Michael Hudson, interviewed by Paul Jay for the Real News, argues that the Fed’s QE3 is shoveling money to the banks not meant to create jobs, but a way to give banks even more speculative capital and prepare them for another meltdown:
1. Trevor Potter on Fighting Big Money in the 2012 Election: The former FEC chairman joins Bill to discuss how American elections are bought and sold, who covers the cost, and how the rest of us pay the price (46:34).
Elections for SaleSeptember 21, 2012
One of the reasons Moyers & Company frequently returns to the theme of money and politics is because it’s absolutely necessary to do so. Nothing corrupts our political system more than the ability of the rich and influential to spend limitless amounts of money — often in secret — with the intention of creating preferred political outcomes. And far from being a regulator of campaign finances, our political funding laws — aided by a corporate-friendly Supreme Court and self-interested politicians — only facilitate the process of empowering the few while subjugating the many.
Few understand how money moves in and out of our political system better than campaign finance reform advocate Trevor Potter. A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and founding president of the Campaign Legal Center, Potter was Stephen Colbert’s chief advisor when Colbert formed his own super PAC and 501 (c)(4) in a clever effort to expose the potential for chicanery behind each.
Bill and Potter discuss how American elections are bought and sold, who covers the cost, and how the rest of us pay the price.
“I can assure you that if someone is spending millions of dollars to elect the candidate, the candidate knows where that money is coming from. There’s nothing illegal about telling them, but the voters aren’t going to know that,” Potter tells Bill. “We’re creating opportunities for corruption and candidates being beholden to specific private interests because of funding, yet there’s no disclosure to the rest of us.”
Also on the show, a Bill Moyers essay on how the Citizens United decision has candidates campaigning for cash more than votes, and how that money is pouring into TV ads and high paid political consultants.TOPICS: Money & Politics
A new book titled Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent begins its conclusion with the following. During the past four decades, sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a financial hemorrhage. We estimate that from the thirty-three countries for which we have data, capital flight between 1970 and 2008 amounted to $735 billion in 2008 currency. Including imputed interest earnings, the drain of resources amounted to $944 billion. These sums far surpass the same countries’ combined external debts, which stood at $177 billion in 2008. This means that sub-Saharan Africa is a net creditor to the rest of the world. If this is true, why are so many of Africa’s people so poor? The answer, of course, is that the subcontinent’s external assets are private and in the hands of a narrow and wealthy stratum of its population, whereas its external debts are public and therefore borne by the people as a whole through their governments. Our statistical estimates indicate that half or more of the money flowing into Africa as foreign loans exited in the same year as capital flight. Now joining us are the authors of the book: Professor Leonce Ndikumana, who teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is a research associate at the PERI institute, and Professor James K. Boyce, director of the Program on Development, Peace Building and Environment at PERI institute. Thank you both for joining us.
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY: So this is the beginning of what’s going to be a three-part series. In part one, we’re going to talk about the roots of this debt crisis in Africa. In the second part, we’re going to talk about the human costs of the crisis. And in the third part, we’re going to talk about solutions and just what the word “odious debt” refers to. So, Leonce, can you give us some background on what you mean by this odious debt, some of the historical roots of this debt? …
In Part 2, Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce explain how the cost of servicing external odious debt leads to tragic underspending on health care and education (11:50):
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. This is the second part of our series of interviews based on the book Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent. One of the things the book points out is that Africa spends more on servicing its external debt than it does on health care. …
And in Part 3, Léonce Ndikumana and James K. Boyce detail how international law supports Africa rejecting debts that did not benefit the people (18:04):
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. This is the third and final part of our series of interviews based on the book Africa’s Odious Debts: How Foreign Loans and Capital Flight Bled a Continent. In the first two parts of our interviews, we talked about the extent to which Africa’s debt was accumulated because IMF and World Bank and private banks made loans to dictators, kleptocracies, in the name of the Cold War and for the sake of the scramble for the riches of Africa, gave these loans knowing they would be, essentially, misused, not used for the benefit of the people of the countries that did the borrowing. So the question in this segment we’re asking: then why the heck should the people of these countries keep servicing these debts? And it turns out there is some international law that says maybe they shouldn’t be. …
Because of partisan gridlock in Washington, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful and outspoken branch of government – decisions they make shape our democracy’s fate for generations to come. Now, one has only to look at Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and the Affordable Care Act rulings to understand why some call it a “one-percent Court” — dedicated by majority rule to preserving the power and influence of a minority of wealthy special interests (56:46):
The One-Percent CourtSeptember 14, 2012
Because of partisan gridlock in Washington, the Supreme Court has become the most powerful and outspoken branch of government – decisions they make shape our democracy’s fate for generations to come. Now, one has only to look at Bush v. Gore, Citizens United, and the Affordable Care Act rulings to understand why some call it a “one-percent Court” — dedicated by majority rule to preserving the power and influence of a minority of wealthy special interests.
In this episode, The Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and Jamie Raskin, constitutional law professor and Maryland state senator, join Bill to discuss how the uncontested power of the Supreme Court is changing our elections, our country, and our lives. The two joined forces for a special upcoming issue of The Nation entitled “The One Percent Court.”
“We wanted to bring attention to how this court has empowered the 1% at the expense of the 99%,” says vanden Heuvel. “How it is now working for big business, for corporate power against the interests of ordinary citizens in this country.”
Also on the program, Bill talks with Craig Unger, author of Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power, about Rove’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to once again affect the outcome of a presidential election.
“Most people thought he was a creature of the Bush family,” Unger tells Bill. “I think he’s a force more powerful than that.”
Challenging Power, Changing PoliticsSeptember 7, 2012
The conventions are over — now it’s time for some thinking outside the box. So Bill welcomes to his studio Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who’s been an independent in Congress for 21 years — longer than anyone in American history. Sanders talks about jobs, the state of our economy, health care, and the unprecedented impact of big money on the major political parties.
“What you are looking at is a nation with a grotesquely unequal distribution of wealth and income, tremendous economic power on Wall Street, and now added to all of that is big money interests, the billionaires and corporations now buying elections,” Sanders tells Bill. “I fear very much that if we don’t turn this around, we’re heading toward an oligarchic form of society.”
Also on the show, Bill talks to Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, who share what they’ve learned about American politics. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School to become an internist specializing in environmental health. She was a Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate in 2002, co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities in 2003, and represented the Green-Rainbow Party in state races in 2004 and 2006.
Honkala is an anti-poverty activist and community organizer who co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. A formerly homeless single mother, Honkala became the first woman ever to run for Sheriff of Philadelphia in 2011.
In Southern Spain, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, mayor of the small town of Marinaleda, is helping organize a growing protest movement against the austerity measures imposed by the Spanish government. Sánchez Gordillo and the landless peasants that follow him are at the forefront of demonstrations seeking a radical change in the country’s economic policies in response to the country’s worsening crisis.
Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has become the face of the growing protest movement in Spain. The mayor of a small town in Southern Spain called Marinaleda, he has become well-known for leading combative protests and sit-ins, including a protest in a supermarket in which food was taken and redistributed to the poor. But Sánchez Gordillo has backed up his critiques of capitalism with a viable alternative. In his town of Marinaleda, there is full employment, people rent homes for 15 Euros a month, and everybody who works in the agricultural cooperative that was formed, including the mayor, earns the same salary.
The Resurrection of Ralph ReedAugust 31, 2012
While Romney, Ryan, Rubio, and Eastwood got the lion’s share of attention during the Republican Convention this week, three one-time college Republicans who are now the party’s real power-brokers — Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist — are busy doing what they do best: leveraging their political, religious, and financial resources to back pro-corporate, anti-government objectives at the core of the conservative agenda.
The true surprise at the Tampa convention was Ralph Reed’s resurrection. When the former head of the Christian Coalition was discovered to have raked in millions of dollars from the super lobbyist — and eventually convicted felon — Jack Abramoff, Reed wound up in political purgatory. But outraged by the election of Barack Obama, and responding to what he describes as God’s call (via Sean Hannity), Reed returned to start the Faith and Freedom Coalition with the aim of toppling Barack Obama from the White House. To succeed, Reed needs to win the allegiance of many of the trusting Christian followers he had duped and double-crossed while working with Abramoff.
This week, Moyers & Company tracks Reed’s rise, fall, and return: does it signal a new revolution, or an old racket?
Later on the show, Bill also talks with Mike Lofgren, a long-time Republican who talks about the modern corruption and dysfunction of both Republican and Democratic parties. Lofgren’s new book is The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted.
TAGS: christian coalition, grover norquist, jack abramoff, karl rove, money and politics, ralph reed, religious politics, republican convention, sean hannity, widget
TAGS: Christianity, religion, religious politics, republicans, The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy
Nuns, Faith and PoliticsAugust 24, 2012
Weeks before Republican Paul Ryan was selected to run for vice president, Sister Simone Campbell — who heads NETWORK, a Catholic policy and lobbying group — hit the road to protest the so-called “Ryan budget” recently passed by the House of Representatives. She and some of her sister nuns rolled across the heartland on a bus trip designed to arouse public concern over what the Ryan plan would mean for social services in America, especially its slashing of programs for the poor. Sister Simone says his budget is inconsistent with Catholic social teaching. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees.
But other Catholics say Sister Simone and the nuns have crossed a line. Robert Royal, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing and founder of the Faith & Reason Institute, believes that issues of economic inequality are being oversimplified. Royal says the focus should be on creating a more dynamic economy for all.
In this episode, watch our field report from producers who rode along on the ‘Nuns on the Bus’ tour, then join a passionate, candid discussion about faith and economics with Sister Simone and Royal.
“A more dynamic economy for all” means 281% after-tax income growth for the top 1% and 16% for the bottom fifth:
Don’t forget that’s an “efficient” outcome.
In Part 1 of his 3-part ‘Real News’ interview, Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, explains how a single-payer plan in Maryland would cover everyone, improve outcomes and make business more competitive:
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY: So before we dig into some of your research, just sort of give us the bigger picture of why this would make sense for Maryland.
GERALD FRIEDMAN: Well, the big picture is that health insurance provided by competing private companies is inherently inefficient and destructive of people’s health. I mean, that’s a strong statement, but I think it is well founded.
The problem with private health insurance is that it’s not like selling shoes. If you’re a shoe company, you want to sell more shoes, you want to make a better quality shoe at a better price to attract more business. Health insurers don’t want more business. They want to get rid of sick people. Eighty percent of your costs as a health insurer are incurred for about 20 percent of your people. You know, in some places it’s 90-10—90 percent of your costs go to 10 percent of the people. If you can find those people, identify those people, and figure out a way to get them to go away, go to a different company, then you will be in a position to lower your prices and increase your profits. That is what health insurers try to do.
In Part 2, Gerald Friedman explains how a single-payer plan in Maryland would cover everyone, improve outcomes and make business more competitive:
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY: So let’s dig in into your study and what you found. So you have a section on savings, and point one is administrative costs. So explain what you found there.
GERALD FRIEDMAN: Okay. Well, first of all, there are the administrative costs of the health insurers themselves, who devote a great deal of energy and resources to, first, screening people and supervising what doctors do in order to drive away people who will need extensive care.
The average health insurer in Maryland has what they call a medical loss ratio of 85 percent. Now, the medical loss ratio is the proportion of health insurance premiums that are actually paid out to provide the health care. In Medicare, the medical loss ratio is 98 percent.
Wall Street doesn’t like high medical loss ratios. To them, to Wall Street, a high medical loss ratio means that you have too many sick people, you’re not running enough profit. They like the medical loss ratios to be low. We, the consumers of health care, normal people, we like a high medical loss ratio. We want the money we put into the insurance plan to be paid out in benefits.
And in Part 3, Gerald Friedman details how to pay for single payer health insurance:
from the transcript:
PAUL JAY: Alright. So in the last segment, we went through your report and we looked at the savings, which came to just over 24 percent over existing insurance coverage and health care expenditure. But that doesn’t cover everything, does it? And then so what isn’t paid for out of these cost savings, and how are you going to pay for it?
GERALD FRIEDMAN: Okay. Well, first of all, the cost savings are there. There are also extra expenses, as we were saying, with the Medicaid rate fix. Also, we would be covering everybody. Now 15 percent of the population of Maryland is currently without health insurance. Extend health insurance to them, they’re extra expenses. Also, the plan for the Maryland Health Security Act does away with copayments, deductibles, and all of those expenses. We expect that people would use health services more.
1. Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman on Suppressing Votes By Law: Bill talks to Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice about new election laws that keep the young, elderly, minorities and the poor from voting (19:45).
3. Bill Moyers Essay: Everyone Should Be Entitled to Medicare: Bill recalls his days with Lyndon Johnson as they prepared to sell Medicare to Congress, and makes the case for why everyone should be entitled to it today (7:48).
Suppressing the VoteAugust 3, 2012
The fight against voter fraud is a solution in search of a problem — these days, documented instances of voter fraud are virtually non-existent. Nonetheless, since the 2010 mid-term elections, 10 states have passed laws requiring government-issued photo IDs to vote — identification that for many is too expensive or otherwise difficult to obtain.
Bill talks to Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice about new voter ID and other election laws that keep the young, elderly, minorities and the poor from exercising one of the most fundamental American rights.
“When these votes come under attack by this level of partisan gamesmanship, it’s completely inappropriate and antithetical to our history,” Gaskins tells Bill. “This is a very real political issue, but beyond that, this is a real issue of real Americans being able to access and be self-determinative in how we’re governed.”
Also on the program, Bill talks with independent filmmaker Anthony Baxter, director of You’ve Been Trumped, a new documentary about the perils of rampant capitalism and gluttonous conspicuous consumption, epitomized by Donald Trump’s aggressive efforts to build “the greatest golf course in the world” across ancient sand dunes in Scotland. A veteran journalist, Baxter says what Trump and the Scottish government are hailing as an economic boon is actually a disaster to the environment and a callous disruption of people’s lives by a ruthless one-percenter run amok.
“It seems to me there’s one rule for the super-rich and one rule for everybody else,” Baxter says. “And the 99 percent of people in the world are tired and fed up of having money and power riding roughshod over their lives and our planet… Our planet, I don’t think, can afford these kinds of decisions.”
To end the broadcast, Bill shares his thoughts on the 47th anniversary of Medicare — the apex of Lyndon Johnson’s ambitious vision for America. Bill was a key Johnson aide as they developed Medicare and pressed Congress to pass it. How to save Medicare today? The answer, says Bill, is obvious: make it available to every American.
In Part 1 of his 3-part ‘Real News’ interview, Jeff Thompson, Assistant Research Professor in Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, explains that his study shows that while states need revenue, most tax wealthy at lower rates:
from the transcript:
Since the beginning of what some people are calling the Great Recession in 2008, revenues to states have sharply plummeted. Most of the response has been cuts—cuts in public spending and the social safety net, education, and other such areas. Very little of this has been made up by increasing revenues, especially in terms of taxes on the affluent. So why? And what would be effect of this? Some people argue that taxing the wealthy drives down investment or makes them leave the state, so you really can’t do this as a public policy option.Well, what’s the research on this? Well, there’s a new paper out now by Jeffrey Thompson. He’s a assistant professor at the PERI institute in Amherst, Massachusetts, and he now joins us. Thanks for joining us, Jeffrey.
In Part 2, Jeff Thompson details how his study shows that while states need revenue, most tax wealthy at lower rates:
from the transcript:
We’re now discussing Jeffrey Thompson’s research paper looking at the actual evidence of what happens when you raise taxes on the wealthy. States across the country have massive decreases in their revenue because of the recession, and mostly they’re making it up through cuts. Well, Jeffrey’s paper argues that you could raise revenues on the wealthy and in fact increase growth and jobs, not decrease it as some people are arguing.
And in Part 3, Jeff Thompson details how his study shows that if states raise taxes the rich will not relocate:
from the transcript:
We’re continuing our series of interviews with Jeffrey Thompson, who’s recently written a paper looking at ways states can raise revenue and what would happen if they raise taxes on the upper tier, on the 1 percent. Will they stop working? Will they stop investing? Well, as you’ll see if you watch the earlier episodes of the interview, Jeffrey Thompson concludes the rich will not go on strike. But will they just leave? If one state raises its taxes, will wealthy people just move out of the state or do something else to avoid taxes, for example, spend most of their time hiring tax lawyers to figure out ways not to pay the taxes?
Read the rest of this entry »
Between 1989 and 2010, the top 1 percent of the population went from holding 30.1 percent of the wealth to 34.5 percent, while the bottom 50 percent went from having 3 percent of the wealth to having just 1.1 percent. That’s right: In 2010, 50 percent of Americans had 1.1 percent of the total net worth (PDF), according to the Congressional Research Service. The share of wealth held by the next 40 percent of people, up to the 90th percentile, had also dropped, from 29.9 percent to 24.3 percent. Put another way (and it’s stunning however you look at it), 10 percent of people have 74.5 percent of the wealth.
The median and mean household net worth dropped considerably between 2007 and 2010, but even as both dropped, inequality increased, with the median—the amount of wealth that half of people have more than and half of people have less than—dropping by 38.8 percent, while the mean—the amount you get when you add up all the wealth and divide it by the number of people—lost just 14.4 percent. That means that the amount everyone would have if wealth were distributed equally went from being 4.6 times the amount the person actually in the middle has to being 6.5 times that number.So: Prior to the financial crisis and the recession, there was massive inequality in America. Following the financial crisis and the recession, there is a Grand Canyon of inequality in America. For good reason, we talk a lot about how much of the wealth the top 1 percent have. We talk less about how little the bottom 50 percent have, but think about what it means that 50 percent of people have just over 1 percent of the money. Forget all the definitions you’ve heard of who is in the underclass. We’re on track to have “underclass” and “majority” be synonyms. And the Republicans have got a guy running for president who wants to speed the process.
No question that the Republican candidate wants to speed the process. The same thing applies to the Democratic candidate though.
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We interrupt your regularly scheduled media frenzy over yet another act of insane bloodlust, to bring you this tidbit from Charlie Brooker way back in 2009. Brooker, of course, is the Guardian’s media critic and he’s easily among the most pointed and entertaining in the English language. It’s worth sharing with others, so that they too might be able to defend themselves from the onslaught of bubble-headed asininity that always follows in the wake of these things.