The 20 Richest Americans Are Greedy Takers—Not Inspirational ‘Makers’

From Alternet:

They have all taken from the public or from employees, or through taxes or untaxed inheritances.

By Paul Buchheit
January 26, 2014

The top individuals on the 2013  Forbes 400 list are generally believed to be makers of great companies or concepts. They are the role models of Paul Ryan, who  laments, “We’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America.” They are defended by Cato Institute CEO  John A. Allison IV, who once protested: “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive.”

But many of the richest Americans are takers. The top twenty, with a total net worth of almost  two-thirds of a trillion dollars, have all taken from the public or from employees, or through taxes or untaxed inheritances.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates may be a knowledgeable and hard-working man, but he was also  lucky and opportunistic. He was a taker. In 1975, at the age of 20, he founded Microsoft with high school buddy Paul Allen. This was the era of the first desktop computers, and numerous small companies were trying to program them, most notably Digital Research, headed by brilliant software designer  Gary Kildall. His CP/M operating system (OS) was the industry standard. Even Gates’ company used it.

But Kildall was an innovator, not a businessman, and when IBM came calling for an OS for the new IBM PC, his  delays drove the big mainframe company to Gates. Even though the newly established Microsoft company couldn’t fill IBM’s needs, Gates and Allen saw an opportunity, and so they hurriedly bought the rights to another local company’s OS — which was based on Kildall’s CP/M system. Kildall wanted to sue, but intellectual property law for software had not yet been established. Kildall was a maker who got taken.

David Lefer, a collaborator for the book  They Made America, summarized: “Gates didn’t invent the PC operating system, and any history that says he did is wrong.”

Warren Buffett

At first glance, Warren Buffett seems to be a different breed of multi-billionaire, advocating for  higher taxes on the rich and a  reasonable estate tax. But his company, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t been paying its taxes. According to the  New York Post, “the company openly admits that it owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002.”

A review of Berkshire Hathaway’s  annual report confirms that despite profits of over $22 billion in 2012, a $255 million refund was claimed, while $44 billion in federal taxes remain deferred on the company’s balance sheet.

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Kevin O’Leary says 3.5 billion people living in poverty is ‘fantastic news’

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Paul Krugman slams the 1% for “paranoia” and “megalomania”

From Salon:

The New York Times columnist thinks the super-wealthy’s hatred for Obama is a sign of profound insecurity

Monday, Jan 27, 2014

In his latest for the New York Times, award-winning economist and best-selling author Paul Krugman chastises those members of the 1% who regard every proposal to raise their taxes as equivalent to a declaration of genocidal war. Krugman is thinking in particular of the recent comments from venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who was featured in the Wall Street Journal comparing the plight of the hyper-rich in America today to that of Jews in Nazi Germany, but he notes that among his class, Perkins’ fear and hysteria is common.

“ Mr. Perkins isn’t that much of an outlier,” Krugman writes. “He isn’t even the first finance titan to compare advocates of progressive taxation to Nazis. Back in 2010 Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, declared that proposals to eliminate tax loopholes for hedge fund and private-equity managers were ‘like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.’”

“[T]here are a number of other plutocrats who manage to keep Hitler out of their remarks but who nonetheless hold, and loudly express, political and economic views that combine paranoia and megalomania in equal measure,” Krugman notes. In other words: The crazy runs deep.

Krugman goes on to offer a theory as to why the 1% is so worked up over mainstream liberalism, and President Obama in particular. “I … suspect that today’s Masters of the Universe are insecure about the nature of their success,” Krugman argues. “We’re not talking captains of industry here, men who make stuff. We are, instead, talking about wheeler-dealers, men who push money around and get rich by skimming some off the top as it sloshes by.” He wonders if, perhaps, these capitalist heroes are so touchy because they know, subconsciously, that their claims to such exaggerated levels of wealth and power are suspect at best.

Now, just to be clear, the very rich, and those on Wall Street in particular, are in fact doing worse under Mr. Obama than they would have if Mitt Romney had won in 2012. Between the partial rollback of the Bush tax cuts and the tax hike that partly pays for health reform, tax rates on the 1 percent have gone more or less back to pre-Reagan levels. Also, financial reformers have won some surprising victories over the past year, and this is bad news for wheeler-dealers whose wealth comes largely from exploiting weak regulation. So you can make the case that the 1 percent have lost some important policy battles.

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Russell Simmons asks Obama to end dolphin hunts

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Healthcare for all: Give trans people access to the care they need

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Clueless Rand Paul: Women Are Winning the ‘War on Women’

From Alternet:

The Kentucky Senator mocks gender issues even as Republicans wage an assault on abortion rights.

By Alex Kane
January 27, 2014

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said that women are winning the “war on women” and are doing very well, in an effort to push back against Democrats’ push to paint the GOP as legislating against women’s’ rights.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Paul said, “The whole thing of the ‘war on women,’ I sort of laughingly say, ‘Yeah, there might have been – but the women are winning it…’I think women are doing very well, and I’m proud of how far we’ve come.” The comments were made in response to a question about Fox News host Mike Huckabee recent’s comments. Huckabee said: “If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

Paul’s mocking of the “war on women” frame ignores the continued Republican assault on abortion rights.  For instance, last week, as thousands of people marched against abortion rights in Washington, D.C., leading GOP lawmakers vowed to focus on passing anti-abortion legislation.  State governments are also passing bills restricting a woman’s right to choose.

On another Sunday TV show, Paul said that Democrats who say there is a “war on women” ignore President Bill Clinton’s conduct in office.  Paul called Clinton’s relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky “predatory.”

Paul also said that while Hillary Clinton–a potential 2016 presidential opponent to Paul–should not be judged by her husband’s behavior, “sometimes it’s hard to separate one from the other.”

Paul’s interviews came on a day when the New York Times published a long profile of the Senator.

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Why I Didn’t Watch the Grammys Last Night

Yes I know the Grammys were on last night.

No I didn’t watch them. I watched Sherlock Holmes instead.

I’ve never really been into  “Pop Music”.

I’ve always been more into genres that the Grammys only look at in passing.

A few years ago Esperanza Spalding and Arcade Fire won when they weren’t the designated by the hype industry favorites.

So the Grammys changed the rules. Made it pretty much impossible for anyone other than the hype industry’s designated winner to win.

I have a confession.

I don’t like pop music.  I find the way most female pop music artist present themselves to be more degrading than the performances strippers give in the “Gentlemen’s Clubs” that line Northwest Highway on the section that runs east from Irving.  At least the strippers are honest about their role in the sex industry.

On the other hand women pop artist these days pretend their singing prowess is why people watch them while they present themselves like the women working in those “Gentlemen’s Clubs.”

Perhaps it is time to bring back a relic of second wave feminism, stickers that read: “This is insulting to and degrades women.”

As I said I listen to genre music including folk, alternative rock and country, jazz.  The artists I like best can often be seen in small venues and cubs here in Dallas and Austin with tickets even us old folks on a limited budget can afford.

All and all the Country Music Awards tend to present women in a far less degrading manner and as much hype as Nashville pumps out there still seems to be much more emphasis on actual talent than one sees at the Grammys.

My musical tastes have never seemed to match those considered to be part of LGBT culture. When others in the Lesbian Community were listening to “Women’s Music” that consisted of artist recording on Olivia and a couple of other approved labels I was listening to Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Laura Nyro, Carole King, Emmy Lou Harris, who were more my idea of women artists.

But my feelings towards pop music are more those of apathy than antipathy and yes I can enjoy some of the artists and their music, often in spite of the hype surrounding them than because of it.

Last night my totally ignoring the Grammys was a combination of hype fatigue and simply having other things to do like reading a book I’m engrossed in and watching a show that is fill with a nerdy, snarky dry wit that I find rather amusing.

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