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Today, the Zero Theft Movement (ZTM) has set its sights on the Reddit economics community, r/Economics.
We will check out the subreddit to see what its community members are saying about the rigged economy. Do they know about it, and do they even care? In this article, we will highlight some of the submissions we found most notable. We will use them as a jumping off point to explore how the wealthy and well-connected continue to get away with ripping us off.
The group’s moniker, “The Dismal Science,” should give you a sense of what’s to come. But let’s cut the introductions short, and explore the Reddit economics community!
(as of 07/2020)
With a ranking of #445 and a total subscriber count of 843,602, Reddit economics has grown to be one of the most popular subreddits on the website. r/Economics, as the name of the group suggests, filters all discussion through the lens of the dismal scientist. That means they might tackle topics with a political or social bent, but ultimately, the debate revolves around economics.
The economy is as global as ever, and the submissions reflect that. Nevertheless, Reddit economics unsurprisingly seems primarily focused on the U.S. economy.
The Price is Right? How Much Does it Cost to Buy an Official?
Unfortunately, this thread did not get much attention on r/Economics. The Redditors who commented focused on the $800K amount that’s, on average, necessary to buy an elected official’s vote.
One commenter mentioned the shortcomings of the study, while still arguing that big money in politics needs to go.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) came about in response to the 2008 financial crisis. A tale of normalized, and even encouraged corporate crime. Investors and bankers allegedly boosted their profits while nearly ruining the global economy.
Millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes, experiencing extreme lows. Some even took their lives. Independent nonprofit Better Markets estimates the financial damages caused by the exceed $20 trillion. Somehow, only one of those bad actors went to jail. The rest walked away—not only Scott free but with loaded bank accounts.
The root of the problem is, moneyed interests works on multiple levels:
Firstly, corporate giants spend billions (chump change for them) to hire lobbyists.
Secondly, those lobbyists influence government officials to pass or reject laws depending on what brings the most profit. Some lawmakers even encourage Pay to Play, dirtying their hands with pork barrel politics. Lawmakers ‘pay’ for their expensive vacations with corporate-funded slush funds while big businesses get to break free markets and unethically maximize the profits they receive from us.
Stock Buybacks, the $500 Billion COVID-19 Corporate Bailout, and Reddit Economics’ Response
This thread arose in response to Trump signing a bill that authorized a historic $2 trillion relief package. $500 billion of that going to bail out corporations. Many on Reddit economics expressed anger and concern over yet another potential case of corporate welfare. Congress intended to provide financial relief to U.S. companies who avoided taxation by domiciling themselves overseas.
The top commenter wrote, “The idea you could bail on the U.S. to avoid taxes and regulatory scrutiny, and then come back looking for a handout of money they never paid to the U.S. is maddening.”
From @Sabrina_McDa on Twitter: “All the major cruise lines are asking for bailouts from the U.S. Government. Yet Disney Cruises sails under the Bahamian flag…Celebrity Cruises under Liberian/Maltese flags & Carnival Cruises under the Panamanian flag–all to avoid U.S. taxes & employment law. Just sayin’.”
But did these companies really need support? Aside from the tweet above alleging tax evasion or tax avoidance (depending on how you look at it), The New York Times reported that some of the companies that sought out financial support had “poured…money into stock buybacks and dividends.” The Washington Post reported that the U.S. airlines had spent $45 billion on stock repurchases before asking for relief.
A 2017 Forbes article reports, “For most of the 20th century, stock buybacks were deemed illegal because they were thought to be a form of stock market manipulation. But since 1982, when they were essentially legalized by the SEC, buybacks have become perhaps the most popular financial engineering tool in the C-Suite tool shed…Buying back company stock can inflate a company’s share price and boost its earnings per share — metrics that often guide lucrative executive bonuses.”
See what the ZT community has uncovered about stock buybacks…
Conflict of Interest?
An important offshoot of the relief package that did not get any coverage in the Reddit economics community is the Deputy Treasury Secretary, Justin Muzinich, who led the creation of the bill. Muzinich still has ties to his father’s investment firm (Muzinich & Co.), where he served as the president before taking the government position.
According to ProPublica, Muzinich & Co. “is a major beneficiary of the Treasury’s bailout actions.” The journal concludes its article with a recent string of Treasury-backed developments that have boosted the businesses’ portfolio.
The Zero Theft Movement opposes government officials having ties to lobbyist groups or major industries, in general. These connections, at the very least, often sows seeds of doubt in the public and creates conflicts of interest. It goes without saying really, but those elected and/or appointed to high positions in government should prioritize the interests of the wider public. Not their own bank accounts, nor the back accounts of the industry giants to which they may return through the revolving door.
Reddit Economics on the Prohibitive Costs of Living
In the history of r/Economics, these submissions are the two top posts in the subreddit’s history.
With foreign investment groups overbidding and buying out U.S. properties with cash, acquiring a home has never been more costly. Property ownership has historically served as most Americans’ biggest asset by far. But with skyrocketing prices, millennials cannot afford to buy a home. They fall further and further behind, constantly having to pay rent without having a major investment that reliably appreciates in value.
We’ve got a housing bubble that’s not going to pop anytime soon, considering the major wealth these investment groups wield.
From @MelforProgress on Twitter: “Rent is due in two days for millions who can’t pay it because of #Covid_19. In four phases of ‘stimulus,’ Congress has passed no #rentfreeze and only one small check for working people. They did however pass $4 Trillion in Wall Street relief. There’s money…just not for you.”
The recent pandemic has just further revealed and exacerbated long-existing economic issues. Remember, much of this generation was early on in their career or fresh out of college exactly around the time of the aforementioned global economic crisis in 2008. For reasons outside of their control, the economy sputtered and stalled, still affecting some. For them, we’re talking about a global health crisis (in the form of the Coronavirus pandemic) that has profoundly hindered economic production for the second time during what’s supposed to be their most productive years.
Most cannot even achieve a middle-class status as wages have plateaued for forty years while the GDP has consistently risen. Those who don’t have a choice but to rent probably won’t have any equity to pass along to the next generation, reducing the chance of upwards mobility as there’s no wealth or assets to pass along.
DID YOU KNOW?
House ownership, beyond anything else, has had the greatest influence on the growing wealth gap in the U.S.
Reddit Economics! Join the Fight Against the Rigged Economy with the Zero Theft Movement
Whatever economic system you believe in, none will function properly when the wealthy and well-connected can rig the game completely in their favor. Every day Americans will continue to suffer, will continue to watch as big businesses are bailed out with taxpayer money. Clearly, for the Reddit economics community, the future appears bleak.
ZTM is dedicated to waking up and empowering 330 million American citizens. We can all profit from an ethical, powerful, and safe economy if we all play our part in aggressively eliminating the rigged parts of our economy.
The public has spoken! See how much the rigged economy is ripping off from you.
Explore the Problem Hierarchy
We have primers on potential problem areas of the economy. Before you start voting, it’s important you get a basic understanding of the issues at hand, so you can be as helpful as possible to other community members. Take a few minutes and come prepared.
Serve your fellow citizens as a citizen investigator
The success of our movement rests in your hands, the leaders willing to dedicate time to conduct investigations into potentially rigged areas of the economy. Lead the movement and help create an ethical economy.
Heroism made easy
Twenty minutes! That’s all the time you need to contribute to our effort. Just review a proposal and vote. Our reports will only gain legitimacy and power with your contributions.
Commitment to nonpartisanship
The rigged layer causes all of us to suffer, regardless of our political allegiances. If we wish to eliminate rigged economy theft, we have to set aside our differences and band together against crony capitalists and corrupt officials.
Beyond Reddit Economics…
An educated public is an empowered public.
We regularly publish educational articles on ZeroTheft.net, just like this one on Reddit economics. They teach you all about the rigged layer of the economy in short, digestible pieces.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.