Proposed Tax On Million Dollar Living Spaces Serving As Second Home

“For properties valued between $5 million and $6 million, a 0.5 percent surcharge would be added on the value over $5 million. Fees and a higher surcharge would apply to homes that sold for more than $6 million, topping out at a $370,000 fee and a 4 percent surcharge for homes valued at more than $25 million.”

This would be huge in NYC where so many high end living spaces remain empty for they are just investments.

Would be great for a subway system revamp, and any leftover for remedying the housing crisis there.

www.nytimes.com/2019/03/11/nyregion/mta-subways-pied-a-terre-tax.html

NYT: “The Making of a U.K. Millennial Socialist”

Stand with our British sisters, brothers, and comrades!!!

nyti.ms/2GEXexS

Expert on Venezuela Stand-off says Attempted Aid Delivery: “It was a farce, and it failed.”

Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who advocates a negotiated end to the political crisis (said),

”The ‘humanitarian aid’ this weekend was a public relations stunt, since the aid was just tiny fraction of the food and medicine that they are depriving Venezuelans of with the sanctions….As the Trump administration admitted, it was an attempt to get the Venezuelan military to disobey Maduro. It was a farce, and it failed.”

https://apnews.com/fda32cb8f5b944a989f6c2443c5c8084

Maduro Critic Even Argues A U.S. Coup Attempt is Occurring in Venezuela

A great Democracy Now! interview with a Caracas professor who, though being a Maduro critic, explains how U.S. aid is an attempt to incite the Venezuelan publics support for a Guaido/U.S. coup.

Also explains how U.S. sanctions are true cause for Venezuelan economic crisis.

Plus, for good measure, they have snippets of Trump spewing lies at one of his rallies calling Maduro a “Cuban Puppet.”

www.democracynow.org/2019/2/22/this_is_not_humanitarian_aid_a

Americans Should be Envious: “Why Infants May Be More Likely to Die in America Than Cuba”

nyti.ms/2HieZUR

A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.

Expanding the Mainstream Media Spectrum to the Far Left

I watch and read a lot of mainstream news right now because that is what the public consumes. Now there are great leftist media sources out there I like to watch/read, such as DemocracyNow!, Libcom.org, or even the centrist PBS Newshour. But most Americans do not watch or listen to those outlets. What they do read/watch is FOX News, CNN.com, and whatever else flows across their social media news feeds. And the one thing I observe in the mainstream media most glaringly in terms of a leftist movement is the argument made by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their classic analysis “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.”

Herman and Chomsky argue in MC that there is only so wide of a spectrum of allowable opinions which can be covered and/or expressed by journalists and/or pundits. E.g., The “Medicare-for-All” movement which, I admit, has finally started to squeeze in to the margins of discourse, has been outside of the spectrum of possibilities for decades. The journalists and pundits always put forth the arguments that it would be too expensive, or that it would lead down the slippery slope towards Soviet-style communism. But according to a Nov. 7, 2018, AP poll, nearly 6 in 10 voters said it should be the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage. So, the majority of people want, following that simple logic, a Medicare-For-All law, a public option, or a fully socialized healthcare system. And even though all other industrialized countries have healthcare provided to there citizens by the government, it has always been off the spectrum of acceptable media discourse here in the U.S. until the last few months, I estimate.

Therefore, leftists must widen that spectrum to the left the best ways we can. Rather it be on a blog, or podcast, or through social media, we must provide an alternative to the mainstream news because we mostly control these media. Even though we can complain about FB or Twitter suspending accounts in the name of “proper discourse,” it’s still the Wild West out there. If we spread the word, like what has happened with Bernie Sanders’ supporters who first argued for Medicare-for-All in 2016, we can expand the spectrum. But this will be tough, e.g, the public has supported stricter gun laws for decades, yet NRA lobbyists keep it taboo on the GOP congressional floor. But if we remain tenacious in our efforts, we can affectively expand the mainstream media’s spectrum of acceptable discourse.

The mainstream media is influenced by blog posts and Tweets, if even subconsciously through retweets and responses read by readers, but do not think it is going to happen overnight. Yet it shouldn’t be given up on by good radical leftists all over the world.

Slaves for Fashion “Prison-Made Brand Carcel Reimagines Fashion From The Inside Out”

Brand CEO Veronica D’Souza on creating a ‘different ecosystem’ in fashion and the launch of a new Thai silk collection made in a maximum-security prison
— Read on www.forbes.com/sites/maryjanewiltsher/2019/01/28/prison-made-brand-carcel-reimagines-fashion-from-the-inside-out/amp/

What are so-called “fair wages”? Is there any choice not to produce clothing for the rich?

Prison work is slavery. It is not dignifying.

Communism: Learning from the Past and Present

As I have put forth in my previous posts, a socialist government is the best political system to be realized today in the interests of the 99%. But if we are going to move towards having the power taken back from the rich and given to its rightful owners, the workers, we must avoid making the mistakes made by Communist countries today and in the past.

One of the most dangerous actions taken by the radical leftist governments of the past is that they tried to realize unrealistic goals too soon. E.g., China had its “Great Leap Forward,” the Soviets under Stalin always put forth these “5 Year Plans” that hurt the Russian people at the hands of Stalin’s vain attempts at greatness, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killed over a million of their countrymen partially due to economic reforms. And these often just occurred to catch up with capitalist countries in the areas of industry, science, military, and infrastructurevtoo fast. Foolish.

The are two reasons why this is true, namely:

  1. Revolutionaries have no idea how to run a country. This often leads to unspeakable hardships and suffering for the reasons mentioned above in the pursuit of grand ideals.
  2. The three countries outlined above, i.e., Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia, were ruled under brutal dictators, or very small groups of leaders, who ran authoritarian governments. They involved purges, gulags, and mass murders of so-called “enemies of the people.” And these things are still taking place in North Korea under the rule of the Kim family and their latest criminal, thug leader, Kim Jong Un.

But in terms of the socialist experiment in Cuba, we could learn a lot of positive things from them. The U.S. capitalist media would have you believe that the Castros are no different than Stalin or Un, but what they don’t report are the great strides towards equality taking place in the small island country. E.g., they have redistributed land to the peasants through land reform. Once the Cuban peasants were slaves to rich plantation owners, but as a result of the revolution, the land owned by the corporations and plantation owners has now been divided amongst the people who work the land. And that is just one example of the successful reforms. They have also gotten away from just being a sugar-dominated economy and even become a powerhouse in the research and development of new medicines that are often purchased, yes, by the U.S. government.

Yet this has succeeded by not having some grand goal of building a developing country into a society where they are immediately just as technologically advanced as  the U.S. These are examples of how ideas and policies could be learned from a socialist society to be translated instilled in a more equal America.

So in conclusion, the brutality of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge is due to harsh authoritarian governments, not an attempted realization of a fully socialist society. These dictatorships had vain rulers trying to advance mostly Third-World countries into global players too fast. Yet we can look to somewhere like Cuba for positive ideas to enact here in the U.S. in pursuit of a more egalitarian society.

Social Protest Lit.: Robert G. Ingersoll

indexA statement by Robert G. Ingersoll, American lecturer and free-thought spokesman. This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”

Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has the right to the thing produced.

//

Countering the Right: Right-Wing Scare Tactics on Seattle Minimum Wage Increase

Every once in a while a news headline on Yahoo’s home page catches my eye, mostly because it seems completely ridiculous.  Yesterday was no exception when I saw the ominous headline “Restaurants in Seattle Going Dark as $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Looms“.  A scary headline for an article with content that shouldn’t scare anyone that made it past kindergarten.

When it comes to right-wing scare tactics on minimum wage increases in general, one is forced to accept a fallacy that would crush their argument if they ever had to address it.  The fallacy is this: people making minimum wage would not spend the extra money they would make from a wage increase.  In other words, the money would simply be paid to them and then find its way into a black hole, never to be heard from again.  There would be no increase in consumer spending on basic products or other goods and services and no increase in the sales and production of residual businesses not paying their workers minimum wage.  The article linked is no exception as it feeds the reader the fallacy and makes no mention of the reality of minimum wage increases. 

Another right-wing tactic is to always focus on restaurants and how they will fail if the minimum wage is ever increased.  This is nothing more than using a convenient target to try to sway the uninformed.  Depending on what statistics you use, the failure rate of restaurants in the first three years is generally accepted at roughly 60%.  In other words, most restaurants will fail regardless of the minimum wage so its an easy but deceiving target for the right to use when arguing their absurd points.

While this is no surprise, there is another snippet of info given in the piece that deserves further analysis.  The article gives us some numbers that seem scary on the surface when read:

Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

Gasp!  The owner only making $28k a year on a $700k a year restaurant?  Sounds horrific…unless we choose to do some math.  Let’s play this game.

$700k divided by 365 days gives us an average daily revenue of $1918.  Let’s assume the restaurant is open on average 12 hours a day (10 am-10 pm, for example, lunch and dinner).  $1918 divided by 12 gives us roughly $160 per hour.  Assuming the average customer spends $10 per meal and drink, we get 16 customers per hour.  If a restaurant in a major city like Seattle is only getting that many customers per hour, they are clearly on their way to closing their doors anyway.  But wait, there’s more.

As is noted, 36% of funds are devoted to labor.  36% of $700k is 252000.  A 36-hour per week worker (6 days, 6 hours per in this scenario) making Washington’s minimum wage ($9.47) makes $17,725 a year.  $252k divided by $17,725 gives us roughly 14 workers.  With a 12 hour day, you would need a minimum of two workers per position.  That gives us 2 hosts/hostesses (assuming you need it), 2 cooks, 2 kitchen preps, 2 dishwashers, 1 additional manager, and 5 servers (who apparently make the state minimum wage in Washington).  Here’s where an important reality comes to light in their numbers given.

With 5 servers, you would have 3 working half of the time to split the previously derived 16 customers per hour, which is completely ridiculous in terms of being grossly overstaffed.  Assuming the 16 customers are 8 couples dining together, this means a little less than 3 tables per hour per server.  As someone who was once an atrocious excuse for a server in my earlier working days and can speak from experience, a server can easily handle 6-7 tables per hour without breaking much of a sweat.  And that’s if you’re terrible at your job, like I was.

In other words, the restaurant in the example given is clearly overstaffed and badly run on top of not getting enough foot traffic in the first place.  If we were to bring the server situation down to a more appropriate level, what happens with the owner’s $28k a year takeaway on a $700k restaurant?  What if you take away 1 or both hosts/hostesses because they aren’t needed due to the light customer traffic?  If we take out 4 workers, we suddenly get an additional $70k.  Obviously, some of this would go to the additional manager and (hopefully) some raises, but the owner is likely taking a good chunk of this home.  What happens to that $28k per year?  Exactly.

If the right wants to scare the country into believing the minimum wage should not be increased or should go away entirely, they should probably use a better hypothetical example than a badly run, overstaffed restaurant with too little of a customer base to survive in such a big city.