Tag Archives: income

Bill Maher’s excellent commentary on income inequality

by BruinKid

Last night, Bill Maher delivered an excellent final New Rule on how some of the 1% are whining about feeling persecuted.

Did you know that during World War II, FDR actually proposed a cap on income that in today’s dollars would mean that no person could ever take home more than about $300,000?  OK, that is a little low.  (audience laughter)  But wouldn’t it be great if there were Democrats out there like that now, who would say to billionaires, “Oh, you’re crying?  We’ll give you something to cry about.  You don’t want a minimum wage?  How about we not only have a minimum wage, we have a maximum wage?”  (audience applause)

That is not a new idea.  James Madison, who wrote our Constitution, said, “Government should prevent an immoderate accumulation of riches.”  Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, they all agreed that too much money in the hands of too few would destroy democracy.

Read more » DAILY KOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/01/1281312/-Bill-Maher-s-excellent-commentary-on-income-inequality

France passes 75% ‘millionaire’s tax’

By Thomson Reuters

France’s Constitutional Council gave the green light on Sunday to a ‘millionaire’s tax’, to be levied on companies that pay salaries of more than one million euros, or about $1.4 million, a year.

The measure, introduced in line with a pledge by President Francois Hollande to make the rich do more to pull France out of crisis, has infuriated business leaders and soccer clubs, which at one point threatened to go on strike.

It was originally designed as a 75 per cent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding one million euros, but the council rejected this, saying 66 per cent was the legal maximum for individuals.

The Socialist government has since reworked the tax to levy it on companies instead, raising the ire of entrepreneurs.

Under its new design, which the Council found constitutional, the tax will be an exceptional 50 per cent levy on the portion of wages exceeding 1 million euros paid in 2013 and 2014.

Including social contributions, its rate will effectively remain roughly 75 per cent. The tax will, however, be capped at 5 percent of the company’s turnover.

The Council, a court made up of judges and former French presidents, has the power to annul laws if they are deemed to violate the constitution.

Courtesy: CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/france-passes-75-millionaire-s-tax-1.2478390

Switzerland limits CEOs one month pay

A Proposal To Limit Swiss Executive Pay To 12 Times That Of Low-Paid Employees Has Fat Cats Worried

By Adam Taylor

On Nov. 24, Swiss voters will go to the polls to vote on a radical new idea — limiting the monthly pay of the highest earners in Swiss firms to no greater than the yearly pay of the lowest earners. It’s being called the 1:12 Initiative — and it sure has some people worried.

To understand the context of the vote, you need to know two things about Switzerland. First, the country has a relatively unique system of direct democracy — if 100,000 people sign a proposed change to the constitution, or “popular initiatives,” a referendum is held. If a majority of voters and cantons (Swiss states) agree with the proposal, the change can become law.

The second factor is how these Swiss initiatives have been used recently. Earlier this year Swiss voters agreed to an idea proposed by entrepreneur Thomas Minder that limited executive (in his words, “fat cat”) salaries of companies listed on the Swiss stock market. On the other end of the spectrum, a proposal to give every Swiss adult an unconditional income of $2,800 a month recently gained enough signatures to be voted on.

The 1:12 Initiative lies somewhere between these two extremes in terms of its radical ambition, but its core idea comes from the same place — an angst in Switzerland, a country most famous for centuries of private banking, that executive pay and income inequality are out of control.

To understand the thought process, Business Insider called David Roth, the leader of the youth wing of Swiss party the Social Democrats, and one of the architects of the plan. Roth explained that high executive salaries only became a big issue in 2002 or so, and by 2006/7 they became a public issue. The preparation for the 1:12 Initiative began in 2009.

Continue reading Switzerland limits CEOs one month pay

Average America vs the One Percent

By Alan Dunn, Contributor

If the Occupy movement does nothing else, it has at least introduced a new set of terms into the American vocabulary to talk about the distribution of wealth in America. Until recently, most average people had no idea how wealth was distributed in the country; most people had a vague idea of a wealthy minority, but they rarely grasped the full extent of income disparity between classes. Now, most people are aware of the notion of the 1 percent, although they still may not know exactly what it means or how that unequal distribution of wealth applies to the rest of the country.

Unequal wealth distribution is hardly a new or uniquely American problem. In fact, it’s been prevalent throughout society since humans first built civilizations: A small minority of aristocrats has always wielded the most power throughout history. In modern times, America lags behind nearly every other first-world nation in closing the gap between the classes. In fact, we’re making it worse.

The Distribution of Wealth Between Americans

Before you can talk about the 1 percent, it’s important to put the figures into perspective by understanding exactly what that figure means. The average annual income of the top 1 percent of the population is $717,000, compared to the average income of the rest of the population, which is around $51,000. The real disparity between the classes isn’t in income, however, but in net value: The 1 percent are worth about $8.4 million, or 70 times the worth of the lower classes.

The 1 percent are executives, doctors, lawyers and politicians, among other things. Within this group of people is an even smaller and wealthier subset of people, 1 percent of the top, or .01 percent of the entire nation. Those people have incomes of over $27 million, or roughly 540 times the national average income. Altogether, the top 1 percent control 43 percent of the wealth in the nation; the next 4 percent control an additional 29 percent.

It’s historically common for a powerful minority to control a majority of finances, but Americans haven’t seen a disparity this wide since before the Great Depression — and it keeps growing.

The Fallacy of Hard Work

It’s a common belief in America that all people have the same opportunity for success as the top 1 percent. Most people consider success to be a by-product of hard work, and hard work is something that Americans are extremely familiar with. In fact, Americans have increased productivity by 80 percent since 1979; unfortunately, their income hasn’t risen accordingly, if at all.

The average worker in an American company makes substantially less than supervisors and executives. In fact, corporate executives make 62 times more money than an average worker in bonuses alone, not counting the executive’s actual salary. For every corporate bonus, the company could have paid 62 employees. In fact, incentive pay actually rose 30 percent from years before the recession.

A Difference in Lifestyle: Americans and the 1 Percent

It’s no surprise that people in different classes spend their money differently. A person’s priorities change when he becomes wealthy, and certain expenses don’t vary much from one class to the next. The cost of food, healthcare and other expenses remains constant between classes, while the relative income may vary substantially.

For example, all Americans pay an average of a third of their incomes for housing. The second highest expense of top earners in America is transportation; the rich spend about 17 percent of their income traveling for business and pleasure. On the other hand, the lower classes spend about 17 percent of their income on feeding their families.

Read more » Forbes
http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneywisewomen/2012/03/21/average-america-vs-the-one-percent/

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much, much worse.

The Census Bureau has reported that one out of six Americans lives in poverty. A shocking figure. But it’s actually much worse. Inequality is spreading like a shadowy disease through our country, infecting more and more households, and leaving a shrinking number of financially secure families to maintain the charade of prosperity.

1. Almost half of Americans had NO assets in 2009

Analysis of  Economic Policy Institute data shows that Mitt Romney’s famous  47 percent, the alleged ‘takers,’ have taken nothing. Their debt exceeded their assets in 2009.

Continue reading The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty — and It’s Creeping toward 75%

Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

Even business journals are recognizing it. Since this piece originates with a business publication, you will obviously find some things that may startle you. If so, disregard..or better, explore and see what the other side thinks. —Eds.

By , Business Time

Or so we thought. With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.

A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look. In China, the Marxist country that turned its back on Marx, Yu Rongjun was inspired by world events to pen a musical based on Marx’s classic Das Kapital. “You can find reality matches what is described in the book,” says the playwright.

Continue reading Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

U.S. Economic Inequality Is Permanent, Study Finds

Bye, Bye American Dream! U.S. Economic Inequality Is Permanent, Study Finds

Analysis of two decades of income tax trends also find the rich consume more.

By Steven Rosenfeld

A new study by a team of economists in academia and the government has concluded that economic inequality is a permanent—not temporary—feature in the United States, based on an analysis of 350,000 federal income tax returns between 1987 and 2009.

“For household income, both before and after taxes, the increase in inequality over this period was predominantly, although not entirely, permanent,” the highly technical report concluded. “We also find evidence that the U.S. federal tax system helped reduce the increase in household income inequality; but this attenuating effect was insufficient to significantly alter the broad trend toward rising inequality.”

Continue reading U.S. Economic Inequality Is Permanent, Study Finds

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

China Industrial Companies’ Profits Climb a Fourth Month

By Bloomberg News

Chinese industrial companies’ profits rose for a fourth month in December, adding to signs the country’s economic rebound is gaining momentum.

Net income increased 17.3 percent from a year earlier to 895 billion yuan ($144 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said today in Beijing, after a 22.8 percent jump in November. Earnings for the full year gained 5.3 percent.

Industrial profits may rise by an average 30 percent this year as the world’s second-biggest economy recovers from a seven-quarter slowdown, businesses start restocking and export demand improves, Standard Chartered Plc forecasts. Expansion in gross domestic product may accelerate to 8.1 percent this year from 7.8 percent in 2012, according to the median of 44 analyst estimates in a Bloomberg News survey this month. …

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-27/china-industrial-companies-profits-climb-a-fourth-month.html

Global super-rich elite has hidden an extraordinary $21 trillion of wealth offshore

£13tn: hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

• Study estimates staggering size of offshore economy

• Private banks help wealthiest to move cash into havens

A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network. ….

Read more » guardian.co.uk

Via – Twitter

Pakistan’s tax-GDP ratio is at the same level as Ethiopia and Afghanistan – Shahid Kardar

Tax reform agenda for next government

By Shahid Kardar

Pakistan has one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios and, even considering developing countries alone, it is in the bottom ranked nations in terms of the proportion of population registered as taxpayers – less than 5 percent. of household population. There is rampant tax evasion, partly with the collusion of the official machinery. Whereas 3.1 million people have the National tax Number, a mere 1.2 million filed an income tax return in 2010/11. What is even more startling is that of 47,800 companies that have NTNs, less than 16,800 filed an income tax return against 400,000 industrial electricity connections.

As admitted by FBR, there is a tax gap of 79 percent. (the difference between potential revenues under the existing system and that actually collected). Revenues can be raised through broadening of bases, improving the equity of the tax regime, incentivising documentation, checking evasion by embracing a zero-tolerance policy, checking harassment of, or collusion with, taxpayers by simplifying tax returns and making FBR a faceless bureaucracy, with interaction between taxpayers and tax officials limited through greater reliance on automated computerised systems.

The general tax reforms would include taxation of all incomes of same levels equally irrespective of source, with a swift reversal of the travesty of the recent amnesty granted to trading in shares. There is also need for legislation that will render all Benami Transactions illegal and subjecting all cabinet members, who should all be taxpayers, to detailed tax scrutiny throughout period of office, and they should all be taxpayers. The tax returns and Wealth Statements of all parliamentarians and holders of key public offices and their spouses (including Secretaries, Chief Justices, Chief of Army Staff, Governor State Bank, Auditor and Attorney Generals) should be public during period of office and one year thereafter. Finally, following good results of tax mobilisation initiatives, individual and corporate income tax rates and the GST rate could be lowered under a phased programme.

 

The specific reforms under different tax heads would be the following: For Income Tax: Greater dependence needs to be placed on technology and through that on the CNIC for tracking commercial transactions to identify potential tax evasion/evaders, including movements in bank accounts of large deposit holders. The FBR should periodically reconcile the property tax registers of all provincial governments, names of credit card holders and members of private clubs with those allotted National Tax Numbers, for the system to generate notices to non-filers. All presumptive taxes should be replaced by withholding taxes (which presently contribute 60 percent. of income tax revenues). And the rates of all withholding taxes should be increased by at least two percentage points as a revenue enhancing measure, to incentivise documentation and penalise those trying to avoid capture in the tax net. ….

Read more » The News

Finally, the shoe is on the other foot – NAB initiates probe against senior PTI leader

Embezzlement: NAB initiates probe against senior PTI leader

By Zahid Gishkori

ISLAMABAD: A senior member of Imran Khan’s party of self-professed ‘clean politicians’ has come under scrutiny. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started investigations against a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, officials said.

Malik Naveed Khan allegedly embezzled millions of rupees in the procurement of arms for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police at exorbitant prices on the pretext of fighting terrorism, they added.

“He (Naveed), who served as inspector general police K-P, allegedly made Rs25 million in an arms purchase deal worth Rs6 billion with a Chinese firm during his tenure,” a member of an executive board of NAB told The Express Tribune.

The decision to start investigations against Naveed was taken in a board meeting on Wednesday, which also approved investigations against deputy IGP K-P Khurshid Alam, in the same case.

Naveed, who is now pursuing a political career with the PTI, is working with his close friend, head of PTI’s scrutiny committee in the province, Rustam Shah Mohmand. …..

Read more » The Express Tribune

Impact of OWS

– Finally, Higher Taxes for the 1% — Is Occupy Behind Governors’ Moves to Make the Wealthy Pay Their Share?

By Sarah Jaffe

Is the narrative around taxes finally shifting? Thanks to heavy public pressure, Governors Cuomo and Brown propose taxing their states’ ultrarich. …

Read more » AlterNet

Why the U.S. is Not Regulating Wall Street

The “Other Reason” Why the U.S. is Not Regulating Wall Street

Financial Giants Overshadow Governments

by Washington’s Blog

Sure, American politicians have been bought and paid for by the Wall Street giants. See this, this and this.

And everyone knows that the White House and Congress – while talking about cracking down on Wall Street with strict regulation – have actually watered down some of the most important protections that were in place. ….

Read more » Global Research

Pakistan’s new economic agenda

by Manzur Ejaz

Then let’s start. Let’s take the economic agenda first:

1. Feudalism should be abolished completely

2. It will be a Social Democratic Economy…Public sector along with largely private enterprises. Public sector should be expanded to provide universal education and health services….

3. Everyone pays taxes to get services. At least everyone files taxes whether rich or poor. Role of indirect taxes should be minimized which is regressive but main source of government income. In a mixed economy taxes are the only instrument to distribute wealth on equitable basis. It is the only way to fund government operations without borrowing. And inflation or rising prices can only be checked if government borrowing is brought down to zero.

4. Electricity and gas should be supplied on continuous basis to run the industry and trade smoothly.

5. People living beyond their means and having wealth beyond known sources should be prosecuted and brought to justice.

6. End of monopolies or they should be regulated wherever necessary. Monopoly in media should be ended: Like the US one group should not have major newspaper in more than one region.

Read more : Wichaar

The Downfall of Political Islam

by Samir Yousif

Finally I would point out that political Islam has failed to provide a political model that can compete with other contemporary political models, such as the Chinese model, Western democracies, or even developing democracies such as India and the other Asian countries. That comes with no surprise, as religion, any religion, keeps itself centuries behind.

The theme of my argument is the following statement: Islam, as a religion, has nothing to offer to economic or political theory. This simple idea has serious consequences. Political Islam, when it runs the country, will ultimately fail. It has no appropriate agenda that provides solutions to real political or economic challenges such as underdevelopment, unemployment, inflation, recession, poverty, just to mention a few.

(I will not touch upon the most significant political-socioeconomic issue which is income inequalities, because Islam accepts a society composed of very rich classes living side by side with very poor classes- examples can be found from history or from today’s Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, and Iran). While some Islamists continue to claim the existence of “Islamic economics,” they have failed in producing anything close to a simple theory of economics.

I believe that the main reason for the downfall of Muslim civilisation was the inherent social crisis: a society composed of few rich surrounded by the poor masses kept going by a strong religion. Social and political revolutions took place several times during the heyday of Muslim civilisation, as happened during the Umayyad Caliphate, the Abbasid Caliphate, in Muslim Spain, and the famous Zanj Rebellion during the year 869 in Basra. But historians have ignored such revolutions. Muslim economies have failed throughout history to solve the very basic problem: the wage equation. Unskilled and skilled workers were downgraded to the lowest classes in Muslim societies, and were paid the minimum. History has showed that under Islam the wealth of the country went mainly to the Calipha, feeding his palace, army, the royal family, and to the vested interest that the Calipha has chosen himself. The tax system was mainly imposed on the agricultural sector, what was known as the produce tax (Kharaj).

“Islamic economics” is a term used today to justify the significant income inequalities in such societies and to find religiously- accepted investment opportunities for the rich. …

Read more : http://www.document.no/2011/01/the-downfall-of-political-islam/

INDIA IS TRYING TO COMPETE WITH PAKISTAN IN CORRUPTION

In MP, babus sleep on bed of cash

by Suchandana Gupta

BHOPAL: In ‘bimaru’ Madhya Pradesh, bank lockers of bureaucrats and government officials are bursting with cash and gold.  An IAS couple here owns 25 flats and 400 acres of land. A middle-ranking engineer’s wife owns three houses and has more than 10 kg gold in her bank locker. And wherever the income tax department conducts a raid, so much cash is unearthed that counting machines have to be brought in. ….
Read more : The Times of India

Pakistan – Borrow until broke: how to make a nation fail

– Dr Manzur Ejaz

The lack of governance, irresponsible spending by the governing elite and non-collection of income taxes are the biggest hurdles. Power shortages, corruption and nepotism are major hurdles for the private sector to increase production. The opportunism of different political parties does not allow any government to devise a rational policy …

Read more : Wichaar

US Afghan war review — Dr Mohammad Taqi

The word victory has never featured in Mr Obama’s speeches in the Afghan context and is unlikely to pop up now. We will hear a lot from him about the build-hold-clear-stabilise-handover process and the long term US ‘commitment’, but there will be hardly any reference to nation-building or even sustained counterinsurgency

US president Barack Obama will announce his annual review of the Afghan war today (December 16, 2010). A successful legal challenge to Mr Obama’s healthcare plan and hectic congressional activity to extend the Bush-era income tax cuts had pushed this review off the US media radar, but the death of the Special Representative Richard Holbrooke has managed to put it back in the news-cycle, at least for the time being. What was expected to be a low key affair will still remain a whimper but more questions are being asked about the shape of the things to come as a larger-than-life member of Mr Obama’s Pak-Afghan team made his exit from the diplomatic and world stage.

The Washington Post has reported that Mr Holbrooke’s last words, spoken to his surgeon, were: “You have got to stop this war in Afghanistan.” Incidentally, Mr Holbrooke’s surgeon happened to be a King Edward Medical College-educated Pakistani. Of course, neither the surgeon nor the common Pakistanis have much to do with the war in Afghanistan but given the Pakistani establishment’s massive involvement in favour of the Taliban, Mr Holbrooke’s last words seem almost surreal.

Mr Holbrooke, however, was not the only one calling for ending the war in Afghanistan. On the eve of the Afghan war review, a 25-member group of experts on Afghanistan, which includes respected names like Ahmed Rashid and Professor Antonio Giustozzi, has published an open letter to Mr Obama, calling on him to authorise a formal negotiation with the Afghan Taliban and seek a political settlement. However, buried in the text of the 1,030-word long plea to talk to the Taliban is the key sentence: “With Pakistan’s active support for the Taliban, it is not realistic to bet on a military solution.” …

Read more : Daily Times

Let’s germinate like Germany did

– Muhammad Shoaib Akif

President Asif Ali Zardari will continue to face a difficult, and at times war-like, situation through such media debates which rather look like trials. The participants in the debates usually are the beneficiary of the system that speaks volumes about an ever-untold truth that is about human relationships that are determined by economy and security. President Zardari is in a struggle to change the system. Since he means economy and security for all, and not for only a few hundred thousand elitist Pakistanis, he would continue to face resistance. What does security and economy here in Pakistan for everyone mean? Moreover, what if these two entities are not achieved justifiably with the reasons quite understandable even to an illiterate and what is not happening here for more than 63 years? Last but not the least, who will help us achieve these utmost requirements and how? Let’s have one of the pertinent examples say of Germany to find the answer. Germany acted rationally after experiencing almost total devastation caused by its expansionist policies during Second World War 63 years ago. Germans did not raise another army; it raised its economic structure through social democracy. And that enabled Germany make its citizens secure both socially and economically. To Germans security and economy of an individual is security of state itself. The people out there do not need thousands of judges and generals because a responsible bureaucracy, which is much smaller than ours, does its job amicably under the guidance of political government. Germens do not have to pay almost 10 billion US$ to keep only their not-awfully over-sized army and administration happy every year as we do here. Although their differences between expenditures and income may be in hundreds of US$ billion yet the differences are not mere due to their spending on their army and administration but on employed and unemployed citizens living therein. Germany makes her citizens secure both socially and economically and in turn the citizens show a paramount patriotism and protect the state also simply because the state does best possible justice with them. None can refute a recent example when world economic recession had just started off to effect Germany; it were the elites of Germany who asked their state publicly to tax them more than what their common citizens paid. In fact, almost all the citizens work, produce and pay taxes willingly and thus increase the income of the state to be spent back on them in various ways later in shape of social and economic security. To them and rightly so: security and economy of an individual is the security of state itself. …

Read more : The Frontier Post