Calling all right-wingers. We need someone to defend this while criticizing unions for wanting their pensions.
Texas-based Hostess Brands Inc. asked a judge on Wednesday to approve an additional $1.9 million in executive bonuses, according to The Associated Press, saying the money is needed to keep top managers on as the company sells off all its assets.
The company’s most recent court filing asks New York-based bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain to give final approval of managements plans to liquidate its assets.
If approved, the move would be the final defeat for the company’s union, which saw Judge Drain order significant concessions from the workers earlier this month.
In addition to laying off more than 18,000 workers, the company stopped contributing to its union pension plans some time ago and now owes workers more than $111 million.
Gregory Rayburn, the company’s interim CEO, told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that more than 80 firms have lined up to buy out the company’s assets, in a series of sales that could pull in more than $1 billion. It is possible that the unionized workers could be hired on by one of those other companies.
New research from NYU economics professor Edward Wolff, flagged by Think Progress, found that the median wealth of American households plummeted over the years 2007 to 2010, and by 2010 was at its lowest level since 1969. Meanwhile, the late 2000′s saw a high rise inequality: while the median wealth fell, the top 1 percent increased their wealth by 71 percent between 2007 and 2010 (a statistic almost ready-made for an Occupy Wall Street banner).
Wolff argues that while “the debt of the middle class exploded from 1983 to 2007, already creating a very fragile middle class in the United States… their position deteriorated even more over the ‘Great Recession.’” His research also detailed how the household wealth of racial minorities and young people dropped to an even greater extent in the wake of the housing bubble’s burst, when house prices collapsed:
The racial and ethnic disparity in wealth holdings, after remaining more or less stable from 1983 to 2007, widened considerably in the years between 2007 and 2010. Hispanics, in particular, got hammered by the Great Recession in terms of net worth and net equity in their homes. Finally, young households (under age 45) also got pummeled by the Great Recession, as their relative and absolute wealth declined sharply from 2007 to 2010.
The sharp fall in wealth for middle class, young, black and Hispanic households during the “Great Recession” is readily explicable: such households tended to have higher debts and greater percentages of their wealth invested into their homes.
As Think Progress noted, “Wolff analyzes household wealth, rather than annual income, for six reasons, including the fact that ‘the availability of financial assets can provide liquidity to a family in times of economic stress, such as occasioned by unemployment, sickness, or family break-up.’ However, studies of income inequality also support Wolff’s pessimistic account of growing inequality: they’ve found income inequality has risen in almost every state over the last 30 years and that the middle class has just suffered its ‘worst decade in modern history.’”
Remember how Republicans told us how we have too much debt and how that will kill the economy? Well, apparently that only counts if you pay off the debt by cutting social services and benefits for the bottom 90%, not if you raise taxes on those making over $250,000 (or in the current scenario, if you return tax rates to what they were in 2000).
Secret agent 007 might have a licence to kill. But James Bond is not exempt from American road laws and had to take a course on “responsible safe driving” in order to be allowed on the road.
Or rather the actor who plays the current Bond - Craig, Daniel Craig, - had to. Having moved to Manhattan, New York with his wife fellow actor Rachel Weisz, Craig has had to take driving lessons to obtain a legal motorist’s licence.
All foreigners, regardless of if they are top secret agents on their Majesty’s Service or mere mortals, must pass a road safety test, a pre-licencing driving-safety course and take a written exam.
Richard Fernandez, of the Professional Driving School of the Americas, where Craig took the five-hour lesson, said: “No one is exempt, regardless of who you are.”
Which, given how quickly the DBS Aston Martin which crashed on its way to the Skyfall film set in 2008 became as flat as a pancake (remarkably leaving its driver with minor injuries), is rather a good thing.
But Craig is not exempt from all the special treatment being 007 gets you: “His assistant requested a special class for Daniel by himself. No other students were there. He was such a nice dude, so friendly,'' driving instructor Fernandez told the New York Post.
Luckily, the 44-year-old passed his test on Staten Island with flying colours and lives to drive another day.
Every time Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson talk about how the United States simply cannot afford to offer their citizens a modest income in retirement, they get $40,000. This is three times the amount that Social Security recipients actually get themselves in retirement, ANNUALLY. Bowles and Simpson get that for an hourlong talk.
The Washington Speakers Bureau, a stable of politicians and pundits for hire, provided added inducement. It sought to re-sign Mr. Simpson, who had been on contract after leaving the Senate, after the commission reported in December 2010. He, like Mr. Bowles, had been flying weekly to Washington without compensation; Mr. Simpson said he had spent about $25,000 of his own money to upgrade from government-rate coach seating to premium-class seats able to fit his frame. He contacted his pal.
“I said: ‘Erskine, would you want to do any of this? I know that may not be your bag, but I certainly have still embraced the capitalistic system,’ ” Mr. Simpson recalled. “He said, ‘Yeah, as long as I do it with you.’ ”
Initially they made up to $32,000 each, Mr. Simpson said, then $36,000 and now $40,000. But they often appear without a fee, including at colleges and city economic clubs. The two men have done countless interviews, for newspaper reporters, doctoral students and middle school report-writers; have sat for rural radio stations and for “60 Minutes”; and have lectured both on campuses and to campuses, as Mr. Simpson did by Skype from Wyoming last week to a class here at American University.
It’s so nice of them to “often appear” without a fee when doing interviews with 60 Minutes and newspapers, who don’t offer a fee to anyone. But business groups will hand them over $40,000 for an hour; they’re about to do speaking tours at “Bank of America and to investment groups in Manhattan.” That money doesn’t include the money they’re making to front the “Fix the Debt” group for CEOs whowant their corporate tax rate lowered.
Alan Simpson, by the way, gets a fat government pension in honor of his service in the Senate, as well as government-provided health care. I don’t begrudge him it. Everyone should have the access to such benefits.
But there’s a certain insidiousness to these two very well-off people getting up and railing against how social insurance programs bankrupt the country, and walking away with three times the amount that any senior citizen gets as their Social Security benefit in A YEAR.
We need more exposes on speaking fees. It really is the unseen currency of the elites.
A Hungarian far-right politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a "national security risk", stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.
Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of Hungary's third-strongest political party Jobbik, said the list was necessary because of heightened tensions following the brief conflict in Gaza and should include members of parliament.
Opponents have condemned frequent anti-Semitic slurs and tough rhetoric against the Roma minority by Gyongyosi's party as populist point scoring ahead of elections in 2014.
Jobbik has never called publicly for lists of Jews.
"I am a Holocaust survivor," said Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations' Association. "For people like me this generates raw fear, even though it is clear that this only serves political ends. This is the shame of Europe, the shame of the world."
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, according to the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest. According to some accounts, one in three Jews killed in Auschwitz were Hungarian nationals.
Gyongyosi's call came after Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth said Budapest favored a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as benefiting both Israelis with Hungarian ancestry, Hungarian Jews and Palestinians in Hungary.
Gyongyosi, who leads Jobbik's foreign policy cabinet, told Parliament: "I know how many people with Hungarian ancestry live in Israel, and how many Israeli Jews live in Hungary," according to a video posted on Jobbik's website late on Monday.