11 thoughts on “Ban on learning about workers’, civil rights, in Texas?

  1. Published on The Smirking Chimp (http://www.smirkingchimp.com)

    The Great Tax Con Job
    By Thom Hartmann
    Jul 21 2009

    Republicans are using the T-word – taxes – to attack the Obama healthcare program. It’s a strategy based in a lie.

    A very small niche of America’s uber-wealthy have pulled off what may well be the biggest con job in the history of our republic, and they did it in a startlingly brief 30 or so years. True, they spent over three billion dollars to make it happen, but the reward to them was in the hundreds of billions – and will continue to be.

    As my friend and colleague Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks pointed out in a Daily Kos blog recently [1], billionaire Rupert Murdoch loses $50 million a year on the NY Post, billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife loses $2 to $3 million a year on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, billionaire Philip Anschutz loses around $5 million a year on The Weekly Standard, and billionaire Sun Myung Moon has lost $2 to $3 billion on The Washington Times.

    Why are these guys willing to lose so much money funding “conservative” media? Why do they bulk-buy every right-wing book that comes out to throw it to the top of the NY Times Bestseller list and then give away the copies to “subscribers” to their websites and publications? Why do they fund to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year money-hole “think tanks” like Heritage and Cato?

    The answer is pretty straightforward. They do it because it buys them respectability, and gets their con job out there. Even though William Kristol’s publication is a money-losing joke (with only 85,000 subscribers!), his association with the Standard was enough to get him on TV talk shows whenever he wants, and a column with The New York Times. The Washington Times catapulted Tony Blankley to stardom.

    “Fellowships” and other forms of indirect sponsorship of right-wing talk show hosts have made otherwise-marginal shows and their hosts ubiquitous, and such sponsorships of groups like Norquist’s anti-tax “Americans for Tax Reform” regularly get people like him front-and-center in any debate on taxation in the United States.

    All so they could run a tax con on the American people, thus keeping Moon and Murdoch and Scaife and Anschutz (and others) richer than you or I could ever even imagine.

    All of this money was spent – invested, really, since it’s been more than saved back in low income tax rates on millionaires and billionaires – to convince Americans that up is down and black is white when it comes to income taxes. Here’s how it works:

    Rich Person’s Tax Effect

    If a person earns so much money that he doesn’t or can’t spend it all each year, then when his taxes go down your income after taxes goes up. This is largely because there’s little to no relationship between what he “needs to live on” and what he’s “earning.”

    Somebody living on a million dollars a year but earning five million after taxes, can sock away four million in a Swiss bank. If his taxes go up enough to drop his after-tax income to only three million a year, he’s still living on a million a year, and only socks away two million in the Swiss bank. His “disposable” income goes down when his taxes go up, and vice-versa. (Technically, the word is “discretionary” income for after-tax, after-living-expenses income, but “disposable” income has become so widely used as a phrase to describe discretionary income I’ll use it here.)

    The Rich Person’s Tax Effect is the one that virtually all Americans
    understand – and, oddly, most working class people think applies to them, too (this is the truly amazing part of the con job referred to earlier).

    But it doesn’t.

    Working Person’s Tax Effect – version one

    Most working people spend pretty much all of what they earn – their
    “disposable/discretionary” income is close to zero. Savings rates in the US among working people typically are small – one to five percent – and during the last few years of the W. Bush administration actually went negative. So the take-home pay that people have after taxes – regardless of what the taxes may be – is pretty much what they live on.

    As economist David Ricardo pointed out in 1817 in the “On Wages” chapter of his book “On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation,” take home pay is also generally “what a person will work for.” Employers know this: Ricardo’s “Iron Law of Wages” is rooted in the notion that there is a “market” for labor, driven in part by supply and demand. So if a worker is earning, for example, a gross salary of $75,000, his 2008 federal income tax would be about $15,000 ($802.50 on first $8,025 of income; $3,687.75 on income from $8,025 to $32,550; $10,612.50 on income from $32,550 to $75,000), leaving him a take-home pay of $60,000.

    Both he and his employer know that he’ll do the job he’s doing for around $60,000 a year in take-home pay.

    So what happens if his taxes go up, cutting his take-home pay to $55,000 a year (even though his gross is still $75,000)? Over time (typically one to three years) his wages will rise enough to compensate for the lost income.

    Alan Greenspan used to be hysterical about this effect – he called it “wage inflation” – and The Wall Street Journal and other publications would often reference it, although the average working person has no idea that if his taxes go up, his wages will eventually go up. Similarly, when working-class people’s taxes go down, their gross wages will, over time, go down so their inflation-adjusted take-home pay remains the same. We’ve seen both happen over the past eighty years, over and over again.

    When I was in Denmark last year doing my radio show from the Danish Radio offices for a week and interviewing many of that nation’s leading politicians, economists, energy experts, and newspaper publishers, one of my guests made a comment that dropped the scales from my own eyes.

    We’d been discussing taxes on the air, what the Danes get for their average 52% tax rate (free college education, free health care, 4 weeks of vacation, being the world’s “happiest” country according to research reported on CBS’s “60 Minutes” TV show, etc.). I asked him why people didn’t revolt at such high tax rates, and he smiled and just pointed out to me that the average Dane is very well paid with a minimum wage that equals about $18 US (depending on the exchange rate from day to day).

    Off the air, he made the comment to me that was so enlightening. “You
    Americans are such suckers,” he said, as I recall. “You think that the rules for taxes that apply to rich people also apply to working people. But they don’t. When working peoples’ taxes go up, their pay goes up. When their taxes go down, their pay goes down. It may take a year or two or three to all even out, but it always works this way – look at any country in Europe. And it’s the opposite of how it works for rich people!”

    Working Person’s Tax Effect – Version Two

    The other point about taxes – which Obama leveraged with his “no tax
    increases on people earning under $250,000 a year” pledge – has to do with the fact that our tax structure in the US is progressive.

    Here’s how it breaks out for a single person from the 2008 federal tax
    tables [2]: 10% on income between $0 and $8,02515% on the income between $8,025 and $32,550;25% on the income between $32,550 and $78,850;28% on the income between $78,850 and $164,550;33% on the income between $164,550 and $357,700;35% on the income over $357,700.

    Note that our $75,000/year worker has two full tax brackets above him,
    which, if they go up, will not affect him at all. (This is also true, of course, for the median-wage and average-wage American workers who earn in the low to mid-$40,000/year range.)

    The top tax rate that a person pays is referred to as their “marginal tax rate” (in our worker’s case 28%). So what happens if the top marginal tax rate on people making over $357,700 goes up from its current 35% to, for example, the Eisenhower-era 91%?

    For over 120 million American workers who don’t earn over $357,700/year, it won’t mean a thing. But for the tiny handful of millionaires and billionaires who have promoted The Great Tax Con, it will bite hard. And that’s why they spend millions to make average working people freak out about increases in the top tax rates.

    Income taxes as the “Great Stabilizer”

    Beyond fairness and holding back the Landed Gentry the Founders worried about (America had no billionaires in today’s money until after the Civil War, with John D. Rockefeller being our first), there’s an important reason to increase to top marginal tax rate, and to do so now.

    Novelist Larry Beinhart was the first to bring this to my attention. He looked over the history of tax cuts and economic bubbles, and found a clear relationship between the two. High top marginal tax rates (generally well above 60%) on rich people actually stabilize the economy, prevent economic bubbles from forming, prevent economic crashes, and lead to steady and sustained economic growth (and steady and sustained wage growth for working people).

    On the other hand, when top marginal rates drop below 50 percent, the
    opposite happens. As Beinhart noted in a November 17, 2008 post [3] on the Huffington Post, the massive Republican tax cuts of the 1920s (from 73% to 25%) led directly to the Roaring ’20s stock market bubble, temporary boom, and then the crash and Republican Great Depression of 1929.

    Rates on the very rich went back up into the 70-90% range from the 1930s to the 1980s. As a result, the economy grew steadily; for the first time in the history of our nation we went 50 years without a crash or major bank failure; and working people’s wages increased enough to produce the strongest middle class this nation has ever seen.

    Then came Reaganomics.

    Reagan cut top marginal rates on millionaires and billionaires from 74% down to 38% and there was an immediate surge in the markets – followed by the worst crash since the Great Depression and the failure of virtually the entire nation’s savings and loan banking system.

    Bush I cut taxes, and the nation fell into a severe recession while debt soared and wages for working people fell.

    Things stabilized somewhat when Clinton slightly raised taxes on the very rich, but W. Bush dropped them again – including taking taxes on unearned income (interest and dividends – the “income” that people like W. born with a trust fund “earn” as they sit around the pool waiting for the dividend check to arrive in the mail) down to a top rate of 15%. (That’s right – trust fund babies like Bush and Scaife pay a MAXIMUM 15% federal income tax on their dividend and interest income, thanks to the second Bush tax cut.) The result of this surge in easy money for the wealthy, combined with deregulation in the financial markets, was the “froth” Greenspan worried about and led us straight into the Second Republican Great Depression, ongoing today.

    The math is really pretty simple. When the uber-rich are heavily taxed, economies prosper and wages for working people steadily rise. When taxes are cut for the rich, working people suffer and economies turn into casinos.

    Roll Back The Reagan Tax Cuts

    While there’s much discussion about letting the Bush tax cuts expire, if we really want our country to recover its financial footing we must do something altogether different. We need to roll back the Reagan tax cuts that took the top marginal rate from above 70% down into the 30% range.

    First, though, we have to help Americans realize that “no new taxes” is a mantra that is meaningful to the very rich, but largely irrelevant to average working people.

    Only when the current generation re-learns the economic and tax lessons well known by the generation (now dying off) that came of age in the 30s through the 60s, will this become politically possible. Americans need to learn what Europeans know about taxes – they only matter to the rich.

    Thus today the uber-rich are spending hundreds of millions to make sure words like “burden” are always associated with the word “tax,” and to convince average working people that they should throw out of office any politicians who are willing to raise taxes on the rich.

    We have a lot of education to do…and as long as the Right Wing Machine of the uber-rich continues to “lose” (e.g. “invest”) millions of dollars a year in their ongoing disinformation campaign, it’s going to require all of us reciting the mantra, “Roll back the Reagan tax cuts!”

    1b.
    Re: The Great Tax Con Job
    Posted by: “ALAN BOND” alan_bond@btinternet.com
    Sun Jul 26, 2009 2:20 am (PDT)

    This pretty well equates with what Thatcher and her cronies did in the UK when they were elected (on a minority vote remember). Tax rates for all were reduced but ordinary working people saw a cut of around 1% in overall taxation while those in the top pay brackets saw a reduction of 52% in the top rate of income tax. At the same time indirect taxes were increased which effectively amounted to a pay cut for millions of ordinary people. This situation has remained unchanged for the last thirty years and it is the reason why the gap between rich and poor has widened under a so called ‘Labour’ government. It came as no surprise to many when Blair expressed his admiration for Thatcher when he should have been dismantling everything she did and increasing taxes on the better off and reducing indirect taxes. In the first year of Thatcher’s tax cuts for the better off (1980) the effect was a nett loss to the exchequer of 4 billion pounds and this amount has increased to the extent that the losses now run at something in the region of 44 billion pounds a year and that doesn’t include the amount loss due to tax evasion schemes. We have heard a lot over the last thirty years from the right wing about how THE ‘trade unions’ were holding the country to ransom by demanding ‘inflationary’ pay increases. This was always a swipe at ordinary working people who are actually the wealth creators all across the world. Instead we have politicians of all hues cow-towing to the big business barons while allowing them to milk the system to their own advantage on the surmise that they somehow create wealth. To this extent they are the people who are holding countries to ransom by threatening to take away ‘their wealth and expertise’. If they are, indeed, the wealth creators why has GB got the most repressive anti working class laws in the whole of Europe. If working people are the greedy parasites who hold countries to ransom and not those who create the wealth it wouldn’t matter a hoot if they went on strike for ever as things would still carry on without a glitch. The truth is that all this anti strike legislation is to ensure that those who hold power can continue to do so without actually contributing anything to society. The left needs to start getting the message out loud and clear – ‘Workers of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but your chains’ – Karl Marx. The fight continues and it is one we MUST win.

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  2. LABOR: Look to Texas for why labor’s vilified

    New book offers insights into union struggles, triumphs

    Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year proclaimed 2009 as a year to recognize Washington State’s labor heritage. It is a history of hard-fought battles that gave us many of the rights to freedom of speech and association we often take for granted today.

    One of these battles occurred in July of 1934 in the midst of our last great depression.

    Dock workers from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California shut down the West Coast ports. They demanded decent wages, hours and conditions of work, and an end to degrading “shape up” hiring system. They also asked employers to recognize and bargain with their union.

    RANDALL HINER; Vashon

    Published: 02/01/1012:05 am
    Comments (15)

    Re: “Elected officials parrot pro-labor stance” (letter, 1-10).

    The writer states that the executive and legislative branches of state government are mere mouthpieces for labor.

    Since when did labor become a dirty word? When I was in high school during the 1960s, we studied the history of labor, like my father did. We learned about Haymarket Square, which helped give the American worker the eight-hour work day. We studied the Wagner Act, the Davis-Bacon Act, and many other battles fought by labor and paid for in blood. These battles helped all working people and helped to create a middle class in this country.

    Labor is an intrinsic part of the history of America. Labor’s vilification (and not having a labor section in the paper) is part of the reason we have a shrinking and increasingly illusive middle class.

    The reason we don’t study the history of labor in school anymore is a direct result of the relaxation of anti-trust legislation in the 1980s, permitting textbook publishers to buy each other out. Out of more than 2,200 textbook publishers, we are now down to three nationwide. And since Texas is the largest purchaser of textbooks, the Texas board of education gets to veto anything it doesn’t approve of.

    In a right-to-work state, you sure don’t want schoolchildren studying the history of labor in America. So you end up with succeeding generations of citizens not knowing (or caring) how we got to the eight-hour day and overtime pay.

    When did labor become a dirty word? 1980.

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/letters/story/1052225.html

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  3. The Texas Textbook Massacre

    Watch the Video | Sign The Petition

    Dear Friend,

    Ultraconservatives in Texas have approved radical changes to state educational curriculum. In a shameless attempt to infiltrate their agenda in the classroom they have decided to effectively:

    * Erase the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy

    * Glorify President Ronald Reagan

    * Require students follow conservative leaders and organizations such as the National Rifle Association, the Heritage Foundation, and Moral Majority

    * Minimize minority leaders such as Cesar Chavez and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall

    * Teach that the United Nations threatens U.S. liberty, freedom and sovereignty

    * Portray the country as a “Constitutional Republic” and NOT a “Democracy”

    * Eliminate separation of Church and State

    Sign the petition urging the textbook publisher to stop production on this conservative manifesto.

    The changes inject far-right conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade. Texas is one of the biggest textbook purchasers in the country; the new “whitewashed” standards could end up indoctrinating children across the country with a lesson about conservative ideology rather than real American history.

    Is this what you want to teach your children?

    Will you chip in $25 to allow us to continue our work ensuring this conservative manifesto doesn’t replace textbooks in our children’s schools?

    Yours,

    Robert Greenwald, Axel Caballero, Ofelia Yañez
    and the Cuéntame team

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  4. Ship to be named after Cesar Chavez

    UNITED STATES: The US navy has announced it will name a Lewis and Clark-class cargo ship after the late farming activist Cesar Chavez.

    Chavez was an agricultural worker who mobilised tens of thousands of mostly migrant labourers to force employers to recognise their rights. He served in the navy for two years.

    Thirteen senators praised the choice of name though Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter said the choice was “political” and the vessel should have been named for a war hero.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/104853

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  5. TRUTHOUT’S BUZZFLASH DAILY HEADLINES

    The Texas State Board of Education declares war on the Declaration of Independence.

    That’s one perspective on the Lone Star State board that approves educational textbooks in Texas. After all, when you delete Thomas Jefferson – author of the Declaration of Independence – from the state curriculum, something un-American is definitely afoot.

    According to a Washington Post column on faith, the board was also rejecting Jefferson’s – and the Constitution’s – guarantee of a separation of church and state, noting the:

    board’s 10-5 party-line rejection of a standard requiring students to learn that the nation’s Founders “protected religious freedom by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.”

    Before that amendment was rejected, board member Cynthia Dunbar, a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School, argued that the Founding Fathers didn’t intend to separate church and state, but rather did intend to promote religion. The board approved her revisions, which included cutting Thomas Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence and promoter of the phrase “wall of separation between church and state”), and replacing him with religious figures such as St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin.

    That this historical and constitutional revisionism comes from people who fancy themselves faithful to the founding fathers might appear to be evidence of historical psychoses. Unfortunately, such mental impairment in relation to the facts of America’s revolutionary foundation will affect generations of students in Texas, and around the nation. That is because Texas is such a large school book market that publishers often adapt their textbooks to the Lone Star State standards, instead of creating separate editions for the rest of the nation.

    It’s also possible, as at least one analyst has noted, that Jefferson was removed from the curriculum because he was a deist, as were many of the great minds of the Enlightenment.

    There is, perhaps, another underlying reason for the antipathy in Texas toward Jefferson. The third president of the United States was concerned that democracy might be corrupted and overpowered by businesses, in essence, “too big to fail.”

    “I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations,” Jefferson wrote, “which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”

    One thing that you can say for the Texas School Board; it sure knows how to turn historical fact into radical partisan fiction.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout

    Like

  6. petrel41 on December 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm said:

    Friend,

    Last week, NAACP issued a call for voting rights in the streets of New York, at the United Nations and across the nation through the media. The far right is now on the defensive about their attack on voting rights. In collaboration with NAACP, we have put together a video about the impact of the voting right attacks on communities of color. Please take a moment to watch and spread the message to everyone you know.

    In the rural South, many people of a certain age have no birth certificate because they were born to a midwife. For them, the barriers to getting a state issued ID without a birth certificate are tremendous. Others are dependent on rides to the polls provided by church-organized Sunday voting drives, which have been shut down in some states.

    In 2012, we will work with NAACP to ensure every American has the ability to vote. Across the country, community activists are joining us in that effort. As our video shows, South Carolina doctor Brenda Williams has spent countless hours and thousands of dollars helping her patients clear the financial and legal hurdles associated with satisfying the state’s new strict voter ID law.

    Dr. Williams is a hero in her community – but she cannot do it alone. It is going to take the efforts of people like you to help strengthen our front line and ensure our right to vote in 2012 and beyond. I urge you to take this opportunity to make this movement your own and stand on the right side of history. Please take a moment to watch this story and share it with your friends.

    We would like to make sure that everyone has a voice!

    Best,

    Robert Greenwald

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  7. Lone Star state comrades need our help

    Thursday 14 June 2012

    Please sign our online petition to scrap the Texas anti-communist law, at http://www.change.org/petitions/texas-legislature-overturn-the-anti-communist-law

    You can also suggest that others sign the online petition.

    For more information, see the Star’s March 26 article at http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/117009

    Thanks for your support.

    James Thompson
    Houston, Texas

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/120211

    Like

  8. Pingback: No more critical thinking for Texas schoolchildren? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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