AWOL: The One Percent

Ed Raymond

Democratic Socialism rescues disaster capitalism – again

Our elected representatives are currently appropriating trillions of taxpayer’s dollars to save our economy from the ravages of COVID-19 and disaster capitalism. Here we go again.

Economists who have studied capitalism for many years say that recessions and depressions happen about every 8 to 10 years between bull and bear markets. The last Great Depression started in 1929 when Wall Streeters opened up upper-story windows and leaped.

Then Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the principles of democratic socialism and the policies of his “New Deal” to lead recovery from the world-wide depression.
Prior to the invasion of COVID-19, the top One Percent of households in the last decade surpassed the wealth of the bottom 80 Percent. Regardless, Donald the Lyin’ King lies he has created the greatest economy in the world. Facts have never bothered Donald.

Almost half of American families can’t come up with $400 to cover an emergency. Eleven million families can barely afford an apartment, spending more than half their income on rent. They can’t afford food.

Prior to COVID-19 about 600,000 Americans were homeless. It’s hard to imagine how many will be added to the streets in the near future.

It’s not all Trump’s fault. This economic disaster was fathered by Ronald Reagan and the California Mafia 40 years ago. Remember tax cuts and trickle-down that resulted in golden showers of trickle-piss on the middle class?

Fact: 90% of Americans born in 1940 have earned more than their parents had earned at the same age, but only 50% of those born in 1980 were earning more than their parents by age 30. The economic ladder is very difficult to climb because institutions such as education, housing and health care have not been adequately funded for the last half century.

Where are the billionaires and millionaires with all the money?

The rich are getting richer even during COVID-19. Just in one month between March 18 and April 20, while 22 million Americans lost their jobs (now 36.5 million), the Institute of Policy Studies has estimated billionaire wealth has increased by $282 billion, a 10% increase.

We have about 700 billionaires (now worth $3.2 trillion!) and 19 million millionaires who could be helping out the 36.5 million workers waiting for unemployment checks.   

The protected wealthy are being cared for by the unprotected “essentials.” That’s the difference between private jets and public subway cars and buses. That’s the difference between cashiering or nursing and telecommunicating from homes or from vacation homes or private yachts.

Looking at some of the richest zip codes in the U.S., the airports at Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard are crowded with private jets as the rich escape the virus. The wealthy havens of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Palm Beach, Hilton Head Island, and Sun Valley are packed with rich refugees hiding from the virus invader. The locals are really ticked.

There are 87,000 foundations in the U.S., with 40,000 of them established by super-wealthy families. Why foundations? Super tax breaks and control of where their money goes.

Rich people like to have their names on university buildings, hospital wings, art galleries, museums, theaters, opera houses, and grants of money to think tanks that push their political agenda.

Financial records indicate our 700 billionaires average less than one percent in charitable giving. Americans with incomes between $60,000 and $90,000 contribute between two and four percent.

Ever hear of Donor-Advised Funds? They are “holding accounts” the rich use to save taxes. Once they put money into a DAF, they get a tax cut, even if the money doesn’t go to a charity immediately. The billionaire gets the tax break but the charity may not see the money for years. This is what a bought, rented or leased Congress does for their employers.

Isn’t it time for the AWOL rich to help America?

Four decades of tax cuts and billionaire-friendly policies have helped the rich to grow their wealth by more than 1,100% in just the last 28 years.

But in the last 38 years their tax obligations have decreased an amazing 79%.
The median increase in middle-class household net worth went up a paltry 5.4% in the same time!

Now about 60% of Americans are suffering from poverty, income inequality and atrocious health care policies during the COVID crisis. The level of sacrifice being demanded from the working class is truly medieval.

We currently have about 11 million undocumented workers in this country who are essential to our survival.

Fact: 8% of the undocumented work in maintenance and sanitation, 8% work in the service industries, 16% work in health care and motels and hotels, while 24% pick our foods and staff our grocery chains.

Congress proclaimed they are not eligible for stimulus checks or any other kind of payroll protection assistance. The cruel month of April will turn into a cruel year of 2020 if we don’t help these essential people.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world who refuses to pay about half of his million employees a living wage, donated $131 million to a number of charities in 2018, or an amazing 0.16% of his income. American taxpayers supplement Amazon workers with food stamps and government health care. They work in hellhole distribution centers in pro COVID-19 conditions. Many fulltime workers are homeless.

Jeff’s income often increases by millions each day. The last total I saw for him was $172 billion. This would enable him to pay the $60 billion the entire food stamp program presently costs taxpayers – and the $61 billion the state of New York needs to cover all COVID-19 costs at this time. He would still have $51 billion left to struggle living well in his Washington home (two mansions combined into one) with its 27 bathrooms.

Bill Gates, the second richest man in America at $116 billion at my last count, does contribute more to various charities than Bezos, and has promised to cover large expenses of developing COVID-19 vaccines, but some of his philanthropic work has failed because he always feels he’s the smartest guy in the room. Sometimes he isn’t.

His foray into education was a disaster. Science is why we don’t go to an auto mechanic for a root canal or a well-digger for a procto.

Among Bill and Melinda’s various properties are two homes valued at $157 billion and $147 billion – and a California beach cottage at $43 billion.

Let’s put the Forbes 400 to work for all Americans

Doctors Without Borders is a volunteer group that usually serves in third world countries where wars, epidemics and other disasters have occurred. They are now working in the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona. Food, water, housing, health care and other essentials are hard to find on the reservation.

The Navajo Nation has already lost more people to COVID-19 than 13 states. We should be embarrassed as a nation that calls itself the richest in the world. But we have a lot more to be embarrassed about:

1. One out of five children below the age of 12 are hungry while we spill thousands of gallons of milk on the ground and kill millions of pigs and bury them in landfills.

2. The most dangerous places during COVID-19 are prisons, jails for the undocumented, housing for migrant farm workers, Indian reservations, homeless shelters and nursing homes. These people are now called “The Forgotten.” We have only 4.5% of the world’s population – but have 30% of the virus fatalities.

3. According to Pew Research, 43% of adults say they or someone in their household has lost jobs or pay. By summer we will probably have 25% unemployment. Fewer than half say they have enough funds to cover three months of expenses. So far loans to small businesses have actually gone to big “well-connected” businesses.

4. More than 30% of our workers are called “essential”: nurses, home care and child, farm, food processors, truck drivers, warehouse and transit, drugstore, sanitation, police, firefighters, and many others. They presently lack protective gear, paid sick leave, health insurance, and child care. All of them deserve hazard pay for continually being forced to face death. Why are American workers dying of COVID-19 at a higher rate than European workers? Could it be because of differences in medical care and the strength of unions?

5. There is no doubt we were the most unprepared industrial nation to face the 6,869th virus. Some priests and ministers say “pain and suffering is God’s megaphone to a deaf world.” There’s little doubt mankind has been decimated by pandemics in the last 7,000 years. Evidently we are deaf.

Drug cartels are feeding the poor – where are our billionaires?

Mexican drug cartels are feeding millions of poor in several Mexican states, using military-style trucks and uniformed drivers and workers. They distribute food in boxes emblazoned with names of cartel leaders!

Evidently they know politics better than the Trump administration.

Where are our plutocrats and billionaires who own Congress? Why aren’t they helping the poor? I guess they are hiding in their vacation estates on their tax-haven islands – or on their yachts in safe harbors.

Billionaire Jack Dorsey of Twitter has donated $10 million to buy computers for Oakland students. He is one of the few who have stepped forward. He has promised $1 billion for the Pandemic Action Network. The info is a bit sketchy.

Experts on our homeless glut say we could solve it by spending an initial $10 billion and then $4 billion a year for a few years. Taxing the top 25 richest families just two percent (they donate an average one percent to charities), would bring in $15 billion.
Just think: that would take 600,000 possibly dangerous virus carriers off the streets, overpasses, bridges and subway cars.

Too many of our wealthiest have forgotten they didn’t get rich all by themselves. Barack Obama put it best: “If you’ve been successful you didn’t get there on your own. Somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business-you did not build that … The internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that companies could make money off the internet. The point is, that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

Practically all of the 25 richest American families and the 15 richest American individuals have gotten extremely rich in the last 40 years. They have gained much of their wealth by buying Congress and purchasing the policies that have made them rich. They turn tax evasion, insider trading, hedge fund machinations, and equity firm firings from white collar crimes to “lawful” legal actions.

Actually, to save themselves, they can’t desert or go AWOL or even their kind of America will be lost. The Mexican drug cartels understand that.