Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News Summary: What About the Rich?

With all the discussion about the debt ceiling, Americans had a chance to see that the equality of our nation is not as equal as we'd like it to be--or as we thought it was.

That opens the door to a discussion about the disparity between the rich one percent and everybody else.

In Washington's discussions about taxes and spending, "shared sacrifice" centered on downsizing "entitlement programs" like Social Security and Medicare while protecting the rich from paying taxes. 

The articles below discuss the "class war" that is brewing before our very eyes.  We need to know what we are losing and why.

Stop Coddling the Rich
by Warren Buffet
New York Times – August 14, 2011

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.

GOP Presidential Primary: New Rules Of The Race Emerge
By Howard Fineman
August 13, 2011

...Based on what we heard here in the debate and on the straw poll stage, the GOP has committed itself to a New Ten Commandments for party members and their candidates.

Instead, the contenders are adhering to the following guidelines:
·       Thou Shalt Not Raise ANY Taxes
·       Thou Shalt Pass a Constitutional Amendment to Make Abortion Illegal
·       Thou Shalt Pass a Constitutional Amendment to Define Marriage as the Union of a Man and a Woman
·       Thou Shalt Repeal "ObamaCare," AKA the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
·       Thou Shalt Repeal The Dodd-Frank Banking Regulation Act
·       Thou Shalt Pass a Constitutional Amendment to Balance the Federal Budget
·       Thou Shalt Only Give Military Support to "Our Friends"
·       Thou Shalt Limit the Power of -- If Not Entirely Abolish -- the EPA
·       Thou Shalt Drill, Mine and Frak to the Widest Extent Possible
·       Thou Shalt Take the Name of President Obama in Vain

Film -- “The One Percent” (2006)
"The One Percent" refers to the tiny percentage of Americans who control nearly half the wealth of the U.S. This amount of wealth in the hands of so few people is a danger to our very way of life. Filmmaker and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, Jamie Johnson, captures his story through personal interviews with Robert Reich, Adnan Khashoggi, Bill Gates, and Steve Forbes. And he’s not afraid to butt heads with Milton Friedman, the economist who coined the term "the trickledown effect." He also shows how the other half lives, using real-world examples of the wealth gap: he takes a tour of a dilapidated housing project in Chicago, rides around with an enlightened taxi driver, and sees the human toll of the unfair economics of the Florida sugar industry.
Available through Netflix

Film -- “Why We Fight” (2006)
Filmed during the Iraq War, Eugene Jarecki's Sundance Grand Jury Award-winning documentary dissects America's military machine with a keen eye to answering a necessary question: Why do we engage in war? Through personal stories of soldiers, government officials, scholars, journalists and innocent victims, the film examines the political and economic interests and ideological factors, past and present, behind American militarism.
Available through Netflix

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