US fightback against cutbacks

This video from the USA says about itself:

2 April 2011

In this video, students and teachers who attended Wednesday’s demonstration against budget cuts in Albany, New York, speak on the governor’s plan to cut $1.2 billion from the State University of New York (SUNY) and the public schools.

The US economy added 216,000 jobs in March. To return to the pre-recession jobless rate in three years, about twice as many jobs would have to be added every month: here.

Tula Connell: Jobs Rise in March; Black Unemployment Increases: here.

Unemployment for African-Americans Rises, Despite Job Growth. Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research: “The economy added 216,000 jobs in March, pushing the overall unemployment rate down to 8.8 percent. The growth was driven entirely by a 230,000 gain in the private sector, as the government sector lost jobs for the fifth consecutive month. The employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) also edged up to 58.5 percent – the highest ratio since September – although this is still 4.4 percentage points below the pre-recession peak”: here.

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: “There’s a new article in the March/April edition of the Washington Monthly making the point that the United States needs federal bureaucrats to manage spending, including spending on private contractors, and that understaffing the government – which we’re doing already, and will do more of if the right gets its way – actually increases the deficit. I agree. ‘In practice, cutting civil servants often means either adding private contractors or … resorting to the belief that industries have a deep capacity to police themselves,’ John Gravois writes”: here.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “While hard working Americans fill out their income tax returns this tax season, General Electric and other giant profitable corporations are avoiding U.S. taxes altogether. With Congress returning to Capitol Hill on Monday to debate steep spending cuts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations must do their share to help bring down our record-breaking deficit”: here.

NBC Doesn’t Report That Long-Time Parent Company, General Electric, Did Not Pay US Corporate Income Taxes: here.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally received over $83 million in compensation in 2010. This display of greed is not an aberration, but rather the rule for the US corporate elite: here.

USA: San Francisco Bay Area labour history: here.

Teachers and their unions are under assault throughout the country. Unfortunately, their ability to resist has been weakened by a series of actions over the past decade by the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the largest and most influential teachers’ unions. These actions have seriously damaged AFT’s credibility among its membership and progressive allies when they are needed the most. Of particular concern has been the AFT’s support for the Bush administration’s militaristic agenda in the Middle East, including the US war on Iraq and Israel’s war on Lebanon, as well as the current leadership’s apparent opposition to pro-democracy struggles in the region: here.

7 thoughts on “US fightback against cutbacks


    General Electric (GE) wanted me to know that the corporation is not a tax-dodger – and allegedly was maligned by a New York Times (NYT) article entitled, “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.”

    So, GE paid for a Google email teaser, which I clicked through to a slick public relations web page that claimed the NYT article was “distorting and misleading.”

    Except as far as I can see, nothing on the GE “crisis management” explanation page refuted the basic NYT fact that the firm “reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.”

    GE asserts, as its first point of defense, that it “pays what it owes under the law and is scrupulous about its compliance with tax obligations in all jurisdictions.”

    Technically, it is possible that statement is true, but specious, because GE gets legislation passed that allows it to legally avoid paying its fair share for the maintenance of democracy.

    According to the NYT, “A review of company filings and congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks.”

    That’s what financial journalist David Cay Johnston describes in his book, “Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich – and Cheat Everybody Else.”

    Just call what GE does “legalized theft.”

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout



    If you are black or young in America, the economy is not getting better.

    According to the April 1st AFL-CIO blog,

    Young people and people of color continue to experience the worst jobless rates which have remained high, with 24.5 percent of teenagers out of work and 15.5 percent of black workers and 11.3 percent of Hispanics jobless. Some 7.9 percent of white workers are jobless, as are 7.1 percent of Asian workers.

    Dean Baker, who writes regularly for Truthout, noted,”Employment among blacks fell back almost to its low-point for the downturn.”

    Furthermore, despite the recent official drop of unemployment to 8.8%, the AFL-CIO points out the starker reality of joblessness: “While the official unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, it’s 15.7 percent if unemployed, underemployed and those who have given up looking for work are included—more than 24 million people.”

    And Baker notes the ongoing wage stagnation for workers while CEOs reap record bonuses and shareholders high profits: “One serious negative item is that wages have been essentially flat over the last two months. Nominal wage growth over both the last quarter and year have both been 1.7 percent.”

    The trending of the “recovering economy” is toward a more divided class structure: the wealthy and the borderline poor, with black America left behind.

    That’s an economy that has redistributed its income in the job market, redistributed it downward when it comes to the working people of the US.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout



    “CEO Pay Soars While Workers’ Pay Stalls,” a March 31 headlines announced in USA Today.

    On April 2, BuzzFlash at Truthout took note that the jobs that are coming back for most Americans pay less and have fewer benefits, compared to the economy prior to the recession.

    The USA Today article confirms that reality:

    At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to pre-recession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics….

    The big increases in executive compensation are difficult for workers to swallow, given that many Americans are struggling just trying to find a job or make ends meet, says Alan Johnson of executive pay consulting firm Johnson Associates. “The fact this makes us all squirm is true.”

    Unfortunately, many national and state legislators who follow the siren song of the Koch brothers are not squirming; they are continuing to press for laws that enhance the gluttonous wealth of the richest in the nation, while devaluing the pay and benefits of American workers.

    We are headed backwards to the type of European two-class system that existed prior to the American Revolution: the rich and the servant (labor) class. There’s nothing “patriotic” about that.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout


  4. Are you outraged by the Republican class war against unions, teachers, and the entire middle class?

    Are you shocked that Republicans want to replace guaranteed Medicare healthcare with “vouchers” that could be slashed in an instant?

    Do you think we can easily fix national and state budget problems by taxing big corporations and billionaires – and ending our endless wars?

    If so, here are three important things you can do right now:

    1. Tell Congress to Create Jobs Now!

    2. Participate in one of 1,000 “We Are One” Rallies sponsored by the largest labor, civil rights, and Netroots groups. Find one near you:

    3. Tell the Media to give as much coverage to Monday’s “Job Party” rallies as they give to much smaller “Tea Party” rallies:

    The political tide has turned. Americans are suddenly waking up to the far-right Tea Party agenda, and rejecting it across the board.

    We predicted this would happen, and we’re helping lead the fight with your support.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    p.s. Please share your thoughts by commenting on our latest blog post:


  5. April 4 – Union, Community and Student Activists will mark the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with Job Actions, Sit-Ins and Protests

    The union movement has called for “We Are One” actions across the country to mark this important anniversary and to call for solidarity with Wisconsin workers and the struggle for justice every where. Thousands of actions both big and small are being called not only by the unions but by community and student groups who are joining on this day.

    Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, where he stood fighting for the dignity of 1,300 sanitation workers and their right to a union.

    Workers across the country — public sector and industrial like port workers — are sick and tired of union busting and attacks on the working class. Here are just a few of the exciting things planned for April 4:

    *Sit-in with Oakland teachers. More than 600 teachers, nurses, counselors and librarians who serve the mostly Black community in Oakland are facing layoffs. They will march to Wells Fargo bank, sit-in to demand that the banks pay their share. They will set up a classroom inside the bank to teach about the role of the banks and the economic crisis.

    Find a Wells Fargo bank in your area to picket or leaflet. In Los Angeles, Baltimore and other cities Wells Fargo solidarity actions are already planned. In LA, SEIU health care workers and the Bailout the Peoples Movement will demand Wells Fargo stop foreclosures and evictions, too. For info call Betty Olson-Jones, Oakland Education Association President at 510-866-3676 in Oakland and in Los Angeles call John Parker at 323-899-2003.

    *Wisconsin workers — at the epicenter of the struggle for the rights of all workers — continue their struggle with a variety of statewide events on April 4. StandwithWisconsinMajor marches Milwaukee and Madison will welcome Sanitation workers from Memphis, Tenn. and the California Longshore workers’ ILWU Local 10 Drill Team

    In Milwaukee, 3:30-6:01 pm, MLK Statue on MLK drive, march and rally with a moment of silence at 6:01 pm. In Madison, the Poor People’s March, meets at Madison City Hall at 5 pm. At t he Capitol’s State St. Steps gather for “From Memphis to Madison Rally” and candlelight vigil on MLK Blvd. from the Capitol to Monona Terrace.

    *In North Carolina a dynamic coalition of the NAACP, UE 150, Black Workers for Justice and the NC State AFL-CIO is spearheading actions. These organizations have been leading the fight for workers rights in the South. For a events go to:

    *In New York City area — Communication Workers of America (CWA) and student and community activists are marching on City Hall to demand and end to budget cuts and attacks on workers and “March and Rally for Jobs, Peace, Justice and Equality” 5:30 pm, Corner of Broad and Market Streets, Newark, NJ – For more info call 973-801-0001.

    *Replaced UAW Local 174 drivers say, “You don’t have to go to Wisconsin. Union Busting Ryder Is Here In Detroit.” GM is using non-union drivers for “just-in-time” parts deliveries. Picket the GM Hamtramck Assembly plant in the morning. “We are one” event gathers at Campus Martius Park, marches to Labor Arch.

    These are just a few of the over 1,000’s events which will take place. You can get more information on local events in your city or town by going to the AFL-CIO’s web site at and clicking on “We Are One”.




    Why aren’t those in the Tea Party who are middle or working class railing against the inequities of America’s billion-dollar-a-year earners?

    That’s an implicit question that arises from reading the web site, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

    Hedge fund honchos bet on stocks. They bet on gold. They bet on lawsuits. Most of all, they bet that the rest of us will never wise up to the awesome giveaway our current tax code ladles on them.

    … hedge fund manager earnings have exploded spectacularly. The total compensation for the hedgie top 25 stood at $2.8 billion in 2003. This total quintupled over the next three years, to $14 billion in 2006, then soared to $22.3 billion in 2007, just before the financial industry meltdown.

    That unpleasantness did put a bit of a crimp into hedge fund rewards, but only for a moment. Last year’s hedge fund manager top 25 total: $22.03 billion. Six of last year’s top 25 pulled in over $1 billion each. America may not yet have recovered from the Great Recession. Hedge fund managers certainly have.

    Moreover, the mainstream media predominantly focuses on the message of politicians who are making draconian cuts to public services – including health care and food – and eliminating public jobs, which allows for those who essentially make fortunes through legalized financial gambling to rake in even more with reduced taxes.

    Thomas Frank posed the essential question in his prescient book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Why do so many members of the white middle and working class vociferously support candidates who advocate more tax cuts for the rich?

    Maybe it is because right-wing propaganda organizations funded by the wealthy (such as ALEC, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks) are so effective at diverting attention from economic inequality.

    Some might call it brainwashing.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout



    Yesterday’s BuzzFlash at Truthout commentary, “The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America’s Middle Class,” evoked a wave of comments by readers posting in threads on Facebook and elsewhere.

    As one BuzzFlash at Truthout follower pointed out, the wealthy and the Republicans denounce such commentary as “provoking class warfare” in order to provide cover for the class war that they are conducting in order to lay waste to the middle class and the poor. The ultimate goal, of course, is to accumulate more wealth in the portfolios of the already superwealthy.

    According to a spokesperson for a web site on income disparity, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality, the top one percent of Americans own 35.6 percent of the nation’s wealth, while 80 percent of Americans own only 12.8 percent of the wealth in the US. The other 19 percent – just below the top one percent – own the rest.

    In short, the latest figures available to Too Much reveal that the one percent of Americans at the top of the economic ladder own nearly three times as much as the 80 percent of Americans who make up fourth-fifths of the nation. Think about that for a moment. That is basically a third-world income gap. One BuzzFlash at Truthout reader called this “21st century feudalism.”

    Another commenter remained flummoxed about the gullibility of many in the shrinking middle class who support elected officials who cut services and wages for them, while making that top one percent even more disproportionately wealthy. He could only, in exasperation, conjecture that many in the middle class are “suffering from Stockholm Syndrome!”

    But one organization wrote, in response to “The Multi-Billion Dollar Brainwash of America’s Middle Class,” that the best action to counter this ominous propaganda coup by the likes of the Koch brothers, “would be for people to feel the anger of moral outrage, to speak out, and take to the streets. This, at long last, is what we see happening in Wisconsin, as those brave citizens repeatedly chant, ‘This is what democracy looks like!’ It is they who are challenging and inspiring us to reassert our American Creed.””

    If people can challenge corrupt governments and entrenched wealth in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere, then why not here, in the cradle of modern democracy?

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout


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