Poverty: Speak Differently, Think Differently, Act Differently

Excellent article from BillMoyers.com  because speaking and thinking about poverty differently will allow us to create different, more effective solutions for change.

Two main points that are the focus of the article:
1. “we need to stop talking about the economy in ways that make it seem like the weather. The economy is a result of the rules we create and the choices we make. The people who are struggling to make ends meet do so because we have built — through intentional choice — an economy that produces inadequate incomes for more than one-third of all Americans. So we need to have a real debate about what to do to build an economy that doesn’t produce such misery.”
2. Instead of saying “poverty” or “the poor” – which is abstract and no one identifies themselves this way – use terms from real experience “such as not being paid enough to cover the bills, making difficult trade offs between basic necessities, inadequate or irregular work hours or not being able to save for retirement or college. Then you have to quickly connect it to shared values. In our research, the most powerful value was family — not only do people identify family as a primary identity but it is the fear or reality of not being able to provide enough for family members that motivates people to get into the debate or take action. (emphasis mine)
To read the full article click:

My Health Insurance Makes Me Sick

HellmannsOliveOilMayoWow. Unbelievable. Today I received coupons in the mail from my health insurance provider –  Blue Cross Blue Shield. The coupons were for fat-loaded, sweetener-filled junk foods that should not be part of anyone’s healthy diet: Sweet Freedom Ice Cream Bars, Fudge Lites and Ice Cream, Weight Watchers Ice Cream Sandwiches,  C&H and Domino Sugar Blends and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil. Really?? I should be loading up my diet with sugary snacks, processed food and olive-oil-fat-filled mayo?

Why isn’t Blue Cross promoting healthy hummus instead of mayo? Or frozen vegie-fruit smoothies instead of ice cream junk food?

Because Blue Cross is in bed with big food corporations and the $$$ that mailing coupons for these corporations produces. Further, as a healthy person I don’t generate much income for health insurance companies (healthy people have lower premiums), health care services, or the drug industry. To increase their profit margins it is much better for me to be chronically sick, taking diabetes, blood pressure or cholesterol medications – ideally for the rest of my life.

How best to do this? Promote bad health, of course! Junk food coupons – here we come! Worse, I’m paying the cost for this unethical marketing with my insurance premiums.

Don’t assume your health insurance or health care providers are even remotely interested in maintaining your good health. Always ask, “Who benefits?”

You may also like Lunch To Go and Mango Delight.

Apple Dodges U.S. Taxes

AppleLogoWhy are we short of revenue to balance the national budget? Why can’t we collect enough in revenue to improve our schools, public transportation or health insurance? Because corporations like Apple dodge paying their fair share of U.S. income taxes (estimated in the Financial Times at $9 billion just for Apple alone). You and I pay our fair share – and it’s collected directly from our paychecks, right up front. Why not for Apple? Apple benefits from our national infrastructure including things like education, transportation, security, communications networks and more.

Instead Apple issues bonds thereby keeping billions off-shore where it won’t be taxed. In this way Apple externalizes the real cost of running their business onto individual taxpayers and communities – keeping bigger bonuses for Apple executives and bigger dividends for stock holders.

Tax evasion corporate-style.

All too often we worry about welfare programs for those made poor (of which the entire  program for low income individuals is relatively small) but prefer to remain oblivious to undeserved MASSIVE CORPORATE WELFARE worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

As consumers, we are morally culpable if we choose to do nothing. One can not be neutral. Either we demand that Apple, and all corporations, pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of using our infrastructure and resources or, in doing nothing, we actively demonstrate our belief that corporate shareholders and executives deserve to take steal wealth from us, our families and communities.

Read the entire Associated Press article here.

You may also like Wealth Inequality – Meet the Reality and Women and Children are Made Poor – By Men.

Obama’s Budget Throws Seniors Under the Bus

Photo IBTimes.com

Photo IBTimes.com

So it’s official – Obama’s budget proposal balances the Federal Budget by taking more money from Social Security than from the richest elites. Read the full NakedCapitalism post here. I emailed my congressional representative today and you should too. Here’s what I wrote:

 I WILL WORK to see that Franken is NOT re-elected if he supports ANY Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid cuts. 

After giving TRILLIONS (not billions)from the public purse in reduced overnight Fed funds rates and tax breaks to banks and the rich (since the 90’s), Obama has DONE NOTHING to claw back the TRILLIONS in corporate welfare handed out in the financial meltdown. 

We have seen clearly that handing money to the rich has NOT created jobs – rather millions of jobs have been lost. A strong middle class creates demand and jobs. 

Wake up!! Give a trillion (or two?) to support basic needs for our most vulnerable – women, children, elderly and the disabled. This  would then be a country I would want to live in.

Email your congressional representatives today. Don’t let Obama or congress balance the budget on the backs of seniors. Demand that massive corporate welfare be stopped in order to balance the budget.

Wealth Inequality – Meet the Reality

If you think you have a good idea about wealth distribution in the United States – watch this short video gone viral on Wealth Inequality in America and then tell me if your understanding squares with reality.

Likewise, read “Exceptional upward mobility in the United States is a myth.” Check the results of this new study from the University of Michigan here.

Lest you believe the often repeated – but false – meme “But the rich create jobs,” let me remind you that the rich have been subsidized with lowered income and capital gains tax rates since the mid-nineties and jobs have not been created. In fact, in subsidizing the rich with billions in government welfare (lowered income tax rates) millions of people have become unemployed.

The truth is that the rich do not create jobs. Merely having money does not cause one to start up a business. Rather, it is demand that motivates new business start-ups. Demand for goods and services creates jobs. A strong middle class, therefore, stimulates demand and in doing so creates jobs.

You may also be surprised to know that small business owners are the largest employers of our economy – not big corporations. Helping the middle class helps them expand and create jobs.

If you want a healthy, job-creating economy, support tax policies that provide basic necessities for those who are vulnerable (mostly women and children) and strengthen our middle class. Eliminate massive government welfare for the rich and corporations inherent in income and capital gains tax subsidies.

How to do this? You may also like Eliminate Capital Gains Tax Subsidy and Time to Tax Wall Street.