Corporate socialism: suckling billions in profits from the government teat

More proof that multi-billion dollar corporations like McDonald’s are quite successfully bilking the American taxpayer to increase their own take-home profits:

Video: McDonald’s tells workers to get food stamps – Salon.com – An audio recording released by labor activists Wednesday afternoon captures a staffer for McDonald’s’ “McResources Line” instructing a McDonald’s worker how to apply for public assistance.

The audio – excerpted in the campaign video below – records a conversation between Chicago worker Nancy Salgado, a ten-year employee currently making the Illinois state minimum wage of $8.25, and a counselor staffing the company’s “McResources” 1-800 number for McDonald’s workers. The McResources staffer offers her a number to “ask about things like food pantries” and tells her she “would most likely be eligible for SNAP benefits” which she explains are “food stamps.” After Salgado asks about “the doctor,” the staffer asks, “Did you try to get on Medicaid?” She notes it’s “health coverage for low income or no income adults and children.”

“It was really, really upsetting,” Salgado told Salon Wednesday, “knowing that McDonald’s knows that they don’t pay us enough, and we have to rely on this.” Noting that McDonald’s was “a billionaire company,” she asked, “how can they not afford to pay us?”

Of course McDonald’s (and other fast-food / big box retail corporations) could afford to pay their employees better wages and stop draining so much out of the taxpayer-funded safety net, but that would mean the corporate big wigs would have to share or reinvest some of their profits.

The new video follows two reports released last week… which estimated that fast food workers utilize nearly $7 billion annually in public assistance, while fast food corporations last year netted $7.4 billion profits.

And, by the way, many of these companies (and their executives) don’t contribute as much to the safety net as, proportionally speaking, the average middle-class taxpayer. As Scott Klinger recently noted:

In the 1950s, corporations paid nearly a third of the federal government’s bills. Last year… corporate income taxes accounted for less than a tenth of Uncle Sam’s total revenue.

Over the past year, one in nine of the companies listed on the S&P 500 paid an effective tax rate of zero percent–that’s zero as in nothing–and that’s on top of taxpayers picking up the tab on public assistance for those profitable corporations who won’t pay their workers a living wage.

There are 57 separate companies listed on the index that paid a zero percent rate from the past year. Those companies include both household names like Verizon and News Corp. and lesser-known corporate giants like the data storage manufacturer Seagate (market value $15.9 billion) and Public Storage (market value $29.5 billion). Many of the companies USA Today identified in its analysis as paying negative rates make the list because they lost money, but several were profitable. Previous analyses have shown that the typical corporation pays a lower effective tax rate than most middle-class families, and a far lower one than the statutory corporate tax rate against which business interests disingenuously rail.

Even though Mitt Romney tried to convince us that “corporations are people, my friend,” the majority of corporations today are not our “neighbors,” they don’t contribute towards the greater good of whichever country they’ve parked a headquarters—in fact, today’s corporations (and their executives) actually seem to do whatever is necessary to get out of contributing their proportional share towards the society which benefits them so greatly. Today’s corporations are run by people who are low on talent and basic morality, but are paid enormous sums of money. And they are nothing like those who came before them. Vanity Fair remembers,

In 1914, [Henry] Ford decided to pay his employees a rich wage and otherwise improve the working conditions…

In January 1914, (Henry Ford) startled the world by announcing that Ford Motor Company would pay $5 a day to its workers. The pay increase would also be accompanied by a shorter workday (from nine to eight hours). While this rate didn’t automatically apply to every worker, it more than doubled the average autoworker’s wage. While Henry’s primary objective was to reduce worker attrition—labor turnover from monotonous assembly line work was high—newspapers from all over the world reported the story as an extraordinary gesture of goodwill.

After Ford’s announcement, thousands of prospective workers showed up at the Ford Motor Company employment office. People surged toward Detroit from the American South and the nations of Europe. As expected, employee turnover diminished. And, by creating an eight-hour day, Ford could run three shifts instead of two, increasing productivity.

Henry Ford had reasoned that since it was now possible to build inexpensive cars in volume, more of them could be sold if employees could afford to buy them. The $5 day helped better the lot of all American workers and contributed to the emergence of the American middle class. In the process, Henry Ford had changed manufacturing forever.

Or, as Henry put it, raising wages “has the same effect as throwing a stone in a still pond,” creating an “ever-widening circle of buying” that increases the prosperity of a nation.

It’s simply a fact that Henry Ford didn’t base his decisions on what Ford Motor Company’s net profits would be the next quarter–he had much greater things to accomplish. Because of Henry’s decisions, an entire nation benefited for years, and you know what? So did his company. Unfortunately those times are over (Reaganomics was the beginning of The End), Henry Ford would be run out of most corporate boardrooms today, and the word Patriotism now holds some twisted meaning that includes offshore bank accounts for the wealthy and easy access to guns for the rest of us. There is no longer a balance or any kind of mutual respect between industrialists and workers—negotiated, contrived, or otherwise. And each one of us ought to ask ourselves, “how did we allow this to happen?” and more importantly, “how can we change it?

Here’s Bill Maher from last week:

“Now when it comes to raising the minimum wage, conservatives always say it’s a non-starter because it cuts into profits. Well… yeah. Of course. Paying workers is one of those unfortunate expenses of running a business. You know, like taxes or making a product. If you want to get rich with a tax-free enterprise that sells nothing, start a church.” 

“…And, look, even if you’re not moved by the Don’t-Be-Such-a-Heartless-Prick argument, consider the fact that most fast food workers (whose average age, by the way, now is 29–I’m not talking about kids) are on some form of public assistance. Which is not surprising… when even working people can’t make enough to live, they take money from the government in the form of food stamps, school lunches, housing assistance, daycare. This is the welfare that conservatives hate but they never stop to think: if we raise the minimum wage and force McDonald’s and Walmart to pay their employees enough to eat, we the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pick up the slack. This is the question the Right has to answer: do you want smaller government with less handouts or do you want a low minimum wage–because you cannot have both. If Col. Sanders isn’t going to pay the lady behind the counter enough to live on, then Uncle Sam has to. And I for one am getting a little tired of helping highly profitable companies pay their workers.” 

Morning coffee: Hug a Thug today


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REMINDER:

Bill Maher: Ronald Reagan was the Original Teabagger

I happened to catch Bill Maher’s incredibly wonderful evisceration of Ronald Reagan on Friday night and was thrilled to have found video and transcript of it online. I’m sharing it here in case you missed it.

Transcript via BruinKid at DailyKos:

“…And finally, New Rule: when Bob Dole, a guy so Republican his adult diaper has a flagpin (audience groaning laughter), when he says his party has become a bunch of idea-free ideologues who obstruct too much, people should listen.  But they should also question his other statement that Ronald Reagan himself couldn’t have made it today as a Republican.

This has become a kind of conventional wisdom, that the Republican Party has gone so far right, Reagan himself wouldn’t fit in.  But I’m here tonight to call bullshit on that.  Ronald Reagan was an anti-government, union-busting, race-baiting, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-intellectual, who cut rich people’s taxes in half, had an incurable case for the military-industrial complex, and said Medicare was socialism that would destroy our freedom.  Sounds to me like he would fit in just fine.  (audience applause)

Now, I know over at Fox News right now, they’re already putting out a fatwa on me, for committing the cardinal sin of taking in vain the sacred name of Ronald Reagan.  It’s a name like Jesus Christ — you can say it, but only in a good way.  Like, “Jesus Christ, bless this chili dog.”  Not like, “Jesus Christ, look at the ass on Rihanna!”  No, can’t do that.

But what they cannot contest is that even though Reagan did a few things today’s GOP would not like, he wrote the playbook for them on every issue of consequence.  Sure, he raised taxes a few times, but when you look at where he started with taxes and where he ended, this is where our income inequality problems began.  Heinvented voodoo economics.

On race, his ideas couldn’t have been more Tea Party if he shouted them from a rascal scooter.  He ran on states’ rights.  He invented the notion that black people get all the breaks, constantly telling the story of the Chicago woman — wink, wink — who has “80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards”, and her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.  And that woman today is RuPaul.  Actually, that woman never existed.  Reagan just made shit up, something else he pioneered for his party of today. (audience applause)

He described the New Deal as “fascism”, Medicaid recipients as “waiting for handouts”, unemployment insurance as “pre-paid vacation for freeloaders”, and once said, “a tree’s a tree, how many more do you need to look at?”  He was the original official pitchman for batshit.  When they hold up signs that say “no socialized medicine”, where do you think they got it from?  We got it from you, dad, we got it from you.

RONALD REAGAN: If you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in American when men were free.

Drama queen much?  (audience laughter)

Worst of all, Reagan inspired a whole generation of people who hate government to get into government.  Both sides really should stop pretending he was something other than the man most responsible for our decline.  (wild audience cheering and applause)  And I do mean both sides.

You know, I get why Republicans worship Reagan, they’re the religious party.  Worship is in their DNA.  They can’t help it.  They love him beyond logic.  Last year, they tried to elect his haircut.

(audience laughter)

They want him on a stamp so they can lick his backside.  (audience groaning laughter)

But why are Democrats conceding the argument on Reagan?  Obama talks about him like he’s a brother from another mother!  “He changed the trajectory of America.”  Yes, but not for the better!  When you mainstream Reagan, the far-right becomes the new middle.

He wasn’t a friend to all Americans.  He was Patient Zero for everything you’re fighting against now.  He was the original teabagger.  Stop agreeing he was a saint.

Especially when his two miracles were turning water into polluted water and walking on the poor.”

CPAC2013: Keep F*cking That Chicken

On Bill Maher’s New Rules segment this week, he talked about a “relatively small group of very shrill people [who are] devoted to — and succeeding at — convincing us that this is a much more conservative and religious nation than it is.”

Maher goes on to explain that CPAC is merely an extension of such devotion:

Maher discusses his term Shit Kicker Inflation “the phenomenon of all things conservative being portrayed as way bigger than they really are” with the following examples:

  • ONE MILLION MOMS: the number of followers that One Million Moms has on Twitter: 2,258. 
  • THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: just as there aren’t a million moms in One Million Moms, there is no “league” in The Catholic League. It’s one guy with a fax machine.
  • OBAMACARE: as an idea, it’s unpopular. But ask voters about the elements in it, they’re all very popular. It’s like saying “I hate pizza! I love tomato sauce and melted cheese on dough, but pizza? I hate that shit.”
  • GUNS: gun ownership is actually DOWN in this country… way down. And yet the NRA, with just 4 million members, has a stranglehold on the gun policies in a nation of 300 million.
  • CPAC2013: Among the featured speakers at CPAC this year include Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Wayne LaPierre, Donald Trump, and Sarah Palin… a virtual who’s who of what the fuck.

Here are some highlights from a few of CPAC’s featured who’s who of WTF:

Sarah Palin: “We’re not here to rebrand a party [but to] put on a fresh coat of rhetorical paint.” Then she said: “More background checks? Dandy idea, Mr. President. Should’ve started with yours.” Fresh birther paint!

Next, she dazzled the audience with a boob joke followed by heroically (according to crowd reaction?) drinking from a Big Gulp. Wolverines!

“Outside the ballroom afterward, CPAC attendees raved about the stunt. “Hilarious.” “I thought that was awesome.” “I loved that.” One woman I spoke to said the moment “just really symbolized American freedom.” A man named Tomas told me that Palin holding up the Big Gulp “gave a new look to the Statue of Liberty.” Whether or not anyone, including Palin, realized that Mayor Bloomberg’s soda restrictions wouldn’t even have affected Big Gulps is not clear.” – Dan Amira




Freedumb!

Donald Trump: “Behold, the scene at Donald Trump’s CPAC speech this morning in the main ballroom. Empty seats were everywhere, although it’s not entirely Trump’s fault. He was given an 8:45 a.m. speaking slot, the very first of the day. Many CPAC attendees aren’t even out of bed yet. Still, Trump was invited not because of his conservative bona fides (he’s donated more money over the years to Democrats than to Republicans), but because he’s supposedly a crowd-pleasing draw.”

Pre-speech:

Post-speech:

These empty seats are Totally False.

Photos via ‘flunky’ Dan Amira

Mitt Romney: “‘It’s up to us to make sure that we learn from our mistakes — and my mistakes,’ Romney told the crowd Friday. [...] Romney’s re-emergence at CPAC comes after months spent almost entirely out of public view. People close to him say he consumes large volumes of news every day on his iPad and on Fox News. He stews as he reads the coverage of the various budget showdowns in Congress, frustrated that the president has pursued what he sees as an aggressively liberal agenda that won’t solve the country’s economic problems.”

So to Mitt Romney, “learning from his mistakes” includes continuing to bravely watch Fox and continuing to bravely label the President’s insistence on a balanced approach to deficit reduction (spending cuts alongside closing loopholes and subsidies for the wealthy) an “aggressively liberal agenda.” Sure. Apparently the only mistakes Mitt made with his CPAC speech were omitting some birther jokes and not drinking from a Big Gulp.

Let’s be honest: the theme “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives” really doesn’t describe CPAC. This annual gathering of wingnuts could be more efficiently labeled “Keep F*cking That Chicken.”

Related: Keep F*cking That Chicken

God Save Us from the next generation of conservatives.

Various and sundry reasons why we can’t have nice things

Feds spend $7 on THE ELDERLY for every $1 on KIDS: Funny how the blame is always on the (nonexistent) welfare moms who keep pumping out kids for more government cheese. (via) »»»»»» SENIORS TAKE NOTE: it’s impossible for the GOP to draft a budget that balances in 10 years without eating into entitlement benefits for people older than 55. »»»»»»  House GOP leaders want Obama to own the automatic cuts — the sequester (the OBAMAQUESTER) — but their budget chief, PAUL RYAN, is expected to count those cuts toward his 10 year plan.   

Kerry: Budget cuts may force reduction in aid to ISRAEL: Some $3 billion goes to Israel annually in US military aid, 74 percent of which must be spent in the US. »»»»»»  Incomes rose more than 11 percent for the TOP 1 PERCENT of earners during the economic recovery and declined by 0.4 percent for everyone else.

After a METEOR struck RUSSIA, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology announced Friday that it will hold a hearing over asteroids – that committee is chaired by THIS GUY, so maybe they’ll try to pray them away.   »»»»»»  “The REPUBLICAN PARTY was always an uneasy marriage between the Jesus freaks and the plutocrats.”  »»»»»»  Why a $9.00 MINIMUM WAGE would NOT lead employers to shed jobs or increase prices and pass the costs onto consumers. 

The NRA says regular Americans can’t protect themselves without high-capacity magazines.  »»»»»»  We’re at war, but… why did Senator JOHN MCCAIN claim he wouldn’t filibuster CHUCK HAGEL, then go ahead and do so anyway? Because Hagel hurt his feelings over five years ago.  »»»»»» SEAN HANNITY“It’s the first time a filibuster of a cabinet nominee has been used. And needless to say, this marks a major win for the GOP, and pretty embarrassing defeat for the president.”  »»»»»»  FreedomWorks produced a video of a fake GIANT PANDA having sex with a fake HILLARY CLINTON. Seriously.  

Bill Maher explains Donald Trump’s $5 million lawsuit against him (and #Apers)

Huffington Post: Donald Trump is suing Bill Maher for $5 million in charity donations after “proving” his biological father is not, as Maher joked on “The Tonight Show,” an orange-haired orangutan.

PoliticoTrump’s attorney Scott S. Balber released a letter following Maher’s comments and attached a copy of Trump’s birth certificate. “Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump’s birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan,” Balber wrote in the letter.

Seriously! And the best part? Trump released a short-form birth certificate!

Maher explains,

“Let me catch you up on how all this got started. During the last week of the presidential campaign last year, Donald Trump – who previously had been a one-issue candidate obsessed with Obama’s birth certificate – announced that he would give $5 million to charity if Obama produced his college records. Because a black guy getting into college? Something fishy there.

So playing on the fact that the only other thing in nature with the same color hair as Trump’s is the orange-haired orangutan, I joked that Donald Trump needed to show HIS papers to prove HE wasn’t hiding a bad secret about HIS birth. This is known as parody. And it’s a form of something we in the comedy business call a joke.

Naturally I also aped, if you will, Trump’s offer of a charity of HIS choosing… which I identified as The Hair Club for Men. Really? We’re going to court about this? Well, this upset The Donald so much that they could barely get him to stop flinging his feces…

[...] You know, I’ll tell you something: the legal system in this country, it’s not a joke. It’s not a toy for rich idiots to play with. And, frankly, Mr. Balber, what you released raises more questions than it answers. At least it does to a growing chorus of patriotic Americans who call ourselves ‘Apers’ …”

Watch the whole thing. Hilarious.

The Donald flinging his feces:

Feb. 4:
1

Yesterday (Feb. 9):
2

Bill Maher explains why Sarah Palin is about to make a lot of money

“Survival seeds. Also known as… seeds.”

Bill Maher explains why Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh do so well financially – and why it’s that conservative business model which Palin will undoubtedly cash in on as well:

“They don’t care about winning elections; they care about separating rubes from their money. They discovered that there’s a fortune to be made by keeping a small portion of America under the illusion that they are always under attack, from Mexicans or ACORN or Planned Parenthood or gays or takers, global warming hoaxers — it doesn’t matter. They don’t want a majority; they want a mailing list, a list of the kind of gullible ‘Honey Boo Boos’ out there who think that there’s a ‘War on Christmas’ and the Socialist policies of our Kenyan President have been so disastrous that the end of the world is coming.

[...] Glenn Beck has only 300,000 subscribers, so they’ll never be a majority. But it doesn’t matter. Maybe they can only vote once every two years, but they can buy the same book every three weeks… the exact same book, over and over and over again.

I don’t know why being a Republican means needing to have your faith recharged five times a day like Dick Cheney’s heart. Because there’s no comparable industry on the left devoted to separating liberals from their cash. I mean, unless you count Whole Foods.”

Bill Maher on the difference between the debt ceiling and “the fiscal cliff”

I think most people have “the fiscal cliff” confused with the debt ceiling crisis. Really, they’re opposites. Not raising the debt ceiling means not paying our debts. Going off the fiscal cliff means paying off our debt by raising taxes and cutting government spending. Well-advertised is the CBO saying going off the cliff could lead to a recession next year. Less advertised is that it also says it could get us into a more sound fiscal position in the long-term.

All this fiscal cliff panic is just proof that we are all Keynesians. Everybody knows that more government spending — whether it’s in the form of tax expenditures or social services, helps the economy grow. But you have to balance that with not letting your budget get out of hand.

Since we’re looking for new revenue streams that aren’t income taxes, Obama should use this budget crisis — if you can call it that — to do something about global warming with a carbon tax. This may be his last and only chance to do something big since cap and trade didn’t work. And it would be just desserts for the oil and coal industries that went all in for Mitt Romney, a nice little personal fuck you to the Koch brothers.

— Bill Maher

Simple truths: people who LIKE government run it better


via: randomactsofchaos

VOTE OUT those very confused politicians who are running for a government job but who don’t like government. Simple math. They need a new career where they might perform their jobs better.

Related: People who don’t believe in government don’t run it well

Bill Maher: with four days left, there’s only time for five more reincarnations of Mitt Romney


via Politicususa:

So with only four more days left in this campaign, it means there’s only time for five more reincarnations of Mitt Romney. By Tuesday, he’ll be insisting he’s always been a staunchly pro-gay Unitarian who hates corporations, is proud of his Latino heritage, and doesn’t want old white men telling him what he can’t do with his vagina. [...]

2012 may also be remembered as the election where one candidate was suspected of not being born in America, and the other was suspected of not being born on Earth. But when future historians ask, Mitt Romney? How did we get this shameless weathervane from the planet Kolab? The answer will be because the other choices were Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, the mom from Carrie, and the black guy from Ghostbusters.

But at the end of the day the tea party had spoken. They were against health care mandates, against Wall Street fatcats, and against establishment insiders, so they nominated Mitt Romney. [...]

In this and the subsequent debates, the Mitt of the primary season. The man who had promised teabaggers and bible thumpers that he could bag and thump with the best of them was replaced by a new Mitt Romney who suddenly liked regulation, and protecting women’s rights, and who was for taxing the rich, and offering foreign aid to the terrorists. Can you imagine if he had said those things during the primary debates? The crowd and the crazies on the stage would have devoured him. There would have been nothing left behind his podium but a clump of magic underwear and black hair dye.

So, that’s it. That’s the election. It is your choice, America. Because for me, it is a win-win. If Obama wins, America wins. If Romney wins, comedy wins.

Bill Maher: some things to consider if you are thinking about voting for Mitt Romney

Bill Maher warns against voting for “moderate” Mitt Romney.


“A new Republican administration would be an open for business sign to all the bizarre Bible-thumping bullshit that the Obama administration has given us a break from.”

Bill Maher on John Sununu on President Obama

The Hill: A surrogate for Mitt Romney on Thursday said President Obama’s performance at the first presidential debate, held in Denver, revealed how “lazy and detached he is.” The surrogate, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R), made the remarks in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, a day after the crucial debate. [...] “What people saw last night, I think, was a president that revealed his incompetence, how lazy and detached he is, how he has absolutely no idea how serious the economic problems of the country are, and how he has failed to even begin to address them,” Sununu said.


@BillMaher via: mediate

SNL and Bill Maher on The Undecided Voter

We’re all pretty tired of it…

“There’s still a lot we don’t know. And we want answers.”

###

Bill Maher also tackled undecided voters on Friday night — AND the media who celebrates them:

Huffington Post: With less than two months until the election, Maher advises those who still don’t know who they’re voting for to “stay home” on Nov. 6, because they probably won’t be able to find their polling places. He doesn’t understand why undecideds such as “Octomom” Nadya Suleman are being celebrated or painted as more discerning than the rest of us when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney couldn’t be more different.

“And that, in a nutshell, is America’s celebrated, undecided voter: put on a pedestal by the media as if they were Hamlet in a think-tank, searching out every last bit of information, high-minded arbiters pouring over policy positions and matching them against their own philosophies. Please, they mostly fall into a category political scientists call ‘low information voters,’ otherwise known as ‘dipsh*ts.’”


Bill Maher: “I think this is the week Mitt Romney lost the election.”

Raw Story reports on an exchange between John Feehery and Chris Hayes that I thought was significant regarding reality and Republican talking points:

“Obama just looked cool and smart,” Maher recalled. “And, again, Obama just looks cooler and smarter, ’cause he is.”

One of Maher’s panelists, Republican strategist John Feehery, suggested that “things are just getting started” in this election cycle, since there haven’t been any debates between Romney and President Barack Obama yet, and Obama has yet to poll above 40 percent with voters in “key states,” though he did not mention which ones.

But when Feehery described this week’s outbreak of violence in the Middle East, including the killing of the U.S. envoy to Libya as “all hell breaking loose,” MSNBC host Chris Hayes interjected.

“All hell breaking loose in the Middle East are 4,800 dead Americans in Iraq, and 500,000 Iraqi civilians dead,” Hayes responded. “That is what all hell in the Middle East breaking loose is.”

Watch video