Seattle Makes History – Passes ‘Tax The Rich’ Income Tax

Kshama Sawant addresses a crowd of "tax the rich" supporters outside at a rally before the vote.

By Andre Roberge for Progressive Army – Even though this may seem like cut-and-dry common sense legislation, this ordinance still has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Former Washington State Attorney Rob McKenna laid bare the main issues as follows: 1.[The city] would also have to persuade the Supreme Court to ignore an existing state statute that prohibits counties, cities … from imposing a tax on net income. 2.[What they] would have to do is persuade the Supreme Court to overlook its own precedent. The precedent alluded to above deals with a 1930s Washington Supreme Court decision that states “income is property, and the state’s constitution declares that all property must be taxed uniformly.” Since Seattle’s proposed income tax is a progressive tax and not “uniformly” distributed onto all tax brackets, the Supreme Court would have to redefine property. Some critics have gone even further.

Basic Income Works

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By Paul Niehaus and Michael Faye for Boston Review – Thankfully, we are less ignorant today. A number of organizations—including GiveDirectly, which we co-founded—have in fact been showering the poor with cash and then testing the results experimentally. A large and growing body of rigorous evidence has now accumulated, including 165 studies of 56 different schemes in 30 countries recently reviewed by the Overseas Development Institute. Recipients of basic income continue to work, spend less on vice, and are able to invest in long-term plans. The findings are encouraging. The darkest of concerns have not materialized: recipients of regular transfers have not cut their work hours, and if anything have cut their expenditure on alcohol and tobacco. Cash transfers have had positive impacts on a wide range of outcomes, and in some cases have indeed increased self-employment and earnings. In northern Uganda, for example, young adults given one-time grants of $382 each increased their earnings by 38 percent and their work hours by 17 percent 4 years later, investing in skills training and in tools in order to enter a range of trades from tailoring to carpentry to hairstyling.

90% Of American Households Lost About $17,000 In Wealth To Plutocrats In 2016

Steve Lambert, an artist living in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, created this sign in 2012 to find out from people in the Greater Boston area what they thought of this question. (Photo: Nate Goldman/WBUR)

By Paul Buchheit for Common Dreams – America has always been great for the richest 1%, and it’s rapidly becoming greater. Confirmation comes from recent work by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman; and from the 2015-2016 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databooks (GWD). The data relevant to this report is summarized here. The Richest 1% Extracted Wealth from Every Other Segment of Society. These multi-millionaires effectively shifted nearly $4 trillion in wealth away from the rest of the nation to themselves in 2016. While there’s no need to offer condolences to the rest of the top 10%, who still have an average net worth of $1.3 million…

Fast-Food Workers Shut Down Hardee's Corporate HQ Puzder 'Unfit'

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By Staff for Fight for $15. Hundreds of fast-food workers flooded the lobby of Hardee’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., this afternoon, demanding that Trump’s labor nominee Andy Puzder withdraw his nomination or be rejected by the U.S. Senate. Chanting “Hold Your Burgers, Hold Your Fries, Down With Puzder and His Lies” and “Make a Dollar, Get a Dime, Puzder Won’t Pay Overtime,” workers unfurled a banner reading “Puzder: Bad for America” in the lobby of the building. The also dropped a banner from the parking garage across from Hardee’s headquarters. The message: reject Puzder.

That 5.2% Jump In Household Income?

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By Wolf Richter for Wolf Street – We’ll be hearing and reading about this for a long time, in all kinds of iterations: “Americans last year reaped the largest economic gains in nearly a generation,” the New York Times gushed. “Household incomes surged 5.2% in 2015, first gain since 2007,” the Wall Street Journal raved. Everyone was happy. Poverty rates dropped 1.2 percentage points. Finally, some good data in that beleaguered sector! The middle class and those below had been getting hammered for too long.

How Much Will the War On Unions Cost You This Labor Day?

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By Richard Eskow for Campaign for America’s Future. The decline of unions has probably cost you, or someone close to you, thousands of dollars since last Labor Day. A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that income for nonunion workers fell substantially as union membership declined. And it hasn’t fallen because of some immutable economic law. It’s a casualty of war – cultural and political war. If union enrollment had remained as high as it was in 1979, nonunion working men in the private sector would have earned an average of $2,704 more per year in 2013. The average non-unionized male worker without a college degree would have earned an additional $3,016, and those with only a high school diploma or less would have earned $3,172 more. (The differences were less striking for women because of workforce changes since the 1970s.) The decline in union membership is costing nonunion workers a total of $133 billion per year, according to EPI.

Universal Basic Income: Why It Is Not Crazy And Not Going Away

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By Gwynne Dyer for Yonside – The Dutch city of Utrecht is developing a pilot project for a universal basic income that will launch in January 2017. The Finnish government is designing a trial to see whether giving low-income people a guaranteed basic income destroys their motivation to do any work at all, as critics allege. The idea is not going away because most “real” jobs are on the way out. The old argument in defence of technological change – that it creates more new jobs than it destroys – no longer holds water.

We Are So Poor Because They Are So Rich

No War but class war

By Dariel Garner for Popular Resistance, For decades, the rich have made all the laws and regulations, chosen the judges and the regulators, and written the 76,000 page IRS Tax Code. Occasionally, we agree with the rich, but even when we agree with them, it is because their radio, television, books, movies and newspapers have shaped our thinking to their liking. As bleak as the situation is, there is great reason to have courage that change can happen. The ruling elite are learning that they must reform and the people are realizing their power. There are many ways that we can organize and refuse to cooperate with a system that is producing dizzying inequalities.’ The people are learning that deep systemic change is not made by voting for a single candidate or by waving flags in the streets, but by educating and building mass support, by creating new alternatives to the existing structures and by taking strategic coercive action such as boycotts, strikes, blockades, and literally hundreds of other kinds of nonviolent actions that withdraw the support of the people from the hurtful and unfair system.

Low-Wage Workers Earn So Little They Must Rely On Public Assistance

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By David Cooper for Economic Policy Institute – There is an enduring myth that people who rely on public assistance are unwilling to work. However, there are 41.2 million working Americans (nearly 30 percent of the workforce) who receive public assistance—and nearly half of these workers (19.3 million) have full-time jobs. Not surprisingly, these workers are concentrated in jobs paying low hourly wages. A majority (53.1 percent) of workers earning less than $12.16 per hour—the bottom 30 percent of wage earners—earn so little on the job that they must rely on public assistance to make ends meet.

More Than Third Of Counties Median Income Dropped 10% Since 2000

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By Tim Henderson for The PEW Charitable Trust – ROCKDALE COUNTY — This Georgia suburb, about 23 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta, has been buffeted by the broader economic troubles the U.S. has experienced since 2000. Rockdale County businesses produce disposable cups and pizza boxes, walk-in coolers and pre-fabricated gas stations. But since the turn of the century, the number of manufacturing jobs in the county has declined by 27 percent, according to the latest County Business Patterns report produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Newsletter: After The Crash...

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The economic agenda described here would create a radical transformation of the economy from a top-down system designed for the wealthiest, to a botton-up system that creates a foundation for an economy that benefits all. Putting in place this economy would move us from a plutocratic economy to a democratized economy where people have economic control over their lives. It is a radical shift – how can it happen? There is only one path – the people must be educated, organized and mobilized to demand it. We need to change the political culture to one where the necessities of the people and protection of the planet are the priorities of the economy. If predictions are correct, the next economic collapse will deeper and more damaging than the 2008 collapse. It will be a tremendous opportunity to demand radical economic change. It is one the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice should be preparing for now.

Incomes Decline, Poverty Increases: Fed Declares Victory, Chokes Economy

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By Robert Hennelly for Salon. Earlier this month when Fed chair Janet Yellen offered her rationale for raising interest rates, it was sadly reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech, given on the USS Abraham Lincoln when he declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over in 2003. Yellen spoke from her well-feathered perch about the “considerable progress that has been made restoring jobs, raising incomes, and easing the economic hardship of millions of Americans.” A few days later Congress passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill and $700 billion in tax breaks before they went on their holiday. The president signed off on it all and headed off for his spectacular vacation to Hawaii.

Another Money Is Possible: Holland Leads Experiment In Basic Income

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By Steve Rushton for Occupy.com. The Netherlands is seeing a revolution around money that is already getting underway, as the Dutch seek trial schemes that include basic income principles. The plan complements ongoing Parliamentary discussions inspired by citizen pressure to created positive money. That is, when society makes money for the public good rather than the banks creating money as public debt. Of the 393 municipalities in the Netherlands, 10 to 15 of them are working on plans for a basic income-inspired trial, with some planning to start next year. Interest is emerging in another 40 municipalities, including all of the country’s largest cities. This means a large portion of the Dutch population will witness, and many will directly experience, this trial.

Basic Income Week: A 'Safety Net For Life'

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By Staff for Basic Income Week – We are facing multiple crises which threaten our lives as individuals as well as life as humankind as a whole. These crises – social, ecological and nancial – are being experienced in a myriad of dierent ways around the world. For this year‘s Basic Income Week we want to draw attention to Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) as a possible “Safety Net for Life” which leaves no one behind. In a world where work is characterised by increasing exibility, insecurity and precarity, UBI not only reduces the fears which make people susceptible to hate and violence against “others”. UBI also sparks economic growth where it is badly needed while paving a way towards degrowth where that is necessary. UBI enables ecological sustainability, guaranteeing life on earth in the future.

Wages Decline Especially For Low Wage Workers

Income Hard Work Deserves Fair Pay

By Claire McKenna and Irene Tung for the National Employment Law Project – On this Labor Day 2015, underlying weaknesses persist in the labor market, as evidenced by the historically low employment rate of prime-age workers and the stubbornly high number of individuals unemployed for longer than six months. The “real” unemployment rate—which includes those working part time who want full-time work, and those who have stopped searching but if offered a job would take it—remains in excess of 10 percent. Taking into account cost-of-living increases since the recession officially ended in 2009, wages have actually declined for most U.S. workers, continuing a decades long stagnation of wages.