Archive | Fuck the Poor

The end of austerity?

The Shard & Tower Bridge

Took them long enough:

LONDON — As Europe has grappled with the trauma of a devastating financial and economic crisis, policy makers have consistently relied on one approach to managing the damage — budget austerity.

Shrink government spending by trimming pensions and cutting social programs, the logic runs, and the markets will gain confidence in the tough-minded people in charge. Confident markets make for happy markets. Money will pour in, and good times will roll.

Even as prosperity has remained painfully elusive across much of Europe, leaders have time and again renewed their faith in the virtues of this harsh medicine.

Until now.

Some policy makers are flashing tentative signs that they may be prepared to slacken their grip on public coffers to spur growth and improve the lot of ordinary people suffering joblessness and diminished wealth. In the clearest sign of this shift, the heavily indebted Italy is increasingly inclined to challenge Germany — the guardian of austerity — to loosen European purse strings.

Atlantic City native: Don’t let Trump do to the country what he did to my city


For a while, Donald Trump was the king of Atlantic City.

“When profits were easy in Atlantic City because of its monopoly on gambling east of Nevada, Trump did well,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who has covered Donald Trump for decades.

“But he didn’t reinvest in his casinos, he sucked them dry as fast as he could, while others reinvested and those casinos continue to earn profits.”

The bestselling author of The Making of Donald Trump said Trump didn’t do much for the city. “Other than minor acts, like his casino hotel kitchens donating excess food, Trump did nothing to remake and improve Atlantic City,” Johnston said. “Indeed, at every opportunity he talked about what a hell hole he considered it.”

After Hillary Clinton attacked Trump’s record of stiffing small business owners in this week’s debate, Atlantic City native Arielle Brousse shared her impassioned thoughts about Trump and her hometown on Twitter:

He’s not a great businessman. His business model is “run up huge debt and then refuse to pay it.” Those who have followed his career in Atlantic City know to expect the worse.

Social Security and Medicare: At stake, again

Social Security Disability Insurance Denial Help

I assume you all know we need a Democratic president to veto anything Paul Ryan manages to get through, right? Because the funding erosion has already begun:

The need for Social Security staff services has increased as baby boomers begin to retire. Instead, these services have been cut back since 2011. And in late July, as the American Federation of Government Employees noted, “the House Appropriations Committee cut President Obama’s proposed budget for the Social Security Administration (SSA) by $1.2 billion. If they get their way, SSA will be forced to operate on $263 million less than it does now — even though it’s already struggling to meet public demand.”

These congressional cuts would even force workers to take a two-week furlough. Crippling Social Security’s ability to function just when it’s needed most is the epitome of what Republican public policy has become. It’s part of a familiar right-wing strategy to degrade the quality of government services, then use that degradation to argue for privatization.

Not only does Social Security lift tens of millions of retirees out of poverty, but in 2014 3.2 million American kids directly received Social Security benefits, mostly in the form of survivor benefits. Another 10 million disabled workers were covered as well. But it’s not just these many millions of people who benefit: Retirement security for grandparents means more money for parents to invest in their children’s future. Security for orphans and disabled workers have similar spillover benefits as well. So attacks on Social Security really are a threat to Americans of all ages, now as well as in the future.

Those attacks are already well under way, thanks to the austerity measures imposed since the Tea Party first arrived in Washington with the GOP congressional wave of 2010. (The money comes directly from workers — not from the overall Federal budget — but Congress controls the spending.) During the current budget cycle, the attacks are getting worse, even as baby boomer retirements continue to swell the rolls. This erodes confidence in the system, thereby weakening it for even further attacks, privatization and dismantlement — the true conservative dream.

More banks were using scams. Imagine that.


I figured as much, especially the rearranging of debit card charges for overcharge fees. I’ve had that happen to me:

Most Americans were shocked when they learned that thousands of Wells Fargo employees had opened millions of fake accounts.
People who work at other banks weren’t surprised at all.
Nearly a dozen current and former employees at large and regional banks such as Bank of America (BAC), Citizens Bank, PNC (PNC), SunTrust (STI), and Fifth Third (FITB) tell CNNMoney that a sales obsession pervades their banks. They say they too are under immense pressure to get customers to open multiple accounts.
They described a focus to push as many different products — think debit cards or new online accounts — as they can, an industry practice known as cross-selling.
“Wells Fargo is not the exception (with its) absurd sales culture,” said one former manager of two large regional banks.
Related: 5,300 Wells Fargo workers fired over 2 million phony accounts
‘Industry-wide problem’
No other major banks have been accused by regulators of widespread opening of phony accounts like Wells Fargo (WFC) has been.
But Thomas Curry, one of the country’s chief banking regulators, said that “banks are under enormous margin pressure. That could be a bad environment.”
Curry, the head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, told a Senate panel this week that the agency is investigating whether other banks have employed high-pressure sales tactics that led to fake accounts.
One former banker at a regional bank told CNNMoney he witnessed the practice at his company.
“The customers wouldn’t even know,” said the banker, who insisted his name not be used. “Wells Fargo isn’t the only one. This is an industry-wide problem.”
Another scam this banker witnessed involved employees rearranging debit charges on customer accounts to maximize the size of the overdraft fees they experienced.

New PA bill to pay reparations for wrongful incarceration

I guess I just assumed this wasn’t a problem:

In Pennsylvania, people who have been wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they did not commit do not receive any reparations for the damages that resulted from years spent in prison.

This was the case for a former inmate named Tony Wright who served twenty-five years in jail for a murder he did not commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1991, just avoiding the death penalty in a jury trial that voted 7 – 5 against it. On August 23, 2016 he was finally able to return to his life after the charges were dropped during a retrial in which the jury’s deliberation took under an hour to decide he was innocent.

The National Registry of Exonerations found that Wright’s case is one of fifty-four in Pennsylvania in which prisoners were later acquitted of criminal charges after serving out part or all of a prison sentence.

PA is one of only a handful of states that provide zero compensation to exonerated prisoners upon their release and is one of twenty states that requires a person to go through the judicial process of a civil lawsuit for hardships and damages that resulted from the years spent in jail.
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How poverty changes the brain

Varal 001

Close The video tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Pakistan who at 15 survived being shot in the head by the Taliban while riding a bus in 2012. “I want to get my education, and I want to become a doctor,” she says, adding that the Taliban throw acid on… Continue Reading →

Maine’s wingnut governor breaks the law

Gov. LaPage, Freeport Flag Ladies and Susan Collins

Paul LaPage, uberwingnut, is a loose cannon who looks for any excuse to cut benefits to poor people:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage has pounced on the recent unsealing of court documents showing an Iranian refugee who resettled in Maine and later joined the terror group ISIS.

But the governor’s eagerness to use Adnan Fazeli’s radicalization here to rail against welfare benefits for refugees may have led him to run afoul of a federal law designed to protect the identities of welfare recipients and their families.

State officials have not confirmed that Fazeli, or his family, received welfare benefits when he lived in Maine between 2009 and 2013. According to federal laws governing food stamps and cash assistance, they’re not supposed to.

“It’s concerning if that was indeed reported by Maine officials because federal law is clear that people’s confidentiality should be protected,” said Robyn Merrill, director for Maine Equal Justice Partners, an advocacy group for low-income Mainers

Merrill’s concerns were raised by a report in the Boston Herald in which Maine state officials are quoted as saying that Fazeli, and his family, received cash and food stamp benefits.

Those benefits, known also as SNAP and TANF, are federal programs, funded mostly with federal tax dollars. According to federal rules, the identities of benefit recipients are confidential — only law enforcement, immigration officials and state administrators are allowed to know who receives the benefits.

Those same officials, according to the law, “must adequately protect the information against unauthorized disclosure.”

The Herald story also contained an interview with LePage, who told the newspaper that the Fazeli case prompted him to order a review of all benefit programs for refugees.

Merrill said that Fazeli’s radicalization here is concerning, but she worries about the LePage administration’s zeal to politicize it.

“It seems as though this one particular circumstance is really being exploited and used as justification to deny help to a whole group of people,” she said.

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