April 2020 Headlines

Over the past few months, we’ve all faced unprecedented challenges -- from fighting off an invisible to the naked eye virus, to the newest threat: murderer wasps! 

But there’s a small group of ‘PEOPLE’ that seem to be doing just fine, thank you very much -- Billionaires and Corporations. 

Because, as always...

Capitalism Never lets a good crisis go to waste-- 

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world, America’s 1% have taken profitable advantage of the situation. 

Yes -- Some of the richest people in the US have been at the front of the queue as the government has handed out trillions of dollars to prop up an economy it shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the billionaire class has added $308bn to its wealth in four weeks - even as a record 26 million people lost their jobs.

According to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive thinktank, between 18 March and 22 April the wealth of America’s plutocrats grew 10 and a half%!!!

The billionaire bonanza comes as a flotilla of big businesses, millionaires and billionaires sail through loopholes in a $349bn bailout meant to save hard-hit small businesses. About 150 public companies managed to bag more than $600m in forgivable loans before the funds ran out. 

Including a Fossil Fuel Firms With Ties to Trump Administration --

Yep. Some companies who have an outsized responsibility for worsening the climate crisis will receive small business loans from the federal government. 

So far, fossil fuel firms have taken at least $50 million that will probably never be paid back. From that money $28 million is going to three coal companies, all with ties to the Trump administration.

Hallador Energy Co., an Indiana-based coal company, which hired Trump's first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, as a lobbyist, said it received a $10 million loan from the Small Business Administration under the Paycheck Protection Program

The Coal mining company Rhino Resources, which was formerly run by Trump's Mine Safety and Health Administration head, David Zatezalo, is receiving $10 million. Coal firm Ramaco Resources, whose CEO, Randy Atkins, is on the energy department's National Coal Council, is getting $8.4 million, as The Guardian reported.

And banks are also doing well, raking in $10bn in fees from the government loans, according to an analysis by National Public Radio.

But they’re not the only ones getting a slice of the pie -- 

Fisher Island, a members-only location off the coast of Miami where the average income of residents is $2.2m and the beaches are made from imported Bahamian sand, has received $2m in aid.

Its residents seemed to be doing fine even before the bailout. This month, the island purchased thousands of rapid Covid-19 blood test kits for all residents and workers. Meanwhile, the rest of Florida is struggling. 

In Florida, fewer than 8% of applicants received benefits

Nationally, more than 70% of jobless Americans did not receive unemployment benefits in March. 

But that doesn’t stop leeches like Betsy DeVos from taking the little money people have these days--

The Education Secretary is being sued by student advocacy organizations for continuing to garnish wages of student borrowers amid the coronavirus pandemic despite provisions against the practice in Congress's coronavirus relief package. 

Wage garnishment for student borrowers allowed the Dept of Education to withhold up to 15 percent of wages from those who owe student debt. The class action lawsuit demands that the department stop doing so and refund any money taken.

Obviously, the Dept. of Education did not comment on the specific litigation, and only said they were committed to processing refunds for those whose wages have been garnished since March 13, as the CARES Act specifies.

Undoubtedly, Coronavirus is exposing the gulf of inequality that exist in this nation-- 

While more than half of working-class America is unemployed, unable to pay all their bills, and -- some -- even facing the risk of eviction or certain death due to the lack of healthcare, the Morbidly Rich keep getting richer!

  • Just look at how many U.S. companies like Caterpillar, Levi Strauss, Stanley Black & Decker, and World Wrestling Entertainment are still rewarding shareholders while thousands of their recently laid off workers are filing for unemployment. These Five companies paid a combined $700 million to shareholders while cutting jobs and closing plants.
  • Even the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is making a pretty penny. Kushner Cos., the real estate firm owned by the Kushner family, has received about $800 million in federally backed debt to buy apartments in Maryland and Virginia - the company’s biggest purchase in a decade. Jared Kushner divested ownership in many of the company’s assets to close family members when he joined the government. But still, The arrangement increases the government’s exposure to Kushner Cos. at the same time that its former chief executive officer is one of the most powerful people in the White House. But who cares about conflicts of interest, right? 
  • And as American families are struggling, war profiteers are requesting their own bailout. The National Defense Industrial Association, a trade group for the arms industry, typically asked the Pentagon to speed up contracts and awards for $160 billion in unobligated Department of Defense funds to its companies, which will involve pushing money out the door without even the most modest level of due diligence.

The defense industry has asked for, and received, a lot in this time of soaring cases of disease and death. While there is undoubtedly a role for the giant weapons makers and for the Pentagon to play in this crisis, they have shown themselves to be anything but effective lead institutions in the response to this moment. It’s time for the military-industrial complex to truly pay back an American public that has been beyond generous to it.

Isn’t it finally time as well to reduce the “defense” budget and put more of our resources into the real national security crisis at hand?

Of course, we wouldn’t hold my breath--

The Military- Industrial- Complex, nor Corporations or billionaires will not save us; philanthropy is not the answer. We have to stand up together in solidarity, and fight!

COVID-19 is casting light on how messed up things really are-- the current system is designed to take away from those that have less and give it to those that already have way too much, the morbidly rich! IT’S HIGH TIME TO SAY TO HELL WITH IT AND START OVER -- BUT THIS TIME, DO IT RIGHT. 

Join our coalition and, together, let's topple #CORPORATERULE!

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