Class War by the Rich as per Bernie Sanders

Good provocative clip about another aspect of economic conflict: should get you thinking whether you like it or not. 🙂


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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30 Responses to Class War by the Rich as per Bernie Sanders

  1. Kyrie Eleison says:

    He’s not pulling any punches here.

    As always, I find the comments posted on articles and videos at least as interesting (if not more so) than the articles and videos themselves.

    It never fails that someone has to drag in their ideology that it is far more profitable to do business in other countries, and that regulations here are ruining the economy. There is plenty of good reason to rail on countries like China, but in reality it is our own policies that are killing us… that is, unless we really are in a race to the bottom, which is exactly what I think many in this country are trying to do.

    Let’s break things down a little bit:

    …I suppose I could go on, but is it really necessary? How many incidents is it going to take before some people finally start to get it? Please, pick a number and let all of us know. How many before they will finally raise up their arms and say, “That’s it, I’ve had enough.” … One more? A hundred? Ten thousand? Until someone puts their foot down it’s not going to just magically stop on its own.

    Here is another thing to consider:

    Let’s take a moment to compare how many items on this list are recognized and respected in each country we choose to ship our jobs off to, or import goods from that compete with products made in our own country. Organizations like Amnesty International will tell you that their track records in this department are dismal.

    Is this what we want our country to become? Are these the same kind of standards you would want for your spouse? For your own children, or your grandchildren? If they suit you now and you are making obscene amounts of money from it, did it ever occur to you that there are plenty of other ways to turn a profit that are just as easy? Keep in mind that nothing lasts forever.

    Maybe our policies when dealing with these countries should be placed on a graded scale. For each standard that we enact and hold dear for the safety of our loved ones and for future generations, let us assign weighted points to each country based upon the significance of their impact and how “costly” they are to implement, evaluated by an independent party.

    Then we can compare notes and enact some true fairness to said policies. Not willing to meet our standards? That’s ok, we won’t shut you out completely. It’s going to cost you, though, and it should provide ample incentive to responsibly participate in the progress of the rest of the industrialized world.

    Please, let’s encourage others to raise up to our standards instead of stooping to their level. It’s not impossible, it simply requires the will to do so.

    “We’re the regulators that de-regulate,
    We’re the animators that de-animate,
    We’re the propagators of all genocide,
    Burning through the world’s resources, then we turn and hide…”
    – System of a Down, “Cigaro”

    • Kyrie, great comments as usual. The only helpful trend is that China has 16% wage inflation, a lot of civil unrest and is finally beginning to divert its production to meeting pressing home consumption needs, given demand from exports has fallen a lot in the recession/depression. Having worked all my career in manufacturing, I am all for ‘bringing it all back home’….and there are plenty of ways to do this. So your points about not placing our customer business in nasty places should be complemented by a strategy to re-build our own manufacturing and those of countries which treat their work force and environment to reasonable standards. Re-building our own manufacturing involves using latest advanced manufacturing/automation, leveraging being real close to the customer, taking advantage of rising shipping costs to make things more locally and also using what is called ‘lean manufacturing’….unleashing the creativity of the value part of the work force to improve their processes….Neither Democrats nor Republicans understand this and I hope they can be educated, but am not holding my breath….

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        I’d bet they think Six Sigma is a fraternity or sorority. 😉

      • Kyrie, well I guess they certainly make more than 6 errors per million actions and so could benefit from Six Sigma. But you are right, any of them seeing your posting are frantically Googling Yale fraternities and sororities as we speak…..

  2. Tony Gee says:

    I can understand people wanting to tax wealthy people I get that.

    What I have a problem with is demonizing the group of people who are wealthy. I like wealthy people spending their money in our local community it helps us all. I make an income from wealthy people spending their money. If the government takes more money from the wealthy then they have less to spend in our communities. Our local and states are struggling because the feds are threatening to take more money out of the local sales taxes by taking more from the wealthy there-by leaving less for us all.

    What would you say, If I told you ExxonMobil paid $86 Billion in taxes last year and net income was $30.5 Billion?

    I also am repulsed by people who do not want to view facts for themselves and in so spew untruths do to their own ignorance. This lack of education leads to miss information and spreading of false facts which only feeds the ignorance and gets people upset at what? Lies.
    Anyone can see for themselves at:

    The above link is ExxonMobil 2010 Annual Report Sec. 2:32 as you all can see Exxon paid a lot of TAXES….Please keep in mind Share Holders have skin in the game the benefactors of taxes are Local, State and Fed. Governments have no skin other than the tax revenue and what they project to spend that money on.

    The congressman said back in 2009 tax year, that Exxon paid ZERRO taxes that is a LIE I say lie because he should know better he has a very large staff that has access to this information. Also any congressman speaking so confidently on the floor of the house must be truthful in facts period. If they do speak “to the best of their understanding” (if that is the case his answer to my accusation of him lying) then he should state it in the speech several times to devalue his confidents of the facts he is presenting, not after the debate were so many have been fooled by his lies and deceptions. This kind of untruth on the floor of congress should not be tolerated and be against the law he should be punished and or fined.

    Idea: The rules need to be changed if another congressman hears the lie shouts out, “That is a lie” then that challenging representative gets 2 min. directly after the speech to prove that it in fact was a lie and if proven the speech is stricken from the record. If the congressman who challenges the speech is wrong then his own speech will be removed from the record. And if the rep. is caught lying or miss representing the facts more then (I have no idea) say 5 times then the politician is bared from holding office in the feudal government and losses all benefits. This kind of rule changes we need that has been spoken in these forums.


    ExxonMobil paid the following Taxes the past three years. The dollars are in Millions so one would need to add six zeros to the numbers (I have no idea who will read this so please understand my integrity I’m not being condescending).

    Please note the congressman should have said that ExxonMobil made only $4.2 billion more then what they paid in income tax. That would have been very accurate.

    I will not be responsible for these numbers you must look them up for yourself if anyone really cares to see the facts for oneself!

    2010 2009 2008

    Sales Tax $28,547 $25,936 $34,508

    Other taxes and duties $36,118 $34,819 $41,719

    Income before income tax $52,959 $34,777 $83,397

    Income Tax $21,561 $15,119 $36,530

    Net Income $30,460 $19,280 $46,220

    The numbers do not lie the fact is they paid 2.8 times (280%) more in taxes then their net income. ExxonMobil will have paid almost a trillion dollars in the next ten years expecting a modest growth in sales and profit.

    If big oil will be demonized for making so much money in 2009, $19.8 billion then surly the government is likewise demons for making $15.1 billion in the same year of the transactions. The feudal government are partners in this capitalistic economy. So every time business are evil likewise government is as well and if government took over the businesses then they would be the only ones that are demonic. So it must be a good thing we can blame both big business and big government for their evil ways.

    I do find it interesting that big government always slanders the big business but big business never slanders big government that my friends has profound implications that big government is in more control then you or I realize.

    Let us not be fooled.

    • Tony I will take a look at your long post and get back to you tomorrow but see also Kyrie’s comments

    • Tony, I would be quite happy if my business ran on middle class people’s spending. I know lots of wealthy people and they are not demons, though I have to say the two billionaires I know are a bit odd. 🙂 My problem is not with them as people, so much as the fact that they have grabbed more than their fair share. When the wealthy got rich by running real, difficult businesses like making things, or running a restaurant by hard work, it was much harder for them to snatch so much. Now they make money by inheriting down town property, by being attorneys on big financial deals, or by scamming us on Wall Street or in some cases from the proceeds of the mob.

      And again if they had run the economy and politics so we all did well and our country thrived, then I would have less problem with them paying themselves well. But frankly the rich elite who run our country, the !% are bloody useless and have sold us down the river and sold our jobs out to China etc. That is why people on both sides of politics are so angry. And our government, which is supposed to work for us, for ‘we the people’ instead works for Wall Street, K Street (where the lobbyists are) and the defense contractors and oil companies. That really sucks. And small business folk are rightly angry at such a government, but it doesn’t come out of a clear blue sky. It was bought. And yes unions have some power too, but at least they stand for middle class families getting a reasonable living, though they do abuse their position in many cities.

      I worked for a very big corporation and sometime in the late 90s a new Taxation Director was appointed and he proceeded to reorganize the way the company was run world wide to minimize how much tax it paid. He did it ruthlessly without any thought for the country we were based in and without which our company would not have existed or been secure. A lot of my colleagues thought this was plain immoral but I guess we are all retired now and it is the new norm: don’t pay your corporate dues. And Exxon Mobil is I suspect in the same boat and Kyrie’s posting suggests they are overstating their contribution to the US tax payer which is the bit I care about.

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        There are quite a few economists, many of whom are Nobel laureates, sharply criticize the trickle-down and supply-side theories. How long the rest of the country will be held hostage to these policies before admitting that observation is not supporting prediction remains to be seen. Maybe Grover Norquist knows.

      • Kyrie. Absolutely. I don’t want trickle down and I would like to close the Chicago school of economics! (well metaphorically). I would like to see the majority of the population able to find value add jobs that create the sort of goods and services they consume or can trade for things they consume, in a sustainable way, while improving our energy security and not exploiting Chinese prisoners or low paid wage slaves anywhere. I think we had something like that (warts and all) in the 1950s so we know it is possible. And with Chinese wage inflation at 15% (a good thing if it translates into higher living standards there), we would be foolish not to rebuild our manufacturing here. Minerals, oil and coal are running out on different,but very finite time scales, so we probably need to find a way to provide worthy jobs on some new less resource intense basis, live in smaller insulated homes, commute less in small cars and so. Any economist who is not seeing this is on some other planet. Someone quipped that an economist is someone who thinks finite resources can be used infinitely….

    • Kyrie Eleison says:

      Very well put. 🙂

      “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” is widely attributed to economist Kenneth Boulding, though I can’t source it.

      It wasn’t so very long ago that prosperity seemed to be the norm instead of the exception and still certain people were not abandoning this country in droves. Maybe it’s going to take another cold war, or some instability on a scale that can’t be ignored anymore, to bring things back home.

      A classic example is Henry Ford, who firmly believed that if his workers earned higher wages then there would be more people who could afford the cars they were helping to make. This is not some theory on a whiteboard, this is demonstrated, observable fact and is probably one of the most basic lessons from Econ 101.

      I think it will take an appeal to their pocketbooks, instead of their sensibilities, that will create a change for the better. As wages continue to decline, more and more products are going to be put in direct competition with our basic needs for survival, and the prices for said needs are most definitely rising.

      Is this going to be the future for the U.S. (and the rest of the world) – a form of “cannibal capitalism” where the rich eat the rich, and they cut off their own noses to spite their faces? That’s not what I would want to serve up if it was my restaurant, then again everyone has different appetites.

  3. Tony Gee says:

    Kyrie Eleison

    I see you have posted comment so hope to get to read it in the next day or two.

    I have not read your comment before posting mine I have been working on my own I stated last night and finished it this morning and now need to get to work.

  4. Kyrie Eleison says:

    That’s pretty much all I have to say. Consider the source.

    • Kyrie. I don’t actually think of companies as paying sales taxes. I think we the consumer pay sales tax. Great link by the way, and if Forbes are giving Exxon a hard time as you say: consider the source. Forbes is run by a hyper rich pro business fundamentalist….

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        When I ran my own business, that’s the way I understood it. It was my responsibility to collect the sales taxes on the government’s behalf and then pass it along. It did not come out of my own pocket.

        Also, I won’t take into account any taxes and duties that I pay overseas. That is the cost of doing business with foreign governments, and if I had a problem with it I would take it up with them. I won’t be so disingenuous to say that I paid x amount in taxes when we are talking about taxes paid, out of my own pocket, to the U.S.

        It’s interesting to note that certain individuals want to rally around the fact that the poor don’t pay any taxes, yet at the same time others want to rally around the fact corporations don’t pay any taxes. Obviously all of them do. Some have no choice and have nothing to hide, while others make it very clear that it’s a secret and do not wish to discuss it. So where do we go from here?

      • Kyrie, well one thing I would like to see would be massive publicity on just what revenue each major corporation makes in the US, and how much tax, not sales tax, but tax on their profits, they have paid year by year for the last ten years and then keep that info flowing. I would also like to see how much of their production is here versus China. I would like as a citizen and consumer to give my business to a company that was a good citizen: doesn’t pollute, use abused labor in China and pays its damn taxes proportional to its footprint here.

        There is a great story from an accountant in London that I read last year in the comments column on this issue. He worked for one of the major global accounting companies. A Japanese company arrived to set up a European subsidiary in London. His accounting company was asked to pitch and gave the Japanese company the usual boiler plate, ‘this is how you don’t pay any taxes here’ presentation. The head of the Japanese team stopped them in mid flow and said: ‘you don’t understand, we want you to handle our taxes so we pay what is due, no more, no less. In Japan we are good citizens and we wish to be good citizens in the UK. We want to pay a fair amount of tax. The accounting company were stunned into silence and had to ask for an adjournment to re-group, as they didn’t know how to pitch that.

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        Oh, and before someone brings it up: if I pay sales tax on raw materials used in the making of a product or on overhead, what does not get written off is factored into the price of the product when I sell it so that I can maintain my margins. In essence, as a business consumer I paid my suppliers a little bit extra than I would have, and my consumers in turn pay me a little bit extra than they would have. In the end, it’s a zero sum game for everyone except the government (winner) and the average consumer at the end of the line (loser) when it comes to sales taxes.

        I suppose one could make the argument that sales taxes are bad since they inflate prices and stifle business, but if these costs can be externalized than why would anyone aside from the average consumer want to complain? 9-9-9, right?

      • Beware of Cains bearing gifts and saying just sign onto 9-9-9 and all will be well….what a bunch the Republicans are! Is this the best that a party with 30% of the electorate in membership can come up with? None of them are a patch on McCain character-wise, at least before he chose Sarah Palin, that lost him the support of at least 12 of my Republican friends most of whom actually raised money for the Dems to stop Palin at all costs. And the Republicans basically have no solutions to any problems. I have major doubts about Obama and the Dems too, but hey there is no contest….

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        Excellent story about Japan! I have a lot of respect for the Japanese and their culture. I remember swapping stories with some colleagues at a seminar hosted by Takashi Tanaka, and said something along the lines of whatever you do, don’t give me a window office which resulted in much laughter.

        The movie “Gung Ho” starring Michael Keaton also portrays some of our cultural differences in a comedic manner, such as the exchange:

        (MK) “Hey these are nice ribbons.”
        (Sito) “Those are ribbons of SHAME!”
        (MK) “I’d wear them on the inside if I was you…”


  5. Tony Gee says:

    Late getting back on both of your posts. I have read them and the links and so much to digest. I have been thinking about so much if I may try…

    The China links horrible what goes on over there and we as Americans promote that for the lesser cost product. Now too recently Apple products are being bootlegged all to get the lowest price thinking one got a great deal when in reality they received a lower quality product.

    I too hope The United States we will be able to take advantage and get back some of those manufacturing plants and jobs that China could loose do to higher labor and shipping cost. We need labor and company’s to work hand in hand to make it happen.

    Idea or question with all the money labor unions spend in donations to political party’s. It would be cool if the Unions fight back with competition not lining the pockets of politicians with donations and favors. Unions should divest their money into buying businesses manufacturing plants that could move back here from China’s due to their labor uprising and run them successfully with good union labor. Why not? Or is it that unions bosses are just using the sweat of it’s members to gain political power and make thousands on said power and in back room deals? Do we need an organization to receive taxes from these unions to make sure they are fair and not exploiting the political process and it’s members and their employers? Where does it end we have corruption and evil does exist and as one group gains power their will be corruption, “ultimate power corrupts ultimately“. The real question is who and how do we protect the powerless from the powerful. I don’t think it should all be the government responsibility, the courts do to some degree but even the courts have become a political tool.

    • Kyrie Eleison says:

      Labor owning the means of production? Be careful, or someone might label you a Marxist and chase you out of town with torches and dogs! 😉

      • Kyrie, interestingly John Lewis, is the number one retail department store in the UK. Everyone raves about it for the quality of its staff and customer service and its price guarantee never to be undersold. It was founded and developed by John Lewis and when he died he left the whole business to his employees. They are all equal partners in the business, and all the profits are shared between them. The managers get paid more for their responsibility and experience but not crazily so and everyone is motivated to make a profit and thereby increase the profit sharing. They are very selective whom they hire to protect their performance too. So I con’t think labor owning businesses is a bad idea.

        The trouble with the unions in the US is that they are used to merely being the opposition, fighting what management want to rather than fighting for what is best for their members long terms interests: that the business do well. In Germany, all companies over a certain size have to have union representatives on the board and they see the finances. This has made them very responsible about the businesses their members work in and they have cut deals to protect jobs and boost company performance. The Republican attitude to unions is a self fulfilling prophecy: treat unions and employees like dirt and guess what: you get bad relations and poor productivity.

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        Your approach is the correct one, and I apologize to both you and Tony if my remarks came across as being flippant. You are both right in that it is not only possible but it is working well in the real world, and everyone involved is prospering from it.

        There is a local cooperative that sells groceries, and while their commercials are a bit … strange … the store itself is terrific and has a very faithful following.

        Again, I was in the wrong and I am sorry.

  6. Tony Gee says:

    The taxes paid or lack of taxes paid by big oil and big corporations are outrages if what you both mentioned is true and it looks to be the case. I am deeply disturbed by what you both forwarded to me in links. I have respect for Forbs magazine and what Matt rote whether opinion or factual is troubling. I read his links was well his well written article and find myself speechless and angered.

    I see also GE’s paid no taxes and it’s CEO is one of the five executives working with the President on job creation. I recall reading Kentucky, Virginia lost 400 jobs at a GE plant making incandescent light bulbs and instead of investing in that plant GE will increase the production in China. I found these…

    Is this next one a political move or really caring for jobs….The unintended consequence! Or was it the plan in the beginning GE wanted to move the plants overseas to turn a higher prophet?

    I never was in a position working for a large company to make the big bucks with all the benefits and pension plans. In hind sight I could have made some different choices and could be looking at a much more pleasant retirement but I chose this path.

    This stuff makes me mad !!…. I have retirement accounts that I am sure have these company’s in the portfolios. I am hoping for a couple of 100K’s by the time I retire to supplement my SS. I don’t want to be a hypocrite…… dam I am pissed.

    Now I have distain for big government and big corporations.

    • Kyrie Eleison says:

      GE has been packing off many of its divisions overseas and has in no way tried to hide it at all.

      A great deal of us have money tied up in 401(k)s & such, believing in the “American Way(tm)” … yet more and more stories are coming out about, in the words of our beloved leader:

      “… a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal; it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless.”

      “The financial sector is very creative and they are always looking for ways to make money … That’s their job. And if there are loopholes and rules that can be bent and arbitrage to be had, they will take advantage of it.”

      It is bitterly ironic that even the 1% did not have a problem with this sort of thing until the beast turned to bite the hand that feeds, in the wake of the MF Global scandal. Now, suddenly, it is a national emergency because it happened to “them”.

      These practices do not discriminate, they run over the big and the small, so when someone cries foul maybe we should listen. In essence, it’s war. Not on the battlefield, but in the boardroom and bank vaults. A financial war, complete with terrorism and casualties which effects are very real beyond the balance sheets.

      Just like with any other kind of war:

    • Tony, what is needed is to reform big government and big business I think. First of all we need to get big business out of government so it is not skewing government to its interests, generating pork projects and making our defense cost far more than it should. Then we need to go through government and get rid of the waste. But we need to protect/reform social security and Medicare so they stay viable for the long term. And we need to greatly reduce waste in healthcare. We need to then get rid of stock options for company executives as this merely means they manipulate the stock price, instead of running the business as well as possible. We need to publish exactly what tax each major corporation is paying in the US and get after those who are gaming the system. We need capital gains to be taxed at the same rate as income so there is no advantage to taking income as capital gains as Wall Street does. Then we should get shareholders active to really challenge stupidly high executive pay and bring that pay down to levels in other countries. And we need to get shareholders going after waste in corporations as well. And try to change the attitude between unions and corporations to really find creative, effective ways to in-source manufacturing from China etc. We need the moderates in both parties to come together around this. Once upon a time John McCain was about this, but he lost the plot; maybe Hilary Clinton and McCain could pull it off??? Or maybe someone new…

    • Kyrie Eleison says:

      Not to pile on more reasons to disdain corporations, but please have a look at the following video. I know it is long, and it is not representative of all of them, but there are enough that are to make this relevant.

      There is some redemption along the way, in the fact that a lot of people involved are normal and decent just like you and me but since they don’t know exactly what is going on. Perhaps some plausible deniability plays a role in this. Sometimes it’s not in the best interests of the company for those in charge to know (however I am still a tiny bit skeptical on this since how can you honestly be capable of running a company without at least a cursory knowledge of how it runs – maybe the need to “not know” is mutual).

      Anyways, please enjoy and in the spirit of this blog I hope it provokes some thought. If you wish for some information about our government, there is another thread that was recently posted that just scratches the surface.

      (P.S. This video has a habit of being taken down fairly often, so if the link no longer works please let me know and I will try to find another.)

  7. Tony Gee says:

    I split this up not to be to long and really would like to know your opinions.

    Next point I’m not sure what the congressman was trying to say at the 6 min and 40 sec too the 7:20 marker. I know he was talking about inheritance tax what is confusing was something about three fourths of one percent of the population will save $1 trillion in tax over the next ten years. If I try to understand that then in the next ten years this congressman believes that $1 trillion taxes could be collected from three-fourths of one percent of the dead. I have no idea how many people die in the USA a year but $1 trillion potential tax revenue would mean the dead would have been worth over $4 trillion if the inheritance is taxed at 25%. That seems like a high number..

    I have seen families having to sell the family farms to pay the inheritance tax that just does not seem right.

    I can agree with inheritance tax but should be a cap.

    Some suggestions…If the ones who will receive the inheritance as individuals not collectively is receiving…then create a chart X amount of dollars = y amount of tax % and no inherited tax if below $1 million or $500K.

    But if in form of property NO taxes, the taxes will be assessed at the time of the sale whenever that is.

    • Kyrie Eleison says:,,id=164871,00.html

      The estate tax, lovingly called the “death tax” by some, is already up to $5 million, and even before that was at $1 million for a long, long time.

      I’m not sure if you were aware of this, I’m just posting this information to support your argument.

      You can’t take it with you, nor should you, since over a long enough timeline, the very real possibility exists that your heirs will be the only ones who have it all. A balance has to be reached somehow, and this is just one way of doing it.

      • Kyrie, the real problem with the US now is that it has become a form of inherited wealth feudalism. 100 years ago it was much easier for someone on the bottom of the economy to make it to the top. Now it is in fact easier in Europe to climb the ladder, partly because they have high rates of death tax as well as high marginal income tax rates. Also schooling is much more equal by districts because schools are funded centrally and all get the same amount per pupil regardless of whether their area is wealthy or not.

      • Kyrie Eleison says:

        An idea occurred to me while pondering the concept of estate tax, why we have it, and the assertion that “corporations are people” – that they deserve the rights that living beings do…

        Some people do not call it the “death tax” for nothing. People die. So if corporations want all of the “rights” of people, they should take the good with the bad. I don’t think that a person who lives for centuries on end is natural.

        Let’s call it a “loophole” that cannot be closed. We are not immortal. So what say you? Do you want to live forever? Or do you want to live among us as equals? You can’t have it both ways…

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