MUST WATCH: Wealth Inequality in America, perception vs reality (data visualization)

Alarming doesn’t quite cover it…

I’d read about this report before, but the data visualization here really makes it crystal clear how abysmal our situation is. One of the best data visualizations I’ve seen. (Although I still think showing the HEIGHT of the wealth of the top 1% would have been more effective than trying to present it as a block.)

If you know anyone who doesn’t understand what the whole “99%” thing is about, show them this. Hell, just show it to everyone you know. The future of our country could depend on it…

(But God forbid we raise taxes on the wealthy by a few percentage points — oh no, no no nonono, that would be unfair, that would be “wealth redistribution,” that would be “Socialism,” that would punish success, that would hurt the economy, that would kill jobs by taking money from the “producers,” the “job creators”… blahblahblhablahblahblhab. Crock. Of. Excrement.

The silver lining in this cloud (or black hole of toxic sludge and fecal matter) we’re in? The people are united. 90% of us at least. And the main reason those at the top can get away with this, is that we are ignorant. Our perception of reality is completely flawed. With this information now spreading like wildfire, and presented in such a way than any person can easily grasp it, maybe class consciousness will start to emerge again…

[ via @mashable : ]

No more Twinkies?! : ( “Hostess Bankrupt – Vulture Capitalists Picked Corpse Clean”

To emerge from bankruptcy, the companies unions agreed to large concessions which these vulture capitalists demanded, cutting thousands of jobs, transferring benefits or cutting benefits entirely. The companies also agreed to modernize the factories, which were running at a loss due to the age of the equipment, some of which dated to the 1930s. The investments from Silver Point and Monarch were to go towards this modernization. Instead the company found itself saddled with even more debt. To add to the company’s woes, the holding companies stopped supporting the retirement fund, raiding it for easy cash to extract from the firm. The current estimates put the liabilities of this fund at over $2 billion currently.

In order to “save” the firm, the operators of the company turned to the unions, which had already surrendered huge concessions just a few years back to turn the company around, and demanded an across the board slash, an additional 31%, along with eliminating the retirement and benefits entirely. It was a bridge too far. The union went on strike, and now the company has declared it will be liquidated.

Of course the right-wing media is quick to blame the unions, but in the end the union members would have lost more if they had capitulated to the vulture capitalists demands. By this move, they can hope to salvage the retirement plan, while if they’d given in they would have lost it all. $2 billion is a lot of money to just “give away” in negotiations. Of course the unions were expected to surrender despite the fact that the management company was asking the bankruptcy court to give their outgoing CEO up to $5.5 million. All of this was in addition to the 80% raises the executives were being treated to.



“Romney’s Bain Yielded Private Gains, Socialized Losses.” (That about sums it up.)

Mitt Romney touts his business acumen and job-creation record as a key qualification for being the next U.S. president.

What’s clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm’s partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses.

What’s less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public, especially the middle class.


Success, entrepreneurship, risk taking and wealth creation deserve to be celebrated when they are the result of fair play and hard work. President Barack Obama is correct in distinguishing the patient creation of value for the benefit of investors through genuine operational improvements and growth — the true mission of private equity — from the form of rigged capitalism that was practiced by some in the industry in the past when debt was cheap and plentiful.

While Bain Capital wasn’t alone in using financial engineering to turbo-charge its returns, it was among the most aggressive under Romney’s leadership. Enriching investors by taking leveraged bets isn’t a qualification for a job requiring long-term vision and concern for public welfare. It is appropriate to point that out to voters.

Another important article (slightly less measured and diplomatic than Bloomberg) :

Mitt Romney, American Parasite:

(But rest assured, he is “not a crook.”)