Poverty By Design – It’s No Accident

Poverty_By_Design_Headerby Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

Poverty By Design – It’s Not An Accident

The poor define the middle class. The middle class define the wealthy. When social class becomes more important than the recognition of our common humanity, the upper classes will embrace policies that increase class differences.  ~Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

The stratification of society inevitably leads to the stagnation of progress. Human genius and innovation are random blessings bestowed without regard to race, creed, gender or social standing. Thus, when the poor are excluded from educational opportunity, or the quality of the education made available to them is substandard, society has effectively cut itself off from access to the most powerful resource on this planet, the human mind.

When you examine history, the Renaissance, Industrial Revolutions and rapid technological advancement have always been marked by a collapse in stratification of the societies in which they occurred. If you look at the most modern and advanced societies in existence today, they are the ones in which the most freedom and social mobility exists.

Poverty By Design - Walled Enclaves

The wealthy will live in enclaves, the poor in squalor.

Repression of the people may protect the wealth and power of the aristocracy. However, it also leads to a dystopian society where the wealthy live in walled enclaves and the majority of the people live in squalor. The energy which would be directed toward communal advancement is turned to maintaining the status quo. This continues until a critical mass is reached and and total societal collapse occurs.

We are well down the path to a dystopian future unless we change course immediately. While the masses have slept, lulled by the illusion of equal opportunity, the wealthy have worked to enact laws to maintain their power and control. Our tax laws have been written to nearly exempt them from taxation. Loopholes allowing offshore accounts and tax havens have allowed them to profit from the labor of the working class without reinvestment of that wealth back into our society.

Opportunity is gradually being reduced like an ever tightening noose. To be considered for gainful employment, you need a college degree. The cost of college tuition is rising faster than the economy is growing. In order to pay for college, those who were not born wealthy must incur the debt of student loans, with no guarantee of employment upon graduation.

Poverty By Design - Overcrowded PrisonInner city schools are being de-funded and closed. Most children successfully completing our public education system, find themselves unprepared to pass college entrance exams. While they’re de-funding inner city schools they are funding prisons. In fact, prisons are a growth industry. More and more goods and services are now being produced with prison labor. Prisons have become the new plantations.

Connecting The Dots

Most of the wealth of the middle class was in their pension funds, 401k and in their homes. Remember Enron? Remember WorldCom? Those were the big ones. These companies were looted by their executives. However, what many people – those who’s 401k’s were not heavily invested in these companies – missed, was the 100’s of thousands of people who saw their retirement savings vanish virtually overnight.

The next big hit was the collapse of the real estate market. The family home was the bank account for the middle class. If all else failed, they could look to their equity in their homes to see them through hard times. The family home was the vehicle for the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. When the real estate bubble burst and the housing market collapsed, people who had built up equity saw that equity evaporate leaving many of them upside down. Many lost their homes.

Poverty By Design - Reverse Mortgage

Fred Thompson for AAG. Separating people from their wealth.

You cannot watch television for any length of time without seeing a commercial for “Reverse Mortgages.” If you survived the collapse of the real estate market, a reverse mortgage might seem attractive. However, what they’re not telling you is, a reverse mortgage prevents you from transferring the wealth you’ve built up in your home to the next generation. When you leave your home – read die – the bank acquires your home… unless your children want to apply for a mortgage and pay the bank back at interest rates that more than compensate them for whatever they paid you.

These are not coincidences. This is a well planned strategy for the stratification of our society. The only question is, how many of these things have to fall into place before we wake up? This is poverty by design, and it’s no accident!


Should we tax churches?

A Crystal Cathedral?

by Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment – U.S. Constitution

From this “Amendment” the entire doctrine of the separation between Church and State is drawn. Read it carefully. It says nothing about taxation. It also mentions the “Press.” If one may infer a tax exempt status for Churches, based on this Amendment, Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times et al, should also get in line for their tax exempt statuses.

Historically, churches being exempt from taxation goes all the way back to the Roman Emperor Constantine. Following his conversion to Christianity it is said he exempted all Christian churches from taxation. This practice continued through the middle ages largely because it was believed the work churches did in caring for the poor and needy relieved the burden on the government. Back then, this was probably a valid assumption.

From the founding of this Nation, churches were not taxed and received a formal exemption from taxation in 1894. Prior to this no less than three Presidents, Madison, Garfield and Grant had called for taxing churches pointing out that by the early 1900’s these tax exemptions had cost the American taxpayer 1 billion dollars. Imagine what that has grown to today.

When people and institutions do not pay their fare share, be they the 1% or multi-billion dollar, international corporations like GE, the taxpayer is footing the costs. The common roads, the infrastructure, emergency services are not free. The taxes these institutions are not paying get defrayed amongst those who are paying. Put another way, your taxes are increased by some percentage because of loopholes, tax evasion or unmerited tax exemptions our government grants to various institutions.

[KJV] Philippians 2:7 
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

When it comes to churches, things have gotten out of hand. Rather

Paula White’s Rolls Royce in front of her Italian home

than following in the footsteps of Jesus, pastors are emulating the titans of corporate greed. They do not measure their success by how many people they help or how many lives they make better, wealth = success. Not just wealth, but conspicuous wealth. As a rule, Americans have no problem with wealth. If you’ve been extremely successful financially, more power to you. However, how you make that wealth does make a difference.  For instance, we have no problem with the financial success of a Bill Gates, a Warren Buffett or a Steve Jobs. However, we do take issue with the head of a Columbian drug cartel’s opulent lifestyle. Why? Because he makes his wealth off the misery, death and destruction of people who are addicted to a product that is killing them and destroying their lives and the communities in which they live.

Coronation of Eddie Long

But preachers are not drug dealers! Let’s examine this. Religion has indeed become a product which is being marketed to the public. Like insurance, it is sold to you as an “Eternal Assurance Policy.” It is an intangible product. You cannot touch it, taste it or smell it. It makes you feel a certain way to be sure. However, you do not know if what you’ve paid for is real until after you die. No customer has ever been able to return and ask for a refund. Not from any church. Not from any denomination. They cannot all be right. Thus, some groups must be in error and those who embraced those faiths surely must have gotten their feelings hurt once they crossed into the afterlife. Everybody cannot be right. Somebody has to be wrong. If everybody is right, What’s the point in having different denominations?

While there are faith based charitable organizations that actually do

make a difference such as, “The Salvation Army,” “World Vision,”

Creflo Dollar’s Private Jet

“Bread for the World,” compared to proliferation of “mega-Churches,” these organizations are a drop in the bucket. Mega-Churches and their pastors have become profit driven silos of greed. If the pastor has a Rolls Royce… or two, a private jet, a multi-million dollar estate, I’m going to want to see an even greater investment in programs designed to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and care for the sick.

One of Paula White’s Homes

When the housing market was in full meltdown mode and home foreclosures were spiralling out of control. The members of these mega-churches were hit as hard as everyone else. You did not hear any news stories suggesting that those who tithed, donated and supported the lavish lifestyles of their pastors were somehow blessed or exempt from the economic chaos facing secular society. Something else you did not hear was, how any of these mega-churches came to the rescue of their struggling parishioners. You did not hear about churches stepping up to help those who’d donated thousands of dollars over the years, keep their homes.  If these wealthy mega-churches did not rise to the occasion and help their own members, what type of commitment do they have to social programs that feed, clothe and shelter those who are unable to donate to their operations?

Separation is a two-way street

“Good fences make good neighbours.” __Robert Frost

If you don’t want me getting into your business, stay the hell out of mine! Over the past few decades we’ve seen an exponential growth in church activism. No longer is it enough for them to preach and promote their doctrines to their congregations or to those who choose to tune into them over the airwaves. Now they are bent on seizing the legislative power of government to force people who do not subscribe to their views, to live by those views. Now we have a problem.

They tested the water years ago with what are known as “blue laws.” In many States across this nation you cannot buy liquor on Sundays. The secular public has by and large accommodated this nonsense. We just buy our liquor on Saturday. Annoying? Yes, but in most places, not annoying enough to mount a campaign to change the law. Emboldened by the apparent apathy of secular society they’ve now decided to flex their muscles and  not just weigh in on various issues, but are donating money and motivating their parishioners to take sometimes violent action in an effort to force society to conform to church dogma.

Murdered in Church

While one might argue that church membership makes a prima facie case for mental instability, certainly telling unstable parishioners that doctors who perform abortions are murderers is tantamount to loading the gun, putting it in their hand and pointing them in the direction of the nearest abortion services clinic with a blessing from God. Once reason and rationality is replaced with self-righteous faith, the surrealistic irony cannot be grasped by the misguided missiles they’ve released. If abortion is murder and murder is forbidden by God, then murdering an abortion provider makes you just as deserving of God’s judgement as the person you’re murdering.

There is also the oxymoron of promoting an omnipotent God who is involved in all aspects of human affairs but whom for some reason needs and requires human beings to do his dirty work. If God wants someone dead, why does he need me, you or anyone else to kill them for him? Couldn’t God simply take their next breath? Their next heartbeat? How is this any different than some radical Islamic Imam convincing his followers to strap on a bomb vest and go detonate themselves so they can enter paradise? If the Imam truly believed his message, he wouldn’t be present to deliver it because he would have already blown himself into paradise.

Mormons rally against Prop-8

Abortion is not the only issue churches want to weigh in on. They also have taken an issue with what we do in the privacy of our homes and in our private relationships. Irony of ironies the Mormon church actually donated millions of dollars to defeat “Prop-8” in California. A group who’s hallmark was redefining “Marriage” fought tooth and fang to prevent the redefining of marriage. It is difficult to imagine the level of delusion necessary to make sense of group who’s very tenets of faith originally taught that men must have multiple wives in order to enter heaven, forming their mouths to defend “traditional marriage.” Surely their lips must have split!

It is one thing to promote the tenets of one’s faith to those who have embraced that faith. It is quite another to mobilize and attempt to enact laws to force the rest of society to conform to your particular brand of religion.

Christian Terrorism

Terry Jones promoting burning of Qur’ans

What happens when promoting your twisted theology causes the deaths of American Service Personnel? In 2010 Nit-Wit Florida pastor Terry Jones thought it would be a dandy idea to promote what he called, “Burn a Qur’an Day.” Because – possibly by design – this message made it on to YouTube and around the Internet, it was eventually seen in Islamic countries where American forces are stationed. As you might expect, Muslim fundamentalist were not too pleased with this idea. The result? Embassies were attacked and people died. 20 in just one attack in Afghanistan. Good idea? Not if your son or daughter is currently stationed over there.

How much did this cost the U.S. Taxpayer? I do not know. If it was your child that got killed because of this, what price would you place on his or her life? Security at American Embassies had to be increased. Battle groups were moved into the area. Air support was increased and you and I had to foot the bill through increased taxes. Didn’t notice your taxes go up? When money is directed away from the services you are receiving, you’re getting less for what you’ve paid. This amounts to an increase in the cost of what you’re paying for.

Children being raised to hate

If this weren’t enough, to add insult to injury – literally – upon trying to bury our sons and daughters who gave their last measure of devotion, families have had to contend with the shenanigans of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church. They literally bussed people to the graveside services of our fallen soldiers to picket the ceremonies by hurling such epithets as “God Hates Fags” and “We’re Glad Your Dead.” Of course the sexual orientation of the fallen is never considered. Doesn’t matter that our dead sons and daughters were straight. The fact they serve in our military which – through no fault of their own – no longer discriminates on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation, is enough. If you don’t hate “Fags” as much as Fred Phelps, you’re just as guilty and on your way to hell too!

Church and taxation – the facts

When we exempt churches from paying taxes, we the taxpayers are

Creflo Dollar’s Estate

giving them free money. We have done this under the aegis that they would use these benefits for the betterment of society and in fulfilling the philosophical mission of the historical Jesus. Clearly this has not been the case. Not only have they grown fat from the largesse of the  American tax payer, they are now using this wealth to socially engineer society back to the medieval period we refer to as the “Dark Ages.”

Not long ago I had a preacher tell me to “stay in my lane.” I promptly informed her that as a devout Agnostic I have no lane. Clearly she had forgotten we were not in her church and she was not in her pulpit. What had led to our interaction was her spouting her inability to vote for President Obama because of religious reasons. She didn’t like the fact that he was not willing to break his oath to uphold the Constitution and thought he ought to ban abortions by an “executive order.”

Of course the fact that the other candidate is a bishop in a church that teaches that God has endless celestial sex with his thousands of wives, made her no never mind. The belief that Jesus and Lucifer are brothers? Hardly even a speed bump. When I pointed out these flagrant contradictions to the faith she claims to hold, she quickly switched to the “Gay Marriage” issue. She is not an unintelligent woman which is why I did not let her off the hook. We are not electing the titular head of a religious institution. The United States is not a theocracy. Although the President when taking the “Oath of Office” placed his hand atop a Bible, he did so while affirming his obligation to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Provision in the Constitution ensure equal rights and equal protections under our laws. There are no exceptions for race, creed, gender or sexual orientation. These people will cry loudly and spare not when it comes to the evils and corruption of our government yet in the same breath want our government to intrude it’s self into our most intimate and private moments.

It was not lost on me that this was one of those pastors who owns a $200 thousand dollar automobile and resides in a multi-million dollar estate. It was then I had my epiphany! She was not voting her religious convictions, she was voting her own economic interests. Understandable except for the part where she was using her office to persuade others barely scraping by, to vote in lock step with her under the guise of the issues being religious in nature.

We take a dim view of this type of behaviour which is why official political commercials always have the phrase, “I (candidate’s name) approve of this message.” This is to let those hearing the commercial know who is behind the commercial and what their biases may be. If churches want to get involved in government, they need to stop pretending and pay their taxes like every other institution.

I’ll be fair. If they can show conclusively that they’ve given to their communities in actual dollar value the amount they would be assessed in taxes, we can allow them to write off those taxes against their contributions. I suspect we won’t have nearly as many oversized, expensive churches surrounding by low income housing.

The End of America?

Empires won by conquest have always fallen either by revolt within or by defeat by a rival. __John Boyd Orr

by Benjamin T. Moore, Jr.

236 years ago this nation was formed. It was an experiment in a blended form of government heretofore unknown in recorded human history. There had been democracies as far back as the Grecian empire. There had also been republics. The “Roman Empire” was such. However, there had not really been a form of government that combined the two and wrapped them with the strict set of rules today we refer to as our Constitution.

A lot of thought went into constructing our Constitutional Republic. The problem with a Republic is, you’ve merely distributed the power of a King amongst wealthy plutocrats. Although a plutocracy may engage in enlightened debate marked by continuous disagreement, you could always be certain they would all agree on what was in their own best interest. Thus whatever decisions they would come to would always be those decisions that maintained their power, often at the expense of what was best for the masses of people they ruled over.

How about a Democracy? A Democracy is good as long as you’re a member of whichever group is in the majority. The “Founding Fathers” remembered the religious persecution that caused immigrants to flee Europe, risk a long, arduous and dangerous ocean voyage for the mere chance at a better life in a wilderness land.

A democratically elected, constitutional republic seemed to be the best of both worlds. No Kings to establish dynasties. The efficiency of a Republic. The fairness of a Democracy bound by the protections of a Constitution which placed strict limits on governmental powers. In truth, with only a few hiccups along the way, we’ve done pretty well.

The problem with any system is always the human element. No matter how noble the intent, over time corrupting influences will emerge to alter and wrest that original intent for selfish purpose. You need but examine any institution that has been around for any period of time to see it’s evolution into decay. One of the best examples of this are religious institutions. Once they existed to better the human condition. Now they are little more than profit driven silos of power. They’ve gone from amassing fortunes to seeking to wield political power. “Separation of Church and Sate” be damned!

Our educational institutions have also fallen to corruption. It used to be a diploma from certain institutions actually meant something. Attending those institutions taught you how to think. Now you’re taught what to think. Instead of turning out men and women equipped to invent the future, they now turn out cookie cutter drones good for nothing better than working in a corporate hive. Should any one of them actually invent something, it becomes the property of the corporation. Thus, invention is suppressed. The progress of humanity is impeded because control and profit have become more important than progress and advancement.

The primary instrument of our demise has been economic greed. We have allowed ourselves to be deluded into believing that economic systems have some moral attributions exceeding the effectiveness of their applicable functionalities. There is nothing inherently good or evil in Capitalism, Communism or Socialism. These are merely economic philosophies. These are tools used to provide a monetary system for the benefit of the societies that use them.

Ask the average American and they’ll tell you that Capitalism is good and Communism is evil. What’s worse, they will irrationally attach the attribution of evil to any society using Communism as their monetary system. Those with a smattering of historical knowledge may point to various war atrocities which occurred under some regime using Communism. If you ask them to explain exactly what Communism is, you’ll usually find their silence deafening. Ironically they seem to forget that Nazi Germany was not Communist.

Whenever you see such irrationality surrounding what is actually a neutral economic philosophy, one must ask whom is promoting these feelings? Whom continues to stoke these fires? To what end? Communism is not a form of government. Yes, I know that dictionaries will say that it is. However, if you compare the definitions of Communism and Socialism you’ll see they are actually identical. The differences are really in the terms used to describe the governmental agency used to control the distribution of the common wealth.

Capitalism is defined as the wealth being owned and controlled by private agencies and individuals. In practice however, we have corporations who’s wealth exceeds the economies of small nations. Their boards of directors are in effect governments who hoard the wealth for those at the top and exploit the workers at the bottom.

The only reason Capitalism continues to exist is, those in power have been successful – they should be, lord knows they spend enough money on propaganda – in convincing the masses that they might one day earn a seat at the table. This is exploiting the same mentality that causes people to buy lottery tickets every week.

How is Capitalism working out for us? Let’s look at a few examples. I remember when “broad band” Internet access first became available in my area. I have been “on-line” since the early 90’s. When I first got on-line, there was Compuserve and AOL. The Internet existed but was primarily the province of research institutions and the government. Everybody else used an interconnecting series of Computer Bulletin Boards known as BBS. These bulletin board services would exchange packets of mail once or twice a day using telephone land-lines and a modem through a series of “nodes” known as “Fidonet.”

You could only communicate instantly with other users in your community who happened to be on the same “Bulletin Board” as you were, at the same time. When “Broad Band” came to my area it was provided by a company called, “@Home.” The speeds were blindingly fast. Actually faster than what they are today. They had partnered with local Cable Television providers to bring their service into our homes. The rates were attractively inexpensive and I was so impressed, I couldn’t have been happier than a fat man at a free smorgasbord! Unfortunately, my joy was to be short lived.

Comcast – may their villainous tribe decrease – began buying stock in @Home. They bought enough stock such that they were able to control the direction of the company through their votes on the board. They actually voted down decisions that would have made @Home more profitable and voted into place policies that crippled @Home and eventually led to it’s demise. Once it was weak enough, Comcast made them an offer they could no longer afford to refuse and bought them out. Like a “Trojan Horse” they infiltrated @Home, poisoned them and took them over.

In rapid succession I received two notices. The first informing me that Comcast had acquired @Home and my billing would now be coming from them. The second informing me that the speed of my connection was being cut in half. Note, my bill wasn’t decreasing to reflect this diminution in service. I would continue to pay the same price but I would be receiving less. How do you like them apples?!?

Had @Home asked me, I might have warned them about what was coming. I had an interesting experience with Comcast a few years earlier. This was back when Cable was only 40 or so channels and nobody had conceived of HDTV. Our Cable bill had started out around $25 per month. We looked up one day and it had crept up to $60 a month. We hadn’t added anything, however – as I’m sure everyone who is a Comcast customer knows – Comcast had been adding in little hidden charges and hidden fees, minor price increases the results of which were, one fine day, my wife and I said enough and decided to look for other options. Because of “franchising agreements” with the City, Time-Warner couldn’t compete in Comcast’s area – outside 465 – and Comcast couldn’t provide service in Time-Warner’s area – inside 465. So much for competition benefiting the consumer.

At that time, there was a company providing Satellite TV service known as “PrimeStar.” Some of you may recall them? I opened my “Yellow Pages,” located their number and gave them a call. How bad could it be? The lady that answered the phone said, “PrimeStar, how may I help you?” I told her briefly what my issues were. I vented a little about my disgust with Comcast, then she said something that simply stunned me! She said, “well let me look at your service and see what I can do.” What? The Hell you say??? “Oh, PrimeStar contracted with Comcast to do their installations. From what I’m looking at, you’re entitled to some promotions and new pricing plans that should drastically cut your bill…. yes, we can get your bill back down to $30 dollars.”

Needless to say, PrimeStar is no longer in existence. That’s Capitalism you say? Shrewd business practices in a competitive market? Perhaps, but what about all the employees of @Home and PrimeStar who lost their jobs, their health insurance and a substantial portion of their pensions… if they were able to negotiate any of their pension funds? Collateral damage? Perhaps…

Because what we have are in essence monopolies working in collusion, there are very few companies providing Internet service to the citizens of this country. Unless these companies can rape… er, I mean, make the profit margins they wish, there are many rural communities who do not have broad band internet service. Did you know that our Internet speeds in the United States are 5 to 6 times slower than many places in Europe? France immediately comes to mind. Yes, some of it has to do with fiber-optic lines, but much of it is due to throttling that goes on at the Cable Companies. Why? Because for a few dollars more, they will sell you a tiered service with much faster speeds. Almost as fast or perhaps even a little bit faster than what @Home was bringing us for less than half the cost… and this was before fiber-optic lines!

I Will Never Buy an Apple Product Again!

One of the reasons I originally went with Microsoft for my computer system, had a lot to do with Apple blocking and prohibiting access to many features allowing users to tweak their operating system. You could only use Apple monitors, printers and their own peripherals. Thus, if Okidata had a printer that did what you wanted for half the cost of the Apple offering, you were shucks out of luck! They did get me on their iPhone however. Primarily because at that time, it was really the only “SmartPhone” available that made the Internet truly usable on a cellphone.

I was elated when I first got it. I set up my e-mail accounts, began saving my “favorites” in the web browser and I began taking pictures. It was then I noticed a problem. The first iPhone would not take videos. Really??? For those of you who do not know, the same lens that will take a “still picture” will take a video with equal ease. It is simply a matter of software. In point of fact, an entire underground counter-culture industry has sprung up “jail-breaking” iPhones. There was a 3rd party application that could turn the “still-camera” in the first iPhones into video cameras. So, why didn’t Apple think to make the camera on their well thought out iPhone a video camera? Because three months later, there were suckers waiting in line over night to get the next version of their iPhone for a slightly higher price. Of course it came with video capability.

They were gouging their customers by the incremental release of technologies they already had sitting on their shelves. Rather than produce the best product they were capable of, and then bettering themselves on their next big “reveal,” they chose instead to sell a substandard product and turn an extra dollar from a gullible, naive public. Capitalism? Shrewd business marketing? To be sure. However, it is also a hidden redistribution of wealth from people with way too little of it to people with way too much of it. Why do I say this? When you’re not getting what you’re paying for? You’re being ripped off. The difference in features between the iPhone I purchased and the new one that came out 3 months later, were not sufficient to justify the cost of an entirely new phone. I gladly would have paid $50 to $60 extra for the features which probably cost less than $10 to include. Paying $199 for a brand new phone, is a scam.

In 2005 we built a brand new 6,400 sq ft. home. We built it out of brick and spared no expense within our financial means at that time. We took our time and carefully selected the very best appliances available to our knowledge at that time. No, we didn’t buy Viking for our kitchen. We don’t have it like that… but we didn’t short change our appliances either. Our home has two high efficiency furnaces, one for the downstairs and one for the upstairs. We also have two hot water heaters. We selected A.O. Smith “Power Shots” because they had a good name. Since 2006 – when we took possession of our home – I’m on my 3rd water heater. Why? Yes, we have well water. However, we have a high end whole house filter as well as a water softener which we maintain.

What goes out on the water heater? The “thermo-coupler.” This is the control module which by the way, never comes into contact with the water. A.O. Smith has replaced at least 4 of them under warranty. They’re about $350 each. However, the warranty does not cover the labor involved to swap them out. Each time the plumber comes out, it costs $170. Growing up, we had water heaters that worked flawlessly and lasted 15 – 20 years. How can this be? Did they suddenly forget how to build reliable water heaters? Of course not! There is more money involved in fixing, repairing and supplying parts than there is in actually building and selling a solid product. This is why cars are stolen. Your car is worth over 3 times what you paid for it in parts. I’ve actually considered buying a brand new car and making a deal with someone to simply take it apart piece by piece and sell the parts on eBay. I’d make enough to pay the car off and buy another one free and clear. Yes it would take time and be a hassle, but the reason this is even possible is because the automotive industry, years ago figured out they’d make more money from people trading in their cars every 3 or so years and buying new ones.

It wasn’t enough changing the styles. The consumer needed a little extra incentive so they built them to start wearing out after 3 years. The backlash was, people began buying foreign cars. This is why German, Japanese, Korean, British cars and others are being sold here today. People simply got tired of being nickel and dimed repairing or replacing their cars every 3 years. Detroit left an opening that foreign companies rushed into fill. Capitalism? To be sure. However, the upshot was/is that American dollars have been flowing into the coffers of business and governments that are not truly Capitalist. If you worship at the shrine of Capitalism, why are you funding the governments of countries that practice Socialism and in some cases Communism?

Bottom line? The pursuit of profit under the aegis of Capitalism has caused the American consumer to fund and pay for the resources of nations who seek our demise. Who cares? So long as somebody makes a profit right?

Corporate Parasites – It Cost More To Live When You’re Poor

Businesses and Corporations actually budget, counting on your late fees. What’s worse, they now employ strategies to maximize these fees. Case in point. Like you, I have several Credit Cards. “BankAmericard” is one. “DiscoverCard” is another. I single these two out because of a particularly nasty little trick they tried to play. Like many people, we use “Quicken” to manage our finances. We have Quicken set to remind us when some payments are due and to actually pay others. One of these credit cards was due on the 1st of the month, the other was due on the 15th of the month. For several years, all was good. Every bill was automatically paid on time. No late fees. No issues.

Then one month, we got a notice of a late payment fee. When we looked into it, we discovered that “BankAmericard” had unilaterally changed the payment due date to 5 days ahead of schedule. This caused us a late payment fee. Because we paid as scheduled, we were not 30 days late and it did not impact our credit score. Not a problem, we simply went into Quicken and adjusted the payment trigger to the new date. A few months later, we got another notice of late payment. This was from “DiscoverCard.” They had done the exact same thing. Over the next 6 months, both “BankAmericard and DiscoverCard” did the exact same thing… AGAIN!

What made this possible? Banking deregulation! After President Obama’s administration put regulations back in place, this became illegal. My wife who works in the Banking Industry knows the law. When they tried it again, she called them up and cited the law which says they cannot arbitrarily change payment due dates. Here’s the tip off. The person who answered the phone acknowledged this law and apologized and set the dates back to what they were originally.

 Have they stopped this practice? Of course not. If you are not aware of the changes in the law, it’s business as usual. Look at it this way. Suppose you were caught shoplifting a few steaks to feed your family. You get caught by store security as you’re about to exit the store. Would you be allowed to say, “Oh, my bad! I’ll put them back. No harm, no foul?” Of course not. You’re going to be charged. Yet, these large corporations are in essence shoplifting from the pockets of their customers. If you don’t call them on it, they get away clean. If you do catch them they simply stop. They do not refund all the fees from the times they robbed your previously. That’s just water under the bridge.

Most people get paid around the 1st and or the 15th of the month. Thus, it would make sense for your payments to be scheduled around those dates. This would also work for people who are paid weekly. When companies structure their payment due dates away from these times there is a reason. That reason is it maximizes the probability of late fees. If everybody paid their bills on time, these companies would take a hit to their revenue streams.

Socializing Cost While Privatizing Profits

There is an excellent book by David Cay Johnston called “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind.” How does your State or City attract a new manufacturing plant or a Sports Team? They offer the inducement of tax incentives. They’ll build the stadium or they’ll give them an abatement in State taxes to build their plant. When this happens, who is actually paying for this? The money isn’t coming out of thin air. You the taxpayer is footing the bill. When a corporation is given tax abatements to build that new manufacturing plant, yes they’re bringing jobs to your community. However, not only are they not going to have to pay State taxes – the taxes that build and maintain the infrastructure they’re going to be using – oft times they will not have to pay State taxes on their employees. They will still collect – take those taxes out of the pay checks of their employees – but they will pocket that money.

This is money that will not go to schools, fire and police departments, first responders, teachers, road maintenance and all the things that make our communities the places we like to live. Nobody asks the question, “how many jobs would a corporation have to provide before the benefits they provide would justify the costs to the taxpayers?” Politicians won’t ask because the photo-op of them cutting the tape for the opening of a new plant is good for votes.

The Oil Industry is the most profitable industry on the planet. Yet, we subsidize them each year to the tune of billions of dollars. Why? The problem is simple. Corporations have bought our elections and they’ve bought our elected officials. They are using the money they’re plucking from your pockets, your pension funds and your children’s college funds to build the prison they’re confining you in. You are paying for your own enslavement.

Blood Money

Whenever you hear the President or some other political leader use the phrase, “protecting American Interests,” you need to understand what they’re saying. They’re rarely if ever talking about what is in the best interest of you and your family. They’re talking about the interests of one or more corporations. We have sacrificed our treasure and paid in blood to protect the profit stream of corporations.

World War II ended in 1945, yet we still have military bases and a military presence all over Europe. Why? Radical Islamic terrorist don’t hate us for our freedom as one nit wit American President proclaimed. They hate us because our corporations are exploiting their nations, people and resources. Why do we care who is in power in a particular region? We care because we want to deal with governments favorable to our economic interests. What economic interests does the United States have in these regions? None! We do not collect taxes from those populations. It is our corporations that want to either do business there, build a pipeline across their country or use their people as cheap labor in conditions and at wages that would be against the law here.

You cannot buy cigarettes in the United States until you turn 21. You cannot market cigarettes to children. However, those laws are not present in other countries and our Tobacco Companies do a bang up business in these other countries around the world. If you’ve been on-line for any length of time, you’ve no doubt seen pictures of young children smoking. As these 3rd world nations become more modern and realize the harm being done to their children, when they connect the dots of early cancer deaths to our Tobacco Companies, how do you think they’re going to feel about the United States?

There is a multi-national corporation I am aware of that has 250 thousand employees world wide. A year or so ago, when they passed out bonuses it was discovered that 10% – the upper management – received 90% of the money. The CEO received $5 million in cash and $25 million in stock. He catches the “5 O’clock” elevator at the end of each day. He flies around on a corporate jet. The employees that make this possible, work 14 and 16 hour days. Do you see anything wrong with this? Do you think this CEO would do his job for say… his current salary plus only a $15 million bonus? $10 million? $1 million?

Tell me again why we need to cut taxes for people like this? By the way, why was his bonus structured such that he got $25 million in stock? Stock is only taxed at 13%. What tax rate are you paying? How much is enough money? How many billions do you have to have before you can say, you’ve got enough? Do you realize if you have $1 million dollars and you invest it conservatively, you will make between $80 to $90 thousand a year in interest? You won’t have to touch your principal if you can live off of $80 thousand a year. Now multiply this by the multiple – hundreds – millions some people have. Remember, these people are taxed at only 13% so no matter what happens, they’re fortunes will continue to grow.

I have nothing against this. However, if we must make a choice as to what is best for our Nation and the communities in which we live and the opportunity we’d like to pass on to our children, we need to make some changes. We are allowing this nation to be destroyed through the greed of the few at the top. When you buy a government, you get the people for free. The purpose of the government is to serve the people and provide for the common good. No Mitt, Corporations are not people! What’s best for a corporation is not necessarily best for the people. What is best for the executive management of a corporation is not necessarily best or fair for the employees that make their success possible.

Our infrastructure is crumbling. We’re fighting wars that really are not in our interest. Our educational system is failing. We’re ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading. This should chill your soul. The only true resource on this planet is the human resource. Problems are solved through ingenuity. Our children not only are our future, they will invent our future. If they’re not equipped to compete successfully, our future will be dim indeed.

What threatens our nation is not in the mountains in Afghanistan. It is not in the deserts of Iraq or Iran. It is not Russia, China or the monetary systems they choose to use. What threatens our nation is right here sitting around tables in corporate boardrooms.