Nel's New Day

January 13, 2019

A Picture of U.S. Income, Health in 2018

Filed under: Income inequality — trp2011 @ 9:05 PM
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Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was inaugurated, he has evaluated the economy through the unemployment rate, the GDP, and the stock market. Yet the progress of United States is far more complicated that these few markers as conservative policies are destroying all except the wealthiest in the nation.

Lack of Equality in Wages: The low unemployment rate looks good, but wages don’t. Since Ronald Reagan was elected, the schism through wages for the wealthiest and the rest of the U.S. population has only increased in disastrous differences that have built since Ronald Reagan became president.

Inequality by States: Every state demonstrates serious inequality in income between the top one percent and the other 99 percent, with the ratio higher than 26.3 to 1 in at least eight states and Washington, D.C. Inequality in the United States has gone past the Gilded Age of the 1920s—gold on the outside but dross under the cover—as working people lose any bargaining power.

Unions: As corporations and conservative policies destroyed unions, income inequality ballooned. Workers who have more ability to negotiate with employers have a much better chance of staying out of poverty; corporations and policymakers who care only about profits have eroded this capacity. Support for unions is essential for a reversal of mass poverty in the United States.

Black/Hispanic Poverty Rates: Today’s federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is 25 percent less than at its peak in 1968. The current federal minimum wage was last increased to $7.25 in 2009. That amount is worth ten percent less than ten years ago while inflation has gone up almost 17 percent. A connection between inflation and an increase in minimum wage from 1968 would lower the black and Hispanic poverty rate by 14 percent from the actual 17.4 million to 15.1 million, bringing at least 2.5 million of these minorities out of poverty. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024 would take 7.4 million blacks and Hispanics out of poverty with the $12.47 minimum wage equivalent to 1968. This policy would save taxpayers billions by removing them from the safety net and strengthening the economy.

Teaching Wages: In the past few years, teachers have gone on strike in several states, many of them red, and 30,000 LA teachers are scheduled to follow suit tomorrow. In some states, teachers have run for legislature and won against the policymakers who starved education. Part of the problem is the teacher wage penalty—the difference between teachers and other college graduates. In every state, public school teachers are paid less, from 3.1 percent in Wyoming to 36.4 percent in Arizona.

Growing control by corporations in raising prices to benefit shareholders continues to transfer money from lower- and middle-income families to the wealthy, according to new research. Because the bottom 80 percent of the country owns just 10 percent of the shares but spends 60 percent of the money, they are the losers while the top 20 percent, the wealthy, make money. Shares alone took three percent of national household income from the bottom 80 percent in 2016 to give to the top 20 percent. One solution would be a cap on prices, something that conservatives oppose.

As income inequality increases, so does the rate of suicide. Researchers Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett found the stress, anxiety, and addiction connected to suicide also comes from the inequality. Rising suicide rates are one reason for the downward trend of life expectancy in the U.S. for three years. Maternal death increased again this past year, putting the U.S. in the same category as Afghanistan and Swaziland. Infant mortality rates haven’t decreased significantly for five years, staying far higher than rates for other developed countries. These trends come from lack of access to healthcare, especially the reversals in coverage since DDT’s inauguration. Forty percent of adults don’t have the savings to cover a $400 emergency, and over 25 percent skipped a medical treatment because of the cost in 2017.

In worldwide happiness, the United States fell for the second time in two years to 18th place. The Gallup-Sharecare Index reported significant declines in well-being in 21 states in 2017, the largest drop since the 2008 recession with six states more than in 2008. At least two-thirds of these 21 states voted for DDT. Not one state improved in well-being during 2017. Every morning I wake up, wondering what disaster has happened since I left the Internet the night before and then become grateful because DDT hasn’t declared World War III. And I’m not alone. That is life in the new world of “normal” in the United States.

February 16, 2018

White House Misery from Russia, Sexual Misconduct

Most people in the U.S. pay Social Security taxes for the entire year, but February 16 is the date when the last millionaire can stop because of the ceiling of $128,500. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) finished his Social Security payments in less than the first hour on January 1.

The biggest news today, however, was Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian collusion in the presidential election. A grand jury has indicted 13 Russian nationals for tampering with the U.S. political process through the Internet Research Agency (IRA), aka Glasvet, and the Concord Management and Consulting and Concord Catering. Concord hid their payments to the IRA by calling them software support. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants had “allegedly conducted what they called ‘information warfare’ against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust of candidates and political system in general.” He continued:

“They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.”

Chats from Julian Assange, who released edited emails through Wikileaks to denigrate Hillary Clinton and the Democrats also show his work to elect DDT and Republicans. The State Department and the Treasury Department had already missed the January 29 deadline to place sanctions on Russia.

These indictments are just one part of the investigation. Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s junior business partner and DDT’s campaign staffer, is “finalizing” a plea deal after his earlier indictment. Former White House staffer Steve Bannon also testified to Mueller for over 20 hours before he refused to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee that may charge him with contempt.

The Democratic memo from the Intelligence Committee has been turned down by DDT who already released the Republican version in its entirety. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that DDT would be fair in determining the release of the memo, but he maintained that the Dem’s memo had classified information.

According to U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta, the GOP memo had already declassified information about the investigation. He made that pronouncement because the DOJ is fighting the release of when the FBI received the dossier after Buzzfeed asked for this information in fighting a defamation lawsuit. Mehta rejected the DOJ argument that they couldn’t reveal the date by saying that DDT “has now declassified an entire national security investigation.” The argument for not releasing the Democratic memo is gone. Thanks to Rep. Devin (R-CA) Nunes’ GOP memo, Buzzfeed has most of the classified information that it needed.  The FBI had already objected to releasing the GOP memo because it was misleading, but DDT didn’t even bother to read the GOP memo before he promised its release.

Another problem for DDT is the ruling from a federal appeals court to unseal 20-year-old records about his mobster, mafia, and Russian connections with Felix Sater who developed the Trump SoHo Hotel-Condominium and a tower in Fort Lauderdale, both resulting in fraud lawsuit. DDT was involved in a “pump-and-dump penny” stock scam that artificially inflates the price of owned stock through false and misleading positive comments to sell cheaply-acquired stock at a much higher price. DDT used The Apprentice to promote his So-Ho project and collected a large cash amount before its failure led to foreclosure; even then DDT earned an annual $3 million for managing it until its sale last year. Almost criminally charged, Ivanka and Erica Trump escaped with a large political donation to Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance. Sater told worked for DDT through back channels to get a Ukraine “peace plan” in exchange for dropping Russian sanctions after he promised DDT’ lawyer Michael Cohen that he would work with Putin to “get Donald Trump elected.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has asked the Treasury Department for documentation about DDT’s sale in 2008 of an uninhabitable Palm Beach mansion to Russian Oligarch Dmitry Rybolevley for much more than it was worth. DDT’s purchase price was $41.35 million, and he sold it for $95 million for a property evaluated at $30 million. Although DDT claimed that he never met Rybolevley, their paths crossed, including during DDT’s campaign in 2016.

The biggest DDT news in the last two weeks before Mueller’s indictments was the Rob Porter case. It began as a basic domestic abuse situation before it blew up into a situation marked by falsehoods by White House staff, led by Sanders and Chief of Staff John Kelly.

After Porter’s alleged beating and verbal abuse of two ex-wives became public, he resigned—although he stayed in the White House for an indeterminate time. As staff secretary, he held one of the highest positions there, serving as liaison between DDT and all government agencies, handling all the communications that go to DDT, and acting as “gatekeeper to the Oval Office, determining which articles and policy proposals reached the president’s hands and screening the briefing materials that his visitors shared with him,” according to WaPo. 

For several days after the revelation, Kelly supported Porter and tried to save his job. Even when Kelly gave up the attempt, he—and DDT—refused to acknowledge that Porter might have committed the acts attributed to him. Communications director Hope Hicks, who wrote the supportive statements about Porter, is also dating him, despite warnings from an ex-girlfriend of Porter. Staffer Kellyanne Conway said that Hicks was safe with Porter because she is strong and smart, insinuating that only weak and dumb women are victims of domestic abuse.

The White House standard line that no one had told them about any problems with Porter unraveled after FBI director, Christopher Wray, testified at a Senate hearing that the agency had reported about Porter’s behavior last March, in July, and again in November when the White House kept insisting that the FBI do more extensive investigations. WH counsel Don McGahn had said that Porter should resign in November, but nothing came of his suggestion. Several days after Porter’s resignation, DDT wished him a successful career and refused to answer a question during his event with sheriffs if he had any message for victims of abuse. Since then, DDT declared that he was opposed to domestic violence but didn’t say anything against Porter.

Within the first week after the Porter news broke, Sanders switched the blame to the FBI after admitting that the White House knew about the situation and then moved the focus to the White House Office of Personnel Security. Kelly’s support of Porter has led to the possibility that Kelly might be leaving the White House, but news about the problem has largely disappeared since the tragic school shooting in Florida and the indictment of Russians for their part in last year’s election.

GOP legislators are trying hard to cover for DDT. For example, Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said that “blackmail and domestic situations [aren’t] crimes of character…. They aren’t dishonesty.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who won’t run for re-election this year, came out to join the full-throated praise of wife-abuser and man who sees everything sensitive document despite no security clearance, Rob Porter, this week. Porter had earlier worked for Hatch, who wants him to “work his way through and do what’s right.”

Throughout his campaign, DDT has lambasted Hillary Clinton with accusations that she mishandled classified information and should go to prison. Yet more than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President lacked permanent security clearances a few months ago, including his top legal counsel, Press Secretary Sanders, daughter, and son-in-law. At least 34 of them started at the White House on the day that DDT did. Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who has recently left WH employment, never had clearance, and George Banks, special assistant for economic policy, resigned because he couldn’t get clearance. More are listed here.

DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen may have sent Stormy Daniels away with $130,000, but Karen McDougal has a report about her nine-month affair with DDT in 2006, beginning three months after DDT’s son Barron was born. She sold her account to the owner of the National Enquirer for $150,000, but it protected DDT by quashing the story.

DDT’s approval ratings may be crawling up around 40 percent, but women who are watching his approval of sexual misconduct have dropped his ratings among females to 29 percent. Among that group, the strongest supporters are still white women without college degrees, but their approval for DDT is falling seriously in the Rustbelt. Over 22 percent of white women without college degrees report that DDT’s actions have hurt them and their families, and 47 percent report the nation’s economy as not good or poor. Sixty-five percent believe he is not the “very stable genius” that he claims to be, and 79 percent see sexual harassment of women in the workplace as a problem.

For the first time in the nation, not one state viewed improvement in 2017, and 21 states saw their well-being scores decline, six states more than the previous record in the Great Recession of 2009.

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