The Walmart cycle.

               One meme or article after another tells us to avoid Walmart. Which is absolutely right! They subsidize their company by paying low wages, thereby forcing their employees to receive Federal Benefits. That alone costs American tax payers billions of dollars a year. Not to mention the money they receive from Federal and State governments to build stores or warehouses in their areas or the tax breaks and tax havens they use to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

The Walton family are worth a couple hundred billion dollars. While making these billions of dollars they bemoan employees who ask for a higher wage or the right to unionize. All the while purchasing product from China, a Communist dictatorship that not only manipulates their currency but also subsidizes their companies. The Walton maintain that if they raise pay, they have to raise prices. While saying this they reap profits that have rarely been seen in American history.

Now here is the conundrum. The average person making even $12 an hour is that they do not have alot of disposable income. Electric, gas, phone, taxes and even sewer have all seen precipitous increases, all while this person has been stuck at $12 an hour. A family of 4, with mom and dad both working, will in many cases qualify for Federal Benefits. The failure of corporations to raise peoples pay while making record profits has presented these people with a pickle. Do I shop at a cheaper store and get more or shop at more expensive and get less. Where does this leave them?

At a time when Americans need more help then at possibly any time in our history, we have also found ourselves in a period of hyper-polarization. While these people need help, Paul Ryan and Republicans want to cut Federal Benefits while cutting taxes for the wealthy. Democrats led by Elizabeth Warren are trying to extend unemployment benefits, raise taxes on the wealthy, reel in to big to fail and fix income inequality. Bernie Sanders, the only Independent who really matters, my little joke, is fighting along many of the same fronts as Elizabeth Warren. It has become class warfare. Rich saying the poor dont work hard enough and poor asking for a fair share. All of this while 47 million Americans are on Food Stamps because of low pay or no jobs.

Here is where it comes full circle. These people on the bottom end up shopping at Walmart because of their low pay. By shopping at Walmart they are putting people like themselves out of work, as well as giving the Waltons a false sense that their model is a good thing. The person shopping there doesn’t want to do these things, but what company can compete with a monolithic corporation like Walmart. Of course it would be another corporation. What option do these people have? Even if you dont shop at Walmart, the majority of products are made somewhere else.

The Stock Market closes at an all time high today, but where are the jobs?

              The DOW Jones closed at over 15,000 today to set an all time high. What does this mean? It means the rich get richer. It means that corporations are making a lot of money but not hiring. It should mean that our economy is fully recovered, but it doesn’t.

               For several year Democrats have expressed concern over the disconnect between Wall St. and Main St. Companies continue making money, but either are not hiring or hiring part time. This is Reaganomics at its finest. Get more work out of less people to maximise short term profits. This is at the expense of their employees. Despite the climb on Wall St., it seems as if the wealthy are sitting on their money.

                Over the last 5 years all gains economically have gone to the top 7%. That is to go along with tax breaks and loopholes that have accumulated about 2 trillion dollars to our National Debt since Bush put them in place. Corporations are not just making record profits, setting records on Wall St., but are also walking away with about $200 billion in corporate welfare. Like they really need it.

             Republicans defend these wealthy crooks like it was truly their job. They fight to lower taxes and turn the attack back on the poor. Wall St. Is making money, but where us it going. It is not going into the economy, it is not helping fix what these goins nearly destroyed. No, it is sitting in the pocket collecting dust. Why would they reinvest their money in America.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren continued her struggle to hold banking industry accountable.

                 Senator Elizabeth Warren is again championing average Americans by trying to hold the banking industry accountable. This time her target is illegal foreclosures. Since Senator Warren has joined the Senate Banking Committee she has made waves with her sharp criticism of government regulators tasked with controlling the nations banking system. She quizzed Securities and Exchange Commission chairwoman Elisse Walter about why no banks were taken to trial after the 2008 financial collapse. She also grilled Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke over policies that promote financial institutions that are too big to fail.

            This past week Daniel Stipano, deputy chief counsel of the office of Comptroller of the Currency and Richard Ashton, deputy general counsel for the Board of Governers of the Federal Reserve, were in her sights. They both testified before a Banking Committee subcommittee last Thursday at a hearing on the role of independent consultants. Warren criticized both men for not providing information to Congress or to homeowners about illegal foreclosures in order to help the homeowners receive compensation. Warren said in an interview last Friday, ” I think the question that we put to the regulators is whether they were there to help to protect banks or help to protect families that had been victims of illegal foreclosure practices. I was not satisfied with the answers and we’re going to stay after them.”

                  The Federal government is offering financial aid to help people whose homes were illegally foreclosed. But the assistance doesn’t arduous to much. This is part of a $25 billion National Mortgage settlement reached between banks, the Federal government and attorneys general across the nation. The program applies to borrowers foreclosed one by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JOMorgan Chase and WellsFargo, the nations 5 largest mortgage servicers. The payments could be as low as $840 per homeowner, could be higher, depending on the number of borrowers who participate. Jeff Genres, managing attorney for the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, called the settlement rough justice. Adding that it is not compensation for taking your home, it is compensation for the banks committing a crime on the courts.

               On January 31 Senator Warren and Representative Elijah E Cummings requested documents detailing what a review found, such as the number of improper foreclosures, the amount of inflated fees or the extent of abusive practices by each service. The regulators staff refused to provide any documents that would identify wrongdoing by any specific bank. It would be very surprising indeed if mortgage servicing companies argued that their ability to engage in illegal foreclosures and charge inflated fees is a commercially viable plan derived from corporate innovation. The letter also points out that agencies have clear regulatory discretion to provide members of Congress with documents and that agencies could protect against a potential waiver by sending a simple cover letter, as other agencies have done routinely.

               President Obama should be behind Senator Warren and Representative Cummings all the way. Democrats should be jumping on board and trying to get Republicans to do the same. The banks almost crippled us economically and made billions after the fact. It is time for them to pay up.

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What is causing surge in gas prices?

                Every year we can expect gas prices to rise in the spring. Oil futures know the demand for gas rises in the summer. They also try to blame this spring rise on a switch to summer gas. They say that refineries need to be shut down for maintenence before the switch to summer gas. Switching to summer gas is basically adding an additive, I simplified it. Which is basically so many parts per gallon, which consists of dumping it in.

            High gas prices are caused by high crude oil prices. These prices fluctuate daily and are account for 72% of gas price. The reamaining 28% comes from distribution, refining and taxes, which are more stable. They also charge by the barrel although there are no longer barrels of oil. It is now just a unit of measurement.

            Gas prices fluctuate quite often but the past few years the spring rise in price has been coming earlier and earlier. It seems that most of the price rise is caused by an influx of money into the commodities market. Investors have fled real estate, although it is making a very slow comeback. They have also fled dividend funds for oil futures. The sudden surge is driving up oil prices, creating a speculative bubble.

           The rise in price is also partially caused by Zone Pricing. Say gas is $3.75 a gallon where you live. You ride 15 miles away and the price is $3.63 a gallon. This is the basic principle behind Zone Pricing. Same gas company is also selling to both stations. All of this is based upon the location of the gas station. Zone pricing is also said to be to blame for the price hike.

              First they are switching over to sumner gas in the middle of winter, sounds like a crock. Then they are closing refineries for maintenence for summer gas, it is adding an additive. More of a crock. Zone pricing, the idea alone is ridiculus, another crock. Commodities driving it up is also a crocj. It is the speculators that are causing most of the price rise. They think it will sell so the price rises, generalization. That and price gouging, which is not getting enough attention. We are using less gas, yet paying more. Th that destroys the idea of supply and demand. We also are less reliant on foreign gas than ever before. So in my opinion PRICE GOUGING is the main cause.

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