Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’

Neat Suggestion For Net Neutrality

August 15, 2016

Under Obama, the US spy networks were given full power. Paying no, or little taxes, with the full resources of the USA behind them, they were mandated, as modern-day corsairs, to seize the world. They did (in spite of the Snowden scare; Snowden revealed the entanglement between the imperial machinery of the USA and the US Internet companies).

This Internet coup is a Obama’s great achievement, proving how great and just the brown president has been for the powers that be, over the powers that don’t deserve to be.

Here is the market capitalization of the forty largest French companies (the “CAC 40”), versus that of GAFA (Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon):

Thanks Oh Great, Wise, Respected Obama, For Having Made The USA Mightier Than Ever With Your Mighty Espionage Agents

Thanks Oh Great, Wise, Respected Obama, For Having Made The USA Mightier Than Ever With Your Mighty Espionage Agents

[Was the satanic Bush a smaller devil? One shudders at the question. Just asking…]

As you can see, GAFA, those four companies, Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon, under the presidency of Barack Obama, became everything, while the French Republic stagnated between being and nothingness. This is a general pattern, with all countries. It has to do with GAFA being above all and any local laws. And there are no global laws to speak of. (The Chinese joke that GAFA is the new world empire; well, new, not really.) In particular GAFA eschews most taxes, so stand above all and any companies and firms, worldwide.

Donald Trump, hated by GAFA, has said that he would make GAFA pay taxes. Said Trump, speaking of GAFA, and, in particular, Amazon:”Oh, God, would they have problems if I became president”. But what of the rest of the world? How can the world get out of this pickle?

First GAFA should pay taxes (France wants Google to pay billions in overdue taxes, Great Britain, though, asks for only a tenth of what the French Treasury is asking. Why? Because Great Britain is onto the plot, and understands that GAFA is one way for its overlord, the USA, to seize world control, and will be rewarded for getting on the program!)

To force GAFA to pay taxes, they should be threatened with exclusion. Now, of course, that would require guts. First, suffering of being accused of “anti-Americanism” by the soon to disappear in the oubliettes of history, Barack Obama, the great enabler of GAFA. (The US already makes war against the French economy, so it may as well come up to the surface!)

Unfortunately for, say, the French, GAFA uses massively treacherous countries without much industry such as Great Britain (full of subordinate tax havens, more than a dozen treasure isles which charge no income or wealth tax), and Ireland (top corporate tax rate, 12.5% in contrast with France 33% and the USA’s 35%!)

So going to war against GAFA means that the French would have to go to war with Ireland and the British Virgin Islands (hence the UK!) If the traditional parties don’t have this sort of guts, maybe Marine le Pen will… (She will be accused of dreadful “populism”, just as the Donald is, for doing something against the multibillionaire plutocrats of GAFA, and their demonic little helpers…)

Could we try something less bloody? Well, GAFA spy on people, and then tweak what they see on the Internet, accordingly. GAFA, and its ilk know you have a health problem, so they suggest businesses associated to treatment or relief from that condition. I have noticed search engines such as Google manipulate searches according to what they think i should see. Worse: Microsoft’s Bing censors completely some of my essays. For example “Violence In The Holy Qur’an” cannot be found on Bing (even looked directly by title and author) This sort of censorship is deliberate: the essay consists essentially of 10,000 words from quoting entire verses of the Qur’an. (The English paper, The Guardian, accused me to be someone who “blogged” the Qur’an, to justify censoring me!)

If these Internet manipulations were completely unlawful, all the time, the business model of GAFA and their ilk would collapse. Of course, one does not want to be that cruel (what would Obama do?)

But here is an idea nevertheless. Why are not GAFA (and its ilk) required, by LAW, to present a neutral web if asked to do so by someone using the Internet? As I said, one does not want to be too cruel with the corsairs of modern communications: after all, they have some public utility, as they (vaguely) innovate.

So, say, every time one turns on one of the GAFA, or other Internet manipulators, one should be offered, manually, the option of a neutral web.

Simple. Drastic.

The right to neutral information is basic to enable democracy. Without it, there is no democracy. The present rule of GAFA, and their present manners, is a complete denial of democracy. Time to fight. When the philosopher Demosthenes called the Greeks to fight the (gold mines propelled) the Macedonian plutocrats, who were quickly increasing in power, he was not listened to. It sounded alarmist to go fight the rich and nasty. When it turned out Demosthenes was finally observed to be right, it was too late. Democracy was destroyed in Greece, for the next 23 centuries. And it all originated from a philosophical debate where Aristotle was prominent.

We are what we know. And we are nought if we know not. The neutral Internet is not obsolete, it’s a human right. Are those obsolete? Hmm… Wait…

Patrice Ayme’

 

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Plutocracy Rising Through Tax Avoidance

December 30, 2015

The New York Times discovers the obvious:

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions: The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income.”

Incoming tax policies will save the “very richest” billion more in taxes. But they have already saved hundreds of billions in taxes, if not trillions. In the USA alone. And we have to thank, in particular, the great so-called democratic leaders for that (some of the most prominent ones, like the adored Nancy Pelosi, hero of Obamacare, made hundreds of millions of dollars, while in politics: a successful political career is the safest way to make a fortune.

Bill: “Hey, Donald, We Gave You Everything, It’s Our Turn To Lead the Low Lives Again!” Donald: "You Mean the Idiots?" Hillary: "Oh Donald, Don't Speak Like That!" [Then She Hilariously Bleats Like A Goat.] Donald, Less Amused: "Can You Believe These People? They Are So Greeeedy!"

Bill: “Hey, Donald, We Gave You Everything, It’s Our Turn To Lead the Low Lives Again!” Donald: “You Mean the Idiots?” Hillary: “Oh Donald, Don’t Speak Like That!” [Then She Hilariously Bleats Like A Goat.] Donald, Less Amused: “Can You Believe These People? They Are So Greeeedy!”

So it is all over the so-called democratic West. The situation in France does not differ from that in the USA, it is actually in some ways, much worse. Two-thirds of France’s largest companies (CAC 40) by market capitalization are held by families (the equivalent consideration with the USA’s 500 largest market cap companies shows “only” 20% owned and controlled by families).

How is this all possible? Both the French and U.S. tax codes exclude the wealthiest from much, if not all, taxation. The French tax code does it glaringly (but the ). The tax code of the USA does it both glaringly, and obscurely.

In either case, the plutocratically owned Main Stream Media (MSM) never reports it . Or then they report it the way the New York Times did: by omitting a lot, if not most.

But let the New York Times’ Patricia Cohen and Noam Scheiber tell it their way:

“WASHINGTON — The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art — and millions more in political candidates.

Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.”

Something the New York Times does not mention at all: it is talking here only about the money wealth, and income that one can see. However, MOST OF THE WORLD’S WEALTH IS HIDDEN IN DARK POOLS.

And there is worse: money is power. Money gives power. The interest of money is that it enable the owner to have others do what she or he, wants.

But Bill and Melinda Gates don’t need to spend any money to have Obama giving them the power of molding the educational system as they see fit: they just show up, and make suggestions. Obama and his court immediately give Bill and Melinda the reins, because they want a job in 13 months, when they dismal tenure expires.

And so it is all over: when Bill and Melinda take the reins of tens of countries health care systems, and, still hiding behind their “love of man” decide that healthy policies will favor Monsanto (with which their “charities” and investments are entangled), and its wonderful Genetically Engineered wellness. But back to the New York Times’ more prosaic considerations:

“All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.

The Greatest Drop Of Tax Rate For the Wealthiest Was Under Bill Clinton

The Greatest Drop Of Tax Rate For the Wealthiest Was Under Bill Clinton

The ultra-wealthy “literally pay millions of dollars for these services,” said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, “and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.””

A year. For each concerned.

A characteristic of the truly wealthy is that they give to politicians of all stripes. Left unsaid, in their “negotiations” with the IRS, is that tax inspectors know that, be they good boys and girls, they may end up with way more cushy jobs. Actually, the negotiators they speak to often happened to have climbed that ladder. The new York Times still believe, though, that plutocrats have political inclinations aside from their true calling, hell itself:

“Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. They include the families of the hedge fund investors Robert Mercer, who gives to Republicans, and James Simons, who gives to Democrats; as well as the options trader Jeffrey Yass, a libertarian-leaning donor to Republicans.

Mr. Yass’s firm is litigating what the agency deemed to be tens of millions of dollars in underpaid taxes. Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Simons founded and which Mr. Mercer helps run, is currently under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade, according to a Senate investigation. Some of these same families have also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative groups that have attacked virtually any effort to raises taxes on the wealthy.”

The Wealthiest Have Captured Tax Legislation To Make Themselves Untaxable

The Wealthiest Have Captured Tax Legislation To Make Themselves Untaxable

The google guys, when outside of their personal jumbo jets once fueled by the government (at NASA’s Moffet Field, personal observation), like many other Silicon types, claim to be “progressives”, “liberal”, etc. But actually they finance the far right too. Just they do it secretively. PPP Notice Tax Rates Of the Wealthiest 400 Taxpayers Went Down Dramatically Under “Democrat” Clinton. Also Notice Dip Under Obama.

Of course the topmost wealthy don’t even pay tax, while they contemplate stolen, world famous art in their redoubts. Under Obama, there was a tiny crack-down on the expansion of the wealth of the wealthiest:

“In the heat of the presidential race, the influence of wealthy donors is being tested. At stake is the Obama administration’s 2013 tax increase on high earners — the first substantial increase in two decades — and an I.R.S. initiative to ensure that, in effect, the higher rates stick by cracking down on tax avoidance by the wealthy.

While Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have pledged to raise taxes on these voters, virtually every Republican has advanced policies that would vastly reduce their tax bills, sometimes to as little as 10 percent of their income… “There’s this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, it’s that they can buy policy, and specifically, tax policy,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “That’s why these egregious loopholes exist, and why it’s so hard to close them.”

Not really. The truth is that most people don’t care, because all they obsess about sport scores, same as the Romans of 19 centuries ago. So only a few “leaders” care, and those are easily bought, being few in numbers. A revolutionary mob can be misled, but it’s hard to buy. Meanwhile, tax avoidance of the hyper rich has become an industry:

The Family Office

Each of the top 400 earners took home, on average, about $336 million in 2012, the latest year for which data is available. If the bulk of that money had been paid out as salary or wages, as it is for the typical American, the tax obligations of those wealthy taxpayers could have more than doubled.

Instead, much of their income came from convoluted partnerships and high-end investment funds. Other earnings accrued in opaque family trusts and foreign shell corporations, beyond the reach of the tax authorities.

The well-paid technicians who devise these arrangements toil away at white-shoe law firms and elite investment banks, as well as a variety of obscure boutiques. But at the fulcrum of the strategizing over how to minimize taxes are so-called family offices, the customized wealth management departments of Americans with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in assets.

Family offices have existed since the late 19th century, when the Rockefellers pioneered the institution, and gained popularity in the 1980s. But they have proliferated rapidly over the last decade, as the ranks of the super-rich, and the size of their fortunes, swelled to record proportions.

“We have so much wealth being created, significant wealth, that it creates a need for the family office structure now,” said Sree Arimilli, an industry recruiting consultant.

Family offices, many of which are dedicated to managing and protecting the wealth of a single family, oversee everything from investment strategy to philanthropy.”

Real philanthropy would consist into paying taxes, of course. What plutocrats call “philanthropy” is just tax avoidance combined with influence multiplier.

…”tax planning is a core function. While the specific techniques these advisers employ to minimize taxes can be mind-numbingly complex, they generally follow a few simple principles, like converting one type of income into another type that’s taxed at a lower rate.

Mr. Loeb, for example, has invested in a Bermuda-based reinsurer — an insurer to insurance companies — that turns around and invests the money in his hedge fund. That maneuver transforms his profits from short-term bets in the market, which the government taxes at roughly 40 percent, into long-term profits, known as capital gains, which are taxed at roughly half that rate. It has had the added advantage of letting Mr. Loeb defer taxes on this income indefinitely, allowing his wealth to compound and grow more quickly.”

Partnerships obscure who owns what, and make it impossible to collect taxes:

“Organizing one’s business as a partnership can be lucrative in its own right. Some of the partnerships from which the wealthy derive their income are allowed to sell shares to the public, making it easy to cash out a chunk of the business while retaining control. But unlike publicly traded corporations, they pay no corporate income tax; the partners pay taxes as individuals. And the income taxes are often reduced by large deductions, such as for depreciation.

For large private partnerships, meanwhile, the I.R.S. often struggles “to determine whether a tax shelter exists, an abusive tax transaction is being used,” according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office. The agency is not allowed to collect underpaid taxes directly from these partnerships, even those with several hundred partners. Instead, it must collect from each individual partner, requiring the agency to commit significant time and manpower.”

Meanwhile, charities are most giving, most giving to the richest of the wealthiest (and then the rabble thank the great Lords of tax avoidance, for their generosity):

“The wealthy can also avail themselves of a range of esoteric and customized tax deductions that go far beyond writing off a home office or dinner with a client. One aggressive strategy is to place income in a type of charitable trust, generating a deduction that offsets the income tax. The trust then purchases what’s known as a private placement life insurance policy, which invests the money on a tax-free basis, frequently in a number of hedge funds.”

Taxes cannot be collected, because the IRS officially does not have the brain power (in truth, top employees of the IRS may be unwilling to think too hard; the NYT will not say that.)

“Many of these maneuvers are well established, and wealthy taxpayers say they are well within their rights to exploit them. Others exist in a legal gray area, its boundaries defined by the willingness of taxpayers to defend their strategies against the I.R.S. Almost all are outside the price range of the average taxpayer.

Among tax lawyers and accountants, “the best and brightest get a high from figuring out how to do tricky little deals,” said Karen L. Hawkins, who until recently headed the I.R.S. office that oversees tax practitioners. “Frankly, it is almost beyond the intellectual and resource capacity of the Internal Revenue Service to catch.”

The combination of cost and complexity has had a profound effect, tax experts said. Whatever tax rates Congress sets, the actual rates paid by the ultra-wealthy tend to fall over time as they exploit their numerous advantages.”

Where Even The New York Times Discovers That Obama Is A Plutophile:

Obama is a great democrat, revered for Obamacare, first of all a trick to direct more money to the health care plutocracy (although it did a few good things to sugar-coat it). However, under Obama, the richest of the rich got taxed less, and this is even the New York Times which now admits it. And the problem is not the famed 1%, but the really nasty ones, the .1%, the only ones Obama cares about:  

“From Mr. Obama’s inauguration through the end of 2012, federal income tax rates on individuals did not change (excluding payroll taxes). But the highest-earning one-thousandth of Americans went from paying an average of 20.9 percent to 17.6 percent. By contrast, the top 1 percent, excluding the very wealthy, went from paying just under 24 percent on average to just over that level.”

Actually, the .1% hide behind the 1%. As I have explain before, and will explain again in the future, the main interest of taxation is to prevent the richest to gather ever more riches, at an ever faster rate, just because they are the richest.

This is what is precisely failing in the West right now. Thus the most important function of taxation, progressive taxation, what differentiated the West from the rest, is failing:

“We do have two different tax systems, one for normal wage-earners and another for those who can afford sophisticated tax advice,” said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who studies the intersection of tax policy and inequality. “At the very top of the income distribution, the effective rate of tax goes down, contrary to the principles of a progressive income tax system.”

This, as have argued many times, is how the West, and not just the West, has fallen many times. New York Times:

…”the Managed Funds Association, an industry group that represents prominent hedge funds like D. E. Shaw, Renaissance Technologies, Tiger Management and Third Point, began meeting with members of Congress to discuss a wish list of adjustments. The founders of these funds have all donated at least $500,000 to 2016 presidential candidates. During the Obama presidency, the association itself has risen to become one of the most powerful trade groups in Washington, spending over $4 million a year on lobbying.

And while the lobbying clout of the wealthy is most often deployed through industry trade associations and lawyers, some rich families have locked arms to advance their interests more directly.”

“Some of the most profound victories are barely known outside the insular world of the wealthy and their financial managers.

In 2009, Congress set out to require that investment partnerships like hedge funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission, partly so that regulators would have a better grasp on the risks they posed to the financial system.

The early legislative language would have required single-family offices to register as well, exposing the highly secretive institutions to scrutiny that their clients were eager to avoid. Some of the I.R.S.’s cases against the wealthy originate with tips from the S.E.C., which is often better positioned to spot tax evasion.

By the summer of 2009, several family office executives had formed a lobbying group called the Private Investor Coalition to push back against the proposal. The coalition won an exemption in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, then spent much of the next year persuading the S.E.C. to largely adopt its preferred definition of “family office.”

So expansive was the resulting loophole that Mr. Soros’s $24.5 billion hedge fund took advantage of it, converting to a family office after returning capital to its remaining outside investors. The hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller, a former business partner of Mr. Soros, took the same step.”

Then the New York Times explains that the part of the IRS after taxpayer earning more than ten million dollars of income a year has been decimated, gutted, with reduction of personnel in some cases going down to zero.

“Several former I.R.S. officials, including Marcus Owens, who once headed the agency’s Exempt Organizations division, said the controversy badly damaged the agency’s willingness to investigate other taxpayers, even outside the exempt division.

“I.R.S. enforcement is either absent or diminished” in certain areas, he said. Mr. Owens added that his former department — which provides some oversight of money used by charities and nonprofits — has been decimated.”

[The Wall Street Journal, owned by the global plutocratic family Murdoch, has a greater distribution than the New York Times. It immediately ran a lead article to counter any damage to the top 400 which the NYT may have visited on their aura: “Tax Rates For Top 400 US Taxpayers Climbed in 2013“.]

Sometimes, in history, a revolution is needed. In Europe, a revolution was needed as early as 1089 CE. But it took seven centuries to come.

However, England was more  lucky. Notice that, when the Duke of Normandy and his Frankish barons invaded England, in 1066 CE, he was able to consolidate power because he organized a Revolution, top down. The Duke, now King, outlawed slavery (standard Frankish law; 20% of the population was enslaved). The new King also made the relationship between King and People direct, and established Parliament.

In mainland France, the Revolution came in only in 1789 CE (although there was an important attempt in the middle of the 17 C, just when two Revolutions, and an invasion in quick succession, modernized England; Revolution is contagious: the English “Glorious Revolution was imported from the Netherlands, itself a rogue part freed from Spain, mostly by French military intervention).

After 1789 CE, French plutocracy regrew quickly. In the USA, plutocracy was present in miniature all along, thanks to the existence of slavery. It started to blossom only after Carnegie (who himself was a scathing, and sincere critique of it!). It went on haltingly, as plutocrat Teddy Roosevelt (another enlightened Pluto!) cut down, as president, the most outrageous monopolies.

American plutocracy then focused on Europe, from Franco to Stalin, without forgetting Mussolini and Hitler. The Second World War itself could be fought only with huge manpower, and those more than ten million soldiers, all them trained killers, had to be pleased after 1945, lest they revolt. A time of increased equality ensued, all over the West .

But now here we are: plutocracy is completely out of control. The New York Times article focused only on what can be seen, thus, potentially, taxed. However, most of the money escapes detection outright.

That the New York Times does not seem anxious to focus on. Nor does Hillary Clinton, or even Bernie Sanders. And in Europe, don’t worry, none of the political parties, not even France’s National Front, or the Communist Party, or the New Left, has called on changing the tax structures which exempt the .1%.

However, I claim they are draining the socio-economies. Not just through sheer tax avoidance, but also through the atrocious mental influence they exert. It’s not just the “austerity” insanity, but also the sport score insanities, and other mind numbing and civilization destroying strategies and love fests (complete with adoring Islamism, something which has recently backfired).

If you want humanity, you will have to deprive of power Pluto and its emulators, admirers and other imitators. If you don’t want humanity, you will lose the biosphere, to start with. Shortly before the return of cannibalism, and other discomforts.

Patrice Ayme’  

Le Pen Trumps Plutocracy?

December 14, 2015

At first sight the rage of the likes of the magazine “The Economist” against Trump and Le Pen is strange: after all, The Economist is on the “right”, so are the preceding two. A clue: The Economist put the preceding two in the same bag as Bernie Sanders, under the mysterious label “Populist”… I guess a “populist” is someone for the People by contrast to those who are not (the likes of “The Economist”).

My own mom accused me to be “Front National” just because the French (“far right”, not that it is clear what that means) National Front has adopted certain issues I have long held dear. For example, many countries (and not just in the West) have seen the rise of new aristocracies. ⅔ of the top French companies by market value are held by inheritance, whereas it’s only around 20% in the UK or the USA; the reason emanates directly from the tax system; and the exact same tax forces are now at work in the USA, namely the exemption of the hyper rich from taxation, and inheritance tax, with a artfully crafted loopholes and exemptions. Notice in passing that this is a case where France is more “capitalist” than the USA (contrarily to legend).

Sugar Coated Plutocracy: French Aristocracy Bond Girl & Palme d’Or: Most Of French Power Is Held By Dynasties: Ancien Régime All Over Again

Sugar Coated Plutocracy: French Aristocracy Bond Girl & Palme d’Or: Most Of French Power Is Held By Dynasties: Ancien Régime All Over Again

[“Léa Seydoux“, in the latest Bond movie, above, of her true name, Léa Hélène Seydoux-Fornier de Clausonne, is from an immensely rich and famous family, which has been that way, for many generations. So it is, all over French society: Sons of… and Daughters of… are those who succeed and get into the .1% of everything (singing, acting, administrating, politics, medicine, engineering, etc.). Consider the just published book “Fils de.. Filles de...”]

I guess, by that token, I am pro-Trump as Trump has embraced single payer, or even socialized health care system. In truth I am pro-truth and about issues.

Much of these outrages emanate from a political system which has embraced hero-worship, instead of issue-worship.

Hero-worship, celebritism spurns thinking. Thus a world where 97% of the convicted for serious crimes in the USA do not come in front of a jury, and are judged by non-judges… While Americans are persuaded they live in a country of justice. Or a world where a human right lawyer in China joined Marine Le Pen in being accused of “ethnic hatred” (the difference being that Le Pen is number two in French preference for president whereas the Chinese lawyer has been incarcerated for 18 months).

OK, let’s quote some of the (honorable, supposedly) USA “Republican” pundits. A raging conservative, Guy Benson, bemoans that:

“Republican voters — driven, it would seem, by Trump backers — became astonishingly supportive of (a) maintaining the Iran nuclear deal, (b) government-run and -funded healthcare, and (c) race-based affirmative action when the pollster informed respondents that those positions were held by Donald Trump, as opposed to Barack Obama.  These aren’t hypotheticals, by the way.  Follow those links, and you’ll discover that longtime Democrat Donald Trump has embraced all three liberal stances during his current presidential run. Not back when he was donating generously to Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid over the years (yes, yes, “because he’s a businessman!”), and not even more recently, when Trump was declaring his support for the wasteful “stimulus” package enacted by Obama, whom he declared had rescued the American economy; no, these are viewpoints articulated by the current iteration of Trump.  The punchline is that his supporters don’t care at all.  Trump’s Democrat-style campaign is driven by feelings and identity, not issues.  The HuffPo survey also revealed the same phenomenon at play on the other end of the spectrum, as hordes of Obama cultists reflexively tossed foundational liberal-left ideals overboard after they were told they were agreeing with Trump, versus Obama.  Can we abandon all reason and alleged principles in order to march in lockstep with an anointed political figure, or oppose a bete noir?  Yes we can. The point is that emotion-based hero worship can heavily erode afflicted parties’ previous adherence to values, ideology, and critical thinking.”

Hero-worship, what I call “Celebritism” is an increasing problem, and fully a part of the oligarchic phenomenon, itself a subset of the plutocratic mindset.

The plutocratic phenomenon does not suck out all the air from democracy, but from intelligence itself (the USA’s first billionaire, Carnegie, explained this, 130 years ago). Yet plutocrats should remember this: at some  point great vengeance is exercised (it happened even in the USA, witness president Eisenhower 93% upper margin tax rate). And history indeed shows that, at some point always, the pen trumps plutocracy

Patrice Ayme’

Great Cities A Must, So Tax Superrich Hard, Everywhere.

December 2, 2015

Shallowness of thinking is a sin. Many view it as a creature’s comfort., though (“Thus spoke the Tyranosopher”). OK, not a sin in the Bible (otherwise the Bible would have put itself out of business!). But it’s a dangerous consequence, and temptation from the Internet and “multitasking”. For shallow thinking one of my reference is Paul Krugman, the most respected “liberal” (USA) or “progressive” (anywhere else) in America and Europe.

Krugman wrote “Inequality and the City” an editorial, where he depicted the success of New York, and pointed, all too moderately, and somewhat disingenuously to its features. Here he goes, with a striking disinformation hook at the end:

“New York, New York, a helluva town. The rents are up, but the crime rate is down. The food is better than ever, and the cultural scene is vibrant. Truly, it’s a golden age for the town I recently moved to — if you can afford the housing. But more and more people can’t.

Rich Gets Into More Expensive Housing, Low Lives Sleep Outside

Rich Gets Into More Expensive Housing, Low Lives Sleep Outside

And it’s not just New York. The days when dystopian images of urban decline were pervasive in popular culture — remember the movie “Escape from New York”? — are long past. The story for many of our iconic cities is, instead, one of gentrification, a process that’s obvious to the naked eye, and increasingly visible in the data.

Specifically, urban America reached an inflection point around 15 years ago: after decades of decline, central cities began getting richer, more educated, and, yes, whiter. Today our urban cores are providing ever more amenities, but largely to a very affluent minority.

But why is this happening? And is there any way to spread the benefits of our urban renaissance more widely?

Let’s start by admitting that one important factor has surely been the dramatic decline in crime rates. For those of us who remember the 1970s, New York in 2015 is so safe it’s surreal. And the truth is that nobody really knows why that happened.”

Did he really say that? “Nobody really knows why” New York became safer? Really? Never heard of Mayor Giuliani? (Giuliani was several times presidential candidate.) He was tough on crime, strong on “profiling”.

The USA has the highest incarceration rate in the world (with the Seychelles islands). Eight million people are under justice supervision. Police brutality helped. This may be why nobody Politically Correct knows why New York is so much safer; nobody wants to know why. Hard thinking is always uncomfortable.

As soon as plenty of police brutality videos surfaced, and the police was reined in, crime rates exploded. That was in 2015. That is, a few months ago.

Paul Krugman does not want to praise the virtues of daily fascism as far as direct repression is concerned. Not PC. However, he dares to be a little bit, very delicately, NON PC:

“But there have been other drivers of the change: above all, the national-level surge in inequality.

It’s a familiar fact (even if the usual suspects still deny it) that the concentration of income in the hands of a small minority has soared over the past 35 years. This concentration is even higher in big metropolitan areas like New York, because those areas are both where high-skill, high-pay industries tend to locate, and where the very affluent often want to live. In general, this high-income elite gets what it wants, and what it has wanted, since 2000, has been to live near the center of big cities.”

I already mentioned this: the new young elite is less dumb and wasteful that the one which preceded it. Krugman, correctly playing psychologist:

“Still, why do high-income Americans now want to live in inner cities, as opposed to in sprawling suburban estates? Here we need to pay attention to the changing lives of the affluent — in particular, their work habits.

To get a sense of how it used to be, let me quote from a classic 1955 Fortune article titled “How Top Executives Live.” According to that article, the typical executive “gets up early — about 7 a.m.. — eats a large breakfast, and rushes to his office by train or auto. It is not unusual for him, after spending from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. in his office, to hurry home, eat dinner, and crawl into bed with a briefcase full of homework.” Well, by the standards of today’s business elite, that’s actually a very relaxed lifestyle.

And as several recent papers have argued, the modern high earner, with his or her long hours — and, more often than not, a working partner rather than a stay-at-home wife — is willing to pay a lot more than the executives of yore for a central location that cuts commuting time. Hence gentrification. And this is a process that feeds on itself: as more high earners move into urban centers, these centers begin offering amenities: — restaurants, shopping, entertainment — that make them even more attractive.”

Notice Krugman does not mention the Darkest Side: having the rich living only among the rich… Let alone correctly colored. I have observed this many times: entire neighborhoods, cities, islands, secluded enclaves of the 1%.

On this Krugman is a bit naive:

“We’re not just talking about the superrich here, or even the 1 percent. At a guess, we might be talking about the top 10 percent. And for these people, it’s a happy story. But what about all the people, surely a large majority, who are being priced out of America’s urban revival? Does it have to be that way?

The answer, surely, is no, at least not to the extent we’re seeing now. Rising demand for urban living by the elite could be met largely by increasing supply. There’s still room to build, even in New York, especially upward. Yet while there is something of a building boom in the city, it’s far smaller than the soaring prices warrant, mainly because land use restrictions are in the way.”

It is true that land use restrictions are a huge problem (in the San Francisco Bay Area, cities which want to build skyscrapers next to train stations, have been blocked… Mostly by the superrich, who do not want the poor, mediocre and thoroughly medium to rise up in the sky. The result has been the greatest gridlock in the USA).

Here is how Krugman concludes: “But will that understanding lead to any action? That’s a subject I’ll have to return to another day. For now, let’s just say that in this age of gentrification, housing policy has become much more important than most people realize.”

Trust Krugman to be as hard as a soft-boiled egg. Krugman, or why moderation is a sin. All what Krugman said was true, but it is “non-controversial“, namely everybody knew it already. Is that what the top thinking on the left can be? With moderates like that, who needs Republicans?

Something Krugman does not say:

NO HIGH TAXES ON SUPERRICH, NO GOOD CITIES:

Housing policy, thus the built-up of infrastructure, is crucial for the economy… and for comfort: infrastructure deteriorates, and has to be worked on continuously. Let alone modernized.

Private infrastructure in a city, depends upon PUBLIC infrastructure (water, electricity, basic transportation, basic police, justice, schools, government).. Thus, because of the necessary involvement of public infrastructure, PRIVATE infrastructure requires more PUBLIC spending.

Hence a thriving PRIVATE economy requires more PUBLIC economy, hence more taxes on the wealthy (Canada’s Trudeau, the new PM, advocates just this).

An example is schools: they can be made profitable, thus private, as long as they cater to the top 10% To cater to everybody, thus make a sustainable city, taxes will have to be augmented and redistributed to public schools. So sustainable cities will require a change in the philosophy of the socio-economy.

Ah, something else: taxes cannot just be restricted to the cities, as then the superrich will escape again. So they have to be national. And even international. And “Dark Pools”, “Shadow Banking”, Tax Havens, Delaware, have to disappear.

Building thriving cities is about not destroying the planet: cities are more efficient. Most of humanity lives now in cities, and the proportion will have to go up.

Don’t trust the superrich, don’t let them call themselves “philanthropists”, as if they could tax themselves. Latest clown here is the Facebook founder, who got free advertising everywhere, for his pledge to “give 99% of his fortune away“. Meanwhile he will keep on enjoying it, while claiming he does not, before he can convert it into tax-free vehicle, for himself, his wife, and child, Bill Gates’ style. It is rather sad to see so many applauding some clowns whom I do not find funny.

Politics is named after cities, so is civilization. Cities can, and will have, to save the biosphere, as they can be made more efficient, and smarter, than any alternative. And what is cities’ greatest historical enemy? Plutocracy.

One must crush infamy, and thus plutocracy, and it’s exactly why taxes were (mostly) invented.

Patrice Ayme’

Is Britain A Democracy?

May 7, 2015

The Swiss vote every three months, and take all sorts of decisions. The French People, although not as directly sovereign as the Swiss, vote for all sorts of representatives, frequently (France has as many mayors as the rest of Europe combined, or so. 35,000).

In four years, the USA vote for the president twice (sort of, including the primaries), and the legislative, twice.

Every five years, the French have two presidential elections (the two turns, the first functioning as a national, open primary; many other countries have adopted this system; there has been even vague talk that the USA ought to do the same, as the present system gives too much importance to tiny states!) The French have also two legislative elections.

The Sun Is Setting On The (Extreme) Right Flag. Edinburgh Castle Below.

The Sun Is Setting On The (Extreme) Right Flag. Edinburgh Castle Below.

How many times do the Brits vote in five years? Just once. That day, today, is like a combined legislative and presidential election. And that’s it.

So the French, or the Americans, vote at least four times more than the Brits.

Of course, the Brits do not vote for their head of state. Their future head of state just made a point to deny the Armenian Holocaust, by saluting briskly the (elected) Turkish Caliph, Erdogan, the very day of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Holocaust. For years, Prince Charles got a multi-million Euros yearly subsidy, from the European Union (supposedly for his organic farming, but obviously, in the greater scheme of things, an unabashed bribe!)

The upper chamber of the legislature in the UK, the equivalent of the Sumerian, Roman, American, and French Senat,e is not democratically elected: it’s the “Chamber of Lords”. There unabashed hereditary coal plutocrats such as Lord Ridley, seat, legislate, and rule. And, more importantly, nefariously influence the world.

Some will say: ’That’s Britain, it does not affect Europe, the USA, the world.’ Unfortunately, it does. Lord Ridley, for example has a whole page of the Wall Street Journal to himself every six months, or so, to explain that, the more CO2, the better (he gets five million dollars or so of income from a coal mine of his English land). The influence of the wealthiest people in Britain (who generally are exempt from taxation) on the USA has amplified into considerable world impact. Reaganism, “trickle-down” economics, was invented in Britain, imposed by Thatcher, and Reagan followed.

British aristocracy, the ultimate form of honorable plutocracy, is a world problem.

The grip of plutocracy in Britain is so strong, that only a few weeks ago did “Labor” propose to tax the wealthiest Brits living in Britain while claiming, very legally, to be overseas. “Labor” also proposed a property tax on multi-million dollars homes (those worth more than three millions). Even then, that tax would be just a tiny fraction of the one paid in New York.

London has become a big financial capital, because financial manipulators are allowed to do there tricks that are unlawful anywhere else (including New York).

I am not the only one to have noticed this.

The Scots did. They want to “Free Scotland From Thieves.”

Want to get rid of plutocracy? Instituting democracy in the British monarchy would be a good first step. Scotland will help that way. Meanwhile “first by the post” “democracy” will keep on advantaging “conservatives”, as it did, for centuries, from sheer fear, and lack of choice. (The reason that Britain did not join France in revolution in the late Eighteenth Century was, paradoxically, because the British “aristocracy”, also known as plutocracy, had a much better grip on Britain than the French aristocracy and church had on the French society.)

A “democracy” where one rarely votes, is no democracy, just a parody.

Patrice Ayme’

 

Picking Piketty Peeks

February 13, 2015

Thomas Piketty, a young and successful French Science Po economist wrote “Capitalism in The XXI Century”. I bought it ASAP, and then did not read one page. The reason is that there was a waiting list. By the time I got the book, it was clear it was rehashing part of what I have been saying for years.

For example, to my knowledge, I was the first to make the rapprochement between the present situation and the Ancient Regime. The Nobles (2% of the population) did not pay (most) tax.

Piketty recognizes that he just discovered “his book’s principal idea” that the “taux de rendement du capital” (return on capital) was higher than return on work. “Moi je ne le savais pas avant”. I have been pounding that fact for a decade or so.

The Higher The Return On Capital, The Lower the Growth (Piketty)

The Higher The Return On Capital, The Lower the Growth (Piketty)

It is nice to see Piketty saying these things I have been saying, now, but I have moved on, long ago. I condemn the very way money is generated (by the private-public banking system).

It is first obvious to whoever has studied past societies. Plutocracies are basically those societies where, at some point, taxation on the wealthiest has not been applied enough to limit the EXPONENTIATION of capital.

I do not find alluring to listen to my old observations. Not to demean Piketty. Others such as Saez in Berkeley, also French, had published enlightening research on inequality, for years.

I agree with all what Piketty proposes. Yet, many of his answers are all too mild.

In the period from Roosevelt to1981 (arrival of Reagan), the upper marginal tax rate of the USA averaged 82%. It applied above one million dollar income (constant dollars). Growth was maximum.

What Piketty did not say: In the next 20 years the maximum margin on the richest came down to (less than) 15%. Yes, less than secretaries.

Piketty wants to rise the upper margin tax rate of income millionaires to 80% or 90%. I agree.

To this critics of Piketty, in France or the USA, reply that will kill innovation. A French cutie interviewer told Piketty that with rates like that the robot who heads Facebook (OK, she did not use “robot”) would not have been motivated to invent Facebook.

Who cares?

As it is, Mr. Z from Facebook stole an idea from France. Besides, Facebook-like companies already existed (Myspace). There is also plenty of evidence Facebook was a government operation (the protégé of Larry Summers, parachuted to the USA government under Clinton, was parachuted to Google, and then parachuted to Facebook).

Piketty vaguely mumbled something about the research which really mattered was public. But he was weak and indecisive.

Why? Well, after all, Piketty teaches at Science Po, a place full of young arrogant greedsters who think they are becoming qualified to lead the world. They live according to a principle that Piketty himself condemns: politics as a profession. Piketty said that the fact Hollande had been in politics all his life was a problem (the same is true for roughly all politicians).

Professional politicians should not be condemned to clean the toilets exclusively, but certainly ought to be left to sort out the details, of the laws passed by the People, like they increasingly have to, in Switzerland. That’s the only exclusivity they should pretend to.

In truth, business creators are nothing much. Business creators motivated first by money are even less.

Piketty to Bill Gates: ‘If 30 years ago, one would have told you: you will earn one billion dollars, not 50 billion, would you have refused to invent Windows?’ Of course not says Piketty, answering his own question.

Piketty: Without counting that all these innovations rest on an ecosystem of public research.

Piketty missed the obvious remark that France was at the forefront of the electronics age: transistors and CPUs (chips), and even the Personal Computer (PC), were all invented, and produced first in France. He probably does not even know this.

And the fact he does not know is testimony enough to the dirty ways of money.

The hard creative work is from engineers, scientists and the philosophers who back them up, not forgetting the historians, sociologists, writers, artists and poets helping to inspire the preceding crowd.

All the world of lasers and the like came from publicly funded lab in Paris. In 1953, Kastler invented optical pumping:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/genius-irreplaceable-jobs-follow/

The same lab has made more Nobel prize winning work founding outright a completely new field: how to see light with atoms (my own formulation, don’t accuse Serge Haroche!)

Such labs are now starved by austerity.

If you ask people at Apple Inc. why they are so good, they don’t say “Steve Jobs”. It’s not just that Steve has experienced technical difficulties, it’s that Apple engineers feel empowered. Apple has $700 billion in market cap (twice Google).

After a level of inequality, it has no effect on the motivation of individuals: why to pay traders millions of Euros? Say Piketty.

What I say is that much of trading itself, should not exist.

Much of what Piketty says about Europe and the Euro Zone is correct. One should homogenize the core part of the Euro Zone, and those who don’t like it, like Luxembourg, can stay out.

Right now in Europe, large companies pay less tax than medium and small ones. It’s even worse with middle class people versus the wealthiest.

A point Piketty makes is that inequality is not everything, but opacity also matters. He mentioned that Carlos Slims (world’s richest man) obtained juicy contracts from the government. (Piketty is careful not to say that this was a case of obvious corruption; he obviously knows this, but he wants to be keep on being invited in the power circles, and his books to create the buzz that brings millions of sales).

An objection made to Piketty is that the classification of the richest people has changed over 30 years. To this, Piketty has not clear retort, but I do.

That is indeed a silly objection: The founder of Walmart passed away. His heir have, all together, more money than Bill Gates.

More historically, under the terrible Roman plutocracy, the richest of the rich changed all the time, for similar reasons. But, although it was hard to maintain just as high a status, it was easier to maintain one just below. The Curial class (= local plutocracy) survived for 4 centuries.

Karl Marx? Piketty rightly points out that Marx wanted to cancel private property, but did not think about what would happen the next day.

Piketty suggests to create new notions of property, including hybrids between public and private property as conceived now.

Piketty was asked why he was so keen, him, such a young guy, to go all around the world, to be received by Obama, to be admired by all, etc. … Instead of being working hard? Especially with the crisis we have now?

Piketty replied he believed in the power of ideas. He believes politicians are just into doing what they believe is the dominant thinking We The People (he did not use that expression) go by. So, in the democratic debate, one should try to modify this dominant opinion.

Notice the naivety: one is very far here from my Satanic interpretation of common human behavior, especially at the leadership level

The answer to this is simple: some play, some think. Real thinkers are not in the White House, they are in distant caves, watching the sea. Occasionally, when not thinking deep.

Piketty points out that oligarchic regimes bring social problems, thus scapegoats, thus nationalist drift, and then, ultimately, like Hitler, or Putin, war.

All right, truth be told, Piketty did not mention Hitler, but he did mention Putin. Not a word on the problem of banks. Out of 29 extremely dangerous banks, the equivalent of potential super-novas on the verge of explosion, four are French. BNP is roughly the same size as French GDP. Those banks are the main engines of inequality, besides the fact any of them, by imploding would make the situation instantaneously worse than in 2008.

Those banks are still allowed to engage in a form of trading which is the modern equivalent of slavery. Piketty does not mention the problem, which is at the core of the money generating-austerity craze.

And he is not afraid to say that many of the time honored ways of economics are actually outright insanity (he repeatedly uses the word “delirium”). Piketty is no genius, but he makes an excellent impresario.

Patrice Ayme’

Live Within Our Means, Say Mean Plutocrats

December 5, 2014

Austerity Is A Conspiracy By Those Who, Having All The Money, Want Us To Have None:

What do plutocrats want? In the common, all too restrictive sense of plutocracy as the “rule of money”, “plutocracy” is supposed to mean that plutocrats want their money to rule.

Yet, plutocracy is not just about money. Even if one starts with “money”, one ends up with much more. Indeed, money is power onto others. By establishing charities, foundations, political financing, and other networks of influence, plutocrats extent invisibly their power beyond the horizon, and below the ground.

However Homo Sapiens Sapiens not being made to be submitted to others “power”, we have there, in this will to quasi-infinite plutocratic power, a form of cruelty, not to say, mayhem. Power struggles kill, among chimpanzees.

Britain Won Its Place In The World Through Ultra Massive Borrowing & Money Creation

Britain Won Its Place In The World Through Ultra Massive Borrowing & Money Creation

Notice that, with chimpanzees, even the alpha male has very little power: as soon as three of his subordinates gang up against him, he is toast. The same holds with wolves, or lions.

But civilization is all about power. When only a few have its reins, they become like gods. At least in their minds, habits, ways, and means. That’s why plutocrats, their obsequious servants, and those they have hypnotized, worry so much about “us living within our means”.

 

A Few Guys Have ALL The Power, What Could Go Wrong?

Whereas a modern bureaucrat, like Eichmann, can send millions to death. Some will say the analogy is in poor taste. But not so. People such as Obama, Hollande, Putin, can literally launch actions that, in the worst possible case, could lead quickly to the death of billions (it takes just one 300 kiloton thermonuclear bomb to destroy most of any city on Earth).

I do believe that so much power, in so few hands, in so few brains, is not just immoral, but unwise. This makes civilization highly unstable.

However, a meta-discourse has been held, not just logically, but emotionally: it is OK to have so much power in so few hands.

Let’s put aside the main problem aside. The main problem being that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that Czar Putin, for example, has more power than all the Czars who existed before him, put together: it’s not just that Stalin, had no H bombs. Both him, and Brezhnev, were worried by the Politburo (their top communist colleagues). Putin, by comparison reigns on a coterie of obsequious plutocrats, anxious about Polonium in their tea, or homicide by heart attack.

Not that Putin needs to give a direct order. For someone who can roughly kill half of Chechnya, and then get away with offering luxury homes there to his gregarious friend the “star”, not to say czar, Depardieu (not prosecuted for war profiteering, whereas the French government prosecutes commoners for basically nothing, commonly), letting it known to its secret services subordinates that he would love it if contradictors could just vanish, is elementary.

An aside here: when top official of the Nazi administration asked Adolf Hitler directly whether there was a systematic policy in place for killing Jews, Adolf Hitler firmly denied there was. At the Wannsee Holocaust conference, top Nazis confronted SS General Heydrich, and told him that Hitler had personally told them that it was not the policy of the Reich to kill the Jews. And they felt sure that, should they ask Hitler that same question again Hitler would give the same answer.

To that Heydrich icily replied, with a thin smile: ”Of course, he will!”

The fundamental problem with the top Nazis was not that they had some very bad ideas, it was that they had too much power. That enormous power (greatly enabled by the dog-like submissivity of the average German at the time), led them in a quick succession of choices, ever more abysmal, starting in January 1933. (To this, as soon as 1933, the French and American Republics reacted by engaging in giant military spending to equip themselves for a world war; Poland and Britain, instead, reacted by becoming Hitler’s best friends… They would realize their mistake in 1939)

 

If A Few Guys Can Fry Us All, Why Can’t They Own Us?

If it’s OK to risk thermonuclear Armageddon with a few morons in control (for vicious moron, consider Putin), why is it not OK to risk an economic apocalypse, let alone a climate apocalypse, with even more morons in control?

Is it not more… democratic? If Obama has too much power, does not giving ever more power to the Koch Brother, Bill Gates, and the Z guy from Facebook counterbalance that?

In any case, bleat the sheep, if plutocrats have all the power, they take all the decisions, and we can rest.

So, indeed, we have to ask again, what do plutocrats want? What train of evolutionary thought do they come from?

Well, simply the cruel streak which leads to extermination. The main problem of man has been man. For millions of years, being the top predator.

 

Insane Austerity Is Plutocracy Under Another Name:

One of the appreciated commenters on this site, Chris Snuggs, made the observation that:

It is not “austerity for austerity’s sake”, Patrice. It is simply the principle of “living within one’s means”. NO COUNTRY IN EUROPE IS DOING THIS. The idea that “ending austerity” is the solution is risible leftist claptrap. It is the failure to live within our means that has led to this as politicians at all levels either bribe voters with the latters’ own money, or in the case especially of Italy and Greece simply steal it.

If it were just Italy and Greece, we would be safe. Stealing from politicians is a worldwide phenomenon.

The son of the preceding (“socialist”) president of Senegal, found himself with a fortune of more than a billion dollars. After a change of president, judges put him in jail, in the hope of finding out where the money came from. Senegal is one of the world’s poorest countries (having no resources of any sort, but for fish devoured by Korean factory ships, which, I am sure, paid very well; the fish came back after the new president asked the Koreans to pay, and the French empire lent a military jet which takes pictures).

Living within our means” sounds good, but a sovereign country is not a family (contrarily to what Obama said).

The money within a country is not a store of value (only gold reserves are; most countries got rid of them). Instead, money enables the population to do a number of things. If there is not enough of money around, these things cannot be done.

Moreover, money, like blood, has to circulate.

However, it’s not doing that anymore, as the wealthiest store it, and have less use for it than the lower classes.

 

How Not To Live Within The Means Of the Wealthiest:

Take the case of France.

Suppose France borrowed a trillion Euros on the free market, at the present rate of less than 1%. Investors, in their despair, are ready to lend to France at that rate, on the ten year bond.

Such a borrowing would allow the government to augment enormously its spending: it could pay for the best universities in the world (as China is presently trying to do), it could finance all sorts of fundamental research, it could even fabricate large Thorium reactors, with the whole economy to go with them (mines in Brittany, U 233 breeders, etc.). Presto, no more energy and CO2 crisis, and reactors which could be sold worldwide.

The pessimist would bemoan that we cannot afford it.

Of course we can: it would cost, nothing.

How so?

Hopefully, inflation, over the next ten years, will be 1% per year, entirely cancelling the interest payments. Higher inflation, though, would devour the principal.

Is this all fancy? Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Britain’s finance and economy minister), G. Osborne, announced that Great Britain will, finally, reimburse its First World War debt. How? By borrowing at 4%, the lowest interest in Britain for a very long time.

Says Osborne: “This is a moment for Britain to be proud of. We can, at last, pay off the debts Britain incurred to fight the first world war. It is a sign of our fiscal credibility and it’s a good deal for this generation of taxpayers. It’s also another fitting way to remember that extraordinary sacrifice of the past.”

Actually it’s even better than that: some of the debt to be repaid comes from the Crimean War, the wars against revolutionary France, and even the South Sea Bubble (three centuries ago).

 

Borrowing Can Buy You The World:

As Dominique Deux, another esteemed commenter on this site, reminded me: “Britain did not get to be the world’s first industrial power by “living within her means” but by extensive long-term borrowing.”

Right.

It is even better than that: The Bank of England, the world’s first central bank, was created to support the Royal Navy. Basically, if the Navy needed money, the Bank would print it.

That was put to good use a century later. France was much larger economically, economically, not to say intellectually, than Britain, so fighting the French superpower seemed ridiculous. However, as France was in the way, this is exactly what Britain did in 1756-1815. Paying Prussia as an attack dog, creating a huge Navy, etc.

How?

By borrowing extravagantly. So much borrowing that Britain won, but for the little problem of the French engineered creation of the American Republic (a foundation which proved the undoing of both France and Britain…)

 

To Make Money, Government Can Just Grab It From The Filthy Rich:

Famously, confronted to the invasion of Francia by the Arab, Syrian, Berber, and generally hysterically Muslim armies, and navies, in 721 CE, the Merovingian government of Prime Minister (and effective head of state) Charles Martel, just nationalized the Catholic Church, selling its precious metals, and stones.

That was a stroke of genius, as it defeated both Christianism and (what the Franks viewed as) its Islamist sect. (OK, it took a full generation of total war.)

That method is more available, the more plutocrats there are.

Osborne (out hero of the day, the conservative plutophile who heads things financial in the UK), spoke yesterday of introducing a “Google Tax” of 25%. Says the Guardian: “Responding to outrage about the minimal contributions big corporations make to European governments, the Treasury is targeting Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple, but the measures will reach beyond technology to high street chains such as Starbucks.

“We will make sure that big multinational businesses pay their fair share,” assured Osborne. That will not be easy: one is talking here about what some view as the richest criminal enterprises in the world.

Facebook made something like 100 million dollars of profit in Britain, and paid not even five thousand dollars of tax. The Guardian: “Google paid just £20m tax in the UK last year. But its actual British revenues were £5.6bn. The group as a whole has a profit margin of 20%, suggesting the company’s real profits in the UK could have been as high as £1.2bn. Taxed at the proposed 25% rate, this would deliver £280m a year in revenues for the Treasury from just one company.”

Having plenty enough of money to accomplish important work, is pretty much how the West went through the 30 glorious years of strong economic expansion after World War Two.

In practice, though, debt can be reduced by taxing the wealthy. Why to borrow from the rich, when one can tax them? Well it all depends if one lives in plutocracy (borrow), or in democracy (tax).

Under general-president Eisenhower, the wealthiest were made to contribute (Ike used his 93% upper margin tax rate; it was of course the same in Europe).

That’s how to live within the better means we could create for ourselves.

This means, first, defanging what, and those who, have too much power, be it thermonuclear, political, economic, or even ideological.

Democracy is not just a way of life, but the way to survival… Just what the cruelest, and fiercest instincts do not want.

Patrice Ayme’

Tax Theft: Luxembourg. Impotence: All Over. Culprit: GOP?

November 8, 2014

Great Evasions From Taxes And Responsibility. Krugman Accuses Republicans Of Everything

When cheating is legal, is it cheating? Many worthies in Europe are affecting surprise that Luxembourg allowed hundreds of the greatest plutocratic corporations to escape amounts in taxes similar to the “austerity” they try to impose. That means that tax evasion by the richest is paid by the poorest.

Tax avoidance, through Luxembourg alone, by the richest persons in the world, are of the order of 10% of the yearly Federal Budget of the USA (you will not see this in the newspapers, I computed it myself).

Burning Cars May Move Minds (Brussels, 11/6/14)

Burning Cars May Move Minds (Brussels, 11/6/14)

People are starting to see through this Kabuki theater. While Luxembourg flaunted its criminal nature, there was a bloody demonstration in Brussels against renewed “austerity” (from a new “conservative” government). No less than 20% of the capital’s population was in the streets, French and Flemish speakers united. Two police officers were grievously hurt.

Demonstrators burned cars, but did not set fire (yet!) to the European Commission and Parliament buildings. Let me be clear: the European Commission and the European Parliament have known, for years, of Luxembourg’s dirty nature. I have written of this institutionalized thievery, for years. It has been known, for years. All the politicians are accomplice… Indeed, none of them protested stridently against institutionalized tax stealing.

Jean-Claude Junker was the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, for 19 years, and, thus, Luxembourg’s thief in chief (plus 5 years, prior, as Luxembourg finance minister). Junker’s punishment? He is now head of the European Commission. It is eerie, surreally obscene, a tiny bit as if Himmler had been made president of Israel (in the last few days of WWII, Himmler cooperated with the Swedes to save thousands of Jews! Both were obviously trying to make amends, while Nazism was suffering its well deserved apocalypse. Some will say the comparison is exaggerated; however, EU austerity-tax cheating by fat cats has killed probably thousands of people already).

Satanic corporate officers would show up in Luxembourg, and, within the same business day, organize the tax evasion of their employer, with the full participation of the authorities of Luxembourg.

Luxembourg whined that an illegal act had been committed: state documents had been revealed (28,000 pages on 340 companies, obtained by a consortium of journalists, ICIG; they have a consortium… to escape national censorship; many firms paid less than 1% on profits, whereas the law is 12.5%; other countries are cheating, including, Eire, the Netherlands, and the UK). Infamy knows no shame.

But one does not need to rob the state thugs of Luxembourg to expose the truth about Luxembourg. The industry of Luxembourg is organized crime.

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis about $95 billion of profits moved into Luxembourg from U.S. companies in 2012 alone. In Luxembourg, those $95 billion of profits were basically not taxed. Direct investment from the U.S. into Luxembourg in 2013 was $416 billion. More than 200 U.S. companies operate there.

Luxembourg’s GDP per capita in 1961 was $2,200 (yes, two thousand dollars). Now it is more than 120,000 dollars. Only the tax cheaters Liechtenstein (140 K) and Monaco (180 K) are richer. What to do, when a country thrives from thievery? Why don’t the French and Germans send a few special forces?

Here is a description from the prime financial channel of the USA, CNBC. Here is the start of the associated text: “Here’s an international money riddle for you: What country is smaller than Rhode Island yet is the most attractive place for companies and investors to park their money, behind the United States? Ireland? Cayman Islands? Try Luxembourg.”

Notice that CNBC admits implicitly that the world’s greatest tax cheat is the USA itself (banking secrecy is often total in the USA, with shell companies, “charities”, “trusts”, and “Dark Pools”). And so it is.

So don’t ask why Obama did nothing for the USA. Ask why he should have done something against his sponsors.

And then rolled another editorial of Paul Krugman, accusing the Republicans of the “Triumph Of Wrong”. Said he :

“From Day 1 of the Obama administration, [republicans] have done everything they could to undermine effective policy, in particular blocking every effort to do the obvious thing — boost infrastructure spending — in a time of low interest rates and high unemployment.

This was, it turned out, bad for America but good for Republicans. Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party.”

The usual flood of comments approving that childish and irresponsible vision flooded in, as a self-congratulatory orgasm of surrealism. My own comment was completely lost in that self-loving flood.

The truth, though, is that the democrats were in total control of Congress, the White House, and had a super-majority in the Senate (allowing to override filibusters), in the beginning of Obama’s reign. That was highly problematic, as the Democratic Party is controlled by plutocrats.

What were they going to do? Legislate against themselves? Discover that Delaware enables even more tax evasion than Luxembourg, as long as one is really very rich? Not embarrassed, the plutocratic owners ad operators of the “Democratic” Party accused Republicans “of doing everything they could”, to have, presumably, psychologically forced Democrats to do nothing anti-plutocratic.

I pointed out that, on November 5, 2008, Obama went to work at a hedge fund, in Chicago. That should have alerted the so called “progressives”, that something was not quite right (I certainly noticed!). But it did not. Even six years later, the (pseudo-) progressives still do not get it.

How long will it take for We The People to realize the present governmental set-up, complete with its attending pundits, is a plutocratic mood organization? I guess, as long as the New York Times keeps on censoring me, there is little hope. But then, why do I send money there?

Habits are hard to break. Ultimately, ideas break down, when people start breaking things down. This is how it was always done. Ultimately, violence is not just a political activity, but a psychological one, because it requires a lot of energy to break out of old systems of thought, and even more, out of old systems of mood.

Let see what Europeans worthies do, having named a thief in chief as head of the European Commission, and now seeing the rabble raise in a fury. A hint: if next time demonstrators make it to the European Parliament, breaking and burning, said Parliament may reach a clearer, and more cautious mood.

Austerity? You want austerity? Then why not start with the plutocrats?

Patrice Ayme’

Google & Other Free Riders: Civilization Pays For Them

October 25, 2014

Julian Assange just updated on October 24, 2014, a long essay from 2011: “Google Is Not What It Seems”. In this long expose’, Assange explains that he was taken for a ride by Google, which turned out to be, to his great surprise, little more than an arm of the government of the USA, and the “bipartisan” oligarchy behind it.

Assange’s report is full of amusing details, such as the CEO of Google giving to Hatch, Senior Republican Senator of Nevada, plots of lands. An ex-wife of Google CEO also joined in gifting plots of land to Hatch. (Sen. Errin Hatch is worth personally only 4 million dollars, much less than the average Senator’s worth: 13 million; no doubt Google felt his pain.)

Google’s ocean of equally apportioned gifts to politicians of both sides, goes well beyond any common decency: as I have explained in the past, Google’s billionaires also gave millions of climate deniers, probably to be able to keep on distracting the public with stupidities, just so… While at the same time posing, loud, clear, and splendid, as great protectors of the climate (between two flights in private jumbo jets, between various exclusive ski resorts and paradisiac tax havens).

In the end Assange’s interesting mountain of facts on Google gives birth to a protesting mouse. Here his Assange’s conclusion, in extenso:

“But part of the resilient image of Google as “more than just a company” comes from the perception that it does not act like a big, bad corporation. Its penchant for luring people into its services trap with gigabytes of “free storage” produces the perception that Google is giving it away for free, acting directly contrary to the corporate profit motive.

Google is perceived as an essentially philanthropic enterprise—a magical engine presided over by otherworldly visionaries—for creating a utopian future. The company has at times appeared anxious to cultivate this image, pouring funding into “corporate responsibility” initiatives to produce “social change”—exemplified by Google Ideas.

But as Google Ideas shows, the company’s “philanthropic” efforts, too, bring it uncomfortably close to the imperial side of U.S. influence. If Blackwater/Xe Services/Academi was running a program like Google Ideas, it would draw intense critical scrutiny. But somehow Google gets a free pass.

Whether it is being just a company or “more than just a company,” Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower. As Google’s search and Internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population, rapidly dominating the mobile phone market and racing to extend Internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the Internet for many people. Its influence on the choices and behavior of the totality of individual human beings translates to real power to influence the course of history.

If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to U.S. cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.

A “don’t be evil” empire is still an empire.”

Tellingly, Assange focuses on the way Google manipulates data and public opinion. He forgets the core of the problem: where does Google’s immense power comes from?

Well, Google pays very little taxes… And has corrupted politicians, worldwide, to make it so. That does not mean money was always exchanged. But certainly clout and promises were.

An organization which profits from the state, worldwide, as Google does, and then pays nearly no taxes, as the top corporations of the USA, including Google do, is a criminal organization.

(Normal people and small businesses do pay taxes, and, if they do not, they are treated like criminals, and go to jail.)

“Don’t be evil”, Google’s order is just a way to make people impotent: “Don’t be evil, we will do it for you!”

The owners of Google own personal jumbo jets. One can argue that they are leeches on civilization, as all of other owners and CEOs also are, per the nature of the tax-free money they make, and allow their giant corporations to make, and their influence on political leaders, whom they induce to perpetuate the system which makes them fat, well fed leeches.

Leeches are brainless, because they don’t need a brain. And those brainless creatures are fatally weakening civilization.

It’s because of the fact those people use the state, for example the fundamental scientific research financed by the state, but are not contributing to it proportionally to the profits they make from it, that the fundamental research budgets are falling everywhere (and especially in the USA and the EU).

This is not just a matter of lost opportunity, injustice, and the masses increasingly walloping in lack of education, lack of health, employment, and gathering misery. It’s also a matter of refusing to finance research on many lethal infectious diseases: Ebola is a prominent example now. But many diseases, which would be perfectly curable if the research was financed, are perking up. Not just tuberculosis. Research on general antibiotic resistance, worldwide, would be flushed with money, if just one billionaire paid taxes as much as they used to in the 1950s… In the USA. (I’m serious, I checked the numbers, and the science; thousands of antibiotics in the wild could be developed for a few tens of millions of dollars.)

A lot of the “austerity” drive is entirely synonymous with little people paying Google’s, and other enormous corporations’ taxes. And not just with their pocket books, but also with their lives.

Patrice Ayme’

Obama: Un-American Corporations

July 25, 2014

Bait, Switch, Bait, Oops: Obama Discovers His Sponsors Are Scofflaws.

After baiting us, Obama could have done a lot when he became president. He did not. Instead he switched to the will of those mentoring and monitoring him. As early as 2007 Obama was surrounded by plutocrats, and had been told to keep his real friends away… by said plutocrats (some of whom already mentored Bill Clinton that way).

It was all the easier to do, as Obama, just like Clinton, did not know much, beyond his hunger for domination, and how to navigate by pleasing everybody. If the only people who know much around you are plutocrats, plutophiles and their servants, that’s all your universe is. Just like the world the Cathars depicted, it’s dominated by the Devil, and its name is the Good Lord.

In the first three months of his rule, Obama could have done much. Such control of government (Congress, Senate, Presidency) is rare.

Although it’s true that the banks needed trillions to keep going, Obama could have financed them with the Treasury, instead of TARP and Quantitative Easing, and thus acquire control of them (as Reagan and Bush Senior, two eminent Marxists did, in an earlier, similar crisis). But of course, when one is a child with his toys, with senior plutocrats in attendance, baby-sitting, it’s a ridiculous perspective.

Even a series B actor like Reagan knew more. Now the Marmot-In-Chief, realizing the hour is late, has woken up.

President Obama called for Congress to end a tax loophole that allows big corporations to designate a foreign country as their official address, avoiding American taxes while maintaining their presence in the United States. (Individuals trying this without using anonymous companies go to jail, or risk destitution. Plutocrats, though, just set-up perfectly legal companies off-shore.)

Same said companies also avoid big taxes from other big countries (Germany, France, UK, etc.), and accept them from tax havens (Ireland, Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands, etc.) So it’s not just the USA that is at fault.

The president indulged in unusually harsh language to describe companies using the relocation practice, known as “inversion”. Obama claimed they were renouncing their American citizenship by “cherry-picking” the nation’s laws at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.

“These companies are cherry-picking the rules, and it damages the country’s finances,” he said. “It adds to the deficit. It sticks you with the tab to make up for what they are stashing offshore… I don’t care if it’s legal — it’s wrong…You shouldn’t get to call yourself an American company only when you want a handout from the American taxpayers,”. The audience booed the companies.

Mr. Obama called on Congress to close the loophole, as he poses for what White House officials call a “new economic patriotism”. The president is pressing that argument as elections approach in the fall.

Republicans refused to consider the president’s tax proposals. And the question is… why did Obama not impose all this on day one, in 2009? When he had control.

Because he never intended it to pass. Or maybe he did not want to be shot.

Now that he is sure that it won’t pass, he is trying to pose as a great progressive.

History will see through these games.

Yet, it’s good Obama talk about this. By ignoring such subjects, We the People has been an accomplice to its own demise.

Patrice Ayme’