Another Covid Victim

There is so much bad news around our pandemic…..the many deaths….the people that we know and love are gone……the drag on our economy in so many forms……now we are told that the nation’s inequlity has grown during our battle with the virus……

Stock ownership is more concentrated than ever, Federal Reserve data show, with the wealthiest 10% of households owning 89% of US stocks. The stocks differential is reflected in the growing wealth inequity, CNBC reports, with 1% of Americans holding 32% of wealth, also a record. “The top 1% own a lot of stock, the rest of us own a little,” said Steven Rosenthal of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. During the pandemic, the 1% added more than $6.5 trillion in corporate equities and mutual fund wealth, and while the bottom 90% picked up $1.2 trillion.

Concentration increased despite the fact that more people own stock now. Robinhood, for example, has posted more than 10 million new accounts over the past two years. But the new accounts, often held by younger investors, are small, averaging about $4,500 at Robinhood. So when the market goes up, those accounts profit much less than those of wealthy investors with many shares. “Many of the younger investors also bought in at higher prices, compared to bigger investors who have been in the market for years and see larger gains,” Rosenthal said.

The wealth inequality is clear across the board. The richest 10% also own 45% of US real estate, 54% of pension entitlements, 85% of private businesses, and 34% of consumer durable goods, per the Street. The stock market is behind most of the wealth creation and increased inequality during the pandemic; it’s risen almost 40% since January 2020. Stocks accounted for almost 70% of the gains in wealth by the nation’s richest 1% over the past year and a half, per CNBC.

Just more depressing news……more ways for this cancer of inequality  to keep the people from achieving what has been called “the American Dream”…..

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“lego ergo scribo”

Put Americans Back To Work

Covid made companies take a hit on employees…..every attempt to get the workers back to work has failed and failed spectacularly …..even our president drank the kool-aid with the stupidity that if he cuts off any unemployment benefits and it will force workers back to the slavery they have had to endure….Biden and his pals in Congress (Manchin preeminent among them) kicked 8 million people off of extended unemployment in September, with the rationale that exacerbating their misery would spur them into the workforce and that cruel act translated into…197,000 new jobs…….he, Biden, caved to the business world and he got egg on his face…..how?

September showed conclusively that federal unemployment benefits weren’t solely to blame for people staying home.

Over the summer, 26 states ended their participation in federal unemployment benefits early, cutting off an additional $300 a week in an effort to get people back to work. The Biden administration chose not to step in and pay out benefits through the Department of Labor — even though several federal judges reinstated the benefits throughout July and August — and millions of Americans lost benefits.

Then the White House agreed with business groups’ and Republicans’ demands to allow the federal unemployment programs to end in September. In July, President Joe Biden said it “makes sense” for emergency federal aid for jobless Americans to end.

Now we know that the end of unemployment benefits isn’t strongly linked to job gains. Friday’s jobs report, the first to show the widespread effects on the labor market of ending enhanced unemployment, said the US added just 194,000 jobs in September. It captured the sentiment of cut-off workers around the country, not just in those 26 mostly Republican-governed states.

https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-september-jobs-report-federal-jobless-aid-congress-2021-10

The easy path is not always the best….and so far Biden has chosen the easy and avoided the heavy lift that is desperately needed….but that is what I expected when we elected yet another feckless centrist.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Debt Ceiling–The Game

The big news other than abortion and congressional antics has been the debt ceiling….if it was not raised then the government would shutdown….and the game began……

The Repubs, as usual, played it tough before they cave and do a deal that would extend the functioning of government….at least for a short while……

As usual the game was all too predictable……

The Senate dodged a US debt disaster Thursday night, voting to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December and temporarily avert an unprecedented federal default that experts warned would devastate the economy and harm millions of Americans. The vote of 50-48 in support of the bill to raise the government’s debt ceiling by nearly a half-trillion dollars brought instant relief in Washington and far beyond. Congress has just days to act before the Oct. 18 deadline after which the Treasury Department has warned it will quickly run short of funds to handle the nation’s already accrued debt load. The House is likely to return to approve the measure next week. The White House signaled Biden’s support, with principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the president would sign a bill to raise the debt limit when it passed Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday an agreement has been reached with Republicans to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December, temporarily averting a debt crisis. “We’ve reached agreement,” Schumer announced as he opened the Senate, reports the AP. “Our hope is to get this done as soon as today.” Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell had offered to accept a short-term extension on Wednesday, shortly before Republicans prepared to block legislation to suspend the debt limit until December of next year.

The agreement sets the stage for a sequel of sorts in December, when Congress will again face pressing deadlines to fund the government and raise the debt limit before heading home for the holidays. McConnell and Senate Republicans have insisted that Democrats would have to go it alone to raise the debt ceiling and allow the Treasury to renew its borrowing so that the country could meet its financial obligations. Further, McConnell has insisted that Democrats use the same cumbersome legislative process called reconciliation that they used to pass a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and have been employing to try to pass Biden’s $3.5 trillion measure to boost safety net, health, and environmental programs.

McConnell said in his offer Wednesday that Republicans would still insist that Democrats use the reconciliation process for a long-term debt-limit extension. However, he said Republicans are willing to “assist in expediting” that process, and in the meantime Democrats may use the normal legislative process to pass a short-term debt-limit extension with a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy’s take: Assuming final details in the emergency legislation are in order, “for the next three months, we’ll continue to make it clear that we are ready to continue to vote to pay our bills and Republicans aren’t.” McConnell: “This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass stand-alone debt-limit legislation through reconciliation.”

Does all that sound the least bit familiar?

The end result was all too predictable….it is the same game with the same result year after year.

Another waste of time because it is not something that needs the wasting of this valuable time….a ploy all too familiar……especially with the approach of an election year.

These are the games politicians play to avoid the heavy lift the country needs badly.

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“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–14Sep21

Now that the US has pulled out of Afghanistan…there should be funds that will not be needed to prolong that war any further ….if you thought that then you would be mistaken…..

House Armed Services Committee voted to increase President Biden’s military budget for 2022 by almost $24 billion.

The effort was led by Republicans who don’t think Biden’s $753 billion request is enough to face China and Russia. The panel passed the $23.9 billion increase in a vote of 42 to 17, with 14 Democrats voting in favor.

In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a similar increase of $25 billion that also had bipartisan support. The budget will ultimately be decided by appropriations bills, but the fact that both House and Senate panels passed such measures means the increase has a good chance of passing.

Biden’s $753 billion budget request breaks down into two categories: $715 billion for the Pentagon and $38 billion for military-related spending for other agencies, such as the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs. The panel’s increase would apply to the Pentagon’s share, bringing its total budget to about $740 billion and overall military spending to a whopping $778 billion.

(antiwar.com)

Regardless the defense industry will get their pound of taxpayer flesh….

A look at how this worked in Afghanistan….

Weapons firms and defense contractors consume over half of the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget and the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan poses a threat for their share-holders and executives. 

That concern was laid bare in a new investigative report by In These Times’ Sarah Lazare on CACI International, a Pentagon contractor currently two years into a five-year $907 million contract to provide “intelligence operations and analytics support” for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. CACI’s CEO warned investors in an August 12 earnings call, “we have about a 2 percent headwind coming into FY 2022 because of Afghanistan,” referring to a negative impact on profits from the withdrawal.

Lazare points out that CACI is a corporate sponsor of the Institute for Study of War, a hawkish think tank whose experts argued in an August 20 paper that “Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are weighing how to take advantage of the United States’ hurried withdrawal.” ISW’s board chair, Jack Keane, a former General Dynamics board member and current chairman of Humvee manufacturer AM General, has been making the rounds of Fox News shows, blasting the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan.

ISW has not disclosed the financial conflict of interest between its criticisms of Biden’s withdrawal and its corporate sponsor’s financial ties to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan.  Fox News does not disclose Keane’s role as chairman of a Pentagon contractor or ISW’s funding from defense contractors including CACI and General Dynamics.

How the defense industry helped prolong the war in Afghanistan

As Yogi once said…”It ain’t over ’til it’s over”

New enemies will magical appear and the funds will follow the BS.

We cannot depend on Dems for sanity in defense spending for they are owned as much as the GOP by defense industry….

By a 42-17 vote on Wednesday, 14 Democrats joined with Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee to add nearly $25 billion to the 2022 defense budget, Politico’s Connor O’Brien reported. That brings the total in Pentagon spending to $740 billion, up from the $715 billion that had been requested by the White House.

For 20 years this country pissed away trillions on war….

Brown University’s Costs of War Project released a new report Monday detailing post-9/11 spending by the Pentagon. The study found that of the over $14 trillion spent by the Pentagon since the start of the war in Afghanistan, one-third to one-half went to private military contractors.

The report, authored by William Hartung of the Center for International Policy, said $4.4 trillion of the total spending went towards weapons procurement and research and development, a category that directly benefits corporate military contractors. Private contractors are also paid through other funds, like operations and maintenance, but those numbers are harder to determine.

Out of the $4.4 trillion, the top five US weapons makers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman — received $2.2 trillion, almost half. To put these huge numbers into perspective, the report pointed out that in the 2020 fiscal year, Lockheed Martin received $75 billion in Pentagon contracts, compared to the combined $44 billion budget for the State Department and USAID that same year.

Pentagon Paid the Arms Industry at Least $4.4 Trillion Since 9/11

They, Dems, can cooperate with the GOP on war but not on the needs of the people of this country.

Can you now see why I have no use for Dems….they are worthless and gutless.

I still hold that we need new thinking in our foreign policy apparatus.

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“lego ergo scribo”

The Best Health Care In The World

How many times have you heard this bit of BS spread on your favorite boob tub show?

And yes it is BS!

Let’s look at the pricing of health care.

With hospitals across the U.S. refusing to comply with a new federal rule requiring them to disclose the prices they negotiate with health insurers, a sampling of previously secret data published late Sunday reveals how much basic medical procedures cost at dozens of major hospitals in a project that critics of the for-profit healthcare system said reveals the severity of its dysfunction. 
 
The database of hospital rates compiled by the New York Times and researchers at University of Maryland-Baltimore details how patients are charged drastically different prices for the same medical care depending on what insurance company they use—with some procedures costing less if a patient has no insurance at all.
 
As the Times reported, at University of Mississippi Medical Center a patient with a Cigna plan can expect to pay $1,463 for a colonoscopy, while someone with Aetna insurance would be charged more than $2,100. An uninsured patient would be billed for $782.
 
Patients receiving an M.R.I. at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida will be billed between $1,827 and $2,455 if they have a Cigna, Humana, or Blue Cross plan, and only $262 if they have Medicare.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/08/23/once-secret-prices-expose-irrational-and-cruel-nature-us-healthcare-system

Looking at the pricing and tell me that there is not some room for repair.

Medicare For All (M4A) is the only answer….all the big talk and BS from politicians especially those damn Centrist are doing nothing to curb the blatant theft by the health industry of hard earned dollars from their patients.

M4A looks like the best way forward.

Pricing is just one area of the massive fraud and theft by this industry….there is so much more that needs attention and all we get is politicians bowing to the donations from the health industry to do nothing to change their corruption and theft.

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I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Economic Development?

I have always thought that the promise of ‘economic development’ was a “LIE”…..it is the promise of something that is not going to happen to justify some sort of con perpetrated on the community.

I got thinking about this term more when I watched a piece on the local news…..the head honcho of the country economic development was taunting the building of several small strip malls.executive offices…as a bright world in which the county lives in……

First of all let’s define the term ‘economic development’…..

Economic development is a concerted effort on the part of the responsible governing body in a city or county to influence the direction of private sector investment toward opportunities that can lead to sustained economic growth. Sustained economic growth can provide sufficient incomes for the local labor force, profitable business opportunities for employers and tax revenues for maintaining an infrastructure to support this continued growth. There is no alternative to private sector investment as the engine for economic growth, but there are many initiatives that you can support to encourage investments where the community feels they are needed the most.

That definition is all blue skies and unicorns.

My question is to the city council where is this building economic development?

They built a structure that may remain empty….they employed a couple of guys to erect the structures but where is that economic development?

I mean where these couple of small malls were built sits in an area full of unused space……just two blocks away is a large strip center that sits 90% unoccupied….about one mile away is a large strip mall that is only about 70% occupied and 2 miles away is a strip center that has many open spots for businesses to jump on…..and this does not include the smaller strip malls within a 5 mile radius that sit basically unoccupied…so why were these new malls necessary?

So with this said where is all that ‘economic’ upside?

All this is just my area…..the broader look at local development is just as bleak…..

The average minimum wage in my county is $7.25…that is about half what is needed for a living wage.

So again I ask what ‘economic development’?

Land speculators and contractors are the only people making out like bandits…..by using the BS of ‘economic development’….there is few economic benefits for the average worker in this county.

My next question is….how with so many open spaces for businesses to expand how does a contractor/developer get the cash to build something that may go unused?

Of course I am told that these new structures will benefit the community…..and how does a empty office space enhance my community?

Just who will benefit from this non-existent economic development?

What makes anyone on the council think that business will rush to snap up this new space?

Are the objectives of development met by these structures….those objectives are 1) provide for basic needs.  2) Raise the level of living.  3) Expand the range of economic and social choices.

These structure fail.

How does these ‘new’ buildings offer any of those?  Just who profits from this wish and a hope of destroy land and cutting down trees om a wish and a hope?

My thought is that if we truly wanted economic development then maybe paying livable wages would do more than the promise of empty buildings.

The council needs to design a plan and program for filling empty spaces before the destruction of more land….the council works for the people of the city and should not bow to the cash and wishes of developers….especially on the lie of ‘economic development’.

Just a thought.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

GOP Unemployment Lie

Since the pandemic and people working from home or unemployed have been subsidized by the stimulus packages from the government.

Another of the GOP ‘Big Lies” is that unemployment benefits is keeping people from returning to work because they are making cash without working.

Yeah, what crap! At $300 a week I will be buying my much cherished Ferrari any day now.

So with an election looming, 2022, the GOP has decided that instead of finding solution they will just keep repeating the same damn lie….over and over…..

Republicans promoted the conspiracy theory that Americans weren’t going back to work amid the COVID-19 pandemic because they were too busy living the comfortable life on the U.S. dime. Data now shows that they were wrong.

The New York Times reported Sunday that in Missouri when federal pay for the unemployed was scrapped, workers still were being choosy. Gov. Mike Parson (R) proudly proclaimed that his state would be among the first to kill unemployment benefits. It still hasn’t worked, however.

“Work-force development officials said they had seen virtually no uptick in applicants since the governor’s announcement, which ended a $300 weekly supplement to other benefits,” said the report. “And the online job site Indeed found that in states that have abandoned the federal benefits, clicks on job postings were below the national average.”

It’s early on in the post-pandemic era, but thus far, the GOP claims appear to be false.

https://www.rawstory.com/republican-unemployment-lie/

Axios has taken a good look at the people that are staying home…..https://www.axios.com/high-unemployment-insurance-people-reject-jobs-9e426791-65b6-453b-9803-81aa3d0ca7e7.html

For those with economic tastes here is a deeper dive into the situation from the Morning Consult…..

  • The termination of federal unemployment insurance benefits is likely to produce an estimated 1.84 million jobs through the end of the year, particularly as more UI recipients begin actively looking for work.

  • The U.S. economy will remain roughly 4.7 million jobs short of where it was prior to the pandemic even after workers on unemployment insurance return to working.

  • Most unemployment insurance recipients know that their benefits have started to expire and feel the pressure to find jobs, likely leading them to reduce spending and save a greater share of their benefits as they transition to a more permanent source of income.

Expiring Unemployment Insurance Could Add Up to Nearly 2 Million Jobs This Year

As usual the GOP finds some non-existent problem to demonize for an election….sad part is the American voter is so damn ignorant they will believe the lie and vote accordingly.

The GOP never has a solution of perceived problems….all they ever have is lies, misinformation and finger pointing as well as demonization.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

An Alternative To The $15 Minimum Wage

Well that big thing is the proposal for a $15 minimum wage….and of course the GOP is having a stroke at the idea.

They preach the same crap every time….that it will cost jobs and drive corporations overseas…..To this I say BS to the first accusation and to the second then let the cowards go as long as they pay a fat tax for leaving.

Contrary to popular support…..Two-thirds of Americans (67%) support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, including 41% who say they strongly favor such an increase, according to a Pew Research Center survey…..although a majority of the American public support this idea…..it is a doomed proposal.

The $15 thing will NEVER fly in the Senate…..even though the Dems have a slim majority they also have a couple of conservs in the party that hate seeing humans make a descent living….not to mention any name….Manchin and Sinema…..

Maybe there is a couple of things that could be done that would actually make a difference in people’s lives…..

The government could make it a more just society but they are afraid to slap around the wealthy that take from society and give nothing in return…..afraid the cash cow will dry up for their re-election funds.

Just my idea to help if you cannot manage to raise the minimum wage…..since food seems to suck up the cash on hand along with shelter, utilities…..why not use a tool, that is at hand?

Price controls.

The government could step in and make life easier for those that are struggling especially these days of lockdowns and unemployment….

Government price controls are situations where the government sets prices for particular goods and services.

Types of price controls

  • Minimum prices – Prices can’t be set lower (but can be set above)
  • Maximum price – Limit to how much prices can be raised (e.g. market rent)
  • Buffer stocks – Where government keep prices within a certain band
  • Limiting price increases – In a privatised monopoly (e.g. electricity, gas, water – where there is no competition) the government regulator may play a role in limiting how much prices can be increased. In the UK, regulators use a formula like RPI-X.
  • Direct price setting – In a command economy, prices of goods may be set by the government.

Since food seems to continue in a never ending spiral upward to the point where people have to decide between food or rent the government should step in and help.

It is not like this has not taken place in the past…..

Signed on August 15, 1970, during the administration of Richard Nixon, the Economic Stabilization Act gave the president power to impose wage and price controls to stem inflation caused by federal efforts to finance its operations. It extended a law that had provided the executive with similar authority during the Korean War; the earlier law, in turn, had precedents in controls imposed during World Wars I and II.

For those that would like to know more about this law then I can help…..

https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=3158&context=caselrev

Not to worry this will NEVER happen because Congress is well paid by lobbyist to keep anything good from ever taking place.

Politicians play to a base and the rest of us be damned….people go hungry and people become homeless and yet NO ONE gives a shit.

You may not like my idea but for now it would help those that need it the most.

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“lego ergo scribo”

That Global Minimum Tax

Biden’s Sec Treasury recently proposed a policy that I can get on-board with (there are some few that I can support)…….

Now it appears that more and more countries are signing on to this policy…..
Some 130 countries have backed a global minimum tax as part of a worldwide effort to keep multinational firms from dodging taxes by shifting their profits to countries with low rates. The agreement announced Thursday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also provides for taxing the largest global companies in countries where they earn profits through online businesses but may have no physical presence. The agreement followed a proposal from President Biden for at least a 15% rate, an initiative that propelled the talks toward meeting a deadline for a deal by the middle of this year. The deal now will be discussed by the Group of 20 countries at meetings later this year, the AP reports, in hopes of finishing the details in October and implementing the agreement in 2023.
 
Under the deal, countries could tax their companies’ foreign earnings if they go untaxed through subsidiaries in other countries. That would remove the incentive to use accounting and legal schemes to shift profits to low-rate countries, since the profits would be taxed at home anyway. Not all of the 139 countries that joined the talks signed on to the deal. The proposal to tax countries where they have sales but no physical presence, which would require countries to sign up for a multilateral convention, excluded extractive companies such as oil and mining and regulated banks. The deal now faces more technical work and review by the Group of 20 countries. In the US, Biden has proposed a 21% minimum rate on overseas earnings of big US companies to deter them from shifting profits to tax havens. Biden’s US tax would need to be approved by Congress.
Like I said….I believe this is a much needed tax policy….
 
We will see just how effective it truly is or is this just a tactic to quell some larger issues.
 
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“lego ergo scribo”
 

Global Minimum Corporate Tax?

Here is an idea that I can support…..but an idea that will be fought tooth and nail by corporations that do not want to pay anything for the right of economic exploitation….

But Biden’s SecTreasury has proposed a plan for a global tax…….

Corporations around the world should pay at least a 15% tax on their earnings, the Treasury Department said Thursday as part of its push for a global minimum for businesses.

The final rate could go even higher than that, according to a Treasury release that said the 15% minimum is a “floor and that discussions should continue to be ambitious and push that rate higher.”

U.S-based companies currently pay a 21% rate, a level that was slashed during the Trump administration. Previously, the top rate had been 35%.

Under a proposal from President Joe Biden, the tax rate would be lifted to 28%, part of a plan to raise levies on both companies and the highest earners.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been touting the benefits of a global corporate minimum tax rate that she said would discourage companies from relocating domiciles to other countries to cut their tax burdens even though most of their operations are in the U.S.

Yellen’s Treasury believes “that the international tax architecture must be stabilized, that the global playing field must be fair, and that we must create an environment in which countries work together to maintain our tax bases and ensure the global tax system is equitable and equipped to meet the needs of for the 21st century global economy,” the department said in a news release.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/20/us-proposes-global-minimum-corporate-tax-rate-of-15percent-with-an-eye-on-something-even-higher.html

Sadly I do not see this as a plan that will make it….corporations own a lot of politicians around the world and they will do as they are told…..

I may have been pre-mature in my doubt….

The Group of Seven wealthy democracies agreed Saturday to support a global minimum corporate tax of at least 15% in order to deter multinational companies from avoiding taxes by stashing profits in low-rate countries, per the AP. G7 finance ministers meeting in London also endorsed proposals to make the world’s biggest companies—including US-based tech giants—pay taxes in countries where they have lots of sales but no physical headquarters. Britain’s Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, the meeting’s host, said the deal would “reform the global tax system to make it fit for the global digital age and crucially to make sure that it’s fair, so that the right companies pay the right tax in the right places.”

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who attended the London meetings, said the agreement “provides tremendous momentum” toward reaching a global deal that “would end the race-to-the-bottom in corporate taxation, and ensure fairness for the middle class and working people in the US and around the world.” France cheered Saturday’s agreement and claimed credit for acting as its catalyst. “We made it! After 4 years of battle, a historic accord was reached with G7 member states,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire tweeted. “France can be proud!” The endorsement from the G7 could help build momentum for a deal in wider talks among more than 140 countries being held in Paris as well as a Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Venice in July.

Will this be just another great idea that will be thrown on the trash pile of good ideas.

A side thought for my reader to ponder…

As long as I am writing about globally….how would you like to work for McDonalds…..in Denmark…..

The agreement with McDonalds does not only include salary per. hour and 6 weeks holiday. There is extra charge for evening and night work. Payment for seniority, holiday payment (Easter and Christmas for example, (100%), on top of all payment there is an extra 6.85%, Pension plan for employees from the age of 20 (12%).

In the Danish labor market, all employees have 5 weeks paid holiday by law. Some of the things that are extra in the companies that have a collective agreement, just like McDonalds, is one week more (called Feriefridage). So, the answer to your question is yes. McDonalds employees have 6 weeks’ paid vacation for all.

McDonald’s workers in Denmark truly make more than $20 an hour.

Do McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Make $22 an Hour?

Interesting!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”