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“Corporate Wage Hike Subsidities”: CEOs Call For Wage Increases For Workers! What’s The Catch?

Peter Georgescu has a message he wants America’s corporate and political elites to hear: “I’m scared,” he said in a recent New York Times opinion piece.

He adds that Paul Tudor Jones is scared, too, as is Ken Langone. And they are trying to get the Powers That Be to pay attention to their urgent concerns. But wait — these three are Powers That Be. Georgescu is former head of Young & Rubicam, one of the world’s largest PR and advertising firms; Jones is a quadruple-billionaire and hedge fund operator; and Langone is a founder of Home Depot.

What is scaring the pants off these powerful peers of the corporate plutocracy? Inequality. Yes, amazingly, these actual occupiers of Wall Street say they share Occupy Wall Street’s critical analysis of America’s widening chasm between the rich and the rest of us. “We are creating a caste system from which it’s almost impossible to escape,” Georgescu wrote, not only trapping the poor, but also “those on the higher end of the middle class.” He issued a clarion call for his corporate peers to reverse the dangerous and ever-widening gulf of income inequality in our country by increasing the paychecks of America’s workaday majority. “We business leaders know what to do. But do we have the will to do it? Are we willing to control the excessive greed so prevalent in our culture today and divert resources to better education and the creation of more opportunity?”

Right on, Peter! However, their concern is not driven by moral outrage at the injustice of it all, but by self-interest: “We are concerned where income inequality will lead,” he said. Specifically, he warned that one of two horrors awaits the elites if they stick to the present path: social unrest (conjuring up images of the guillotine) or (horror of horrors) “oppressive taxes” on the super rich.

Motivation aside, Georgescu does comprehend the remedy that our society must have: “Invest in the actual value creators — the employees,” he writes. “Start compensating fairly (with) a wage that enables employees to share amply in productivity increases and creative innovations.” They have talked with other corporate chieftains and found “almost unanimous agreement” on the need to compensate employees better.

Great! So they’ll just do it, right? Uh… no. But he says he knows just the thing that’ll jar the CEOs into action: “Government can provide tax incentives to business to pay more to employees.” That’s his big idea. Yes, corporate wage-hike subsidies. He actually wants us taxpayers to give money to bloated, uber-rich corporations so they can pay a dab more to their employees!

As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

First of all, Georgescu proposes this tax giveaway to the corporate elite could “exist for three to five years and then be evaluated for effectiveness.” Much like the Bush tax cuts that helped drive the economic divide, once the corporate chieftains get a taste for a government handout, they will send their lawyers and lobbyists to Washington to schmooze congresscritters into making the tax subsidy permanent.

Secondly, paying to get “good behavior” would reward bad behavior, completely absolving those very CEOs and wealthy shareholders of their guilt in creating today’s gross inequality. After all, they are the ones who have pushed relentlessly for 30 years to disempower labor unions, downsize and privatize the workforce, send jobs offshore, defund education and social programs, and otherwise dismantle the framework that once sustained America’s healthy middle class. These guys put the “sin” in cynical.

If we want to fix income inequality, Larry Hanley, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, has a solution. In response to Gerogescu’s offer of charity to corporations, Hanley wrote: “Strengthen labor laws, and we can have democracy and equality again.”

 

By: Jim Hightower, Featured Post, The National Memo, August 26, 2015

August 27, 2015 Posted by | CEO'S, Corporate Welfare, Wages, Working Class | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Koch Cadre Billionaire Defends Nazi Comments”: For The Continued Success Of The Richest Americans

Ken Langone, the billionaire Home Depot founder, GOP donor and an ally of Charles and David Koch, clumsily defended his March 2014 comments comparing populist criticism of the 1% with the rise of Nazi Germany, in an interview with Capital New York published this week.

Langone, a regular attendee of the twice-yearly secret strategy sessions for the mega rich organized by Charles and David Koch, has been speaking publicly of his concerns for the continued success of the richest Americans.

“We’re being strangled by regulation,” Langone told a conference of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas in mid May, as reported by CNN. “You’re in the 1%, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he continued. “You can do so much more with money than pay your taxes.”

The Top One Percent as Victims

Now, Langone has spoken to defend his past Nazi comparison, despite having somewhat backtracked just two months earlier.

From Huff Post:

Billionaire Kenneth Langone is still defending his comparison of income inequality talking points to rhetoric in Nazi Germany, after apologizing two months ago for the comments.

In a Capital New York interview published Monday morning, the Home Depot co-founder and Republican megadonor said it was a fair analogy to illustrate how democratic elections can yield results he finds terrifying.

“I simply said just because we’re a democracy doesn’t mean you can’t have bad results,” he said. “That’s all! I stand on what I said.”

Huff Post continued:

In a March interview with Politico, which owns Capital, Langone said a GOP pivot toward the economic populism championed by progressives and by such Tea Party candidates as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would mirror the rise of Adolf Hitler.

“I hope it’s not working,” Langone said of the political appeals at the time. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany.”

Koch “Cadre”

The Kochs have been building their politcal network for more than forty years.

Nicholas Confessore, wrote about the history of the Koch brothers political activities in a front page New York Times story on May 18, 2014, detailing the origins of the present day Koch political operation.

According to Confessore, in a speech given to business leaders and others in 1974, Charles Koch outlined that vision saying: “The development of a well-financed cadre of sound proponents of the free enterprise philosophy is the most critical need facing us today.”

The Koch brothers are not the only billionaires using their wealth to push for radical deregulation. They now have a whole cadre.

 

By: Nick Surgey, The Center For Media and Democracy, May 19, 2014

May 25, 2014 Posted by | Democracy, Economic Inequality, Koch Brothers | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“If You Go Back To 1933”: Another Billionaire With A Victim’s Complex And An Unhealthy Nazi Fixation

Ben White and Maggie Haberman report this morning that the political winds seem to have shifted lately in the One Percenters’ direction. Whereas a few months ago, economic populism looked like it’d give Democrats a boost in 2014, and polls showed strong public support for addressing economic inequality, Wall Street and its allies are feeling more confident.

In two-dozen interviews, the denizens of Wall Street and wealthy precincts around the nation said they are still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners and the popularity of class-based appeals…. But wealthy Republicans – who were having a collective meltdown just two months ago – also say they see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way and hope the trend continues.

“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

Oh for crying out loud. Do we really have to deal with another billionaire with a victim’s complex who sees a parallel between economic populism and Nazis?

Apparently so.

If this sounds familiar, it was just two months ago that venture capitalist Tom Perkins caused a stir in a Wall Street Journal letter, arguing that the “progressive war on the American one percent” is comparable to Nazi genocide. “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930,” he wrote, “is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

He later said he regretted the Kristallnacht reference, but nevertheless believed his point had merit.

Despite the controversy surrounding Perkins’ bizarre concerns, Home Depot’s Ken Langone apparently decided to embrace the exact same message.

This shouldn’t be necessary, but as a rule, Nazi comparisons in domestic political debates are a bad idea. But they’re an especially egregious mistake when they’re rooted in a ridiculous fantasy.

Whether Langone understands this or not, the scope of contemporary economic populism is often quite narrow. In a political context, it tends to focus on stagnant wages, regressive tax policies, and safeguards against the worst of Wall Street excesses. As a policy matter, we’re generally talking about a higher minimum wage, extended unemployment benefits, food stamps, access to affordable medical care, and lately, expanded access to overtime compensation.

Billionaires may have substantive disagreements with these concerns and their proposed remedies, but to see them as somehow similar to Nazi genocide is more than a little twisted.

The more annoying phenomenon isn’t an American mainstream that believes the wealthy can afford to pay a little more in taxes, but rather, coddled billionaires benefiting from a modern-day Gilded Age feeling sorry for themselves.

As we talked about in January, it’s comparable in a way to a curious strain of political correctness. The more progressive talk about the concentration of wealth at the very top, tax rates, poverty, and stagnant wages, the more some of the very wealthy tell each other, “Oh my God, they may be coming to get us.”

If liberals would only stop talking about economic justice, maybe the richest among us wouldn’t have their feelings hurt.

Or maybe billionaires should just let go of this fantasy, stop seeing themselves as victims, and abandon the disgusting notion that American liberals have something in common with Hitler because they’re concerned with the consequences of growing economic inequality.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 18, 2014

March 19, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Stick A Fork In Chris Christie”: A Textbook Lesson In How Many Politicians’ Public Personas Often Conflict With Reality

If Chris Christie knew, his presidential ambitions are kaput.

There’s a reason why nearly everyone who came to Christie’s defense left a wide-open caveat—if he’s telling the truth. Friday’s allegation that Christie knew about the George Washington Bridge lane closures, coming from the lawyer for his Port Authority official, David Wildstein, suggests he was lying during his epic two-hour press conference by claiming no knowledge of the situation.

“Christie would have to be the world’s biggest fool to say what he said in the way he said it if he did have any responsibility,” former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told me after the governor’s press conference. “If there’s anything that contradicts what he said at the press conference, it would make it almost impossible for him to survive.”

One Democratic operative who was always skeptical of Christie’s outright denials pointed to other famous politicians caught in scandal who lied in order to forestall immediate consequences. Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky, John Edwards lied about his affair and child with staffer Rielle Hunter, and Anthony Weiner misled reporters about his online sexting. All hoped to buy time, desperately wishing that the media would turn its scrutiny elsewhere.

If Wildstein’s allegations are accurate—he’s seeking immunity from prosecutors for his own role in the scandal—Christie’s cover-up will be even more brazen. A former U.S. attorney, Christie is fully aware of the legal jeopardy he put himself into with unequivocal denials of involvement, all for only a short-term public-relations gain. He fired two of his closest loyalists, even though they may have been acting on his orders—or at least with his consent—all along.

Christie’s approval ratings were already taking a nosedive even before Friday afternoon’s revelations hit. His personal favorability in both national and New Jersey polls dropped underwater, and increasing numbers of voters have expressed skepticism that Christie knew nothing about what was happening under him. His main selling point for any presidential campaign was electability—that he was popular with independents and some Democrats—and that is no longer operative, even if he can recover from this scandal.

Depending on where the evidence leads, there are a lot of other political implications for the New Jersey governor. Can Christie stay on as chairman of the Republican Governors Association under the cloud of scandal? Republicans, already facing a bruised brand, won’t want to have a scandal-plagued governor as the face of their party. It’s hard to see even the most enthusiastic prospective donors, like Home Depot cofounder Ken Langone, sticking on the bandwagon. And it’s hard to see how Christie will be able to accomplish much in his second term with investigations poised to continue indefinitely.

Christie’s downfall is a textbook lesson in how many politicians’ public personas often conflict with reality. Christie has assiduously developed an image as someone who was above politics to get things done, but in reality, he was a product of a New Jersey political system where trading favors for political support is ubiquitous.

As I wrote this month, Christie’s downfall stems from his hubris—the belief that he could win over many Democratic officials to a landslide reelection victory, and his confidence that he could use his impressive rhetorical skills to talk his way out of this mess. On both counts, he got what he wanted initially, only to see the house of cards collapse.

By: Josh Krausher, The National Journal, January 31, 2014

February 5, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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