Tag Archives: taxes

Revolution and Beer…of the week: Hirter Morchl and harmony

IMG_0371Hirt. I’ve been through the town, back some years ago. Tucked in that storybook region of south-central Austria, within site of the alps. The town is on the Ljubljana-Klagenfurt-Vienna line. I’d just come out of my first trip to the former Yugoslavia, still mired in conflict. Exhausted but tortured by all I’d experienced and witnessed, my gaze was fixed out the window on that overnight train to Vienna.

The hills and mountains were lost to darkness and the reflection of my face in the window of the small, empty compartment. There were but a scattering of lights in the distance. Hirt was one of those ocassional places. I can’t recall if the train stopped there or not. What I do recall was the soft, almost sweet scent of the chilly autumn air through the window, juxtaposing with the struggling floor heater near my sore and tired feet. My shoulders still ached from the backpack perched on the seat opposite. I luxuriated in a cleansing breath and felt those last days and weeks wash from my body and soul. Last night, as I poured a glass of Hirter Morchl, an elegant but not overbearing dark Austrian Lager, the scent of the beer reawakened that moment on the train.

I’d barely chilled this beer. I actually prefer darker, fuller beers at not much below a comfortable room temperature. Too cool and I feel the aroma of the beer is subdued, and with it the taste. The craft and artistry of these beers is their character. I want that. I want to explore that. I also want a nice controlled and foamy head in a good beer. Silly as it sounds, I want my nose in that soft head, where I can fully and deeply breathe the beer in. Hirter Morchl did not disappoint. So that’s where I began with Hirter Morchl, that caramel-tinged head. It didn’t remain for too long. It shouldn’t, instead withdrawing into the body, or remaining upon the sides of the chaliced glass in tatters. Beer aficionados dub this lacing.

There is a harmony to European trains at night. The rhythmic clunk-a-clunk, the slow cradling, lolling of the train coaxes sleep or deep thought. As the Berlin wall was coming down and Europe in the course of a fundamental revolution, I travelled Europe by train almost exclusively, much of it in Eastern and Southern Europe. The uncounted and untold hours and days I spent writing, daydreaming, lamenting and exploring for almost two years were a university all to their own. A world happens on European trains; politics, romance and more. Unlike trains in America, European trains are community. I always liked to think that the European Union was inevitable, if for no other reason than for the ultimate community drawn East to West by trains.

At first taste, I found its gently fruity sweetness giving way to the a nutty, chocolate and dark malt depth, saved at the end bit a hint of hops, just to remind me this was beer and not silk. This is a pleasant, hardly overwhelming beer reminding us that, while not gone, the darkest and coldest days of winter are behind us, and that spring awaits. We’ve bested winter once again.

The train arrived in Vienna the next morning after a rain. The streets were soaked and glistening. The long tall avenues, imbued with a timeless history, fully open to the fiction of one’s fantasies were rendered in hues of blue and gray. A soft, cold drizzle still remained. I shivered at a chill. Despite a night without sleep, I was fully refreshed, a consequence of the train, alpine air the luxury of unfettered thought: Harmony. From the first taste of Hirter Morchl I found that same harmony.

Catch 900poundgorilla’s WC Turck with Brian Murray and the whole Our Town gang with Mike Sanders every Sunday 8-9am on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT, streming worldwide during the Revolution and Beer segment, and find out more about all of the great craft Beers we feature by googling Louis Glunz Beer, Inc. Like us on Facebook at Revolution and Beer, or subscribe for free to 900poundgorilla.wordpress.com.


Unemployed(sort of): a Diary-day 8, A slow start is still a start

Excuses, excuses, but it seemed the week through everything in the book at us. First Rocco, and then our two primary computers going down, but this is precisely the time folks are at their most vulnerable. It isn’t enough to simply throw money at the issue, as in the back of my mind is that whole rainy day thing. The time to start thinking critically about budgets and necessary expenditures is well before that final day at the office. Ana and I began slowing down on our spending well before Christmas, mapping out strategies and contingencies. I was concerned about the loss of one computer, but our back up laptop(say that fast three times) was a real blow.

Most of us have been through tough times. I can’t think of a more difficult time in my life than when Ana first got here from Europe. To say it was a struggle was an understatement, and it it seemed as if the world was bullying us. It seemed as if the world was intent on destroying us, for all the trials and calamities that came our way, including a tire coming off the car while we were driving. The world wasn’t conspiring against us, of course, but when your back is to the wall every challenge becomes a moral one.

We’re in a far better position to weather these storms now. Not that I’d like to necessarily press that luck. This time our nearly new Honda is paid for. We’ve got assets to lean on, if worse comes to worse, and I like to think we’re a bit smarter. I know Ana is. I hope to hell I am.

My job skills and experience have certainly grown. I benefited from working in the IT field, doing logistics for a major airline, and innovating an industry alongside an awesome team. Indeed, innovation and communication were cornerstones of the job. Working in real time with stations and costumers around the planet required precise management and communication skills. There is an art to issue resolution and working to goals and deadlines, in which millions of Dollars hang in the balance across oceans, continents and among diverse and different cultures. With media, social media, broadcasting, publishing, I have a great deal to offer an employer. Now the key will be in finding that best fit for them and for me.

But the preparations for a proper job search can be immense. I think that’s why I found the national conversation on the country’s debt these past two years sometimes ridiculous. As the nation plunged into the dark and uncharted abyss of a very manufactured financial crisis critics decried taking the nation into debt to stem the damage to the overall economy. Sometimes it is the only thing to do. I’m first to argue against that foolish notion that the country should be run like a household. It isn’t a household, and besides, the people who say that talk in platitudes about their checkbook, and how dutiful they are to pay the bills monthly to balance their account. Somehow they forget they probably have a car note, a mortgage and more, and if they don’t have any of those things, they are among the very few and aren’t a part of the real conversation.

For the job I want, it is going to cost us something up front. I’ll have to chance a little debt for a few new and contemporary suits, particularly since I’m about 30 pounds, much leaner and in far better shape that I was for the 4 suits I could swim in now hanging in the closet. I’m good on ties, and thinking about an interview-ready pair of shoes. The computers, or at least one of them is imperative for a modern job search. Luckily it was fixable for not a great deal of cash, but I was very seriously prepared to spring for a new or rebuilt system. Funny that we have all heard the old saying, “you’ve got to spend money to make money.” It is true. All those partisan geniuses in the media and government somehow missed that old adage.

So earlier today I got off the first serious queries to prospective employers. There were just two. They were based off a tip from a friend. I did the requisite research on both, using industry acumen building an argument why I would be right for the position, highlighting pertinent experience and background for each cover letter, and tailoring the resume to each position if necessary. That final detail, I think, is a weak spot for a lot of job seekers. The cover letter is viewed as this malleable tool, but all too often it is as if the resume is written in stone. With a bit of computer know how, a bit of copy/cut and paste and alignment knowledge, a one or one and a half page resume can be reworked in 10 or 15 minutes.

Tomorrow, the importance of maintaining a schedule, and the best recipe for perfect sweet potato fries…

Tune in every Sunday 9-0am only on Chicago’s Progressive Talk, WCPT for the Revolution and Beer segment as Brian Murray and I sample the beer of the week with the Our Town gang, and run down the grassroots calendar for the week. If you’re tired of talk, talk, talk radio, this is do something radio. Have a beer. Get involved.
With thanks to the good people at Louis Glunz Beer Inc, a family owned business for 125 years in Chicago. Visit them @ http://www.glunzbeers.com/Site/SeasonalBeers.aspx?hd=1


Poll Shows Overwhelming Majority of Illinois Voters Think Corporations Should Disclose Tax Information

Majority of Republicans Say Corporations Aren’t Paying Their Fair Share of Taxes and Support Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes

Please call your Illinois Representative today and tell them as a voter you want them to Pass SB282! Find your Rep’s contact here: http://ilga.gov/house/

 SPRINGFIELD—The majority of Illinois voters—including a majority of Republicans—say corporations are not paying their fair share of our state taxes and overwhelmingly support legislation that would require publicly traded corporations to disclose certain tax information, according to a new statewide poll of Illinois voters, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP).

 Nearly 80 percent of Illinois voters say legislation to require publicly-traded corporations to disclose how much they pay in Illinois corporate income tax is a good idea—with 75% of Republicans, 80% of Democrats and 84% of Independents saying it is a good idea—according to the survey. 

 The Illinois Senate passed corporate income tax disclosure legislation (SB 282) in November, but the bill must pass the Illinois House by January 8th to be sent to the Governor. 

 “The vast majority of Illinois voters agree—it’s time for Illinois to create a more transparent corporate tax system and make sure corporations are paying their fair share,” said Sue Gries, a leader with the Lakeview Action Coalition. “Illinois Representatives should listen to their constituents and pass SB 282 to move our State toward making better, more informed policy decisions.”

SB 282 provides transparency by requiring publicly-traded corporations in Illinois to disclose the amount of corporate income taxes they pay to the State of Illinois.  The Secretary of State would disclose this information to the general public on the Internet a full two years after the fact.

 This legislation would cover only publicly traded corporations and would not require small single proprietor or family-owned businesses to disclose information. 

 “Overwhelmingly voters say it hurts our state’s economy that two-thirds of corporations aren’t paying any corporate income tax in Illinois,” said Rev. Marilyn Pagán-Banks, President of IIRON.  “To keep our state competitive and attract jobs we need to know that everyone is paying their fair share, but we can’t hold big corporations accountable when the truth about wasteful tax breaks is being hidden.” 

In addition the poll showed that: 

  • 66% of voters think it hurts the state’s economy that two-thirds of Illinois corporations pay no Illinois corporate income tax—including nearly 60% of Republicans;
  • 68% of voters—including 58% of Republicans—say the division of taxes in our state is unfair because corporations don’t pay enough taxes;
  • 65% of voters think our state would be in better shape if some state corporate tax loopholes were closed—including 60% of Republicans;
  • 70% of voters think most Illinois politicians put the interests of large corporations and their lobbyists ahead of the interests of the people in their district—including 71% of Republicans.

 Independents were the strongest supporters of corporate tax fairness—with 70% saying it hurts the state’s economy that two-thirds of Illinois corporations pay no Illinois corporate income tax; 73% saying the state would be in better shape if some state corporate tax loopholes were closed; 68% saying division of taxes in our state is unfair because corporations don’t pay enough taxes; and 76% saying most Illinois politicians put the interests of large corporations and their lobbyists ahead of the interests of the people in their district.

 “Illinois should have tax policies that are based on facts, not guesses,” said Bill Poorman, a community leader in the Peoria Chapter of Illinois People’s Action.  “Legislators need to decide whether they represent the nearly 80% of voters who support corporate tax disclosure or just represent the big corporations who don’t want the public to know if they are paying their fair share.”  

 This survey was commissioned by a coalition of Illinois organizations working in support of SB 282 including IIRON (Illinois–Indiana Regional Organizing Network), Illinois People’s Action, Lakeview Action CoalitionNorthside P.O.W.E.R., A Just Harvest, National People’s Action, SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation) and others.

 The survey was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP). PPP surveyed 500 Illinois voters from December 18th to 19th through automated telephone interviews. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percentage points. For more information about methodology, please go to http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/aboutPPP/about-us.html or email info@publicpolicypolling.com.

 Kristi Sanford
Communications Coordinator
IIRON

http://www.iironblog.org
@IIRONACTION
Like IIRON on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/IIRON/114237908675895


Austerity in America. Durbin says it is a done deal: Call and tell him he’s all wrong @ Phone: (202)224-2152

Elected representatives. Those words should mean something, but to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin apparently they apply when he decides. And that is the trouble with this government. It has become unresponsive to the people. Durbin has all but closed the doors on his constituents, many of whom have expressed  disappointment and disapproval over his apparent eagerness to negotiate and compromise over Medicaid, medicare and Social Security benefits.

I like Dick Durbin. I voted for Dick Durbin. I thought he had more character. I still hope he does. I am deeply disappointed in the direction he’s taken.

Didn’t the Democrats win the election? They picked up seats in both houses as voters overwhelmingly rejected the austerity posturing of the Republican ticket. That means Durbin, leading the negotiations for the Obama Administration, is willing and ready to sell out the poor, working folks and middle class for concessions over tax-hikes for the richest 2%, perverse subsidies for oil companies, a bloated growth-strangling defense budget and corporate welfare. Projected savings for these would add or save more than $4 Trillion-that’s trillion with a T over the next 10 years.

Tax reformers are asking for: An end to Bush Tax Cuts for Top 2% generating $1 trillion, eestablish a Financial Transaction Tax, or Robin Hood Tax, on Wall Street trading for $1.8 trillion, restore a robust estate tax (above 2009 level): $253 billion, ending fossil fuel tax subsidies $38 billion, an end to preferential tax rates for income from stocks and bonds and other assets (tax capital gains as income): $533 billion, and a reduce incentives for moving jobs and corporate profits offshore $583 billion.

I met today with protesters outside Durbin’s office in downtown Chicago, where they had erected a symbolic soup-line. On Thursday they will erect a shantytown, dubbed “Durbinville,” illustrating the catastrophic effects cuts to the social safety net will have, particularly on the poor and elderly. 

“It’s a done deal,” he told protesters several weeks ago, admonishing them that “they needed someone at the table.”

Well, where is this table, and why is a semi-secretive group of appointees ram-rodding this decision through without consideration from voters and constituents? What is the urgency, especially since the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ is an arbitrary date? What is the real agenda here? It certainly is not about the financial health of the country, but of the wealth of a few, which Durbin seems to be betraying his loyalties over regarding these negotiations.

There were several Christian pastors among the group, one of whom voted for Durbin. Asked if he felt betrayed, he pursed his lips and shook his head.

“The dems are a little bit more responsive.”

“We need to make the democratic party,” said a tax-fairness advocate named Jacob, who also voted for Durbin. “Durbin is inside the beltway and can’t think outside the “common sense” of Washington.”

Their expectations are reasonable and simple. In a letter sent to the Senator a number of community groups from across the city laid out protections for the nation’s most vulnerable:

We’re calling on Senator Durbin to use his power to create a fair solution in budget

negotiations based on these principles:

1. A Fair Solution is based in fair taxation: we must end tax breaks for the richest 2%, and institute a small tax on risky Wall Street trading.

2. A Fair Solution invests in the American people: in our infrastructure, education,transportation, jobs, housing, and health.

3. A Fair Solution protects our investment in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid so we can all be assured economic security and health care in our retirement or for seniors and those with disabilities.

Rev. Tom Gaulke of the South Loop Campus Ministry summed it up this way, “Jesus came to preach good news to the masses, not to feed them b.s., but to genuinely offer good news for the suffering.”

So what compels Durbin’s conscience? He needs to hear from voters and constituents, and this is how:

WASHINGTON, D.C. Office
309 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Phone: (202)224-2152
Fax: (202)228-0400

CHICAGO Office
230 South Dearborn Street
Suite 3892
Chicago, IL 60604
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


6 members of the Walmart family controls as much wealth as the bottom 30% of the nation(that’s 90 million people), and still they ask for more. They have done more to destroy small town America, crushing small businesses, driving down wages in America and decimating American manufacturing by cozying up to Chinese and Asian sweatshops to bring the Americans they helped impoverish goods those Americans can only afford at WalMart. Pure genius, except that it is evil, unpatriotic and inhuman. The world needs an international constitution and bill of rights detailing global labor rights for workers, strict limitations on corporations, including sovereign voting rights by citizens to dissolve corrupt corporations, and it needs an international minimum wage standard. It isn’t about hating wealth or being anti-success, it is about morality and the future of the nation, and do we as citizens control the nation together, or cede our freedom and autonomy to a small group of self-concern people with ultimate regard only for themselves rather than moving us all as Americans and world citizens forward. Read The Last Man. This. This is exactly what I was writing about. Take back your country, Americans, or lose your future forever.

sources:

http://www.therichest.org/tag/walton-family-net-worth/

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/12/09/385941/walmart-heirs-worth-30-percent-bottom/?mobile=nc

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2011/12/14/six-waltons-have-more-wealth-than-the-bottom-30-of-americans/


Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh, Institute for Policy Studies

Originally posted at: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=377

(Is The Last Man a work of fiction or a vision of the future?)

 
 
  1. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; only 49 are countries (based on a comparison of corporate sales and country GDPs).
  2. The Top 200 corporations’ sales are growing at a faster rate than overall global economic activity. Between 1983 and 1999, their combined sales grew from the equivalent of 25.0 percent to 27.5 percent of World GDP.
  3. The Top 200 corporations’ combined sales are bigger than the combined economies of all countries minus the biggest 10.
  4. The Top 200s’ combined sales are 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in ”severe” poverty.
  5. While the sales of the Top 200 are the equivalent of 27.5 percent of world economic activity, they employ only 0.78 percent of the world’s workforce.
  6. Between 1983 and 1999, the profits of the Top 200 firms grew 362.4 percent, while the number of people they employ grew by only 14.4 percent.
  7. A full 5 percent of the Top 200s’ combined workforce is employed by Wal-Mart, a company notorious for union-busting and widespread use of part-time workers to avoid paying benefits. The discount retail giant is the top private employer in the world, with 1,140,000 workers, more than twice as many as No. 2, DaimlerChrysler, which employs 466,938.
  8. U.S. corporations dominate the Top 200, with 82 slots (41 percent of the total). Japanese firms are second, with only 41 slots.
  9. Of the U.S. corporations on the list, 44 did not pay the full standard 35 percent federal corpo-rate tax rate during the period 1996-1998. Seven of the firms actually paid less than zero in federal income taxes in 1998 (because of rebates). These include: Texaco, Chevron, PepsiCo, Enron, Worldcom, McKesson and the world’s biggest corporationGeneral Motors.
  10. 10. Between 1983 and 1999, the share of total sales of the Top 200 made up by service sector corporations increased from 33.8 percent to 46.7 percent. Gains were particularly evident in financial services and telecommunications sectors, in which most countries have pursued deregulation.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! Just fix it.

So the mantra from the right these days is that government is too big, and we must shrink it, not to make it more efficient, but so it can get out of the way of business.In the age of the highest corporate profits in human history that rhetoric is obscene. Fundamentally, that is an anti-American, anti-Constituional idea. Let’s set aside the argument that government exists because it has the power to do things individuals simply can’t do, like build a road, fight a war, enforce health and safety codes, maintain a justice system and get toilets to flush safely from coast to coast.

This nation is being duped into buying the perverse and dangerous idea that corporations are virtuous and wise, while government is corrupt, inept and out of control. Are they saying they’d happily trade corporate control for the United States government? Have they never seen a corporation go bankrupt? Go out of business? End pensions? Break the law?

Name me a single corporation that has existed as long as the US government? Name me a single one that acts as a democracy? Name one that voluntarily protects the interests of individual workers rights without those rules being imposed by government. Name one. That corporation doesn’t exist.

Without government, corporations would pollute the environment, abuse employees, and even murder labor activists http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26COLO.html?searchpv=day04&pagewanted=print . They would be free to pay employees the lowest possible or barely survivable wages with no benefits in dangerous environments. Get hurt on the job due to their negligence and you’re history, and so is your family’s future.

The problem with government is that the Democrats and especially the Republicans have allowed and facilitated the corporate stranglehold on government,  a crime promoted and repackaged in the pseudo-Press suppositories of FOX, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio, all of which are owned by significant corporations with huge interest in the outcome of this quiet coup.

The people can take it back, but they have to get smart, get organized, and defend a government large enough to defend a Constitution that was written for people not corporations.

What you really what, whether you realize now or later, is a government big enough not to get bullied by terrorists, rogue nations, competing nations, and least of all self-interested corporations. But it has to be a government humble enough to protect the homeless guy on the corner from being run off because he fell on hard times, or the millions of families faced with foreclosure

The Bush tax cuts for the rich (still in effect) have failed to generate the jobs Republicans and the rich promised would happen if those tax cuts continued. The government should be big enough to conclude a war and recognize the rights of minorities and the wrongly accused.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! just fix it.


Tax Debate: Two alternate faery tales

 

The Happy Kingdom of US

Once upon a time there was lovely little kingdom upon a tiny far-away island. One day a giant washed ashore. The giant was good and saw that he could carry more water than almost all of the other little islanders together. The giant was welcomed and rewarded beyond all measure. No one hated the other for their size. Each had their place and duties and families to look after. The giant carried his own load, which was much more than the others, but he reaped the rewards of the roads the others built, the delicious meals they created and the sense that he belonged to something much bigger than even himself, something he could not find quite the same on any other island. And so all on the island shared work and wealth and lived happily ever after.

Trouble in the Kingdom of ME.

Once upon a time, the giant drank all the water, and when the city caught fire he pissed on the little people and went to another island and acted like a dick there too. 

THE END


Big government? Damn right. The biggest! Just fix it.

So the mantra from the right these days is that government is too big, and we must shrink it, not to make it more efficient, but so it can get out of the way of business.In the age of the highest corporate profits in human history that rhetoric is obscene. Fundamentally, that is an anti-American, anti-Constituional idea. Let’s set aside the argument that government exists because it has the power to do things individuals simply can’t do, like build a road, fight a war, enforce health and safety codes, maintain a justice system and get toilets to flush safely from coast to coast.

This nation is being duped into buying the perverse and dangerous idea that corporations are virtuous and wise, while government is corrupt, inept and out of control. Are they saying they’d happily trade corporate control for the United States government?

Name me a single corporation that has existed as long as the US government? Name me a single one that acts as a democracy? Name one that voluntarily protects the interests of individual workers rights without those rules being imposed by government. Name one. That corporation doesn’t exist.

Without government, corporations would pollute the environment, abuse employees, and even murder labor activists http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/26/international/26COLO.html?searchpv=day04&pagewanted=print . They would be free to pay employees the lowest possible or barely survivable wages with no benefits in dangerous environments. Get hurt on the job due to their negligence and you’re history, and so is your family’s future.

The problem with government is that the Democrats and especially the Republicans have allowed and facilitated the corporate stranglehold on government,  a crime promoted and repackaged in the pseudo-Press suppositories of FOX, CNN, MSNBC and talk radio, all of which are owned by significant corporations with huge interest in the outcome of this quiet coup.

The people can take it back, but they have to get smart, get organized, and defend a government large enough to defend a Constitution that was written for people not corporations.

What you really what, whether you realize now or later, is a government big enough not to get bullied by terrorists, rogue nations, competing nations, and least of all self-interested corporations. But it has to be a government humble enough to protect the homeless guy on the corner from being run off because he fell on hard times, or the millions of families faced with foreclosure

The Bush tax cuts for the rich (still in effect) have failed to generate the jobs Republicans and the rich promised would happen if those tax cuts continued. The government should be big enough to conclude a war and recognize the rights of minorities and the wrongly accused.

Big government? Damn right. The biggest! just fix it.