Stop the presses!
The President had a beer with a professor and a policeman! Why is it that I can't read these stories without this song going through my head?
Meanwhile, back in the American heartland, in the shining city on a hill, there is good news as the the latest minimum wage increase kicked in last week. The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 per hour (about $15,000 a year based on a 40 hr week) Of course some states don't even have minimum wage laws. About 13 percent of the population of the United States lives below the poverty line (set in 2001 at $18,000/year for a family of four).
There are about 45 million americans without health insurance of any kind and millions more with wholly inadequate insurance. Kids are dying of toothache because their family doesn't have the money to take them to a doctor. The current health care proposal in front of congress now is estimated to cost $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over the next ten years and some people oppose it because it would be funded by a one percent increase in income taxes for people making more than $200,000 a year. That's in addition to the roughly 3% income tax hike Obama already has proposed for the top tax bracket, bringing their tax rate to 38%.
Handing over 38% of your taxable income to the government sounds like a lot until I see stories like this:
Nine banks that received government aid money paid out bonuses of nearly $33 billion last year -- including more than $1 million apiece to nearly 5,000 employees -- despite huge losses that plunged the U.S. into economic turmoil.
Wall Street has shown little sign of slowing down the pay train this year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley recently disclosed that they have set aside $11 billion and $6 billion in compensation and benefits, respectively, for their employees so far this year. Goldman's second quarter was among its best ever. Morgan Stanley lost money for its third straight quarter.Goldman and Morgan Stanley declined to
comment on the report.Meanwhile, some big banks that received government bailouts, including Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., are offering handsome pay packages to lure stars. Citigroup -- which received about 25% of the aid going to the nine banks -- has the No. 1 pay recipient. Andrew Hall, who heads Citigroup's energy-trading unit Phibro LLC, received $98.9 million in 2008, according to a government official. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, by comparison, received more than $38 million last year."
Poor Vikram, he's the CEO and he has to struggle along on a paltry $38 million a year.
The U.S. government in the past year has spent about $1.8 trillion on bailing out and proping up the banking industry: $31.1 billion on bank takeovers, $117.9 billion on bailing out AIG, $1.4 trillion on Fed financial rescue efforts including the Bear Stearns bailout effort, $40 on the capital investment in Citigroup and Bank of America, $20.4 billion on the Capital Purchase Program to bail out banks, and another $5 billion in assest guarantees for BoA and Citi. This is money spent, not just money committed or earmarked for bailout programs - those numbers are even higher. And it doesn't include the more than $1 trillion spent on the GM bailout or the stimulus plan or the money spent on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and mortage relief for homeowner facing foreclose. Nope, that $1.8 trillion is just what has been forked over to shore up the banking industry. (figures from here)
And that's just the financial sector payoff. How about the military industrial complex?
They say if you aren't angry, then you aren't paying attention.
People often wonder why the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were so brutal. How could ordinary French peasants and townsfolk cheer to see people they formerly respected as their "social betters" being marched to guillotine? How could the Bolsheviks be so hardhearted as to machine-gun to death the Tsar and his family, even the young children?
I think I might understand it.