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Student Loan Debt $1.2 Trillion

Student Loan Debt $1.2 Trillion

Americans now owe more money on student loans than credit cards. Obama’s executive order will cap loan payments for millions of people at 10 percent of monthly income – a so-called “Pay As You Earn” model.

President Obama: “So we’re announcing steps that will open up “Pay As You Earn” to nearly 5 million more Americans. That’s the first action we’re taking today. The second action is to renegotiate contracts with private companies like Sallie Mae that service our student loans. And we’re going to make it clear that these companies are in the business of helping students, not just collecting payments, and they owe young people the customer service, and support, and financial flexibility that they deserve.”

Source: http://www.democracynow.org/2014/6/10/headlines#6106

Such a hard choice to either go to college and take on a debt you will more than likely be paying back for the rest of your life, or take a chance and go straight into the work force – hopefully to climb the ladder of success.

College is not for everyone, I chose not to go but my sister did. She has completed a bachelor’s degree with one year completed of a master’s program at USC and she is already in debt around $60,000.00
I did not want that debt, but for those who want a higher education via a degree have the hard choice of going into debt at the cost of what should be free to them.

Instead of our government making education free – paid by tax dollars. The education system is a privatized money making machine. Instead of giving breaks to student, the United States government gives tax breaks to major corporations.

How backwards and how dumb is this government? – If you have a society of educated working people, the taxes they pay into helps the economy – not break it.

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GOP Budget to Focus on Overhauling Social Programs

http://www.thomhartmann.com/

I listen to Thom Hartmann on http://www.kpfk.org (90.7FM Los Angeles) every week and I learn new and up to date political truth which is mind satisfying and more times then I would like, aggravating.

This country (United States) has a history of oppression of non-white people, and republicans, conservatives alongside the tea party are on a constant mission to take away voting rights, public aide and basic rights to the very people who pay taxes.

What does our government do with the taxes we pay? – Give subsidies and tax breaks to wealthy corporations… But yet, there is no money to further fund programs like Medi-Cal, public school system and let’s not even get on the homeless problem in this country.

We have money to fly drones over Israel / Pakistan to kill innocent people. There is money to do everything but do for the people. If these people, our government never sees their judgment day while walking this Earth, let’s hope there is a higher being to take care of this evil.

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Over 110 Arrested as Record Black Friday Protests Challenge Wal-Mart, Major Retailers on Low Wages

At least 111 people were arrested on Black Friday in a series of protests and acts of civil disobedience targeting Wal-Mart and other big box retailers. In St. Paul, Minnesota, 26 protesters were arrested when they blocked traffic while demanding better wages for janitors and retail employees. In Illinois, 10 people were issued citations at a protest near a Wal-Mart in Chicago. Video posted online showed nine people being arrested at a protest outside a Wal-Mart store in Alexandria, Virginia. At Wal-Mart protests in California, 15 people were arrested in Roseville, 10 arrested in Ontario, and five arrested in San Leandro. Organizers said actions took place at 1,500 Walmart locations across the country, up from about 400 locations last year. Meanwhile, fast-food workers have announced plans to hold a one-day strike in 100 cities on Thursday as part of a campaign to win a $15-an-hour wage. We discuss the labor protests with Josh Eidelson, staff reporter at Salon.com.

Source:
http://www.democracynow.org/2013/12/2/over_110_arrested_as_record_black

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Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage

Source: http://www.thomhartmann.com

The value of the federal minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60 according to

http://www.dol.gov/whd/minwage/chart.htm

and using the inflation calculator at

http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1.60&year1=1968&year2=2012

gives us a value of $10.50 in 2012 but the actual minimum wage is only $7.25. This is a loss of $3.25 per hour or $6,760 a year for a full time MW worker.

According to http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2012tbls.htm some 3.55 million wage workers got this minimum wage or below in 2012

3,550,000
6,760 ×
————————–
$23.998 BILLION = lost wages

This number only includes those at the minimum wage or below… NOT those between the minimum wage and the $10.50 per hour range.

So who’s benefited from this $24 billion a year subsidy the economy got in 2012? And remember these are just rough numbers for one year.

This raises other issues of increased safety net expenditures AND lost tax revenue. But then we can always kick the can down the road by borrowing for those safety net programs so future taxpayers will be subsidizing our irresponsibility today.

– See more at: http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2013/11/mimimum-wage-workers-subsidize-our-economy#sthash.hq2IwDEY.dpuf

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Wal-Mart Worker Fired for Helping Assaulted Woman

Wal-Mart Worker Fired for Helping Assaulted Woman

A Michigan man says he was fired from his job at Wal-Mart after he tried to help a woman being assaulted in the parking lot of one of the retail giant’s stores and ended up fighting with her attacker.

Kristopher Oswald told WXYZ-TV in Detroit ( http://bit.ly/18qGyBh ) that Wal-Mart has policies against workplace violence to prevent employees from assaulting co-workers or tackling a shoplifter, but that it appears that nothing allows for them to assist in situations of imminent danger and self-defense.

A spokeswoman for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. told The Associated Press on Thursday that while the company understood Oswald’s intentions, his actions violated company policy.

“We had to make a tough decision, one that we don’t take lightly, and he’s no longer with the company,” company spokeswoman Ashley Hardie said.

Oswald, 30, said he was in his car on his break about 2:30 a.m. Sunday when he saw a man grabbing a woman. He said he asked her if she needed help and the man started punching him in the head and yelling that he was going to kill him. Oswald said he was able to get on top of the man, but then two other men jumped him from behind.

Livingston County sheriff’s deputies arrived and halted the fight.

Oswald said the Hartland Township store’s management gave him paperwork saying that “after a violation of company policy on his lunch break, it was determined to end his temporary assignment.” Oswald had worked for Wal-Mart for about seven weeks and said he would not have been considered a permanent employee until after his 180-day probation.

“The last thing I expected was to not have a job,” Oswald said.

This is how much the Walmart capitalist corporation values it’s employees. They’re low pay, warehouse issues that included blocked emergency exits, non-functioning forklift brakes and a lack of sufficient ventilation and water under intense heat, overseas factory in Bangladesh hundreds killed and over 1,000 injured due to cracks found in building and employees forced to work. I would go on, but there are so many atrocities that the wretched corporation has practiced, this would end up being a book.

May see more Walmart corporation crimes @
http://www.democracynow.org/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=walmart&commit=Search

When will our government, our law makers, our so-called officers of the people stand up and be for the people? Not for the CEO’s of corporations….

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From the Ashes of Garment Factory Disaster, A Demand for Jobs with Dignity

From the Ashes of Garment Factory Disaster, A Demand for Jobs with Dignity

By Sonali Kolhatkar Published in Commondreams.org.

The soft-spoken, 5 foot tall, brown-skinned woman I met this week did not in any way appear to be a dangerous criminal. Yet, Kalpona Akter, the now-famous Bangladeshi labor activist, spent a month in prison last year, facing criminal charges brought by a subcontractor for Walmart. While serving her sentence, she was interrogated for hours on end, while her colleagues were beaten. Her crime: organizing garment workers. Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world where nearly 4 million garment workers, mostly poor young women, toil in about 4,000 factories to make clothes for brands like Gap, Sears, Disney, and Benetton. Bangladesh’s factories export more garments than any other country in the world, second only to China. In the past year, thousands of women have died in Bangladesh in a series of deadly factory accidents. Last November, a fire at Tazreen factory in Dhaka killed hundreds of mostly female workers.

And this April, the multi-story Rana Plaza factory collapsed, killing more than 1,200 and injuring 2,500, again, mostly women workers. The world was shocked at the deaths, but the corporations whose clothes the women died making have done little to nothing in response. I asked Kalpona to describe a typical day in the life of a female garment worker in Bangladesh: she told me of the burdens of balancing family and work that most women endure, waking up at 5 am to cook meals for their husbands and children, clean, and keep house. At 7 am they head to work on foot or by bus.

At 8 in the morning they start their shift, breaking only once at 1 pm for lunch. The work is mindless and repetitive with unhygienic bathroom facilities and no clean drinking water. Although the work-day officially ends at 5 pm, workers are required to put in overtime until about 7 or 8 pm. By the time they return home, cook dinner, care for their children, keep house, and make their way to bed, it is usually midnight. For all this, a typical garment worker earns a minimum wage of about $38 a month, plus a few more dollars for overtime. When I remarked that many Americans would not think twice about spending that entire amount on a single piece of clothing, she agreed, unsurprised.

At only 36 years of age, Kalpona Akter has lived a life few of us can imagine. She began working in a garment factory at the age of 12, taking her 10 year old brother with her. Her parents had no choice: “we were the breadwinners of the family,” she told me. Akter would go to school one day and then to the factory across the street the next day. She recalls being able to see her school playground from a window in the factory and wistfully watching her classmates play while she worked. She calculated that for about 450 hours of work she was paid the shockingly paltry amount of $6 each month. “I didn’t have any idea about the law and my rights. All I understood was that the factory owner was so kind as to give us jobs. But I never knew that we were being cheated. We were being deprived of our legal rights!” Once she understood that she had rights, Kalpona began organizing her fellow workers at the young age of 15. She was immediately fired and blacklisted from working in other factories. She continued working and organizing and today she is the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity where she continues her activism on behalf of factory workers, demanding better working conditions and better pay.

Kalpona’s activism comes at a heavy price. In addition to her imprisonment and the on-going criminal charges she is fighting, she risks her life. One of her close allies, Aminul Islam, well known around the world and even in the US for his labor activism in Bangladesh, was found dead a year ago. Islam’s death brought global embarrassment to Bangladesh after numerous governments and international bodies denounced his murder and demanded an investigation. It is a testament to the work of Aminul Islam, Kalpona Akter, and other labor activists that Bangladesh’s garment factories are the subject of international debate today. But it was the deaths of thousands over the past year that has really galvanized the promise of any meaningful action.

While it made just a few headlines in the US, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory this April took Bangladesh by storm. Akter described to me how ordinary people in Bangladesh watched their television screens with bated breath as the death toll was constantly reported, climbing each hour to everyone’s horror. “The whole nation cried together… people couldn’t eat.” The accidents and their unimaginable death toll brought to mind the famous Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City more than a century ago, where 146 immigrant women and girls perished, locked in a sweatshop and unable to escape. It was one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of New York. From the ashes of that fire came labor victories fought with the blood, sweat and tears of the survivors and their allies. What could arise from the ashes of Tazreen and Rana Plaza?

A meeting just this week in Geneva has brought together corporate heads, labor unions, and worker advocates under the umbrella of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to determine compensation for the families of those killed. Even though the factory workers in Tazreen and Rana Plaza were producing clothes for several American brands such as Walmart, most companies have remained shockingly indifferent to demands for compensation. Many, including Walmart, have refused to attend meetings like this week’s Geneva meeting or a similar meeting held earlier this year. Kalpona Akter tells me that over 80 fashion and apparel companies, mostly from Europe, have signed onto a binding accord to protect factory workers in Bangladesh but American companies like Walmart and Gap refuse to sign on. Instead they have proposed voluntary codes of conduct, and signed onto agreements that do not allow union activity. They have invoked the standard argument: that it is the factory owners, not them, who are responsible for the poor conditions and the resulting deaths. Kalpona told me, “The corporations now say that the ‘Made in Bangladesh’ tag has become dirty. But I say to them, don’t dare say that because if it has become dirty, you have made it so… you didn’t do anything to correct these working conditions… or follow your so-called codes of conduct.” But Akter has a message for American consumers too – especially the ones who might spend $38 on a single piece of clothing – equivalent to the monthly base salary of a garment worker in Bangladesh – without necessarily thinking about where it was made or under what conditions: “We need these [factory] jobs. But we want these jobs with dignity… with safe working conditions, decent wages, and a voice in the workplace, and a unionized work place.” But how could ordinary Americans make that happen? “As a consumer, you have the power to ensure that,” retorted Kalpona defiantly. “You may think, ‘as one person, how can I do that?’ …But if you go to the internet, there are many groups in the US, across the country, raising their voices to make [Bangladesh’s] workplaces better…

Please join them and support them so that they become stronger. As a consumer you will see that you are not alone – there are many people raising their voices.” Here is a partial list of groups Kalpona Akter recommended that Americans can join: International Labor Right Forum: http://www.laborrights.org Solidarity center: http://www.solidaritycenter.org Workers Rights Consortium: http://www.workersrights.org Sweatfree Communities: http://www.sweatfree.org – See more at: http://uprisingradio.org/home/2013/09/12/from-the-ashes-of-garment-factory-disaster-a-demand-for-jobs-with-dignity/#sthash.TetAowpe.dpuf

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Wal-Mart Workers Protest Nationwide; Dozens Arrested

Wal-Mart Workers Protest Nationwide; Dozens Arrested

Thousands of Wal-Mart workers joined a nationwide day of action in 15 cities Thursday, calling for Wal-Mart to provide a living wage, improve working conditions and end retaliation against employees who stand up for their rights. At least 24 people were arrested at actions in New York City and Los Angeles.

8.00 USD per hour (January 1, 2013) is the current minimum wage, which is a yearly Annual income of $16,640

How can one person, let along a family live off of that amount in a day in age where gas is extremely high, food is high of cost and let’s not get on being able to actually eat healthy…. All the unhealthy bad food is cheap, while healthy organic food hits too deep in a minimum wage earning persons pocket.

These corporations (And I say corporations due to politicians mostly consist of prior CEO’s of corps these days) don’t want to pay actual living wages – but want people to but their goods or services. I’m not economic specialist, but it does not take many brain cells to know the following –

The natural fluctuation of the economy between periods of expansion (growth) and contraction (recession). Factors such as gross domestic product (GDP), interest rates, levels of employment and consumer spending can help to determine the current stage of the economic cycle.

Does our government, states not know that if people actually make good money, they spend money. And what does that do? – It puts money back into the economy – it’s a cycle of make money, spend money. Its that easy!

When will our government think logically and assert humanity in their logic?

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Everything You Need To Know About President Obama’s Housing Speech

Everything You Need To Know About President Obama’s Housing Speech

Via http://www.thinkprogress.org
By Alan Pyke on August 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

President Obama will present a plan for reforming the housing market in a speech Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona. The inner workings of housing finance are complicated, and how the market is reformed will be crucial to the country’s economic future. In particular, the future of so-called “government-sponsored entities” (GSEs) has serious implications for housing policy, availability, and affordability.

Here’s what you need to know about the GSEs and the president’s proposals for their future as outlined in the speech and a White House’s fact sheet:

What are GSEs, what do they do, and why does the president want to change them? There are two layers to the mortgage market. In the “primary market,” banks and other institutions loan money to people to buy houses. To free up money to make more loans, these originators sell mortgages into the “secondary market,” where they can be packaged and traded by other firms through securities — hence the term “residential mortgage-backed securities,” or RMBS. “Fannie Mae” – the Federal National Mortgage Association, FNMA – and “Freddie Mac” – the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, FHLMC – were created by the federal government to develop that secondary market for home loans. The two government-sponsored enterprises buy mortgages and insure mortgage-backed securities from the originating lenders so that those lenders have capital to make more loans, thereby increasing access to homeownership.

For decades, the two were private companies, with all market participants understanding they were implicitly backed by federal tax revenues and thus would never be allowed to fail. In 2008, the government took the two companies over, making that implicit guarantee explicit. The takeover meant taxpayers were on the hook for billions of dollars in bad loans. It’s the large taxpayer liability that’s inspired lawmakers to work towards a consensus on how to change or replace Fannie and Freddie in ways that will provide a stable, secure secondary mortgage market that keeps homeownership affordable.

Did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cause the financial crisis? In a word, no. The housing bubble that precipitated the financial crisis was inflated by private companies at various levels of the housing finance market. Unscrupulous lenders issued large mortgages with predatory features like adjustable rates that would skyrocket shortly after the ink dried on the paperwork, then sold those loans to financial firms that packaged them up, got them rated as safe investments by ratings agencies, and re-sold them to other firms. After years of escalating subprime lending by private companies that eroded Fannie and Freddie’s market share, the companies were lured into a “race to the bottom” that exposed taxpayers to the risks Wall Street had been packaging up and reselling for profit. As Center for American Progress housing expert Janneke Ratcliffe said in her March testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, “The housing bubble was driven by the development of a ‘shadow banking system’ in which mortgage lending and securitization was largely unregulated and certainly undisciplined.” The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission examined conservatives’ claims that the GSEs were responsible for the housing bubble and found them statistically unsound. Despite efforts by Republican members of the commission to ban words like “shadow banking,” “Wall Street,” and “deregulation” from the FCIC report on the crisis, the commission rightly concluded the crisis was caused by Wall Street malfeasance and years of deregulation that prevented government agencies from correcting the industry’s abuses.

If the GSEs didn’t cause the crisis, why is the president talking about changing the government’s role in the mortgage market? The way that the secondary mortgage market does business shapes how the primary mortgage market works. The question of who can get a home loan from a bank depends in large part on who the bank can sell that loan to in turn, which is heavily influenced by how the government participates in the secondary market. The idea is to avoid future taxpayer bailouts of the whole housing finance system without turning homeownership into something only the wealthiest can achieve by completely removing the government from the equation.

What changes is the president proposing to the government’s mortgage market activities? Part of his proposal is to replace the implicit government guarantee of mortgages that Fannie and Freddie provided to Wall Street with an explicit and more limited sort of guarantee. President Obama will propose ending Fannie and Freddie completely and instituting a new, more limited, and clearly stated government role in guaranteeing housing finance. Under this proposal, taxpayer dollars would be the last-resort source of funding to cover losses, stepping in only after all available private-sector funds have been absorbed.

Isn’t it pretty radical to end Fannie and Freddie completely? The president’s proposal reflects a bipartisan consensus that the GSEs should be wound down and replaced with a smaller and explicit form of government backing. The Bipartisan Policy Center has proposed the same sort of unraveling of Fannie and Freddie and an increased role for private companies in bearing credit risks in the mortgage market. So has the Center for American Progress. And Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) have proposed legislation along the same lines. The details of how the transition would work are crucial to the success or failure of the move, but there is broad support for the mortgage market reform architecture the president will call for in Phoenix.

If the private sector is going to take over primary responsibility for the mortgage market, won’t that make it harder to get a house? Unwinding Fannie and Freddie is only half of the story. If the private market won’t insure the traditional sort of home loan to a broad swathe of Americans, homeownership and the economic security it’s historically brought could slip out of reach for much of the country. To avoid that pitfall, reform has to include incentives for the private market to continue to make housing affordable and accessible. CAP has called on Corker and Warner to make some changes to their bill that would “provide flexibility for the system to serve low-wealth borrowers,” who pilot programs have shown to be reliable investments when loan terms are tailored to their ability to repay. The president’s proposal includes a small fee on mortgage securities that would fund loan programs targeted to poorer borrowers and rules for the new, mostly private mortgage financing system to ensure the most traditional loans continue to be made.

How can the government shape private-sector behavior without Fannie and Freddie? One important tool is to have all secondary mortgage market activity run through a common platform. That would prevent firms from evading reforms aimed at guaranteeing access and affordability to home loans by creating a regulatory checkpoint for industry standards. Another is to strengthen the Federal Housing Administration, which helps provide reasonable loans to first-time homebuyers and communities that the private market fails to serve. A third piece of the president’s proposal is to get Mel Watt confirmed to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie. During his time in Congress, Watt pushed both affordable housing legislation and laws that could have ended the predatory lending that fueled the crisis.

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The Worldly Issue

The Worldly Issue

Four major reasons why this country’s 99% are broke, can’t get a job or are in prison.

Free trade agreements, jobs shipped overseas, Iraq/Afghanistan war since 2001 $60 Billion tax dollars spent and racial division (Racism).

Don’t think “man-kind” will ever get it right….
This world will be ruined beyond fixing before that thing called Humanitarianism is a way of life for all.