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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt Deal: Knaves, Thieves and Liars

CNN Interviews on Debt Deal
By Scarecrow
Fire Dog Lake
July 31, 2011

CNN’s State of the Union featured Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer and Gene Sperling, ending with Mark Zandi.

Their collective task, and they all agree on this, was to sound reasonable while not explaining what really matters in the emerging deal President Obama is hoping to impose on a helpless, and increasingly hopeless nation.

There were no guests to represent the victims of this deal, and there will be tens of millions of them.

CNN invited no one who could explain or argue what a terrible deal this would be for the nation.

The nation’s economy, the elderly, the poor and the unrepresented are about to take a serious drubbing, but thank the gods both Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the President will willingly administer the beatings and continue them until morale improves.

The basic components are reported to include:

1. Raising the debt limit by enough to get us into 2013, about $2.6 trillion or so. (No one thinks to ask, what then? Do we destroy even more government then?)

2. Cutting spending by at least the same amount, possibly even up to $3 trillion?

3. Agreeing to about half of those cuts now.

4. Creating a 12-member, Cat Food II Commission to achieve the other half by the end of the year, by greasing the Congressional skids for more cuts.

5. Adding “triggers,” so that if the Cat Food II Commission fails
to agree, automatic measures are imposed to achieve the debt
reduction goals.

6. Allowing a vote on some form of balance budget amendment to
the Constitution.

7. Not mentioned: Remaining silent on anything that the country actually needs, like jobs, rescuing states, alleviating poverty and income equality, reining in the financial sector, stopping the looting, holding these criminals accountable, making the investments needed now and in the future, or planning to rescue the economy if it tanks again from the stupidest economic policies one could possibly imagine.

According to Mitch McConnell, who refused to reveal any details
other than those designed to assure his craziest supporters, the
deal may ultimately include as much as $3 trillion in spending cuts
but include no new revenues.

Host Gloria Borger asked, why would he expect Democrats to accept
a deal with no revenues? Mitch trotted out the half chestnut that
even the President agrees that raising taxes when the economy is
weak would be a terrible idea.

Okay, but predictably, Ms. Borger did not then ask why the same implicitly Keynesian argument McConnell is using to protest tax increases does not apply with at least equal or greater force to spending cuts and government layoffs when the economy is weak.

So Mitch McConnell never had to confront his favorite talking point’s hypocrisy.

Borger asked whether there might be any new revenues coming out
of the Cat Food II Commission. “There are no tax increases in this
deal,” he said.

Then it was Chuck Schumer’s turn to lie to the American people.

He didn’t explain why, two days after the Commerce Department
report showed that the economy is close to sliding back into official
recession and the prospects for reducing unemployment are dismal,
he and fellow Democrats were not screaming for a jobs and stimulus
plan instead of spending cuts.

He wasn’t ask how he can assure the country that $3 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade will not hurt the economy and millions of Americans and seriously degrade vital public services.

Nor was he asked how the Democratic leadership can justify a total capitulation to Republican blackmail and adopting their talking points.

No, Chuck’s main concern was making sure that when the Cat Food II Commission fails to agree, the triggers that kick in to impose further carnage on the economy and hurt millions of real people will hurt some Republican sacred cow too.

Yeah, Chuck, that will make us all feel better. Gosh, we lost
Medicare and Social Security benefits, but man, we sure stuck
those hedge fund guys!

Next we heard from Gene Sperling, the White House spinner.

He repeated, as David Plouffe did on Meet the Press, all of the
Administration’s talking points we’ve heard from Obama and Bill
Daley, most of which are illogical, economically backwards and/or
morally offensive.

“You can’t ask for sacrifice from seniors,” Sperling started off. But
he didn’t know when to shut up. Instead he added “without asking
for some sacrifice from the well off.” So, you can hurt seniors.

In the Orwellian universe in which this White House spins, “shared
sacrifice” means that it’s okay to hurt seniors and extract even
more from the poor and those without political power as long as we
also change the tax treatment for hedge funds or corporate jets.

“Compromise” means giving away the store, caving in to Republican blackmail, enraging Democrats and betraying everyone who voted for Obama or the Democrats.

And then Sperling repeated the gibberish about how all this will restore confidence to the business community.

Next, Mark Zandi said the reported deal is a “great deal,” and that
the $3 trillion reduction comes close to the “down payment” that will
get us to “sustainability.”

The market will react very positively, he assured us, knowing the reason is because lots of market folks believe this gibberish.

Would this improve the economy or create jobs, Borger ask?

“Yes,” he said, forgetting that it contradicts everything he’s ever
said about the effects of stimulus, the need for more, and the
negative consequences of reducing government support while the
economy is weak.

There must be a dozen of his quotes out there, does Gloria Borger know? This deal will provide “certainty,” Zandi assured us, thus laying the foundation for improved growth in coming months.

Confidence fairies flew out of my screen.

The only hope the American people ever had during this mugging, though no one but Krugman is ever allowed on tv to explain it, was that this abysmal Congress would deadlock.

That would force the President of the United States to ask his
lawyers again whether there was anything in the Constitution
that gave him sufficient executive authority to tell Congress and
the Republican crazies to kiss off and tell his Treasury Secretary
to avoid default and pay the nation’s bills, all of them.

“Uh, well, gosh, now that you asked in that light, Mr. President, there are actually several ways you could do this . . . “ And then David Plouffe would send an apology to David Gregory for declaring the opposite today.

But that was never what President Barack Obama wanted.

He used the phony debt crisis and debt limits extortion to get what he’s always wanted: shared responsibility in cutting programs for the elderly and the poor, while protecting the interests of the financial backers whose millions he’ll need to get re-elected.

And never mind that he’s destroyed what’s left of the Democratic Party, not to mention a nation’s hopes for humane government.

http://my.firedoglake.com/scarecrow/2011/07/31/debt-deal-obama-dems-hope-to-give-away-store-all-at-once/

Friday, July 29, 2011

Admit Defeat of the Social Utopia

Admit Defeat of the Social Utopia
By MN Gordon
Economic Prism
July 29, 2011

Production is the End

“The economic goal of any nation, as of any individual, is to get
the greatest results with the least effort.

The whole economic progress of mankind has consisted in getting more production with the same labor,” began economist and author Henry Hazlitt in Chapter 10 of his book Economics In One Lesson, first published over 65 years ago.

According to Hazlitt, by maximizing production, full employment becomes a necessary byproduct.

In short, said Hazlitt, “production is the end, employment merely
the means.”

Unfortunately, this simple and obvious insight was lost on the
United States’ central planners when the economy cracked in 2008.

Goaded by academic elites, like Paul Krugman, they set about
to solve the unemployment problem with massive amounts of
government spending without considering what productive
value it would provide.

They sought to stimulate new jobs by cranking up the printing press
and directing and redistributing wealth through the visible and heavy
hand of government.

Deficit spending, which had been out of control for decades, was rocketed into the fourth dimension.

The budget deficit more than tripled and debt as a percent of GDP increased from about 70 percent to nearly 100 percent.

The wizards in Washington promised jobs and a quick return to a
6 percent unemployment rate.

Instead, they succeeded at making a magnificent mess of things.

Government Spending Failure

This week, while the nation watched the deficit ceiling stalemate
in Washington with disgust, several economic reports confirmed
the economy is slipping and sliding its way back into the abyss.

After all this time housing and manufacturing are still faltering and there are no jobs to be had.

On Tuesday, for example, the Commerce Department reported that
new home sales declined by 1 percent in June. And on Wednesday
they reported that last month’s durable-goods orders had declined by
2.1 percent.

Miraculously, on Thursday, the Labor Department announced that initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 24,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 398,000.

Nonetheless, employment growth in May and June has been
practically nonexistent, with an increase in nonfarm payrolls
of just 43,000.

Obviously, the economic panacea of government spending has been
a colossal failure.

Washington’s big struggle to cut a deal to reduce spending and
increase the debt limit has missed the point – the nation’s broke and
all the debt based government spending is strangling a recovery.

Even the most aggressive proposals do not even come close to
reducing deficit spending to pre-recession levels, which were already
out of control.

To do so would require cutting $1 billion a year, or $10 billion over
10 years.

But even if this did happen, the government would still add
$5 trillion – a 33 percent increase – to the national debt over
the next 10-years.

Admit Defeat of the Social Utopia

By the time you read this, GDP data for June will have been
published. We anticipate growth will be around 2 percent, or
perhaps even less.

A growth rate of 2 percent is not enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

Moreover, attempting to boost growth by increasing the deficit is,
for the first time in 17 years, not politically expedient.

More and more people seem to understand and loath what has been going on…

Central planners have arrested productive employment opportunities
for vast quantities of the population.

By directing investment away from productive actions and squandering it – and by artificially suppressing the price of money – they’ve limited the ability of many capable and intelligent individuals to provide for themselves and their families.

The results are evident: Growth is stagnant. Unemployment is elevated. And debt has exploded.

Despite how much they spend, the government can’t increase production. Only private enterprise can.

Until production increases, a feeble recovery is the best outcome.

So when will production increase?

Production won’t increase until the clever and cheeky fellows in
government reign back their looting of the public purse and admit
defeat in their misguided undertaking to manage economic growth,
redistribute wealth, put the entire population on the government
dole, and bring in the social utopia.

Sincerely,

MN Gordon
Economic Prism


MN Gordon is the editor of the Economic Prism.

http://economicprism.com/admit-defeat-of-the-social-utopia/

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Broke!

10 Facts About The Financial Condition Of
American Families That Will Blow Your Mind

By Michael Snyder
The Economic Collapse Blog
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The crumbling U.S. economy is putting an extraordinary amount of financial stress on American families. For many Americans, "flat broke" has become a permanent condition.

Today, over half of all American families live paycheck to paycheck. Unemployment is rampant and those that do actually have jobs are finding that their wages are rising much more slowly than prices are.

The financial condition of average American families continues to decline and this is showing up in all of the recent surveys.

For example, according to a new Gallup poll, "lack of money/low wages" is the number one financial concern for American families.

To make ends meet, many American families are going into even more debt and more American families than ever are turning to government assistance.

Right now, more Americans than at any other point since World
War II are flat broke and have lost hope. Until this changes, the
frustration level in this country is going to continue to grow.

The following are 10 facts about the financial condition of American families that will blow your mind.....

#1 Only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now.

#2 Only 56 percent of Americans are currently covered by employer-
provided health insurance.

#3 The median yearly wage in the United States is $26,261.

#4 The average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt.

#5 Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

#6 At this point, American families are approximately 7.7 trillion dollars poorer than they were back in early 2007.

#7 The poorest 50% of all Americans now own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.

#8 According to one study, approximately 21 percent of all children
in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010.

#9 Today, there are more than 44 million Americans on food stamps, and nearly half of them are children.

#10 According to Newsweek, close to 20 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 do not have a job at the moment.

So what is causing all of this? Where in the world did all of the good jobs go?

Well, the truth is that millions of them have been shipped overseas.

Our politicians promised us that merging our economy with the economies of other nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages to workers would not create more unemployment inside America.

They were dead wrong. Now we are being told that we just need to accept a lower standard of living.

For example, billionaire Howard Marks says that it is time for all of us to just accept that the standard of living of American workers is inevitably going to decline to the level of the rest of the world....

"In addition to balancing the budget and growing the economy, I think we have to accept that the coming decades are likely to see U.S. standards of living decline relative to the rest of the world. Unless our goods offer a better cost/benefit bargain, there’s no reason why American workers should continue to enjoy the same lifestyle advantage over workers in other countries. I just don’t expect to hear many politicians own up to this reality on the stump."

Are you willing to accept that?

Well, most Americans appear to be willing to accept this "new reality" because they keep sending most of the exact same bozos back to Washington D.C.

Meanwhile, the job losses continue to get worse. As I wrote about the other day, as the U.S. economy has started to slow down again we are starting to see another huge wave of layoffs all over America.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out where all of our jobs are going.

But unfortunately, most Americans don't understand what is now happening because neither the mainstream media nor our politicians are telling them the truth.

But it is not just the globalization of the economy that is destroying our jobs.

The federal government bureaucracy has become so oppressive that it is amazing that anyone is still willing to hire workers in this day and age.

Hiring workers has become so complicated and so expensive that many small business owners want to avoid it at all cost.

The entire system is stacked against American workers.

If you are a blue collar worker, you should give up hope that things are going to get better. The system has failed you.

You can stop waiting for the "good jobs" to come back. They aren't coming back.

That is one reason why I try to encourage everyone to become more independent of the system. As our economic system continues to degenerate, Americans are going to become increasingly desperate.

Sadly, desperate people do desperate things.

Already we are starting to see signs that the fabric of American society is starting to be ripped to shreds. So what is going to happen if the economy gets even worse?

There is a limit to how many people we can actually put in prison. The reality is that the number of Americans in prison has nearly tripled since 1987.

Our prisons are already dangerously overcrowded. As society falls apart, many communities will simply not be able to shove more people behind bars.

Even with our prisons stuffed to the gills, many of our largest cities continue to be transformed into absolute hellholes.

Detroit is now the 3rd most dangerous city on the entire planet and New Orleans is now the 9th most dangerous city on the entire planet.

So what are our leaders doing about all of this?

Well, they appear to be too busy fighting with each other and cheating on their wives to do much about our problems.

This country is a complete and total mess. Tens of millions of American families are flat broke and are about to slip into poverty.

Meanwhile, our politicians continue to prove that they are some of the most corrupt on the planet.

There are many out there that still believe that America has a bright future ahead.

It is getting really hard to see why anyone could possibly believe that.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/broke-10-facts-about-the-financial-condition-of-american-families-that-will-blow-your-mind

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where's the Uproar?

Corporate Tax Holiday in Debt Ceiling Deal
By Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone
July 25, 2011

Have been meaning to write about this, but I’m increasingly amazed at the overall lack of an uproar about the possibility of the government approving another corporate tax repatriation holiday.

I’ve been in and out of DC a few times in recent weeks and one thing I keep hearing is that there is a growing, and real, possibility that a second “one-time tax holiday” will be approved for corporations as part of whatever sordid deal emerges from the debt-ceiling negotiations.

I passed it off as a bad joke when I first saw news of this a few
weeks ago, when it was reported that Wall Street whipping boy
Chuck Schumer was seriously considering the idea.

Then I read later on that other Senators were jumping on the bandwagon, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan.

This is what Hagan’s spokesperson said:

Senator Hagan is looking closely at any creative, short-term
measures that can get bipartisan support and put people back
to work.

One such potential initiative is a well-crafted and temporary change
to the tax code that encourages American companies to bring money
home and put it towards capital, investment, and–most importantly–
American jobs.

For those who don’t know about it, tax repatriation is one of
the all-time long cons and also one of the most supremely evil
achievements of the Washington lobbying community, which has
perhaps told more shameless lies about this one topic than about
any other in modern history – which is saying a lot, considering
the many absurd things that are said and done by lobbyists in our
nation’s capital.

Here’s how it works: the tax laws say that companies can avoid paying taxes as long as they keep their profits overseas. Whenever that money comes back to the U.S., the companies have to pay taxes on it.

Think of it as a gigantic global IRA. Companies that put their profits in the offshore IRA can leave them there indefinitely with no tax consequence. Then, when they cash out, they pay the tax.

Only there’s a catch.

In 2004, the corporate lobby got together and major employers like Cisco and Apple and GE begged congress to give them a “one-time” tax holiday, arguing that they would use the savings to create jobs. Congress, shamefully, relented, and a tax holiday was declared. Now companies paid about 5 percent in taxes, instead of 35-40 percent.

Money streamed back into America. But the companies did not use the savings to create jobs. Instead, they mostly just turned it into executive bonuses and ate the extra cash. Some of those companies promising waves of new hires have already committed to massive layoffs..

It was bad enough when lobbyists managed to pull this trick off once, in 2004.

But in one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, companies immediately started to systematically “offshore” their profits right after the 2004 holiday with the expectation that somewhere down the road, and probably sooner rather than later, they would get another holiday.

Companies used dozens of fiendish methods to keep profits
overseas, including such scams as “transfer pricing,” a
technique in which profits are shifted to overseas subsidiaries.

A typical example might involve a pharmaceutical company that licenses the rights or the patent to one of its more successful drugs to a foreign affiliate, which in turn manufactures the product and sells it back to the U.S. branch, thereby shifting the profits overseas.

Companies have been doing this for years, to incredible effect.

Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker estimated that Google all by itself has saved $3.1 billion in taxes in the past three years by shifting its profits overseas. Add that to the already rampant system of loopholes and what you have is a completely broken corporate tax system.

And the whole thing is predicated on that dirty little secret – the notion, long known to all would-be major corporate taxpayers, that there would come a day when there would be another tax holiday.

That time, they hope, is now. According to Drucker, lobbyists met with President Obama last December to ask for another holiday. And now the drumbeats are rolling on the Hill for a new holiday to be included in the debt-ceiling deal.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the same Senator who produced the damning report of corruption on Wall Street, has been trying to fight the problem, introducing a measure that would prevent companies from accessing offshored money through correspondent accounts and branches of offshore banks.

Levin’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has also been
investigating how companies might use the cash they save from a
tax holiday, surveying companies like DuPont, presumably to find
out just how many of these firms really intend to create new jobs
with their tax savings.

I’m shocked there isn’t more of an uproar about this.

Could you imagine what the Tea Party would be saying right now if there was a law on the books that allowed immigrants to indefinitely avoid taxes on income sent back to family members in the old country, in Mexico and Venezuela and India?

Imagine the uproar if Barack Obama, in the middle of this historic
revenue crunch and "We're so broke the world is going to end
tomorrow!" debt-ceiling hystgeria, decided to declare a second
“one-time tax holiday” for, say, unwed single mothers, or recipients
of public assistance?

Middle America would be running through the streets, firing shotguns out its truck window, waving chainsaws in mall lobbies, etc.

As it is, leading members of the Senate are seriously considering giving the most profitable companies in the world a total tax holiday as a reward for their last seven years of systematic tax avoidance.

Hundreds of billions of potential tax dollars would disappear from the Treasury. And there isn’t a peep from anyone, anywhere, on this issue.

We’re seriously talking about defaulting on our debt, and cutting
Medicare and Social Security, so that Google can keep paying its
current 2.4 percent effective tax rate and GE, a company that
received a $140 billion bailout en route to worldwide 2010 profits
of $14 billion, can not only keep paying no taxes at all , but receive
a $3.2 billion tax credit from the federal government.

And nobody appears to give a shit. What the hell is wrong with people? Have we all lost our minds?

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/holiday-in-scambodia-20110720?print=true

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Open Letter To The World

Open Letter To The World
Anon News.org
July 23, 2011

We stand at a unique time in our history, the rise of the internet
and computer technology have contributed to an unparalleled rate
of prosperity for the First World.

We have created for ourselves and empire unlike any other, a
global network of constant trade and communication, a new
age of technological advancement.

We have come a long way from our humble roots in the Industrial
Revolution and the days of Manifest Destiny.

We are now pioneers on new digital frontiers expanding our
domain from the quantum world to the far reaches of space.

And yet, the empire faces a crisis, a global recession, growing
poverty, rampant violence, corruption in politics, and threats
to personal freedom.

As it was before in other times of crisis, the old stories have
begun to repeat themselves.

The half truths, this time repeated nightly on cable news and
echoed through a series of tubes onto the internet: the empire
is strong, change is unwise, business as usual is the answer.

In times of uncertainty there are those who seek to add to the confusion, to prey on our insecurities and fears. Those who would seek to keep us divided for their own gain.

The pervasive strategy takes many very convincing forms: Liberals and Conservatives, Christians and Muslims, Black and White, Saved and sinner.

But something unexpected is happening. We have begun telling each other our own stories. Sharing our lives, our hopes, our dreams, our demons.

Every second, day in day out, into all hours of the night the gritty details of life on this earth are streaming around the world.

As we see the lives of others played out in our living rooms we are beginning to understand the consequences of our actions and the error of the old ways.

We are questioning the old assumptions that we are made to
consume not to create, that the world was made for our taking,
that wars are inevitable, that poverty is unavoidable.

As we learn more about our global community a fundamental truth has been rediscovered: We are not so different as we may seem.

Every human has strengths, weaknesses, and deep emotions.

We crave love, love laughter, fear being alone and dream for a better life.

You must create a better life.

You cannot sit on the couch watching television or playing video games, waiting for a revolution.

You are the revolution.

Every time you decide not to exercise your rights, every time you refuse to hear another view point, every time you ignore the world around you, every time you spend a dollar at a business that doesn't pay a fair wage you are contributing to the oppression of the human body and the repression of the human mind.

You have a choice, a choice to take the easy path, the familiar path, to walk willingly into your own submission. Or a choice get up, to go outside and talk to your neighbor, to come together in new forums to create lasting, meaningful change for the human race.

This is our challenge:

A peaceful revolution, a revolution of ideas, a revolution of creation.

The twenty-first century enlightenment. A global movement to create a new age of tolerance and understanding, empathy and respect.

An age of unfettered technological development. An age of sharing ideas and cooperation. An age of artistic and personal expression.

We can choose to use new technology for radical positive change
or let it be used against us.

We can choose to keep the internet free, keep channels of communication open and dig new tunnels into those places where information is still guarded. Or we can let it all close in around us.

As we move in to new digital worlds, we must acknowledge the need for honest information and free expression.

We must fight to keep the internet open as a marketplace of ideas where all are seated as equals.

We must defend our freedoms from those who would seek to control us. We must fight for those who do not yet have a voice.

Keep telling your story. All must be heard.

http://www.anonnews.org/?p=press&a=item&i=619

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Liberate America

How to Liberate America

How is it that our nation is awash in money, but too broke to provide jobs and services?

David Korten introduces a landmark new report, "How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule."

By David Korten
Yes! Magazine
July 20, 2011

The dominant story of the current political debate is that the government is broke.

We can’t afford to pay for public services, put people to work, or service the public debt.

Yet as a nation, we are awash in money. A defective system of money, banking, and finance just puts it in the wrong places.

Raising taxes on the rich and implementing financial reforms are essential elements of the solution to our seemingly intractable fiscal and economic crisis.

Yet proposals currently on the table fall far short of the need.

A newly released report of the New Economy Working Group,
coordinated by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC,
goes beyond the current debate to call for a deep restructuring of
the institutions to which we as a society give the power to create
and allocate money.

How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule spells out the steps required to rebuild a system of community-based and accountable institutions devoted to financing productive activities that create good jobs for Americans and generate real community wealth.

Over the past 30 years, virtually all the benefit of U.S. economic
growth has gone to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Effective
tax rates for the very rich are at historic lows and many of the
most profitable corporations pay no taxes at all.

Despite the financial crash of 2008, the financial assets of America’s billionaires and the idle cash of the most profitable corporations are now at historic highs. Their biggest challenge is figuring out where to park all their cash.

Unfortunately, most of those who hold the cash and the corporations they control have lost interest in long-term investments that build and expand strong enterprises. The substantial majority of trades in financial markets are made by high-speed computers in securities held for fractions of a second.

Business pundits still refer to this trading as investment. It bears no resemblance, however, to the investment required to put people to work rebuilding a strong America.

Corporations are using their stores of cash primarily to buy back their own stock, acquire control of other companies, invest in off-shoring yet more American jobs, and pay generous dividends to shareholders and outsized bonuses to management.

It was not always so.

In response to the Great Depression, our country enacted financial reforms that put in place a system of money, banking, and investment based on community banks, mutual savings and loans, and credit unions.

These institutions provided financial services to local Main Street economies that employed Americans to produce and trade real goods and services in response to community needs and opportunities.

This system, which Wall Street interests dismiss as quaint and
antiquated, financed the U.S. victory in World War II, the creation
of a strong American middle class, an unprecedented period of
economic stability and prosperity, and the investments that made
America the world’s undisputed industrial and technological leader.

In the 1970’s Wall Street interests began pushing a deregulation
agenda that led to a transfer of financial power from Main Street
to Wall Street. Wall Street’s mega-banks lost interest in real
investment and developed a new business model.

They now specialize in charging excessive fees and usurious interest rates, providing leverage to speculators, speculating for their own accounts, luring the unwary into mortgages they cannot afford, bundling junk mortgages to sell them as triple-A securities, betting against the clients to whom they sell the overrated securities, extracting subsidies and bailouts from government, laundering money from drug and arms traders, and offshoring their profits to avoid taxes.

The consequences include the erosion of the middle class, an extreme concentration of wealth and power, a costly financial collapse, persistent high unemployment, housing foreclosures, collapsing environmental systems, the hollowing out of U.S. industrial, technological, and research capacity, huge public and international trade deficits, and the corruption of our political institutions.

Wall Street profited at every step and declared its experiment with deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy a great success. It now argues for extending the same measures even further.

How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule spells out details of
a six-part policy agenda to rebuild a sensible system of community-
based and accountable financial services institutions.

1. Break up the mega-banks and implement tax and regulatory policies that favor community financial institutions, with a preference for those organized as cooperatives or as for-profits owned by nonprofit foundations.

2.Establish state-owned partnership banks in each of the 50 states, patterned after the Bank of North Dakota. These would serve as depositories for state financial assets to use in partnership with community financial institutions to fund local farms and businesses.

3. Restructure the Federal Reserve to function under strict standards of transparency and public scrutiny, with General Accounting Office audits and Congressional oversight.

4. Direct all new money created by the Federal Reserve to a Federal Recovery and Reconstruction Bank rather than the current practice of directing it as a subsidy to Wall Street banks. The FRRB would have a mandate to fund essential green infrastructure projects as designated by Congress.

5. Rewrite international trade and investment rules to support national ownership, economic self-reliance, and economic self-determination.

6. Implement appropriate regulatory and fiscal measures to secure the integrity of financial markets and the money/banking system.

How to Liberate America from Wall Street Rule is the product of
extended discussions among representatives of a diverse group
of organizations committed to deepening and reframing the
conversation on financial reform to focus attention on the serious
financial system restructuring required to build a strong new
American economy adequate to the social and environmental
challenges of the 21st century.

It may be freely shared, reproduced and distributed with appropriate citations.

David Korten is co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine and co-chair of the New Economy Working Group.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/david-korten/liberate-america

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Show Must Go On

The Show Must Go On
By Jim Quinn
The Burning Platform
July 14, 2011

The Debt Ceiling Reality Show is winding down to its dramatic conclusion on August 2.

I think Fox should capitalize on the drama by gathering the American Idol judges to vote on the best performance by a political hack.

We can have Ryan Seacrest announce on August 1 at 11:55 pm
that the winner is – THE WALL STREET MONIED INTERESTS.

The latest round of kabuki theatre performed by the corrupt lying thieves in Washington DC is being played out every night on the MSM.

The volume of misinformation, lies, exaggerations, posturing,
and propaganda is staggering.

These vile excuses for leaders know that 80% of the American
population wouldn’t know the difference between a debt ceiling
and a drop ceiling.

They use this ignorance to their advantage, as Obama warns that old people won’t get their social security checks and government drones won’t be paid.

According to Gallup, Republicans and Independents don’t want the debt ceiling raised.

The poll also indicates that at least one third of Americans don’t
care. They are too outraged by the Casey Anthony verdict to focus
on the economic future of our country.

I’ll let you in on a secret. The debt ceiling will be raised.

Sorry to ruin the surprise, but this entire sordid episode has nothing to do with our dire economic situation. It is solely about the 2012 elections.

Both parties are conducting overnight polling on which talking points are working best in convincing the sheeple that their party is less likely to be blamed.

Posturing and polling are what passes for leadership in America. It is a disgusting display and will contribute to the ultimate collapse that is headed our way like a Japanese Bullet Train.

Here is a summary of where we stand according to the MSM and the political class in Washington DC:

The supposedly grand compromise that would have “cut” $4 trillion from future deficits fell apart last week.

The Democarats wouldn’t “cut” entitlements and the Republicans wouldn’t “raise” taxes.

The latest proposal was down to $2 trillion of future “cuts”, but neither side would agree to what and when.

Now in the ultimate Washington kick the can move, Mitch McConnell has proposed that Obama increase the debt limit in three stages, while requiring him to propose offsetting spending cuts, offering a potential path out of the impasse.

Harry Reid loves the idea. I’m sure that gives you a nice warm feeling, like piss running down your leg.

This “solution” cuts nothing. Neither party wants to get blamed for shutting down the government. The Republicans blinked first.

Honor, truth, and reality based solutions are non-existent in Washington DC. Weasels can never be trusted around the chicken coop.

The humorous part of this whole disgusting episode is that the $2
trillion or $4 trillion of supposed cuts in spending were not cuts at
all. They were nothing but lower increases in future spending.

They didn’t cut the national debt. Neither party has come close to presenting a plan to cut the national debt.

Even using ridiculously optimistic assumptions like interest rates staying low, no new wars, ending existing wars, no recessions, and no new programs, both of the corrupt political parties show ongoing deficits of $500 billion to $1 trillion per year forever.

Does that sound like cuts in spending? The proposed reductions in spending increases are like pissing in the Atlantic Ocean of debt.

And here is where the rubber meets the road. Both the Democrat and Republican budget plans insure economic collapse within the next ten years.

Again, using ridiculously optimistic assumptions, our National Debt
would rise from $14.3 trillion today to between $23 and $26 trillion
in ten years. Does that sound like cuts in spending to you?

Luckily, we’ll never reach those levels. We will hit $20 trillion in debt by 2015. That is a lock.

Total Federal government revenue today is $2.175 trillion. We spend approximately $1 trillion per year on our military related adventures, or 46% of our total revenue.

If interest rates are 5% in 2015, we will spend $1 trillion on interest. If rates are 10%, we will spend $2 trillion on interest.

Do you get the picture? An unsustainable trend will not be sustained.

We have two choices. We can proactively address the problem or
just wait for the collapse of our economic system.

This debt ceiling reality show is all the proof I need. Our leaders will choose to wait. It won’t be long.

Since no one in Washington DC can be depended upon to do the right thing, the only solution is to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.

Special interests across the land would mobilize all their forces to fight this idea.

Deficit spending of $1.5 trillion per year enriches bankers, bomb makers, the AARP, mega-corporations, chain stores, restaurants, insurance companies, drug makers, etc.

They will fight for their right to suck the country dry.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/?p=18397

Monday, July 11, 2011

Obama: Myth or Fabrication?

Obama: Myth or Fabrication?
By Zen Gardner
Before It's News
July 11, 2011

That Obama's a cardboard cutout is a given. He's been prepped, pumped, primed, pimped and positioned. We can all see that.

He reads his teleprompter like "yada yada yada" and the
programmed populace swoons. Yawn.

Another round of golf please...while we bomb, rape, pillage, dismember and suck the financial guts out of the world.

Oh well, another day at work...I'm just following orders anyway.

As unreal as this sick drama appears, it's happening in the face of
the world. How he keeps it up and the world watches is a wonder,
but somehow it goes on.

I guess like that sick elitist Kissinger has famously said, "Power is
the ultimate aphrodisiac."

Obama's a new, animatronic breed...

This guy is all new. The others were puppets, but he's a brazen next generation x-bot..shoved in our faces.

He's first of all built with a fully guaranteed, unvarnished globalist
mindset. This thing is global, people, and they want us to know it.
'In your face' has never been so in vogue.

His snotty behavior tells us he apparently knows they've trotted him out and he's effectively doing job #1.. to attract mindless adulation from sycophants worldwide.

Hence the international tours and the Beatles-like frenzy in the US. All orchestrated.

We'll see more of this very soon if they bother to keep the charade
up and don't change horses. (Believe me, there's always more horses
where he came from...have been for millenia.)

But Is All This Getting to Him?

First of all, is there a "him"? Assuming there is, and this gym-rat doper can come out of his playground mentality, maybe there's a chance.

But I don't think so. Way too programmed. And he's loving it.

And between the advances in mind control technologies and the overall fascist takeover of planet earth, there's not a lot of leg room. Look for more of the same in other parts of the world, sorry to say.

Obama the Man

We don't know much about Barak--deliberately. It should be a "feel good story for every boy and girl" but it's not.

It's riddled in fundamental information holes, bloated propaganda
and heavy duty inconsistencies.

Yet the MSM trump up this cardboard cut out day by day knowing
they have nothing to work with. It's quite a sight to behold.

When you think about it, what better billboard to prop up than one that has no background story, no substance, no history.

Orwellian is an understatement. And it suits today's programmed world perfectly. Less is more.

Obama is a vacuum, a myth of your own making, a prop, an excuse.

But you decide. I'm just poking around. But the truth has a scent, doesn't it? And you're obviously smelling it too.

- Zen

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/792/441/Obama:_Myth_or_Fabricat
ion.html&SID=NL

Saturday, July 9, 2011

America's Downfall

We All Are Responsible

By The Brass Monkey Blog
Saturday, July 09, 2011

We have been witness to a 30 year effort to globalize America. We gave barely a notice as President Carter gave up the Panama Canal.

Today China is working to double the width and capacity of the canal.

We watched as Regan implemented the era of greed is good and bigger is better and relegated anti trust law to the closet.

Then came President´s Clinton and Bush (number 0ne), pressing
for a World Trade Organization and NAFTA (North American Free
Trade Agreement).

Then we watched the government give China World Trade Organization membership and the creation of all the AFTA´s. (American Free Trade Agreements)

What was the result of all this?

Manufacturing, dollars and jobs out, turning the wealthiest nation into the greatest debtor nation.

This culminated in the great recession, where today, Ben Bernanke
is saying that it will take several years to restore the US economy
and achieve acceptable levels of unemployment.

At the same time the government was working on globalization
they were pushing expansion and growth in the US.

Population growth was expedited through illegal immigration
and anchor babies.

Pressure was brought to bear on American workers through a
whole bunch of temporary worker visa programs.

Education costs were high and classrooms were half filled with foreign students, many looking to hold a US job on graduation. Wages were stagnant or falling.

The point is gang that we are all responsible for the state of America.

We sat back and let the government and corporations decide
what was good for us. Big mistake!

We put our well being in the hands of corrupt corporations.

They sure as hell did not have our best interests in mind when
they moved there manufacturing jobs overseas.

We put our trust in Washington politicians.

They sure as hell did not have our best interests at heart. They
were in the pockets of the corporations.

I can not remember how many times when carrying on a
conversation with someone and happen to mention politics.

The response a lot of time? I do not get involved with politics.

Folks, you better get involved because look at what our non involvement has gotten us.

Never assume that the politicians are smarter then you and
know what´s best. Because they are not and they don´t.

http://thebrassmonkeyblog.net/americas-downfall-we-all-are-responsible/

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Number One?

20 Not So Good Categories That The United States
Leads The World In

By The Economic Collapse Blog
Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Is the United States "number one"?

Many Americans take deep pride in their nation and the truth is that
the U.S. has a lot going for it.

The United States has the largest economy in the world.

The United States also has the most powerful military on the entire planet. The United States has produced most of the greatest movies that the world has ever seen.

But the United States is also number one in a lot of categories that are not go great. If we ever want to turn this country around, we need to be very honest with ourselves.

We need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that it is not a good thing that we are number one in divorce, drug addiction, debt, obesity, car thefts, murders and total crimes.

We have become a slothful, greedy, decadent nation that is
exhibiting signs of advanced decay. Until we understand just
how bad our problems really are, we won't be able to come up
with the solutions that we need.

A lot of people that write articles like this have a deep hatred for
America. But that is not the case with me. I love the United States.
I love the American people.

America is like an aging, bloated rock star that has become addicted to a dozen different drugs.

America is a shadow of its former self and it desperately needs to wake up before it plunges into oblivion.

If you do not believe that America is in bad shape, just read the list below. The following are 20 not so good categories that the United States leads the world in....

#1 The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the
world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.

#2 According to NationMaster.com, the United States has the
highest percentage of obese people in the world.

#3 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe
by a wide margin.

#4 The United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.

#5 The United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use on
the entire planet.

#6 There are more car thefts in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world by far.

#7 There are more reported rapes in the United States each year
than anywhere else in the world.

#8 There are more reported murders in the United States each year
than anywhere else in the world.

#9 There are more total crimes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.

#10 The United States also has more police officers than anywhere
else in the world.

#11 The United States spends much more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on the face of the earth.

#12 The United States has more people on pharmaceutical drugs
than any other country on the planet.

#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.

#14 Americans have more student loan debt than anyone else in the
world.

#15 More pornography is created in the United States than anywhere
else on the entire globe. 89 percent is made in the U.S.A. and only
11 percent is made in the rest of the world.

#16 The United States has the largest trade deficit in the world
every single year. Between December 2000 and December 2010,
the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars
with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade
balance every single year since 1976.

#17 The United States spends 7 times more on the military than any
other nation on the planet does. In fact, U.S. military spending is
greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India,
and the rest of NATO combined.

#18 The United States has far more foreign military bases than any other country does.

#19 The United States has the most complicated tax system in the entire world.

#20 The U.S. has accumulated the biggest national debt that the world has ever seen and it is rapidly getting worse. Right now, U.S. government debt is expanding at a rate of $40,000 per second.

So are you convinced that we are in trouble yet?

The truth is that America has changed. Most of us don't even say hello to our neighbors anymore.

In fact, we have become so self-involved that many of us don't even notice when someone around us dies.

Just consider the following two examples.

*USA Today recently reported on the body of a dead woman that was
not found for approximately a year even though a whole bunch of
people walked right past the car where she died....

Bank contractors, inspectors and even the new owner of a foreclosed
home walked past the silver Chevy Nova in the garage numerous
times before discovering the former homeowner — dead on the front
seat.

*In an even more shocking case, the CBS affiliate in Boston recently
reported that a dead woman was lying on the bottom of a public pool
for two days while large numbers of people swam right over her.

How in the world could something like this possibly happen?....

It’s a mystery as murky as the water at Veteran’s Memorial
swimming pool in Fall River public pool: how did swimmers,
lifeguards, or inspectors not notice a woman’s body at the
bottom of the pool for a few days?

Marie Joseph, 36, was last seen at the pool on Sunday. The pool was
open to the public Monday and Tuesday with six lifeguards on duty,
and no one noticed the body under 12 feet of water.

Most Americans have become so self-involved that they barely even notice anyone other than their family and close friends.

The love of most Americans is growing cold and when the collapse
of the U.S. economy happens it is just going to make things worse.

Instead of working as a community, most Americans will only be concerned with making sure that their own needs are taken care of.

The United States was once the most blessed nation on the face of the earth, but now we are literally falling to pieces.

Does anyone have any ideas about why this could be happening?

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/number-one-20-not-
so-good-categories-that-the-united-states-leads-the-world-in

Monday, July 4, 2011

Down on the Fourth of July

Down on the Fourth of July: The United States of Gloom
By Toby Harnden
The Daily Telegraph
July 04, 2011

NEWS REVIEW: America’s deepening recession and widespread pessimism about the country’s prospects add a bitter note to Independence Day, reports Toby Harnden, US Editor.

Across America today, people will gather for barbecues in their
backyards, parades through their towns and firework displays
lighting up the night sky.

They’ll be celebrating Independence Day – the birthday of the
United States and the 235th anniversary of shaking off the
oppressive yoke of British rule.

On this day in 1776 a group of 13 colonies broke away to found a
new nation free to govern itself as it saw fit, pledging that each
citizen would have the unalienable right to “life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness”.

A nation, as Americans are apt to declare without equivocation, which became the greatest on the face of the earth.

That’s the good news. On the flip side, however, a country whose
hallmark has always been a sense of irrepressible optimism is in
the grip of unprecedented uncertainty and self-doubt.

With the United States mired in three foreign wars, beaten down by an economy that shows few signs of emerging from deep recession and deeply disillusioned with President Barack Obama his Republican challengers and Congress, the mood is dark.

The last comparable Fourth of July was probably in 1980, when there was a recession, skyrocketing petrol prices and an Iranian hostage crisis, with 53 Americans being held in Tehran.

Frank Luntz, perhaps America’s pre-eminent pollster, argues that
his countrymen are much more downbeat now than in 1980.

“The assumption with the Carter years was that it was a failure of
the elites, not the system. We thought the people in charge screwed
up. We didn’t blame ourselves.”

Remarkably, many Americans think things will only get worse and
the good times will never return.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 39 percent think
that “the current economic downturn is part of a long-term
permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover”.

That was up from 28 percent last October. Last month, a CNN
poll found that 48 percent of Americans believe another Great
Depression is somewhat or very likely.

Luntz has found that 44 percent of Americans believe their country’s
best days are in the past, 57 percent that their children will not
achieve the same quality of life, and 53 percent that they are less
free than five years ago. So what is going on?

How did the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a country
that less than three years ago elected a young, untested black man
as president on a platform of hope and change, get into this funk?

The parlous state of the economy is only part of the explanation.
More significant is the recession’s length. Obama’s promise of a
national transformation after the Bush years, moreover, means that
the thud of coming back down to earth has been that much harder.

The intoxicating atmosphere of the 2008 election and Obama’s inauguration has given way to a hangover.

Americans were promised that the $787 billion Obama stimulus
package would cut unemployment by funding so-called “shovel-
ready projects”.

Instead, unemployment is at 9.1 percent compared to the 7.8
percent Obama inherited, while the national deficit has tripled
from less than $500 billion to a staggering $1.5 trillion.

To add insult to injury, at a recent gathering of his Council on Jobs
and Competitiveness, during a discussion about the length of time it
took to get projects funded, a smiling Obama interjected: “Shovel-
ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”

Members of the council sitting around him tittered but most Americans were not amused.

There is gridlock in Washington over raising the national debt ceiling, with Democrats demanding tax increases as well as deficit reduction, and Republicans adamant that no taxes will be increased.

In a characteristic illustration of a bipartisan assumption of bad faith in such debates, Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to damage the economy as part of a plot to harm Obama’s re-election chances.

The US Treasury is warning of “catastrophic economic and market
consequences” if no deal is reached in July and the country defaults
on its debts, though there are signs that both sides would prefer this
to political compromise.

Obama summed up the Republican position as “Are you willing to
compromise your kids’ safety so some corporate-jet owner can get
a tax break?” Six times, he mentioned the scourge of tax breaks
for corporate jets.

To the uninitiated, it might have appeared that eliminating these evil tax breaks might make a significant dent in the national debt.

But it was quickly calculated that doing so would save about $3
billion over the next decade, or 0.03 per cent of the $9.5 trillion
in cumulative new debt contained in Obama’s current budget plan.

On foreign policy, there was a brief spasm of celebration over the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

But Obama’s decision, against military advice, to capitalise on
this by withdrawing 33,000 US troops from Afghanistan has been
accompanied by a sense that the US is retreating, if not surrendering.

It was on the Fourth of July last year that General David Petraeus
assumed command in Afghanistan and declared: “We are in this
to win.”

But in announcing his recent decision to withdraw troops, there was
no mention by Obama of winning or victory – or, for that matter, of
Petraeus, who is returning home to take over the CIA.

Furthermore, having cast doubt on American exceptionalism, Obama has allowed Europe to spearhead the Libya operation, prompting a White House aide to coin the term “leading from behind”.

But Americans do not just blame Obama; and the national malaise
is to do with far more than one president. “Every institution in
America has gone through a collapse,” says Luntz.

“The Church is not what it was, thanks to all those religious
scandals, the media is much less trusted today than it was
20 or 30 years ago. Big business does not have credibility.”

The growth of blogging, social media and cable TV together
with the decline of the broadcast networks and papers like
the New York Times means Americans have access to more
news, but this is often partial and drowned out by opinion.

Because there is greater choice, more and more Americans are choosing to read only things that reinforce their existing beliefs, shutting out the other side.

When Republican presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann made assertions about historical events, their supporters rushed to Wikipedia to change entries about those events – altering reality to advance their argument.

“It means a lot more shouting,” says Luntz.

“It means a much less unified America on the Fourth of July and a
lot more division. You’ll hear a lot more political arguments while
we’re watching the parades. While we will appreciate the celebration
of tradition, there’s so much anxiety and anger that it makes it
really unpleasant.”

One of the few news stories of recent months that prompted unanimity across the political divide was the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the International Monetary Fund, on suspicion of raping a chambermaid in a New York hotel.

Only in America, most people here agreed, could the rights of an
African immigrant trump those of a powerful, arrogant politician.
But even that illusion was shattered last week when it turned out
that the accusing woman was a liar with criminal ties who allegedly
hoped to profit from the incident.

Now, the sleazy Frenchman is poised to resume his presidential quest, doubtless to be fueled by Gallic anti-Americanism, back home.

The 2010 mid-term elections showed that the Tea Party movement, drawing its small-government, low-tax inspiration from the revolutionaries who overthrew the British, was a phenomenon that could turn American politics upside down.

Previous elections had been about choosing the lesser of two evils
but 2010 was about throwing the bums out. Luntz, a Republican,
predicts that 2012 will be a “none of the above” contest.

What is needed above all is optimism: it is a prerequisite for the
risk-taking needed to invest and start new businesses. Its absence
could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy as belief in American decline
helps ensure that the halcyon years are indeed in the past.

The 1980 election was won by Ronald Reagan with his “Morning in America” message.

Today, a 10ft bronze statue of Reagan will be unveiled outside the
US Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square, which, in another sign
of the times, is due to move to Battersea next year because of
concerns about its vulnerability to terrorists.

Thus far, there is no sign of a new Reagan emerging.

More worryingly, the optimism he embraced and came to personify
is all but absent in America this Fourth of July.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100095052/down-
on-the-fourth-of-july-the-united-states-of-gloom/