Who’ll Help America’s Hard-hit Gold Miners?

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

These are hard times for America’s gold miners, who’re scrambling to get ahead, but seeing their pay dropping.

Take Bob Mercer, who’s been a top miner for years, but last year even Bob was down. He pulled in only $125 million in pay. Can you feel Bob’s pain?

Well, these are not your normal miners. They are hedge fund managers, digging for gold in the Wonderland of Wall Street. Indeed, if you divided Mercer’s pay in his “bad year” among 1,000 miners doing honest work, each would consider it a fabulous year. Nonetheless, hedge funds are almost literally gold mines, although they require no heavy lifting by the soft-handed, Gucci-wearing managers who work them. These gold diggers are basically nothing but speculators, drawing billions of dollars from the uber-rich by promising that they will deliver fabulous profits for them. But the scam is that Mercer and his fellow diggers get paid whether they deliver or not.

Their cushy set up, known as 2-and-20, works like this: (1) Right off the top, they take 2 percent of the money put up by each wealthy client, which hedge fund whizzes like Mercer keep even if the investments they make are losers; (2) if their speculative bets do pay off, they pocket 20 percent of all profits; and (3) hedge fund lobbyists have rigged our nation’s tax code so these Wall Street miners pay a fraction of the tax rate that real mine workers pay.

Last year, the 25 best paid hedge fund operators totaled a staggering $11 billion in personal pay – even though nearly half of them performed poorly. Meanwhile, Donald Trump – who promised last year to close that special hedge-fund tax break, is now promising to give an even bigger break to them. Guess who was one of Trump’s most generous funders last year: Bob Mercer.

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Reposted from The Hightower Lowdown.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jim Hightower

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work