Bye-Bye Little Birdie

He paid $44 billion to buy a toy that he didn’t know how to play with.  Last night I closed my Twitter account, so I have one less ‘pinned tab’ taking up space at the top of my browser screens!  I’ve been considering such a move ever since Elon Musk started threatening to buy Twitter, almost did it when he officially took ownership and fired half the people working there.  But for me, the final straw came yesterday evening when Musk announced that the former guy’s access to Twitter has been restored.

On Friday evening, Musk put out a “poll” asking if people wanted Trump to return to Twitter or not.  I immediately voted with a resounding “No!!!”, but at the end of the 24-hour polling period, those voting to let Trump back on outnumbered those of us who voted against.  And so, I’m finished.  That, for me, proved that since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has turned into a veritable garbage dump, and I refuse to share space with the likes of Donald Trump.  Ah well … one less thing to stir my angst!

But what a waste of $44 billion!  I did a bit of research and calculating, and even with today’s food prices, that $44 billion could have fed nearly 16 million people for a year!  SIXTEEN MILLION!!!  And I can only imagine how many homes for the homeless, how many pair of glasses for children whose parents cannot afford them, how many months’ supply of insulin for diabetics who cannot afford it.  The list is endless … and yet Elon bought himself this social media network and begin breaking it the very first day!

There is a direct inverse correlation between the amount of money a person has and the size of his conscience.  Oh sure, I know there are exceptions like Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, and others, but … even they are left with billions more than they could use in a lifetime.  Take Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, who has given away $2.1 billion to causes such as the environment, education, and homelessness.  $2.1 billion is a lot of money worthy of kudos, until you consider that he is left with $184.8 billion in his own coffers.  The amount he gave away comes to just over 1% of his net worth … most people of average/moderate incomes typically give a higher percentage of their income than that to worthy causes.  And … Bezos spent more than twice the amount of his ‘philanthropy’, some $5.5 billion, for a ridiculous and pointless trip to space last year.

In short, Elon Musk wasted an obscene amount of money that could have helped millions of people in one way or another, then turned his purchase into a trash heap.  If he completes the destruction of Twitter before the end of the year, he’ll have one heck of a tax write-off next year!

The Rich Get Richer … And We Help Them!

One of my pet peeves these days is the income disparity in this country … in the words of Percy Bysshe Shelley, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”  Of late, I have been having an ongoing battle with my conscience regarding my relationship with Amazon.  I have been a member of Amazon Prime for a number of years now.  I buy most all of our household products such as toilet paper, Tide pods, dish detergent, etc., from Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program.  I own a Kindle and purchase a book or two most weeks.  Amazon has become my ‘go-to’ place for most of our non-food needs, for it is convenient — delivery to my doorstep, most often the next day — and I save money.  But of late, I feel guilty every time I hit the button to give more money to Mr. Jeff Bezos.

A letter I received this morning from Senator Bernie Sanders added fuel to the fire burning in my guilty conscience.  An excerpt from that letter …

Yet in the midst of all of the crises we currently face, Congress will likely be voting next week on a bill that provides tens of billions in corporate welfare to some of the most profitable corporations and wealthiest people on the planet. This bill provides $53 billion to the profitable microchip industry with no taxpayer protections and, if you can believe it, another $10 billion to Blue Origin, a space company owned by Jeff Bezos.

Amazon, which is owned by Bezos, is a company which, in a given year, pays nothing in federal income taxes after making billions in profits. And, by the way, in a given year Bezos has himself paid nothing in federal income taxes despite being worth nearly $200 billion.

Jeff Bezos has enough money to buy a $500 million yacht.

Jeff Bezos has enough money to buy a $23 million mansion with 25 bathrooms in Washington, D.C.

No. I do not think that the taxpayers of this country need to be providing a $10 billion bailout to Jeff Bezos to fuel his space hobby.

25 bathrooms???  Seriously???  Who in hell needs 25 bathrooms???  We have a 1,190 square foot townhouse that we pay $1,281 in rent for every month, with 2.5 bathrooms and we feel that is a luxury!  My daughter works 60+ hours a week as a nursing manager to pay the rent and recently received a promotion – with additional responsibilities, but no increase in pay!  And we’re helping support a man who has 25 bathrooms in one house, a half-billion-dollar yacht, and pays NO taxes?  It’s high time for Dickens’ ghosts of Christmas to pay Mr. Bezos a visit and see if he can be changed as Mr. Scrooge was!

In all good conscience, I do not think I can continue feeding the dragon.  Granted, the amount of money I spend on Amazon in a year is but a drop in the bucket for Mr. Bezos, but … a lot of drops are what fills the bucket, and Mr. Bezos’ bucket runneth over already.


And just for a bit of humour …

Open Your Wallet, Rich Dude!!!

It’s no secret that I have very little use or respect for the ultra-wealthy.  Many rose to the top by climbing on the backs of the rest of us, while others were born with the proverbial ‘silver spoon’ in their mouth.  For the most part, those who have millions or billions in their investment portfolio look down on the rest of us and laugh, unwilling to share their wealth, uncaring whether we live or die.  For his 2023 budget, President Biden has included a serious tax on the ultra-wealthy and while I applaud it, I say it should be more, should cover every person who has more than six figures of net worth.  But who am I?  I’m not wealthy, never wanted to be.  To cut to the chase here … Robert Reich has written his thoughts on the proposal to raise taxes on the rich and he is far more knowledgeable than I, so I shall turn the floor over to him.


Really? A billionaire tax? Now? Are you kidding me?

Why it’s still a real possibility

Robert Reich

29 March 2022

President Biden’s budget, which came out yesterday, proposes a new minimum tax of 20 percent on households worth more than $100 million — which the White House says will reduce federal budget deficits by $1 trillion over a decade. The tax would apply only to the top 0.01 percent — the richest 1 percent of the richest 1 percent. Half of the expected $1 trillion in revenue would come from 704 households worth $1 billion or more.

If enacted, it would effectively prevent the wealthiest sliver of America from paying lower rates than middle-class families, while helping to generate revenues to fuel Biden’s domestic ambitions and keep the deficit in check relative to the U.S. economy.

Recall that America’s 704 billionaires have increased their wealth by $1.7 trillion since the start of the pandemic in February 2020, while most Americans have struggled to make ends meet. That means the billionaires could theoretically pay for everything Joe Biden and House Democrats have proposed — from childcare to climate measures — and still be as wealthy as they were at the start of the pandemic. Elon Musk’s pandemic gains, for example, could cover the cost of tuition for 5.5 million community college students and feed 29 million low-income public-school kids, while still leaving Musk richer than he was before Covid.

The dirty little secret is the ultra-rich don’t live off their paychecks. They live off their stock portfolios. Jeff Bezos’s salary from Amazon was $81,840 in 2020 yet he rakes in some $149,353 every minute from the soaring value of his Amazon stocks, which is how he affords five mansions, including one in Washington DC with 25 bathrooms. (Why would anyone want 25 bathrooms?)

So if you want to tax billionaires, you have to go after their wealth.

But does Biden’s plan have a snowball’s chance of getting this enacted in the hell called Washington? The problem is the old political chicken-and-egg: A big reason why the super-wealthy have done so well is they’ve bankrolled politicians who alter laws (such as tax laws) to give them even more wealth. They’ve bought armies of lobbyists to keep their taxes minuscule and create tax loopholes large enough to drive their Lamborghinis through.

ProPublica’s bombshell report last June showing America’s super-wealthy paying little or nothing in taxes revealed not only their humongous wealth but also how they’ve parlayed that wealth into political power to shrink their taxes. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, reportedly paid no federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Elon Musk, the second richest, paid none in 2018. Warren Buffett, often ranking number 3, paid a tax rate of 0.1 percent between 2014 and 2018.

All previous efforts to tax America’s super-rich have failed amid major political head winds. Republican senators obviously won’t bite the billionaire hands that feed them, and so – yet again – Biden needs every Democratic senator’s vote. But why would any sane person who has followed politics over the last year suppose that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will go along? Haven’t we been here before?

Yes, except that for months now Manchin has been on the receiving end of unremitting horse dung — not just from progressives but from establishment Democrats who accuse him of torpedoing any chance Biden and the Democrats have of retaining control over Congress after the midterms. Manchin has also been criticized by the mainstream press for taking big money from coal interests and then voting down climate measures (see yesterday’s New York Times front page feature story, here). In other words, Manchin badly needs some cred.

Manchin has also expressed concern about the size of the federal budget deficit. And in December, he told the White House he would support some version of a tax targeting billionaire wealth.

What really convinces me Biden’s billionaire tax stands a chance is that I doubt the White House would risk another big public loss to Manchin. After getting all hell beat out of them for building public expectations of passing Build Back Better, only to have Manchin kill it, Biden and his staff would not propose another big initiative unless Manchin had already given it the green light.

What about Sinema? She’ll go along with whatever Manchin ultimately votes for.

So a billionaire tax is by no means a dead. Even in this disappointing year, I’m staying hopeful.

Good Grief Snarky Snippets

There are more ‘good grief, Charlie Brown’ moments in the news these days than I can shake a stick at!  That must mean it’s time for an angst-relieving (or angst-inducing, whichever way you look at it) snarky snippets post, eh?


Josh Hawley’s mug on a mug

Junior Senator Josh Hawley from the ‘show-me’ state of Missouri, has taken the respectability of his position to yet another all-time low.  Perhaps you remember Mr. Hawley’s blatant support of the insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, as he walked by and gave them a smile, a wave, and a ‘fist pump.’  Well, today he is turning that hateful symbol into profit … for himself!

The mug shown above can be yours for only $20, the profits going to Mr. Hawley himself, of course! Hawley claims that this cup is his way of “owning the libs,” whatever the hell that means, and that proceeds from the sales of the mug will provide him with some much-needed campaign cash. Oh, and the bottom of the mug …

If you wish to support ignorance and treason, if you wish to continue to allow stupidity and greed to rule the U.S. Senate, then by all means be sure to order yours today!!!


A bridge too far?  No, a man too rich!

I have concluded that I despise Jeff Bezos!  In fact, I am currently looking for better options than Amazon so that I can stop helping the ignoble Mr. B stomp on everyone else in his quest to show off his billions in wealth!

The latest is that he has had a huge yacht … 417 feet long … built by a Dutch firm in Rotterdam.  Trouble is, the yacht is so bloody big that they can’t get it out to sea, for it won’t fit under the historic Koningshaven Bridge.  But never fear … Bezos has the solution!  Dismantle the bridge! 🙄 I mean, no way should Mr. Bezos have to put on his thinking cap and figure out how to take the 310-foot-high yacht apart then put it back together after passing under the bridge, right?  So instead, because Bezos threw the weight of his money around 💰, the City of Rotterdam has agreed to remove the middle section of the bridge to accommodate the world’s most wealthy man.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The move is controversial because the steel bridge has a long history and is now a national monument. It previously went through a major renovation which saw it out of action from 2014 to 2017, when officials said it would not be dismantled again.  The bridge will be put back to rights after Bezos gets his boat out, but still …

Bezos may have more money than anyone else in the world, but when it comes to values, conscience, compassion, etc., he is among the poorest in the world, for he is devoid of all.


A murderer sues his victim’s family???

The murderer is none other than George Zimmerman, the ‘man’ who murdered a young teenager simply for being … Black.  I’m sure most of you remember the story from February 2012, ten years ago.  Trayvon Martin was leaving a convenience store in a predominantly white neighborhood where he was staying with friends.  Mr. Zimmerman was a member of the local neighborhood watch program and determined that as a Black person, Trayvon had no legitimate reason for existing in that neighborhood, so he attacked and murdered him.

Zimmerman did not go to prison and has continued to live his life free as a bird, but apparently that was not sufficient for him.  He filed a lawsuit against Trayvon Martin’s parents, their lawyer, two of Trayvon’s friends, and Harper Collins Publishers who had published a book written by Trayvon’s parents about the 2013 case against George Zimmerman.  Zimmerman claims they tried to “destroy his good will and reputation in the community.”  🙄 What ‘good will and reputation’ … he has none … he’s a murderer!

Thankfully the judge in the case had the good sense to throw it out saying that Zimmerman had failed to show “any fraudulent representation” and said any further arguments in the case would be futile.


Methinks there’s more to this than meets the eye …

Mazars USA, the accounting firm that has previously handled the Trump Organization’s financial records and tax returns, has parted way with Trump & Co.  In a letter to the Trump Organization on February 9th, the accounting firm notified the company of its decision and disclosed that it could no longer stand behind annual financial statements it prepared for Trump & Co.  They further advised the Trump Organization to inform anyone who had gotten the documents not to use them when assessing the financial health of the company and the ex-president.  Mazar’s General Counsel, William Kelly, wrote …

“While we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies, based upon the totality of the circumstances, we believe our advice to you to no longer rely upon those financial statements is appropriate.”

What does this mean for the ongoing investigations in New York?  It’s too early to say, but if justice is served, it will cause the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and New York Attorney General Letitia James to take an even closer look at the finances of the company, particularly their asset valuation and taxes.  However, I’m hesitant to predict anything at this point, for we have all seen how Trump is notorious for evading the laws that apply to everyone else and seems to truly be Teflon-coated.

What A Tragic Waste!!!

I’ve made no secret of my feelings about millionaires and billionaires who hoard their wealth rather than using it to help people in need.  I’ve also made no secret of my feelings about space travel in this, the 21st century, but in case you missed it, I think it is a complete and total waste of resources.  Combine the two, and you have a very pissed off Filosofa!  Every night, thousands of children around the world go to bed hungry.  Every day, people are dying of diseases that could have been prevented, if only they had access to affordable healthcare.  People are living in their cars, under overpasses on highways.  Some people are working 2-3 jobs just to ensure their children have enough to eat.  And this nation spends millions, billions to play Buzz Lightyear.  NASA’s budget for 2021 is $23.3 billion!  Imagine how many people could eat for a month for that amount of money.

I am equally galled, perhaps even more so, by private citizens playing Star Wars with their billions, rather than using their good fortune to help those less fortunate.  And yes, folks, it is simply good fortune.  No, hard work did not earn those billionaires their billions … most of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths, played their cards right and invested wisely, and now they … literally … own the damn world!  And even if they had slaved in the fields from sunup to sundown to earn their wealth, it is unconscionable to throw it away on ego trips when people ‘round the globe are starving.

I am referring, of course specifically to three people — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, Richard Branson, an uber-wealthy businessman, and Elon Musk, founder of Tesla … three men whose combined wealth could raise the entire planet out of poverty and who have made their wealth from the blood, sweat and tears of the average Joe!  But rather than use their wealth for such things as helping improve the environment, helping people out of poverty, helping provide medical care in this era of the pandemic, they prefer to build toys and play with them.  What is accomplished by their trip to space?  Not. One. Damned. Thing.

Turns out, I am not alone in my disgust, as several others have similar complaints.

I also saw at least one comment claiming that these men were doing ‘great’ things and opening new frontiers for the human race.  Excuse me, folks, but humans will never life on other planets or in outer space.  Oh sure, they may waste billions more dollars developing controlled-environments in small spaces, but that’s not living.  No other planet besides Earth has the resources … little things like breathable air, potable water, arable soil … to support life as we know it, so all the space exploration is NOT going to provide us a second option when we complete the destruction of Planet Earth!  It is a waste of time, energy, and money … resources that could be used to end hunger, eradicate most diseases, and help repair the damage we have so selfishly done to our environment.  Damn Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk.  These are NOT good men, you will never see them on one of my ‘good people’ posts!

Where’s The Mail???

I don’t know about you, but my mail delivery has been horrid for the past month.  My insulin arrived at the post office on a Thursday, I was told it would be delivered on Friday, but it wasn’t.  Then I was told it would be delivered on Saturday.  It wasn’t.  Finally it was delivered on Tuesday, after sitting in the post office for five days, this despite the fact that the box was clearly marked …Insulin boxI almost never get mail on Wednesday anymore, and only about half the time on Thursday.  No, this is not normal … prior to last month, I can only remember 2-3 days in the past 10 years that we didn’t receive mail.  In addition, a friend sent me a package from the UK in early May that I still have yet to receive.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in deep trouble, my friends.  While Donald Trump is directly responsible for part of the problem, and I’ll get to that in a minute, the USPS’ problems began long before Trump showed up with his wrecking ball.

In 2006, under the Bush administration, Congress passed the Postal Act of 2006 that required the USPS to prefund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits in the span of ten years—a cost of approximately $110 billion. Although the money is intended to be set aside for future Post Office retirees, the funds are instead being diverted to help pay down the national debt.  This was the beginning of the USPS struggle to stay afloat.

And then in 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated and things went downhill from there.  It is a personal vendetta for Trump.  Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.  The Post has been, as have all legitimate media outlets, critical of much of Trump’s rhetoric and many of his actions since taking office.  The criticism is well-deserved, and personally I think often understated.  However, as we know, Trump cannot tolerate criticism even when it is earned, so he went on a personal vendetta against Bezos and is refusing to release a $10 million loan to the USPS that was approved by Congress this spring, unless the USPS ‘quadruples’ what they charge Amazon to deliver packages.

Now, bear in mind that if the USPS did raise the rates to Amazon, it isn’t Jeff Bezos or Amazon who would pay the price … it is you and me.  Companies pass their costs to their customers … simple fact of life.

But there is another factor in play here.  Many believed in 2006 that the bill passed by Congress was an attempt to force the USPS to privatize … transferring ownership from the U.S. government to a private company, and thereby opening it up to competition.  Trump seems to be hellbent to sell off the USPS, and his current refusal to help keep it afloat seems to be an attempt to force that issue.  His Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has also called for certain parts of USPS to be sold off.

louis-dejoyEnter Trump’s new pick for Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.  DeJoy’s main qualification for the position is that he donated millions of dollars to the Republican Party and $1.2 million to Donald Trump’s “Victory fund”.  Said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, a long-time advocate of keeping the Postal Service public …

“When I heard that he had been appointed I quickly realized that the president is irrepressible in his move to destroy the USPS.”

Congressman Gerry Connolly, chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, also weighed in …

“President Trump rewards a partisan donor by installing him at the United States Postal Service. The Postal Service is in crisis and needs real leadership and someone with knowledge of the issues. This crony doesn’t cut it.”

No, it doesn’t cut it, but what’s new?  Most every member of Trump’s cabinet is highly Unqualified for the position to which they were appointed, and they were appointed either in return for mega-donations (Betsy DeVos) or to destroy some portion of this nation (Andrew Wheeler).  Apparently, DeJoy fits both of those categories.  DeJoy has said postal reform will include identifying “new and creative ways” for USPS to fulfill its mission with a focus on efficiency.  How ‘bout trying to deliver the damn mail on time???

In the past, I have argued against privatization of the Postal Service, for I felt that once profit became a motive, we would be the losers.  However, at this point, I’m not sure a for-profit business could f**k it up any worse than the federal government with a madman determined to destroy everything in his path is doing.

The statute that created the Postal Service begins with the following sentence: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by an Act of Congress, and supported by the people.”

Once again, Donald Trump is shredding, stomping and burning the Constitution of the United States.  November 3rd cannot come soon enough!burning constitution

The Teflon Donnie

A day or two ago (I lose track anymore) I posted an opinion by a citizen of the UK listing the reasons the Brits do not like Donald Trump (putting it mildly). Today, a UK friend has chimed in with his view of Trump, his many scams, and now his attempt to destroy the USPS as we know it. I’m coming to see that our friends across the pond see our own situation more clearly than we do sometimes. Thanks David … great summation!

The BUTHIDARS

During the 1980,s the Teflon Don, John  Gotti of the New York Gambino family was so named because he survived 3 high profile trials. That the trials were fixed didn’t come out until later. He died in 2002 in prison though.

I mention this only for the similarity to Teflon Donnie who may or may not be associated with any crime families in New York other than his own. Trump University ran a scam . They offered courses in real estate and asset management and wealth creation. The organisation was not accredited so awarded no certificates but used high pressure tactics to sell retreat places.There was a lawsuit in 2013 which doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. But two class action cases in federal Court llad to him saying he would not settle but then after being given the Presidency in 2016 he settles the cases for 25 million.

Then…

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An Update And An Opinion

In a minute, I will share a piece by Robert Reich, but first I have an update on this morning’s post, King Donnie.  You may remember that I wrote about Trump claiming “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total,” and saying that it would be entirely up to him, not the states’ governors, when the country would re-open for business.  Well, it seems that mine were not the only feathers he ruffled with his rhetoric …

“I don’t know what the president is talking about, frankly. We have a constitution … we don’t have a king … the president doesn’t have total authority.” – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

“I am not running for office to be King of America. I respect the constitution. I’ve read the constitution. I’ve sworn an oath to it many times. I respect the great job so many of this country’s governors – Democratic and Republican – are doing under these horrific circumstances.” – Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden

“Nope. That would be the literal definition of a totalitarian government – which our traditions, our constitution, and our values all rightly and decisively reject.” – Steve Vladeck, Professor of Law at the University of Texas

“How & when to modify physical distancing orders should & will be made by Governors. But the Constitution & common sense dictates these decisions be made at the state level.” – Republican Senator Marco Rubio

I’m thinking maybe it’s about time for Trump to listen to the people who have actually read and understand the U.S. Constitution.  And now, I bring you Robert Reich on an entirely different topic and one of my own pet peeves …


America’s billionaires are giving to charity – but much of it is self-serving rubbish

Well-publicized philanthropy shows how afraid the super-rich are of a larger social safety net – and higher taxes

Robert Reich-4As millions of jobless Americans line up for food or risk their lives delivering essential services, the nation’s billionaires are making conspicuous donations – $100m from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos for food banks, billions from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for a coronavirus vaccine, thousands of ventilators and N95 masks from Elon Musk, $25m from the Walton family and its Walmart foundation. The list goes on.

On Wednesday, Forbes released its annual billionaires list, happily noting that “the planet’s wealthiest are helping the global effort to combat the Covid-19 outbreak”.

I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but much of this is self-serving rubbish.

First off, the amounts involved are tiny relative to the fortunes behind them. Bezos’s $100m, for example, amounts to about 11 days of his income.

Well-publicized philanthropy also conveniently distracts attention from how several of these billionaires are endangering their workers and, by extension, the public.

With online sales surging, Amazon is on a hiring binge. But Bezos still doesn’t provide sick leave for workers unless they test positive for Covid-19, in which case they get just two weeks. On 20 March, four senators sent him a letter expressing concern that the company wasn’t doing enough to protect its warehouse workers.

Walmart’s booming sales have caused it to hire more than 100,000 workers over the past three weeks. But the firm failed to implement social distancing for two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guidelines on 16 March. Several workers have died. Most still don’t have access to gloves, masks or hand sanitizer. They don’t get paid sick leave, not even at stores where employees have contracted the virus.

Musk initially dismissed sheltering as “dumb” and defied a sheriff’s order to shelter-in-place by keeping open Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, telling employees the factory was an “essential” business.

The third way conspicuous philanthropy is self-serving is by suggesting that government shouldn’t demand more from the super-rich, even in a national emergency. As Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial page put it, if we had a wealth tax like Elizabeth Warren proposed, “it’s unlikely [Bill Gates] would have the capacity to act this boldly.”

That’s absurd. Warren’s tax would have cost Gates about $6bn a year, roughly his annual income from his $100bn.

Besides, all the billionaire charity combined is a tiny fraction of the trillions the government has already spent on the coronavirus crisis. How does the Journal believe we’re going to pay down this added national debt if the wealthiest among us don’t pay more taxes? Even when this nightmare is over, most Americans will be hard pressed.

And why should we believe that Gates or any other billionaire’s “boldness” necessarily reflects society’s values and needs? Oligarchies aren’t the same as democracies.

The worst fear of the billionaire class is that the government’s response to the pandemic will lead to a permanently larger social safety net.

“Once the virus is conquered – and it will be – the biggest risk will be the political campaign to expand government control over far more of American economic life,” warns Murdoch’s Journal.

After all, the Great Depression of the 1930s spawned social security and the minimum wage, as well as a widespread conviction that government should guarantee a minimum standard of living. The second world war yielded the GI Bill and then the National Defense Education Act, enshrining the government’s role as a financier of higher education.

Even programs that don’t enjoy wide popularity when first introduced, such as the Affordable Care Act, enlarge the nation’s sense of what is reasonable for the government to do for its citizens. The ACA lives on, more popular than ever, notwithstanding the GOP’s determination to repeal it and Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine it.

As the pandemic challenges the security and safety of all Americans, some conservative politicians are proposing things that would have been unthinkable – certainly unspeakable – only months ago.

The Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley is calling for the federal government to “cover 80% of wages for workers at any US business, up to the national median wage” until the crisis is over.

“Workers will benefit from the steady paycheck and the knowledge their jobs are safe,” he says.

Indeed. Hawley’s logic would as easily justify national paid sick leave and universal basic income, permanently.

If the pandemic has revealed anything, it’s that America’s current social safety net and healthcare system does not protect the majority of Americans in a national emergency. We are the outlier among the world’s advanced nations in subjecting our citizens to perpetual insecurity.

We are also the outlier in possessing a billionaire class that, in controlling much of our politics, has kept such proposals off the public agenda.

At least until now.

Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. His new book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now.

The Post Office is in Trouble. Here’s How to Help.

The United States Postal Service is one of those things we use every single day, but we rarely give it much thought, taking for granted that we will receive our daily mail and be able to send letters, cards and packages for a (mostly) reasonable price. Many of us receive life-saving medications by mail, we order necessities or even food, we receive our bills by mail. But today, the fool on the hill is threatening to allow the USPS to go broke, in part because he fears what will happen in November if we can all cast our vote by mail. Our friend TokyoSand has written an excellent post summarizing the situation and with a few suggestions for what we can do to help … please read!

Political⚡Charge

usps-logo.gif

Is the U.S. Post Office, enshrined in the Constitution, really about to go bust?

The Post Office is in financial dire straits, yes. It is also true that they’ve been under tremendous financial strain before and received help from Congress. So what’s happening now? Let’s go through a quick rundown.

Why is the Post Office in trouble?

The Post Office is in trouble because the coronavirus has sharply curtailed how much mail is being sent by businesses. Late last week Postmaster General Megan Brennan informed Congress of the dire situation. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Post Office said this after their briefing, “[T]he pandemic has completely changed the environment here. The mail volume drop is catastrophic.” Just last week, the drop in mail volume was around 30%, and it is expected to get as high as 50% as the pandemic wears on.

The Post…

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Unconscionable!!!

Jeff-BezosJeff Bezos, the man who co-founded Amazon and today is the CEO and 12% shareholder in the highly profitable company, has a net worth of $118 billion.  Just to make that a bit more visual, that’s $118,000,000,000.  It’s a lot of money, anyway you look at it.  Bezos is said to be the richest individual in the world.  The world.  Perhaps now we understand the source of the “Amazon smile”. Last year (2019) alone, Amazon posted $280 billion in revenue and $11.9 billion in profits.  At least they will actually pay federal income tax for 2019, unlike 2018 when they paid $0 on $11 billion in profits.

Amazon is one of the few companies whose business has surged during this time of coronavirus pandemic.  More and more people are ordering household supplies and even food that they cannot find in their local stores, or just to keep from having to spend much time in the local stores.  Amazon announced last week that they will be hiring up to 100,000 additional workers to cover the increased demand.  And yet …

Amazon maintains one of the stingiest paid sick leave policies among major corporations.  To add insult to injury, Amazon under CEO Bezos is requesting donations from their customers to cover sick leave for their employees!  Think on that one for a minute.

Amazon-donations

The man with more money than anybody deserves or needs, more money than he could possibly ever spend, is too cheap to fully cover his employees sick leave, but expects his customers, many of whom are currently laid off from their jobs, to pitch in.

As if that weren’t enough to make you want to dump a pan of hot berries on his bald pate, he also managed to profit ‘bigly’ by selling $3.4 billion in Amazon shares just before the stock market peaked in mid-February.  Can we say, insider trading?  Had he held onto those shares until this week, he would have lost $317 million … not that he’d even notice, for that’s pocket change for him.

I have been an Amazon customer since 2003, have a monthly standing order for household cleaning supplies, and frequently order other things we need, but … I’m going to start looking for alternatives.  Today!