Hey average dudes and dudettes, you’re being chewed up and spit out daily and don’t even know it. The poor and middle-class are carrying 100% of the burden of perpetuating the status of the privileged few squeezed into the top 1 or 2% of the U.S. population. Mr. and Mrs. Mainstream make virtually all the financial and service sacrifices at the altar of the political derangement that is today’s Republican Party.
The headline examples are obvious. Huge tax breaks for the hugely wealthy. Every multinational corporate incentive perk imaginable, relentless Republican attempts to destroy Obamacare under the aegis of insurance interests and pharmas, low wages getting lower for the have-nots and the use of God, Guns and Gays (and now fairy tale scandals) to keep red state voters in line. But there’s a lot more in the cynical and self-serving hopper of privilege embracing the sweet life of fancy cars, enormous homes and oceans of cash until death do ye part.
Let’s go for a ride on the scamola train. We’ll make a few stops at the more egregious of sneaky ways to pick your pocket without you being aware that you’re a major contributor to a huge multinational or the victim of unhinged politics. I recently attended an Upstate South Carolina meeting that featured speakers from the publicly owed, Commission of Pubic Works (CPW), a local city water and sewer system entity that also serves the county. CPW arbitrarily decided to change the formula for paying the city a “dividend” each year out of monies collected for water and sewer services. That dust-up blew the cover off of information that, while supposedly public, was sometimes hidden deep in the small print.
CPW has raised rates for the past 5 years. Their latest proposal is a 13.9% increase for in-city residential customers or about $35 annually. City commercial rates would be 14.7% higher and $188 per annum. For county customers those number rise to 14.2% for residents ($61.00) and 14.9% commercial or $328. In-city industrial customers get socked for a $64,053 increase, while the county industries, including some giant multinationals kick in $112,029. As for the latter, ROTFLMAO!!!
I asked the speaker the obvious question. In getting the giants to grace your small, right to work, anti-union, desperate for jobs county, don’t you and your butt-kissing economic development partners, make water negotiations a major part of your incentive packages? Well, ‘er, yes, we do sometimes negotiate rates. I further asked how long some of these contracts are? “Well, ‘er, 30 years!” So, for the highly misleading suggestion that the multinationals are going to have their rates raised by some loathsome percentage, file that under pure bulls**t. Their much lower rates are contracted for decades.
You, the little guy and gal, are going to pick up a substantial portion of multinational rate slack. A percentage of your increase will absorb the percentage that is negotiated away by the hulking behemoth of brick and mortar, located in 50 countries, paying minimal (if any) taxes, often getting its land for nothing and infrastructure compliments of the city.
Something else built into your rate structure is absorbing a $500,000 health insurance increase for employees of CPW. For some, that represents hundreds a month in premiums. This is going on in every corner of our fine land. Before the state health exchanges bring in some competition to the state marketplace in 2014, the major insurance companies are slamming businesses and local governments with increases in the 14-15% range. And the problem in many states is that as few as 1 or 2 such companies serve some states. Blue Cross and Blue Shield have about a 50% South Carolina stake. THAT is why powerful insurance companies have their hugely unethical and greedy (cushy lobbying jobs on retirement?) legislators attacking Obamacare.
Another local impact, essentially a consequence of Nikki Haley’s Social Services policies, involves a local boys home that could close by the end of the year. Reduced reimbursement rates are partially at fault. It’s a 42-year-old facility for boys, 8 to 18years.
Speaking of the state budget, 84% of those in the county with mental issues cannot get help from the county mental health system, largely due to lack of resources. A lack of state funding closed a detoxification center that served 11,000 people in its 15-year history. Are you satisfied Republicans? A friend of mine’s son recently died with issues that mental health support could have addressed. Another non-profit center providing services on a sliding pay scale locked its doors for the same reason.
For religious Republicans, serving the mentally challenged, the sick and poor and young boys in need, or serving giant multibillion-dollar corporations is no contest. Go Boeing!
The sequester, was born of Republican legislative blackmail to keep the government up and running, includes 9 years of ruinous cuts. The Huffington Post lists a few: they included cuts in food safety, scientific research (I can hear the goobers cheering now), cuts in HIV tests and meds (more goober cheering), care for those with mental health needs, cuts in head start, help for the homeless and unemployment benefits could go down by as much as 9%. That’s how heartless Republicans are. That’s $1.2 trillion less over 9 years; $85 billion this year.
On the hypocritical side, mandated furloughs for Air Traffic Controllers were removed when members of Congress realized they were impacted. Another enormously ill-conceived cut was the slashing of emergency response funds. In light of the horrible Moore tragedy, what an incredibly short-sighted move. My heart goes out to the families of Moore and the surrounding area.
It’s not that there isn’t huge money out there. Risking a reprising of the obscene and economically deadly dot-com bubble of 2000, we’re starting to get questionable big money investments tossed around. For 3 years from 1997 to 2000, pimply-face adolescents could get their garage Internet businesses purchased or IPO’d and invested in at ridiculous prices while having zero revenue.
A 26-year-old recently unloaded his popular blogging forum, Tumblr, with tens of millions of daily posters. Certainly cool and neat and the back-story of the whiz-kid owner is cute, but worth $1.1 billion to Yahoo? Tumblr is a great favorite of the teen to early 20s set. Is there a more fickle demographic?
For his part, Mark Zuckerberg parted with $1 billion of Facebook’s billions for Instagram, a popular photo-sharing mobile app with no profits. A Forbes writer postulated that among 10 reasons Facebook bought Instagram was “Because it Could” and Facebook is having a “midlife crisis.” Pretty sophisticated stuff.
Both these deals might work out just fine, but remember those reckless dot-com days where NASDAQ closed at it’s highest at $5,048. Some 13 years later, it’s hovering around the $3,500 level. The estimated loss to investors; $5 trillion. Thinking dot-coms are once again easy money is a small-investor trap.
A final warning that things could get worse. Mergers and acquisitions in the health care field. Generic drug maker Actavis, just used an all-stock deal to put together the third largest specialty Pharmaceutical in the country. Few companies, less competition, higher prices.
So, while the top tier money-changers are on a financial high, the Bush recession has cost the middle-class Gen Xers almost half of their wealth between 2007-2010. Their current age range is 36-47.
Seems an appropriate time to vote for damn near every Democrat who runs for office.