zaterdag 22 december 2018

Remember: Class Warfare

NOT long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.
Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.
Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.
This conversation keeps coming back to mind because, in the last couple of weeks, I have been on one television panel after another, talking about how questionable it is that the country is enjoying what economists call full employment while we are still running a federal budget deficit of roughly $434 billion for fiscal 2006 (not counting off-budget items like Social Security) and economists forecast that it will grow to $567 billion in fiscal 2010.
When I mentioned on these panels that we should consider all options for closing this gap — including raising taxes, particularly for the wealthiest people — I was met with several arguments by people who call themselves conservatives and free marketers.
One argument was that the mere suggestion constituted class warfare. I think Mr. Buffett answered that one.
Another argument was that raising taxes actually lowers total revenue, and that only cutting taxes stimulates federal revenue. This is supposedly proved by the history of tax receipts since my friend George W. Bush became president.
Photo
CreditIllustration by Philip Anderson 
In fact, the federal government collected roughly $1.004 trillion in income taxes from individuals in fiscal 2000, the last full year of President Bill Clinton’s merry rule. It fell to a low of $794 billion in 2003 after Mr. Bush’s tax cuts (but not, you understand, because of them, his supporters like to say). Only by the end of fiscal 2006 did income tax revenue surpass the $1 trillion level again.
By this time, we Republicans had added a mere $2.7 trillion to the national debt. So much for tax cuts adding to revenue. To be fair, corporate profits taxes have increased greatly, as corporate profits have increased stupendously. This may be because of the cut in corporate tax rates. Anything is possible.
The third argument that kind, well-meaning people made in response to the idea of rolling back the tax cuts was this: “Don’t raise taxes. Cut spending.”
The sad fact is that spending rises every year, no matter what people want or say they want. Every president and every member of Congress promises to cut “needless” spending. But spending has risen every year since 1940 except for a few years after World War II and a brief period after the Korean War.
The imperatives for spending are built into the system, and now, with entitlements expanding rapidly, increased spending is locked in. Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt — all are growing like mad, and how they will ever be stopped or slowed is beyond imagining. Gross interest on Treasury debt is approaching $350 billion a year. And none of this counts major deferred maintenance for the military.
The fourth argument in response to my suggestion was that “deficits don’t matter.”
There is something to this. One would think that big deficits would be highly inflationary, according to Keynesian economics. But we have modest inflation (except in New York City, where a martini at a good bar is now $22). On the other hand, we have all that interest to pay, soon roughly $7 billion a week, a lot of it to overseas owners of our debt. This, to me, seems to matter.
Besides, if it doesn’t matter, why bother to even discuss balancing the budget? Why have taxes at all? Why not just print money the way Weimar Germany did? Why not abolish taxes and add trillions to the deficit each year? Why don’t we all just drop acid, turn on, tune in and drop out of responsibility in the fiscal area? If deficits don’t matter, why not spend as much as we want, on anything we want?
The final argument is the one I really love. People ask how I can be a conservative and still want higher taxes. It makes my head spin, and I guess it shows how old I am. But I thought that conservatives were supposed to like balanced budgets. I thought it was the conservative position to not leave heavy indebtedness to our grandchildren. I thought it was the conservative view that there should be some balance between income and outflow. When did this change?
Oh, now, now, now I recall. It changed when we figured that we could cut taxes and generate so much revenue that we would balance the budget. But isn’t that what doctors call magical thinking? Haven’t the facts proved that this theory, though charming and beguiling, was wrong?
THIS brings me back to Mr. Buffett. If, in fact, it’s all just a giveaway to the rich masquerading as a new way of stimulating the economy and balancing the budget, please, Mr. Bush, let’s rethink it. I don’t like paying $7 billion a week in interest on the debt. I don’t like the idea that Mr. Buffett pays a lot less in tax as a percentage of his income than my housekeeper does or than I do.
Can we really say that we’re showing fiscal prudence? Are we doing our best? If not, why not? I don’t want class warfare from any direction, through the tax system or any other way.

The Vocabulary of Economic Deception

 BlogviewMichael Hudson Archive 

The Vocabulary of Economic Deception
shutterstock_372720859

Why is the United States suddenly withdrawing from Syria?

Why is the United States suddenly withdrawing from Syria?

The US Air Force is condemned to defeat if it confronts the Syrian Arab Army, which now has in its possession Russian anti-air materials, the best in the world. The US’s only viable option is to leave, sparing itself any humiliation.
History is repeating itself. Once before, in Iraq, the United States had used Kurdish combattants, promising them a State before letting them be massacred by Saddam Hussein. Today the US lets other Kurds to whom it has also promised a State, face up to Turkey alone. _ In a few months the war will be over. After eight years of fighting and tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries being sacrificed, Nato’s dream of destroying Syria’s state structures will have failed.


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A week ago, two S-300 rocket missiles were deployed in Deir Ez-zor, in East Syria. Immediately after, the intensity of the US-led coalition flights decreased by 80% in North East Syria. Since 18 September 2018, the Israeli Air Force has not carried out any more raids in Syria’s airspace.
A delegation from the Israeli army, led by General Major Aharon Haliva (Head of Operations), went to Moscow for talks with Major General Vasily Trushin (Joint Chief of Operations of the Russian Army). Relations between the two armies have deteriorated after the destruction of the Russian airplane IL-20 during the attack on Syrian targets near the Russian air base of Hmeymim by the Israeli F-16.
The Israeli delegation went to Moscow because it had not succeeded in finding the gaps in the no fly zone, imposed by the new system of Syrian Defense delivered by Russia. The Israelis thought they could coax the Russians to obtain the security codes for Syrian missiles. Russia, quite clearly, refused to give these codes to them.
What are the elements of the automatized management of the Syrian air space that prevent the Israelis and Americans from acting? Syria has received 6 to 8 S-300/PMU2 missiles, with an action range of 250 km. The missiles guarantee the security of planes and Syrian military land targets. However, they are not the most important element.
Management is assured by the automatized management system, Polyana D4M1. The role of the automatized management system is a necessary interface for the Syrian air units and anti-Air Defense apparatus to work at the same time. Polyana D4M1 can cover an area of 800 km2, following 500 air targets and ballistic missiles and establishing 250 of them. It is thanks to the Polyana D4M1 that command centres of the army of the Syrian Air Force also receive external information from the Russian airplane A-50U (AWACS) and Russian satellites of surveillance.
The memory of the Polyana D4M1 computer servers stock the radar imprint of all the air targets including the cruise missiles and the allegedly “invisible” F-35 plane.
When an air target is detected by a radar in Syria, the automatized system Polyana D4M1 posts information for all the detection radars and systems for guiding planes and Syrian and Russian anti-air artillery. Once identified, the air targets are automatically assigned to be struck down. This automatized system ensures that the oldest Syrian missiles of the Soviet era (S-200, S-75, S-125, etc.) become almost as precise as the S-300 missile.
The Polyana D4M1 network also includes the following:
• the Krasukha-4 for jamming the radars on the ground
• AWACS aircrafts
• reconnaissance planes with or without pilots.
The network also uses the Zhitel R-330ZH systems for interfering with NAVSTAR (GPS), the apparatus of navigation. This equips the means of attack (planes, helicopters, cruise missiles, guided bombs, etc.).
What is the consequence of Russia implementing the automatized management of the Syrian air space?
The US military air bases in Syria consist essentially of troops for special operations. By this we mean a light infantry, without any armour or support. They could not therefore ward off any land attack carried out by the Syrian army supported by the Air Force. Having understood that the US Air Force will not be able to pass the Syrian anti-air barrage without unacceptable losses, any US intervention becomes inappropriate. This is why the US has just announced that it will start to withdraw 2,000 soldiers from Syria [1]. At the same time, Turkey, supported by Russia, is getting ready to launch a new offensive against the YPG in Northern Syria. These new circumstances ensure the Syrian Army will fight on the side of Turkey. The YPG, trained and supported by the United States, is quickly losing all the territories that it had taken from the Islamic State which itself had taken from Syria.
Translation
Anoosha Boralessa

How Europe's taxpayers have been swindled of €55 billion


The vast so-called cum ex tax scandal which has rocked Germany in the past decade has already cost the country an estimated €30 billion. It was assumed that a change in the law in 2016 definitively outlawed such trades. But as a cross-border and undercover investigation now reveals, the trade is still flourishing and has targeted far more countries and has cost far more than was previously thought, affecting nearly all of the biggest economies in Europe. Is this the heist of the century?

London, 7 August 2018: the sting

They’ve turned the AC in the hotel suite down to 18ᵒC. Any hint of sweat on their foreheads would betray them. They can’t appear nervous. That’s how they want their guest to feel.

The air is heavy with the smell of orchids arranged in a crystal vase, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot stands cooling in an ice bucket on the low glass table.

The spectacular glass-wall vista on the 37th floor of the European Union’s tallest building, the Shard, takes in many of London’s most famous sights: the River Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and to the east, Canary Wharf. The glass fronts of the City, London’s financial district, reflect the sun’s rays. A glance down to street level makes one’s head spin. Without the telescope thoughtfully provided by the hotel, the people appear absolutely tiny, like an army of worker ants scurrying about their business. But the two men aren’t here for the view.

Nor are they part of this world of the super-rich. They’re here to understand how it feels to look down not only on London but an entire continent. They’re here to figure out the methods and mentalities of the bankers, brokers, lawyers and investors who have plundered billions from the treasuries of Europe.

There are five cameras in the set-up. One is concealed in a designer label shopping bag seemingly carelessly left on the table. Another is inside a hollowed out book on a shelf. Three more are strategically placed to record what is about to happen next. All pointed at the one empty place on the sofa.

The phone rings at 1:51pm, nine minutes early. Their assistant from Singapore says: “He’s here.”

Further Reading: https://www.cumex-files.com/en/?fbclid=IwAR3TPDwMUxRWovGn2gacvOlCuBgFbJvROtyWMxU9n190eYyHljr4JGvwJEQ 


Democrats Posing As Russians

Democrats Posing As Russians Executed "Elaborate 'False Flag' Operation" Against Roy Moore



A group of tech experts working as Democratic operatives were paid $100,000 to orchestrate an elaborate "false flag" disinformation campaign during the hotly contested 2017 special election between Roy Moore and Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. 
The group, funded by liberal billionaire Reid Hoffman, created over 1,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts that followed Roy Moore overnight in order to link the embattled Republican candidate to Russian influence campaigns, according to a Wednesday report in the New York Times
Reid Hoffman bankrolled the scheme
"We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet," reads an internal report on the Alabama effort obtained by the Times, which aimed to experiment "with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections." 
The project’s operators created a Facebook page on which they posed as conservative Alabamians, using it to try to divide Republicans and even to endorse a write-in candidate to draw votes from Mr. Moore. It involved a scheme to link the Moore campaign to thousands of Russian accounts that suddenly began following the Republican candidate on Twitter, a development that drew national media attention. -New York Times
One of the participants in the scheme, Jonathan Morgan, is the CEO of cybersecurity firm New Knowledge. Morgan wrote a blistering account of Russian social media operations during the 2016 election released this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee. 
Jonathon Morgan, New Knowledge
Morgan denied knowledge of the Russian ruse in a recent interview, saying it "does not ring a bell," and that the project only sought to "enrage and energize Democrats" and "depress" Republican turnout by emphasizing accusations that Moore had pursued teenage girls when he was a young prosecutor in his 30s. 
"The research project was intended to help us understand how these kind of campaigns operated," said Morgan. "We thought it was useful to work in the context of a real election but design it to have almost no impact."
We're not so sure it had "almost no impact." As the Daily Caller's Peter Hassan notes: 
Media outlets — both in Alabama and nationally — fell for the ploy and amplified the false narrative in October 2017.
...
The Montgomery Advertiser, an Alabama affiliate of USA Today, was the first to run with the story. Brian Lyman, the reporter on that story, did not immediately return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. National media outlets quickly seized upon Lyman’s story.
“Roy Moore flooded with fake Russian Twitter followers,” read the headline on a New York Post story, which cited the Advertiser.
Left-wing publication Mother Jones cited the same report in a story titled, “Russian Propagandists Are Pushing for Roy Moore to Win.” That report didn’t rely exclusively on the fake Twitter followers, citing Russian media’s favorable coverage of Moore.
The Washington Post focused its story on the fact that Moore blamed Democrats for the fake accounts. -Daily Caller
Democrats involved in the scheme have likened it to fighting fire with fire. 
"I know there were people who believed the Democrats needed to fight fire with fire," said Renée DiResta, who would later join New Knowledge and was lead author of the report on Russian social media operations released this week, according to the Times. "It was absolutely chatter going around the party."




Secret U.S. Military Bases

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