While the rich get richer, the poor get poorer


THE regular folk are getting the short end of the stick under President Donald Trump.
For all his claims of making America great, it is big business that is enjoying the perks of having one of their own in the White House.
In his inaugural address, President Trump said that he would fight for ‘the forgotten men and women of our country’.
Over a year later, his actions tell a different story; he is choosing big business over the American people every time.
In December last year, President Trump dramatically scaled down two sprawling national monuments in Utah, cutting Bears Ears to 220 000 acres from 1,5 million and slicing the two-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in half.
In his usual brazen manner, President Trump said his actions would see ‘public lands’ once again being for ‘public use’.
The action reversed executive actions taken by former Presidents Barack Obama on Bears Ears and Bill Clinton on the Grand Staircase.
Trump said former presidents abused the Act by making unnecessarily large chunks of territory off-limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities.
The move was supported by Utah’s top Republicans but opposed by Native American tribes and environmental groups, who want the national monuments left alone.
The land removed from protection can now be leased for oil and gas exploration or opened for recreational activities.
Navajo Nation president Russell Begaye rebuked the president because the Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation, but to many tribes in the region.
“The decision to reduce the size of the monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision,” said Begaye.
Last month, President Trump’s Justice Department revoked legal guidance on the rights of workers with disabilities to avoid unjustified segregation by employers in sub-minimum wage and sometimes exploitative, factory settings called ‘sheltered workshops’.
Sheltered workshops often earn millions in profits while paying workers with disabilities poverty wages, including less than US$2 an hour, and sometimes just a few cents an hour.
These workshops receive public funding. The Justice Department also rescinded guidance to state courts, warning against incarcerating people for being unable to afford financial penalties like fines and court fees.
The withdrawal was puzzling.
After all, who would oppose the principle, announced by the Supreme Court more than 30 years ago in Bearden. Georgia, that ‘punishing a person for his poverty’ violates the Constitution?
The bail bond industry? 
The Obama-era guidance also applied the Bearden principle to bail, calling the practice of incarcerating poor people unable to pay bail unconstitutional. 
In cities and towns throughout America, judges set bail without regard to a person’s financial circumstances.
Often, they rely on ‘schedules’ where bail is based on the offense charged, without any individualised assessment of the defendant.
The result is that everyday, hundreds of thousands of people languish in jail pending trial not because they are too dangerous or too much of a flight risk to be released, but because they are too poor to buy their freedom. 
America’s rich have gotten richer for decades, while the middle class and poor have seen meagre gains. Since the mid-20th Century, the top one percent have more than doubled their share of the nation’s income, from less than 10 percent to more than 20 percent.
President Trump said he was going to fix it — that he would represent the forgotten men and women, the people who had been left behind in this widening of income inequality.
However, the Tax Overhaul Bill passed by the Republicans last year make America’s income inequality worse.
The centre piece of the Republican tax plan was a massive corporate tax cut, from 35 percent to 20 percent, which is expected to disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
Shares of stock in the businesses that pay corporate income are mostly owned by the wealthy while the top executives, whose compensation packages are linked to stock market performance, are also much richer than the average American.
So the Bill’s cut in the corporate tax rate is going to help them the most.
It overhauls the individual tax code in a way that, almost every independent analysis has shown, would direct most of the benefits to the wealthy.
In 2019, a person in the bottom 10 percent will get a US$50 tax cut while a person in the top one percent gets a
US$34 000 tax cut.
Other provisions, like rolling back the estate tax, are unambiguous giveaways to the richest Americans.
In December 2017, Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, delivered highlights at a news conference in Washington of a report to be released later this year that was commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council to look at global poverty,
Alston said poverty and inequality rates in the US are alarming and poised to worsen under President Trump, threatening the nation’s democracy.
He added that more than one in eight Americans live in poverty; nearly half of those live in what is considered ‘deep poverty’ and most have no way of escaping their plight.
The UN seems to have found its feet when it comes dealing with the US.
President Trump probably thought that he could bully the world body but it turns out that the rest of the UN members are not having any of that.
Five days into 2018, the US was taken to task over its appalling record on human rights, specifically on the blatant murder of people of colour by law enforcement agents.
There was evidence of a mini-revolt brewing within the Security Council chamber, not only among traditional adversaries like Russia and China, but also among close allies like France and Sweden in January when the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki R. Haley, strongly criticised the Iranian Government over its handling of protestors in that country.
France’s Ambassador Francois Delattre warned against ‘instrumentalisation’ of the protests ‘from the outside’, inferring that the US might have had a hand in the protests.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya was more blunt.
He asked rhetorically why the Security Council had not taken up the issue of Black Lives Matter protests which were at times also met with a violent police response.
In December, a large majority of UN members voted for a resolution denouncing the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the American Embassy there.
Ambassador Haley had to use her veto to block a similar resolution in the Security Council that was supported by every other member.


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