Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

There is a company called 24/7 Wall St. which publishes more than 30 articles per day, many of them about economic trends such as automobile models or long established stores that won’t be around much longer, or even the most and least popular beers in America.

The company is not an investment advisor despite the presence of “Wall St.” in its name and its editors do not own securities in companies that they write about. When other writers do have positions in companies, that fact is disclosed in their articles.

Another regular feature of 24/7 Wall St. is its regular rankings of states in everything from obesity to poverty rates to educational achievement to employment to median income.

Invariably, Louisiana finds itself at or near the bottom in these rankings, often held out of the worst ranking by neighboring Mississippi.

A couple of recent surveys released by 24/7 Wall St. were on the worst run states in America,, the most violent states, states with the best and worst schools and on states where the middle class is dying. A sampling of the rankings that include Louisiana:

  • 6th worst run state in America: With the nations’ 4th largest budget deficit and the 17th highest debt per capita ($4,045), the 8th lowest median household income ($42,944) and the 3rd highest percentage of its citizens living below the poverty line (19.9 percent), there wasn’t much room for our political leaders to brag. Still, that did not seem to stop Gov. Bobby Jindal from trying to put a positive spin on the state economic condition.
  • The most violent state in the U.S.: Finally, a survey that ranks Louisiana as number 1—but alas, it’s the wrong list. Despite having the highest incarceration rate per 100,000 population (867) in a nation with the highest incarceration in the world (686—giving Louisiana the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world), Our murder rate, 11.2 killings per 100,000 population is worst in the country and violent crime rate exclusive of murder of 537.8 per 100,000 population is 8th most in the nation even though we have the highest number of police officers per 100,000 (542.8). The total cost of violent crime in Louisiana is nearly $10 billion, or about 40 percent of the state budget. On Wednesday, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Jr., was critical of Jindal’s histrionics about the so-call “no-go” zones in England and France where non-Muslims are said to be afraid to enter. Cannizzaro said the fact that law enforcement officials in England and France refrain from entering certain Islamic neighborhoods in favor of letting “the residents police their own” is not so different from the situation in New Orleans. He said Jindal, instead of trying to curry favor among supporters with his anti-Islamic rhetoric, should give consideration to staying in Louisiana and addressing Louisiana’s “urban terrorists.”

http://www.wafb.com/story/27905246/orleans-da-blasts-jindal-says-urban-terrorists-in-his-own-backyard

  • 8th worst school system in America: Despite having the 19th highest per-pupil spending in the nation ($12,375), Louisiana has the 5th lowest high school graduation rate (72 percent versus the national rate of 81 percent) and the second lowest percentage (20.8 percent) of 8th graders proficient in math or reading. The report said that 11th and 12th grade students in Louisiana were among the least likely to excel on Advance Placement tests. These factors combined to give Louisiana a state score of 68.5 percent, or an overall grade of D+.
  • 6th worst middle income growth (-4.9 percent, as in a negative growth): The shrinkage of Louisiana’s middle class was surpassed only by Washington State (-5.0 percent), Rhode Island (-5.6 percent), Maine (-5.8 percent), Vermont (-5.0 percent), and California (-6.9 percent). The reason you don’t see Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee on this list is because the income disparity was not as great. Louisiana uncharacteristically (for a poor state) somehow made the list as the gap between the very rich and the middle class continued to widen.

Despite this plethora of negatives, we have a governor who has gone from gallivanting all over the nation spreading misrepresentations about all his wonderful accomplishments as governor to taking his message abroad and spewing hysterical rhetoric on topics about which he is woefully unqualified to speak.

The reason for his chronic absenteeism from the job for which he was elected—governor of Louisiana? He harbors a desperate, obsessive desire to be president, to do to the nation what he has done to Louisiana for the past seven years. To that end, he either is delusional, an insufferable egomaniac, or he has advisers like Timmy Teepell and Rolfe McCollister whispering in his ear that he is true presidential timber in the mold of Lincoln or Reagan—or all of the above. It didn’t help that columnist Michelle Malkin and Rash Limburger began building up for the ultimate fall way back in 2008.

So now, flush with his bold stand against the evils of Islam and emboldened by all that success in pulling Louisiana out of the doldrums of economic and cultural ruin he has given the go-ahead for the creation of Believe Again, a super PAC created to attract big money and to boost his flagging image in the already crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/bobbys-believers-conservatives-launch-draft-jindal-pac/article/2559070

Organizers of Believe Again are former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston, chairman, and McCollister, treasurer. Timmy Teepell, Jindal’s campaign manager in his 2011 gubernatorial re-election campaign, apparently is odd man out in favor of Washington Republican operative Brad Todd as the PAC’s primary consultant.

While federal election laws bar Jindal from being directly associated with Believe Again or coordinating directly with Believe Again, that didn’t stop Jindal from sending out a tweet plugging the new super PAC created on his behalf—and most likely, at his direction:

  • “Sign our petition to demand liberals stop their shameless attacks against Conservatives,” the tweet said. (Just as Teepell had done in an email blast on Wednesday, Jindal lower-cased the “l” in liberals but capitalized “Conservatives.”)

Jindal also attached a YouTube link to the super PAC:image001

But at the bottom of the tweet was the disclaimer that the message was “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” image002

(CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE)

Moreover, the super PAC’s web page contained a prominent photo of Jindal but no other potential candidates. http://www.standuptowashington.com/

Super PACs, unlike leadership PACs, are allowed to raise unlimited amounts of funds, thanks to the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The Washington Examiner noted that Jindal’s supporters believe his record of achieving conservative reform is what voters and campaign contributors are looking for in a candidate.

“Republican voters are tired of empty rhetoric from the same old politicians,” said Livingston. “They want a full-spectrum conservative who has the courage and bandwidth to make large scale reforms. If Gov. Jindal runs, he will be the kind of candidate who makes Republicans able to believe again,” he said.

But those supporters may be overlooking a key fact: there’s a world of difference between “conservative reform” and real achievement. Jindal’s conservative reform agenda has done precious little toward solving ever-increasing budget deficits, solving a soaring crime rate, improving education, lifting Louisiana citizens out of choking poverty or improving low income citizens’ access to health care.

Oh, there is one last ongoing survey in which Louisiana ranks dead last:

Jindal consistently holds down the anchor position among Republican presidential aspirants in poll after poll, trailing even Sarah Palin.

Read Full Post »

When it comes to making a distinction between the duties of official public servant and campaign worker during the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal, the lines are often blurred as individuals move back and forth between state and campaign payrolls seamlessly and with few apparent changes in their duties.

Jindal deftly juggled the payroll of his closest advisers between his campaign payroll and taxpayer-funded salaries as part of his staff in his two successful runs for the governor’s office in 2007 and 2011, civil service and campaign records show.

At least three of those moved just as easily from the governor’s office in Louisiana to the re-election campaign of Florida Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 and Timmy Teepell moved from Jindal’s 2007 campaign manager to his chief of staff once Jindal took office and he later left briefly to work for the national Republican Governors Association as brother Taylor Teepell moved from advisor to former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to first deputy legislative director and later deputy chief of staff for Jindal.

Timmy Teepell left Jindal’s office following the 2011 election to head up the southern office of OnMessage, a political consulting firm out of Maryland to which Jindal has paid more than $5 million from 2007 through the end of 2013.

Jindal’s campaign paid Teepell $110,000 in 2007 and $120,000 for four months during 2010 (Aug. 1 through Nov. 4) and five months during 2011 (July 1 through Nov. 30) but from Jan. 14, 2008 through July 30, 2010 and from Nov. 5, 2010, through July 1, 2011, he worked as Jindal’s chief of staff at a salary of $165,000 per year—paid by Louisiana taxpayers.

Teepell did receive one payment of $3,880 from Jindal’s campaign on Nov. 11, 2010—10 days after he begin his second stint as Jindal’s chief of staff but the overlap was probably a delayed payment for campaign work done before he re-joined the governor’s staff.

Taylor Teepell, worked for six months in Jindal’s 2007 campaign, earning $29,000 before going to work for former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour who was serving as president of the Republican Governors Association.

Taylor Teepell entered Jindal’s office on Nov. 21, 2011, as older brother Timmy was departing. He first came on board as deputy legislative director at $90,000 but in less than a year, on Oct. 16, 2012, was named deputy chief of staff and given a raise to $130,000, the same salary Jindal makes. This was in the middle of a period in which state classified workers have received no pay raises.

Other attempts by Jindal to shuttle supporters back and forth between campaign and public payrolls are almost laughable in their transparent efforts to make everything appear to be above board.

Take the case of Melissa Sellers who received $35,600 from the Jindal campaign between March 30 and Nov. 8, 2007 and another $12,860 in two separate payments of $6,430 on Oct. 14 and Oct. 24, 2011. Jindal won re-election to his second four-year term on Oct. 22, 2011.

Civil Service records show that Sellers began as a state employee in the governor’s office as press secretary on Jan. 15, 2008—the day after Jindal was inaugurated for his first term—at a salary of $85,000. After being promoted to director of communications and given a raise to $90,000, she resigned on Oct. 7, 2011 but returned to the governor’s office in the same role only 18 days later, on Oct. 25. The campaign payments were during her brief hiatus from the governor’s office.

That means she pulled in $12,860 for working 18 days for Jindal’s campaign—a pay scale of more than $300,000 per year. But if the Oct. 24 represented a 10-day pay period (the first paycheck was on Oct. 14), then her first pay period would have extended at least as far back as Oct. 4—three days before her resignation from her state job. In any case, it appears there may well have been some overlap between the time she started working for the campaign and the date she resigned from the governor’s office.

More significant than her salary, however, was the timing of the move. By that time, Jindal and everyone else in the state knew he would win re-election easily over only token opposition, so what was the purpose of her taking an 18-day break from the governor’s office to work in a campaign that was already in coasting mode?

But then, upon returning to the governor’s office on Oct. 25, she remained barely more than a month, leaving again on Dec. 1, ostensibly to enroll in seminary to study for the ministry—a commitment that apparently did not last very long.

Instead, she next turned up in the re-election campaign of Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott and now serves as his chief of staff. Along the way, she managed, along with two other Jindal campaign workers, to become involved in a scandal that resulted in Scott’s firing of popular Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

The three—Sellers and husband and wife team Frank and Meghan Collins—managed to acquire the dubious identity of “The Louisiana Mafia” for the heavy-handed manner in which they attempted unsuccessfully to jerk Bailey around.

They first demanded that state police provide transportation for Scott campaign workers but Bailey refused, explaining that he was obligated by law to provide transportation for the governor and his wife, but not campaign aides.

Next, the Florida Republican Party attempt to foist a $90,000 check onto the FDLE as payment for shuttling campaign workers but Bailey again said no, that it would be inappropriate for his department, which is supposed to be independent of partisan politics, to accept money from a political party.

Scott, or those representing him, then attempted to bring Bailey into a conference call to discuss Scott’s platform for the coming four years but again Bailey declined to involve his department in partisan politics.

And when he complained to Scott’s chief legal counsel, that he had received solicitations for campaign contributions to Scott on his state computer, the attorney, Pete Antonacci, advised him to “just delete” the emails—in violation of Florida law prohibiting the destruction of state records.

And then there is Frank Collins, one of the “Louisiana Mafia,” who should still be smarting from his experience in Jindal’s office.

Paid only $7,500 to work four months in Jindal’s 2007 campaign, he eventually succeeded Sellers as press secretary, but at $65,000—which was $20,000 less than Sellers made for the same position three years earlier. He left on Oct. 6, 2012, and like Sellers and wife Meghan, eventually ended up with Scott’s re-election campaign and now works as Scott’s deputy chief of staff while Meghan Collins is a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education.

Jonathan Ringo is a $110,000-a-year director in the governor’s office who once told Robert Burns—but then denied that he ever said it—that the Office of Inspector General “concurred” in Burns’ removal from the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board. Before bellying up to the public trough, however, he was paid more than $18,000 by Jindal’s 2007 campaign.

Matthew Parker has been director of legislative affairs for the governor’s office at $120,000 per year since Oct. 16, 2012. Before that, from Nov. 28, 2011 until being named to his current position, he was director of intergovernmental affairs at $95,000 per year.

But other than Timmy Teepell, Parker was the highest-paid Jindal campaign staffer, knocking down nearly $35,000 in seven months in 2007 and more than $79,400 in the first 11 months of 2011 for a grand total of more than $114,000.

Perhaps it’s only coincidence that Parker is Timmy Teepell’s brother-in-law.

The two lowest-paid employees in the governor’s office who also worked for his campaign at least have the consolation of getting frequent rides in state police helicopters.

Tyler Brey, who received $18,500 for working for seven months in the 2011 campaign, went on the state dime on March 11, 2013 as a $33,000-per-year external affairs liaison, whatever that fancy title entails. Last Oct. 1, even as state classified employees were going without a pay increase for a fifth consecutive year, Brey received a $1,300-per-year raise to $34,300. Brey also made 42 trips on the state police ‘copter, always accompanying Jindal as his sycophant, to such exotic getaways as Monroe, Springhill, Ruston, Jena, Winnfield, Delhi, and Mansfield, among others.

One of those trips Brey made with Jindal and communications director Kyle Plotkin, was to Minden on Feb. 3, 2013, eight days before he officially became a state employee.

The other frequent flyer was Daniel Kirk, who was paid $24,000 by the Jindal 2007 campaign before joining the governor’s office on Jan. 14, 2008, the same day Jindal was inaugurated for his first term.

He started as a $35,000-a-year administrative assistant and four months later was named a program manager at the same salary. But on Feb. 22, 2010, he was named a director in the governor’s office. It wasn’t altogether clear what a director does, but it must be pretty impressive considering he got a $30,000 bump in pay—to $65,000 but still $45,000 less than fellow director Ringo.

Kirk got to visit some of the same locales as Brey and got the added treat of flying to Georgetown in LaSalle Parish and Kinder in southwest Louisiana. He and Jindal also made a hop to Columbia, home of State Sen. Neil Riser, just about the time U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander was getting ready to announce his retirement so that Riser could run for his seat—unsuccessfully, it turned out.

In all, Kirk made 49 trips with Jindal in the state police helicopters, 19 of those during the 2011 election year and the other 30 in 2010, the year leading up to Jindal’s re-election run.

It’s impossible to say with any certainty that Jindal and his campaign-workers-turned-state-employees were using the state helicopters for campaign purposes, but with Jindal making nearly 200 ‘copter trips in 2010 and 2011, often accompanied by Sellers, Kirk or Timmy or Taylor Teepell or Brey, compared to only 86 during the next three years combined, one has to wonder.

And with the controversy sparked by Sellers and Meghan and Frank Collins in Florida in their attempts to commandeer state vehicles for campaign purposes, one also has to wonder if the “Louisiana Mafia” was only trying to repeat in Florida what they may have done with impunity in Louisiana in 2010 and 2011.

Read Full Post »

Loath as we are to beat a dead horse, we keep coming up with more information or our friend Chance McNeely and his appointment as the new $102,000 per year Assistant Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Compliance.

A couple of our readers googled the 26-year-old wunderkind to see just who he worked for during his stint as a legislative assistant for the U.S House of Representatives and found that he worked for Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer.

But then another reader googled Luetkemeyer and up popped his web page and what do you suppose the first item on that page?

Never one to keep our readers in suspense, here it is:

Luetkemeyer Introduces Legislation to Combat President’s Global Warming Agenda

Here’s the full text of that announcement which was dated today (Jan. 14):

            “Responding to the president’s pledge to give $3 billion in taxpayer funds to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund, U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s (MO-03) first piece of legislation he introduced in the 114th Congress would prevent American’s dollars from being used for any of the U.N.’s global warming schemes.

            “‘For far too long, American tax dollars have been sent to the United Nations to produce controversial science and feel-good conferences. Now the president is pledging to pony up billions more to implement these ill-gotten policies,’ Luetkemeyer said. ‘American taxpayers should not foot the bill for an unelected organization that is fraught with waste. The president has already spent an estimated $120 billion on climate change policies since coming to office in 2008. I hope my legislation makes it to the floor quickly to ensure that no future taxpayer dollars are spent to advance the United Nations’ global warming agenda.’

            “Luetkemeyer has introduced legislation since he’s been in Congress to prevent taxpayers’ dollars from being used to fund the UN International Panel on Climate Change, Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Green Climate Fund.”

http://luetkemeyer.house.gov/

You may recall that Jindal recently referred to Obama as a “science denier.”

Yet the consummate science denier, who ironically enough, just happens to hold a biology degree from Brown University, has appointed a designated science denier to head up compliance for DEQ at just the time when officials are considering lighting a match to 15 million pounds of M6 artillery propellant near Minden.

People who are true scientists were on hand at a meeting last night in Shreveport to warn against the proposed open tray burn, saying that the emissions could spread cancer-causing contaminants from Shreveport to Monroe as well as into southern Arkansas. That would include the city of Magnolia, Ark., less than 20 miles from the Louisiana line and home of Southern Arkansas University.

While opponents of the burn brought scientists with them to warn of the dangers, neither DEQ nor the Environmental Protection Agency saw fit to counter with scientists who could back proponents’ claims that the proposed burn was safe.

The only thing we can say about the decision to appoint someone with such limited experience (read: none) as McNeely who, at best, is said to be a lame duck since word is he plans to resign to enter law school in September, is that Jindal and DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch have completely lost their minds as well as their moral compasses.

Read Full Post »

By Robert Burns

Special to LouisianaVoice

As many Louisiana Voice readers are aware, I am a former auctioneer and was appointed by Gov. Jindal to the Louisiana Auctioneer Licensing Board (LALB) during the early months of his first term. What I encountered was corruption both on the board itself and among auctioneers in the industry. I sent regular emails to the head of boards and commissions routinely expressing my shock and dismay. In less than two years, Jindal terminated my services, providing no other explanation other than, “things just aren’t working out.”

The next meeting after my termination, I began videotaping auctioneer meetings and have continued to do so to this day. I also have made occasional public records requests to view auctioneer files. My purpose in reviewing those files is that often times consumer complaints are filed and LALB attorney Anna Dow works with the complainant and the auctioneer to work the complaint out.  These solutions, however, are never even referenced to the board itself and even board members themselves are in the dark as to their existence.  Basically, Dow keeps the board members on a “needs to know basis,” and it was my experience as a board member that she deemed me to “need to know” very little. Hence, the only way anyone (board member or member of the public) can know of these complaints and other auctioneer issues is to examine the auctioneers’ files.

Louisiana Association of Professional Auctioneer (LAPA)’s founder and President, Rev. Freddie Lee Phillips, and I have been concerned about the sheer number of such complaints and some troubling details of these “workouts.”  Examples include:  One auctioneer, William Jones,  deceiving the LALB for eight years about his state of residency; National Auctioneer Association (NAA) Hall-of-Famer Keith Babb threatening a complainant against pursuing a complaint against him, and complainant Robert Kite alleging collusion and shill bidding entailing NAA Hall-of-Famer Marvin Henderson and NAA Past-President Joe Wilson. None of this type of information is available anywhere but in auctioneer files. Accordingly, we decided the best thing for us to do is conduct an audit of all auctioneer files. Because the LALB is a one-person office (with the individual almost never actually working in the office but rather working from home), we knew this should be a project extended out over a 2-3 year timeframe so as not to impose too great of a burden on the office.  Accordingly, I made this simple public records request of 12/4/14 for the first 10 files. Material gleaned from the files is incorporated into this indexed webpage of auctioneers having issues with the LALB.

The one-person executive director of the LALB, Sandy Edmonds, balked at the public records requests associated with the project.  Edmonds is the same one who has been cited by the Inspector General’s Office for payroll fraud and lying about it to investigators. Specifically, she reported both to the LALB and the Interior Design Board that she was “on the clock” even though she actually was on vacation. They subpoenaed her cell phone records, after which she refused to answer any more of their questions.

Edmonds is paid $32.67/hour, or $25, 480 for the LALB and $25/hour, or $32,500 for the Interior Design Board ($57,980 total). She received numerous pay raises which Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera characterized as illegal.

In a meeting on January 3, 2013, Inspector General Lead Investigator Tom Boulton said, “There is no such thing as a performance-based employee.  It’s illegal.” Both he and Inspector General Investigator Rob Chadwick said that they found it inconceivable that the office for both boards (it’s a shared office) is almost never occupied, and both men wanted to know how much rent was being paid for an essentially-unoccupied building.

Purpera, whose office also investigated the work setup, issued this damning report, and referred the whole matter to East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore for possible prosecution of Edmonds for payroll fraud. When Vice Chairman James Sims asked what the LALB should do about the Legislative Auditor report, Board Attorney Anna Dow relayed “nothing,” and Edmonds added, “Welcome to politics,” and indicated that Jindal himself said they were not to worry about it and that the board “cannot” recover funds which Edmonds had been overpaid. Board Chairman Tessa Steinkamp said, “We have to follow the Governor.”

Why re-hash old news?  Well, at the LALB meeting of Tuesday, January 15, 2015, Board Attorney (and convicted felon) Larry S. Bankston asked the Board to deny future requests from me and to seek “legal instruction from the court.” Notice how vague he is about the timeframe of the project (i.e. he neglects to inform the board that this is a 2-3 year project.

The board did not respond to Bankston’s request for it to resist my public records requests, but in light of Edmonds’ past employment reports issued by the Inspector General’s Office and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, we feel the public has a right to full disclosure about auctioneer problems, and clearly this is a legal requirement Edmunds has no intention of meeting.  She has even insisted that public records requests be subcontracted out to the Attorney General’s Office, which charges $50 per hour for that service.

Just another episode of typical Louisiana political chicanery.

 

Read Full Post »

Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith’s best-selling book Who Stole the American Dream? is a real eye-opener for anyone who still believes our elected officials in Washington are the watchdogs of democracy and are ever-vigilant in protecting the interests of their constituents (that would be you and me).

Smith is not the only one who has tried to warn us of the unholy alliance between Wall Street, large corporations, lobbyists and members of Congress. Charles Derber’s Corporation Nation, says one critic, “is the single best explanation of how big corporations have usurped the power of ordinary citizens…”

David Cay Johnston, another Pulitzer winner, has three books (Free Lunch, Perfectly Legal and The Fine Print) that illustrate how complicated tax laws and federal regulations favor the very rich by transferring the tax burden and other costs to the fast disappearing middle class.

For our purposes here, however, we shall limit the discussion to Smith and his book by highlighting some of the book’s timeline:

  • 1950—Top CEO salary in America: GM chairman Charlie Wilson is paid $663,000, roughly  $5  million  in  today’s  dollars,  and  about  40  times the annual wage of his average assembly line worker. Corporate ethic frowned on CEOs taking stock grants as unfair “competitive avarice.” Economists call this period “The Great Compression because the income gap between the rich and the middle class is at its narrowest in the twentieth century.
  • November 1967—Pat  O’Neill, at nineteen, starts a thirty-five-year career with United Airlines  as  a  jet  airline  mechanic,  working  the  overnight  “graveyard  shift”  at Chicago’s   O’Hare  field. He works his way up to chief mechanic, making $60,000 a year, leading a crew that does repairs and safety checks so that planes are ready to be airborne by dawn.
  • August 1971—Corporate attorney Lewis Powell sparks a political rebellion with his call to arms for Corporate America. Circulated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Powell’s   memo warns that anti-business attitudes and government regulation are threatening to “fatally weaken or destroy” the American free enterprise system. Powell declares that business must arm itself politically, battle organized labor and consumer activists, and mount a long-term campaign to change the balance of power and policy trends in Washington. Later that same year, President Nixon appointed Powell to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 1971–1972—The CEOs  of  America’s  biggest  corporations, responding to Powell’s  memo, organize the Business Roundtable, which becomes the most potent political lobbying arm of Corporate America. The National Association of Manufacturers moves its headquarters to Washington. In one decade the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doubles its membership and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (small business) grows from 300 to 600,000 members.
  • 1973—The productivity of U.S. workers rises 96 percent since 1945, and average hourly compensation rises in tandem—94 percent from 1945 to 1973. Average Americans share in the nation’s prosperity.  In the next three decades, from 1973 to 2011, worker productivity rises another 80 percent but hourly compensation rises only 10 percent. Ordinary Americans are cut out of their share of the nation’s economic gains.
  • October 1976—Inspired by their mentor, free market economist Milton Friedman, business school professors Michael Jensen and William Meckling propose in an academic study that CEOs be given stock options to align their interests with those of stockholders. Corporate boards, seeing an advantage because options are not charged as a company expense, adopt this “pay for performance” idea, and by 1980, 30 percent of CEOs are receiving stock option grants.
  • Late 1970s—Business mobilizes politically. The number of companies with Washington lobbying offices grows from 175 in 1971 to 2,445 a decade later. Along with 2,000 different trade associations, businesses have a combined Washington staff of 50,000, plus 9,000 lobbyists and 8,000 public relations specialists. Business lobbyists and advocates now outnumber members of Congress by 130 to 1.
  • 1980—Congress passes a deregulatory bill that overrules state usury laws and effectively abolishes limits on interest rates for first mortgages, paving the way for the future subprime mortgage boom.
  • 1994—The CEO stock option boom takes off. 70 percent of CEOs now receive stock option grants and by 2000, grants of millions of stock options become the norm, hugely increasing CEO pay. Corporate executives overtake the inherited rich as the biggest portion of the nation’s richest 1 percent.
  • 2001–2003—The Federal Reserve, led by Chairman Alan Greenspan, cuts interest rates 11 times from 6.5 percent to 1 percent, providing cheap money to fuel a housing boom and revive the U.S. economy. Home prices rise so fast that Americans borrow $700 billion a year from their home equity. Despite warnings about the dangers of rising personal  debt,  Greenspan  hails  home  owners’  “equity  extraction”  as  the  engine  for consumer demand and economic growth.
  • 2003—Airline  mechanic  Pat  O’Neill  retires from United Airlines after 35 years on the job, but when United Airlines declares bankruptcy, his lifetime pension is drastically cut, and his employee stock option plan collapses. His 401(k) suffers from a sharp stock market decline and he is forced to take another job. To rebuild financially, O’Neill is still working today, and he expects never to retire.
  • 2005–2006—More than half of the people to whom banks sell subprime mortgage loans, at high interest rates with heavy fees, are actually solid mainstream middle-class borrowers who qualified for—and should have been sold—prime loans.
  • 2006—Oracle CEO Larry Ellision, with $706.1 million in pay and stock in 2001, tops a Wall Street Journal compilation of the biggest CEO pay packages from 1995 to 2005. Close behind are Michael Eisner of Disney, with payouts of $575.6 million in 1999 and $203 million in 1993; and Sandy Weill of Citigroup, with pay of $621.8 million in three big years between 1997 and 2000.
  • July 4, 2007—Hundreds  of  workers  at  Sunbeam Razor’s  profitable plant in McMinnville, Tennessee, are laid off and ordered to train their replacements in a factory in Mexico, in a firing ordered by Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap. Dunlap has makes a personal fortune as a serial downsizer of businesses. Jack Wahl, owner of Sunbeam competitor Wahl Clipper Corporation, criticizes the Sunbeam layoffs as shortsighted and “extremely wasteful,” and says his company runs profitably with U.S. workers.
  • 2007—The richest 1 percent take a near-record 23 percent of the personal incomes paid to all Americans, earning a combined $1.35 trillion a year, which is more than the entire economies of Canada, Italy, or France.
  • 2007—Among economic sectors, corporate profits see their share of national income rise during the Bush years to the highest level since 1943, while the share of national income going to employee salaries and wages sinks to its lowest level since 1929.
  • 2008—In a Cornell University survey, 57 percent of people say they have never benefited from any government program or policy. But questioned in more detail, it turns out that 94 percent have actually benefited from at least one program. The average person has used four government programs.
  • 2009—After a taxpayer bailout, big Wall Street banks rebuff President Obama’s appeal to “hire American.” They continue offshore hiring and domestic layoffs. In the 2000s, the Hackett Group reports, 3.9 million jobs in finance, IT, human resources, and back-office functions have been lost in North America and Europe. In 2011, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup sign new contracts to offshore $5 billion worth of ITJ and back-office work to Indian firms.
  • 2010—Wall Street financial firms hire 1,447 former government officials as lobbyists to fight new banking regulation legislation, attempting to eliminate or water down provisions for strict regulations. After the bill passes, Wall Street bankers and lobbyists continue the battle to delay or weaken new regulations.
  • 2010—In the Congressional elections of 2010, business interests outspend labor $1.3 billion to $79 million, a 16-to-1 advantage for business. In soft-money contributions to political parties, rather than donations made directly to candidates through political action committees, the business advantage is 97-to-1 ($972 million for business to $10 million for labor).
  • 2010—Thirty-three of 60 new Tea Party members elected to the House are millionaires. Tea Party members have an average net worth of $1.8 million. Overall, 261 of the 535 senators and House representatives are millionaires—49 percent compared to 1 percent among the public at large. http://hedricksmith.com/timeline-who-stole-the-american-dream/

The CEOs of the top corporations in the U.S. made, on average, 331 times the wages of the average rank-and-file U.S. worker in 2013, compared to that 4:1 ratio reported in 1950. The CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio was 774:1. http://www.aflcio.org/Corporate-Watch/Paywatch-2014

Between 1978 and 2013, CEO compensation increased 937 percent.

The pay increase of non-supervisory workers during this same time period? 10.2 percent.  http://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-continues-to-rise/

The breaks enjoyed by super rich at the expense of Joe the Plumber are such that even Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest men in America, publicly acknowledged the disparity. Noting that his 2010 tax rate was lower than that paid by 20 of his employees.

“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks,” he said. “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.”

So, what has all this to do with the price of eggs?

Plenty.

The House this week defeated by a vote of 168-243 House Resolution 5 which would have barred tax deductions for executive pay packages in excess of $1 million unless the company raised worker pay by a percentage tied to its productivity.

We suppose the executives of Wal-Mart need all the help they can get. WAL-MART TAX BREAKS

So how did the Louisiana delegation vote?

Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond (2nd District) was the only one of the six to vote in favor of the interests of workers over those of in the executive offices.

Voting “no” on the measure were newly elected Reps. Garrett Graves (6th District) and Ralph Abraham (5th District), as well as Steve Scalise (1st District), Charles Boustany (3rd District) and John Fleming (4th District).

We don’t feel that extending even more generous tax breaks for corporate executives to the detriment of those on whose backs they made their fortunes was in the best interest of Louisiana citizens who elected them to be their voices in Washington.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,794 other followers

%d bloggers like this: