Posts Tagged ‘income inequality’

Michael Moore blasts corporate media

Filmmaker and adamant progressive Michael Moore is blasting the “corporate media” for focusing on scandalous and sensational stories such as the Russia investigation and President Donald Trump’s legal battle with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

The remarks came during a live town hall event about economic inequality that was organized by 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The event, which was live-streamed on Monday night, was viewed by more than 1.7 million viewers, according to the Huffington Post.

“You turn on the TV, and it’s ‘Russia, Russia, Russia!'” Moore said. Sanders chimed in, “And don’t forget Stormy Daniels!”

“These are all shiny keys to distract us,” Moore continued. “We should know about the West Virginia strike. What an inspiration that would be. But they don’t show this, Bernie, because, what would happen if they did?”

This sentiment from progressives has often been interpreted as a lack of care or concern for all things Russia-related. But they made it clear on Monday that wasn’t the case, and perhaps, offered a more sober perspective that looks further than just Trump.

“What I would say to our friends in the corporate media: Start paying attention to the reality of how many people in our country are struggling economically every single day, and talk about it,” Sanders advised. “In recent years, we have seen incredible growth in the number of billionaires, while 40 million Americans continue to live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.”

Sanders continued: “We have to fight Trump every day. But we have to not lose our vision as to where we want to go as a country. We can talk about the disastrous role Russia has played in trying to undermine American democracy. That is enormously important. But we also have to talk about the fact that we have the highest rate of child poverty in any major economy of the world.”

The two also made it clear whom the culprit for such a vast wealth gap may be. The nation’s three wealthiest men, Jeff Bezos Bill Gates and Warren Buffet were “singled out as contributing to the widening wealth gap,” The Guardian noted. Also named was the influential lobbyist group the American Legislative Exchange Council, and longtime major GOP donors Charles and David Koch, known as the Koch brothers.

Moore also warned of merely focusing on issues related to Trump, and not on factors that contributed to his electoral victory that look further than just the 2016 election.

“With that in mind, I want to make this clear,” Moore explained. “If we just get rid of Trump, and return to what it was like the day before Trump, how were things then? With healthcare? With poverty? We have to move forward. And we have to provide the leadership and vision to make that happen.”

Moore expressed the need to reach out to non-voters, and those who have chosen apathy in the past. “The biggest party is the non-voters’ party,” he said. “They aren’t going to vote, unless you give them a reason to vote.”

He continued, “It’s so important that we hold the people who say they’re for the people ― hold their feet to the fire! And if they’re not going to do the job they say they’re going to do, let’s get somebody else.”

The event was made available online via media outlets such as NowThis, The Young Turks and Act.tv., The Guardian noted. The British daily newspaper also acted as “media partner” for the event. Moore and Sanders were joined by other prominent progressives Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as economist Darrick Hamilton.

VIA

What if the federal government gave everyone a check, every month?

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk and Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg are among those who say universal basic income, or UBI, is a good idea. With inequality widening, the idea of an unconditional, periodic cash payment that the government makes to everyone has suddenly become a hot topic.

The idea is whether a person is unemployed or wealthy, a $1,000 monthly government check could replace all current welfare programs, including Social Security.

“I think it would theoretically be superior to the existing social welfare system,” Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told CNBC’s “On The Money” in an interview. “It would be more efficient. It would be more humane and it would be a lot less paternalistic.”

The robots are coming

The conversation about UBI has reached a crescendo as the workforce leans more heavily on technology. Nearly half of all U.S. jobs could be replaced by robots in the next decade or two, according to an Oxford University study.

Last November, Tesla’s Musk said there was “a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that,” as a rising number of workers lose jobs due to automation.

UBI supporters say the cash from the government could fund basic needs, like food and housing, freeing people up to find new jobs in the digital economy.

“A lot of people when they first hear this idea really like it,” said Jason Furman, former chief economic advisor to President Obama. That is, until you read the fine print.

“And then when you look at the details it turns out it just doesn’t work,” Furman explained to CNBC. “It costs two to three trillion dollars. You would need to double the current income tax to make it work.”

Furman, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, added that “the premise underlying it is wrong too. There’s going to be a lot of automation but there’s also going to be a lot of jobs and our focus should be on making sure people can get those jobs not giving up. And universal basic income represents giving up in the face of that challenge.”

Yet Tanner took aim at the current social safety net. He argued the current “social welfare system spends nearly one trillion dollars a year fighting poverty, and it doesn’t do a very good job of enabling people to rise and get out of poverty and to be in control of their lives.”

He added: “Looking for some new alternative for that is not a bad idea.”

The debate has been heightened by Europe’s experiments in providing UBI to citizens, which have had mixed results. Those experiments have amplified calls to try a similar approach in the U.S.

“Our current system is certainly imperfect, I don’t want to be the defender of the status quo,” said Furman. He cited research where current government anti-welfare programs “that invest in children” providing food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers are successful and “increase their mobility.”

Yet Furman added that “it’s too simplistic to say, just write everyone a check, let’s spend trillions of dollars doing that, rather than doing the hard work of trying to get the (government) programs right.”

Tanner countered that it’s hard to determine which federal programs are effective and which aren’t. “We have over a hundred different welfare programs all with different rules and regulations. They’re overseen by dozens of different agencies. Simplifying, consolidating and moving to cash would make a great deal of difference I think.”

So might a UBI program work in America? “We don’t have a lot of wide scale evidence yet there are a number of ongoing experiments in places like Finland, the Netherlands and Canada,” Tanner acknowledged.

Still, Furman doesn’t see UBI or the “rise of the robots” as coming anytime soon.

“Maybe 50 or 100 years from now we have enough robots to make everything and they can just hand the proceeds over to us,” the academic said. “But I’m trying to think in the scale of the next 10, 20, 30 years, (robots) are not going to take our jobs on any time scale that I’m capable of envisioning.”

Via

According to a report released by Oxfam, the disparity between the rich and poor is even more dramatic than previously thought. 8 men, the report says, control as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, or close to half the world’s population.

Oxfam cited Forbes’ March 2016 billionaires list to substantiate their claim. In order, the 8 men that control half the world’s wealth are Microsoft founder Bill Gates whose net worth is $75 billion; Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of Inditex; Warren Buffett; Carlos Slim Helu; Jeff Bezos of Amazon; Mark Zuckerberg; Oracle’s Larry Ellison; and Michael Bloomberg.

Oxfam warns that this kind of economic inequality will inevitably lead to more drastic and extreme political changes, like the United States’ election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, said, “It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day. Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; it is fracturing our societies and undermining democracy.”

Among the questions answered:
Is a Universal Basic Income necessary in today’s day and age? & How did this idea originate? …

Caught this Noam Chomsky documentary last night. Very revealing break-down on the attack on the middle class, public schools and unions…

Michael Moore’s new doc invading theaters February 12th…