You would never know it by talking to an imbecile dressed up in a tri-corner hat and calling himself a teabagger-- although they stopped calling themselves that when someone told them what it means-- but the establishment of an aristocracy of inherited wealth in this country is about as antithetical to what the American Revolution was all about as... unification with the United Kingdom. And yet decades of conservative policies and the Republican Party agenda has been based on exactly that-- establishing an American aristocracy of inherited wealth. Their aversion to an estate tax-- which the corporate media they own has successfully dubbed "the death tax"-- is a clear indication of their barely disguised intent. Last year Lexington took it up at The Economist.
With Thomas Jefferson taking the lead in the Virginia legislature in 1777, every Revolutionary state government abolished the laws of primogeniture and entail that had served to perpetuate the concentration of inherited property. Jefferson cited Adam Smith, the hero of free market capitalists everywhere, as the source of his conviction that (as Smith wrote, and Jefferson closely echoed in his own words), "A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural." Smith said: "There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death."
The states left no doubt that in taking this step they were giving expression to a basic and widely shared philosophical belief that equality of citizenship was impossible in a nation where inequality of wealth remained the rule. North Carolina's 1784 statute explained that by keeping large estates together for succeeding generations, the old system had served "only to raise the wealth and importance of particular families and individuals, giving them an unequal and undue influence in a republic" and promoting "contention and injustice." Abolishing aristocratic forms of inheritance would by contrast "tend to promote that equality of property which is of the spirit and principle of a genuine republic."
Others wanted to go much further; Thomas Paine, like Smith and Jefferson, made much of the idea that landed property itself was an affront to the natural right of each generation to the usufruct of the earth, and proposed a "ground rent"-- in fact an inheritance tax-- on property at the time it is conveyed at death, with the money so collected to be distributed to all citizens at age 21, "as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property."
Even stalwart members of the latter-day Republican Party, the representatives of business and inherited wealth, often emphatically embraced these tenets of economic equality in a democracy. I've mentioned Herbert Hoover's disdain for the "idle rich" and his strong support for breaking up large fortunes. Theodore Roosevelt, who was the first president to propose a steeply graduated tax on inheritances, was another: he declared that the transmission of large wealth to young men "does not do them any real service and is of great and genuine detriment to the community at large.''
· Reunify and make permanent the portability for spouses of the gift and estate tax exclusions;
· Restore the credit for state transfer taxes paid;
· Close loopholes in the asset valuation and minority discount rules;
· Provide for consistent basis reporting between estates and beneficiaries;
· Require a minimum 10-year period for grantor retained annuity trusts; and,
· Provide meaningful limits to the generation skipping transfer tax exemption.
MSNBC's Chris Hayes broke some news this morning. He obtained a memo from a DC lobbying firm spelling out a strategy to undermine Occupy Wall Street.[...]
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An impression of Bumble the Beadle is Newt Gingrich?s latest turn in a one-man show of Dickens impressions as he tells Harvard students that he wants to turn schools into workhouses by hiring poor kids as janitors:
"You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing...Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the schools.?
With his doughy countenance, Gingrich is ideally suited for the roles of Fagin, Pecksniff et al for Tea Party tastes that run to 19th century melodrama. (They loved Eric Cantor as Scrooge after Hurricane Irene, holding out for tax cuts to offset disaster relief.)
Gingrich, who now pronounces the Republican race as a contest between Mitt Romney and himself, crystalizes all of Victorian hypocrisy, with a 21st century correction for inflation?-a six-figure tab at Tiffany, a mid-campaign Greek cruise that prompted his now-returning staff to quit and, most recently, the $1.8 million he earned as a ?historian? consulting for Freddie Mac, the mortgage bank whose failures he now denounces Obama for.
Those Victorian critics who charged Charles Dickens with sentimentality and implausibility would be astonished at Gingrich?s new web site that lists a long string of accusations against him and explains them away.
Ever alert for a turn in political fortunes, even mainstream media are now joining in the Newtster?s self-rehabilitation as the Washington Post debunks ?aspects? of the story that he ?ended his first marriage by serving his wife with divorce papers while she lay in a hospital bed dying of cancer.?
By the next GOP debate, Newt Gingrich may show up dressed as Tiny Tim.
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As the deadline nears for the Congressional super committee to finalize a deal to address the nation’s deficit, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Republicans and Democrats on the committee will be unable to reach an accord. By now, the nature and cause of the impasse should be bitterly familiar to most Americans: Congressional Republicans refusal to consider both spending cuts and tax increases as a means to reduce the deficit. After insisting on an extension of the Bush tax rates for the wealthy — which alone will blow at least a $670 billion hole in the U.S. budget — and receiving an agreement from Democrats to cut nearly a trillion dollars in spending, Republicans have offered a paltry $300 billion in new revenue. At the same time, the top Republican on the committee has declared that every “penny” in additional revenue is a “step in the wrong direction.”
This dance should by now be familiar. This past summer, during the debt ceiling negotiations which produced the super committee, the Republicans nearly drove the country into financial default by refusing to allow tax rate increases even as they insisted that Democrats make up the difference in deficit reduction through trillions in destructive spending cuts. Indeed, Standard & Poors specifically cited the GOP’s intransigence on revenue raising when it downgraded the United States’ credit rating.
And before that, in a budget deal hammered out last December, Republicans established their ongoing theme by refusing to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for even the top brackets — at a cost of $133 billion, and benefiting a mere 4.8 million people.
ThinkProgress has compiled the video evidence of the GOP’s singular ongoing obsession. Watch it:
I don't know how to break it to you, but police brutality in the service of the one-percent has always been the institution's reason-for-being in the United States of America. One need only look at the history of the institution to arrive at the realization that fealty to the rich has been ingrained in the institution since it's inception. Just trace the arc as policing moved from a function of the community to a function of the state -- and that move was in service to rich people.
There has always been a mechanism for maintaining the status quo. We won't go all the way back to England and the middle ages and the evolution of policing from tythings and the tythingman that was charged with keeping order among his group of ten families in agrarian settlements.
In colonial America, the community was charged with policing itself, and the punishment was geared toward humiliation of the offender, employing methods like stocks, dunking stools and scarlet letters to shame to rule-breaker. But as cities grew and industrialization emerged, populations grew too large to be controlled by constables and community mores. This paralleled the emergence of the wealthy industrialist and political classes that desired protection from the masses they exploited in order to gain their wealth and power in the first place. This is what the textbooks refer to as the political era of policing and it emerged in the crowded urban centers of the northeast in the decade between 1830 and 1840, and uniformed police were the norm in every established urban center in the country by 1850.
From the outset they worked for the one percent, and private forces -- emphasis on "force" -- worked right along side the commissioned police officers of the era to break strikes and keep the rabble in line. Pinkertons, the favorite of the rich industrialist that wanted to -- ahem -- "discourage" unions from organizing famously called in the Pinkertons to bust heads along with unions, and in a pinch they could be counted on to offer false testimony against troublemakers so they could be dispatched on the gallows, under the color of law. The most infamous case of this was the breaking of the Pennsylvania Miner's Union in 1876. Twenty miners were accused of terrorism; allegedly for being members of the Molly Maguires, a militant Irish group. None were members, but the testimony of a Pinkerton agent got them sentenced to hang, and the negative publicity from the case effectively killed unionizing in Pennsylvania for two decades.
The so-called "tea party" was allowed to brandish weapons and hold up signs that proclaimed violence ("If Brown can't stop it, a Browning can" at an anti-healthcare-reform rally) because they were, in effect, demanding the status quo remain unchanged.
But every time the status quo is threatened, the police are deployed against the masses by their masters.
The pattern is clear and undeniable. We see it when we look at the unionization era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The massive violence against unions and working people -- the 99% -- is bookended by the Pennsylvania Miner's Union organizers I mentioned above and the Matewan Massacre in West Virginia in 1920, when the police joined the miners who were fighting back. When the smoke cleared and the dust settled, seven union-busting hired guns from the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency lay dead, including the two brothers who were in charge of the contingent; along with four townspeople, among them the mayor.
Matewan was the turning point. It also took the better part of five decades to arrive at that point, and the road went through Haymarket Square in Chicago and Ludlow, Colorado.
We saw the same sort of police violence directed at Suffragettes as we saw directed at unions. Why? What did these peaceful women do to deserve the brutality directed at them?
They threatened the status quo. They threatened the white, male power structure. If women were granted the vote and a say in how things were done, the power of the ruling class would be diluted.
We saw it in the sixties with the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement.
We see police brutality every time the status quo is threatened. And the 99%/Occupy Wall Street movement are a threat the likes of which the status quo hasn't faced in decades, if ever.
The fear of the 1% is evident in the violence they are eager to unleash their uniformed thugs to perpetrate.
And that is what underlies the bold and arrogant nature of the police as they attack protesters.
We saw it from the beginning when the white-shirt Tony Baloney maced women who were penned behind orange mesh and posing no threat.
We saw it in Oakland when police beat protesters...
...and fired rubber-covered bullets at them.
We saw it in Seattle last week.
And we saw it at UC Davis yesterday, when a so-called "public servant" walked down a row of peaceful protesters, who were no threat to anyone, they were sitting on the ground, for fucks sake, and sprayed them directly in the face with police-grade pepper spray...then something amazing happened:
After the blatant, criminal assault against peaceful American citizens -- who were committing no crime, merely exercising their First Amendment Right to peacably assemble and ask for redress of their grievances, the very citizens that had just been brutalized with chemical weapons encircled them chanting "shame on you" and "Whose University? Our University!"
But that's not the amazing part. The amazing part happens when they use the People's Mic to tell the police "We are willing to give you a brief moment of peace so that you may take your weapons and your friends and go. Please do not return."
And they do.
The police, who moments before had been pointing firearms at the students take their toys and go.
UPDATE: GMTA, I guess....My friend Imani (@AngryBlackLady) is on this, too, and she has the contact information for UC Davis. Including the police officer who busted out the pepper spray.
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Labor organization Working America has a launched a "Talk Turkey" campaign to encourage progressives, labor members and the 99 percent to talk to their families over the Thanksgiving holiday about the issues related to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rejecting the conventional wisdom that one shouldn't talk politics or religion at the holidays, Working America suggests that this is a perfect opportunity to help spread the message of the 99 percent and potentially convince relatives that they, too, are part of the 99 percent:
What's your favorite part of the holidays? Big meals? Mashed potatoes and gravy? Cranberry sauce? Sleeping off your meal over the big football game? How about those never-ending discussions with your family about everything from Dancing with the Stars to Congress?
Well, this holiday season, Working America invites you to embrace that quality family time as an opportunity to help Uncle Dave and Aunt Maggie make sense of what it means to be a part of the 99 percent. We're calling it "Turkey Talk."
How can you take on the "Turkey Talk" Holiday Family Challenge to talk with friends and family in a way that draws out the real issues? Here are some basic strategies and advice, along with some substantive facts and answers that will clear up myths, confusion or spin coming from the 1 percent.
Working America's 'Turkey Talk' website offers the following resources:
Here in Rhode Island, the littlest state in the nation, we don’t get to say we’re number one very often. But here’s our chance: right now it appears that we’re number one in the country for screwing the public sector worker out of long-term financial security. From the Associated Press:
Despite jeers and the threat of a lawsuit from public workers, Rhode Island lawmakers on Thursday night approved one of the most far-reaching overhauls to a public pension system in the nation.
The proposal is intended to save billions of dollars in future years by backing away from promised benefits to state and municipal workers in the state-run pension plan. Lawmakers called Thursday’s vote one of the most wrenching they’ve had to cast, though the fight may not be over if unions follow through with promised lawsuits.
When I look around the street I live on, which is a modest street in its home values, I see a lot of my neighbors who are going to be impacted by this. The cumulative loss of the additional cost-of-living increase might well cost some of these individuals their homes someday. These are teachers, administrative workers, and security workers for the state, just to name a few.
Treasurer Raimondo’s response for why EngageRI, the organization that supports her agenda, does not need to disclose its financial backers is because pension reform “benefits everyone.” This is just a bald-faced lie. A large percentage of our state’s workers just lost a big piece of long-term income security. They are now going to have to clamp down on spending and save more to fund their own retirements. These are people who will not be able to give to nonprofits or support that local band fundraiser or go out to eat but once in a blue moon to save the extra money.
If we want to benefit everyone, we need to take from those who have too much. The “too much” line in my mind gets drawn when we are talking millions and billions in income and assets. When enough people finally realize what is going on and the top 5% start to pay their share again, we might have enough money to rebuild our country. But by then, we may be too far gone.
Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer. Tonight is yet another gathering of GOP hopefuls: ?The Thanksgiving Family Forum.? Accepting the invitation were Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Perry, and Santorum. Romney[...]
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Children's Literature, I have to admit, is not my strong suit when it comes to bookselling. Oh, I'm acquainted with much of it, for sure. I read voraciously when I was child myself, and when our son came along, I rediscovered much of it. Not that I'm disparaging of KiddieLit; there are some fine authors and great stories out there, that go on beyond Zebra, and make it fun to have fun, though you have to know how. (Also some of the best book people I know are devoted to children's books). But since my maturity (or some would say my lack therof), I've tended to read books meant for adults.
But several years ago, I stumbled across the work of William Joyce. Specifically, I read his book Santa Calls and was enthralled by both his art and his story. Naturally, being the fine father I am, and with my son at an appropriate age, I brought Santa Calls home and read it to him many times. So when William Joyce produces a new book, I will read it, even if my son is no longer at a convenient age to be read to.
So I was excited when in the last month a new book by William Joyce was published. It is called The Man in the Moon (Atheneum $17.99) and it does not disappoint. It is a boldy illustrated tale, the first in a projected series Joyce is writing entitled The Guardians of Childhood. The book (and the other titles to come) explain the origins of some of our best loved symbols of childhood, like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The Man in the Moon, then, tells the tale of how the Man in the Moon got there, his parentage, his friend, Nightlight and nemesis, Pitch, who is aided by his henchmen, the Nightmare Men.
Joyce has a wonderful sense of what appeals to the young mind and it is no wonder that he has worked with Disney Studios and Pixar on many of their pictures, including Toy Story, as well as the PBS series George Shrinks. Even if you have no taste for children's stories, his illustrations are breath-taking and it is worth having this book and others by him just for the sheer beauty of them. And if you do have a young child in your life, I highly recommend you check out The Man in the Moon. That child will love it.
The Man in the Moon is available at Jackson Street Books and other fine independent bookstores throughout the land, and, perhaps, even on the moon itself. What are some of your favorite books of childhood?
With the U.S. economy stuck in a constant rut and Europe going into a tailspin, President Obama is looking to escape to the East. While the nations of the Asian Pacific rim face strains of their own, from massive inequality to climate change, their[...]
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