“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must-listen)

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Democracy Now!
January 18, 2008

“Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill)”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston joins us to talk about his new book, “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill).” Johnston reveals how government subsidies and new regulations have quietly funneled money from the poor and the middle class to the rich and politically connected.

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Guest:

David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for the New York Times. His latest book is titled Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You with the Bill). He is also author of the bestselling book Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich—and Cheat Everybody Else.

transcript

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see

Kucinich: Economic Stimulus Package Needs To Focus On States And Localities That Need Help The Most

Robert Greenwald fights for the dream (video)

Bush’s “Stimulus” Cash Giveaway; “Gentlemen, Start The Helicopters” By Mike Whitney

Bush speech on the U.S. Economy Jan.18, 2008

23 thoughts on ““Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Govt Expense (& Stick You with the Bill)” (must-listen)

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  11. I think the point of the book was not necessarily to argue for “more government intervention” on behalf of the Middle Class but rather to expose the intense government intervention that goes to help the largest corporations AT THE EXPENSE of everyone else….it’s a story rarely told in the mainstream media and the interview I heard with this author was truly enlightening…..

    There’s been an unbelievable bait and switch right before our eyes: We were told “small gov’t will get off your back” but really it was “change the gov’t to feed the pockets of the rich”.

    The result is the biggest shift in wealth from low and middle to upper class in American history. Right or Left this is a pretty well-supported financial fact. Really it transcends Democrats vs. Republicans, since – excepting Kucinich and maybe Edwards (gone and soon-to-be) – both parties are essentially silent on this issue.

  12. Software Eng, thanks for bringing Keynes to my attention. I wiki’d him and he was a smart and interesting fella.

    I can appreciate some of the things you wrote above, I am assuming are ideas from Keynes, but can’t get on board for most of them, union’s, taxation… yikes!

  13. U.S. Economic Program – Emergency & Long-Term Correction

    The underlying problem with the economy is an extreme maldistribution of income between the working class and the capital owners. When a CEO can make 300 million dollars while an average worker’s wages haven’t even kept pace with inflation what results is a dysfunctional market economy starved for consumption spending. The average American has had to fuel his/her spending with debt obtained by borrowing on the equity within their home – that phantom equity has now evaporated.

    John Maynard Keynes –
    • If fiscal policy is used as a deliberate instrument for the more equal distribution of incomes its effects in increasing the propensity to consume is, of course, all the greater.
    • Aggregate consumption depends mainly on the amount of aggregate income.
    • Consumption – to repeat the obvious is the sole end and object of all economic activity.
    • We cannot, as a community, provide for future consumption by financial expediants [stocks, bonds, 2nd mortgages on home loans, etc] but only by current output.
    • Capital is not a self-subsistent entity existing apart from consumption.
    • Consumption is directly tied to the level of employment.

    Proposed Program
    • 2 year 800 billion emergency Infrastructure Investment Jobs Creation Program (IIJCP) aimed at building new interstate highways, mass transit systems, schools, bridges, public hospitals, libraries, and assorted public buildings.
    • Eliminate labor arbitrage by canceling all Temporary Worker Visa programs (L-1, H1-B, etc.), and establish tax penalties for firms that expand their workforce above some threshold through outsourcing, or replacement hiring in foreign locations.
    • Taxation of corporate profits in the amount of 95% for firms that exceed a threshold level of jobs outsourced to a foreign country.
    • Taxation at the rate of 80% on individual yearly income received from any corporation, not-for-profit organization, or any form of legal entity where the total income exceeds the U.S. average yearly median individual income by 200%.
    • Fair trade agreements that ensure nations will offer decent wages, humane working conditions, and sound environmental policies.
    • A nationalized health care system for all U.S. citizens.
    • An effective federally funded tuition assistance program for U.S. citizens targeted at professions in demand.
    • Repeal all legislation that inhibits the right’s of individuals to organize under labor unions regardless of position or any other currently disqualifying classification.

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  18. I can see Soft Eng’s logic and I would agree that many CEO’s are getting waaayyy too much money. But is it the govt’s job to tell a private company what they can and can’t do regarding salary’s? No. I don’t like the sound of that one bit and I hope you don’t either. I agree it’s a concern, but not overall responsible for the left’s idea of a poor victimized middle class.

    I agree as well that debt is destroying many lives, this is where I feel the government should interlope. If anything this is a far greater danger to lower income folk’s than any fat cat making millions.

    As for Work Visa’s and penalizing our industry for sending jobs overseas,,, what little I know of it, I like the way it sounds, but we must also make the US a freindly place to do business again, via tax cuts etc…

    I will say this again, I never think it is the job of the federal government to get too involved in anything…

  19. Copied from this post: Kucinich: Economic Stimulus Package Needs To Focus On States And Localities That Need Help The Most

    SoftwareEng, on January 19th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    The underlying problem with the economy is an extreme maldistribution of income between the working class and the capital owners. When a CEO can make 300 million dollars while an average worker’s wages haven’t even kept pace with inflation what results is a dysfunctional market economy starved for consumption spending. The average American has had to fuel his/her spending with debt obtained by borrowing on the equity within their home – that phantom equity has now evaporated.

    In order to correct this out of balance condition there needs to be laws in place (similar to the anti-Trust legislation) that caps the annual income of all capital owners and their surrogates (CEOs, CFOs, etc.) at a specific federal percentage above that of the highest paid worker within their respective firm. Also, we need to eliminate labor arbitrage by canceling all Temporary Worker Visa programs (L-1, H1-B, etc.), and establish tax penalties for firms that expand their workforce above some threshold through outsourcing, or replacement hiring in foreign locations.

    Essentially, FDR was accurate when he characterized the Great Depression as an out-of-balance Economic malady. Rural income prior to the Great Depression was significantly lower than urban income, now (overvalued home equity) as then there was unlimited amounts of overvalued phantom equity flowing into the stock market, the income differential between labor and capital while nowhere near the current astronomical level was still much higher than sustainable. There in lies the root cause of the out-of-balance condition that precipitated the Great Depression. Any system including the market economy that gets to far out balance does not function properly. Certain constraints need to exist to keep the market economy from slipping into a dysfunctional state. Balance is the essence of stability nothing short of this will guarantee permanence.

  20. I fundamentally disagree anytime the “rich” are shown in a negative light and the “poor/middlecalss” to be victims.
    Without the rich there would be no growth, re-investement in Amertica and no jobs. There are always going to be people with and people without. The world needs “ditch diggers” too.

    Sure the rich get away with things, as do these “poor” “middle calss” folk you speak of.
    The NYT and Democracy Now are so far left with their agenda it’s near impossible for me to see them as anything other than agenda driven socialist.

    Wealth re-distribution is the ultimate goal of those who constantly feed this class envy game. You level the playing field and all motivation to succeed diminishes. What would working folk have to strive for if it was all handed to them.

    Less government, less taxes, less regulation,,, that’s the way we should go. Not increase government…

    Make sense? I think conservatives and socialist(D) are wired differently, because I admit I will never be able to make the left see the error of their ways. Much smarter folks than I have failed.
    Just as the left will never be able to convince me that anyone should feel guilty for success just because some deadbeat down the street failed…

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