Saturday, August 31, 2013

8 Ways Phyllis Schlafly And The GOP Justify Voter Suppression


Greg Miller's piece, "Eight Ways Phyllis Schlafly And The GOP Justify Voter Suppression," scores another analytical hit at Addictinginfo.org. For those who have wondered whether Schlafly was still alive, it takes more than a history of hate and idiocy to keep the Conservative anti-ERA, anti-feminist, anti-female Conservative propagandist from leaving the Conservative tent while still existing on a diet of hate and lies:


"In a column published by WND titled “North Carolina Embraces Honest Elections” by Phyllis Schlafly, the Conservative strategy of suppressing the vote comes clearly into focus. I quote Ms. Schlafly here for two reasons: 1) You need to know what is happening behind closed doors; and 2) So you don’t have to click on the article and unintentionally support this agenda which, if you were unaware, is exactly what happens.


"1. Voter ID laws help Republicans, so we need more of them

"To begin her article Phyllis Schlafly writes,
“North Carolina is showing the way for conservatives to rise above their post-2012 depression and regain the political initiative. Gov. Pat McCrory just signed a law requiring voters to show a valid photo ID for voting, prohibiting same-day registration and reducing the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10.”
"2. Voter ID Laws are “common-sense” … at least for people who have photo ID

"Phyllis Schlafly continued:
"This common-sense voter ID law, which passed the North Carolina Legislature with more than two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, is very popular. A Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans believe that people should have to show photo identification to vote.”
"And regarding voter ID, she’s right. Polls clearly show that three-fourths of Americans support showing identification to cast your ballot. Many of you, myself included, think this a fairly common sense approach that has merit and is worthy of debate. Ah, but here’s where it gets tricky. The new North Carolina law also eliminates straight-party voting and reduces the number of days early voting is available by a full seven days. Cutting the number from 17 days to 10.
"3. Early voting helped Barack Obama win, and that’s why we should stop it
Two peas in a pod, two nuts in a sack.

"Phyllis Schlafly states quite plainly,
“The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game. The Democrats carried most states that allow many days of early voting, and Obama’s national field director admitted, shortly before last year’s election, that ‘early voting is giving us a solid lead in the battleground states that will decide this election.’”
"4. It’s okay for North Carolina to cancel early voting, because ‘some states don’t allow it at all’

"And therein lies the twist. Rather than embrace the equal rights of all to vote and campaign candidates on issue positions she and her conservative counterparts would rather make things more difficult for you and suppress your vote. Because they want it their way whether you like it or not and if you don’t play the game the way they want it played well, they’ll just change the rules on you. Not only does Ms. Schlafly make this painfully obvious but it almost seems that she in her aged condition may have let the cat out of the bag with that admission.
“Early voting is a matter of state law, and some states don’t allow it at all.”
"Right you are Ms. Schlafly. Eight states currently do not have provisions for early voting. They are AL, CT, MI, MS, NH, NJ, PA, and RI. Oregon is vote by mail only and therefore not applicable for the purposes of this article. Basically, everybody in OR votes early or not at all.

"More than 80% of the states have provisions to allow for early voting which is greater common sense than even the numbers on voter ID opinion. Schlafly supports voter ID when it helps the conservative cause but against early voting because it goes against that cause and the statistical numbers really become arbitrary. Just like Ronald Reagan misspoke, ”Facts are stupid things.”

"5. Making it easier for people to vote is ‘contrary to the spirit of the U.S. Constitution’ (!)

"But we’re not done yet kids, Phyllis Schlafly goes on to say,
“Early voting is actually contrary to the spirit of the U.S. Constitution. Article II states, ‘the Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes, which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.’ Federal law sets the date for national elections on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.”
"Or, as I like to call it, the first Tuesday in November. And while this may be nit-picking I believe this simply demonstrates the way that conservatives twist language and context to manipulate. But I digress.

"Early voting is not contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. Quite the opposite. It allows for the fast paced global occupying American the ability to make their voice heard while still keeping pace with today’s global demands. By Schlafly’s implied standard, all votes come on the Tuesday following the first Monday and that’s it. Nothing else counts. But she isn’t for voter suppression? Follow a hard fast rule written 237 years ago with no room for developmental advancement? Seems just a bit extreme doesn’t it?


"6. Early voting increases ballot fraud. Really, it’s true
“Early voting increases the influence of big money spent on campaigns because it requires candidates to campaign, to spend and to buy expensive television ads over additional weeks. Early voting increases opportunities for ballot fraud because the necessary poll watchers we expect to be on the job at polling places on Election Day can’t be present for so many days.”
"Ah, I see. Well here’s a thought. Remove big money corporate interests from our political process and you won’t have to worry about such trivial matters. The super-rich can continue to hoard every dollar as they see fit. I mean, they did earn it. And early voting doesn’t necessarily happen at normal polling places but rather governmental offices prior to Election Day. So it doesn’t increase opportunities for ballot fraud. Why is ballot fraud such a concern of the conservatives anyway? I’ll let Gen. Colin Powell, former Sec. of State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs handle this one, who said in direct opposition to Gov. McCrory’s allegations of widespread and undetected voter fraud,
“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote. It [the new NC voting law] immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away. You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud,” Powell said. “How can it be widespread and undetected?”
"7. ‘Illegal votes’ are cancelling out legal ones!

But Phyllis Schlafly continues,
“Encouraging people to close their minds and cast an irrevocable ballot before all the presidential debates are held is as harmful to a fair outcome as it would be to allow jurors to vote guilty or not guilty before they hear all the evidence in a trial. Hillary Clinton called the North Carolina law’s provisions ‘the greatest hits of voter suppression,’ but the real “hits” are the way illegal votes cancel out the votes of honest Americans.”
"Now we should sequester ourselves and reserve judgment on the accused until all the debates are done? Because, a decision based on facts obtained regarding issues you care about individually is closing your mind. Really? The same as jury duty? Now there’s a bright happy face painted on the civic responsibility of being an informed and active voter. Hey! No worries Phyllis. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is seeing fit to limit the number of debates, how they are structured and limit the number of people watching. So we’re good now, right?
"8. College kids don’t need to vote, they need to learn to write in cursive

"The greatest hits of voter suppression are not fabricated illegal votes cancelling out valid ones. They are the restrictions imposed by limiting the number of people who can vote through ID laws and restricting the time allotted for those citizens to cast their ballots. Because what wasn’t covered by Ms. Schlafly is that college students will not be able to use their college ID as proof of self or residence in NC and Republican county officials are removing the on-campus polling places, making it inherently more difficult for younger voters to exercise their rights. We all know younger voters tend to vote more with progressive ideals rather than stodgy traditional status quo. I wouldn’t expect an 89-year-old woman who supported and authored context against Equal Rights to have the pulse of college students in the 21st century. As proof of that Schlafly closes with,
“In addition to the helpful new voting laws, North Carolina passed stricter regulations on abortion clinics, ended teacher tenure, cut unemployment benefits, blocked the expansion of Medicaid and (despite the scorn of propagandists for the national takeover of education by Common Core) mandated the teaching of cursive writing. Maybe that’s why the liberals are so angry: Kids will now be able to read letters from their grandmothers.”
"Yep. That’s why I’m angry. Not because of the 'helpful new voting laws.'  Not because of the stricter regulations on reproductive rights and the inability to get quality medical care. Not because I can’t get a job at all, much less one that provides a living wage. Not for restricting healthcare provisions during the dawning of universal healthcare or access to quality educators. Nope. I’m pissed because I can’t read my grandmothers obsolete way of communicating even though she didn’t bother to try to keep up with the world’s technological and social evolutions as they happened around her. Better check your own pulse, Phyllis Schlafly. It seems shallow and slow."



*****

The 89-year old witch had disappeared from the national scene awhile ago, only to reappear with the birth of the creation of the Tea Bagger movement as just another inmate allowed to run loose in the Conservative asylum.

Our site has been up for a little over a year, and a few things have changed: accelerated voter suppression laws in the Red States, and the obstruction and refusal to compromise by the Tea Baggers in Congress.


The noxious changes in our political atmosphere have added to the reasons to criminalize Conservatism, not reduce them, and we can state our position thus:

1.  The Conservative criminal cabal continues to suppress the vote because they say that the Democrats are socialists/communists/fascists.

This is patently false.

Therefore, as this is obviously a conspiracy to steal the votes of the People, the Conservative crime-ridden conspiracy has once again shown us that Conservatism must be criminalized.

2.  The Conservatives are obstructing all (!) legislation in Congress and are refusing to compromise or cooperate with the Democratic side because they say that the Democrats are socialists/communists/fascists.

This is patently false.

Therefore, as this is obviously a conspiracy to  refuse to initiate or approve any legislation on the behalf of the People, the Conservative crime-ridden conspiracy has once again shown us that Conservatism must be criminalized.

QED: Criminalize Conservatism!



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"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.
When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will
understand why I dismiss yours."

Stephen Roberts, present-day freethinker, his page:
http://freelink.wildlink.com/index.php

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Structural Reform: Ending The Gerrymander


A regular viewer of the Facebook version of Criminalize Conservatism (https://www.facebook.com/CriminalizeConservatism?ref=hl) commented a week or so ago that gerrymandering was a fact of life, and that it was something that was studied in school for quite awhile.  We've posted a few offerings from others on the subject (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/01/eliminate-conservative-gerrymandering_27.html), (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/01/eliminate-conservative-gerrymandering.html), (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/01/conservative-gerrymandering-power.html), (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2012/11/take-house-back-in-2014.html), and (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/02/conservatives-last-stand-in-dixie.html), and we're now posting two articles - one about the continued gerrymandering in Ohio, and the second on a realistic strategy on how we can realistically rid ourselves of the pernicious democracy-killer.

The first article is from "akadjian" at the Dailykos.com, "Ohio vote stealing and how it's hidden.":

"I just wanted to go to work this morning.

"On the way to work though, I made the mistake of stopping for a bagel, and the following stared up at me as I was getting coffee.



"While I'm glad the Cincinnati Enquirer is so interested in 'protecting the vote,' I can't help but wonder why they're not going after the much bigger voter fraud.

"In 2012, while 47.5% of the state voted Democratic in Congressional elections, Republicans won 12 out of 16 Congressional seats.

"To put this in perspective, 2.3 million people voted Democratic and won 4 seats while 2.5 million people voted Republican and won 12 seats.

"That means it took 212,000 people to elect a Republican and 576,000 people to elect a Democrat.

"Below the fold: links to the research and a few thoughts on what we can do.

"This is a widely known problem so I'm not going to present much more detail.

"The only other stat that might be useful is that if you consider Democrats won 25% of the seats with 47.5% of the state Congressional vote, this is the equivalent of 1,091,166 votes being thrown in the trash.

"Yet the Cincinnati Enquirer is publishing a front page story on an issue which didn't affect a single election. Yes, things likely could be better at polling stations. But no elections were affected by this polling station negligence.

"Statewide Republicans, however, purposefully and legally dumped over a million Democratic votes in the trash and the Enquirer prints nothing.

"Data from the Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a great story on Ohio gerrymandering back in November.

"It contained this amazing graphic which shows how state officials stuffed huge amounts of the Democrats into 4 crazily drawn districts so Republicans would win the rest:




"The other affect gerrymandering has on districts is that it eliminates competitive districts. Basically, Republicans have little chance in the Democratic districts and Democrats have little change in Republican districts.

"In other words, the people who determined this election were the small group of people who drew the districts, not the voters.

"None of these officials is therefore technically responsible to voters but only to a small group of people in the statehouse who draw the districts.

"The game is rigged.

"And state officials get away with it because it goes largely unreported in places like Cincinnati.

"What to Do

"Dizzydean wrote this excellent article here at dKos with these 3 things you can do if this is happening in your state. He writes:
"There are three ways to try to change the status quo:

(1) get an initiative on the ballot
(2) get legislation passed at the state level
(3) get a court order forcing a change
"Dizzy, the petition has been filed with 430,000 signatures, more than enough votes to get it on the ballot!

"Contacts at the Cincinnati Enquirer

"I would add to Dizzy's list that we should be asking news organization like the Cincinnati Enquirer why they choose to focus on voter issues with no actual election impact and why they choose to completely ignore stories where over 1,000,000 votes are thrown away:

"Sharon Coolidge, reporter for the story: scoolidge@enquirer.com

"Carolyn Washburn
cwashburn@enquirer.com
Twitter: @CarolynWashburn
513-768-8551
Editor and Vice President of News

"Cincinnati Enquirer
Phone: 513-721-2700

"Any other thoughts on what we can do to fight gerrymandering are welcome!

"8:14 AM PT: UPDATE: As a couple of folks have posted in the comments, the petition mentioned was for the 2012 election and the issue was defeated in November. Thanks to those who brought up and apologies for not catching this as I was writing before work this morning."

*****


The second article, also at Dailykos.com, but by "dizzydean," "Structural Reform: Ending The Gerrymander," though written earlier and referred to in the above article, can be seen as an expansion of the first essay:

"This is intended to be the first of four diaries on the following structural issues that can make a major difference in pursuing a more liberal agenda. All four are possible, but with various levels of difficulty. This is my poor attempt at providing something constructive for Kossites to chew on.

"The Four Big Structural Issues as I see them are:
"Gerrymandering
SCOTUS
Campaign Finance
The filibuster
"This first diary is about gerrymandering and what can be done to end it.

"In 2012, the Democrats won the overall vote for the House 48.7-47.6% This represents a difference of roughly 1.7%.

"There have been some very good diaries on the topic over the last year, to include those byStephen Wolf, extina, kos, and others. Each identified of these focused on the impact of gerrymandering on the 2012 election, but none seemed to go to the heart of the problem: what to do about it.

"In 34 states, redistricting is carried out by the state legislatures. Six states (AZ, CA, HI, ID, NJ, WA) have an independent or bipartisan commission draw the maps. Three states (FL, IA and ME) have independent bodies within the government draw the maps. The remaining seven states only have one member of the House (AK, DE, MT, ND, SD, VT and WY).

"In his diary, The Cost of Gerrymandering, kos identified 10 states that were the most gerrymandered for the GOP (in rank order): Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Not surprisingly, the gerrymandering of congressional districts translates into state level legislative districts. Is it a surprise that the states with GOP leadership that has caused most of the heartburn among Kossites lately are on this list?





"There are three ways to try to change the status quo:

(1) get an initiative on the ballot
(2) get legislation passed at the state level
(3) get a court order forcing a change

"Ballot Initiatives:

"According toUSC's Initiative and Referendum Institute, 24 states allow for a ballot initiative:
"An initiative is a proposal of a new law or constitutional amendment that is placed on the ballot by petition, that is, by collecting signatures of a certain number of citizens.
"Those states are AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, ID, ME, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY



"Cross referencing this list with Kos's above, Florida, Michigan, Ohio should be obvious targets for a ballot initiative process.

"Ohio is a good one. It has 16 members of Congress, with the GOP winning 12. Obama won Ohio 50.7-47.69% amounting to around 230,000 votes in Obama's favor. The Ohio General Assembly has a party breakdown of 23-10 in the Senate and 60-39 in the House, both advantages in the Republicans' favor.

"This gap was clearly caused by gerrymandering.


"So, if you are resident of Ohio, what can you do? Ohio has an initiative process that is pretty straightforward: Get a committee together, draft up the initiative, get 1000 registered voters to sign, get the petition certified and then collect signatures representing 10% of the state's registered voters.

"Not easy, but doable and the process has been done on an array of issues in Ohio recently.



"State-level Legislative Action.

"All states except for DE allow for some form of legislative referendum--that is, where the legislature places a change to the state's constitution on the ballot. Much more difficult for making a change that will impact district boundaries, but possible. For example, Iowa changed their redistricting process in this manner in 1980. The main impetus behind Iowa's change came from a court order from the Iowa Supreme Court in 1972, which caused enough of an outcry that the state legislature changed the process. According to former Governor Robert Ray(R):
"Mr. ROBERT RAY (Former Governor, Republican, Iowa): Number one, the Supreme Court of the state of Iowa said we needed to. And secondly, it seemed like the right thing to do.
"Canvassing, a grassroots effort and a PR campaign to sell to the voters in a state that allowing for the state legislature to draw the maps is unfair to everyone can be a powerful message at a time when the political parties have such low approval ratings. In PA, where I live, everyone--Republican, Democrat and Independent--overwhelmingly believes that Harrisburg is incapable of tackling big problems. In today's environment, there should be more hope for this sort of effort than not.

"The Courts

"I don't want to say much here, other than to recognize that a legal strategy to bring about change is possible, especially in states that have had problems with their redistricting maps (see TX). Whether this is enough to make a structural change depends on the willingness of state level courts to weigh in on the matter.

"Two Examples: IA and CA

"Since we don't have a liberal version of ALEC, I would suggest anyone interested in this process look at what Iowa and California have done as examples.

"Iowa established a non-partisan agency within the state legislature which draws up redistricting maps within very specific guidelines. Once they have produced the map, the state legislature gives it an up-or-down vote. If it fails, then it goes back to the agency, which then produces another map. This process continues until the final map is drawn.

"See here for their process:
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/...

"California established a citizens redistricting commission. The commission members are all citizens and there is a fairly complicated process of determining who is selected:
"In accordance with the Voters FIRST Act (Act), the California State Auditor randomly selected the first eight members of the first Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) on November 18, 2010. These first eight commissioners—three who are Democrats, three who are Republican, and two who are either Decline-to-State or are registered with another party—were part of the 36 eligible applicants that remained in the sub-pools after the legislative leaders, exercised their authority to make strikes and eliminated the names of 24 applicants from the pool of 60 of the most qualified applicants identified on September 23, 2010 by the Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel (Panel). The Panel reviewed and evaluated the applicants based on criteria set forth by the Act approved by voters in November 2008; including relevant analytical skills, the ability to be impartial; and a demonstrated appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography.
"The commission then draws the map after a period of open hearings, following specific guidelines provided by the law. If there is a challenge to the map or the commission cannot come up with their own map, the matter is forwarded directly to the California Supreme Court.

"See here for more info:
http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/

"Pat of butter in a sea of grits wrote a great diary on the impact of the law on California's politics here:
http://www.dailykos.com/...




"The Bottom Line

"This is one the biggest structural changes that we can make that would have an impact on the future of politics in the US. By breaking the stranglehold the GOP has placed on states which vote for the Democrats in state-wide elections through gerrymandering, we can put the electoral process back in the hands of the voters. I'll take that every time.

"This can only happen, however, through local efforts. Please contact your state-level grassroots organizations to see what they are planning. If nothing is happening, then start it on your own!

"Peace."



*****

Our position on gerrymandering against the GOP is straighforward:  The GOP is a front group for the criminal cartel called "Conservatism," and gerrymandering in favor of non-Conservative front groups is to be applauded.

No vehicle for Conservatism should be allowed to exist, and we should profit by the lessons afforded to us by the cartel.

And this is where the difficult work begins - at the local level with local efforts.  As the second article says, "Please contact your state-level grassroots organizations to see what they are planning. If nothing is happening, then start it on your own!"

You have nothing to lose but your chains.



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"A man who has both feet planted firmly in the air can be safely called a liberal as
opposed to the conservative who has both feet planted firmly in his mouth."

Jacque Barzun.  (French educator.  B. 1907.)

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Taxpayer Dollars Paid A Third Of Richest Corporate CEOs: Report


Since the inception of our site a little over a year ago, we have published more than a few article on the greediest among us - the upper 1 percent.

Such articles as "The Very Rich Are Different Than You And Me (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/03/the-very-rich-are-different-from-you.html)," "The Rich Are Greedier Than The Poor...WAY Greedierhttp://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2012/08/the-rich-are-greedier-than-poorway.html)," "Who Are The Rich 1 Percent? (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2012/08/who-are-rich-1-percent.html)," "The Wealthy: Entitled, Greedy, And Narcissistic (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2013/08/the-wealthy-entitled-greedy-and-narcissistic.html)," and "3 Conservative Lies Keep Taxes Low On The Wealthy (http://www.criminalizeconservatism.com/2012/11/3-conservative-lies-to-keep-taxes-low.html)" come to mind as we've explored the basic philosophy of the American Conservative: the quest for complete control of the 98 percent of us by the upper class.

"Taxpayer Dollars Paid A Third Of Richest Corporate CEOs: Report," a report by Katherine Burkhart at Huffingtonpost.com helps complete the portrait of America's captivity by the Rich Gone Wild:


"WASHINGTON -- More than one-third of the nation's highest-paid CEOs from the past two decades led companies that were subsidized by American taxpayers, according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank.

"'Financial bailouts offer just one example of how a significant number of America's CEO pay leaders owe much of their good fortune to America's taxpayers,' reads the report. 'Government contracts offer another.'

"IPS has been publishing annual reports on executive compensation since 1993, tracking the 25 highest-paid CEOs each year and analyzing trends in payouts. Of the 500 total company listings, 103 were banks that received government bailouts under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, while another 62 were among the nation's most prolific government contractors.

"Many of the companies appeared multiple times on the annual top 25 list, with Bank of America appearing 18 times, Citigroup appearing 15 times, while Morgan Stanley and American Express each secured 12 slots. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has landed on the list twice since the bank received $10 billion under TARP, and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault has appeared three times since his company accepted $3.4 billion in bailout money. Goldman Sachs received $10 billion under TARP, and made the list seven times in the past two decades, once after receiving its bailout. Washington Mutual and Lehman Brothers, both of which failed in 2008, also appeared on the list, with Leman making eight appearances before filing for bankruptcy.

"Banks piled on financial risk in the years leading up to the banking crash, fueling record profits from their investments. Those high profits translated into strong 'performance-based' bonuses and stock compensation. But when the risk backfired in 2008, companies either collapsed or were rescued by taxpayers.
"But our analysis reveals widespread poor performance within America's elite CEO circles. Chief executives performing poorly -- and blatantly so -- have consistently populated the ranks of our nation's top-paid CEOs over the last two decades."
"Citigroup, Goldman, American Express and JPMorgan declined to comment for this article. Morgan Stanley emphasized that the company has not appeared on the list of the 25 highest-paid CEOs since receiving TARP money. Wells Fargo told HuffPost that its CEO pay packages were necessary to retain top talent; the bank received $25 billion from TARP.

"'We take a disciplined approach for determining compensation based on four principles: pay for performance, promote a culture of risk management that avoids unnecessary or excessive risk taking, attract and retain highly qualified executives with competitive pay, and align executives' interests with those of stockholders,' Wells Fargo spokesman Michael McCoy said.
"'Sky-high CEO pay purportedly reflects the superior value that elite chief executives add to their enterprises and the broader U.S. economy,' IPS wrote. 'But our analysis reveals widespread poor performance within America's elite CEO circles. Chief executives performing poorly -- and blatantly so -- have consistently populated the ranks of our nation's top-paid CEOs over the last two decades.'


"About 12 percent of the 500 CEOs listed comprised executives who ran firms that did extensive business with the federal government. IBM landed on the top CEO pay list 11 times, securing about $11 billion in total government contracts during those years, while General Electric appeared on the annual list eight times, with $16.5 billion in contracts. GE also has a large banking wing, which issued more than $70 billion in debt guaranteed by the federal government at the height of the financial crisis, making it one of the biggest beneficiaries of the bank rescue.

"'Approximately 4 percent of GE's annual revenues come from sales to the U.S. government, primarily work to support the U.S. military,' GE spokesman Seth Martin told HuffPost. Martin emphasized that none of its government-backed debt defaulted, and that the company paid taxpayers $2.3 billion in guarantee fees as part of the program.

"Major government contractor United Technologies has appeared on the annual highest-paid CEO list six times, bringing in $32.8 billion in government business, while Lockheed Martin has scored five appearances, generating a total of $125 billion from government contracts from those years.

"'Competitive executive compensation is critical to attracting and retaining key talent. The objective of our compensation program is to align pay to performance,' said a Lockheed Martin spokesperson. 'The program is designed to provide employees with a competitive compensation package that rewards performance against specific identified financial, strategic, and operational goals that the compensation committee and the board believe are critical to the corporation's long-term success and the achievement of sustainable long-term total return to our stockholders.'


"Executive pay has steadily increased relative to average worker pay for several decades, but has exploded since 1993. That year, CEOs of companies in the S&P 500 Index made an average of 195 times as much their average worker. By 2012, that ratio had ballooned to 354 to 1.

"Even corporations that do not do business with the government or receive bailouts receive subsidies for CEO pay. All companies are currently able to deduct unlimited amounts in CEO pay from their federal tax bills, so long as the pay takes the form of 'performance-based' compensation such as bonuses or stock payments.

"The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill required all corporations to disclose more information about executive pay, and publish a simple ratio comparing the pay of a company's CEO to the pay of its average worker. The bill also directed regulators to bar any pay scheme that 'encourages inappropriate risk.' Regulators have not finalized those rules in the ensuing three years since the bill's passage.

"The IPS report also chronicles the lack of representation of women at the most lucrative private-sector positions, noting that just four women have appeared on the list of 25 highest-paid CEOs over last 20 years. While women remain statistically underrepresented in Congress, the report notes, the percentage of women has at least climbed from 10 percent to 18 percent in the last two decades."

Read the full report.


*****


The gobbledygook from the Lockheed Martin spokesperson, "'Competitive executive compensation is critical to attracting and retaining key talent. The objective of our compensation program is to align pay to performance," and "The program is designed to provide employees with a competitive compensation package that rewards performance against specific identified financial, strategic, and operational goals that the compensation committee and the board believe are critical to the corporation's long-term success and the achievement of sustainable long-term total return to our stockholders," points to the mantra used by corporations for decades over decades: the taxpayers take second place to the profits of the company, so it's all right if the corporation steals from the taxpayers.

Much of what we now see in the ongoing Fall of The American Empire would have captured the imaginations of Marx and Engels, and the road to Communism that they predicted was thwarted by the rise of the American Middle Class.  But the Middle Class has been shrinking overnight, the depreciation of its wealth commensurate with the increase in the wealth of the 1 percent, and the rich better watch out.


The crimes abound, and when the Sheldon Adelsons and Koch brothers of the world are able to fund their Conservative minions in office in exactly the way that criminal syndicates bribed their pet legislators in the past, it stands to reason: today's Conservatives are no different than yesterday's Syndicate hoods - except today's capos are protected by their people in the Supreme Court.



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"While we are reading, we are all Don Quixote."

Mason Cooley.  (American aphorist.  1927 - 2002.)

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

7 Outrageous and Downright Horrific Statements From the Right-Wing Fringe Just This Week


In their series, "Tea Party And The Right," Alternet.org's Janet Allon reports on the doings of the more rabid Conservatives in America in a piece called,"7 Outrageous and Downright Horrific Statements From the Right-Wing Fringe Just This Week," that you should read while making sure you're not drinking or eating anything at the same time:

"7 Outrageous and Downright Horrific Statements From the Right-Wing Fringe Just This Week - 'I’m against homosexuals pretending like they’re married.' Will the homophobic, racist, sexist conservative noise never cease?

"August 24, 20013

"1. Justice Scalia wonders aloud if citizens should have rocket launchers.



"How do you solve a problem like Scalia? The Supreme Court’s most shoot-from-the-hip, right-wing, Tea Partying, really un-judge-like judge mused this week in a speech in Montana about what sort of arms are protected under the Second Amendment. Might 'shoulder-fired rocket launchers' be protected? Perhaps, he concluded. Scalia reminded the crowd that the framers of the Constitution put that amendment in there, after all, to preserve the right of the people to revolt against a tyrannical leader.

"OK, that’s kind of extreme. Even the gun nuts aren’t making that argument, usually defending their right to bear all kinds of arms for some sort of self-defense against real or imagined criminals.

"So it’s a tad off for a Supreme Court justice to be suggesting armed insurrection, no? And, of course, these days, that would probably require significantly more powerful weaponry than the muskets that helped win the Revolutionary War.

"As if the gun nuts need any more encouragement to up their firepower.

"2. Colorado legislator: Poverty higher among blacks because they eat too much chicken.


Sure you are Vicki, sure you are...

"At a task force meeting to address economic opportunity and poverty reduction, Colorado State Sen. Vicki Marble (R) delivered a rambling monologue suggesting that the reason for poverty among certain minority groups was their diet, specifically chicken; but no offense, because it’s really delicious chicken.

"Here’s what she said verbatim:

"'When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race: sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it… Although I’ve got to say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you — I mean love it and everybody loves it. The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables. And you go down there and they’re much thinner than when they come up here… they change their diet.'

"Let us pause for a fact-check moment: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization recently found obesity rates are higher in Mexico than the United States.

"After that, another task force member, Rep. Rhonda Fields (D) had heard quite enough. 'The title for this committee is Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction; and one of the things I will not tolerate is racist and insensitive comments about African Americans.' She added that she would not 'engage in a dialogue where I’m in the company, where you are using these stereotyped references about African American and chicken and food… this is not what this committee is all about… it’s not about chicken.'

"Meeting adjourned.

"3. Fox guest says Oklahoma shooting was partly because shooters could have been aborted.


She's the chunky one...on the left, that is.

"Yes, you read that right. Janet Morana, the executive director of Priests for Life, an anti-abortion group, said that the three teenagers accused of shooting a jogger for fun are actually survivors of Roe v. Wade—everyone born after 1973 is, actually—and that could have messed them up, and contributed to their desire to engage in thrill-killing. 'There’s a thing called "survivor syndrome,"' she explained. 'Just the fact that you could have been aborted can affect you. So that’s factor one.'

"Then she went on to discuss the less important factors like lack of parenting, and the fact that the accused shooters watched lots of violent video games.

"But, yeah, survivor syndrome. It’s a thing. Knowing you could have been aborted. Think about it.

"4. Bryan Fischer: Christians are the new blacks.



"The American Family Association spokesman took this week’s New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision that a wedding photography business violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing its services to a same-sex couple very hard. How dare they not be allowed to discriminate? Discrimination is what this country was built on. Fischer encouraged all right-thinking businesses like the one in question to 'fight fire with fire' and file countersuits, because preventing people from discriminating is discrimination, yup, against Christians. When are Christians going to start suing for the right to discriminate, huh?

"'Essentially what this court has done and what the Obama administration has done with this abortifacient mandate is that they have turned Christians into Dred Scott,' Fischer expounded on his show Focal Point. 'Christians have no rights which this court is bound to respect. So to me this looks like Jim Crow is alive and well, we’ve got Jim Crow laws right back in operation, Christians are the new blacks.'

"Okay, so orange is not the new black? Confused.

"5. Alabama GOP candidate: “Homosexuals should stop pretending like they’re married” and Republicans must sign a pledge to make them stop doing that.


Gaydar alert!  Gaydar alert!

"Dean Young is running for Congress in Alabama in part because he does not think same-sex couples should have the right to marry, and in part because he does not think Republicans in Congress are sufficiently outraged about gay marriage. He wants to go and straighten everyone out, so to speak.

'I’m against homosexuals pretending like they’re married,' he told a local NBC affiliate. 'If you want to have homosexuals pretending like they’re married, then go to the Democrat party.'

"He added: 'Congress is weak and spineless,' he said. 'We get these mealy-mouthed politicians that just want to move up the ladder, and they won’t tell people where they stand.'

"He has gone so far as to compose a six-part pledge to fight marriage equality that he wants all Republicans in the race (and probably all Republicans) to sign. It starts with the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman and ends with: 6. I support the by-law change to expel any member of the Republican Executive Committee who opposes the party position by supporting gay marriage.”

"6. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO): Climate change is a conspiracy; only ‘radical environmentalists’ get grants.


And in our hearts...you're not sane.

"Al Gore may feel like the conversation on climate change has improved, and feel a little hopeful that the planet can be saved, but the growing, rather late-in-the-day consensus is only making the nut-job climate science deniers more vehement.

"One example is Rep. Mike Coffman, who told a local Colorado radio station that you can only get a grant to do science research if you 'submit to the…orthodoxy of climate change by the radical environmentalists.' Coffman also said 97 percent of scientists were wrong, and that climate change is 'naturally occurring' with 'man-made influences' being 'debatable.'

"7. Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint’s alternative to Obamacare: emergency rooms.


Jim, Jim, you need a long rest...in prison.

"For weeks, we’ve been saying that the Party of 'No' just doesn’t seem to have an alternative to Obamacare, which they are so doggedly and hopelessly fighting. But that turns out not to be true. They do have an alternative. Emergency rooms. Why didn’t we think of that? It’s not as if emergency rooms have been proven to be costly, inefficient and all too often ineffective ways to deliver healthcare.

"Thankfully Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint pointed this sensible alternative out in a recent town-hall meeting in Tampa, Florida this week. He’s been waging quite a campaign to defund the Affordable Care Act. 'This might be that last off-ramp to stop Obamacare before it becomes more enmeshed in our culture,' he warned the room. The law 'is not about getting better healthcare,' he continued. Uninsured Americans 'will get better healthcare just going to the emergency room.'

"Never mind the inconvenient fact that, as Think Progress points out, in 1989, the Heritage Foundation was at the forefront of advocating for a requirement to purchase coverage through as system of regulated healthcare marketplaces, the very centerpiece of Obama’s healthcare reform, and later lobbied congressional Republicans to offer the initiative as an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health proposal.

"More than a decade later, Heritage boosted former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) health reform law and the individual mandate included in it, describing the requirement as 'one that is clearly consistent with conservative values.'

"Wait, pause, we thought conservative values were the kind that don’t change.

"There’s more from Think Progress: 'A Heritage healthcare analyst said Romney’s proposal would reform the state’s "uncompensated-care payment system," force residents to take "personal responsibility for their healthcare and prevent them from simply showing up ‘in emergency rooms."'

"All righty then, that should clear up the Heritage Foundation’s position on that."

*****


A law we'd like to see passed: the "Truth In Campaigning Act."  When every Conservative gets their marching orders in the morning, and spends the rest of the day brainwashing their own citizens, something has to be done.  While the hubris-ridden "New" Conservative doesn't bother lying about most things these days, he can't get elected to office without lying in a participatory democracy - just one of the reasons they and their Sheeplets keep bleating, "It's a republic, not a democracy."


The other reason, of course, is their rightful fear of the masses.  But until the sleeping giant of the great mass of people awakens, the Conservative cartel will continue on their merry way, lying, stealing, killing, and inflicting misery to the rest of us while their wealthy benefactors continue trumpeting the virtues of the Elites vs. the People.

Before it's too late, criminalize Conservatism!



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"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the
present moment."

Buddha.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

For Ted Cruz, Crazy Runs in the Family!


In Alternet.org's section, "Tea Party And The Right," Joan Walsh has written, "For Ted Cruz, Crazy Runs in the Family," proving once again the old saw that the nut doesn't fall very far from the tree:  And a second article, "Why the GOP is the Party of Choice for Sociopaths and Psychopaths," completes the portrait of Nuts In The GOP.


First, the piece by Walsh:

"August 21, 2013.


"Ted and his right-wing nut-job dad are having a grand old time wooing GOP voters, and scaring normal people.

"Be careful what you wish for. The Republican Party sought a crop of new leaders with the vitality and ideological fire both Sen. John McCain and Mitt Romney lacked heading into 2016. Now they’ve got them, most notably Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s leading the charge to either 'defund' Obamacare or shut down the government, to the horror of McCain and other so-called 'establishment Republicans' (as if there were any such thing.) Even Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul has maybe kinda sorta suggested that shutting down the government to defund Obamacare is a bad idea — even though he signed Sen. Mike Lee’s letter threatening to do so.
"When it comes to red meat and red-baiting, Ted is a piker compared to his Cuban refugee father, who talks of Castro’s tyranny but never mentions the fact that he supported the Cuban communist leader’s revolution against Batista."
"Cruz has no such qualms. Headlining former Sen. Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation’s 'Defund Obamacare' rally last night in Dallas, he fired up the crowd with his Obama attacks. (Of course, I can’t help but note the irony of Heritage sponsoring Cruz’s “Defund Obamacare” tour when Heritage was the source of one of the plan’s key provisions: the individual mandate to carry health insurance.) Even though some Obama defenders showed up and heckled Cruz, the junior Texas senator and his father were the stars of the night.

"'We’ve all seen this movie before,' Cruz told the audience. 'President Obama and Harry Reid are gonna scream and yell "those mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government."' He went on: 'One side or the other has to blink. How do we win this fight? Don’t blink!' Only squishes blink.

"Now is the best time we have to defund Obamacare,' Cruz told the crowd of 1,000. 'We’re seeing bipartisan agreement that the wheels are coming off.'


"The wheels came off the Heritage event, though, when Cruz’s father, minister Rafael Cruz, took the stage to close it out. When it comes to red meat and red-baiting, Ted is a piker compared to his Cuban refugee father, who talks of Castro’s tyranny but never mentions the fact that he supported the Cuban communist leader’s revolution against Batista. Again we heard Cruz Sr. warn that Barack Obama is leading us toward socialism. This time, though, he didn’t merely exaggerate, he outright lied, insisting 'Sarah Palin was right' about death panels in Obamacare.

"Cruz was oddly specific, as though he’d had a very vivid hallucination: There is a 16-member death panel, he told the rapt crowd, that “will be implemented next year.” Those '16 bureaucrats will decide' not only whether you get life saving treatment, but even knee surgery, Cruz warned the audience, farcically. Instead of a 'knee operation,' maybe you’ll just get 'a wheelchair' and pain medication instead. Cruz also predicted shortages of aspirin and a hike in staph infections under Obamacare, just like in his native Cuba (although many of Cuba’s medical shortages are due to the U.S. embargo.) Essentially, according to Cruz, the death panel will tell many of us 'Go home and die!' And to think Republicans complained about Rep. Alan Grayson’s rhetoric back in the day.

"The Cruz and Son roadshow would scare normal voters, but it seems ideal for a GOP primary. Even in Texas, Cruz is the state’s GOP voters’ top pick for a presidential nominee, above Gov. Rick Perry, who is hoping to ride off into the sunset away from the statehouse and toward another primary run. Not so fast, Governor. Cruz had a solid lead even before Perry reversed himself and asked for at least some Medicaid funding for Obamacare, making himself obviously a 'squish.'

"At what point might Cruz Sr. become a drawback for his son? Can you say 'never?' In the important Tea Party primary within the GOP primary, he is leaving Marco Rubio and Rick Perry in the dust, and is neck and neck with Rand Paul nationally. (That’s why Cruz allies are accusing Paul allies of pushing questions about Cruz’s eligibility to be president especially in Iowa, although the two men profess to be friends.) It looks increasingly like Ted Cruz (and his father) dream of him as the 2016 nominee. But so do Democrats.
"Joan Walsh is Salon's editor at large. Read more of her work at Salon."

*****



Nature or Nurture  - or both?  The article by Hrafnkell Haraldsson at Politicususa.com, "Why the GOP is the Party of Choice for Sociopaths and Psychopaths," gives the wingnuts a home - the Conservative front group called the GOP:

"'[O]utlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism in the US military, lest we offend the God of Heaven.'
- John Hagee

"'But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.'
- Thomas Jefferson

"The Republican Party has become the party of choice for sociopaths and psychopaths. By now it should be more than obvious why this is true. Sure, these people are going to have problems regardless, but conservatives are more than happy to supply them with ammo, both literally and figuratively.

"Do I even have to write an article after providing the very different quotes given above? Okay, I suppose I do. But rather than talk about bullets and guns laws and 'Second Amendment remedies', I am going to talk about the hate that pulls the trigger. Let’s be up front about this: most of what I want to say I can’t put into print. But let me take a deep breath and try.

"Watch the video from Right Wing Watch:

"John Hagee clearly needs a refresher course in American history and in particular the Constitution. Likely, if he reads anything it was written by David Barton or by somebody equally ignorant and dishonest.

"Look, I just took after these people yesterday (Trapped by Religion) and here they have me back at it the very next day. There is simply no excuse for this sort of willful ignorance on the part of people who should know better (by that I mean people with at least a grade school education and a better than room temperature IQ), and no clearer example can be made of Gerd Lüdemann’s assertion that Hagee’s religion is incompatible with the pluralism inherent in a modern liberal democracy.

"It fits in pretty well with the sort of theocracy the Constitution prohibits, however. In fact, it fits in very well with the sort of tyrannical religious bigotry inherent in the church for the better part of 1500 years before the Enlightenment freed the human mind from religious superstition and intolerance.


"To make matters worse, Hagee told atheists to get out of America 'if our belief in God offends you.' What happened to turning the other cheek? Isn’t that what Hagee is supposed to do according to his professed belief in his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? If he wants to be like Jesus, what he should have said was, 'We’ll turn the other cheek if our belief in God offends you.' I won’t even get into how he missed the boat on the whole 'love your enemy' thing.

"I read the Bible. I’m pretty sure that’s in there.

"The Young Turks have a scary collection of Hagee sermons if you care to expose yourself more fully to this man’s all-consuming hate. Watch the video from TYT Network (suggested: purification rituals before and after viewing, or at least a bath afterward, perhaps some counseling):

"It’s safe to say nobody knows hate like John Hagee, perhaps not even Brian Fischer. John Hagee is the guy who went on record as saying hate is the only way to save America. He’s apparently still serious about it. And of course, he is the guy who said that God allowed Hitler to kill millions of Jews to give them the needed nudge to go back to Israel. And yes, Hagee is the same guy who said God tried to destroy New Orleans with a flood because he hates gays and lesbians and that God kills birds when he throws a temper tantrum. This is what Hagee calls taking “America and the world back to the God of our Father, asserting all the while that it makes him “America’s preacher.”

"A better name for it would be destroying America.

"I know, right now you’re saying, 'WTF! Why give this a** clown time?' The simple answer is that a lot of people listen to this a** clown. He is an influential preacher and his slimy mode of talk is going to weigh with voters on Election Day.


"His own church – Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas – has, according to Wikipedia, has more than 19,000 active members and he poisons many more minds than that thanks to modern technology. He is CEO of Global Evangelism Television (GETV), a non-profit, off which he apparently makes a much better living than Jesus – in other words, Hagee isn’t limited to a change of clothes and a well-worn pair of sandals – and:

"Hagee is the President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry carried in the United States on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations, and eight networks, including The Inspiration Network (INSP), Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), and Inspiration Now TV. The ministries can be seen and heard weekly in 99 million homes. John Hagee Ministries is in Canada on the Miracle Channel and CTS and can be seen in Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and in most Third World nations.

"And though Hagee is a pastor is happily supports presidential candidates through endorsements – from Alan Keyes in 1996 to John McCain in 2008; the latter actively sought Hagee’s endorsement. It’s safe to say to borrow a metaphor that I am David and Hagee is Goliath. I cannot hope to reach 99 million homes.

"I wrote last September that I would be hard pressed to cram so much excrement into so small an area. Seriously. You really have to be an accomplished liar to do what Hagee has done. Well, here we are almost a year later and Hagee still has excrement pouring out of his mouth, and is completely missing the point of the whole American exercise as conceived by our Founding Fathers.



"Really, if anyone should leave, it is Hagee, because he refuses to get along with the rest of us and to follow the Constitution. Meanwhile, as Towleroad said last year, 'For the love of God, someone get this guy on a morphine drip.' Given Hagee is only the tip of the iceberg, I’d say morphine drips all around. It might be the difference between life and death – for the rest of us."


*****

Separated At Birth...

"...the difference between life and death – for the rest of us," indeed!

It seems like a superfluous observations that demagogues like the Cruz boys are going after the the best haters for recruits, "... people with at least a grade school education and a better than room temperature IQ."  Besides looking like the creepy Joe McCarthy, Rafael Jr. is pulling out all the demagogic weapons to help the GOP stockpile the sociopaths and psychotics for its new base.

It's easy.  All your motivation is bundled up in two little words: Destroy America.




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"No sooner does man discover intelligence than he tries to involve it in his own
stupidity."

Jacques Yves Cousteau.  (French naval officer, explorer, conservationist, filmmaker,
scientist, photographer, authore and researcher who co-developed the Aqua Lung.
1910 - 1997.)

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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Wealthy: Entitled, Greedy, And Narcissistic


A little over a year ago we published a piece,"The Wealthy Are Different," from the New York Magazine that "...dove deep into the relationship between economic status and negative psychological characteristics such as a dearth of empathy, insensitivity to and unregard for other people, the tendency to cheat and even to be a jerk while driving - the results of a Monopoly game.

"The study, by 30 year old psychologist Paul Piff, at UC Berkeley showed that 'Putting someone in a role where they’re more privileged and have more power in a game makes them behave like people who actually do have more power, more money, and more status.'"

And today's post, "Study finds wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors," by Eric W. Dolan at Rawstory.com, complements our earlier posting quite nicely, as it digs a little deeper into the psyche of the rich and powerful:


"Climbing the economic ladder can influence basic psychological processes within an individual.

"According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person’s sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.

"Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost 'there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism).'

"'Narcissism is a multi-faceted and complex construct, but that wealth is specifically associated with it suggests that as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview,' he explained.

"'The studies in the paper measure narcissism in a whole host of ways, including measuring how likely someone is to stare at their reflection in a mirror (wealthier people do that more often). Even students who come from wealth, but have done little to create their own wealth (yet), report more entitlement. This suggests that wealth shapes an ideology of self-interest and entitlement that’s transferred culturally from one generation to the next.'

"Piff conducted five experiments to investigate the associations between social class, entitlement, and narcissism.

"The first experiment consisted of a survey that measured levels of entitlement and socioeconomic status. Piff found higher social class was associated with an increased sense of entitlement. 'Upper-class individuals were more likely to believe they deserved special treatment and feel entitled to more of everything.' They were also more likely to believe that if they on the Titanic, they would deserve to be on the first lifeboat.


"In the second and third experiments, Piff used other surveys with different measures of entitlement and socioeconomic status to confirm his initial findings.

"In the fourth experiment, Piff discovered that upper-class individuals were more likely to look at their own reflections in a mirror, even when controlling for self-consciousness. The final experiment found that exposing upper-class individuals to egalitarian values reduced entitlement and decreased narcissism.

"'Lots of important caveats to be aware of, including the fact that we are measuring correlations and averages across groups of people, which means that there are of course many exceptions to the patterns we document,' Piff told PsyPost. 'Also, simple interventions can reduce narcissism among the wealthy, suggesting their narcissism is neither innate nor fixed. When wealthier participants in one study were asked to think about three benefits of treating others as equals, they subsequently became less narcissistic. Egalitarian values can reduce narcissism. The implications of this are fairly profound, I think.'

"The Berkeley researcher has received a great deal of attention for his studies on how wealth influences behavior. His previous research found upper-class individuals were more likely to lie and cheat when gambling, cut people off when driving, and endorse unethical behavior in the workplace."

Originally published by PsyPost






*****

In their entry on "Wealth Inequality in The United States," Wikipedia defines the subject so:


"Wealth inequality in the United States, also known as the 'wealth gap', refers to the unequal distribution of assets among residents of theUnited States. Wealth includes the values of homes, automobiles, personal valuables, businesses, savings, and investments.[2] The top 10% wealthiest possess 80% of all financial assets.[3] Although different from income inequality, the two are related.

"A 2011 study found that US citizens across the political spectrum dramatically underestimate the current US wealth inequality and would prefer a far more egalitarian distribution of wealth.[4]
In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%. Financial inequality was greater than inequality in total wealth, with the top 1% of the population owning 42.7%, the next 19% of Americans owning 50.3%, and the bottom 80% owning 7%.[9] However, after the Great Recession which started in 2007, the share of total wealth owned by the top 1% of the population grew from 34.6% to 37.1%, and that owned by the top 20% of Americans grew from 85% to 87.7%. The Great Recession also caused a drop of 36.1% in median household wealth but a drop of only 11.1% for the top 1%, further widening the gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99%.[1][9][10] According to PolitiFact and others, top 400 Americans "have more wealth than half of all Americans combined."[11][12][13][14][15]

"Essentially, the wealthy possess greater financial opportunities that allow their money to make more money. Earnings from the stock market or mutual funds are reinvested to produce a larger return. Over time, the sum that is invested becomes progressively more substantial. Those who are not wealthy, however, do not have the resources to enhance their opportunities and improve their economic position. Rather, "after debt payments, poor families are constrained to spend the remaining income on items that will not produce wealth and will depreciate over time."[32] Scholar David B. Grusky notes that "62 percent of households headed by single parents are without savings or other financial assets".[33] Net indebtedness generally prevents the poor from having any opportunity to accumulate wealth and thereby better their conditions.

"Affluent people are more likely to allocate their money to financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and other investments which hold the possibility of capital appreciation. Those who are not wealthy are more likely to have their money in savings accounts and home ownership.[34] This difference comprises the largest reason for the continuation of wealth inequality in America: the rich are accumulating more assets while the middle and working classes are just getting by. Currently, the richest 1% hold about 38% of all privately held wealth in the United States.[3] while the bottom 90% held 73% of all debt.[32]


"There are vast differences in wealth across racial groups in the United States. The wealth gap between white and African-American families nearly tripled from $85,000 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009.[36]


*****

Which leads us to "Upper class more likely to be scofflaws due to greed," a story at Psypost.org:

"The upper class has a higher propensity for unethical behavior, being more likely to believe – as did Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street” – that “greed is good,” according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

"In seven separate studies conducted on the UC Berkeley campus, in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide, UC Berkeley researchers consistently found that upper-class participants were more likely to lie and cheat when gambling or negotiating; cut people off when driving, and endorse unethical behavior in the workplace.


"'The increased unethical tendencies of upper-class individuals are driven, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed,' said Paul Piff, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the paper published today (Monday, Feb. 27) in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Piff’s study is the latest in a series of UC Berkeley scholarly investigations into the relationship between socio-economic class and prosocial and antisocial emotions and behaviors, revealing new information about class differences during a time of rising economic tension.

"'As these issues come to the fore, our research – and that by others – helps shed light on the role of inequality in shaping patterns of ethical conduct and selfish behavior, and points to certain ways in which these patterns might also be changed,' Piff said.

"To investigate how class relates to ethical conduct, the researchers surveyed the ethical tendencies of more than 1,000 individuals of lower-, middle- and upper-class backgrounds. Volunteers reported their social class using the MacArthur Scale of Subjective Socioeconomic Status and filled out surveys revealing their attitudes about unprincipled behaviors and greed. They also took part in tasks designed to measure their actual unethical behavior.

"In two field studies on driving behavior, upper-class motorists were found to be four times more likely than the other drivers to cut off other vehicles at a busy four-way intersection and three times more likely to cut off a pedestrian waiting to enter a crosswalk. Another study found that upper-class participants presented with scenarios of unscrupulous behavior were more likely than the individuals in the other socio-economic classes to report replicating this type of behavior themselves.

"Participants in the fourth study were assigned tasks in a laboratory where a jar of candy, reserved for visiting children, was on hand, and were invited to take a candy or two. Upper-class participants helped themselves to twice as much candy as did their counterparts in other classes.

"In the fifth study, participants each were assigned the role of an employer negotiating a salary with a job candidate seeking long-term employment. Among other things, they were told that the job would soon be eliminated, and that they were free to convey that information to the candidate. Upper-class participants were more likely to deceive job candidates by withholding this information, the study found.

"In the sixth study, participants played a computerized dice game, with each player getting five rolls of the dice and then reporting his or her scores. The player with the highest score would receive a cash prize. The players did not know that the game was rigged so that each player would receive no more than 12 points for the five rolls. Upper-class participants were more likely to report higher scores than would be possible, indicating a higher rate of cheating, according to the study.

"The last study found attitudes about greed to be the most significant predictor of unethical behavior. Participants were primed to think about the advantages of greed and then presented with bad behavior-in-the-workplace scenarios, such as stealing cash, accepting bribes and overcharging customers. It turned out that even those participants not in the upper class were just as likely to report a willingness to engage in unethical behavior as the upper-class cohort once they had been primed to see the benefits of greed, researchers said.

"'These findings have very clear implications for how increased wealth and status in society shapes patterns of ethical behavior, and suggest that the different social values among the haves and the have-nots help drive these tendencies,' Piff said of the cumulative findings.


"Other coauthors of the study are UC Berkeley psychologists Dacher Keltner, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton and Daniel Stancato, and Stéphane Côté of the University of Toronto. The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

*****

The rich are different from the rest of us, and it's no wonder that they pay the ultimate price when revolutions overthrow them.  In the French Revolution their heads rolled off of the chopping block; after Castro's revoluton, many of the murderous rich were lined against the walls and shot; thousands left the country for England and Canada when the American Revolution made life here for the Tories too precarious for comfort.


After Conservatism is made illegal, while we have frequently called for the re-education of Conservative Sheeplets in camps built just for that purpose, and the essay notes that "simple interventions can reduce narcissism among the wealthy, suggesting their narcissism is neither innate nor fixed," the severity of the punishment of the greediest among us must be predicated by the damage to human life and the misery the rich have inflicted upon the 98 percent of us.


Confiscation of their assets and the steering of that income into productive channels as well as for reparations  is, of course, a must - even if we have to enter other countries to bring them back home for justice.




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Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest
motives."

Oscar Wilde.

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