Category Archives: (big) business

For God So Loved the 1 Percent … – NYTimes.com

For God So Loved the 1 Percent … – NYTimes.com.

January 17, 2012, 9:00 pm

For God So Loved the 1 Percent …

Princeton, N.J.

IN recent weeks Mitt Romney has become the poster child for unchecked capitalism, a role he seems to embrace with relish. Concerns about economic equality, he told Matt Lauer of NBC, were really about class warfare.

“When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus 1 percent,” he said, “you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.”

Mr. Romney was on to something, though perhaps not what he intended.

The concept of “one nation under God” has a noble lineage, originating in Abraham Lincoln’s hope at Gettysburg that “this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.” After Lincoln, however, the phrase disappeared from political discourse for decades. But it re-emerged in the mid-20th century, under a much different guise: corporate leaders and conservative clergymen deployed it to discredit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

During the Great Depression, the prestige of big business sank along with stock prices. Corporate leaders worked frantically to restore their public image and simultaneously roll back the “creeping socialism” of the welfare state. Notably, the American Liberty League, financed by corporations like DuPont and General Motors, made an aggressive case for capitalism. Most, however, dismissed its efforts as self-interested propaganda. (A Democratic Party official joked that the organization should have been called “the American Cellophane League” because “first, it’s a DuPont product and, second, you can see right through it.”)

Realizing that they needed to rely on others, these businessmen took a new tack: using generous financing to enlist sympathetic clergymen as their champions. After all, according to one tycoon, polls showed that, “of all the groups in America, ministers had more to do with molding public opinion” than any other.

The Rev. James W. Fifield, pastor of the elite First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, led the way in championing a new union of faith and free enterprise. “The blessings of capitalism come from God,” he wrote. “A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.”

[…]

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The 1 Percent Paint a More Nuanced Portrait of the Rich – NYTimes.com

The 1 Percent Paint a More Nuanced Portrait of the Rich – NYTimes.com.

Among the Wealthiest One Percent, Many Variations

KINGS POINT, N.Y. — Adam Katz is happy to talk to reporters when he is promoting his business, a charter flight company based on Long Island called Talon Air.

But when the subject was his position as one of America’s top earners, he balked. Seated at a desk fashioned from a jet fuel cell, wearing a button-down shirt with the company logo, he considered the public relations benefits and found them lacking: “It’s not very popular to be in the 1 percent these days, is it?”

[…]

As a member of the 1 percent, he is part of a club whose name conjures images of Wall Street bosses who are chauffeured from manse to Manhattan and fat cats who have armies of lobbyists at the ready.

But in reality it is a far larger and more varied group, one that includes podiatrists and actuaries, executives and entrepreneurs, the self-made and the silver spoon set. They are clustered not just in New York and Los Angeles, but also in Denver and Dallas. The range of wealth in the 1 percent is vast — from households that bring in $380,000 a year, according to census data, up to billionaires like Warren E. Buffett and Bill Gates.

[…]

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As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com

As Rick Santorum Secured Earmarks, 2006 Donations Flowed In – NYTimes.com.

Donors Gave as Santorum Won Earmarks

The announcements flowed out of Rick Santorum’s Senate office: a $3.5 million federal grant to Piasecki Aircraft to help it test a new helicopter propeller technology; another $3.5 million to JLG Industries to bolster its bid to build all-terrain forklifts for the military; $1.4 million to Medico Industries to upgrade equipment for its munitions work.

Each of the news releases represented an earmark or, in some cases, multiple ones — the practice by which members of Congress set aside money in federal spending bills for what critics often denounce as pet projects back home.

[…]

But an examination of Mr. Santorum’s earmark record sheds light on another aspect of his political personality, one that is at odds with the reformer image he has tried to convey on the trail: his prowess as a Washington insider.

A review of some of his earmarks, viewed alongside his political donations, suggests that the river of federal money Mr. Santorum helped direct to Pennsylvania paid off handsomely in the form of campaign cash.

[…]

In just one piece of legislation, the defense appropriations bill for the 2006 fiscal year, Mr. Santorum helped secure $124 million in federal financing for 54 earmarks, according to a tally by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group. In that year’s election cycle, Mr. Santorum’s Senate campaign committee and his “leadership PAC” took in more than $200,000 in contributions from people associated with the companies that benefited or their lobbyists, an analysis of campaign finance records by The New York Times shows.

[…]

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America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine

America for sale: How a private-equity firm would flip the United States to China. – Slate Magazine.

Fire Congress, Dump Mississippi and Alaska

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

Like many large corporations, America is going through a painful transition as it reaches maturity. Growth has stagnated, expenses have soared, and shareholders are getting antsy. While emerging markets offer potential, competitors are rapidly eating away at the United States’ market share. Analysts are bearish, with many believing the country is on the decline. Is it time for a leveraged buyout?

Probably not. Still, it’s a fun thought experiment: What sort of changes and cost-cutting measures would a firm like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital impose if it wanted to buy the country at a discount and refurbish it for a quick, profitable sale to, say, China?

Though the United States carries a $15 trillion debt load, if you look past its bloated budget and shaky governance, the country has some valuable assets. America has vast real estate holdings, a productive workforce, reliable cash flows, and a globally recognized brand name. An aggressive private-equity outfit, though, would find a lot to cut and a lot of people to fire. Here’s a 10-point plan to get the country shipshape.

[…]

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Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon – The Washington Post.

Ruth Marcus
Opinion Writer

Super PACs are a dangerous new weapon

DES MOINESThe barrage of commercials tells the story: This is a presidential election without meaningful contribution limits or timely disclosure, outsourced to political action committees whose spending often dwarfs that of the candidates they support.

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Eagle Ford construction is booming – San Antonio Express-News

Eagle Ford construction is booming – San Antonio Express-News.

Eagle Ford construction is booming

Updated 08:44 p.m., Thursday, December 29, 2011

The housing business remains emphatically average across the major cities in Texas, as home builders continue to pull themselves up from the recession.

But in many small South Texas communities, where oil and gas drilling is booming, housing — of any sort, be it RVs or single-family homes — can’t be added quickly enough.

Then there’s the commercial space — or, more accurately, the lack of space for lease or purchase.

Now more developers and builders from San Antonio and beyond are moving into the sparsely populated Eagle Ford Shale counties to build everything from housing to pipe yards to warehouses.

[…]

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In Louisiana, Twist in Fight Over Texaco Drilling Lease – NYTimes.com

In Louisiana, Twist in Fight Over Texaco Drilling Lease – NYTimes.com.

Bitter Twist in Louisiana Family’s Long Drilling Fight

ERATH, La. — It began as a landlord-tenant dispute, Louisiana style.

The tenant was Texaco; the landlord the Broussard family, heirs of a Cajun rancher, who claimed that Texaco’s operation of a gas plant on its property had left the land contaminated. The lawsuit, of a kind not all that rare in these industry-heavy parts, had dragged on so long that 13 of the heirs had died.

But it took a sudden and bitter turn in recent months, when another company — a company that, like Texaco, is a subsidiary of Chevronsued to condemn most of the disputed land and expropriate it, arguing that it was acting in the national interest.

[…]

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High Sodium-to-Potassium Ratio in Diet Is a Major Heart Risk – NYTimes.com

High Sodium-to-Potassium Ratio in Diet Is a Major Heart Risk – NYTimes.com.

Personal Health

Sodium-Saturated Diet Is a Threat for All

Maybe you think you don’t have to worry about salt. After all, you don’t have high blood pressure, you’re not overweight and you exercise regularly.

Well, think again. A major study, based on data from more than 12,000 American adults, took into account all those risk factors for death from heart disease. The researchers found that while a diet high in sodium — salt is the main source — increases your risk, even more important is the ratio of sodium (harmful) to potassium (protective) in one’s diet.

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Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0 – NYTimes.com.

December 27, 2011, 9:00 pm

Bacteria 1, F.D.A. 0

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Deep Pockets, Deeply Political – NYTimes.com

Deep Pockets, Deeply Political – NYTimes.com.

December 19, 2011, 10:08 pm

Deep Pockets, Deeply Political

A tiny number of wealthy Americans are playing an ever-increasing role in financing our politics. This is not a good thing for a democracy.

[…]

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