Donors Who Lavish Money on Elite Institutions Only Exacerbate the Wealth Gap

A recent conversation with Pat Hininger made this article by Pablo Eisenberg of particular note. Pat inferred that too many of the rich donors in the Kansas City area seem to only make sizable donations to the theater, the arts or other causes which are able to name something after them or create an enduring notice of their philanthropy.

This article makes it clear that such is the case throughout the country for donations of the rich and powerful and therefore can be more a hindrance than a benefit for the poor and powerless.

Read the article:

Donors Who Lavish Money on Elite Institutions Only Exacerbate the Wealth Gap

Pablo Eisenberg, Senior Fellow, Georgetown Public Policy Institute

7/11/14 – Huffington Post

“Most Americans probably think a major goal of philanthropy is to fight poverty. But a closer look reveals that giving by foundations and philanthropists exacerbates wealth inequality in the United States.”

“Look at some of the trends:

  • Thousands of local fundraising groups have been created to raise private money for public schools–and almost all of them channel resources primarily to schools attended by the children of people who live in affluent neighborhoods.
  • Elite colleges and universities are the major beneficiaries of multimillion-dollar gifts, and its those kinds of donations that are a key reason giving to higher education grew 9 percent last year. Yet these institutions are so high-priced, few low-income and working-class students can afford to attend.
  • Arts institutions saw donations soar in the past year, according to “Giving USA,” also because of donations by the wealthy. Most of the institutions that benefit from the bulk of private donations are established institutions that cater to the upper and middle classes. Meanwhile, “Giving USA” showed much smaller gains for social-service groups and other kinds of organizations that raise money primarily from people who aren’t multibillionaires.
  • America’s foundations and wealthiest donors give only a small proportion of their total donations to local and grassroots organizations.

“Philanthropy has always benefited such elite institutions, but as the richest Americans have gotten richer, they are creating an even greater gulf between rich and poor.

“After all, the biggest 10 gifts made so far this year have gone mostly to colleges and hospitals. Harvard, Dartmouth, and the University of Notre Dame are among the biggest beneficiaries. Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also have received gifts of more than $75-million.

“America’s multimillionaires neglect the institutions that serve poor and working-class students, community colleges, public universities, and smaller non-elite institutions. They don’t seem to care that they are supporting a dysfunctional system that is devoting fewer and fewer resources to teaching, sustains a growing and bloated administrative structure, and ignores the poor and unjust conditions of adjunct faculty that now make up a substantial portion of the college teaching force.

“It is hard to imagine philanthropy will do much to transform the wealth gap anytime soon given the composition of foundation boards, which continue to be dominated by America’s elite and rarely include average citizens or leaders of nonprofits with expertise on the problems grant makers are trying to tackle.”


Citigrope – Human Kindness Punished

Here we go again.

Ted Folkert

July 9, 2014

A recent Reuter’s news story tells us that Citigrope is on the verge of paying out $7 billion to settle the probe of their defrauding of investors with falsely rated mortgage securities. Who could imagine a great company like Citigrope doing such a thing? Seems preposterous. I presume that if we read their mission statement we would be assured of their utmost integrity as one of the leading financial firms in the world.

Actually, here is the mission statement from their website:

Financial Ingenuity & Responsible Finance

Citi works tirelessly to provide consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial services and products. We strive to create the best outcomes for our clients and customers with financial ingenuity that leads to solutions that are simple, creative and responsible.

So, they “strive to create the best outcomes for their clients and customers.” That being the case, this offer of attempting to ease the pain of those that were defrauded is obviously a very benevolent move on the part of this financial behemoth. I am certain that they are fully convinced that they did no wrong and are admitting no wrong doing, but just want to get this behind them so they can move on with their life of helping others – helping them enjoy “the best outcomes.”

Their acceptance of a settlement of these charges that they are not guilty of is just like some homeless guy who confesses to stealing a loaf of bread in order to avoid a longer sentence if found guilty of other thefts, even though he didn’t do any of it. And, of course, in the case of Citigrope, I would imagine those who purportedly conspired in this alleged fraudulent activity are quite willing to allow their stockholders to pay this sum in order for them to avoid any criminal charges for something they didn’t do.

Now Citigrope is a company once headed by the brilliant and heralded Bob Rabid, who assisted Sandy Wild and Bill Cliptum in removing that troublesome Glass-Steagall Act from the path of the financial behemoths such as Citigrope. This, of course opened the door for financial firms large and small to do most any freaking thing they wanted with our money. Our money – the money of working families, retirees, investors, struggling homeowners, pension funds, governments, hospitals, colleges, universities, religious organizations, you name it.

Someone said that they received $45 billion from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, and won a federal bailout that will limit losses on $306 billion of toxic assets. Well, at least this might ease the pain of this $7 billion donation they are about to make. Let’s see: $45 billion + $306 billion – $7 billion – yes, if my math is correct that should cover it.

These benevolent Wall Street behemoths have already displayed their benevolence in these matters. They willingly accepted the bailout money forced upon them against their will in order to restore their financial well-being after they couldn’t pass the stress test so magnanimously bestowed upon them by Timothy Geithner, one of them. Then they willingly accepted the free loans from the Federal Reserve that were forced upon them so they could do more deals. Then they willingly bought up all of the foreclosed homes that the working class were thrown out of because they couldn’t pay the fraudulent loans they were swindled into. Then they willingly agreed to rent to these desperate former-homeowner, homeless families at exorbitant rents. So, my question is, how much more could they have done?

I know that some of us feel that we were hooked and reeled like a hungry fish, then fileted and served to the rich and powerful, then asked to be understanding about it because it is all for the good of the economy. It keeps the “job creators” in the dough so they can continue to create more jobs for us. And obviously we will need more jobs for several reasons: 1) many of those who thought they were retired have lost their retirement funds and now need a job; 2) many of those who thought they were retired are no longer getting any interest income on their retirement funds due to the actions of the Federal Reserve in their moves to improve the economy and keep the behemoths in business; 3) many of those who have been working one job now need 2 or 3 jobs in order to pay the higher housing costs; 4) many individuals and small businesses are suffering from tighter lending requirements brought on by the financial disaster which they had no role in creating.

So, even though Citigrope had nothing to do with this whole debacle, they are considering stepping up to the line and paying an undeserving penalty for trying to help all of us.

Like they say, “acts of human kindness never go unpunished.”

We know they “work tirelessly to provide consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial services and products.”

Thank goodness they “strive to create the best outcomes for their clients and customers”, otherwise this could have really gotten ugly.

Think about it!

Convince someone today to help us elect better leaders, please!

Meaningful legacies of our fearless leaders

Meaningful legacies of our fearless leaders

Ted Folkert

July 6, 2014

Julie Makinen, NY Times, tells us that the 14th Century Emperor Hongwu, founder of the Ming Dynasty, fought government corruption by executing corrupt officials and using their skins to make chairs and scarecrows.

Are we on to something here? This could be a meaningful deterrent to malfeasance in office.

Just think of the possibilities: a Mumps McConnell scarecrow, a Boohoo Boner crying doll, a pair of Tex Crude, Rank Parry or GW Shrub cowboy boots, a Dark Chainy hunting vest, a Crush Chrusty car cover, an Error Counter crying towel – the possibilities are endless and useful – perhaps more useful than the former contributions of these fearless leaders who served us so gallantly as they distributed the largess of the public treasury to their chosen colleagues and contributors.

Someone I interviewed suggested a Sorry Payme talking rag doll that massacres the English language and spreads pathetic slurs against those who her fans abhor. Another suggested a Bull Clinchton doll that states, in eloquent English, “I didn’t fool around with any of those women.” And still another suggested a Mutt Romper doll with “my wife drives a couple of Cadillacs” tattooed on his forehead.

As you can see, this could go on forever and get continuously more meaningful.

Feel free to add your favorite moniker of one of our fearless leaders to the list. This could become a long list.

One could wonder if such colorful monikers and legacies would catch the attention of the corporate media so all of the people can see the ridiculousness of many of our elected (or should we say selected) officials and the complete ignorance they exhibit and the devastation they bestow upon our so-called democracy.

Think about it!

Convince someone today to help us elect better leaders, please!

Our “Horse & Carriage” Economy

Our “Horse & Carriage” Economy

Ted Folkert

June 21, 2014

Please sing along: “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage, this I tell you brother, you can’t have one without the other.”

You remember that song that Sinatra and many others sang to us all those years. Maybe we can get David Basse to sing it for us.

Well, I am not one to lecture on the subject of “love and marriage”, but I always think about the “horse and carriage” as I incessantly read articles and hear commentary about income and wealth inequality. Love and marriage and horse and carriage seem to apply here too. The facts are what they are. If too much of the income is being captured by too few and too much of the wealth is owned by too few, the economy doesn’t work very well. It doesn’t produce enough jobs and doesn’t provide enough spending to create and maintain needed jobs. “You can’t have one without the other.”

If everyone has a job that pays enough to meet the family needs of food, shelter and clothing and then has a little left over for some discretionary spending, then the economy works quite well. If such is not the case, then it doesn’t work very well. History exemplifies this quite clearly, as do our leading economists. (unless you read Ayn Rand or listen to Tex Crude).

Most of the commentary on this subject evolves into finger pointing, name calling and stereotyping, all if which doesn’t help to resolve the problem of income and wealth inequality. Those on the right side of political idealism tend to call those who are reliant on assistance, such as unemployment insurance or other safety net programs, lazy and irresponsible, leaches on society, the 48%.

Those who are on the left side of political idealism tend to call the rich and powerful the rich and powerful, self-indulgent, self-serving, blood suckers and other disrespectful names, such as the Kook Brothers. Well, anyone who tries to approach the subject of the working class with an open mind knows that none of these stereotypes truly define those on that side of the spectrum. I have employed many people over the last 40 some years, most on the lower end of the wage scale, some somewhat better off. I can’t remember anyone who I employed, worked with, interviewed or interacted with socially who didn’t want to work, earn their way, enough to take good care of their family.

I can’t remember anyone who simply wanted to depend upon social programs for their survival. Where is the dignity in such an existence? Of course, there are those who experienced so much rejection that they gave up and succumbed to a welfare existence, but I doubt if it was ever their first choice. And that would probably be our fault, not theirs.

And anyone who tries to approach the subject of the rich and powerful with an open mind knows that these stereotypes are not true in most cases. Those who worked hard or had good luck, those who were in the right place at the right time, who took advantage of the system, shouldn’t be labeled either. They too are misunderstood. I have had the pleasure of knowing many of them and have represented them in business dealings and managed their assets. They are not villainous, they wanted to grow and prosper and many of them did. They deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor and to pass on some wealth to their loved ones.

Some of the wealthy choose to pass on some of their wealth to make life better for those who haven’t been so fortunate, particularly some of those who have attained massive wealth, such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros and many others. The problem is that they are not creating enough jobs to keep the economy growing. Perhaps growing the economy is no longer capable of improving the condition of the working class. As the economy grows now the increases in income and wealth seem to all rise to the top. This isn’t just because the rich and powerful are greedy, it has many reasons – automation, the global labor pool, global competition in technology, manufacturing, pricing. Some of the problem can be attributed to the rentier class and the investment funds who are taking a big bite out of that society since the vast home foreclosure debacle became a great investment opportunity for investors with unlimited funds available. Many families cannot afford or qualify for home buying and must rent. The rentiers increase the rent enormously all over the country. The renters have less money for discretionary spending, so few jobs are created and new jobs create low wages because most jobs created are low-skill jobs.

None of the economists or politicians seem to have a viable solution to the jobs and livable income problem without income and wealth distribution. Those with the power to legislate choose austerity over rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, which would create good paying jobs that cannot be outsourced abroad. They choose austerity over unemployment benefits, education, job training and other working class benefits that would grow the economy.

We have choices. We can leave our negligent leaders in office or we can elect new ones. We can leave the taxation system of regression as it is or we can elect leaders who will correct it. Whatever we choose, things will not likely get much better and they will likely get worse unless we redistribute some of the massive wealth accumulated by the few and increase the taxation on income.

Then we can pay for the infrastructure rebuilding and education enhancements that are mandatory in improving the opportunities for the young.

Otherwise we will not have good jobs and we will not have a sustainable economy. It’s like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage, you can’t have one without the other.

Think about it!

Convince someone today to help us elect better leaders, please!




A hundred years older and deeper in debt

Ted Folkert

June 8, 2014 – one hundred years after the start of the war that never ends.

Today we recognize the 100th anniversary of the murder of Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian empire, and his wife Sophie, by Gavrilo Princip, a 19 year old Serbian, in the streets of Sarajevo.

What do we call this – the shot heard round the world?

What did it start – the war to end all wars? Not hardly.

What was the result to our planet – senseless evaporation of the precious resources that this planet provides us, enabling humans to live here and survive? Sad, but true.

This reminds me of the song that Tennessee Ernie Ford wrote and Johnnie Cash and Frankie Lane others sang to us – “Sixteen Tons” – “Another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t go …”. David Basse could sing that one too.

Now we are 100 years older,deeper in debt and we have consumed and still consume massive quantities of the earth’s precious resources to manufactures and consume war equipment and material – day after miserable day and year after miserable year.

And it continues to grow as more and more countries find it necessary to arm and kill in order to make each other behave. And what do we accomplish – control of human behavior? Not hardly. There are more armed conflicts going around this planet at any given time you can count or be aware of. And it never gets better, only worse. The result for the planet the massive consumption of limited resources for warfare, resources essential for the survival of human habitation, buy simultaneously, in their use, the destruction of the climate and food sources essential to sustain life on earth.

What have we learned? – Apparently, not much. We still arm and shoot, maim and kill each and every day and each and every year, for territory, for power, for religious beliefs, for resources, for pride, for nothing – “doing God’s work with a sword”, as they say.

You and I can’t change it. We can’t convince the people of the planet to stop killing each other. We can’t convince the people of the world to discontinue the senseless destruction of our limited resources and destruction of the climate and food supplies of the planet for power or territory or religious dominance.

But we can start by electing better leaders here in this country – leaders who want to lead instead of piling up massive fortunes for themselves and commanding power over others. We call ourselves the leader of the free world. It is time we started leading. Leading the movement for the survival of the planet to sustain human habitation, not leading to possess the strongest military and the ability to destroy everyone on earth with our massive weaponry. We simply cannot keep others from killing each other, but we can lead by example, we can start to change the reasoning behind warfare, we can start by convincing others that we have an end in sight – the end of the planet that will support human life, a sight we do not cherish and one we all need to address before it is too late.

Think about it!

Convince someone today to help us elect better leaders. Please!

Robert Scheer – George W. Bush’s Horrifying Legacy

Up Close and Personal With George W. Bush’s
Horrifying Legacy

Robert Scheer, Editor,

Posted June 16, 2014

The Iraq disaster remains George W. Bush’s enduring folly, and the Republican attempt to shift the blame to the Obama
presidency is obscene nonsense.
This was, and will always be, viewed properly as Bush’s quagmire, a murderous killing field based on blatant lies.

This showcase of American deceit, obvious to the entire world, began with the invented weapons of mass destruction threat that Bush, were he even semi-cognizant of the intelligence data, must have known represented an egregious fraud. So was his nonsensical claim that Saddam
Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, when in fact he was Osama bin Laden’s most effective Arab opponent.

Yet Bush responded to the 9/11 attacks by overthrowing a leader who had banished al-Qaida from Iraq and who had been an ally of the United States in the war to contain Iran’s influence in the region.
Instead of confronting the funders of Sunni extremism based in Saudi Arabia, the home of 15 of the 19 hijackers and their Saudi leader bin Laden, Bush chose to attack the secular leader of Iraq. That invasion, as the evidence of the last week confirms, resulted in an enormous boon to both Sunni extremists and their militant Shiite opponents throughout the Mideast.

How pathetic that Secretary of State John Kerry is now reduced to begging the ayatollahs of Iran to come to the aid of their brethren in Iraq. Or that the movement to overthrow the secular leader of
Syria, a movement supported by the United States, has resulted in a base for Sunni terrorists in Iraq and Syria of far greater consequence than the one previously used to plot the 9/11 attacks from isolated Afghanistan.

Imagine if Barack Obama had succumbed to his critics’ demands that he supply the insurgents in Syria with sophisticated weaponry? Those weapons would now be turned against the fragmenting Iraqi army
that the United States trained at an enormous cost. Or if he had chosen military confrontation with Iran instead of diplomacy in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, leaving the Shiite leaders of Iraq squeezed between enemies on two fronts. The elected government in Iraq has a chance to survive only because Obama gave peace a chance in choosing to negotiate with the government of Iran.

The only error Obama made in ending the U.S. military role in Iraq was not moving fast enough to disengage from Bush’s nation-building fantasies. Where is the evidence that it ever works, particularly in the Mideast? The United States has backed the military ruling class in Egypt for more than three decades, and the instant the much-hoped-for transition to democracy appeared, those same corrupt generals scurried for safety to the embrace of oil drenched Saudi religious fanatics. Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi is now gone, only to be replaced by militants given to an even harsher brand of oppression. Yet a bipartisan consensus of Washington politicians still
believes that the overthrow of the secular leader of Syria is somehow
consistent with the proclaimed goals of the war on terrorism.

It obviously isn’t, as the anti-Assad Sunni militants who now freely cross the border from Syria to Iraq waving flags in support of al-Qaida have attested. It is further evidence that dealing with terrorism in militaristic battle terms rather than as a social pathology to be
treated as an illness is a dangerous diversion. The war on terrorism is as irrational a concept as a war on cancer or the flu in that it assumes that the military arsenal is the deciding factor when it never is, for long.

The seeds of radical discontent throughout the world, but particularly in the Mideast, derive from myriad complex and intertwined causes. In this region, the obvious sources of tension in religious grievances, stagnant economies and frustrated nationalism — as with the
obviously legitimate demands of Palestinians and Kurds — have been wildly exacerbated down through the centuries by the imperial ambitions of non-regional actors. Those prisoners of imperial hubris always underestimated the resilience of the occupied and came to believe their own lies about being crusaders for enlightenment.

That is a dangerous delusion energetically asserted by the Paul Wolfowitzes and Dick Cheneys even now, as their mad schemes for a reinvented Mideast spectacularly disintegrate. In their minds, it
is still deeply felt that if only Obama had stayed the course of occupation, we would be greeted as liberators, while our corporations quietly sucked up their oil.

Presidential candidate Obama made clear his contempt for that neocon pipe dream. Once elected, in regard to winding down the Iraq War, he has not strayed far from that conviction, and on this he much deserves our support. This is so even if it means going through the next decades of our political life arguing about “Who Lost Iraq?” the way we once argued about “Who Lost China?” — ignoring that neither country was truly ours to lose.

Reparations for Egregious Crimes

Reparations for Egregious Crimes

Ted Folkert

June 9, 2014

The New York Times presents a compelling discussion regarding reparations we may or may not owe the descendants of former slaves for the egregious and deplorable crimes perpetrated against them for more than a hundred years, perhaps four hundred years.

There are many opinions, pro and con, on this matter which have been discussed, argued, considered and reconsidered for many years. The discussion deserves all of our attention and some consensus of a measure of redress of these grievances.

What better way of addressing this subject than providing the best of educational opportunities and health care for those who still suffer from the wrongful mindset of our ancestors. There is no question that the damage is still felt by the entire black community and the opportunities have not become equal to the challenge faced by racial discrimination. Racial discrimination is not a thing of the past, it still exists each and every day in each and every state and city of our nation.

Read the article and consider the discussion:

Some excerpts from the opinion of Randall Robinson, author
of “The debt – What America Owes Blacks”.

“For 246 years, captured Africans were shackled and packed
head-to-foot below-decks in slave ships that trailed blood and corpses across the Atlantic. Those who survived the brutal journey were forced to work under horrific conditions from dawn to dusk usually seven days a week.”

“Those who tried to escape were hunted down, tortured, and
often murdered. Males, for punishment, were often severed of their genitals. Women were systematically raped.”

“That American public and private fortunes were rested upon
their unremunerated toil meant nothing at all. That Harvard Law School had originally been endowed from the sale of slaves by its founder, Isaac Royall, for example, remains largely unknown to many who have gone there.”

“Today, young black men comprise more than half of America’s
prison population. While blacks commit 12 percent of nonviolent drug offenses, they make up 75 percent of those incarcerated for such offenses and usually serve sentences twice as long as whites do for the same crime.”

Read the article and consider the discussion:




Populist action – the only answer

Populist action – the only answer

Populism unleashed – comment from Jim Hightower,The HIghtower Lowdown

The only way we have ever gotten positive change, from the founding of our country until today, has been from populist movements or populist pressure from the proletariat.

Jim Hightower sees, “positive populist change coming from within the workaday people of grassroots America.”

He says. “.. a rebellion is steadily spreading against the unrestrained avarice and arrogance of today’s domineering corporate elite.” He continues, “except for important voices such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, it’s not even discussed on the national stage, as though the powers that be think they might make it go away by pretending it’s not there.”

Read the Hightower Lowdown –

He thinks there is a major rampage festering among us: unbridled and insatiable corporate power – that we are no longer fooled by “the cloak of civic virtue that the corporations have wrapped around themselves.” In other words. “who elected these manipulative profiteers to run our country and our lives and why should corporate rights be superior to human rights and the Common Good.”

He introduces us the three groups who are challenging corporate power:

United Workers Congress – – consisting of: day laborers, domestic workers, farm workers, formerly incarcerated workers, guest workers, restaurant workers, taxi drivers, and workfare workers. Now the adjunct college professors have joined the coalition.

Global Exchange – – is presently helping California cities and counties establish democratic control of fracking, food sovereignty, and setting standards for a sustainable city.

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund – – is providing legal expertise for the community rights movement.

Read The Hightower,

The quiet man – who taught by example

The quiet man – who taught by example

Homer Theodore Folkert – June 6, 1912

June 6, 2014

The man I admired most while growing up celebrates his 102nd birthday today – he’s not around in person but truly is in spirit.

A quiet but thoughtful man. A dedicated husband and father. A companion of his family anywhere they wanted to go or anything they wanted to do – and the go-to guy, whether you were right or wrong.

A man who taught modesty, courage and work ethic, not by lecturing, but by example.

A man who taught maturity, honesty, loyalty and perseverance, not by preaching, but by example.

A man who endured poor health as a child, poor hearing as an adolescent and adult, and poor cardio health as a middle aged man, but you would have never have heard it from him or thought it if you watched him work.

A man who ignored his handicaps and accomplished more with his keen mind, his strong hands and powerful arms and back, than most of us ever do in our lives, even with all of our good health and longer lives. He built his family a house with his own hands. I wouldn’t know where to start.

Happy birthday Dad, and happy father’s day on Sunday.

We all love him and miss him. Love was another thing he taught by example and didn’t need words to express. Another thing you would never have heard him verbally express, but you knew it was there and he felt it.

Lawrence Lessig – Super Pac to End Super Pac Power

Excerpts from:

Harvard professor’s ‘super PAC’ aims
to end power of ‘super PACs’

By: Maeve Reston

May 25, 2014

“Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig is leading a
crusade to … to create a “super PAC” that would end the power of
super PACs by drawing enough Americans into the system to limit the influence
of big money in politics…”

 “ …. the
current political system is “legally corrupt”–with members of Congress spending
much of their time dialing for dollars, as outside groups flood each election
cycle with hundreds of millions of dollars through super PACs and other
devices, with little disclosure of their donors.”