Government Debt and Deficits Are Not the Problem – Private Debt Is
Published on Mar 24, 2013
Michael Hudson: Why do they call for governments to balance the budget by pushing the economy at large deeper into debt, while trying to save the banks from taking a loss?
Currently, there are at least two shocking news stories which have been little represented on the BBC or in the national MSM. One is the decision of two health trusts in Northern Ireland to entirely stop providing statutory residential care for the elderly. The other is the House of Lords vote which failed to kill off the controversial section 75 of NHS competition regulations.
Martin Rowson depicts the reporting failure in his cartoon, described by cif commentator lightacandle:
BBC News Invisibility Cloak – on the Lords sell off of the NHS – yes they ignored that one completely – as usual. The Lords now being a vulture friend of fat cat, seeing as one in four have interests in private health too. And what fools are we to allow it to go on…
It also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the publication of ‘Manufacturing Consent’ which examined the role of the mainstream media:
The mass media serve as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda.
The video clip below is an interview with Edward S. Herman (who co-authored the book with Noam Chomsky) which commemorates the anniversary. Speaking a few days ago, Edward Herman says to The Real News:
“All the problems of the propaganda media model we talked about in the book have grown worse”.
In 1992, Edward Herman wrote in ‘Beyond Hypocrisy’:
Dissenters are excluded in the normal sourcing and processing of news, so that freedom of speech is perfectly compatible with systematic barriers to views that jar and threaten. Reporters are forced to work within the limits imposed by the market system in order to survive and prosper in the media organizations….
Despite these structural facts, it is frequently asserted and has become a conservative cliché that the mass media, especially network TV and the leading establishment dailies, are both “liberal” and “adversarial” to established authority.
That certainly echoes the Tory view of the BBC. Furthermore, Herman proposed two laws; a ‘power law of access’ and an ‘inverse power law of truthfulness’ which are interrelated.
Those who try to disprove the lies of the powerful have their limited access further reduced because their discordant messages would offend the powerful. In any event, the messages of the weak and powerless can be largely ignored without cost to the mass media (whose biases would incline them toward avoidance anyway).
In his interview with The Real News, Edward Herman reiterates his view that ‘The media are simply part of the political force… lies are not contested.. the MSM does not allow alternative viewpoints .. We need a democratic order where the public’s interest feeds into the media.’ He considers that new media like The Real News show potential, but still believes that funding is needed for more investigative journalism.
Who on the left would disagree?
“Manufacturing Consent” 25 Years Later
Published on Apr 19, 2013
Forget the 47 percent. Foreign tax havens—and investment vehicles like those the GOP candidate established at Bain Capital—are robbing world treasuries of billions.
Major Banks Help Clients Hide Trillions in Offshore Tax Havens
Published on Aug 3, 2012 by TheRealNews
James Henry of Tax Justice Network: US media and politicians mostly ignore massive untaxed wealth that big banks help rich move to tax havens.
Well, when you look at the distribution of wealth here that’s offshore, we think there’s no more than about 10 million people that really account for about 83 percent of the $21 trillion that is at a minimum offshore. And that’s pretty concentrated. The top 100 are multibillionaires. They account for about 8.1 percent of the total. The next 2,900, billionaires with an average wealth of $1.4 billion, account for another 7 percent of it. So that’s about 3,000 people that already are owning nearly 15 percent of the world’s financial wealth.
And then we have—the next step in the ladder is the sort of ultra high net worth crowd, which are—their average wealth is on the order of $58 million, and there’s about 117,000 of them in the world. And then, finally, there’s another fortunate few, who are about 9.9 million, whose average wealth is on the order of $6.3 million, and they account for about 60 percent of this. So 82 percent of the world’s wealth, then, when you add all this up, is—of the offshore wealth is owned by about 0.14 percent of the world’s population.
So if you look at it from the standpoint of who’s actually benefiting from this industry, you know, it’s a tiny share of the global population. And that group has—in terms of global wealth, which is about $231 trillion, they own about a third of all that global wealth. And so that’s a—you know, 0.14 percent is a tiny fraction owning that much wealth.
James Henry, a former chief economist at McKinsey & Co., describes offshore tax havens like the “bar scene in Star Wars.” He explains, “Dictators and kleptocrats used them to conceal stolen loot. Arms dealers and drug dealers use them to launder their deals. Google and Apple and Pfizer use them to park their intellectual property and pay themselves tax-free royalties. Banks use them to park lousy loans and stash the offshore accounts and assets under management of their wealthy individual clients, many of which are paying zero taxes back home…And so on.”
Romney has investments in a number of well known tax havens, including Ireland, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, and Bermuda. Until 2010, he held a few million in the Swiss bank UBS, which in 2009 was forced to pay the US $780 million in fines and penalties for helping more than 17,000 Americans commit tax fraud by hiding as much as $20 billion overseas. The total value of Romney’s offshore investments is unknown, but his tax returns have revealed that he has at least $30 million invested in the Cayman Islands, in at least 12 different Bain Capital funds. When pressed about the relationship between his offshore investments and his low tax rate (he paid 14.1 percent on $13 million in income, according to his 2011 tax return), Romney has largely declined to answer questions about his overseas holdings other than to say, “I pay all the taxes that are legally required, not a dollar more.” Romney has also denied getting tax benefits from his offshore accounts. He told Fox News, “[T]here was no reduction, not one dollar reduction in taxes by virtue of having an account in Switzerland or a Cayman Islands investment. The dollars of taxes remained exactly the same. There was no tax savings at all.”
Similarly, a Romney campaign spokeswoman told Mother Jones that Romney’s foreign investments “are taxed in the very same way they would be if the shares were held in the US rather than through a Cayman fund. No taxes are avoided or reduced. These funds are registered with the IRS and report all income to investors and the IRS, just like domestic funds.”
Romney’s assertion that his offshore investments have not reduced his tax bill has been met with skepticism by tax experts.