Rewarding Infidelity

Our police, fire & schools lose close to $150 million/yr because MA thinks subsidizing the paychecks of mutual fund company executives is a higher priority. This  one giveaway is 10% of the state's budget deficit this year. The total amount lost each year, when you include all the other desperately needy firms like Raytheon that get this special deal? More than $300 million/year. Remember that, when you start feeling what has been cut in this year's budget. Curiously enough, Fidelity claims they have no idea how much they're saving!  At the hearing on Beacon Hill, Fidelity President Ronald O'Hanley declined to say exactly how much the Boston financial services giant benefited from a tax change in 1996 for the mutual fund industry. The Department of Revenue estimates the mutual fund industry has saved roughly $1.7 billion since the law was changed 15 years ago, including an estimated $142 million this tax year alone. One of my favorite parts of this charade is where our elected officials are completely shocked, shocked I say, to find out that these firms heading out the door with the money we've been paying them to stay. The hearing came just weeks after Fidelity announced plans to close its Marlborough facility and move most of the 1,100 jobs there out of state by the end of 2012. Governor Deval Patrick and other state political leaders complained they were blindsided by the announcement. Really? They hadn't noticed Fidelity has cut 1/4 of it's Massachusetts workforce in the last 5 years?  Fidelity Investments has reduced its Massachusetts workforce by more than a quarter since 2006, while cutting its overall global employment by nearly 10,000 jobs over the past few years.  No wonder even supporters of so-called job creation tax breaks think this is one tax break that is broken! Continue reading

The Money is There --- But Not For You!

The leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties have been taking advantage of the "economic crisis" -- which their campaign donors and corporate friends created -- to "balance the budget" by slashing public services, including education, health care, nutrition, public works, and human services. We think this is the wrong way to go. It harms the people who are most devastated by the economic disasters of the last five years. It hurts whose economic situation stagnated for the last thirty years, during which virtually all the productivity gains in the country have gone to the top one percent, creating state and national income inequality unseen since the Gilded Age and the Crash of 1928. We should be enhancing quality of life, infrastructure, and education, to boost the economic vitality of the community, instead of crippling our future with a stingy "austerity" punishing those who least bear the blame for the economic disaster.And it's unnecessary! We didn't get into this mess by over-funding these essential services. We got into it by mis-using our resources: By giving away our money to corporations that overpay their CEOs and underpay their workers. By throwing our health care insurance into the hands of predatory insurance companies. By taxing the super-rich -- the millionaires and billionaires -- at effectively lower rates than those paid by low-income and middle-class people. By deregulating the financial industries so they could exploit their credit customers and boost their undeserved bonuses. The money is there -- but NOT FOR YOU! Now, the "mainstream" political parties are forcing ordinary working people to make up the losses. And Democrats aren't much better than Republicans! It's true that Republicans are proposing ever more more outrageous things to destroy economic security for the majority of Americans for the benefit of the few at the top. It's true that Republicans are taking the lead in proposing ever more outrageous things to destroy economic security for the majority of Americans for the benefit of the few at the top. But the Democrats are not providing real opposition to this. They have effectively surrendered to the same corporate agenda, and have decided to let their party be funded by the same corporate interests. Democrats may provide early criticism of Republican initiatives to assure a shocked public that they are on the job, but they soon fall into line, often just writing their own version of the Republican legislation (Romneycare becomes Obamacare, Bush’s War becomes Obama’s War). Democrats are "negotiating" by asking for less to begin with, and then giving in some more. They've let the conservatives define the arguments, take the role of moral guardians, and present wrong and ridiculous statements, numbers and theories as truth and policy. To get their way, Republicans just have to ask for a little more than they really think they can get, and then accept a “ bipartisan compromise” from retreating Democrats. People with progressive values, who want to protect the opportunities and protections for workers and families that created the great American middle class, have to face the facts about the Democratic and Republican Parties. Democratic politicians are just as dependent as Republicans on campaign donations from rich and powerful individuals, and from corporations seeking subsidies and favors. President Obama is launching a billion-dollar fund-raising effort; where do you think that kind of money will come from? Governor Deval Patrick's campaign fund is stuffed with money from the same contributors: corporations and rich individuals. These donors do not give money for nothing; they are investing in our politicians, and they are seldom disappointed.These politicians aren't going to serve you. They will serve their corporate masters and well-heeled, well-connected benefactors; they will work for those who keep them in office. And no matter how much truth you know and how much you threaten to defect -- they know you have no where else to go. Progressives are resigned to "hold their nose" and vote for Democrats, who know they can frighten and bully people into voting for them, lest they end up with Republicans.We got here by continually voting for Democrats in order to vote AGAINST Republicans. It has backfired. The result is that the Democrats have essentially merged with the Republicans, emboldening Republicans to veer even further to the right to please their most extreme factions. Continue reading