into law a bill in Louisiana that legitimizes the teaching of creationism under the disguise of “academic freedom.” Jindal’s promotion of creationism outraged scientists across America; one scientific organization actually cancelled a major convention in protest. More recently, Jindal has also promoted legislation that allows Louisiana state funding to go to private religious schools that teach creationism and all kinds of other anti-science mind rot. And that’s not all, by a long shot. While a college student, Jindal took part in an exorcism that he claimed cured a woman of cancer

Bob Moser thinks Jindal isn’t calling for actual change, just a re-branding: “But beyond embracing some parts of Dodd-Frank and the “Volcker Rule,” Jindal—who’s been a right-wing governor, gutting public schools and slashing funds for hospitals—basically limited his idea of change to rejiggering the party’s image. His solution, beneath the frank talk, comes down to figuring out new ways to make Republicans once again look like a populist party—a new spin on the faux-populism Republicans used, from Nixon to Bush, to convince working- and middle-class folks they were on their side while working to make the wealthy wealthier.”

And Jed Lewison lists all the conservative beliefs Jindal has no problem with (even though the voters do have a problem with them) and summarizes that Jindal doesn’t want to change the substance of GOP ideals — he’s just calling for a change in tone.

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On Mitt Romney’s douchey phonecall yesterday, Political Wire reports:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) “forcefully rejected Mitt Romney’s claim that he lost because of President Obama’s ‘gifts‘ to minorities and young voters,” Politico reports.

Said Jindal: “No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote. And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

Related: 

Mitt Romney describes the sad he haz

John Schnatter – @IAmPapaJohn: Greedy Bastard

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said he plans on passing the costs of health care reform to his business onto his workers. Schnatter said he will likely reduce workers’ hours, as a result of President Obama’s reelection, the Naples News reports. Schnatter made headlines over the summer when he told shareholders that the cost of a Papa John’s pizza will increase by between 11 and 14 cents due to Obamacare.

Here’s what Forbes had to say about Schnatter’s “11-14 cent” increase:

“So how much would prices go up, under these 50/50 conditions, if they were to fairly reflect the increased cost of doing business onset by Obamacare? Roughly 3.4 to 4.6 cents a pie.”

John Schnatter is lying to us — so he can rake in even more money.

By the way, guess how much money Schnatter just gave away with his 2 million free pizzas promotion? According to Forbes:

“In September, the company announced that it would be giving away 2 million free pizzas. That was, of course, a promotion designed to increase brand awareness and to invite consumers to try the brand… But just in case you’re curious, that would be the equivalent of $24 million to $32 million in pizza revenue.”

Schnatter will cut his employee’s hours so he doesn’t have to cover them under Obamacare, but he’ll give away up to $32 million in revenue for a promotion. Oh, and he’ll also raise the cost of his pizza by more than is absolutely necessary. Because he can.

Here’s where John Schnatter lives — it’s known as The Castle:

via: Google maps

Schnatter’s home is so fabulous it even made Mitt Romney gush when he was there in May for a private fundraiser for his campaign:

What a welcome, what a place this is. My goodness. Who would have imagined pizza could build this, you know that? This is really something. Don’t you love this country? What a home this is, what grounds these are, the pool, the golf course. You know if a Democrat were here he’d look around and say no one should live like this, you know? Republicans come here and say everyone should live like this, all right. This is a real tribute to America, to entrepreneurship. [VIDEO]

John Schnatter, a plutocrat like Mitt Romney, would be the first to scream “I built that!” regarding his home, his business, his fortune. FreakOutNation notes: “A [Papa John’s] delivery driver makes a whopping $6.41 per hour.  It’s wonderful that this man has been able to realize the American dream — some of it, on the backs of his workers, who are insufficiently paid.”

Everything Schnatter owns has nothing to do with the people who work for him… the people who are on the front lines, dealing directly with the customers, correct? Why should The Help earn a living wage?

On an earlier post a commenter noted, quite accurately:

So now we’re starting to see the real cost to those cheap meals. The company pockets a ton of profits, while leaving the healthcare of its employees in the hands of the tax payers.”

Just like uninsured low-paid Walmart workers, John Schnatter’s employees will get sick, get in accidents, and will need medical care at one point or another — and the rest of us will pick up the tab. We’ll do that so that Schnatter can continue to hoard most of his corporation’s profits for himself, and live in the home that’s pictured above — and is described as follows:

The house is 40,000 square feet and it resembles a castle. One interesting feature on this 16-acre estate is the 22-car underground garage, complete with an office for valet parking, a car wash and even a motorized turn table to move limousines. The home also has a state-of-the-art exercise suite and a huge 6,000 square foot carriage house.

America (along with the rest of the world) really needs to start seeing corporate greed as the abomination that it is, instead of something to be admired and emulated.

I wonder how many parking spaces Jesus would have in his underground garage…

Read moreForbes • Freakoutnation • Celebrity Net Worth • Huffington Post

Looking back: Farewell, Willard and Marie Anntoinette!


Whew! That was way too close, wasn’t it?

Update:

politicaldirtylaundry:

Rachel Maddow lists the huge implications of what an Obama win means…or more precisely, what a Romney loss means in terms of what is not going to happen. There’s some pretty big stuff here and a good reminder of the tragedy that could have been.
We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe vs. Wade.
There will be no more Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alioto’s added to this court.
We are not going to repeal health reform.
Nobody is going to kill Medicare.
Nobody is going to make old people in this generation fight it out in the open market for health insurance.
We are not going to give 20% tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kids health to cover the cost.
We are not going to make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control from your health provider.
We are not going to redefine rape.
We are not going to amend the United States Constitution amendment to stop gay people from getting married.
We are not going to double Guantanamo.
We are not eliminating the Dept of Energy, the Dept of Education, the Dept of Housing at the Federal level.
We are not going to spend 2 trillion dollars on the military that the military does not want.
We are not scaling back on student loans because the new plan is you should borrow money from your parents.
We are not vetoing the dream act.
We are not self-deporting.
We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.
We are not starting a trade war with China on inauguration day.
We are not going to have as President, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared gay kid to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help. And there was no apology, not ever.
We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton.
We are not bringing Dick Cheney back.
We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with the architects of the Iraq war. We are not going to do it.
We had the choice to do that if we wanted to do that as a country, and we said no.

Screw Papa Johns (and Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Applebees, and Longhorn Steakhouse)

Consequences: free speech and the public’s right to boycott Pure Greed.


via: soupisnotameal

Huffington PostPapa John’s CEO John Schnatter said he plans on passing the costs of health care reform to his business onto his workers. Schnatter said he will likely reduce workers’ hours, as a result of President Obama’s reelection, the Naples News reports. Schnatter made headlines over the summer when he told shareholders that the cost of a Papa John’s pizza will increase by between 11 and 14 cents due to Obamacare.

GawkerDarden Restaurants Inc., the parent company of popular casual dining establishments such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and LongHorn Steakhouse, is no longer offering full-time work schedules to employees at “a select number” of restaurants in four markets across the country. Though details were scant, the company did say there were no immediate plans to expand the “test,” which is aimed at “help[ing] us address the cost implications health care reform will have on our business.” […] Darden said in its statement that employees at restaurants where the pilot program was put in place will be limited to 28 hours a week. […] Darden, which, ironically, bills itself as “the world’s largest full-service restaurant company,” made headlines last year when it started a “tip sharing” program requiring the waitstaff to share its tips with all other employees. According to the Associated Press, “That allows Darden to pay more workers a far lower ‘tip credit wage’ of $2.13, rather than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.”

Huffington PostAn Applebee’s New York area franchisee is the latest CEO to go public threatening drastic plans to avoid costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.”We’ve calculated it will [cost] some millions of dollars across our system. So what does that say — that says we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people,” Zane Tankel, chairman and CEO of Apple-Metro, told Fox Business Network on Thursday. Apple-Metro, which runs 40 Applebee’s restaurants, employs from 80 to 300 people at each of its locations. Obamacare mandates that businesses with more than 50 workers must offer an approved insurance plan or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker over 30 workers. Most small businesses with 50 or more employees already do offer health insurance, notes John Arensmeyer, CEO and founder of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. But restaurant chains typically are among the sliver of businesses not offering insurance to workers. Other food chains have commented publicly that they would take strong measures to avoid the effects of Obamacare, but so far none of them have taken that action.

oinonio: “These restaurants have pledged to cut employees or work hours to avoid providing healthcare under Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  Ironic for restaurants that draw clients in with images of wholesomeness, family, and care. But you can push back by taking your appetite elsewhere.” 

These plutocratic CEOs have the right to hire, fire, and cut hours of any and all of their staffs for political reasons — and they have every right to crow about it in the media, as they’re doing. WE, the dining public, have the right to take our appetites elsewhere.

I mean, really. Does anyone NEED to eat at any of these places?

UPDATE * * * * * * 

We should be worried if Mitt Romney says he cares about us…


via: occupy-my-blog