The FDA and Monsanto Think We Haven’t Got a Brain

 
They say you’re stupid
That you’re too young to vote
They say you’ll swallow anything
That they shove down your throat
~ Danny Elfman

by David T. Bruce

Monsanto, Evil Seed Of Corporate Greed SignThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supposedly is charged with “protecting and promoting your health.” This analysis highlights a variety of instances in which the FDA has failed to prioritize the interests of American citizens. The FDA has failed to take proactive and timely measures to ban BPA as well as other harmful chemicals that are used as additives in consumer products.

Yet another report documented instances of questionable FDA practices. This report shows that “the FDA allowed [Basic Food Flavors Inc.] to ‘recondition’ [177] salmonella-tainted products by heat-treating the foods. The foods were then redistributed and sold.”

The most recent debate regarding our food supply and the level of oversight provided by the FDA involves the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). World wide, the majority of people have voiced concerns about foods that have GMOs, demanding that foods consisting of GMOs be labeled as such.

Oddly enough, music is labeled because there is the perception of risk. Music is labeled because it was determined that listeners had a right to know the content of what was inside. Congress has determined that it is not necessary, however, to offer the same courtesy to Americans who want to know what is in their food.

In various European countries, public outcries against Monsanto have proven effective. Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Poland have banned the cultivation of genetically modified crops in their countries. “GMO food, broadly rejected by consumers, are practically unsalable.” People have simply stopped buying those products.

Yes, modifying our diet is an option; however, many Americans do not have the financial resources to shop the outer aisles or the organic sections of grocery stores. Many are forced into the aisles where the food is priced affordably (yet insidiously enough, the packaged or processed food costs more per pound than fresh food) and are adulterated with a variety of fillers as well as GMOs. And contrary to what the FDA would have us believe, they do not have our best interests at heart.

A conflict of interest is defined as “a conflict between the private interests and the official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust.” With not less than 18 people working for the United States Government also appointed to or working for Monsanto at one time or another (and another), we can safely argue that a conflict of interest exists that is not favorable to the American consumer.

Monsanto posted on its official website that collusion theories relating to these agencies, including the FDA, “ignore the simple truth that people regularly change jobs to find positions that match their experience, skills and interests.”  Please. You cannot negotiate for the interests of the people when your interests hang in the balance. The simple truth is that as humans, each of us will do what is in our own best interests. No one is altruistic, and we would be fools to believe otherwise.

Americans need to trust in themselves and their gut instincts (no pun intended). The FDA has not earned our trust, and they have demonstrated their proclivity for incompetence and gross negligence when it comes to policing the food industry and ensuring the safety of the food supply in America. And it is a given that the vast majority of large corporations in America, in tandem with our government, are only concerned with the bottom line and maintaining their standard of living, our health be damned.

As citizens, we must carefully scrutinize the efforts and motivations of the FDA and insist on reform. As for Monsanto, their motivations are embarrassingly obvious, and we need to send a resounding message to them – with our voices and our dollars – that we see through their façade. Yes, we can bite the hand that feeds us.

Learn more about GMOs; educate yourself and take care of yourself. The FDA certainly will not.

 

 

 

We Shouldn’t Have To Buy Our Freedom

by Shadra L. Bruce

ethicalrevolutionist_buyfreedomThis country builds its values on freedom, but the only people who are free are the ones who give the “system” the finger and literally follow their own agenda. The only freedom we have as Americans is that we get to pick who tells us what to do. Let me explain.

The American dream: get an education, get married, buy a house, build a good career, have kids, buy toys, retire comfortably. And everything in this country is set up to support that dream, to funnel us as zombie-like slaves into corporate servitude, to encourage and enforce (and reinforce) reigning social values, by offering tax breaks for getting married and having kids, to entrap us with promises that if we just work hard enough, we too can be rich (all the while offering a mind numbingly below-par, over-priced education to ensure that we stay as sheep-like as possible).

What if you don’t want to live in the American rut? Everything – every law and societal attitude – attempts to force you into a lifestyle indistinguishable from anyone else’s: stay in one place, work at one job, and raise your kids to become the same mindless robots you become, kids who will ultimately believe in and reinforce the same system.

Imagine living in a society where the Earth is still appreciated, where people appreciate and respect each other, and where a person is truly free. People work to meet their needs and wants; that used to be about 8 hours a week. Now it’s 40-60, or more. We work, we eat, we sleep and we try to squeeze in a little fun.

Does that seem wrong to anyone else?

I think things really need to change. Peaceful revolution. Whether we evolve into small, self-sufficient, self-governing communities, or simply wipe the political slate clean and choose our representatives from among real people and not wealthy, out-of-touch imbeciles, I don’t know.

I understand why others look at Americans and think we are pigs. A good majority of us are greedy, gluttonous and hard-hearted; overweight, undereducated and lazy. We’re materialistic and demanding, and we all want something for nothing.

And it’s never our fault.

And yet, this is the only country where the potential for improvement is so possible. It has the POTENTIAL to be fantastic. I love being an American. The ideas America were based on are glorious. But politics corrupts men – hell, politics corrupts the Boy Scouts of America. And instead of a country of the people, for the people, and by the people, we have a country of political pigs getting rich off our growing poverty.

It disgusts me that in a country of freedom that touts itself as the greatest country in the world, children starve, people graduate from high school without being able to read and we can’t live peacefully with people of different cultures and beliefs.

How far down the wrong path are we willing to go before we make the effort to change? Who cares if children starve, if crime does pay, if politicians are greedy, lying, pigs? Most of us have it easy – and actually contribute to the greed with our materialistic demands – so why would we want it to change? Just don’t mess with our evening TV programming, OK?

Listen to your heart, your gut, and your brain – whatever part of your body you trust in an emergency. Listen to it. You should hear sadness, the lost soul, the warning that you’re on the wrong path. You feel the danger of doomsday (and not in any biblical sense).

Right now, we worry about the wrong things and don’t care about the important ones. Who cares who is having sex with whom? It doesn’t matter when we’re all going to get screwed by the government and by the freedom rhetoric. You want to be free? It IS possible.

You know what traps us all? Credit. Because we all want more than we can afford, we extend and overextend to the breaking point. On paper, we might look like the asset column is running ahead of the debt column, but it simply isn’t so. But there is comfort and security in the rut, and that’s why we’re stuck. Until enough people are willing to see past their own big screen TVs to see true reality, nothing will change.

Advertising May Work for Politicians but Politicians Aren’t Working for Us

by David T. Bruce

ethical-revolutionist-political-adsAdvertising works. Companies that want to remain relevant and profitable know this. They rely on the power of advertising. Large sums of money are invested to bring products to the attention of consumers; the level of advertising dollars spent purchasing mere seconds of time during a Super Bowl broadcast is phenomenal. As consumers, we are often impulse buyers.

We want to have what we believe are the finest and the most modern products, and we are quick to believe advertising claims and react to advertising campaigns by forking over cash for the latest must-haves.

The recent success of the Roku streaming player can be directly attributed to advertising. Sales of Roku players increased 25% in those markets in which the advertising campaign was launched. Radio and billboard advertising resulted in three times as much profit than the previous year. Advertising works.

As a quick-service (fast-food) restaurant manager, I witnessed the power of advertising. Radio and television ad campaigns regularly increased new product sales and overall sales. The ebb and flow of customer visits to the restaurant paralleled the beginning and ending of ad campaigns. Advertising works.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker crushed recall efforts that would have removed him from office. There is justifiable evidence illustrating that a considerable amount of out-of-state funding gave Walker the advantage over Barrett, as a result of “wall-to-wall television ads,” afforded by the significant flood of campaign funds. Advertising works.

Companies and politicians alike inundate consumers with media campaigns that suffocate, if not remove, the competition. That is their job.

As consumers, we have a job too.

Our job as consumers is to educate ourselves, check the facts and demand accountability. We do not have to accept what is put before us simply because one person or group has more money to promote their product or politics and squash the competition.

The golden arches of McDonald’s restaurant are said to be more familiar to the global consumer than the Christian cross. McDonald’s is undeniably a powerful force in the food industry; however, this does not mean that their product is necessarily good for the consumer. Even as they promote healthy choices, personal evidence suggests that what is perceived by the consumer is not reality.

Our family decided to grab lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant during one of our museum day-trips. In the effort to make a healthy choice, my wife and I ordered grilled chicken sandwiches with no mayonnaise. We had to wait several minutes for fresh chicken to be available, but because this can mean fresher product, we were patient. The chicken that was ultimately served to us, however, appeared undercooked and mushy. When we shared our concern with the manager, we were told that the chicken was consistent with what was ordinarily served and that the consistency was a result of the chicken being cooked in butter. The notion that a product advertised as healthy was handled in such a way that the end result was anything but healthy.

Recent figures show that Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney raised $17 million more in May than did President Obama. The Republican National Committee Chairman has been quoted as saying: “Our strong fundraising is a sign that Americans are tired of President Obama’s broken promises and want a change of direction in the White House.”

On the contrary, the strong fundraising and associated strength in advertising is a sign that the American consumer in general is characteristically buying what the Republican party is selling, simply because their coffers are potentially fuller than those of the competition.

American consumers are American voters. We must be sure that the advertised product from either Party represents reality. We must be sure that we make a healthy choice, and we must be sure that the choice we make has no hidden fillers or fats. Mitt Romney is not the better choice simply because he has more money to spread his message of hope or change from one coastline to the other.

Money and rhetoric are not substance. The proof is in the reality of the advertising claims. Mr. Romney may be the better choice. Roku may be a fabulous streaming player. A grilled chicken may have been the better choice. But these claims are not reality simply because their promoters have seemingly unlimited funds to spread their message.

It is just as likely that they are spreading something else, and voters as consumers must take the time to educate themselves and become conscious of what product our elected officials are selling and whether or not what they have to offer our nation is good for us.

The Real State of the Union

by David T. Bruce

income_inequality_chart_erAs the presidential election year looms over the political horizon, President Obama finally has something to say during the most recent State of the Union Address about income disparity in our country, as if the debate about the income gap and tax liability were new.  Most of us have devastatingly realized that the thirty-year economic experiment in this country has proven that Reaganomics works only for those citizens and companies that enjoy wealth and the power to augment that wealth.  No one in this country who has lost a job, lost a home, and struggled to get by during this perpetual recession is oblivious to the fact that it takes money to make money, and for those who do not have money, striving to break even is a way of life.  This is the reality of the American Dream, and this reality is unlikely to change any time soon.  During the battle to remain in power or obtain power, our elected officials choose now to acknowledge a problem that has been inherent in our capitalist society for many decades.

Republicans and Democrats posture and politic as they draw lines in the sand and point fingers across the aisle, each blaming the other for dividing the country and building a national debt in excess of $15 trillion.  These are the same leaders who enjoy a lifestyle at the expense of their constituents, a truth made painfully clear to American citizens now aware of Mr. Romney’s wealth and associated tax burden.  This not only highlights the disparity in income and tax liability between “the haves” and “the have-nots” in this country, but it also highlights how brutally out of touch our elected leaders are with the majority of the American public.  How can leaders argue on the behalf of a demographic of which they have no understanding?  How can we believe that our leaders will lobby to balance the country’s tax burden in favor of the lower- and middle-class when doing so would obviously raise their tax burden?

Burden: “something that is carried, something oppressive or worrisome.”

We are told by President Obama that the country is on the mend; we are told that the economy is bouncing back.  Please do not insult our intelligence.  According to GasBuddy, the median price for gas in 2012 is forecast to reach $3.95.  The USDA has projected that food prices will increase overall 2.5% to 3.5%.  An “alternative economic forecast” released by researchers in the White House suggest “an unemployment rate of 9% in 2012. These are not realities that suggest the country is mending or is bouncing back.  Those that live and thrive on Capitol Hill, those that are voted into office by their constituents do not want for food, healthcare, education, or a future.  Those that live and thrive on Capitol Hill have no idea what “burden” is.  They have created an economic disparity by their ignorance, their indifference, and their arrogance.

This is indeed class warfare, a battle that has been waged for centuries between “the haves” and “the have-nots.”  The malicious intent of the 1% – the “Mitt Romney’s” and the corporate “Goliath’s” of America – , however, is to convince those who have a bit more than “the have-nots” that those who have the least in the United States are trying to take away what they have earned.  In truth, the argument is that the tax system is structured as such that the “Mitt Romney’s” can conceivably pay less tax by percentage than those that earn minimum wage.  Major industries can relocate to foreign lands to avoid paying United States taxes.  The wealthiest citizens and companies of the United States need to pay their fair share.  This has nothing to do with Republican, Democrat, or American values.  This has everything to do with human values, and the majority of our elected officials value the citizens of the United States as humans only once every two or four years.  Beyond that, we are as insignificant as the pointless posturing and “policy prescriptions” presented as a way to placate a populace that is sick to death of the endless pandering by leaders who could not care less about our burden.

SOPA – Drafted and Encouraged by the TRUE Pirates

by David T. Bruce

stopsopaeu-800pxFrom the federal establishment that preaches the necessity of less government intervention (or interference, depending on your point of view), American citizens are being asked to support legislation that is said to minimize online piracy.  Provisions are embedded within the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), however, that potentially infringe upon First Amendment rights and shift the responsibility for online piracy from the perpetrators onto Internet administrators.

While Internet Service Providers and web site administrators should (and do) discourage online piracy, holding providers to 100% compliance with anti-piracy laws is unrealistic.  As well, shutting down entire Internet sites in the effort to purge pirated material from specific web pages is akin to penalizing car manufacturers or dealers for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle.  We do not need more legislation to combat an issue that can be minimized with the tools and laws already at our disposal.  SOPA, masked as an effort to eliminate online piracy, is one that panders more to the entertainment industry than an altruistic sense of justice.

Both the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) flaunt their lofty objective of protecting the First Amendment rights of artists and distributors, this from an organization that offers up a mere 13% of music sales to the recording artist, allowing the record label to keep 63% of the earnings.  The income for actors in general is not stellar either.  Both organizations, however, are headquartered in Washington D.C., spending time and money to gather support for SOPA and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) from the Obama and Bush administrations to the tune of over $400,000 this past year and $2 million in 2007, respectively, seeking additional revenue lost perhaps as a result of the shrinking economy and lackluster entertainment products.  As pointed out by Professors Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman, the measure of the loss to the entertainment industry is unsubstantiated.

Piracy will not vanish as a result of tight-fisted legislation that punishes honest Internet users.  Those people inclined to provide and obtain copyrighted materials illegally will continue to do so, driving the industry further underground.  Those of us who oppose SOPA do not support online piracy or copyright theft.  We can, however, oppose legislation that does not directly target the issue at hand, but instead uses a single issue (albeit an important one) as a façade to introduce additional insidious government oversights that bring us ever closer to a future envisioned by George Orwell.  Online pirates will continue to plunder the Internet, while the majority of us find ourselves victims of a government that takes its cues (and money) from the entertainment industry and other large business conglomerates.

From the federal establishment that preaches the necessity of less government intervention (or interference, depending on your point of view), American citizens are being asked to support legislation that is said to minimize online piracy.  Provisions are embedded within the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), however, that potentially infringe upon First Amendment rights and shift the responsibility for online piracy from the perpetrators onto Internet administrators.

While Internet Service Providers and web site administrators should (and do) discourage online piracy, holding providers to 100% compliance with anti-piracy laws is unrealistic.  As well, shutting down entire Internet sites in the effort to purge pirated material from specific web pages is akin to penalizing car manufacturers or dealers for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a vehicle.  We do not need more legislation to combat an issue that can be minimized with the tools and laws already at our disposal.  SOPA, masked as an effort to eliminate online piracy, is one that panders more to the entertainment industry than an altruistic sense of justice.

Both the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) flaunt their lofty objective of protecting the First Amendment rights of artists and distributors, this from an organization that offers up a mere 13% of music sales to the recording artist, allowing the record label to keep 63% of the earnings.  The income for actors in general is not stellar either.  Both organizations, however, are headquartered in Washington D.C., spending time and money to gather support for SOPA and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) from the Obama and Bush administrations to the tune of over $400,000 this past year and $2 million in 2007, respectively, seeking additional revenue lost perhaps as a result of the shrinking economy and lackluster entertainment products.  As pointed out by Professors Kal Raustiala and Chris Sprigman, the measure of the loss to the entertainment industry is unsubstantiated.

Piracy will not vanish as a result of tight-fisted legislation that punishes honest Internet users. Those people inclined to provide and obtain copyrighted materials illegally will continue to do so, driving the industry further underground.  Those of us who oppose SOPA do not support online piracy or copyright theft.  We can, however, oppose legislation that does not directly target the issue at hand, but instead uses a single issue (albeit an important one) as a façade to introduce additional insidious government oversights that bring us ever closer to a future envisioned by George Orwell.  Online pirates will continue to plunder the Internet, while the majority of us find ourselves victims of a government that takes its cues (and money) from the entertainment industry and other large business conglomerates.

Unemployment in America Is a CAPITOL Offense

by David T. Bruce

gechartThe same General Electric that is able to navigate enough tax loop holes to enjoy a zero dollar tax burden has also recently awarded American jobs to residents of Beijing, as the American Job Czar/GE CEO, Jeff Immelt, has opted to move the company’s X-ray technology headquarters to China.  The national unemployment rate remains at 9.1% (20 states have an unemployment rate of 9.0% or more), with over 44% of the unemployed measured as those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. While companies nationwide continue to layoff employees, major businesses such as GE look out for their own bottom line by sifting through tax code to avoid paying taxes and sending jobs overseas in the effort to save even more money.

In the effort to create jobs at home, the President has presented yet another jobs bill. A Wall Street Journal report compares two opposing scenarios regarding the possible result of spending $447 billion on this bill, suggesting that President Obama’s job bill will at best create 1.2 millions at the cost of $100,000, at worst $350,000. Of no surprise to anyone, the majority of Senate Democrats favored the bill, while enough Senate Republicans and a couple of Senate Democrats more concerned about their own jobs than the jobs of American citizens blocked the vote on this proposal.

Even as 63% of Americans are said to be in support of the American Jobs Act, Senators and Republicans continue to bicker over whether or not the bill should be passed, and if so, what parts of the bill should be passed and what parts of the bill should be eliminated.  The stalemate continues on Capitol Hill, with American citizens falling victim to the pathetic squabbling of pubescent bureaucrats in three-piece suits.  Democrats blame Republicans.  Republicans blame Obama.  In 2012, Senators and Representatives from across the aisle will blame a newly-elected president.  The rhetoric is the same.  The snowball affect, however, of a government waylaid by posturing and terminal campaigning is a constituency fed up with rising unemployment in tandem with rising food, energy, and health costs.

Admittedly, I do not know the inner-workings of Capitol Hill and the effort required to draft and promote a bill.  I suspect that our elected representatives make this process far more difficult than it needs to be, and I also suspect that they have their own selfish interests (and that of wealthy corporate donors) at heart.  When a bill is drafted to promote jobs, we would hope that this job targets promoting the growth of jobs, without various other frills, wants, or needs tagged onto the bill.  This is what happens, however.

Enough garbage is added to a bill that gives virtually every member of Congress a way to put a wedge into the promotion or passing of the bill. Congress: will you please adopt a “Schoolhouse Rock” method of passing a bill?  Pick a goal, write a plan, and get the job done.  The United States is not your personal Monopoly board, and American citizens are not a stack of Chance or Community Chest cards.  We have as much of a chance of winning at your game as we do of winning the grand prize playing McDonald’s Monopoly.  Americans are obviously losing, and many of us are tired of playing by your rules.

There’s a huge outcry in America about bringing in foreign workers to fill American jobs, but where’s the outcry for companies who outsource jobs to other countries? Corporations who outsource jobs should be heavily penalized for doing so, making the cost benefit of sending jobs overseas an expensive consideration.

Occupy Wall Street – Reclaim Our Independence

Only in America Can 1% Be The Majority

by David T. Bruce

occupytogether_poster07A small group of students are responsible for launching a campaign against the practices of Wall Street and the United States government, the fiscally brutal corporate tag-team that has launched their own campaign against the poorest Americans. In an Associated Press article, the events of the past two weeks surrounding the Wall Street Protests have been summarized, giving voice to the hundreds of citizens who are taking the time to exercise their power of speech during a time when millions of Americans feel powerless to do anything else. While the Republicans and Democrats continue pointing fingers at each other and the President (regardless of who holds the office), our federal government as a whole is demonstrating to an increasing number of American citizens that their health and welfare, their life and liberty, and their happiness mean nothing.

While 14 percent of Americans are relying on the food stamp program to feed themselves, the Republican Party is proposing for the 2012 budget plan that this program should be curtailed and restructured much in the same was as they are proposing to restructure the Medicaid program. Subsidies would be eliminated, replaced by federal grants. Capitol Hill has been relentless in their less-than-bipartisan efforts to shave billions of dollars from the deficit by cutting back on “entitlement” programs from the Americans who need assistance the most.

I am not writing of the small group of Americans who indeed enjoy taking something for nothing. I am writing of the Americans who have worked hard to build a life and raise a family and now find themselves without a job, without a home, and without money for food and healthcare – primarily because of a system that favored corporate greed and Wall Street corruption that led to a broken economy.  It is appalling that the government is cutting back on programs that these people paid taxes to help support while continuing to support tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and big oil.  I am writing of the Americans that are trying to get ahead and improve their lives but are trapped in a system that almost forces people to make less or go hungry, as food prices continue to rise.

While the Associated Press suggests that a clear objective is not apparent, the rallying cry is clear enough: “Occupy Wall Street is [a] leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that we are the 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.”

This objective seems clear enough.

It is blatantly clear that the 1% does not get it – or does not want to. The objective does not need to be detailed or obtuse. The plan does not need to have a laundry list of stake holders and varied implementation strategies. The United States Constitution is the governing plan for this country, and our current government officials have spent at least the past few decades manipulating and twisting the words of the Constitution to satisfy their (im)moral, corporate, and personal agendas.

We have a right to speak out against such corruption, and the protestors on Wall Street are doing just that. We must speak out with words, with votes, and with dollars that work in support of Americans, not for a political party.

We may not be at Liberty Square with the protestors right now, but we stand firmly with them in every way, as members of the 99% who will no longer tolerate the disintegration of America over the greed, hypocrisy, and the corruption of Wall Street, Congress, and corporations.

Every year, our government asks that we donate $3 to the Presidential election campaign.  The instructions for the 1040 form specifically state that “the fund reduces candidates’ dependence on large contributions from individuals and groups.”

Please.

Candidates do not just depend on these contributions. They thrive on them, and the companies and groups that make these large contributions thrive on the support that their candidate gives to their cause.

Our federal government, led by either party, has done little or nothing for us over the past few decades – and little or nothing to change what is broken within the system. What little they have done has been to further their own interests and that of the major companies that have been filling and continue to fill the coffers of our elected representatives.

If any taxpayer is at all compelled to check the box that allows candidates to have any more money, please give the money to Occupy Wall Street or similar movements. Give $3 to a homeless person. Help feed a neighbor. Those people are the Americans that are fighting for the rights of all Americans, and they do so without massive contributions or media attention.

Take heed, Wall Street. Someday – perhaps soon – American citizens will have nothing left to lose and will gleefully sit by and watch while your economic empire crumbles.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. – Declaration of Independence

In the War Against Taxes, Your Neighbor Is Not Your Enemy

by David Bruce

800px-american_corporate_flag-svg
Source: Adbusters

Ever-embroiled in debate, members of Congress are now in dispute over how to avoid financial default.  Most of us who live in the United States and work for a living to support ourselves and our families have some idea how to balance our budget and how to avoid financial distress.  Our elected representatives, however, show little sign of fiscal competence or moral demeanor, as they publicly and shamelessly deliberate on the best approach for avoiding a situation that will largely affect the elderly and disabled citizens of our country.  Additionally, should our government default, we more-than-likely would endure increased interest rates, and government employees would suffer delays in pay.  Regardless of income-level, individual taxpayers would be adversely affected.  Conversely, our government and largest corporations would continue operating in such a way that they would benefit to some degree, regardless of the political or economic fallout.

Should our government default, a worst-case scenario illustrates that government employees (including service members) and social security recipients would sacrifice timely receipt of their paychecks.  Major corporations would make attempts to recoup any losses by raising interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, and other loans.  Would these large businesses be deprived of anything?  Indeed, the ledgers may initially reflect a less-than-profitable quarter: nothing that a government bailout wouldn’t resolve.  The American public does not merit a bailout, though, even with an election on the horizon.  The major corporations are the darlings of both Democratic and Republican parties.

A list of ten companies was recently compiled that illustrates the overbearing tax burden suffered by large businesses in America.  Of course, the buzz about the earnings and refunds for General Electric has made headlines across the Internet.  Also worth mentioning, however, is the recent tax refund of $1.9 billion that Bank of America received in addition to their $4.4 billion in profit.  This is also a company that profited from the aforementioned bailout.  In 2008 Goldman Sachs paid income taxes measuring 1.1 percent of its income.  In 2010 Citigroup paid no federal income tax, yet they generated in excess of $4 billion dollars of income (let us not overlook the bailout monies).  In 2009 Exxon Mobile paid no income taxes against profits of $19 billion.  Additional evidence is easy to access.

The families surviving on wages that are considered to be poverty-level and not paying federal income tax are not the criminals.  The well-to-do families who have benefited from hard work, raising their standard of living significantly are not the criminals.  Yet these two demographics are pitted against one another, tools in the political mêlée waged by each and every one of our elected representatives.  Individual American taxpayers in the lowest 20% tax bracket and individual American taxpayers in the highest 20% tax bracket are positioned as bitter rivals in this Congressional conflict.  The poorest Americans pay little or no federal taxes, and the wealthiest Americans pay the largest percentage.  While the former would most likely switch places with the latter without argument or hesitation, and while the latter certainly has a valid argument against further tax increases against money that have rightfully earned, the fact remains that the real criminals are on Wall Street and Capital Hill.

An article in the Tucson Citizen pointed out that in 2010 individual income tax accounted for 42% of total revenue, while corporate income tax accounted for a mere 9% of total revenue. From outward appearances, this is what and who our representatives are fighting for.   In a Christian Science Monitor article, calculations demonstrate that tax breaks are worth about $1,000 to a typical family earning about $21,000 or less, augmenting their after-tax income by 9 percent. Middle income families earning between $40,000 and $70,000 receive an average of about $4,000, increasing their after-tax incomes by about 8 percent.  For those in the top 1 percent, tax breaks allow those wage-earners to increase their after-tax incomes by more than 20 percent.  According to this research, the highest-income 20 percent enjoy almost two-thirds of the benefits of tax expenditures. More than one-quarter of tax breaks are allotted to the top 1 percent alone.

The issue is not whether or not taxes should be raised or for whom taxes should be raised.  The issue is the major loopholes that exist permitting major companies to bring their tax liability to a percentage lower than that of the average working American.  The issue is our elected representatives who represent the interests of these companies and their own self-interests.  These issues will not resolve themselves.  The majority of our representatives do not care about us as people.  They do not care how we live, if we live, or how we die.  They want our vote.  They have taken virtually everything else from us; do not give them a vote they have not earned.

Your enemy is not your neighbor.