Nel's New Day

August 24, 2017

Louise Linton Epitomizes DDT Cabinet Wealth

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 8:10 PM
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When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) selected most billionaires for his Cabinet, he justified it by explaining that these are successful people who can “make America great again.” Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, known as the “king of foreclosures” for his ability to drive more people into poverty, married another privileged person who recently offended millions of people in the United States. She began by bragging about how much her wardrobe cost as she and her husband flew to argue in Louisville (KY) for more tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The $16,000 that she wore is comparable to an annual salary for many people. Nineteen percent of people in Kentucky live below the poverty level.

In Our Future, Richard Eskow (right) explains a few facts of life to Ms. Linton:

Dear Ms. Linton,

This has undoubtedly been a difficult couple of days for you, both as a person and as the wife of the United States Treasury Secretary.

Nobody enjoys the sudden onrush of hostile attention that comes when something they’ve said goes viral, and not in a good way. Your public record, and even your recent infamous post, suggests you want to be a good person – or, at the very least, that you’d like to be seen as one.

That’s not how people are seeing you at the moment, and that has to be rough.

Perhaps it would help if someone explained why you’ve received so much negative attention in the last 48 hours.

Bubble Life

Simply put: You live in a bubble. That’s not your fault. It’s just the way it is. According to the Internet – the same Internet that has turned on you with such ferocity – you were born into a wealthy Scottish family and educated at the prestigious St George’s School for Girls and Fettes College.

Your family owns a real-life, honest to God castle, for God’s sake.

A little self-awareness is therefore in order: Your experience is not like that of most people. Some people are born into privilege and make a dedicated effort to see life from other people’s point of view. That does not seem to have been the case with you.

Out of Africa

The controversy about your “memoir” of life as a volunteer teenager in Zambia suggests that you didn’t see the people of Zambia at all. The country itself seems to have passed you by. There are, for example, no 12-inch spiders there. [Last year, Linton has pulled her self-published “memoir,” In Congo’s Shadow, from Amazon.]

You portrayed Zambia as a savage, untamed place where wild animals roamed the street. You also imagined they saw you as an idealized, almost heavenly figure: a skinny foreigner “with long angel hair.”

Here’s a tip: Zambia is not a wild land, and you were not the first blonde that the people there had ever seen. They have many foreign visitors. They are also familiar with European and American magazines, television, and film.

The only “angel hair” spoken of in the capital city of Lusaka, in fact, is served at one of the city’s many Italian restaurants: here’s a listing of the top five, courtesy of TripAdvisor. Casa Portico has good pasta dishes, we’re told, while Frescobar is praised for its “great food and vibe.” 

 

 

See the People

You apparently do not appear to see the people of this country, either. In the United States, the wealthiest nation in human history, 45 million people live in poverty. That’s unjust. Most of us have endured decades of wage stagnation, a dying middle class, rising deaths of despair, mass incarceration, and other ordeals undreamed of in your rarefied world.

That might help explain why you received a rather unfriendly response when you posted a picture of yourself exiting a U.S. government plane with your husband, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with the following comment:

Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa

You were shown exiting an aircraft that is paid for and bears the symbolic markings of the American people, while wearing – and boasting about – your very expensive clothing. You ended your hashtag string with the name of the country itself, as if this nation – suffering and struggling as it is – was nothing more than another accessory, a bauble to be worn around your wrist or finger or ankle or neck.

An Expensive Bauble

But then, that’s how the entire billionaire-heavy Trump administration, from the President and your husband on down, has treated this country: as a personal trinket to be used for personal enrichment or glorification.

That’s undoubtedly why an Instagram user named Jenni M responded, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable”

You certainly didn’t empathize with Jenni, did you? Here’s what you wrote:

@Jennimiller29 cute!….Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity [SIC] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!

Have You Given More?

Oh, Louise. You got that so wrong. There’s no room to list all your grievous mistakes, but here are some highlights:

“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband?”

I don’t need to know anything about Jenni M to know that, in fact, she has been better for the economy than your husband.

There’s no kind way to put this: Your husband was involved in some very bad business. He literally foreclosed on a widow over a 27-cent error.

Investigators in the California Attorney General’s office concluded that his bank had engaged in “widespread violations,” identified over a thousand illegal actions, and wanted to file charges.

Most people find that behavior even creepier than… well, than a 12-inch spider.

Mortgage holders, especially elderly widows, are not something to be used and then discarded like last year’s Hermes scarves.

Your husband’s reputation wasn’t helped when reports emerged alleging that he had perjured himself before Congress. He was once required to run his bank under the supervision of an independent monitor – by an agency he now oversees. Maybe that can help explain why people are a little touchy about the flaunting of your family’s wealth in a government aircraft.

Your husband hasn’t “given” anything to the economy. He and his fellow bankers nearly crashed the global economy, in fact, and the recession they caused has robbed the U.S. economy of trillions of dollars.

Fort Knox

It’s more than a little ironic that you and your husband were in Kentucky to tour Fort Knox, that target of James Bond villains where the nation’s gold bullion is stored. He and his fellow bankers robbed the economy of much more money than Fort Knox could ever hold.

Your wealth isn’t the product of personal virtue. You, along with other billionaire families, have benefited from government policies that created levels of economic inequality unseen since the Roaring Twenties of the last century.

You should not have as much as you do, and that which you do possess should be taxed appropriately to restore economic balance.

What’s more, paying taxes isn’t a “sacrifice.” It’s a reciprocal obligation, a chance to repay the nation that has allowed people like you to become so wealthy. It’s an opportunity for gratitude. What’s more, given the way tax laws work in this country, there is every possibility that Jenni M has paid a greater percentage of income in taxes than you or your husband have.

Angel Heart

In all likelihood, your ordeal is ending as I write these words. You’ve apologized for your comments through your publicist, and that’s good.

Most of us have to apologize directly, because we don’t have publicists, but any apology is appreciated. Your social media account is now private. If you’re not prepared to grow and change, that’s undoubtedly a good decision.

In any case, I hope this has been “a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity.”

I know it’s been harsh in places, but sometimes the kindest thing we can do is be honest. I hope that the next time you’re tempted to speak out publicly, you will do so with humility and compassion.

Oh, and here’s one last hint about life here in the ordinary world: We identify angels by looking at their hearts, not their hair.

[Thank you, Mr. Eskow.]

December 26, 2012

Fixing the Economy Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shut off the lights and left town because he couldn’t manage his Republicans. The Tea Party members refused to consider any compromise, and the House couldn’t pass a budget proposal without them. Today President Obama returned to Washington from his holiday vacation in Hawaii, but Boehner is nowhere to be seen.

Yesterday I provided a fantasy approach of income equality that would solve the country’s deficit problem. Richard Eskow has a more pragmatic approach that might get passed.  The most important part of Eskow’s positions is to do away with what is called the “chained CPI” or “chained Consumer Price Index,” a strange approach to figure out a cost-of-living revision for Social Security.

At this time, Social Security payments are tied to the cost of living increases, meaning that it goes up based on how much prices go up. But the chained CPI has a peculiar twist. The higher the prices, the less people can afford to buy things so the lower the cost of living because they can’t afford these purchases.

For example, if the price of gasoline triples from $3.33 to $10 per gallon, then this is a 200-percent increase. But not with the chained CPI. Because people can’t afford $10 per gallon, they would buy less, which means that the cost of living increase is less than 200 percent because people aren’t buying it. Thus people get poorer and poorer, swelling from $1.4 billion in the first year to $122 billion by the tenth year.

If prices of anything goes up and people buy less, then there’s no inflation, according to chained CPI, because people don’t spend more. For example, if seniors eat pet food because they can’t afford the rising prices of chicken, then the government will pretend that seniors are doing fine because they can still buy food.

Tell the president and your House representatives to forget the chained CPI and do these instead. Notice how much more than the $122 billion from the Social Security “savings” that the country can put against the deficit.

  • Close multiple loopholes in the capital gains law – $174.2 billion: These include the “carried interest” loophole, which taxes hedge fund managers’ service fees at the low “investors’” rate; the ‘blended rate,’ which taxes some quick derivatives trades as if they were long-term investments; the ability to ‘gift’ capital gains to avoid taxation; a dodge for bartering capital gains; and the ability to ‘defer’ gains to future years.
  • Eliminate the capital gains altogether – $900 billion in savings.
  • Keep the president’s $250,000 figure for increased taxation – $183 billion: Changing this figure to $400,000 would reduce the deficit reduction impact by $183 billion.
  • Reduce the budget for U.S. overseas military bases by 20 percent – $200 billion: Dropping 702 of 4,471 military ‘installations’ in 63 foreign countries wouldn’t include bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, just those in nations such as Germany, South Korea, and Japan. The ten-year cost for these 4,471 bases is approximately $1 trillion. The waste in the Department of Defense is also high. For example, armed forces has 963 generals and admirals, 100 more than 9/11 when the Pentagon’s budget was half what it is now. A retired U.S. Army Colonel and military analyst said that the military needs only one-third of these high-ranking officers. The rest of them operate as lobbyists for the Pentagon while they have private jet rides and huge personal staffs that costs over $1 million—per general, totaling  $100 million just for those officials. U.S. taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year for  other luxuries. The Pentagon, for example, runs 234 golf courses around the world at an undisclosed cost. DoD’s Sungnam golf course in the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, is reportedly valued at $26 million. The military ski lodge and resort in the Bavarian Alps, which opened in 2004, cost $80 million. Marching bands also cost $500 million annually.
  • Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies – $220 billion: Current law specifically forbids the government from negotiating for lower rates for Medicare prescriptions  although the government paid for much of the research to develop the drugs.
  • Enact DoD-friendly cuts to military budget – $519 billion: Experts in the defense community came up with options that balanced short-term readiness with long-term preparation.
  • Enact Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s ‘Fairness in Taxation Act’ for very high earners – $872.5 billion: This solves the current tax structure that “fails to distinguish the merely ‘well-off’ from the ‘super-duper rich.’” It also taxes capital gains and dividend income as ordinary income for taxpayers with income over $1 million. Brackets would be as follows: $1-10 million: 45%; $10-20 million: 46%; $20-100 million: 47%; $100 million to $1 billion: 48%; $1 billion and over: 49%. The very wealthy would still pay much less than under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when the top rate was 91 percent as well as less than under most American presidents of the last century.
  • Eliminate corporate tax loopholes – $1.24 trillion: A 2007 Treasury Department report during George W. Bush’s second term concluded that “corporate tax preferences” (aka loopholes) lost $1,241,000,000,000 over a ten-year period.
  • Create a financial transactions tax for high-volume Wall Street trading – $1.8 trillion: The UK tax is 0.25 of each transaction, levied on both parties. Beyond the fiscal advantage, this might discourage the massive volume of ultra-high-speed computer-driven transactions that have turned the stock market into both an imperceptible “black box” and a real-time mega-casino operating in nanoseconds. “Algorithmic trading” doesn’t build economic value or encourage wise investment; instead it helped cause the 2008 recession.More than 200 economists have signed a letter supporting the concept of a financial transaction tax.

These solutions would bring in over $6 trillion in ten years rather than the $122 billion that cutting back Social Security would. The poor and middle class didn’t cause the problems with the economy; they shouldn’t have to pay for solving the problem. And people paid into Social Security. The money still exists; it’s just that George W. Bush took it to cover how high the deficit was becoming after he lowered taxes and started two wars.

Appropriations are something to watch during the next term. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) will chair that chamber’s Appropriations Committee after the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI. The position gives her power in setting the agenda for domestic spending, including policies that benefit women and families.

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