The Occasional Tendown September 16-29 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dear Internet:

By "low income" that means, for a family of four, $26,400 a year.  Just so we're clear.

Tax Policy Center Graphic

And by "47%" what we're really discussing is 18.1% of Americans not getting a tax deducted from their bi-weekly paycheck, just so we're more clear.

There's also sales tax and a tax on gasoline.  Not demonstrated by either chart.  Because clarity is important.

My favorite part of the Romney 47% soliloquy, well, there were two - there was the suggestion that he'd have a better chance to be President if he were Mexican, because some nice, gentle racism among millionaires is always fun - but my favorite part was the characterization that the 47% of Americans who don't pay federal income tax lack personal responsibility.

It's less that he shined a light on his own worldview; Romney pretty clearly takes whatever position is likely to curry favor with the audience to whom he's speaking, but it does give the temperature of the room.  Romney, with a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars, pays a lower rate of income tax than I do (my income approximates the amount those millionaires paid per plate to hear that Romney speech) and they all comfortably sat like the Congress of Vienna discussing how poor people (and I guess the elderly?) lack personal responsibility.

There's a disgusting show on the Food Network called Restaurant Stakeout, the premise of which is that the reason restaurants fail is busboys spend too much time on their smartphones.  The bellicose host constantly uses military language to discuss the way a restaurant staff should perform their duties, and when sub minimum wage workers don't view knowledge of some crappy strip mall menu as their most important responsibility, he'll snidely say "there's the American work force for you."

That's Romney in that room - except for that room, that busboy is half of the electorate.  What's the problem with the economy - all those lazy people just looking for a handout and wanting their handout giving President to dole it out.  That's the core belief.

And it doesn't matter that:

The average annual earnings of the top 1 percent of wage earners grew 156 percent from 1979 to 2007; for the top 0.1 percent they grew 362 percent (Mishel, Bivens, Gould, and Shierholz 2012). In contrast, earners in the 90th to 95th percentiles had wage growth of 34 percent, less than a tenth as much as those in the top 0.1 percent tier. Workers in the bottom 90 percent had the weakest wage growth, at 17 percent from 1979 to 2007.

And it doesn't matter that.

From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.

We work harder for less; it does not stop, it does not lessen, our lack of income growth hidden by access to credit - and by tax breaks - and like cartoon villains these evil sons of bitches sit and chuckle about our lack of personal responsibility over $50,000/plate dinners at the Boca Raton home of a private equity manager at whose Bridgehampton estate:

guests cavorted nude in the pool and performed sex acts, scantily dressed Russians danced on platforms and men twirled lit torches to a booming techno beat. 

Romney's not going to win, but the idea that enough of us buy that plutocratic rap that our economic lives are fundamentally dictated by handouts below and not that 725% growth in compensation above is gobsmackingly discouraging.

Tendown 140 is here. This is Tendown 141.

1. The Goddamn Plutocrats

One last thought on the Romney video - consider this piece.

If Romney and their ilk want to know why the rich bear such a large share of the nation's income tax burden to pay for "big government" these days, they should look at how they influenced big government precisely to serve their interests to concentrate wealth and income in ever fewer hands, to downgrade the middle and working classes, and to expand the ranks of the poor. As the rich never admit, they aren't really anti-government. They are for big government that serves elite interests and punishes the rest. When their so-called free market medicine – replete with giant doses of corporate welfare (the Pentagon System is a leading example) – impoverishes the rest of us (and enriches the few) so much that we rely on them like never before for the revenue to keep government running, they mock us for thinking (in accord with the quaintly idealistic Universal Declaration of Human Rights) that we are "entitled" to food, shelter, health care, clothing, and economic and social security We are instructed to stop our "dysfunctional" thinking about "Who Moved My Cheese,"[13] take a whiff of tough-love self-help smeller salts, and scurry on to sniff out new opportunities that don't actually exist under the rule of the nation's unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money and empire: "Take 'personal responsibility' for your fate in this world we made for you, or starve and die, you bothersome little mice-people![14] You have no right to government assistance – that is reserved for the rich and powerful, like everything else." It's a curious command from those who have become ever filthier rich thanks in great part to big government's role in serving and protecting the already well-off.

2. Meanwhile, in South Florida

When I can, I like to bring you some local stories that are almost certainly never going to get national attention, but are representative of a larger issue.

I personally know two people who were fired so that their employers could avoid contributing to their health insurance.  When you tie in health care to your work, not only does it give your employer the ability to treat you badly with the understanding that they control your access to doctors (this has happened to me) but if you use too much medical care, they can just let you go under another pretext.

Consider this story.

Told his kidneys were barely working, Martin Cupid had one thought: He wanted to keep his job.
Rather than spend his days tethered to a dialysis machine, the Boynton Beach man found a doctor who recommended a treatment that allows Cupid to cleanse his system himself. Committed to finding a more permanent solution, he applied to the Shands Transplant Center at the University of Florida, hoping to be put on a waiting list to receive a new kidney.
When Cupid told his bosses at the Sysco Corp. he had been approved for a transplant, they congratulated him. Three days later, however, they told him to clean out his desk — his job as night manager at the food distribution giant’s Riviera Beach plant was being eliminated.
“It was unbelievable,” the 32-year-old father of three said Monday. “After working there 10 years and giving so much. It was shocking.”

3. And now a few words from our Friends at Fox
Since last we spoke, something called "talk like a pirate day" occurred.

Yeah, I missed it too.  But the White House didn't, and they tweeted out a three year old picture of Obama with one of his speechwriters, dressed like a pirate.
Fox & Friends Falsely Accuses Obama of Snubbing Israeli Prime Minister to Meet with Man Dressed Like a Pirate

But, of course, here's what Fox "reported":

Fox & Friends, not known for being very thorough in their vetting of content, asserted that the photo was snapped yesterday, and, likely taking its cue from Drudge, claimed Obama preferred to meet with the pirate than with Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Thanks, Fox. You never disappoint.

4. Would You Like to Read an Oral History of Cheers?

Because you can.

5. The 67 Worst Sports Twitter Accounts

As accumulated by Deadspin.

14. Spencer Hawes (@spencerhawes00), Philadelphia 76ers center
Man who is rich because he won the genetic lottery is concerned about socialism ruining his country.

6. Sarah Silverman Fights Voter Suppression.
Which you can watch here.

7. Here's What Big Government Looks Like
A judge tells you to remove a Facebook comment - you refuse - you get locked up for contempt.

8. I Watch Graps
I've totally cleared my hard drive of the wrestling - here are the four star+ matches I've seen since last we spoke.

Punk v. Cena Sept WWE 4
Tanahashi v. Makabe July NJPW 4 1/4
Kotaro/Aoki v. Marvin/Crazy July NOAH 4 1/4
Generico v. Del Sol Sept Evolve 4

And the two best:
Morishima v. Go July NOAH 4 1/2
Ibushi v. Omega Aug DDT 5 - the current best match of 2012

9. Your 2012 NL West Champs

I guess this means a playoff preview will be coming up this week.

10. So, How Was Your Week?
Mine wasn't bad.

I turned 42 on Tuesday; I don't know how many 42 year old men you know who are both straight and never married.  But it's one fewer than you thought a half dozen words ago.

I got married on my birthday.

There have been worse years to be me; I got a job that allows me to stay home at a salary increase from my previous position - and, as anyone who has seen my bride (first time I've written that) would profess, I've significantly outkicked my coverage with this relationship.

I feel a level of fortunate that I can't express.

All that and playoff baseball.  Everything's comin' up Milhouse.

That's all for this time.  I'll be back next time...if there is a next time...

Your pal,


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