Tuesday, July 31, 2018


As US workers’ wages continue to fall

Oracle CEO pockets $250 million after Trump tax cut

By Niles Niemuth
31 July 2018

Niles Niemuth is the Socialist Equality Party’s candidate for US Congress in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District. To sign up to get involved in the SEP campaign, visit niles2018.com.
Following her company’s stock buyback of $12 billion, part of a flood of buybacks triggered by Trump’s tax cut for corporations and the rich, Oracle CEO Safra Catz sold $250 million worth of shares. Averaged out over a year, that comes to about $2,000 per minute.
Thomas Kurian, the computer technology corporation’s product development head, followed suit by cashing in on $85 million worth of stock.
Several months after Mastercard announced a $4 billion stock buyback program, CEO Ajay Banga sold $44.4 million in stock.
Eastman Chemical CEO Mark Costa sold Eastman shares for $5.4 million just two days after his company announced $2 billion in buybacks. The company’s political action committee, EastmanPAC, has donated $124,000 to congressional candidates this year, including $2,500 to Democrat Debbie Dingell, the incumbent and my opponent in Michigan’s 12th Congressional District.
A recent analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings by Politico reveals that America’s financial oligarchs have rewarded themselves with hundreds of millions of dollars in the first half of this year, largely through stock buybacks.
The buybacks, expected to top $800 billion by the end of the year, artificially inflate stock values to the benefit of wealthy investors and multi-millionaire executives who are compensated with company shares. This is one more example of the self-enrichment of America’s ruling elite that puts paid to the lie that there is “no money” for decent wages, pensions, health care, education or other essential social services.
Economists estimate that by the end of the year, American corporations will have rewarded their top executives and wealthy investors with $2.5 trillion through buybacks, dividend payments, and mergers and acquisitions. This is equivalent to handing over more than one tenth of the United States’ entire annual economic output to the corporate elite.
Obscene sums are being pocketed by the top 5 percent even as employers refuse to budge on meeting workers’ demands for higher wages. In fact, rising prices for basic goods and services have cut into workers’ wages over the last year.
·         A part-time UPS worker making $15 an hour under the sellout contract the Teamsters union is attempting to push through would have to work 1,900 years to make as much as Oracle CEO Catz made by cashing in a portion of her company stock.
·         Teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona who struck earlier this year to demand a living wage and the restoration of education cuts were told by the unions and the politicians there was no money to meet their demands. But the $250 million payout to Catz by itself would pay for approximately 6,500 new teachers starting at the national average of $38,617.
·         Less than 0.1 percent of the anticipated value of this year’s stock buybacks would pay for the 20 percent wage increase demanded by Arizona teachers. Just 0.5 percent of these buybacks would raise education spending in Arizona to the national average.
·         The $800 billion in buybacks is enough to give every one of the 3.2 million full-time teachers in the US a $250,000 bonus.
·         The $2.5 trillion flowing into the pockets of the wealthy could triple the $620 billion that will be spent on public education nationwide this year.
As long as society’s resources are plundered to satisfy the greed of the financial oligarchy, none of the pressing needs of working people—the vast majority of the population—can be met. Nor can the problems of crumbling infrastructure, pollution and global warming be tackled.
The billions of dollars that will be spent just this year for new mansions, yachts, designer clothes and other luxury goods consumed by the new aristocrats will be wrung from the sweat and blood of millions of workers, toiling for low wages, mired in debt and one accident or illness away from economic disaster.
The problem of social inequality must be tackled head on. The working class must expropriate the wealth of the oligarchy and put an end to their ownership and control over the means of production—the factories, the internet and telecommunications, transport networks, energy resources, tech firms and banks. They must all be turned into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities, geared to meet social needs, not private profit. This requires that the working class mobilize in opposition to the political mouthpieces of the financial elite in both big business parties, as well as the trade unions that do the bidding of Wall Street by suppressing the class struggle.
All those fake “socialists” and “populists” who tell workers to put their faith in the Democratic Party—the Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortezes and their pseudo-left promoters—must be sent packing. What is needed is a real socialist alternative!
I am running for Congress in Michigan’s 12th District as a member of the Socialist Equality Party to fight for genuine socialism—that is, the independent political mobilization of the working class against the capitalist system.
I urge all those who support this perspective to contact the SEP and join my campaign today by visiting niles2018.com.

The Republican Party: Not Much of a Horse But the Only One in the Corral

The tragedy of American conservatism is that its only electoral home is in a party most of whose funds come from those who agree with the globalist agenda and whose privileged position insulates them from its disastrous cultural consequences.  In short,  America’s corporate elite is making tons of money from globalism -- chiefly, mass immigration and manufacturing outsourcing -- while they experience no negative effects in their privileged and insular world.
Oh sure, they advocate a bit of border protection here, a little improvement in US trade deals there, but basically they’re on board for free trade, relaxed borders and mass immigration. They have a wealthy person’s distaste for excessive government regulation and high taxes -- hence, they are “Republicans” -- but, stem the flood of cheap labor immigrants? Why on earth would they want to do that?
The first economic consequence of mass immigration is lower labor costs across the economy, from lettuce pickers to computer programmers, and that pushes historic quantities of money up to America’s corporate owners and executives. The working and middle classes endure the economic downside in the form of fewer jobs and much lower wages.
This has all been discussed ad nauseam before. But it can’t be repeated too often: Mass immigration has been an economic bonanza for major owners and executives and an economic disaster for the other 80% of the population.
Looking away from the economic to the cultural consequences of mass immigration, the divergence between  America’s wealthy decision makers and the other 80% is even greater. Put bluntly, the American upper classes have yet to see the those consequences, let alone to feel pressured by them. They are Peggy Noonan’s “protected classes.”
It has been said before but cannot be said too often: America’s upper class hypocrites who have brought the joys of mass third world immigration to middle and working class America are, as yet, absolutely immune from its baleful cultural concomitants.
They live in elegant neighborhoods, behind gates and walls, protected as often as not by private security; their children attend the finest private schools where a learning environment still exists and the risk of being beaten up or shaken down for lunch money is zero; their family members and friends don’t have to ride BART, or the subway, or the bus in the middle of the night to or from poorly paid jobs; the members of their swank clubs look like they did in 1980 and all speak English; and their mode of transport is the first class cabin or private jet.
I begrudge them none of this. My quarrel is that much of their wealth and ease comes from a globalism whose detriments are inflicted solely on the bottom 80% of Americans.  But the cultural concomitants of mass third world immigration are well known to that bottom 80% of Americans.
All over urban America, parents struggle to scrape together the money to buy a house in a neighborhood where the public schools have not been destroyed. In small town America, parents warn their kids about drug pushers from South of the Border who have discovered and targeted the once-safe American countryside. Illegal immigrants commit crimes at rates hugely in excess of those legally present. For 2014 the Sentencing Commission of the US Justice Department reported that of all crimes for which convictions were obtained and sentences imposed, illegals made up 13% (if the 11.2 million figure for US illegals is correct, illegals constitute slightly more than 3% of the population)
And on and on.
None of this reaches the neighborhoods of those who brought it to us.
But It is the decision-making elites of these neighborhoods that fund the Republican Party. And therein lies the rub for this fall’s election:
The Democratic Party, in its lunatic, massively unpopular stands on illegal immigration and border protection, has been leading with its chin as perhaps never before. Abolishing ICE, opening America’s southern border, and supporting sanctuary cities that shelter criminals and drug dealers may be the most toxic brew of Democratic Party electoral poison that party has yet concocted. It begs for brutal, repeated, brass knuckle exposure. This well could be the issue that turns an off-year election into a historic Democratic wipeout.
Will the funders of the Republican party seize one of the most inviting opportunities in US electoral history to deliver a knock-out blow? Or will they wuss out?

As UPS, steel and telecom companies demand wage freezes

Workers in US face growing class battles

A major conflict is brewing between workers and corporations in the United States, with employers resisting demands for any significant pay raises despite soaring profits and near record stock buybacks and dividend payouts for top executives and wealthy investors.
Labor agreements have expired or will expire over the next several days and weeks for hundreds of thousands of workers at United Parcel Service (UPS), the US Postal Service, and in the steel, telecom and entertainment industries. At the same time, teachers will be returning to their classrooms under conditions in which none of the issues that sparked strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and other states have been resolved. New battles are looming involving educators in Los Angeles and Oakland, California, and other urban centers.
In each case, employers are not only refusing to relent on wages, they are doubling down and demanding new givebacks on healthcare, pensions and work rules. At the same time, corporate America, with the full assistance of the unions, is accelerating its drive to purge higher-paid “legacy” workers and transform their workforces into low-paid temps and part-time laborers without any rights.
For decades, the unions have effectively banned strikes, particularly in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2017, major work stoppages in the US fell to seven, the second lowest level since records began in 1947, while in the United Kingdom they fell to the lowest level since the 1890s. This has allowed a historic restructuring of class relations, with labor’s share of nonfarm national income in the US falling from 66.4 percent in 2000 to 58.9 percent in 2018—a transfer of wealth that will equal $1.4 trillion in 2018 alone.
Since the beginning of the year, however, there has been a marked increase in the number of strikes throughout the globe. In the first six months of 2018, there were 12 major work stoppages in the US, involving 444,000 workers, more than the total number of strikers over the last six years combined.
Opposition to the corporate-government-union gang-up is increasing.
* After an overwhelming strike vote, 230,000 UPS workers have been thrust into a direct fight not only with the giant package delivery company but also with the Teamsters. The union is backing the company’s demands for a new lower-paid class of “hybrid” delivery truck drivers and a $15 per hour poverty wage for part-timers who make up the majority of the company’s workforce. The Teamsters union has agreed to indefinitely extend the contract beyond the July 31 expiration date in an effort to wear down opposition and push through the sellout deal.
* Though ArcelorMittal made $5.4 billion in profits last year, up 30 percent from the year before, the giant steelmaker is demanding cuts to health insurance, which could force steelworkers to pay up to $8,000 more per year in out-of-pocket expenses. The company, which operates mills in northwest Indiana and other states, also wants to cut pensions and reduce incentive pay, vacation pay, and family and medical leave. United Steelworkers (USW) contracts covering 30,000 steelworkers at ArcelorMittal and US Steel expire on September 1.
* Last week, thousands of Fiat Chrysler workers in Kokomo, Indiana, voted by 99 percent to authorize strike action at the company’s transmission plants, which would quickly shut down the operation of the number three US automaker.
* More than 8,000 AT&T Midwest workers in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and other states, as well as AT&T Legacy workers, have been working without a new contract since April 14. The telecom giant, which recently completed the $84.5 billion acquisition of Time Warner, refused to back down on its demands for healthcare and pension cuts and the evisceration of job security.
* While blocking any strike by AT&T workers, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) just announced that it would extend the contract covering 39,000 workers at Verizon by four years, more than a year before the current contract expires. The extension is really a new concessions contract that further undermines health insurance.
* More than 98 percent of animation performers, members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (SAG-AFTRA), voted to approve strike action to fight for improved wages and residual payments from Disney and other studios that produce highly profitable animated programs for subscription-based platforms like Netflix and Amazon.
The social anger that is building up goes well beyond the 14.8 million workers still trapped in the pro-corporate unions, which cover only 10.7 percent of private- and public-sector workers, down from 20.1 percent in 1983. Tens of millions of other workers, particularly young workers, are treated as little more than industrial slaves and can barely survive.
Although the official jobless rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2000, there has been no corresponding rise in wages. Median weekly earnings in the second quarter rose by only 2.0 percent over the same period last year, even as the Consumer Price Index role by 2.7 percent. This was the third consecutive quarter where inflation outpaced wage growth.
The rising cost of food, fuel, housing and healthcare has forced workers to take on more debt to make ends meet. Recent studies by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that young people—many saddled with unsustainable college debt—are living with their parents or renting longer before buying their first house.
There is immense anger growing against the Trump administration, which has handed over trillions in tax cuts to the rich and is accelerating the attack on food stamps, healthcare and other essential programs
The Democrats, who defend Wall Street and the major corporations just as ruthlessly as the Republicans, are not attacking President Donald Trump for his attacks on immigrants or new military threats against Iran. Instead, they accuse Trump of being a pawn of Moscow.
Behind this is the push by the military-intelligence apparatus for a more aggressive military confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. In the meantime, denunciations of “Russian meddling” are being used to censor the Internet and criminalize all forms of dissent, including working class opposition to social inequality and war.
As the Socialist Equality Party insisted in its June 13, 2017 statement, “Palace Coup or Class Struggle: The political crisis in Washington and the strategy of the working class,” an “altogether different conflict is developing—between the ruling class and the working class, the broad mass of the population, which is suffering various forms of social distress and is completely excluded from political life.”
In order to fight, workers must break free from the stranglehold of the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers and the other unions, which are nothing more than direct tools of the corporations. New organizations of struggle—factory, workplace and neighborhood committees—must be formed, elected and controlled by rank-and-file workers and committed to the methods of the class struggle, not labor-management collusion.
These committees should establish the widest networks to unite all workers and overcome the sectional divisions imposed by the unions to divide and weaken the working class. In opposition to the economic nationalism of the unions, these committees must unite American workers with our class brothers and sisters internationally.
Every struggle—for good-paying and secure jobs, healthcare and pensions; for the right of immigrant workers to live and work wherever they choose with full citizenship rights; for high-quality public education, access to leisure time and culture; and for young people to have a future free from war, police killings and social inequality—must be united in a common industrial and political counteroffensive.
Such a struggle will pose the most decisive question: Which class shall rule? If the needs of the working class are to take priority, then workers must wage a political struggle to take power in their own hands, expropriate the fortunes of the corporate and financial oligarchy and reorganize economic and political life along socialist lines.
Republicans Vote to Gut Enforcement, Increase Foreign Workers 

The DHS funding bill shows the skewed priorities of GOP appropriators 

By Mark Krikorian

National Review Online, July 27, 2018 


The House Appropriations Committee this week approved the Department of Homeland Security funding bill for fiscal year 2019 (starting October 1, 2018), after considering a raft of amendments. This is not necessarily the final product; the bill will likely be amended further if and when considered by the full House of Representatives, and again when the House and Senate confer on reconciling their respective versions of the legislation. 

Nevertheless, at this stage the DHS appropriations bill, passed Wednesday on a party-line vote of 29–22, is a snapshot of priorities of this most important committee. And it contains several harmful provisions that would increase illegal immigration and the importation of foreign workers on “temporary” visas — provisions passed with the support of the Republican chairmen of the full committee and its Homeland Security subcommittee. 

The following is not necessarily an exhaustive listing of its immigration-related provisions, but it highlights the most important ones. 

Funding levels. The provision most remarked on is the $5 billion for “Border Security Assets and Infrastructure,” i.e., construction of an estimated 200 miles of border barriers, without the restrictions that are in the current-year funding bill that prevent use of funds for anything like a wall. 

The bill also funds more than 400 additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and increases the number of detention beds by more than 3,000 over the current level, to 44,000. That said, the funds approved are very different from what the administration requested. The mostly non-immigration part of ICE, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is given about 17 percent more funding than the administration requested, while Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), which handles deportations, is given 19 percent less than requested. 

Asylum standards. The worst mischief comes in the amendments. Among those added in Wednesday’s markup, perhaps the most damaging is one introduced by Representative David Price (D., N.C.), supported by Representative Kevin Yoder (R., Kan.), chairman of the panel’s Homeland Security subcommittee, and approved by voice vote. The measure prevents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing the attorney general’s ruling regarding eligibility for asylum. 

Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed the creeping expansion of asylum by formally determining that domestic abuse and gang violence are not grounds for asylum from persecution due to “membership in a particular social group,” as specified in the 1980 Refugee Act. This expansion of the grounds for asylum took place under the prior administration without congressional action and has contributed to the surge of Central American minors and families at the border. 

The amendment to the funding bill would have its immediate impact on the first step in the asylum process, called the “credible fear” interview. When an alien at a port of entry or in the custody of the Border Patrol expresses a fear of return to his home country, he is interviewed by a USCIS officer to determine whether the fear is credible and could lead to a successful asylum claim. If the alien’s fear of return is deemed credible, he may then pursue an asylum claim, though many who are released into the U.S. to do so don’t follow through, but simply disappear into the illegal population. Aliens have thus been coached by smugglers to claim asylum as a way of gaining access to the U.S. 

The attorney general’s ruling, and the subsequent guidance from USCIS to its officers, has had an immediate effect at the border. For if fear of gangs or of an abusive partner — i.e., private violence rather than state or state-sanctioned violence — is no longer a grounds for asylum, then aliens asserting such fears no longer pass the credible-fear interview and can be turned away or deported immediately. 

Were the Price-Yoder amendment to be signed into law, the attorney general’s ruling would remain unchanged, but USCIS officers could not rely on it in making credible-fear determinations. It’s not clear how that would work as a practical matter, but the clear goal is to ensure that any alien who claims “persecution” on the ineligible grounds would nonetheless be let into the United States. This would make regaining control of the border difficult, if not impossible — no matter how big the wall might be — because the Obama-era welcome mat for bogus asylum seekers would not only be restored but enshrined in statute, meaning smugglers could rely on it as a means of getting their customers past the Border Patrol and into the interior of the country. 

Foreign workers. Two amendments expanding work-visa programs were also passed by the Appropriations Committee. The first determines that H-2A seasonal-farmworker visas no longer have to be seasonal. This was done to satisfy lobbyists for the dairy industry, which works year-round and wants to import cheap foreign labor through this unlimited visa program; it is stymied by the wording of the statute, which limits the visa to work “of a temporary or seasonal nature.” The appropriations bill does not change the wording of the statute creating the farmworker visa; it merely says that workers will be admitted in FY 2019 under that provision of the law “without regard to whether such labor is, or services are, of a temporary or seasonal nature.” It would result in large, ongoing increases in the number of these “temporary” foreign workers. 

The other foreign-worker amendment affects the H-2B visa, which is the non-agricultural equivalent of the H-2A, used mainly by landscapers and hotels and restaurants. The amendment was just the latest round in lobbyists’ relentless backroom push to exempt from the visa’s numerical cap all those workers who came in prior years (in this case, in the prior two years). This was accomplished in the previous two budgets via a gutless gimmick — the DHS secretary would be authorized (wink, wink) to exempt returning workers from the cap if it seemed necessary. That way, congressmen wouldn’t have their fingerprints on the increase. At least this time they chose not to hide behind the gimmick. 

Country caps. Another amendment also benefits those on “temporary” visas, though it doesn’t increase overall numbers. This measure (which has been floating around for years and was reintroduced in this Congress as H.R. 392) would eliminate the per-country cap for employment-based visas and increase it for family-based visas. 

The per-country caps were enacted decades ago as a kind of circuit breaker, to prevent a handful of countries from monopolizing the immigration flow. Their effect today is to lengthen the wait for certain immigrants from India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico, compared with similarly situated immigrants from countries that account for less of the immigration flow. The caps result in a more diverse immigration flow. 

The lobbying juice behind this change is Big Tech and the Indian “temporary” workers it has imported on H-1B and L visas. These are also ostensibly temporary visas, but are widely used as stepping-stones to permanent immigration. But so many of them are given out that the workers endure extended periods of de facto indentured servitude waiting for their numbers to come up. Eliminating the cap would speed up the issuance of their green cards, making the H-1B that much more attractive to potential low-paid tech workers and that much more useful for employers looking to replace their American workforce with foreigners. The flip side is that people from other countries, generally more highly skilled than the H-1Bs, would be crowded out as virtually all employment-based green cards went to Indians. 

There’s more! Not to drag this out, but there are more bad amendments that the GOP appropriators tacked on. Representative Yoder himself co-sponsored a provision prohibiting the separation of children from parents unless “the parent has a criminal history, a communicable, disease, or is determined to be unfit or a danger to the child.” This is a formal, statutory exemption from prosecution for illegal entry for all adults who bring children with them — and will thus result in even more border-jumpers’ bringing (or renting) children. 

A seemingly pointless amendment prohibits the deportation of anyone in the lawless Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It’s pointless because DACA, by definition, prevents your deportation, and the only DACA beneficiaries who get deported are those who forfeit their status because of crimes. Since the amendment can have no actual result, the real point seems to be to codify Obama’s illegal DACA power grab by getting Congress to acknowledge it and incorporate it into law. 

And needless to say, the Republican-run Appropriations Committee did nothing to defund sanctuary cities. 

It’s not clear to me why Representative Yoder, as Homeland Security subcommittee chairman, orchestrated this fiasco. He actually has a respectable career immigration grade from Numbers USA of B+; not as good as Ted Cruz’s A+ but better than John Cornyn’s C+. And, for including wall funding, Yoder was effusively endorsed by President Trump and rewarded with a ride on Air Force One — and the next day he sabotaged the president’s immigration agenda. 

Hill staff assured us that the most egregious items won’t make it to the floor or will be killed in conference (if the bill even gets that far). But why take the chance? Will the Democratic appropriators stock their bills with Republican priorities if they take over next year? 

College-Grad Salaries Eroded by Hidden Army of 1.5 Million Visa-Workers

Every CEO in every company sees the business opportunity: Will I earn higher profits by replacing my American staff with cheaper H-1B workers? The answer is an obvious yes.
The Washington-imposed economic policy of economic growth via mass-immigration shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with foreign labor. That process spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. The policy also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.

It will more likely come on the heels of economic dislocation and dwindling wealth to redistribute.”
"The kind of people needed for violent change these days are living in off-the-grid rural compounds, or the “gangster paradise” where the businesses of drugs, guns, and prostitution are much more lucrative than “transforming” America along Cuban lines." BRUCE THORNTON

There can be no resolution to any social problem confronting the population in the United States and internationally outside of a frontal assault on the wealth of the financial elite. 

The political system is controlled by this social layer, which uses a portion of its economic plunder to bribe politicians and government officials, whether Democratic or Republican.


"In the decade following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the capitalist class has delivered powerful blows to the social position of the working class. As a result, the working class in the US, the world’s “richest country,” faces levels of economic hardship not seen since the 1930s."

"Inequality has reached unprecedented levels: the wealth of America’s three richest people now equals the net worth of the poorest half of the US population."

REPORT: The assault to finish off the American middle-class is NOT over

“The report noted that many illegals don't have jobs or have difficulty in landing good jobs because of local laws.”

“However, it identified several states that have begun easing employment laws so that illegals can get a job.”

College-Grad Salaries Eroded by Hidden Army of 1.5 Million Visa-Workers

Every CEO in every company sees the business opportunity: Will I earn higher profits by replacing my American staff with cheaper H-1B workers? The answer is an obvious yes.
The Washington-imposed economic policy of economic growth via mass-immigration shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with foreign labor. That process spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. The policy also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.

It will more likely come on the heels of economic dislocation and dwindling wealth to redistribute.”
"The kind of people needed for violent change these days are living in off-the-grid rural compounds, or the “gangster paradise” where the businesses of drugs, guns, and prostitution are much more lucrative than “transforming” America along Cuban lines." BRUCE THORNTON

There can be no resolution to any social problem confronting the population in the United States and internationally outside of a frontal assault on the wealth of the financial elite. 
 The political system is controlled by this social layer, which uses a portion of its economic plunder to bribe politicians and government officials, whether Democratic or Republican.


"In the decade following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the capitalist class has delivered powerful blows to the social position of the working class. As a result, the working class in the US, the world’s “richest country,” faces levels of economic hardship not seen since the 1930s."

"Inequality has reached unprecedented levels: the wealth of America’s three richest people now equals the net worth of the poorest half of the US population."

Illegal Immigration and Poor Americans

The Democrats and the left have a rallying cry regarding the Trump administration's policy toward those crossing the border illegally.  They point to the separation of children from their parents and deplorable conditions.  They claim that it is a humanitarian effort, but how humanitarian is it to drop off numerous unaccompanied children or release them into an unknown territory where they can become the victims of predators?  They never address the negative impact on the poor American citizen.
They are calling attention to pictures of children in cells, yet, in 2014, when Obama was president, American Thinker interviewed then-governor of Arizona Jan Brewer, who stated, "Each child has a designation of cells, such as 'cell 7 or cell 8.'  There is a chain link fence surrounding them and they are sleeping on bed mats with just a blanket.  It breaks my heart to see babies being born in these facilities.  I spoke with a fifteen-year-old who is pregnant.  I was told by a lot of these children that they had to pay between $5,000 and $7,000 and that they still owe money to those who brought them here.  You know what these cartels will do – use extortion.  We need to question if there were any children that never arrived, and what happened to them?  What about the potential for these children to be part of a human-trafficking ring?  Do we know anything about the people they are being released to?  As a mother, I can never conceive that these children would be sent with a stranger to a strange land on a fifteen-day hazardous journey.  I understand the humanitarian argument and feel the situation is pathetic and pitiful.  But what about the children who are American citizens living in ghettos and are fearful for their lives because of gang violence?  The bottom line is, America is not big enough or rich enough to accept all these people."
Another instance was told to American Thinker by a member of the Civil Rights Commission, Peter Kirsanow, who also happens to be a great thriller-writer, his latest being Second Strike.  A few years ago, he and his colleagues went to a Texas detention center and found the conditions to be the opposite of Arizona's.  "We found very nice facilities where the people there were given three meals a day, dental/medical care, clothing, and a nice recreational area.  Yet the majority report included two photos showing horrific conditions.  My assistant discovered that these were not of the detention center, but of prisons," which also separate families when either a mother or father is incarcerated.
Kirsanow is frustrated with what is happening in America today.  He is a black American and believes that illegal immigration has a devastating effect on low-income American citizens.  It seems that the Democrats and left are just using the illegal immigration issue as a talking point, supporting aliens at others' expense.  "We need to understand illegal immigrants have some negative competitive effects on American workers.  They drag down wage rates, drag down employment, and compete directly with blacks in industries such as service, hospitality, and construction.  Welfare and college spots have been taken from Americans and given to illegal immigrants.  They are a net drain on the economy."
Steven A. Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, agrees.  "Because the overwhelming share of illegal immigrants residing in the country have not completed high school or have only a high school education, it would require highly implausible assumptions to avoid a substantial net fiscal drain from this population.  In short, illegal immigrants are a large net fiscal drain because of their education levels, and this fact drives the results."
He compared the amount in annual expenditures on children in detention centers to those of American children: "the March 2017 Current Population Survey has 24 percent of American children living in a household making $35,000 or less.  And it is my understanding that is what we spend on kids in detention."
Senator Robert Kennedy was in the Mississippi Delta 50 years ago for a Senate subcommittee examination of War on Poverty programs.  Ellen B. Meacham wrote in an op-ed, "What he saw on his widely publicized trip shocked a nation, but Americans would be even more shocked to know that 50 years later, the Delta remains desperately poor," with one in three people running out of food each month.  Perhaps this is because the attention has shifted to the illegal alien.
Concerning the separation of families, the Heritage Foundation found that single parents make up the overwhelming majority of all poor families with children in the United States.  Welfare programs create disincentives to marriage because benefits are reduced as a family's income rises, such as food stamps, public housing, Medicaid, day care, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
It is striking that the conditions of a poor American child do not draw the same attention and sympathy as children of illegal aliens.  Kirsanow wants people to understand that 73% of black children are born to a single mother, up from 20% in the 1960s.  "Liberal policies have been responsible for this.  The Democratic policies facilitate single parenthood, separating children from their families."
Kirsanow cites the statistic that competition from illegal aliens has caused 40% of the nineteen-point decline of black employment levels over a couple of decades.  "We are talking over a million jobs.  Black wage rates were suppressed by $1,000 annually.  Democrats are throwing blacks under the bus by appealing for the Hispanic vote by calling for open borders.  The lives of blacks in cities like Detroit, with uninterrupted Democratic rule for decades, have not improved significantly.  These policies have been devastating to blacks."
All Americans should strive to protect our fellow citizens and their interests first.  As Kirsanow summarized, "it is really disappointing to see an entire party more invested in the plight of foreigners than in the welfare of Americans.  The Democrats understand that even though they have policies devastating to blacks they still get 90% of their votes.  They have disjointed appeals to different identity groups, with electoral politics trumping all."
The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

GOP Rep. Yoder Offers Green-Card Giveaway to 200,000 Foreign College-Grads

Immigrants Great
Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Kansas GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder engineered a committee vote in the House which puts 200,000 Indian visa-workers on a fast-track to green cards and citizenship, despite the growing economic impact of visa workers on American college graduates.

Yoder’s Indian-giveaway amendment was approved July 25 even without an on-the-record vote by the GOP-run House appropriations committee, and it is being applauded by tech firms which prefer to hire cheap Indian college-graduate workers instead of young American graduates.
If made law, Yoder’s 2019 budget amendment will widen the Indian pipeline of graduate contract-workers which are already flooding the labor market for U.S. college graduates, said John Miano, an immigration lawyer and former software professional
Yoder’s amendment will also skew the nation’s immigration system by making it difficult for non-Indian foreigners to get green-cards over the next five years, Miano said. “I don’t think Mr. Yoder has thought through what his amendment does … He has not looked at the big picture,” Miano added. 
Current federal immigration law sets “country caps” to spread the distribution of the 140,000 green cards which are allocated to employers. Yoder’s amendment kills those 7 percent country-caps as “national discrimination” and allows the huge backlog of more than 300,000 Indian visa-workers — plus a similar number of family members — to jump to the head of the green-card line. Once the Indians jump to the head of the line, people from other countries are pushed into a wait of at least five years.
“From the Indian perspective, this is wonderful —  it transforms the American immigration system into an Indian-first system,” said Miano. “Every [other] ethnic lobbying group will be screaming because only people from India will be getting [employer-sponsored] green cards,” he said. 
The removal of the country caps will also lock-in India’s critical role in the U.S. software sector, Miano said. Without the caps, U.S. companies will face a multi-year delay before they can provide green cards for valuable foreign experts who are not Indian. The delay will deter them from trying to create a non-Indian pipeline because few foreign experts will stay with U.S. firms if they cannot quickly migrate into the United States, he said.
Non-Indian visa-workers in the backlog are already protesting their likely exclusion:

We're now visiting @casapuebloorg in -- a self-sustaining community group that produces coffee, manages local forests, teaches kids & is solar powered. ’s energy future should be renewable! Learn more: http://casapueblo.org pic.twitter.com/hCq398zwG9
Dear Congresswomen and Congressmen
Please remove the from DHS appropriation bill. It is for sure against the US commitment to diversity. Highly-skilled applicants from more than 100 nations will suffer from it. Please say

Indians play a central role in the U.S. software sector because the Indian tech industry has created a large pipeline of contractors who are willing to work at low wages in the hope of eventually getting citizenship, said Miano. Their central role is made worse because U.S. CEOs allow the growing number of Indian subcontractors in the United States to quietly exclude Americans from contracts and opportunities sought by Indians, said Miano. “I have personally experienced it and I hear more and more of that is going on,” said Miano. ‘Their [U.S.] clients want cheap foreign workers from overseas,” not Americans, he added.
Yoder, who is chairman of the House’s homeland defense appropriations subcommittee, did not try to trade his giveaway to business for reforms which could help Americans, such as curbs on visa-worker outsourcing or reforms to asylum laws. No Republican on the committee spoke against Yoder’s giveaway, but a Democratic leader said they would oppose the giveaway because it did not also include a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants.
In the same markup meeting, Yoder also helped pass amendments to triple the inflow of H-2B blue-collar visa-workers, to increase the number of H-2A visa-workers for farmers, and also to revive President Barack Obama’s catch-and-release rules on the Mexican border, all of which help to suppress wages for blue-collar Americans. 
GOP opposition to Yoder’s amendments was muted partly because he can use his chairmanship of the homeland defense subcommittee to quietly punish other GOP legislators who publicly oppose his priorities.
Yoder’s office did not answer questions from Breitbart News about the green card plan.
Yoder’s visa-worker giveaway is being applauded by Indian lobby groups and by the huge employers who are hiring Indian college-graduates for professional-track jobs at Americans’ hospitals and universities, as well as software, insurance, banking and business-consulting firms. Yoder’s amendment was applauded by Amazon, Microsoft, and FWD.us, an advocacy group of tech-industry investors who want cheaper foreign white-collar labor.

Amazon applauds @KevinYoder on the passage of his amendment to the @DHSgov appropriations bill, H.R. 392, that would remove the per-country limit on green cards. This is an important step towards green card reform, and Amazonians thank you for your leadership on this issue.

Thank you @RepKevinYoder for being a champion of . Your amendment to the FY19 Homeland Security @HouseAppropsGOP bill is an important step forward to fixing the green card backlog.

The lobby groups formed by the Indian visa-workers also applauded Yoder’s giveaway:

Indian workers are a bargain for U.S. companies because they accept low wages and work long hours in the hope of getting a hugely valuable deferred bonus — the federal government’s offer of citizenship to them, their spouses and children, their parents, and their chain-migration in-laws. In contrast, American graduates must get all of their pay in company dollars that are also wanted by company CEOs and investors, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The vast majority of Indians get into the United States — and onto the green card backlog — via the outsourcing programs for visa-workers.
The visa-worker programs include the H-1B program, the little-known L-1 program, the Optional Practical Training program, the E-1 visa, the TN visa and the J-1 visa. Overall, these laws are outsourcing roughly 1.5 million jobs to a resident population of roughly 1.5 million foreign college-grad workers. This huge population of foreign workers is helping to suppress American graduates’ salary growth even below the slow growth in blue-collar wages. The resulting profits spike higher stock values on Wall Street.
These programs deliver foreign workers into many professions in academia and software, engineering and health, in every state. In 2017, for example, Kansas employers asked the federal government for 951 H-1B visa workers, according to MyVisaJobs.com. The employers wanted H-1B visa-workers to fill 25 physician jobs, 16 financial-analyst jobs, 15 biochemist jobs, and 28 engineering jobs, even though Kansas produces many skilled graduates each year. The employers wanted foreign workers for 399 jobs in Yoder’s district around Overland Park  — including 80 jobs at three Indian-owned companies.
In 2000, Congress allowed these visa workers to extend their temporary stay by applying for employer-sponsored green-cards, so converting the visa program into multi-step immigration programs.
In general, Indians dominate the software sector, while Chinese postgraduate students are hired into the nation’s science laboratories. This reliance means a very large number of Indian and Chinese nationals apply for the employer green cards. The country caps limit the number of Indians and Chinese who get the cards, so there is a huge and growing backlog of former visa workers from India and China who are working in the United States while waiting for green cards.
The backlog hurts Americans graduates because it effectively smuggles roughly 400,000 additional Indian and Chinese college-graduates into the U.S. labor market. The problem could be ended if agencies simply established a regulation saying additional applications would be rejected once the waiting list has reached past five years, said Miano.
The backlog now includes 306,000 Indian workers, plus their 325,000 spouses and children. These migrants have a huge incentive to lobby for the removal of the country cap because the change would vault them to the head of the line — and also allow them to sponsor their parents and in-laws to arrive in the United States.
Indian advocates fighting the country cap say the wives of the Indian visa-workers have proved to be the most persuasive, partly because U.S. politicians do not want to be seen as rejecting their pleas. For example, Yoder has repeatedly showcased the Indian wife of an H-1B worker murdered in Olathe, Kansas, February 2017. During the July 25 appropriations committee markup, Yoder mentioned Sunayana Dumala repeatedly, saying:
She has become an inspiration as an outspoken advocate for this legislation. We’re so proud to have her here today.
To pass his amendment, Yoder emotionally painted the country caps as unfair discrimination against Dumala, while he ignored the impact of cheap visa-workers on the young Americans in his Kansas district: 
Without this fix, Sunayana will very likely never become an American citizen ….  Her backlog may make it so that she never become a United States citizen. Yet someone born today in almost any other country around the world, save for China or India, someone born today can go through school, go through higher education, can come to America, 30, 40 50 years from now on a high skilled H-1B visa and still get in line before Sunayana Dumala because she happens to be from India.
Mr. Chairman, that is discriminatory, it is wrong, it is unjust, and we have a chance here today in this committee in a bipartisan way to put a stop to that, to make this a first-come, first served basis and to quit this horrible discriminatory practice and to stand up for the Sunayana Dumalas of this country
Yoder also invited Sunayana Dumala to the 2018 State of the Union speech. He told a newspaper for Indians in the United States that:
“It was my idea—I’ve gotten to know Sunayana very well over the last year after the tragedy –the murder of her husband in a hate crime,” he said. “She’s become a very powerful symbol against some of the hate in this country directed toward minorities, with her response of love and kindness and trying to bring this country together that has been so inspirational. I thought a lot about it this week even and it really speaks to Dr. Martin Luther King’s message that it’s only love and light that can drive out the darkness and hate. And, she is the walking embodiment of that and so, I have a lot of respect for her and her struggle and her courage. So, we thought it would be fitting to have her as my guest at the State of the Union.”
In 2017, Yoder explained his reasons for supporting the country-caps bill to Forbes magazine:
We have a strong and vibrant Indian community in my district. They’ve been kind enough to invite me into their community, I’ve been able to participate in many of their cultural events – I’ve even taken a stab at playing a game of cricket. Many of them have brought this issue to my attention and when Representative Chaffetz retired and the bill needed a new lead sponsor, I was eager to jump at the opportunity. I’ve heard their personal stories and the discrimination they face and uncertainty and fear they live with. Many of these immigrants are my neighbors and friends and they need a voice to stand up for them in Congress, to tell their story.
Advocates with the main advocacy group, Immigrant Voice, celebrated after the vote:

Outside Appropriations Committee room in the US Capitol, as congressman @KevinYoder & widow of the Austin’s bar shooting, Sunayana Dumala, celebrate passage of amendment to adopt (what she advocated for as Yoder’s guest for state of the union). Photo from Yoder team

The Kansas City Star newspaper posted an interview with Dumala and reported:
She flew from Johnson County to Washington Wednesday morning. Her travel was funded by the advocacy group Immigration Voice, a move intended to hold the Johnson County Republican to his promise to deliver the legislation to the president’s desk in the near future.After the vote, Yoder emerged in the hall to cheers and high fives from the widow and other Indian immigrants from Kansas who had traveled to Washington for the vote. “Hey, hey,” he said spreading his arms wide. Then he enfolded a tearful Dumala into a hug.
“It’s a powerful moment,” said Yoder. “We’ve been working a long time to get to this moment.”
“Congress does not work for Americans …. they don’t do a thing for Americans,” Miano said. 
Many Indian visa-workers will get their green cards in the next few years even if Yoder’s change is rejected, so his amendment benefits the roughly 200,000 Indian workers — and their 200,000 family members — who now have to wait for more than five years to get a green card.
Government data shows the biggest backlog among Indians are those with a Master’s degree, partly because many Indians earn Masters degrees at U.S. universities to get into the H-1B program:
To suppress Americans’ growing opposition to the outsourcing programs, pro-migration advocates accuse critics of discrimination against foreign nationals, despite the widespread discrimination against Americans. Leon Fresco, a lobbyist for the Indian visa-workers, tweeted:

the only reason to oppose HR392 is if you believe that our laws should intentionally discriminate based on national origin. HR392 simply says someone born in 2060 should not receive a green card before someone who applied 10 years ago, solely based upon the country their births.

Fresco, an immigration lawyer and a former official in President Brack Obama’s administration, also argued that Yoder giveaway is good for Americans because its means Indians will not serve as cheap indentured workers for many years before they can get green cards.

(1/4) simple 4 part lesson for HR392 opponents to understand using only facts—no country caps exist for student visas. India sends less than 15 percent of all foreign students. https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/Statistics/Non-Immigrant-Statistics/NIVDetailTables/FY17NIVDetailTable.pdf 

(2/4) but Indian nationals represent over 70% of H-1b recipients, which is the feeder system for green cards? Why is that, when employers have all of these other students to choose from?

(3/4) the reason is because the per-country limits mean that if an employer hires an H-1B from India, they can keep that worker indentured to them on H-1B for several decades because they cannot change jobs while waiting for green card without tremendous difficulty and risk.

(4/4) Why would an employer then choose someone from any other country who could leave immediately with a green card? Only HR392 solves this problem and levels playing field for all, including US workers!!

Fresco’s “indentured servant” argument is logical — but Miano argues that Yoder’s offer of fast-track green cards will encourage even more Indians to become visa-workers via the H-1B program and the uncapped L-1 and OPT visa-worker programs. Any greater supply of visa-workers shrinks salaries for American graduates, and make it difficult for blue-collar parents to help their children get into white-collar jobs, he said.
Fresco also defended the Yoder amendment by saying it does not create additional H-1B visas:

(5/4) Once no country cap, green cards will become MORE diversified, no less. will look like the distribution of student visas (where India is less than 15 percent). Claims of “cheap labor” make no sense here because not even 1 additional GC or H-1B visa is part of HR392.

But Fresco’s statement does not mention the L-1 visa-worker program — and there is no limit on the number of L-1 visas which Indian workers can use to get on Yoder’s fast-track to citizenship.
In 2013, Fresco served as the top immigration aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer during the “Gang of Eight” controversy. That bill allowed an unlimited number of foreign college-graduates to get jobs in the United States, Fresco told this reporter in 2013.
Yoder’s amendment was backed by Amazon. According to MyVisaJobs.com, Amazon has asked for 1,441 green cards for visa-workers since 2015. Half of those workers are from India, and one-seventh are from China.

Amazon also asks for hundreds of H-1B visas each year:
Amazon does not use L-1 workers, but many Indian subcontracting firms use large numbers of L-1 visa workers. The total number is hidden from the public because the Department of Homeland Security does not release the number of L-1B workers who are imported via “blanket petitions.”
Overall, the Washington-imposed economic policy of economic growth via immigration shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with cheap foreign labor. That process spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. The policy also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions. Immigration also pulls investment and wealth away from heartland states because investment flows towards the large immigrant populations living in the coastal states.
Got any tips about the H-1B, L-1 and OPT programs?  Email Neil Munro here or at NMunro@Breitbart.com. 

Number of foreign college graduates staying in U.S. to work climbed again in 2017, but growth has slowed

A record number of foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and universities obtained temporary authorization to work in the United States through the Optional Practical Training (OPT)program in 2017, but growth in the once-booming program has slowed dramatically, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
Growth of foreign graduates who stayed and worked in the U.S. slowed in 2017In recent years, the OPT program has surpassed the H-1B visa program as the nation’s largest source of new temporary high-skilled immigrant workers. In 2017, a record 276,500 foreign graduates received work permits under the OPT program, up from 257,100 in 2016, according to data obtained from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through a public records request. However, growth has slowed considerably: The number of enrollees grew by 8% in 2017, compared with 34% in 2016. That’s the largest decline in the annual growth rate since 2004, the first year for which data on all foreign students are available. The slowed growth also follows a longer period of rapid expansion for the program. From 2014 to 2016, the number of enrollees nearly doubled in size, growing by 93%.
Declining growth of the OPT program is due in part to a smaller increase last year in the program’s foreign graduates who majored in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields. In 2017, enrollment of STEM graduates in OPT grew by 13% over the previous year, compared with 48% annual growth in 2016. This slowdown happened despite the maximum length of employment increasing from 12 to 36 months in 2016 for foreign graduates with STEM degrees. (By contrast, an extension for STEM degree holders in 2008 did contribute to a large increase in OPT approvals.) The decline in 2017 also coincided with low unemployment rates for U.S. workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The Trump administration has tightened regulations that govern the OPT program. Under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rules posted online in January, foreign graduates working under OPT must now work at the employer’s place of business. (Previously, foreign workers could work at a third-party site, such as at a client’s office.) In addition, the administration has announced plans to roll back the 2016 employment extension for STEM graduates, though this change had not been implemented as of July 2018.
Indian foreign graduates under OPT saw largest decline in growth, 2016 to 2017OPT enrollment growth slowed substantially in 2017 among foreign students from India and China, the program’s two largest countries of origin. In fact, only France, Nepal and Nigeria saw their annual growth rates increase in 2017 (among nations with 10,000 or more foreign students enrolled in OPT from 2004 to 2017).
Growth of master's degree holders who stayed and worked in U.S. under OPT slowed considerably in 2017Growth in the number of foreign graduates under OPT slowed in 2017 across all degree levels, but the trend was most pronounced among master’s degree holders. About 188,600 foreign students held master’s degrees in 2017, a 9% increase over the previous year – far lower than the 45% annual increase seen in 2016. This slowdown follows a period of rapid growth: From 2014 to 2015, the number of foreign students with master’s degrees jumped by 57%, the highest annual increase of any degree level since 2004.
Note: The full methodology for this analysis can be found here. Also, see where foreign student graduates worked in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016 in our interactive.
  1. Photo of Neil G. Ruiz
     is associate director of global migration and demography at Pew Research Center.
  2.  is a research assistant focusing on global migration a

Claiming that the war on poverty has been won, Trump administration works to gut social programs

By Shelley Connor
19 July 2018
A study released by the White House Counsel of Economic Advisors earlier this week declared, “Based on historical standards of material well-being and the terms of engagement, our War on Poverty is largely over and a success.” Starting from that clearly erroneous assumption, the report goes on to recommend instituting work requirements for non-cash social programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and housing assistance.
The report doubles down on perhaps the one consistent theme of the Trump administration: the idea that the poor are imagining their poverty, that all they lack is self-sufficiency and the impetus to work.
The report begins with an obvious fiction: that poverty doesn’t exist in America to any large degree, because welfare programs, which they count as income, have allowed people to overcome what they call “material poverty.” The poor, they maintain, have no incentive to work because of the social programs that have supposedly lifted them from poverty. The rest of the document is devoted to tables, graphs, and quotes stretched to the point of absurdity in support of this conclusion.
The first several pages of the CEA’s report are devoted to fictive definitions of the words “poverty,” “homelessness,” and “hunger.” Because 99.6 percent of Americans did not spend the night in a homeless shelter on one particular January night in 2017, “homelessness in America is rare.” Because only “2.9 percent of people lived in households defined as food insecure in 2016” (an outright lie—12.3 percent of US homes were food insecure in 2016), a number that “includes households which always had sufficient food but at some point during the year had difficulty in obtaining food or reduced diet quality as a consequence of limited resources,” the document blusters, “95 percent of Americans and 99 percent of children” live without hunger.
The document is riven with obvious contradictions. For example, SNAP benefits and housing vouchers positively influence children’s health and academic performance, but, the report claims, they would fare better if work requirements forced their parents off of those programs. The authors assert simultaneously that social programs have helped people out of poverty and that they are responsible for people remaining impoverished:
“The safety net—including government tax and (both cash and non-cash) transfer policies—has contributed to a dramatic reduction in poverty (correctly measured) in the United States. However, the policies have been accompanied by a decline in self-sufficiency... Expanding work requirements in these non-cash welfare programs would improve self-sufficiency, with little risk of substantially reversing progress in addressing material hardship.”
Like Trump’s attacks on Medicaid, the CEA’s proposed cuts to SNAP, Medicaid and housing vouchers are disingenuously cloaked with references to the “self-sufficiency” and economic success of the poor. These claims are belied by their reliance upon patently false information.
In June, Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, scornfully dismissed a United Nations report on social inequality in the US. “It is patently ridiculous for the United Nations to examine poverty in America,” she scoffed. She characterized the statistics quoted by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, who witnessed widespread hookworm infestation and inadequate sewage disposal on his visit to the US, as “misleading” (the CEA says the same thing about most accepted measures of poverty).
While there are, arguably, different methods to assess poverty, the CEA’s hackneyed attempts to redefine American poverty as extraordinary and rare are shot through by all meaningful indices of the social well-being of workers in the US.
Life expectancy has declined two years in a row—something that has not happened since the 1960s. So-called deaths of despair—suicides, overdose and alcohol-related mortality—are higher than in any other wealthy nation. Suicide rates in children have risen significantly for the first time in recorded history.
Compared to their counterparts in other wealthy, industrialized countries, American babies are three times more likely to die before they turn a year old, and over two times more likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Had the US kept pace with other rich countries in this area, over 300,000 babies would have survived infancy over the past 50 years.
Mothers die giving birth at a higher rate in the United States than they do in other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, and that rate is rising. In 2015, there were 26.4 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births. By comparison, the UK had a rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000 births, the highest in the European Union, and Finland had a rate of 3.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.
The US has also failed to address its comparatively high illiteracy rates. An estimated 32 million Americans cannot read at all. Over 14 percent of the population have below-basic reading skills. Twenty-nine percent of Americans have basic reading skills—that is, they can read at a fifth-grade level.
These are not the signs of a country with a three percent poverty rate. They are hallmarks of deep inequality and crisis, and no matter how the CEA chooses to define poverty, these numbers show their report for the slanderous fiction that it is.
The CEA devotes significant time to praising the Clinton-era Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), which abolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replaced it with Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). States were given broad permission to impose work requirements upon families seeking TANF.
A 2015 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) revealed that the number of children living in deep poverty—which they define as below half of the national poverty line—increased from 1.5 million to 2.2 million between 1995 (the year before PRORWA passed) and 2005, from 2.1 percent of the population to 3.0 percent. Children of single mothers, they discovered, had fared worse. In such families, the rate of children living in deep poverty more than doubled, rising from 2.8 percent in 1995 to 5.8 percent in 2005.
That the Trump administration would herald PROWRA as a successful template for reorganizing SNAP, housing assistance and Medicaid stands out as perhaps the one honest part of the document. It is an open declaration of Trump’s intent to gut those safety nets just as surely as PROWRA gutted AFDC.
The PROWRA reference is significant in a second way. PROWRA was a bipartisan effort. With its passage, the “war on poverty” was converted to a full-scale, bipartisan war upon the poor. PROWRA’s passage in 1996 marked, as the WSWS has written, “the complete abandonment of the policy of liberal reform associated with Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and Johnson’s War on Poverty in the mid-1960s.” No longer were basic necessities such as housing, adequate food and childcare regarded as “entitlements” that should be enjoyed by all, but as rewards to be “earned.” Like the CEA’s proposals, PROWRA was unashamedly punitive and demeaning.
The Obama administration showed its colors in its war against the poor when it immediately bailed out Wall Street and forced low wages upon autoworkers as part of his stimulus package to “save” automakers. Obama supported the bankruptcy of Detroit, refusing to intervene when city workers lost their pensions as part of the bankruptcy deal. Obama lied just as baldly as Trump when he crowed that the economy had “never been better,” even as wealth inequality deepened during his tenure.
Today, Trump has taken on the mantel of his predecessors. He is overseeing an even greater transfer of wealth from the bottom half of America’s earners to the top ten percent. His rejection of social spending has been accompanied by a lowering of taxes for the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans. These tax cuts come at the expense of the poor. As the WSWS reported earlier this week, “US federal tax cuts have resulted in lost revenue of $5.1 trillion, with 65 percent of that money going to the top 20 percent of income earners.”
While the CEA smugly dismisses poor workers as being too dependent upon the government, the truth is that the Trump administration, like its Republican and Democratic predecessors, depends upon America’s workers to fund its militarism, its attack on immigrants, and its tax breaks for the wealthy. Those efforts are paid for with cuts to public education. They are paid for with stagnant literacy rates. They are paid for with increasing maternal mortality rates and with disproportionate SIDS deaths.


Obama boasts: “I’m surprised how much money I got”

By Barry Grey
19 July 2018
The corporate media has overwhelmingly praised Barack Obama’s speech in Johannesburg on Tuesday at an event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, calling it an “impassioned” defense of democracy, tolerance, equality and the liberal capitalist world order established after World War II.
The reports have singled out Obama’s muted and indirect criticisms of Donald Trump’s “strongman politics” and the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” who are “caught in a lie and just double down and lie some more.”
No notice is being taken in the press reports of two points in the rambling, 90-minute address that exposes Obama’s boundless cynicism and hypocrisy. In a cliché-ridden speech that deplored the “explosion of inequality” and argued for “inclusive capitalism,” Obama evidently departed from his written text to quip, with a smile:
“Some [members of the ‘new elite’] even supported Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States, and by virtue of my status as a former head of state, some of them consider me as an honorary member of the club. (Laughter.) And I get invited to these fancy things, you know? They’ll fly me out.”
Later, in the midst of a call to rein in the “excesses of capitalism” so that “rich people are still rich” but they’re “giving a little bit back,” he evoked more laughter and applause from his audience when he said, in a jocular voice:
“I should add, by the way, right now I’m actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something: I don’t have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundredth. There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it’s enough.”
At this point, the video camera panned the rostrum to show a broadly smiling and clapping Cyril Ramaphosa, the recently elected president of South Africa, who parlayed his posts at the head of the country’s trade unions into lucrative slots on corporate boards and a fortune estimated at $675 million. More on him later.
Obama may be surprised at his recent entry into the American financial oligarchy, but it’s not for lack of effort on his part to “join the club.” Even before he left the White House in January of 2017, he and Michelle were plotting the means to cash in on their services rendered to the rich and the filthy rich during their eight years in office. That period was distinguished by two major records: the first two-term presidency to preside over uninterrupted war for the entire duration, and the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in American history.
Since leaving office, the Obamas have garnered a $65 million book deal, and Obama is making an estimated 50 speeches a year before corporate and Wall Street audiences at about $400,000 a clip. It has been estimated that the couple is on course to rapidly amass a fortune of $242 million (outdoing the Clintons, who up to now have managed to cash in to the tune of only $75 million).
Meanwhile, they have been photographed frolicking on the yachts and private islands of billionaires such as Richard Branson in the company of multi-millionaire Hollywood celebrities and media moguls such as Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey.
This in-your-face corruption was perfectly at home amidst the fat-cat dignitaries of the African National Congress who hosted Tuesday’s event. Mandela himself remains admired and even beloved by ordinary South Africans and millions of poor and oppressed around the world. That is because of the courage and self-sacrifice he evinced when he played a leading role in the struggle against the hated apartheid regime, for which he spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island.
He is, however, honored by world imperialism and the South African bourgeoisie—white and black—because of the central role he played in channeling the mass revolt against apartheid behind the aspiring black bourgeoisie, and the guarantee he gave to the International Monetary Fund that an ANC regime would uphold capitalist property relations and protect the interests of foreign capital.
The result of a quarter-century of “black empowerment” has been the creation of a narrow but infinitely corrupt and grasping black elite that has presided over an increase in social inequality to unprecedented levels and, if anything, a worsening of poverty. In paying tribute to Mandela and hailing his successor Ramaphosa, Obama discreetly omitted mention of the fact that South Africa is officially the most unequal country on the face of the earth, with more than half of its population living below the poverty line, an official jobless rate of 27 percent, and a youth unemployment rate of 50 percent.
In his speech, following a potted history of democratic progress in the 20th century which failed to mention the single event most responsible for whatever social and political gains were achieved internationally—the socialist revolution of October 1917 in Russia—Obama deplored the “explosion of inequality” over recent decades and criticized the indifference of the “new elite” to the consequences of their policies for working people.
He could, of course, have pointed to Ramaphosa, sitting a few feet away. In 2012, as a 9 percent shareholder in the Lonmin mine in Marikana, the current South African president and former head of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa had demanded that the authorities take action against the “plainly dastardly criminal acts” of striking miners. The call was carried out when security forces gunned down the strikers, in the worst massacre since the mass murder carried out by the apartheid regime at Sharpeville and Soweto. Thirty-four miners were killed and 78 were wounded.
Or, Obama could have looked in the mirror. Typical of Obama’s speeches, Tuesday’s address criticized reactionary and anti-democratic policies as though Obama himself had no part in their implementation.
Thus, Obama denounced the rapid growth of inequality, while gliding over his own multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and “quantitative easing” policies, which were designed to pump up the stock market and further enrich the oligarchy. Nor did he note the wage-cutting impact of his auto bailout, which imposed a 50 percent across-the-board cut in pay for new-hires; his support for the Detroit bankruptcy, which launched a nationwide attack on public-employee pension benefits; or his health care “reform,” which has increased out-of-pocket cost and reduced services for millions or workers.
He attacked escalating press censorship in one breath, and in the next supplied the pretext for Internet censorship:
“The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise. Social media—once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity—has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories.”
But it is a fact that his administration prosecuted more reporters for leaking classified information than any previous administration, and he spearheaded the persecution of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.
Obama’s supposed commitment to democracy and the rule of law is belied by his own record of defending the perpetrators of torture, maintaining the Guantanamo prison camp, overseeing abductions and detention without due process, defending mass domestic surveillance and expanding drone assassinations, including against US citizens.
In his speech, he criticized the war against immigrants, making no acknowledgment of his own role in preparing it, including the deportation of more immigrants—2.7 million—than all previous administration’s combined.
The central contention of his speech was advanced in the following sentence: “On Mandiba’s 100th birthday, we now stand at a crossroads—a moment in time in which two very different visions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and the minds of citizens around the world.”
This sentence contains two huge lies. The second is the claim that “citizens around the world” will have any say in the policies pursued by the various capitalist governments. The first is the claim that Obama’s empty and demagogic call for a “kinder and gentler” capitalism represents a fundamentally opposed and viable alternative to the far-right policies of Trump and similar right-wing populist regimes and parties around the world.
The reality is that Trump’s policies of war, social counterrevolution and authoritarianism are an extension, in a somewhat more extreme form, of the policies of the Obama administration. On these issues, the entire ruling elite and all of its parties are united, whatever the specific foreign policy questions over which they are presently brawling.

did you ever hear of HOMELESSNESS before Obama and his banksters showed up???






Barack Obama Lectures World on Racial, Wealth Inequality in South Africa

Former U.S. President Barack Obama, left, delivers his speech at the 16th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. In his highest-profile speech since leaving office, Obama urged people around the world to respect human rights and other values under threat …
AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday delivered the 16th annual Nelson Mandela lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa and called for greater global wealth redistribution, scolding the rich for having more money than they need.

“For almost all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system – one that offers education for every child, that protects collective bargaining and secures the rights of every worker,” Obama began. “That breaks up monopolies to encourage competition and small and medium-sized businesses and has laws that root out corruption and ensures fair dealing in business, that maintains some form of progressive taxation so that rich people are still rich, but they’re giving a little bit back to make sure that everybody else has something to pay for universal healthcare and retirement security, and invest in infrastructure and scientific research that builds platforms for innovation.”
The former president has raised eyebrows over his opulent lifestyle since departing the White House. Obama in February of 2017 vacationed in the British Virgin Islands with Virgin Group founder and billionaire Richard Branson and joined Oprah and Bruce Springsteen on a luxury cruise on Hollywood mogul David Geffen’s $590 million yacht in April of that year.
In a bizarre moment, the former president then criticized himself for amassing too large of a fortune. “I should add, by the way, right now I’m actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something, I don’t have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundred thou— there’s only so much you can eat, there’s only so big a house you can have, there’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it’s enough,” he lamented.

Former Pres. Barack Obama: "It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa." https://abcn.ws/2uvBGfv 

Obama also offered up criticism of the current state of race relations in the United States. “It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa,” Obama told attendees of the speech at Ellis Park Arena. “And it is also a fact that the accumulated disadvantages of years of institutionalized depression have created yawning disparities in income, and in wealth and in education, and in health, in personal safety, in access to credit.”
Obama opened by describing today’s times as “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.” These days “we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.
This is the former president’s first visit to Africa since leaving office in early 2017. He stopped earlier this week in Kenya, where he visited the rural birthplace of his late father. Obama’s speech highlighted how the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was imprisoned for 27 years, kept up his campaign against what appeared to be insurmountable odds to end apartheid, South Africa’s harsh system of white minority rule.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

The banality of Barack Obama

Obama made a big speech in South Africa and all I can think is: Same old Obama.
His techniques are all there: Nods to the opposition, odd things thrown into sequences of events to deflect attention from his record, and a view of the world that hasn't changed a bit since his days of reading Tom Friedman. Heck, he probably still reads Tom Friedman, and golfs with him out on the toney gated links, too.
He blathers on about the wonders of globalism and takes credit for all of the "progress." Progress, progressivism, get it? He also does quite a bit to ignore his own record, starting with his doubled-down record of lies (Obamacare, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton's emails) and says other politicians do it. Yecch.
Here are some of the most annoying highlights of his dreary speech, which is sure to fade into the ether, given its rote-loathing of President Trump (not mentioned by name but obvious enough) and inability to grasp his own role in all the problems he talks about.
Praise for the big state over the dynamism and enterprise of the private sector, all because of its control:
In those nations with market-based economies, suddenly union movements developed; and health and safety and commercial regulations were instituted; and access to public education was expanded; and social welfare systems emerged, all with the aim of constraining the excesses of capitalism and enhancing its ability to provide opportunity not just to some but to all people. And the result was unmatched economic growth and a growth of the middle class.
Amazing unfamiliarity with how South Africa has fallen apart since Mandela left the scene, with white farmers' farms expropriated Zimbabwe-style, opening the gate for the rest of that same-old-socialism result. Maybe Mandela didn't set up the institutions to prevent that as he should have. Right now, South Africa has tyranny of the majority, the same miserable picture found all over the third world which stays third world, for this reason.
And then as Madiba guided this nation through negotiation painstakingly, reconciliation, its first fair and free elections; as we all witnessed the grace and the generosity with which he embraced former enemies, the wisdom for him to step away from power once he felt his job was complete, we understood that -- (applause) -- we understood it was not just the subjugated, the oppressed who were being freed from the shackles of the past. The subjugator was being offered a gift, being given a chance to see in a new way, being given a chance to participate in the work of building a better world.
Or this:
It is a plain fact that racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa. (Cheers and applause.)
Using euphemisms for socialism. Name one "closed" economy that isn't socialist. And plenty of those "market-based principles" were little more than crony capitalism, alongside U.S. Democratic Party-linked academics feeding at the U.S. government trough and not introducing "market-based" anything in other than name, as the horrible experience of Russia in the 1990s showed. There's a reason Russia turned to Vladimir Putin:
The introduction of market-based principles, in which previously closed economies along with the forces of global integration powered by new technologies, suddenly unleashed entrepreneurial talents
Bringing up billionaires, not quite getting beyond "fly him out" and getting to how they hand him the six-figure speaking fees, fancy vacations on private islands, and a celebrity lifestyle that characterizes his current hypocritical life. He would have us think he's not enjoying it and all he cares about are the ordinary schmoes - who by the way voted for Trump because of it. Get a load:
Now, it should be noted that this new international elite, the professional class that supports them, differs in important respects from the ruling aristocracies of old. It includes many who are self-made. It includes champions of meritocracy. And although still mostly white and male, as a group they reflect a diversity of nationalities and ethnicities that would have not existed a hundred years ago. A decent percentage consider themselves liberal in their politics, modern and cosmopolitan in their outlook. Unburdened by parochialism, or nationalism, or overt racial prejudice or strong religious sentiment, they are equally comfortable in New York or London or Shanghai or Nairobi or Buenos Aires, or Johannesburg. Many are sincere and effective in their philanthropy. Some of them count Nelson Mandela among their heroes. Some even supported Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States, and by virtue of my status as a former head of state, some of them consider me as an honorary member of the club. (Laughter.) And I get invited to these fancy things, you know? (Laughter.) They'll fly me out.
Here's another whopper of lumped together ideas of problems told in a way that obscures his own bad record in creating them:
And their decisions -- their decisions to shut down a manufacturing plant, or to try to minimize their tax bill by shifting profits to a tax haven with the help of high-priced accountants or lawyers, or their decision to take advantage of lower-cost immigrant labor, or their decision to pay a bribe -- are often done without malice; it's just a rational response, they consider, to the demands of their balance sheets and their shareholders and competitive pressures.
So where was he on the flat tax back when he was president? Flat tax is the only thing that breaks these wrap-arounds on the tax structure. Where was he on illegals that benefited these Democrat-donor tycoons who hired the cheap labor? That's right, practically inviting them in as loyal potential Democrat voters. Where was he on manufacturing? Out denouncing the bitter clingers and saying the jobs would never come back. There are a lot of doozies in that sequence. He throws in bribes for good measure to muddy the waters from his own record. Speaking of bribes, where was he on Hillary Clinton's foundation donations for State Department favors?
It gets worse. Trump voters are his next problem, because Democrats repeatedly say their motivation in voting for Trump is that it's all about their hate for people who 'look different.'
But to say that our vision for the future is better is not to say that it will inevitably win. Because history also shows the power of fear. History shows the lasting hold of greed and the desire to dominate others in the minds of men. Especially men. (Laughter and applause.) History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn on those who look different, or worship God in a different way.
The old bitter clingers, right?
Then there's his tax-the-rich mantra, one that always hits the little guy, not the billionaire Democratic campaign donors he purported claims his aim is at. Look at this drivel and think about Obama's record of hanging out with jet-setting billionaires:
And when economic power is concentrated in the hands of the few, history also shows that political power is sure to follow -- and that dynamic eats away at democracy. Sometimes it may be straight-out corruption, but sometimes it may not involve the exchange of money; it's just folks who are that wealthy get what they want, and it undermines human freedom.
And how we achieve this is going to vary country to country, and I know your new president is committed to rolling up his sleeves and trying to do so. But we can learn from the last 70 years that it will not involve unregulated, unbridled, unethical capitalism. It also won't involve old-style command-and-control socialism form the top. That was tried; it didn't work very well. For almost all countries, progress is going to depend on an inclusive market-based system -- one that offers education for every child; that protects collective bargaining and secures the rights of every worker -- (applause) -- that breaks up monopolies to encourage competition in small and medium-sized businesses; and has laws that root out corruption and ensures fair dealing in business; that maintains some form of progressive taxation so that rich people are still rich but they're giving a little bit back to make sure that everybody else has something to pay for universal health care and retirement security, and invests in infrastructure and scientific research that builds platforms for innovation.
That's his solution, tax "the rich" to pay for bureaucrats and put half the Millennial generation in their moms's basements, for lack of work. Sounds lovely. Been there, done that.
And then with perfect opacity, he natters on about how at some point he's had enough - and praises himself for 'giving back' or some such tale, given that he's doing nothing:
I should add, by the way, right now I'm actually surprised by how much money I got, and let me tell you something: I don't have half as much as most of these folks or a tenth or a hundredth. There's only so much you can eat. There's only so big a house you can have. (Cheers and applause.) There's only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it's enough. (Laughter.) You don't have to take a vow of poverty just to say, "Well, let me help out and let a few of the other folks -- let me look at that child out there who doesn't have enough to eat or needs some school fees, let me help him out. I'll pay a little more in taxes. It's okay. I can afford it."
He blathers on most disingenously, with a long passage about 'facts' which he doesn't have, and Friedmanian talk about 'technology' which adds nothing new, then his biggest problem, which is that he listens to no one but himself and Ben Rhodes:
Most of us prefer to surround ourselves with opinions that validate what we already believe. You notice the people who you think are smart are the people who agree with you. (Laughter.) Funny how that works.
Best I can conclude from this dreck is that Donald Trump has nothing to worry about from this frozen-in-amber soggy socialist thinking, coupled with a very bad presidential record he seems unaware of. Been there, done that, indeed.

"In the decade following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the capitalist class has delivered powerful blows to the social position of the working class. As a result, the working class in the US, the world’s “richest country,” faces levels of economic hardship not seen since the 1930s."

"Inequality has reached unprecedented levels: the wealth of America’s three richest people now equals the net worth of the poorest half of the US population."

"Like Katrina, Hurricane Harvey has lifted the lid on the ugly reality of American society, exposing colossal levels of social inequality, pervasive poverty and ruling class criminality."

"The reason why these warnings have been ignored is not hard to fathom. They have been resolutely opposed by corporate interests, including the real estate industry, Wall Street and Big Oil. Their ability, operating through bribed politicians of  both parties, to veto and block elementary measures to protect the American people, exemplifies the complete subordination of all social needs under capitalism to the selfish drive of a corporate-financial oligarchy to accumulate ever greater levels of personal wealth and profit."

"These figures present a scathing indictment of the social order that prevails in America, the world’s wealthiest country, whose government proclaims itself to be the globe’s leading democracy. They are just one manifestation of the human toll taken by the vast and all-pervasive inequality and mass poverty. 

WALL STREET TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: DIE YOUNG… your company pension dies with you!

OBAMA-CLINTONOMICS to serve the filthy rich

The same period has seen a massive growth of social inequality, with income and wealth concentrated at the very top of American society to an extent not seen since the 1920s.

“This study follows reports released over the past several months documenting rising mortality rates among US workers due to drug addiction and suicide, high rates of infant mortality, an overall leveling off of life expectancy, and a growing gap between the life expectancy of the bottom rung of income earners compared to those at the top.”

OBAMA’S CRONY BANKSTERISM destroyed a 11 TRILLION DOLLARS in home equity… and they’re still plundering us!

Barack Obama created more debt for the middle class than any president in US history, and also had the only huge QE programs: $4.2 Trillion.

OXFAM reported that during Obama’s terms, 95% of the wealth created went to 
the top 1% of the world’s wealthy. 




A dashcam video of downtown Los Angeles on Christmas day reveals a stunning sight: hundreds of tents and lean-tos on the sidewalks that serve as shelter for the homeless. The scene is reminiscent of a third-world country. RICK MORAN / AMERICANTHINKER com






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