News Release Archive - Corporate Crime

Debate Confusion, Trump’s Racism and Biden’s Praise of Police

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Newsweek reports in “Did Donald Trump Condemn the Proud Boys and White Supremacists?” that at last night’s debate moderated by Chris Wallace, President Trump, when asked to condemn white supremacist violence, said “Sure I’m willing to do that,” but then told the group the Proud Boys to “stand by.”

NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Freeman is co-writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and recently wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.” He is also an organizer with Pan-African Community Action and an analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Freeman said today: “Corporate media’s moderation and coverage of the debates is just as complicit in mass confusion. Biden’s rejection of community control over police is comparable to Trump’s refusal to denounce the white supremacist Proud Boys.

“Everyone knows Trump is racist. But for the questions not to be softballs they should have asked Biden about the connections between racism and policing. Only a month ago we saw in Kenosha and other places amiable interactions between police and right-wing militias mobilized against anti-racism and anti-police brutality activists. Yet Biden manages to get in praise of police and a denunciation of so-called violent activists with no interrogation from Wallace.”

Billionaires Promised to Give Away Half Their Wealth, Instead, They Doubled it

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Aug 4, 2020 is the 10th anniversary of the “Giving Pledge,” started by billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. (See New York Times piece from Aug. 4, 2010.)

CHUCK COLLINS, chuck at ips-dc.org; also via Bob Keener, bobk at ips-dc.org

Collins is director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of the report “Gilded Giving 2020: How Wealth Inequality Distorts Philanthropy and Imperils Democracy” and “The Giving Pledge at 10: A Case Study in Top Heavy Philanthropy.”

He said today: “Private philanthropy has always been a form of power for wealthy donors. But as wealth inequality has exploded in recent decades, it has concentrated that private power in even fewer hands — and all subsidized by private taxpayers.”

The findings include: “Of the 62 living U.S. Pledgers who were billionaires in 2010, their combined wealth has increased from $376 billion in 2010 to $734 billion as of July 18, 2020, an increase of 95 percent, in 2020 dollars.

“Of these 62, 11 have seen their wealth go down either because of aggressive charitable giving or market changes. But the remaining 51 have seen significant increases in their net worth. Nine of the billionaires have seen their wealth increase over 200 percent over the decade, adjusted for inflation. These include Mark Zuckerberg (1783 percent), John Doerr (416 percent), Marc Benioff (400 percent), Bernie and Billie Marcus (311 percent), Ken Langone (288 percent), Ray Dalio (280 percent) Arthur Blank (277 percent) Stephen Schwarzman (245 percent), Scott Cook and Signe Ostby (221 percent).

“The 100 living U.S. Pledgers who were billionaires on March 18, 2020 had a combined wealth of $758.3 billion at that time. This is the date of both the beginning of the pandemic lockdowns in the U.S. and the publication of Forbes‘ annual global billionaire survey. By July 17, 2020, their assets had surged to $971.9 billion. This means that over the four worst months of the pandemic in the United States to date, their collective wealth increased by $213.6 billion — an increase of 28 percent.”
Collins also just wrote the piece “In a pandemic, billionaires are richer than ever. Why aren’t they giving more?” in The Guardian. 

Said Collins: “Philanthropy should not become a taxpayer-subsidized extension of private wealth, power, and influence for the richest 0.1 percent. … Congress needs to update the rules governing philanthropy to prevent abuses to the tax code and protect our democracy and nonprofit sector.”

The “Gilded Giving 2020” report finds that top-heavy philanthropy poses considerable risks to “the independence of the nonprofit sector, the integrity of the tax system, and to democracy itself.” It also suggests that the 2017 tax cut and the COVID-19 pandemic will worsen this drift toward inequality in philanthropy.

Collins and his fellow analysts found: “Small donor giving has been steadily declining for two decades. Between 2000 and 2016 (most recent data), the percentage of households giving to charity has dropped from 66 percent to 53 percent. Wage stagnation, unemployment, declining homeownership all contribute to economic insecurity and declines in giving.

“The increase in charitable giving has been driven by donations by wealthy donors and mega gifts over $300 million.”

August 4, 2020

How Behemoth BlackRock Rigs Finance

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ELLEN BROWN, ellenhbrown at gmail.com, @ellenhbrown
Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling The Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free.

She just wrote the piece “Meet BlackRock, the New Great Vampire Squid,” which states: “To most people, if they are familiar with it at all, BlackRock is an asset manager that helps pension funds and retirees manage their savings through ‘passive’ investments that track the stock market. But working behind the scenes, it is much more than that. BlackRock has been called ‘the most powerful institution in the financial system,’ ‘the most powerful company in the world’ and the ‘secret power.’ It is the world’s largest asset manager and ‘shadow bank,’ larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China), with over $7 trillion in assets under direct management and another $20 trillion managed through its Aladdin risk-monitoring software. BlackRock has also been called ‘the fourth branch of government’ and ‘almost a shadow government’, but no part of it actually belongs to the government. Despite its size and global power, BlackRock is not even regulated as a ‘Systemically Important Financial Institution’ under the Dodd-Frank Act, thanks to pressure from its CEO Larry Fink, who has long had ‘cozy’ relationships with government officials.

“BlackRock’s strategic importance and political weight were evident when four BlackRock executives, led by former Swiss National Bank head Philipp Hildebrand, presented a proposal at the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in August 2019 for an economic reset that was actually put into effect in March 2020. Acknowledging that central bankers were running out of ammunition for controlling the money supply and the economy, the BlackRock group argued that it was time for the central bank to abandon its long-vaunted independence and join monetary policy (the usual province of the central bank) with fiscal policy (the usual province of the legislature). They proposed that the central bank maintain a ‘Standing Emergency Fiscal Facility’ that would be activated when interest rate manipulation was no longer working to avoid deflation. The Facility would be deployed by an ‘independent expert’ appointed by the central bank.

“The COVID-19 crisis presented the perfect opportunity to execute this proposal in the U.S., with BlackRock itself appointed to administer it. In March 2020, it was awarded a no-bid contract under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to deploy a $454 billion slush fund established by the Treasury in partnership with the Federal Reserve. This fund in turn could be leveraged to provide over $4 trillion in Federal Reserve credit. While the public was distracted with protests, riots and lockdowns, BlackRock suddenly emerged from the shadows to become the ‘fourth branch of government,’ managing the controls to the central bank’s print-on-demand fiat money. How did that happen and what are the implications? …”

Brown concludes: “If the corporate oligarchs are too big and strategically important to be broken up under the antitrust laws, rather than bailing them out they should be nationalized and put directly into the service of the public. At the very least, BlackRock should be regulated as a too-big-to-fail Systemically Important Financial Institution. Better yet would be to regulate it as a public utility. No private, unelected entity should have the power over the economy that BlackRock has, without a legally enforceable fiduciary duty to wield it in the public interest.”

Brown’s other books include The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity and most recently, Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age.

Billionaires Deforming Education?

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KEVIN KUMASHIRO, kevin at kevinkumashiro.com
Author of ten books on education, Kumashiro is former dean of the School of Education at the University of San Francisco and co-founder of Education Deans for Justice and Equity,

He has helped organize a statement signed by over “650 educators of color and educational scholars of color across the U.S.” calling for a “retreat from the market-based initiatives (like the so-called ‘portfolio model,’ expansion of choice, and deprofessionalizing of teaching) being foisted by billionaires upon poorer communities of color.”

The statement — “This Must End Now: Educators & Scholars of Color Against Failed Educational ‘Reforms’” begins: “The public is being misled. Billionaire philanthropists are increasingly foisting so-called ‘reform’ initiatives upon the schools that serve predominantly students of color and low-income students, and are using black and brown voices to echo claims of improving schools or advancing civil rights in order to rally community support. However, the evidence to the contrary is clear: these initiatives have not systematically improved student success, are faulty by design, and have already proven to widen racial and economic disparities. We must heed the growing body of research and support communities and civil-rights organizations in their calls for a more accurate and nuanced understanding of the problems facing our schools, a retreat from failed ‘reforms,’ and better solutions.”

Kumashiro recently wrote the piece “Corona-Capitalism and the Racialized Looting of Public Schools,” which states: “As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, proponents of market-based reforms have wasted little time capitalizing on the same two conditions that propelled privatization post-Katrina, except at a scale and level without precedent: school closures and federal funding.”