Posts Tagged ‘poor’

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by Ellen Brown

This is the second in a two-part article on the debt burden America’s students face. Read Part 1 here.

The lending business is heavily stacked against student borrowers. Bigger players can borrow for almost nothing, and if their investments don’t work out, they can put their corporate shells through bankruptcy and walk away. Not so with students. Their loan rates are high and if they cannot pay, their debts are not normally dischargeable in bankruptcy. Rather, the debts compound and can dog them for life, compromising not only their own futures but the economy itself.

“Students should not be asked to pay more on their debt than they can afford,” said Donald Trump on the presidential campaign trail in October 2016. “And the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives.” But as Matt Taibbi points out in a December 15 article, a number of proposed federal changes will make it harder, not easier, for students to escape their debts, including wiping out some existing income-based repayment plans, harsher terms for graduate student loans, ending a program to cancel the debt of students defrauded by ripoff diploma mills, and strengthening “loan rehabilitation” – the recycling of defaulted loans into new, much larger loans on which the borrower usually winds up paying only interest and never touching the principal. The agents arranging these loans can get fat commissions of up to 16 percent, an example of the perverse incentives created in the lucrative student loan market. Servicers often profit more when borrowers default than when they pay smaller amounts over a longer time, so they have an incentive to encourage delinquencies, pushing students into default rather than rescheduling their loans. It has been estimated that the government spends $38 for every $1 it recovers from defaulted debt. The other $37 goes to the debt collectors.

The securitization of student debt has compounded these problems. Like mortgages, student loans have been pooled and packaged into new financial products that are sold as student loan asset-backed securities (SLABS). Although a 2010 bill largely eliminated private banks and lenders from the federal student loan business, the “student loan industrial complex” has created a $200 billion market that allows banks to cash in on student loans without issuing them. About 80 percent of SLABS are government-guaranteed. Banks can sell, trade or bet on these securities, just as they did with mortgage-backed securities; and they create the same sort of twisted incentives for loan servicing that occurred with mortgages.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), virtually all borrowers with federal student loans are currently eligible to make monthly payments indexed to their earnings. That means there should be no defaults among student borrowers. Yet one in four borrowers is now in default or struggling to stay current. Why? Student borrowers are reporting widespread mishandling of accounts, unexplained exorbitant fees, and outright deception as they are bullied into default, tactics similar to those that homeowners faced in the foreclosure crisis. The reports reveal a repeat of the abuses of the foreclosure fraud era: many borrowers are unable to obtain basic information about their accounts, are frequently misled, are surprised with unexpected late fees, and often are pushed into default. Servicers lose paperwork or misapply payments. When errors arise, borrowers find it difficult to have them corrected.

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This is a war on you, and you better wake up soon.

Behind Trump’s plan to target the federal safety net

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CNN: ‘Scandinavian Dream’ is true fix for America’s income inequality
  • Clamp down on Wall Street and require certain asset managers to disclose their holdings, returns and fees.
  • Enact a transaction tax to reduce short-term trading and encourage long-term investment.
  • Require companies to provide more information about their CEO’s pay relative to performance and workers’ earnings.
  • Raise taxes on capital gains and dividends.
  • Tax corporations on global income.

And to promote growth among the middle class, Stiglitz suggests that the U.S.:

  • Invest in infrastructure for long-term economic and job growth.
  • Strengthen workers’ bargaining rights.
  • Raise the minimum wage to reflect local economic conditions. (Many cities and metro areas could justify $15 an hour.)
  • Invest in young children through early education.
  • Require universal paid sick and family leave.

Obvious Land

Posted: April 30, 2015 in -
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romney-style

Tax cuts for middle, lower income Americans boost economy while tax breaks for the rich do little to help

Economists finally study what everyone else already knew. Are they shitting me? That’s some major fucking malpractice on the part of the entire economics cult. How can anyone take these people seriously when they just get around — in 2015 — to studying how class affects jobs and job creation? They are a ridiculous and pathetic lot who are largely employed to suck the corporate cock of their ideological masters. Prove me wrong.

The study is unusual in that it is believed to be the first study that relies on empirical evidence to measure the impacts of tax cuts for different types of people on total employment in the U.S.

“I find that the positive relationship between tax cuts and employment growth is largely driven by tax cuts for lower-income groups and that the effect of tax cuts for the top 10% on employment growth is small,” Zidar says.

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The great betrayers of America seek your Social Security and Medicare money to add to their coffers, so that the empire can grind on as before.

Talks Focus on Cuts to Medicare and Social Security

“In an interview Wednesday with CNBC, Obama made clear that he is considering cuts to social programs—including Medicare and Social Security—as part of a broader deal with the Republicans over the debt limit and funding for the federal government.”

 

“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

-Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam

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by Steven Jonas

According to Wikipedia:

“Elysium or the Elysian Fields is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects and cults. Initially separate from the realm of Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes. Later, it expanded to include those chosen by the gods, the righteous, and the heroic, where they would remain after death, to live a blessed and happy life, and indulging in whatever employment they had enjoyed in life.”

In his movie “Elysium,” set in 2154, writer director Neil Blomkamp has a rather different view of the place. It is not reserved for the dead, but for the very much alive super/super/ultra-rich (read: ruling class) who have apparently survived the dead-zone for everyone else that their policies have created on Earth. And as is well-known by now to most readers of these pages, they have retreated to a vast satellite world that, even though they are hardly dead, they have for some reason named “Elysium.”

Perhaps it is because even now, there are members of the present ruling class, not only in the U.S. but around the world from here to China, to Russia, to the oil Kingdoms, to certain European and South American enclaves, who think of themselves as truly above everyone else. They are in their own minds god-like perhaps, and certainly totally entitled to their riches, even if in the process of gaining them they are dooming the rest of mankind to the kind of existence that Blomkamp portrays in his movie.

That is, one could imagine the Kochs, for example, or certain Saudi princes, or certain Russian oligarchs, or certain Chinese’s “princelings” (that is descendants of founding members of the Chinese Communist Party — who would be rolling over in their graves if they knew what had become of their children and grandchildren), thinking of themselves in the category of the “righteous and the heroic,” entitled to the life they have developed for themselves 140 years from now on their space-island. (Yes, entitled, there’s that word again. Well you have heard of “entitlements,” haven’t you? Indeed this, not pre-paid pension benefits like Social Security, is its real meaning: what the ruling class think they are entitled to, come what may for everyone else.) Indeed, Elysium does seem to be international, for English is not the only language spoken there; French, the international language of the 19th century, is also.

Elysium” is a movie that says many things to us, not, perhaps, all of them intended to be said by Mr. Blomkamp. Let me get my criticisms out of the way first. First, without giving it away, the movie has a happy, or at least apparently happy, ending. One must presume that this is one of Mr. Blomkamp’s bows to Hollywood, necessary to get made what is a very expensive, VERY high-tech movie (with marvelous special effects, which I happen to love). But the ending is jarring, to say the least, and very unrealistic. It’s sort of like the ending of Roland Emmerich’s (otherwise) masterpiece “The Day After Tomorrow” in which millions of Nord Americanos, fleeing a new ice age (which indeed could be a short-term consequence of global warming, as is explained in that movie) are welcomed with open arms south of the border. Oh yeah!

Second, in “Elysium” there is some confusion about what the real issue is between the masses trapped on the ravaged Earth and their rulers on Elysium: the total misery and oppression of the masses that has been created by those rulers on Earth out of which there seems to be no way, or the question of illegal emigration to the satellite and how that is managed. Blomkamp seems to be trying to deal with both issues side-by-side. For me this led to some confusion about what the movie is really about. Third, there is no history: how did this all come to be, in the 140-or-so years from now until then? We know already what capitalism and its evil twin global warming are leading to: the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Famine, Flood, Plague, and War. But for the reality of the movie to have been achieved, how did the masses become so totally oppressed and repressed, how did the ruling class manage to get away with it, apparently unscathed, and how did even they manage to accumulate the capital for what would be a very expensive enterprise: Elysium itself?

However, there are many excellent features of the movie, and I don’t have space to deal with them all here. First of all, one doesn’t have to imagine 2154 to see what life is like for many millions of humans, right now. For the future slum of Los Angeles in the movie was actually set in one of the present slums of Mexico City. The reality of health care faced by the masses is brilliantly portrayed by an emergency room scene likely not that different from those in many poor countries right now, and by the fact that cures for all sorts of ailments are readily available (in the movie provided by a magic, 22nd century fix-whatever-it-is-that-ails-you machine), but only on Elysium. Which is how many people around the world must now feel about the lack of available medical care, and in the U.S., where modern medical care miracles are widely distributed, for those who can afford them. But if in the U.S. you don’t have health insurance, fuhgeddaboudit.

The cops are vicious, violent, automatons (not that all present cops are, but there are plenty like them). Max’s “parole officer” is a sappy automaton, in function probably much like certain members of that profession in real life, now. “Homeland Security” is ever-present (as it is becoming more so, now). The “Defense Secretary,” Delacourt, played by Jodie Foster, is a vicious, scheming Dick Cheney-like character for whom “defense” is primarily against all the people left behind on Earth. She can see events on Earth that might present some kind of threat to her realm, in real time (and the NSA is already checking out the technology available to her). And she uses working class traitors to help her keep the working class oppressed. Then there is workplace reality faced by the movie’s hero, Max, brilliantly played by Matt Damon. You see it all: speed-up, unions long gone, no occupational health and safety regulations, minimal pay for dangerous work, the foreman clearly acting as an intermediate oppressor, the boss of it seated in a sealed container overseeing the shop floor, but not wanting to even smell it, much less descend onto it. And so on and so forth.

Blomkamp does present a vision of what Earth could look like in the future, and not necessarily 140 years in the future, with global warming already wreaking havoc and capitalism becoming ever more ferociously profit-centered. What we need next is how this all is going to be prevented. Since that is going to take leading parties and the next generation of socialist revolutions around the world, don’t expect to find that story in a Hollywood movie.

http://thepoliticaljunkies.org/
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS, is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine, Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books on health policy, health and wellness, and sports and regular exercise.

 

They are stealing your Social Security money this week, and what are you doing about it?

Bipartisan Rampage to Steal From Elderly & Disabled

 
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You could very well BE that 85 year old getting screwed in this BIPARTISAN dealmaking.

It’s all about the money, who gets it and who doesn’t. Military contractors have no worries. Megabanks have no concerns. Monsanto is doing just fine. Then there’s you and your family.

“As the National Women’s Law Center revealed… benefit losses of $8,400 by age 86, and $9,770 by age 95”-Politico

In the fictional world of statistics and number rigging, the game the big institutions like to play, the Consumer Price Index is already rigged and not reflective of reality. The real cost of remaining alive in America is significantly higher than the government publishes in its reports. This new assault on Social Security cost of living adjustments will rob seniors of food and medicine.

Grand theft is now in progress, and it’s your retirement lifeline they’re stealing.  Wars and the “security state” will continue their unlimited funding and spending.  You, on the other hand…

ACT NOW:

Strengthen Social Security:

Tell Obama: No cuts to Social Security

Roots Action: (“If you vote to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits, I will oppose your re-election.”)

Tell Congress: Defend Social Security or Else

Bold Progress:

Tell Obama We Won’t Stand for Social Security benefit cuts

CREDO:

Tell President Obama: Don’t cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Campaign for America’s Future:

Tell Congress: Say No to Obama’s Social Security Cuts

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* If you survive long enough in Amerika, you may indeed be eating dog food.

end-of-poverty-movie

Imperial crimes continue today. The real causes of poverty around the world, and its symbiotic relationship to obscene wealth.

 

The aphorism “The poor are always with us” dates back to the New Testament, but while the phrase is still sadly apt in the 21st century, few seem to be able to explain why poverty is so widespread. Activist filmmaker Philippe Diaz examines the history and impact of economic inequality in the third world in the documentary The End of Poverty?, and makes the compelling argument that it’s not an accident or simple bad luck that has created a growing underclass around the world.

Diaz traces the growth of global poverty back to colonization in the 15th century, and features interviews with a number of economists, sociologists, and historians who explain how poverty is the clear consequence of free-market economic policies that allow powerful nations to exploit poorer countries for their assets and keep money in the hands of the wealthy rather than distributing it more equitably to the people who have helped them gain their fortunes.

Diaz also explores how wealthy nations (especially the United States) seize a disproportionate share of the world’s natural resources, and how this imbalance is having a dire impact on the environment as well as the economy. The End of Poverty? was an official selection at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

 

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Zillionaire fake philanthropist Bono is at it again, fronting for global predatory finance at the TED talks. The greedy twat Irishman’s data lays claim to improvements in the world that are completely unrelated to the rapacious predatory capitalism he shills for. His pet continent Africa has grown significantly worse over the past 30 years, but you wouldn’t know it from Bono’s cooked books.

Harry Browne is on the case:

‘Factivism’ and Other Fairytales from Bono

…In sub-Saharan Africa, where Bono’s agenda has been concentrated, the absolute numbers below every poverty threshold have skyrocked since 1981, with the number of extremely poor rising from 205 million to 386 million in 2008; at the below-two-dollar-a-day threshold the sub-Saharan numbers have almost doubled in the same period, to 562.3 million.

…As the World Bank acknowledges: “There has been less long-run progress in getting over the $2 per day hurdle.” The number of people in this category remains, after three decades, around 2.5 billion.

Slide the threshold slowly upwards and you very quickly embrace the majority of the world’s people – 80%, for example, living on less than $10 a day.

In his homeland of Ireland, the megashill is despised by more than a few for storing his multi-millions in off-shore accounts where they can’t be taxed by the desperately strapped Irish government. So much for the concern over poverty. He won’t even pay his share of taxes to help fight poverty in Ireland.

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Harry Browne also gives a nod to this film:

The End of Poverty?

 

The End of Poverty?, and makes the compelling argument that it’s not an accident or simple bad luck that has created a growing underclass around the world.

 

[123] Sequestering the Poor, UFO Phenomena, Wall St. Extorts Washington

 
Must quibble with the guest about calling Eric Holder “afraid” of prosecuting JP Morgan and the Wall Street banksters. Eric Holder is not afraid. Eric Holder is an employee of said banksters. He is where he is to do the job he is doing. There’s nothing to do with fear at all. Why would anyone believe a criminal’s excuse for why he’s too “afraid” to do his job? He is aiding and abetting the banksters, that makes him one of them.

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