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Monday, November 29, 2010

A Buddhist Story on Inattention

A Buddhist Story on Inattention
translated by F.L. Woodward
Buddhist Stories
The Theosophical Publishing
House, Adyar 1994 (1925)*

There was a lecture given to five men, when the Buddha was staying at Jeta Grove. It is said that these men, who wanted to hear the Law, went to the Residence, saluted the Master and sat down aside.

Now it is not the way of the Buddhas to only give the truth to rich people while changing it for poor people. Whatever the subject of Their teachings, it is always as if They were drawing it down from above the Stream Celestial (Akasa-Ganga).

Nevertheless, although the Master was preaching without distinction of the five laymen who sat there, one being drowsy, fell asleep; another sat grubbing in the ground with his finger; the third idly shook a tree to and fro; the fourth sat gazing at the sky and paid no heed to what was said; while the fifth was the only one of them who listened.

So the elder Ananda, who stood there fanning the Buddha, observing the behavior of these men said to Him: 'Lord, you are teaching the Truth to these men even as the voice of the thunder when the heavy rains are falling. Yet, look at them: they sit doing this and that while you are preaching.'

'Ananda,' the Buddha said, I think you don't know these men.'

'I don't know them, Lord'

'Of these five men, the one that sits asleep was reborn as a goblin-
snake in many a birth, and laying his head on his coils would go to sleep. So now he sleeps and my words don't reach him.'

'But tell me, Lord; was this in births successive or only now and then?'

'At one time he was at intervals a human being, at another time a deva, at yet another time a snake-goblin. But even one omniscient could not recount in full the births he underwent at intervals.

Be that as it may, for many successive births he took shape as a snake-goblin, and slept and slept, nor can he have his fill of sleep.

Yonder man, who sits grubbing in the earth with his finger, took
birth as an earth-worm many a time and bored the earth. Now, too,
he does the same and does not hear my words.

That one, who sits there and shakes a tree, was born many times successively as a monkey. It is his nature to do so a habit ingrained in many former births. Thus no sound of mine can penetrate his ears.

Next, yonder brahmana, who sits gazing at the sky, was born for many times successively as an astrologer, a star-gazer. By dint of ingrained habit even today he looks up at the sky, and no sound of mine can penetrate his ears.

But this one, who sits attentively listening to the Law, was for many times a master of the three Vedas, a brahmana who could repeat the Sacred Texts. So now also he pays good attention to my words, just as if he were linking up a mantra.'

'But Lord', said Ananda, 'your teachings reach deep into people. How can it be that when you preach the Law these men don't listen at all?'

'Ananda, I think you consider my teachings easy to hear.'

'Lord, is it hard to hear then?'

'Yes, certainly, Ananda, it is hard to hear and understand.'

'Why?'

'Ananda, such things as The Buddha, or The Law, or the Order of Brethren (Buddhist monks) have not been heard of by these beings for countless cycles of time. Therefore they cannot listen to this Law.

In this round of births and deaths, whose beginning is incalculable, these beings have come to birth hearing only the talk of diverse animals. They spend their time in song and dance, in places where men drink and gamble and the like. Thus they cannot listen to the Law.'

'But what, Lord, is the actual, immediate cause they cannot hear?'

'Ananda, because of hatred, delusion and craving they cannot hear. There is no fire like the fire of lust. It burns up creatures, not even leaving ash behind.

The world-fire that ends the cycle, which arises owing to the appearance of the seven suns, also leaves no ash behind. But that only happens now and again. But the fire of lust is always burning.

For that reason I say to you that there is no fire like lust, no raving like hatred, no snare like delusion, and no torrent like craving.'

The Buddha then sang this verse:

There is no fire like Lust that harms mankind;
No beast like Hatred can devour;
No snare like Folly can entrap has power;
No flood like Craving caries them away.

At the end of this lecture, the layman who was listening attentively
to the Law was established in the Fruits of Stream-winning (the
secondstage of the first initiation), and to those who had already
won the Stream the teaching was a blessing.

(from the Dhammapada Commentary)

http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/inattention.html

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'The Day the Dollar Died'

National Inflation Association
Preparing Americans for Hyperinflation

NIA's New Video Goes Viral

On Wednesday, November 24th, the National Inflation Association released a shocking and stunning video entitled, 'The Day the Dollar Died', which shows the world exactly what could happen to the U.S. economy in the very near future during the first 12 hours of a U.S. dollar collapse.

Although the video itself is fictional, NIA believes a U.S. dollar
collapse is inevitable and there is a strong likelihood that the
U.S. will experience an outbreak of hyperinflation this decade.

'The Day the Dollar Died' is a wake up call for Americans who aren't
yet stocking up on gold, silver and food supplies. The U.S. dollar's
day of reckoning is coming and only Americans who prepare now
will survive.

In just 42 hours since its release, 'The Day the Dollar Died' has already been viewed over 145,000 times on YouTube. It is currently YouTube's #1 top favorited news and politics video.

Approximately 1,200 people have commented about the video on YouTube alone, with thousands of more comments having been made about the video on hundreds of Internet blogs that have featured it.

An amazing 93.5% of those who have watched 'The Day the Dollar Died' have given it a thumbs up.

All of the discussion about 'The Day the Dollar Died' comes hot on the heels of NIA's October 31st release of its latest critically acclaimed full length documentary 'End of Liberty', which shows how Americans are rapidly losing their liberties and freedoms, and how our country is headed for a complete societal collapse. 'End of Liberty' has already received about 1/2 million views in less than one month.

On November 5th, NIA released a report with its projections for future U.S. food prices based on the recently announced $600 billion in quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.

Several days later, NIA's food inflation report was featured live on Fox News by Glenn Beck, who was recently ranked by Newsweek as the #2 most influential political figure in the country. On November 12th, NIA's President Gerard Adams was a guest on the Fox Business Network, where he spoke about the potential for food inflation to take over as America's biggest crisis in 2011.

NIA is not a political organization and does not support Republicans or Democrats.

NIA exists solely for the purpose of educating Americans to the truth about the U.S. economy and inflation. Americans live in a country where 99% of those who studied economics in college were taught voodoo Keynesian economics.

Keynesian economists have the mistaken belief that all recessions are bad and must be suppressed by government interference in the free market.

They believe that by the Federal Reserve manipulating interest rates to artificially low levels and printing trillions of dollars of fiat money out of thin air, they can create jobs, economic growth, and wealth. They believe that a little bit of inflation is good for an economy.

Keynesian economists fail to realize that when price inflation breaks
out, it becomes impossible to contain unless interest rates are
immediately raised to a level that is higher than the real rate of
price inflation.

Unfortunately, due to the current size and scope of our national debt and unfunded liabilities, NIA believes it will be impossible for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates higher than the real rate of inflation.

Real interest rates are likely to stay negative until the U.S. dollar collapses and is officially declared dead and worthless.

Gas and grocery bills for all Americans have been rising substantially in recent months. The average American has been seeing health insurance costs spiral out of control on an annual basis. Students have been suffering from college tuitions rising like there is no tomorrow.

Massive price inflation is all around us, yet the mainstream media
continues to ignore the truth and reports the government's phony
CPI numbers as gospel.

Politicians in Washington from both sides of the aisle have been
colluding with the media in order to brainwash Americans into
believing inflation is not a problem and that their real fear should
be deflation.

Deflation is a good thing for middle class Americans because it means their money is worth more and their incomes and savings have more purchasing power.

Inflation is only good for the politicians because it allows them to
steal the wealth of middle class Americans and redistribute it to
their banker friends on Wall Street who don't produce anything of
real value.

There is no reason for a lawyer or banker to make more money
than a farmer or factory worker.

This is only made possible by the system we have today, where Americans get suckered into electing representatives who promise entitlements that the government can't afford without printing the money to pay for them.

When the dollar bubble bursts and the system collapses, the free market will allow farmers and goods producers to become wealthy while lawyers and bankers go broke.

Most Americans are naive enough to believe that because the
U.S. has survived for so long with such a huge national debt and
continuous budget deficits, the country will be able to continue
down this path forever without any consequences because after
all, this is America we are talking about.

The truth is, our national debt has grown by 70.7% over the past five years, compared to 41.8% during the previous five years, and 14.3% during the five years before that.

Meanwhile, our GDP has grown by 17.9% over the past five years, compared to 27.5% during the previous five years, and 32.9% during the five years before that.

We have gone from our GDP growing more than twice as fast as our debt, to our debt growing at nearly quadruple the speed of our GDP.

A train wreck is getting ready to happen and this train wreck is literally unstoppable.

To watch 'The Day the Dollar Died' for free please visit the NIA video page at: http://inflation.us/videos.html

It is important to spread the word about NIA to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, if you want America to survive hyperinflation.

Please tell everybody you know to become members of NIA for free immediately at: http://inflation.us

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Structures of Sin

Personal Sins of the Rich and the Poor

"If the present situation can be attributed to difficulties of various kinds, it is not out of place to speak of "structures of sin," which. . . are rooted in personal sin and thus always linked to the concrete acts of individuals who introduce these structures, consolidate them, and make them difficult to remove."

"And thus they grow stronger, spread, and become the source of other sins, and so influence people's behavior."

"Sin" and "structures of sin" are categories which are seldom applied to the situation of the contemporary world. However, one cannot easily gain a profound understanding of the reality that confronts us unless we give a name to the root of the evils which afflict us."

(Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 36).

The reality of the "War against the Poor" is a common theme in
Catholic social teaching and the Bible, but this is rarely recognized
or discussed in the modern debate regarding social policy.

Indeed, current rhetoric suggests that the poor are solely responsible for their situations, and that there are no social, economic, or governmental structures that oppress the poor -- other than those specific programs designed to provide food, income, and medical care for the poor, which are blamed for encouraging dependency among the poor.

The astonishing thing about these assertions is their willful blindness not only to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bible, but also to the general tenor of human history, in which the weak and the powerless have always been at the mercy of the rich and the strong.

Based on this historical judgment, the burden of proof would appear to be on those who claim there are no (or very few) structural problems in regard to poverty in America (e.g. Bauman, 4-5).

The great problem tends to be a one dimensional focus and analysis which is so popular these days. Liberal capitalism suggests that if left to its own free operation, the marketplace together with the "natural generosity" of people will resolve all of the problems.

In a truly free market, the only poor people will be those who are
lazy (c.f. the writings of Charles Murray). The few "deserving" poor
people that are still around once laissez-faire capitalism is fully
implemented can be cared for by voluntary charity.

In this analysis, people are poor not because they have been "made poor", but rather because of inherent personal defects. Politically, this is the dominant philosophy today in the United States.

But this analysis doesn't answer the question: is this truly free market possible, given the power of the "overwhelming thirst for profit at any price" and the "overwhelming thirst for power at any price" identified by Pope John Paul II as two of the key problems of the modern era?

This is countered by the Marxist/socialist insistence that the problem as totally structural, that poor people have no responsibility for their situation; everything is the result of class warfare. This focus on structure came to full flower in the 1960s and is fundamental to the design of many of our social programs.

Both of these seemingly opposed schools of thought (laissez-faire
capitalism and collectivism) reduce the human person to a mere
economic calculation and exalt production and capital over labor
and the human person. This has been identified in Catholic social
teaching as their major errors (e.g. in Laborem 7, 13).

In Catholic social teaching, the problem is personal -- and the
problem is structural. Both must be addressed, both must be the
objects of conversion, and both must be redeemed by the blood
of the Cross.

Moreover, Church teaching reminds us that the personal problem that relates to poverty is not only the sin of the poor, but also the sins of the rich. It is these sins that build the primary structures of sin that oppress the poor.

Catholic social teaching would predict that social policy that tilts too
far either way (i.e. onto structural reasons or onto blaming the poor)
will fail and make the problem worse, which proof seems increasingly
evident in modern US welfare systems, including some of the changes recently enacted to the system.

The discussion which follows is focused on the structures of sin that arise from the personal sins of the rich and the poor. The order of the discussion does not represent a judgment of their importance. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible within the limitations and parameters of this paper.

In Sollicitudo, John Paul identifies two of the structures about which he is concerned: the all-consuming desire for profit, and the thirst for power with the intention of imposing one's will upon others at any price (37).

Consider this to be an attempt to describe, count, and name the ways those two structures of sin have proliferated and born bitter fruit in many areas of life.

http://www.justpeace.org/structures/structures.htm


SIN

"Whenever the Church speaks of situations of sin or when she condemns as social sins certain situations or the collective behavior of certain social groups, big or small, or even of whole nations and blocs of nations, she knows and she proclaims that such cases of social sin are the result of the accumulation and concentration of many personal sins."

"It is a case of the very personal sins of those who cause or support evil or who exploit it; of those who are in a position to avoid, eliminate, or at least limit certain social evils but who fail to do so out of laziness, fear, or the conspiracy of silence, through secret complicity or indifference; of those who take refuge in the supposed impossibility of changing the world, and also of those who sidestep the effort and sacrifice required; producing specious reasons of a higher order."

(Reconciliatio et Paentientia 16, quoted in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,
note 65, Pope John Paul II).

Pope John Paul II speaks often of "structures of sin" that oppress
the poor.

These are rooted in the personal sin of individuals, out of which
over time, develop systems that enable, encourage, facilitate,
and propagate social sin and oppression (Catechism 1869).

To understand society's structures of sin, we must first consider
the problem of the personal sins of individuals.

This analysis contributes to a better understanding of structures
of sin that oppress poor people, just as the discussion of societal
sin helps us to understand forces and situations that are driving,
enabling, and facilitating personal sin.

http://www.justpeace.org/structures/sin.htm


Personal Sins of the Poor

The poor are no less susceptible to the "seven capital sins".

The effects of their sin on the social structures of oppression, though, are less than that of the wealthy because there is a power differential between the rich and the poor. A poor person who engages in self-destructive behavior affects himself and a limited circle of associates (friends, neighbors).

But the sins of the rich -- who may, e.g., be responsible for the unemployment of thousands, or the destruction of entire neighborhoods via urban "renewal," the financing of drug distribution networks, and the propagation of hate speech about the poor -- are as deadly to the poor as anything they do to themselves.

The poor are human persons who possess dignity and who reflect the
transcendent God. To not call the poor to account for their personal
sins that contribute to their plight, is to deny their essential
humanity and their dignity.

But it must be remembered in the current context, that to note the
existence of personal sin as a contributing factor to poverty is not
to claim that (e.g.) the poor are solely responsible for their plight,
or even that they hold the major responsibility for their situations.

Much of the sin of the poor has been stimulated, enabled, and
encouraged by the structures of sin that have their foundation
in the personal sins of the rich, the powerful, and the affluent.

And so it may be that the rich who oppress the poor must share
in these personal sins of the poor.

Pope John Paul has noted (in his Brazil speeches of 1980) that
the primary problem affecting the poor is injustice, and that
the injustice of the rich drives the sin of the poor.

The Vincentian movement, which perhaps has more direct
experience with the poor than any other Catholic movement
except for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, says that
while there are exceptions, most people are poor because they
have been made poor.

This is a direct contradiction of the "popular wisdom" of the era.

The poor contribute to their problems when they engage in fraud
to receive public and private welfare assistance, abuse welfare
and hospitality providers, envy those who are making efforts to
better their circumstances.

Also when they are lazy about working to better their condition, commit sins of anger and wrath, engage in drug addiction and peddling, practice conspicuous consumption, sexual immoralities, and abortion, and when they commit crimes against each other
and the rich.

These personal sins participate in the social sins that cry out
to heaven, including their personal acts that oppress other poor
people (e.g. crime), murder of the innocent (gang/thug activity),
not helping each other, not participating in their neighborhoods,
and not living in solidarity with the rest of the community.

It is important that we not idealize the poor, but it is equally
important not to demonize them nor to avoid confronting
unpleasant facts about American society via a fixation on
blaming the poor for their own plight.

The Gospel message is that everything in human society needs redemption -- rich, poor, middle class, government, economic structures, cultural and community institutions.

Sometimes Jesus wears very distressing disguises when He
comes among us.

http://www.justpeace.org/structures/poor.htm


Sins of the Rich and the Powerful

When I am referring to the "rich" in this context, this should
be read to be the affluent as a broad social class.

The author recognizes that individual rich people have varying
degrees of culpability depending on their stewardship, their
advocacy and/or willing participation in the social sins of
their class, and their attitudes and actions towards the poor.

All people are sinners and this includes the rich. Their personal
sins help build the structures that oppress the poor.

Through pride, the rich assume that because they have money,
they are somehow better than those who are poor.

With avarice, they use special pleadings, campaign donations,
and other such activities to gain political favors granting
preferential treatment and direct monetary subsidies.

They cash their Social Security checks even though they do
not need the money and they use the Medicare system even
though they can afford to pay for their own medical care.

They deliberately destroy neighborhoods so that they can
speculate on the property.

In their sins of envy and covetousness, the rich see the welfare
check or the food stamps of their poor neighbor and they cry out,
"Give those to us the rich -- you the poor do not deserve them!"

Through all of this operates the sin of wrath, which yields a public campaign of vilification of the poor, upon which their latest special pleadings are built.

Driven by lust, the rich sexually exploit the poor through pornography
and prostitution, cruelly using the poor as objects to be manipulated
denying their dignity as human beings.

As gluttons, the rich abuse the stewardship of their property,
engaging in conspicuous consumption, feasting, and royal living
while others barely subsist in poverty and want.

By laziness -- the very sin they accuse the poor of committing -- the rich avoid their personal and social obligations to the less fortunate, refusing to do the works of mercy as commanded by the Gospel and the Church.

They ignore the structures of sin that oppress the poor, and in order to escape social responsibilities, they scorn the poor and blame them for their plight, politically exploiting them without pity.

These are sins that produce the "sins that cry out to heaven," including a share of the responsibility for the murder of the innocent (abortion and other violence against the poor caused by social structures that encourage sin), social sodomy (the abandonment of society's obligation to the poor), the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt (persecuting the poor via structures of sin, such as the "War on the Poor" described herein), the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (direct sins of omission and commission toward the poor), and injustice to the wage earner (non-payment of a just living wage).

Bottom-feeders of the Marketplace

It is no surprise to discover that the rich exploit the poor
economically. This has been noted since ancient times (e.g. the
prophet Amos' denunciations of speculators that oppress the poor).

Modern "bottom feeders of the marketplace" include pawn shops,
plasma centers, check cashing centers, slumlords, drug dealers,
pimps and johns, and prison labor.

Proponents of free markets often defend these activities on the
economic grounds that they provide goods and services to people
who would otherwise suffer without them.

But this analysis ignores the role of government regulation in
creating ghettoized markets where instead of a free interplay of
buyers and sellers, market entry is severely restricted and a handful
of preferred businesses (those with the necessary capital, contacts,
systems and skills to handle the government regulations) are allowed
access to a captive population which they then proceed to loot.

Since the markets these "bottom-feeders" operate in are so restricted and regulated, they cannot be seen as true market operators, but rather, as market exploiters.

For example, the interest rate charged at all pawn shops in Oklahoma City is 240% per annum. Despite the fact that there are numerous such establishments in the greater Oklahoma City area, there is not one single pawnshop with a lower interest rate.

Given the nature of a free market, which should be characterized
by volatility of prices and charges (that is, prices go up and down,
rather than always staying the same), the author is therefore
suspicious of government regulatory actions that encourage price
fixing and collusion among pawnshop owners.

Check cashing centers are another market in which competition
appears to be minimal, despite the existence of numerous such
outlets. Market fairness is easily limited or even abolished
entirely by business' special pleadings and outright corruption
of legislators and city government.

This is a big market limitation that is rarely acknowledged by its conservative defenders.

http://www.justpeace.org/structures/rich.htm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Corporate Welfare

Corporate Welfare

Financial aid, such as a subsidy or tax break, provided by a government to corporations or other businesses, especially
when viewed as wasteful or unjust.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/corporate+welfare


Corporate welfare is a term describing a government's bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations or selected corporations.

The term compares corporate subsidies and welfare payments to the poor, and implies that corporations are much less needy of such treatment than the poor.

The Canadian New Democratic Party picked up the term as a major theme in its 1972 federal election campaign.[1]

Ralph Nader, a prominent critic of corporate welfare,[2][3] is often credited with coining the term.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_welfare


Each year, U.S. taxpayers subsidize U.S. businesses to the tune of almost $125 billion, the equivalent of all the income tax paid by 60 million individuals and families.

These corporations receive a wide range of favors: special corporate tax breaks; direct government subsidies to pay for advertising, research and training costs; and incentives to pursue overseas production and sales.

While Congress institutes dramatic cuts in funding for traditional support programs for individuals and families, corporate giants continue to live off the dole.

Each dollar spent on these "aid for dependent corporations" welfare programs means one dollar less for environmental programs, support for education, assistance to those in need, tax breaks for families, or deficit reduction.

Public Citizen is helping to lead a major push to reduce corporate welfare.

http://www.citizen.org/congress/welfare/index.cfm


Corporate welfare is a pejorative term first coined by Ralph Nader in 1956 to describe a government's bestowal of grants and/or taxbreaks on one or more corporations or other "special favorable treatment" from the government.

Usually these actions are seen to be at the expense of the citizens, although in the case of "wealthfare" unevenly distributed to different corporations, they might be seen as at the expense of other corporations as well.

The word "wealthfare" is meant to remind one of welfare payments
to the poor, and perhaps imply that corporations are much less
deserving than the poor.

Corporate welfare is applied in a number of different situations.

A classic example of corporate welfare is the granting of the use
of broadcasting rights to TV stations at nominal fees-when other
companies would gladly pay handsomely to use this spectrum.

Increasingly common with the rise of globalization is offering incentives to locate in an area.

For instance an auto-plant is never built today without the company declaring interest in two areas, e.g. Alabama and Ontario and then letting those two governments race to outbid each other with promises of tax breaks, free land, and infrastructure developments.

This skews the free market, it gives an important competitive advantage to large multinationals, who might not otherwise be more efficient than a local producer. It also shifts tax burdens away from these large companies to smaller ones and to individuals.

Another common cause of corporate welfare is a large company nearing collapse.

While free market liberalism views the bankruptcy of companies as essential to the process, the specter of lost jobs and unhappy voters often means the government will step in to help a faltering behemoth, but rarely a small business.

An example of this is the airline industry, recently, a perennially money losing industry that has only survived through continuous government aid.

Much corporate welfare has even less justification than the above two cases and is pure pork barreling. Defence contracts given inefficient businesses in a politician’s district, or giving funding
to a major campaign donor are both instances of pure corruption.

There are some cases where corporate welfare is arguably justifiable. Many companies produce positive externalities that would not be accounted for by a pure free market.

For instance most countries heavily support their domestic film companies, arguing that preserving national culture would not be ensured by an unfettered market. Funding that can be seen as an investment can also be justifiable.

A number of countries have used corporate welfare to get industries started that would go on to pay great dividends for both the government and society in the long run.

Corporate welfare can be viewed as one of many forms of regulator capture.

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Corporate_welfare


What is Corporate Welfare?

Written by Sherry Holetzky
Edited by Bronwyn Harris
Last Modified: 09 September 2010

Corporate welfare can be defined generally, as any assistance provided by a government, which gives a private business an advantage over others.

In the United States, corporate welfare refers to any number of favors, costing billions of dollars each year, bestowed on corporations by the federal government.

It includes, but is not limited to, tax breaks, direct grants for corporations, and various other forms of special favorable treatment.

As with other forms of welfare, many individuals and groups oppose the concept. One of the main contentions concerning corporate welfare is the fact that it like other welfare programs is unconstitutional at the federal level.

The Constitution provides no authority for Congress to redistribute money collected via taxation, in an effort to subsidize businesses or individuals. In fact, the spending power of Congress is specifically detailed and limited.

While entitlement programs ostensibly designed to assist families or individuals are often described as “leveling the playing field,” those who support public assistance rarely apply this position to corporate welfare. In fact, it is as inaccurate concerning corporate welfare as
it is in regard to other entitlement programs.

Corporate welfare is accused of not leveling the field at all, but distinctly providing advantages for select industries or companies
at the expense of other businesses and often consumers.

Not only that, but the cost is astronomical, and the taxpayer doesn’t get a say in which companies will be propped up. Adding insult to injury, some say that the government seems to choose blindly when determining which industries or businesses will yield a return on this huge investment.

Corporate welfare is not always recognizable in its various forms. Along with cash bailouts there is also money provided to pay for research and development, insurance, or for subsidized loans.

Favors also include acts of protectionism, shielding only certain American industries or businesses, from foreign competition.

This of course, stifles free trade, limits other companies, and
means that Americans often pay more for goods and services.

Many people believe that corporate welfare also breeds corruption.

It seems that frequently, those that make the greatest campaign contributions receive the greatest windfalls.

Aside from monetary concerns, certain industries sometimes have greater lobbying power when it comes to legislation.

Can you think of any industry that has been able to persuade the government that the purchase of its product or service should be mandatory?

If so, you have just discovered another form of corporate welfare.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-corporate-welfare.htm


Corporate Welfare

"Then we see hearts harden and minds close, and men no longer gather together in friendship but out of self interest, which soon leads to opposition and disunity." Populorum 19

"Woe to those who enact unjust statutes and who write oppressive decrees, depriving the needy of judgment and robbing my people's poor of their rights, making widows their plunder and orphans their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment when ruin comes from afar?" (Isaiah 10:1-2)

Corporate welfare is the use by the rich of special pleadings to produce subsidies, preferential economic favors, trade regulations, tax abatements, and subsidies for their personal enrichment.

This is not a small item in the federal budget. The Progressive Policy Institute estimates that the annual federal budget has $20.36 billion in preferential tax treatment and, while not a direct federal budget item, preferential trade rules cause $32 billion in economic cost to consumers (Shapiro 8).

The libertarian Cato Institute finds a total of $87.3 billion in the
cost of trade regulation.

By combining the two corporate welfare approaches, this paper estimates the total federal commitment to Aid to Dependent Corporations to be $139.7 billion, of which $107.7B are direct expenditures and tax subsidies, much more than the $64 billion which the federal government spends on AFDC, food stamps, WIC, school lunch, and the earned income credit (1994 numbers).

It was not possible to derive a figure for local and state welfare to corporations, but it is likely that this figure is even higher than the federal commitment.

Some of the typical local and state perks for the corporate welfare queens and dependent corporations include (a) special tax breaks for businesses that move into the area, (b) direct subsidies, (c) property tax abatements, (d) protection from competition, (e) favorable regulatory treatment for some businesses, (f) zoning and occupational licensure.

This creates a rather seedy climate where communities bid against other communities to lure factories from one area to another. There are many government organizations devoted to such raiding of their neighbors.

Yet, how many actual new jobs are created? Often, they are simply moved around -- one area loses 200 jobs while another area gains 200. Too many businesses are learning that it is easier to loot the taxpayers than it is to earn an honest profit.

This corruption is another market problem rarely addressed by conservatives, whose attitude seems to be that whatever a business can grab from the taxpayers is justified.

One factor driving the welfare reform crusade is the need to balance the federal budget and do something about the huge federal debt.

But if the real concern is balancing the budget, why not start with Aid to Dependent Corporations? This is where the money is (together with Aid to Wealthy Seniors).

Supporters of corporate welfare allege that these welfare checks for big business are socially useful because they "create" jobs, and the economy needs jobs in order to improve the plight of the poor.

However, many of these subsidies only result in rearranging jobs, and the pro-corporate welfare argument does not consider the effects of taking money from the economy and then awarding it based on political power.

How many jobs were not created because this particular batch of money was handed out in this way, based on political patronage and not upon market realities, and was not available for other productive uses?

It seems unlikely that any jobs were created via corporate welfare that would not have been created anyway.

The Cato Institute notes additional problems with corporate welfare:

(1) The government has a poor record in picking winners and losers in the marketplace.

(2) Corporate welfare wastes money with few benefits, except for those on the receiving end; often, the "return" on investment is negative. The government spent a billion dollars on the "Supersonic Transport," that did not fly one passenger -- ever! In the 1970s, two billion was wasted on the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, which did not produce one kilowatt of electricity.

(3) Corporate welfare helps big business destroy its smaller competitors. Sematech was launched by the feds to counter Japanese domination of the computer chip market. But the way it has worked, a few big U.S. companies have ganged together and are suppressing the many smaller chip producers. Eighty percent of agriculture subsidies go to large farmers (net worth of more than $500,000).

(4) Corporate welfare encourages corruption of the marketplace and of politicians. A lot of this stuff is political payoff for big campaign contributors.

(5) Corporate welfare raises consumer prices. The U.S. Department of Commerce says that the sugar welfare program is effectively a regressive sales tax that hits poor consumers the worst (since sugar is included in so many foods purchased in grocery stores) (Moore and Stansel, 6-8).

If the amount of corporate welfare was much smaller, and if the financial crisis of the federal and state governments were not so pressing, corporate welfare as a structure of sin would be a minor consideration.

But this is not the case. The federal government is in an on-going financial crisis and there seems to be no credible program that is proposed to resolve the situation.

Indeed, since the Republican Ascendancy of 1994, the main focus has been to slash and cut programs for the poor, not the wealthy and the middle class.

Since corporate welfare is such a major contributor to the on-going financial crisis, it is a structure of sin that oppresses the poor.

http://www.justpeace.org/structures/corp.htm

Monday, November 22, 2010

National Whistleblowers Center Action Alert

from National Whistleblowers Center
reply-to National Whistleblowers Center
to Tony Whitcomb
date Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 10:11 AM
subject Stop Wall Street Lobbyist from Destroying Whistleblower Protections!
mailed-by mailmanager.net

Stop Wall Street Lobbyists from Destroying Whistleblower Protections!

Dear Tony:

As reported in today's Washington Post, historic corporate whistleblower protections passed this summer are in danger
of being destroyed by aggressive Wall Street lobbying. Your
help is urgently needed to ensure that this does not happen.

TAKE ACTION! Demand the regulators protect corporate whistleblowers!

The Dodd-Frank Act was designed to hold Wall Street accountable and prevent another financial meltdown. A centerpiece of that reform was strong whistleblower protections.

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Commission are writing detailed rules implementing the law and the Wall Street lobbyists are working overtime to kill the law through the back door. They are winning!

The Proposed Rules issued by the SEC are a major setback for all whistleblowers. Public comment on these rules closes on December 17, 2010. Your voices are needed now!

TAKE ACTION! Prevent corporate lobbyists from destroying whistleblower protections!

The SEC admits that their proposed rules would “limit the pool of eligible whistleblowers,” “reduce the number of possibly useful informants,” “discourage some whistleblowers,” cause “persons not to come forward,” and result in “forgone opportunities for effective enforcement action.”

These are not the rules that Congress intended.

The rules at issue affect every American from the price you pay at the gas pump (commodities) to the integrity of your retirement accounts (securities). We cannot allow this law to be undermined by a corporate-controlled the rulemaking process.

Now is the time to tell the regulators that they must get it right before the final rules are published. We cannot allow the lobbyist voices to drown out the public interest.

The public comment period will close in just 25 days!!!

Please PASS THIS ALERT ON to everyone you know who cares about honesty on Wall Street and protecting America from another financial meltdown fueled by greed.

Every American should demand that Securities and Commodity commissions implement rules that will protect, encourage, and reward whistleblowers.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rixmann Properties: Deadbeat Employer

Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry
Labor Standards Division
433 Lafayette Road N.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

Wayne Rixmann
Rixmann Properties
181 South River Ridge Circle
Burnsville, Minnesota 55337

October 08, 2010

Dear Employer:

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, Labor Standards Division, has received a claim for unpaid final wages from a former employee of your company.

Mr. Tony Whitcomb was terminated by your company, Rixmann Properties, on August 31, 2010.

Mr. Whitcomb is claiming unpaid final wages totaling, $100,000.00 for the period of time covering March 01, 2008 through August 31, 2010.

Minnesota Statutes 181.13 (enclosed) requires an employer to pay all wages due a separated employee upon demand; otherwise, penalties could total an additional 15 days of wages to the separated employee.

Please forward a check made payable to Mr. Whitcomb in the amount of $100,000.00 to this office within (10) days of receipt of this letter.

Please contact the undersigned Investigator within that same time period.

Your immediate attention to this matter may relieve you of penalties as outlined in the Statutes.

Sincerely,

John Stiffin
Labor Investigator
Labor Standards Division

Copy: Minnesota Statutes 181.13

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jobless benefits cost so far: $319 billion

Jobless benefits cost so far: $319 billion
By Tami Luhby, senior writer
November 17, 2010: 5:04 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Unemployed Americans have collected $319 billion in jobless benefits over the past three years due to the federal government's unprecedented response to the Great Recession, according to a CNNMoney analysis of federal records.

The cost of such benefits will be central to the heated debate in Congress in coming weeks over whether to extend this safety net
for the fifth time this year. Lawmakers must act by Nov. 30 or two million people will start losing extended benefits next month.

The federal government has already footed $109 billion of the bill, and lawmakers are super-sensitive to adding further to the deficit. But advocates are turning up the pressure to extend the deadline to file for federal benefits.

Regardless of what Congress does, employers big and small will be paying the tab for years to come.

Businesses traditionally cover the cost of state unemployment insurance and up to 20 weeks of federal benefits, which kick in when a state experiences high levels of joblessness. At issue now are a third level of emergency benefits -- lasting up to 53 weeks -- first authorized by Congress in mid-2008.

Soaring unemployment has drained the state accounts that typically fund jobless benefits, forcing many states to borrow money from the federal government to cover their payouts. Currently, 31 states have $41 billion in loans outstanding.

Employers are responsible for replenishing these accounts and paying back the loans so their taxes are expected to skyrocket to $64 billion in 2015, up from $38 billion last year, according to the Labor Department.

Companies, however, are hoping to reduce their tax burden. They are lobbying Congress to waive certain penalties and interest related to the loans that will cost them more than $9 billion over the next two years.

"It will discourage employers from hiring new employees just at
a time when we want them to be hiring," said Douglas Holmes, president, UWC Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers' Compensation, a business trade association.

The Safety Net

The jobless now receive an unparalleled level of support while they look for new positions. Benefits last up to 99 weeks, far surpassing the previous record, which totaled 65 weeks during the recession of the mid-1970s.

Some 8.5 million people are collecting unemployment insurance, including 4.8 million receiving federal benefits.

Advocates argue that this assistance is vital since it's so tough to find work in today's weak economy. The number of long-term unemployed, who have been out of a job for more than six months, stands at 6.2 million.

"The economy is much too weak and the unemployment rate is much too high to go back to a situation in which there are no federal unemployment insurance benefits," said Chad Stone, chief economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Extended benefits are also good for the economy, advocates say.

Any money the unemployed receive gets spent quickly to buy essentials, such as food and clothing, as well as to cover mortgage and car payments. The extended federal unemployment benefits also kept 3.3 million out of poverty last year.

But maintaining the safety net comes at a price -- the most recent six-month extension cost $34 billion. This could be a hard sell on deficit-conscious Capitol Hill.

The Impact On Businesses

Laying off workers has not been cheap for businesses.

The rapid rise in jobless claims has emptied the unemployment trust funds in many states, forcing two dozen of them to increase their tax levies on companies in 2010.

Some have raised their tax rates, while others have increased the wage base those taxes are levied on. Some have done both.

Businesses are usually hit with higher unemployment tax rates for several years after a recession in order to refill both state accounts and the federal trust fund, which provides loans to states and pays
a portion of the extended benefits.

Taxpayers have had to advance the federal trust fund $39 billion that will have to be repaid by employers in coming years.

The rising unemployment taxes make some employers think twice about expanding their payrolls, Holmes said.

"For every employee they hire, this is an additional cost they have
to bear," he said.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/11/17/news/economy/unemployme
nt_benefits_cost/index.htm

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poetic Justice

Opinion | One and done: To be a great president,
Obama should not seek reelection in 2012

By Douglas E. Schoen and Patrick H. Caddell
Sunday, November 14, 2010

President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in
the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country's problems. At one point, he spoke of the
need for "mid-course corrections."

At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month's midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve "hand-to-hand combat" with Republicans, whom he also referred to as "enemies."

It is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution in
his own mind as to what he should do and how he should do it.

This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future.

Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it.

But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

We do not come to this conclusion lightly. But it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed.

The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency.

And even if it was not an endorsement of a Republican vision for America, the drubbing the Democrats took was certainly a vote of
no confidence in Obama and his party. The president has almost
no credibility left with Republicans and little with independents.

The best way for him to address both our national challenges and the serious threats to his credibility and stature is to make clear that, for the next two years, he will focus exclusively on the problems we face as Americans, rather than the politics of the moment - or of the 2012 campaign.

Quite simply, given our political divisions and economic problems, governing and campaigning have become incompatible.

Obama can and should dispense with the pollsters, the advisers,
the consultants and the strategists who dissect all decisions and judgments in terms of their impact on the president's political prospects.

Obama himself once said to Diane Sawyer: "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." He now has the chance to deliver on that idea.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama spoke repeatedly of his desire to end the red-state-blue-state divisions in America and to change the way Washington works. This was a central reason he was elected; such aspirations struck a deep chord with the polarized electorate.

Obama can restore the promise of the election by forging a government of national unity, welcoming business leaders, Republicans and independents into the fold.

But if he is to bring Democrats and Republicans together, the president cannot be seen as an advocate of a particular party, but
as somebody who stands above politics, seeking to forge consensus.

And yes, the United States will need nothing short of consensus if we are to reduce the deficit and get spending under control, to name but one issue.

Forgoing another term would not render Obama a lame duck.

Paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans and would make it harder for opponents such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) - who has flatly asserted that his highest priority is to make Obama a one-term president - to be uncooperative.

And for Democrats such as current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) - who has said that entitlement reform is dead on arrival - the president's new posture would make it much harder to be inflexible.

Given the influence of special interests on the Democratic Party, Obama would be much more effective as a figure who could remain above the political fray.

Challenges such as boosting economic growth and reducing the deficit are easier to tackle if you're not constantly worrying about the reactions of senior citizens, lobbyists and unions.

Moreover, if the president were to demonstrate a clear degree of bipartisanship, it would force the Republicans to meet him halfway.

If they didn't, they would look intransigent, as the GOP did in 1995 and 1996, when Bill Clinton first advocated a balanced budget. Obama could then go to the Democrats for tough cuts to entitlements and look to the Republicans for difficult cuts on defense.

On foreign policy, Obama could better make hard decisions about Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan based on what is reasonable and responsible for the United States, without the political constraints of a looming election.

He would be able to deal with a Democratic constituency that wants to get out of Afghanistan immediately and a Republican constituency that is committed to the war, forging a course that responds not to the electoral calendar but to the facts on the ground.

If the president adopts our suggestion, both sides will be forced to compromise.

The alternative, we fear, will put the nation at greater risk. While we believe that Obama can be reelected, to do so he will have to embark on a scorched-earth campaign of the type that President George W. Bush ran in the 2002 midterms and the 2004 presidential election, which divided Americans in ways that still plague us.

Obama owes his election in large measure to the fact that he rejected this approach during his historic campaign. Indeed,
we were among those millions of Democrats, Republicans and independents who were genuinely moved by his rhetoric and purpose.

Now, the only way he can make real progress is to return to those values and to say that for the good of the country, he will not be a candidate in 2012.

Should the president do that, he - and the country - would face virtually no bad outcomes. The worst-case scenario for Obama?

In January 2013, he walks away from the White House having been transformative in two ways: as the first black president, yes, but
also as a man who governed in a manner unmatched by any modern leader.

He will have reconciled the nation, continued the economic recovery, gained a measure of control over the fiscal problems that threaten our future, and forged critical solutions to our international challenges.

He will, at last, be the figure globally he has sought to be, and will almost certainly leave a better regarded president than he is today. History will look upon him kindly - and so will the public.

It is no secret that we have been openly critical of the president in recent days, but we make this proposal with the deepest sincerity and hope for him and for the country.

We have both advised presidents facing great national crises and have seen challenges from inside the Oval Office.

We are convinced that if Obama immediately declares his intention not to run for reelection, he will be able to unite the country, provide national and international leadership, escape the hold of the left, isolate the right and achieve results that would be otherwise unachievable.

Patrick H. Caddell, who was a pollster and senior adviser to President Jimmy Carter, is a political commentator.

Douglas E. Schoen, a pollster who worked for President Bill Clinton, is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/
2010/11/12/AR2010111202846.html?sid=ST2010111203190

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Social Justice

Social Justice

Fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/social-justice.html


Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating an egalitarian society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being.[1][2]

The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by the Jesuit Luigi Taparelli in 1840 based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and given further exposure in 1848 by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati.[1][3][4][5][2]

The idea was elaborated by the moral theologian John A. Ryan, who initiated the concept of a living wage.

Father Coughlin also used the term in his publications in the 1930s and the 1940s. It is a part of Catholic social teaching, Social Gospel from Episcopalians and is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Party upheld by green parties worldwide.

Social justice as a secular concept, distinct from religious teachings, emerged mainly in the late twentieth century, influenced primarily by philosopher John Rawls. Some tenets of social justice have been adopted by those on the left of the political spectrum.

Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution.

These policies aim to achieve what developmental economists refer to as more equality of opportunity than may currently exist in some societies, and to manufacture equality of outcome in cases where incidental inequalities appear in a procedurally just system.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice


One definition of justice is "giving to each what he or she is due." The problem is knowing what is "due".

Functionally, "justice" is a set of universal principles which guide people in judging what is right and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in.

Justice is one of the four "cardinal virtues" of classical moral philosophy, along with courage, temperance (self-control) and prudence (efficiency). (Faith, hope and charity are considered
to be the three "religious" virtues.)

Virtues or "good habits" help individuals to develop fully their human potentials, thus enabling them to serve their own self-interests as well as work in harmony with others for their common good.

The ultimate purpose of all the virtues is to elevate the dignity and sovereignty of the human person.

Defining Social Justice

Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is
the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human
interactions we call institutions.

In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others.

Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development.

Defining Economic Justice

Economic justice, which touches the individual person as well as
the social order, encompasses the moral principles which guide us
in designing our economic institutions.

These institutions determine how each person earns a living, enters into contracts, exchanges goods and services with others and otherwise produces an independent material foundation for his or her economic sustenance.

The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free each person to engage creatively in the unlimited work beyond economics, that of the mind and the spirit.

The Three Principles of Economic Justice

Like every system, economic justice involves input, output, and feedback for restoring harmony or balance between input and output.

Within the system of economic justice as defined by Louis Kelso
and Mortimer Adler, there are three essential and interdependent
principles:

The Principle of Participation, The Principle of Distribution, and
The Principle of Harmony.

Like the legs of a three-legged stool, if any of these principles is weakened or missing, the system of economic justice will collapse.

http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/economicjustice-defined.htm


Social Justice

Intro

The Freechild theory of change revolves around the engagement of young people throughout the world around them, in meaningful, empowering relationships that bring about social change.

By becoming connected with organizations committed to social change, young people acknowledge their interdependence and
build their communities.

Point to Ponder

"In assessing moral issues, interdependence shows us that we cannot isolate ourselves from the harmful or criminal act of 'another,' we cannot pretend the criminal or the pirate is bad and I am good, because all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Resources

The following list of organizations has been created by Freechild to provide a broad array of opportunities for young people and their adult allies to join together in large movements for social change, affecting individuals, communities, and the world.

Freechild Youth Activism for Social Justice Webpage

Activist Learning Online

Adbusters Media Foundation - Adbusters describes itself as "a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age."

Adbusters publishes a glossy, provocative magazine of the same name, sponsors Buy Nothing Day and TV Turnoff Week, produces clever "uncommercials" and seeks to agitate so that folks "get mad about corporate disinformation, injustices in the global economy, and any industry that pollutes our physical or mental commons."

AFL-CIO - The AFL-CIO is the largest labor organization in the United States. Its website includes abundant information on organizing campaigns, links to member unions, news articles on union drives, updates on student activism, and sections on union culture and history.

American Friends Service Committee - This venerable social justice organization has a Mexico-U.S. Border Program and publishes an assortment of resources.

AFSC also has a Youth and Militarism project that organizes against JROTC and military presence in public schools. The Cambridge, Massachusetts AFSC publishes Peacework, a monthly journal serving movements for nonviolent social change. AFSC also maintains a film and video library.

Amnesty International USA - AI seeks to promote the human rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focusing especially on prisoners of conscience, ending the death penalty,
and combating torture.

Amnesty's website includes the complete text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as numerous links to human rights groups around the world, articles, video clips, reports, and action opportunities.

Campaign for Labor Rights - Although not the simplest web address to remember, CLR offers an invaluable e-mail listserv of alerts on sweatshop and solidarity issues. Their website includes past updates, links, resources, leaflets, and the like.

The site also features a document library on the Nike campaign, Disney in Haiti, Guess jeans, child labor issues, Mexico, Central America, farm worker issues, as well as youth and campus activism.

CLR publishes a useful newsletter ($35 a year) filled with audio-visual resources, fact sheets and updates on campaigns to support worker organizing around the world.

Catholic Worker Movement - The Catholic Worker Movement is "grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person." Since its founding in 1933 they have protested war, violence and injustice in all forms. Its journal is The Catholic Worker.

The Center for Commercial-Free Public Education (Unplug) - The Center is the main national organization opposing the increasing commercialization of public schools.

It helps communities organize against Channel One, cola contracts and other infiltration of public space by private interests. The Center publishes the newsletter, Not for Sale! and has information about their various campaigns available on their website.

Changemakers.net - A monthly journal of stories about system-changing, problem-solving initiatives undertaken by social entrepreneurs from around the world.

Clean Clothes Campaign - A coalition of European groups aiming to improve working conditions in the global garment industry. Conducts campaigns and provides information on companies such as Adidas, Benneton, C & A, Disney, Phillips-Van Heusen, Gap, H & M, Levi-Strauss, Nike, and Otto.

Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras 530 Bandera, San Antonio, TX 78228; tel.: 210-732-8957; e-mail: cjm@ipc.apc.org. A tri-national coalition of religious, environmental, labor, Latino and women's organizations working to pressure U.S.-based transnational corporations to adopt socially responsible practices. Publishes a newsletter and various reports.

Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA) - CARA creates spaces for people who are young, of color, queer, incarcerated, poor, and/or have disabilities to invest in the power of collective action, critical dialogue, and community organizing to undermine rape, abuse, and oppression.

Co-op America - Valuable information on sweatshops, consumer boycotts, and strategies to use "consumer and investor power for social change."

Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization that helps individuals find businesses that are environmentally responsible and engage in fair trade, and offers technical assistance to companies aiming for social and environmental responsibility.

The Council of Canadians - This independent organization provides analyses on key issues from a critical and progressive standpoint. Its director, Maude Barlow, is perhaps the leading critic of schemes to privatize the world's freshwater supplies.

CorpWatch - Indispensable resources and news about globalization and justice struggles around the world.

An online issue library includes topics such as biotechnology, Globalization 101, grassroots globalization, sweatshops, the WTO and the IMF/World Bank. Very extensive links. A similarly valuable but unrelated site is Corporate Watch.

Cultural Survival - Cultural Survival sponsors basic research
on indigenous peoples, particularly examining the effects of
"development."

The results of this research are published in its Cultural Survival Quarterly. The website includes an education archive with curriculum resources offered, including Rainforest Peoples and Places (grades 6-9), The Chiapas Maya (grades 6-12) and the Rights of Indigenous Nations.

The David Suzuki Foundation - David Suzuki is one of the world's leading geneticists and environmentalists. The foundation is especially active in the area of climate change, focusing on the "urgent need for practical strategies to reduce global warming caused by human activities."

DATA - Debt, Aids, and Trade in Africa - DATA is a new organization which aims to raise awareness about the crisis swamping Africa: unpayable DEBTS, uncontrolled spread of AIDS, and unfair TRADE rules which keep AFRICANS poor.

The Edmonds Institute - The Edmonds Institute focuses on biosafety and enacting legally-binding international regulation of modern biotechnologies, as well as on intellectual property rights and just policies for the maintenance and protection of biodiversity, including policies that foster recognition and sustenance of agricultural biodiversity.

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting - FAIR is a national media watch group that has offered well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986.

FAIR publishes the excellent, classroom-friendly Extra!, an award-winning magazine of media criticism; and distributes regular updates, available via their listserv.

FAIR also produces a weekly radio program, CounterSpin. A vital source to get students thinking critically about media coverage of world events.

50 Years Is Enough - A coalition of over 200 grassroots, faith-based, policy, women's, social- and economic-justice, youth, solidarity, labor, and development organizations dedicated to the profound transformation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Its website features excellent, classroom-ready factsheets about globalization issues, especially about the consequences of the Third World debt crisis.

Focus on the Global South - Too often discussions of globalization are dominated by those of us in the North, however well-intended or well-informed we may be.

Focus on the Global South's website features wonderful, hard-to-find, in-depth articles from the perspective of activists and scholars in the global South ÷ the so-called Third World. See their "publications" section.

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy - Food First describes itself as "a peoples think tank and education-for-action center."

Over the 25-plus years that this pioneering organization has been around, it has published some of the most useful books on food and hunger issues.

Through its publications and activism, it continues to offer leadership to the struggle for reforming the global food system
from the bottom up. The catalog is online at their website.

Friends of the Earth - Friends of the Earth is a national environmental organization dedicated to preserving the health and diversity of the planet. FOE distributes valuable publications ranging from books on global warming to the IMF's effects on the environment.

Global Exchange - Founded in 1988, Global Exchange is an organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the world. In the late Î90s, Global Exchange was perhaps the most important organization drawing attention to Nike's sweatshop abuses.

Their expansive website gives a flavor for the diversity of activities they have initiated, which include "people to people" projects, such as "reality tours" to Third World countries, managing "fair trade" stores, and publishing resources on global justice issues. Global Exchange is one of the key global justice organizations.

Greenpeace International / Greenpeace USA - Greenpeace began
in 1971 when activists went to "bear witness" to nuclear weapons
testing planned for Amchitka island, off Alaska.

Today Greenpeace is one of the leading organizations using nonviolent direct action to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to what the organization hopes will be a "green and peaceful future."

It sponsors campaigns on global warming, environmental toxics, destructive fishing, genetic engineering, nuclear power and weapons, and saving ancient forests.

Both websites feature extensive background materials on these issues, action alerts, ways to get involved, and numerous links to other organizations.

The Independent Media Center - This is the CNN of the global social justice movement and a wonderful resource.

The Center acts as a clearinghouse of information and provides up-to-theminute reports, photos, audio, and video footage of global social justice struggles through its website.

Launched during the Seattle WTO protests of late 1999, Indymedia
is a fascinating, colorful site. Updated regularly. Great graphics.

The Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism - The IPCB is organized to assist indigenous peoples in the protection of their genetic resources, indigenous knowledge, and cultural and human rights from the negative effects of biotechnology.

INFACT - A non-partisan national grassroots organization whose purpose is to stop life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations.

Through the Tobacco Industry Campaign, INFACT is pressuring Philip Morris to stop addicting new young customers around the world, and to stop interfering in public policy on issues of tobacco and health.

INFACT promotes a boycott of Philip Morris-owned Kraft foods and distributes the important video Making a Killing, exposing Philip Morris's brand of tobacco imperialism around the world. Articles posted on their website, like "The Marlboro Man Goes Overseas," could be used with students.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy - The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, and advocacy. Their website includes background readings, articles, and forums on vital issues of agriculture and trade.

Institute for Global Communications (IGC) - "The mission of IGC is to advance the work of progressive organizations and individuals for peace, justice, economic opportunity, human rights, democracy and environmental sustainability through strategic use of online technologies." IGC is an outstanding resource, with a fabulous search engine that is linked to social justice networks of all kinds.

Institute for Policy Studies - An important think tank on global issues from a social justice perspective. IPS has programs on Peace and Security, the Global Economy, and Paths for the 21st Century, supplemented by several projects that address specific issues.

International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) - iEARN is a nonprofit organization made up of almost 4,000 schools in over 90 countries. It aims to empower teachers and young people (K-12) to work together online at low cost through a global telecommunications network.

International Rivers Network - IRN is an important network that works to support communities around the world struggling to protect rivers and watersheds. They see this work as part of a movement for "environmental integrity, social justice and human rights." IRN's website is a valuable source of information about global water struggles.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility - A coalition of 275 Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish institutional investors that organizes corporate campaigns to press companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. Publishes the newsletter, The Corporate Examiner.

Interhemispheric Resource Center - A research and policy institute that produces books, reports, and periodicals on U.S. foreign policy. Publishes annual Cross-Border Links Directories which lists and annotates fair-trade networks, labor, and environmental groups. Publishes the newsletter, Borderlines.

International Forum on Globalization - Begun as an alliance of over 60 scholars, activists and writers, the IFG has sponsored important conferences to evaluate the social and environmental impact of globalization. They have published numerous booklets. Their website features worthwhile resources on the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others.

International Labor Organization - The ILO is the UN agency that promotes internationally recognized human and labor rights. The organization maintains a searchable website on labor issues of all kinds, such as child labor, and includes useful articles, links, and reports.

International Labor Rights Fund - The ILRF is a nonprofit organization that takes action on behalf of working people, and creates innovative programs and enforcement mechanisms to protect workers' rights.

Current campaigns include child labor, monitoring labor rights in China, sweatshops, forced labor in Burma, and examining IMF/World Bank practices. Provides detailed information on the effects of NAFTA.

The International Society for Ecology and Culture - ISEC promotes locally based alternatives to the global consumer culture. ISEC produced the extraordinarily useful video Ancient Futures, about the negative effects of the arrival of "development" in the Himalayan region of Ladakh.

Jobs With Justice - A national campaign, with local affiliates, to organize support for workers' rights struggles. JwJ's Student Labor Action Project is an initiative focused on supporting student activism around issues of workers' rights as well as social and economic justice. Extensive information on current campaigns at their website.

Jubilee USA Network - Jubilee USA Network is a coalition of faith-based and activist organizations who denounce the debt owed by impoverished nations to the IMF and the World Bank as illegitimate and pledge to oppose the "debt domination" by wealthy nations. A fine source for action ideas, links and additional resources on the effects of the Third World debt crisis and resistance to it.

Also valuable is Jubilee 2000 UK, on the web at www.jubilee2000uk.org. Jubilee 2000 UK is the British affiliate of the international movement calling for cancellation of the unpayable debt of the world's poorest countries under a fair and transparent process. Its website includes articles, links and ways for people to get involved in the global movement for economic justice.

MADRE - An international women's human rights organization that works in partnership with women's community-based groups in conflict areas worldwide.

Our programs address issues of sustainable development, community improvement and women's health; violence and war; discrimination and racism; self-determination and collective rights; women's leadership development; and human rights education.

MADRE provides resources and training to enable our sister organizations to meet immediate needs in their communities
and develop long-term solutions to the crises they face.

Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network - A volunteer network of occupational health and safety professionals providing information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the over 3,800 "maquiladora" (foreign-owned export-oriented assembly plants) along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their website includes excellent resources and links on maquiladora health and safety issues.

Maquila Solidarity Network - The Maquila Solidarity Network is a Canadian network promoting solidarity with groups in Mexico, Central America, and Asia organizing in maquiladora factories and export processing zones to improve conditions and win a living wage.

Their website includes hard-to-find resources on maquilas by country or company, and many articles on sweatshop issues. Valuable links to other Canadian and international organizations concerned with workers' rights issues.

National Coalition of Education Activists (NCEA) - A network of teacher, parent, and community activists who organize around social justice issues in schools and communities. Biannual conferences feature workshops on teaching strategies for social justice, among other issues. Publishes the newsletter Action for Better Schools.

National Labor Committee - NLC's goal is to "end labor and human rights violations, ensure a living wage tied to a basket of needs, and help workers and their families live and work with dignity" ÷ through education and activism.

The organization, under director Charles Kernaghan, has been one
of the most effective groups in raising awareness about super-
exploitation and horrific conditions in global sweatshops.

The National Labor Committee is the producer of some valuable videos and reports on sweatshop and labor rights issues around the world (see, for example, the videos Zoned for Slavery and Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti).

Network of Educators on the Americas (NECA) - NECA publishes excellent multicultural, global justice teaching materials, such as the Caribbean Connection series and the widely used Beyond Heroes and Holidays. NECA's Teaching for Change catalog is the single best source for resources to rethink and teach about globalization.

One World International - One World is "a community of organizations working from a range of perspectives and backgrounds to promote sustainable development and human rights."

Described as the "global supersite on sustainable development and human rights," this is truly an amazing website, filled with photo galleries, news, special country reports, campaigns, and the like.

Oxfam America - Oxfam America is dedicated to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and social injustice through long-term partnerships with poor communities around the world. Their website features lots of educational materials and links to other global education sites.

Prison Activist Resource Center - The source for progressive and radical info on prisons and the criminal prosecution system.

Rainforest Action Network - RAN works to protect the earth's rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.

Theirs is a must-visit, comprehensive website that includes a wealth of information, including ideas for activities and activism with students, classroom-friendly fact sheets, and links to indigenous rainforest groups.

RAN has a Beyond Oil Campaign that should be of interest to students who are responsive to activities in Rethinking Globalization's chapter on consumption and the environment.

Resource Center of the Americas - The Resource Center provides information and develops programs that demonstrate connections between people of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Over the years they have published a great deal of curriculum in this area. Their website includes an on-line catalog of these and other classroom materials, along with resources on critical issues about the Americas.

Rethinking Schools - Its quarterly journal, Rethinking Schools, is produced largely by classroom teachers with a focus on social justice and equity. The website contains this entire resource list with all website addresses hot-linked, so all you need to do is click on them and you are taken to each site.

The Rethinking Schools website also features a number of additional articles on teaching about globalization, including further resources and lesson plans that are mentioned in this book. Rethinking Schools publishes Rethinking Columbus and Rethinking Our Classrooms, volumes 1 and 2.

RUGMARK Foundation - RUGMARK is a global nonprofit organization working to end child labor and offer educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

It organizes loom and factory monitoring, sponsors consumer labeling, and runs schools for former child workers. RUGMARK recruits carpet producers and importers to make and sell carpets
that are free of child labor.

Rural Advancement Foundation International - RAFI is dedicated
to the conservation and sustainable improvement of agricultural
biodiversity, and to the socially responsible development of
technologies useful to rural societies.

RAFI deals with issues such as the loss of genetic diversity ÷ especially in agriculture ÷ and about the impact of "intellectual property rights" on agriculture and world food security. Their searchable website is very useful, featuring articles, publications, and issue updates.

Schools for Chiapas - An organization working in solidarity with the struggles in Chiapas, Mexico. Mobilizes people and resources to build schools in Chiapas. The organization also sponsors trips to study Spanish and Mayan language and culture in Chiapas. The website features news articles, historical information and other resources.

STITCH - STITCH is a network of U.S. women working to support women's organizing for a just wage and fair treatment on the job
in Central America.

STITCH has a project to document women's organizing experiences in export industries in Central America. The interview with Yesenia Bonilla in Rethinking Globalization (see p. 142) is excerpted from STITCH's booklet, "Women Behind the Labels: Worker Testimonies from Central America."

Sweatshop Watch - Sweatshop Watch is a coalition of labor, community, civil rights, immigrant rights, women's, religious, and student organizations committed to eliminating sweatshop conditions in the global garment industry. Their website provides updates on current sweatshop issues, links, and reports. Monthly e-mail action alerts available.

Third World Network - An independent nonprofit international network of organizations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, the Third World, and North-South issues.

Publishes the valuable Third World Resurgence magazine. The magazine and website is an essential resource to learn more about Third World perspectives on globalization issues.

TransAfrica Forum - TransAfrica Forum provides commentary and scholarship on policy issues related to Africa and the Caribbean.

The organization seeks to educate Americans in general, and African Americans in particular, on human rights and global economic policy. Reports on TransAfrica's website deal with issues such as the Sub-Saharan Africa debt burden, the impact of tourism in the Caribbean, and landmines.

UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) - UNITE was formed by the merger of two of the nation's oldest unions, the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). UNITE's website offers information on campaigns against sweatshops, as well as government and organizational links.

United Farm Workers - Affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the UFW is the oldest and most prominent farm worker union in the United States.

Their website includes links, current news articles, updates, and background white papers, such as "Fingers to the Bone: United States Failure to Protect Child Farm Workers," "Fields of Poisons: California Farm Workers and Pesticides," "Five Cents for Fairness: The Case for Change in the Strawberry Fields," "Trouble on the Farm: Growing Up With Pesticides in Agricultural Communities," and "Pesticides in Our Food and Water."

United for a Fair Economy - UFE provides numerous resources to organizations and individuals working to address the widening income and asset gap in the United States and around the world.

They publish graphic-rich training and curriculum materials, and their website is a valuable one, including an economics library, research library, and fact sheets.

UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund - UNICEF produces educational materials and distributes funds to children's programs throughout the world. Their annual The State of the World's Children provides useful statistics.

Women of Color - Resource Center WCRC develops and distributes resources about women of color that advance social justice movements.

WCRC published the valuable curriculum guide Women's Education in the Global Economy. Their website includes excellent hard-to-find links to projects that organize around issues concentrating on women of color.

Zapatistas - The Zapatistas, based in the southern-most Mexican state of Chiapas, have drawn worldwide attention to the plight of indigenous people in the era of free trade.

Their website is mostly in Spanish, although it does have some English translations. It's a fascinating site and the links will put students in touch with indigenous movements around the world.

ZNet/Z Magazine - Z Net is one of the most amazing websites we've found. Forums, commentaries from around the world, song lyrics for 530 songs-with-a-conscience, courses, analyses on global issues of all kinds.

Many pre-college students might find some of the writing a bit hard-going, but there is a tremendous amount here. Z Magazine is available the old fashioned way ÷ in print. See "Journals for Global Justice," p. 381.

http://freechild.org/SJforALL.htm

Friday, November 5, 2010

America's Dirty Little Secret

Who's Really Poor in America?

By Leo Hindery, Jr.
Huffington Post
November 05, 2010

Every Tuesday the Huffington Post lets me post a featured piece. Mostly I write about jobs, especially the issue of 'real unemployment', and trade, where I worry over the extremely adverse effects which unfair globalization is having on American workers.

Two old friends, civil rights activist David Mixner and former U.S. Senator (and my oft co-author) Don Riegle (D-MI), believe that in the economic recovery, not enough attention is being given to 'who's really poor' now.

David and Don have for years advised me -- and others -- on the issue of poverty in America, and they are worried that too many people, and especially too many people in the administration and Congress, are missing this imperative.

To help make their point, they referred me to poverty activist Marsha Timpson, who describes today's poor as "America's dirty little secret, hidden in the backyards of America's shining homes, the hollows, the reservations, the border towns and the dark ghettos of the city where they are the lie of the American dream."

I agree with my friends, and with Ms. Timpson's view, and everyone else should as well, for right now in America:

At least 50 million people are ill-fed -- up from 37 million just a year ago -- including 17 million children.

Hunger in America is now at an all-time high, and there are currently entire national geographic regions -- the very large 15-state 'South' being one of them -- where more than half of all public school students are poor and ill-fed.

Although I myself grew up in a fairly hardscrabble environment, as the father of a daughter who was in fact able to create a successful life from the opportunities her mother and I could give her, it is hard for me to imagine what it must be like to have your child needy and hungry.

Yet all of us need to 'imagine' this, because each night in America millions of children do in fact go to bed hungry and under-nourished, while also lacking proper housing, needed clothing, and the basic education required to develop and ultimately find gainful employment.

And while I wholeheartedly support the First Lady's new "Let's Move" effort to improve the nutrition of America's children, we must first react to basic hunger rather than to food quality.

30% of the nation's 50 million homeowners own a home whose value is below its mortgage balance, and this number could rise to an almost unbelievable 50% by year-end 2011.

It would cost about $745 billion, more than the size of the original 2008 bank bailout, to restore these borrowers to the point where they were breaking even, which there is no obvious political will to find right now.

Despite the truly dismal 'real unemployment' figures with which most everyone now agrees -- a staggering 30 million workers and 19% of the labor force -- very little attention is being paid to the particularly adverse effects the recession is having on people of color, recent immigrants, and out-of school youth.

And almost no one is acknowledging the sad reality that even the nation's 130 million full-time workers have had an average economic loss of 15% just since December 2007 -- an average effective work week of 34 hours rather than 40 -- which means that the number of unemployed workers, measured economically, is actually as high as 50 million.

The overwhelming problem today for most workers isn't this recession, as horrible as it is -- it's the fact that for every earned income level except the top 10%, average household income hasn't changed a bit for 10 years, and that for the bottom 60% of wage earners it hasn't changed for more than 20 years.

Through economic expansions and recessions -- and bull and bear markets -- alike, 90% of workers in America have been standing still earnings-wise.

And 100 million people, fully one-third of the entire U.S. population, are at or below "200% of the federal poverty line of $21,834 for a family of four", which is a needs-measure made lame by the fact that no family of four can actually comfortably live on such a low annual income.

**********

The best response to this scourge would be for our government to embrace in today's troubled time the same "economic bill of rights" that FDR, in his last State of the Union Speech in January 1944, demanded for his.

Roosevelt's "bill" sought to guarantee, in addition to health care
and education, rights to:

"a job with a living wage...that would earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

"protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment; and "a decent home".

And with his typical sensitivity, FDR concluded his last SOTUS, when he knew that he was dying, by saying that, "We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people -- whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth -- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed and insecure."

Until we in this time include the eradication of poverty as part of our economic recovery efforts, as FDR tried to do in his time, no matter how much we attempt to rebuild the nation's economy through better trade practices, enhanced workers' rights, and investments in infrastructure and the 'green economy', tens of millions of Americans, literally, will still be left impoverished.

In making this effort, and thus in trying to determine "who's really poor in America" so that we can assist them, it helps to think of America as a doughnut, with the 'hole' in the doughnut being, at any point in time, the middle class (and the elites) and with the dough-part being those Americans who aspire to get there.

When our ancestors got off their boats at Ellis Island or on the West Coast, the American doughnut was a fat one with a relatively tiny hole, because almost all of them were impoverished 'outsiders' looking to find their individual American Dream.

The doughnut's hole grew relatively larger over the next 50 to 100 years as the economy grew, and then with the widespread prosperity that came with the end of the Second World War, it ballooned in size as the middle class ballooned.

In the two decades after the War, with a burgeoning middle class clearly in hand, our government, in order to help those Americans still living on the outer ring, established very powerful employment & training, education, home mortgage, and small business assistance programs, while freely allowing labor unions to advance and protect workers' rights.

The problem with how we have reacted so far to the Great Recession of 2007 is that most of the recovery programs are, as in the '50s and '60s, only for those Americans living in the outer ring: programs such as "cash for clunkers", first-time homebuyer credits, expanded Pell Grants, etc. In 2010, however, after decades of wide-spread wage stagnation, the entire middle class needs help as well, and the simple proof of this is that overall income inequality in America is now the greatest since 1928, when we first began to measure it.

Without an immediate all-of-government commitment to creating upwards of 30 million new jobs (not the 9 million that the administration has identified), without stimulus efforts that specifically target the entire struggling middle class, and without very specific initiatives aimed at breaking the back of general wage stagnation, there is not even a medium-term prospect of anything approaching real full employment and healthy economic growth that benefits all Americans.

So, the answer to the question of 'who's really poor' now is that we all are in one way or another, because, as FDR would have said if he was here, "some [way too large] fraction of our people is."

Addressing this reality -- this now virtual pandemic of poverty -- must be at the core of our current economic recovery efforts, because a vibrant middle class that grows from the bottom up will always be central to the continued health of America's democratic society.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-hindery-jr/americas-dirty-little-sec_b_473026.html