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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Fall of the United States

The Fall of the United States

"We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the United States." --Clarence Darrow at the Scopes Monkey Trial.

By John Atcheson
Common Dreams
September 29, 2011

Welcome to the late great United States – a country in economic
and moral free fall.

A country in thrall to a cult of greed, selfishness, and ignorance.

A country that is trying to hold onto its belief in its own
“exceptionalism,” even as it rejects the very forces that
made it exceptional.

Once, the US was a leader in science.

Today, most Americans are scientifically illiterate and one of the major political parties – Republicans-- largely rejects science and scientists as "elitist."

Research budgets are being slashed. The space shuttle has flown
its last flight.

Climate scientists are demonized and marginalized, even as epochal storms, heat waves, and draughts sweep across our country and lay waste our planet.

Once, US infrastructure was the envy of the world.

Our planes, our trains, our highways, our damns, bridges, buildings and communication systems were the benchmark against which other countries measured their worth.

Investing in it created well-paying jobs and wealth-generating capacity. Now, it is a crumbling punch line to a tragic national joke.

Once, the US system of laws and regulations was recognized as the pre-requisite of a civilized and prosperous society.

It created transparent markets; honest securities exchanges; level playing fields for all players; equitable sharing of wealth between workers and managers; safe and humane working conditions; a clean and livable environment.

Today, most Americans think government regulation destroyed the economy.

They even believe that the plutocrats who destroyed this regulatory infrastructure -- the most successful wealth-generating machine in the world’s history -- are the “job creators” and the source of the formerly shared prosperity that is now disappearing into the coffers of the few from the wallets of the many.

Once, the US educational system was the preeminent model for educating the populace.

While our Universities are managing to hold on to their esteemed position by their thumbnails (partly by attracting talented foreign students), our K-12 programs are not keeping up.

What do these all have in common?

They were the source of our national prosperity and they were
funded or enabled in whole or part by the government.

Federal research yielded a steady stream of innovation – the agricultural revolution; the aerospace industry; computers; the Internet; most of the important breakthroughs in Pharmaceuticals and health care; the GIS system.

While the investments continued, the jobs came and the wealth flowed. But today, the spigots are turned off, the seed corn eaten.

Federal,state and local government's investment in energy, transportation, communication, and water supply infrastructure yielded enormous financial returns.

Now these systems lie crumbling around our collective ankles
and workers line up for unemployment as half empty trucks
dodge potholes on our national highways.

Investment from around the world flowed into the US, bolstered
by the fact that our well-regulated financial markets were not
only honest and transparent, but that they fulfilled their
fiduciary responsibility to manage risk prudently when handling
other people’s money.

Now, our markets are a wild-west shoot out, with a few winners, many losers and all the trustworthiness of a tiltable Vegas roulette table.

Education? Take the case of California, which has had a 40 year
jihad against taxes.

When Reagan assumed the governorship, the state ranked number one in education, and colleges and universities charged no tuition. Now the state’s K-12 school system ranks in the bottom half of the country and college costs are skyrocketing.

And ever since Reagan brought his “government is the problem mentality” to Washington, the rest of the country is following suit.

Two important things happened this week, and both point to
the decline of America.

At the Republican Tea Party debate, a cheering jeering crowd
supported the idea that a man who didn’t get health care
insurance should be allowed to die.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau reported that poverty in the US reached its highest level since 1993. In absolute terms, more Americans are below the poverty level than at any time in our history.

These events are connected. When greed becomes our moral
compass, then tolerance and humanity die, and prosperity is
a casualty.

Alan Grayson compared the Tea-Partiers in Florida on Monday
night to the Romans at the Coliseum calling for the lions to
eat the Christians.

It is an apt metaphor.

The Patricians – plutocrats all – have been using their bought
and paid for media to field a long-running circus featuring
illusion, delusion, distraction and deception.

The populace, distracted by this steady stream of “reality show
news,” now regularly chants for the death of the very force which
made their lives the apogee of shared prosperity – a government
that represented them, not a few fat cats.

Cheer and jeer on, America.

But know this: unless we miraculously stand up to the ringmasters,
and confront the circus that has become our political process, we
are cheering our own demise.


John Atcheson's writing has appeared in the New York Times,
the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury
News, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as well as in several
wonk journals. He can be reached at jbatcheson@gmail.com

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/09/15-0

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Saving the Rich and Losing the Economy

Saving the Rich and Losing the Economy

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Information Clearing House
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Economic policy in the United States and Europe has failed, and people are suffering.

Economic policy failed for three reasons:

(1) policymakers focused on enabling offshoring corporations to
move middle class jobs, and the consumer demand, tax base, GDP,
and careers associated with the jobs, to foreign countries, such as
China and India, where labor is inexpensive;

(2) policymakers permitted financial deregulation that unleashed fraud and debt leverage on a scale previously unimaginable;

(3) policymakers responded to the resulting financial crisis by imposing austerity on the population and running the printing press in order to bail out banks and prevent any losses to the banks regardless of the cost to national economies and innocent parties.

Jobs offshoring was made possible because the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in China and India opening their vast excess supplies of labor to Western exploitation.

Pressed by Wall Street for higher profits, US corporations relocated their factories abroad. Foreign labor working with Western capital, technology, and business know-how is just as productive as US labor.

However, the excess supplies of labor (and lower living standards) mean that Indian and Chinese labor can be hired for less than labor’s contribution to the value of output.

The difference flows into profits, resulting in capital gains for shareholders and performance bonuses for executives.

As reported by Manufacturing and Technology News (September 20, 2011) the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages reports that in the last 10 years, the US lost 54,621 factories, and manufacturing employment fell by 5 million employees.

Over the decade, the number of larger factories (those employing 1,000 or more employees) declined by 40 percent.

US factories employing 500-1,000 workers declined by 44 percent; those employing between 250-500 workers declined by 37 percent, and those employing between 100-250 workers shrunk by 30 percent. http://www.manufacturingnews.com/

These losses are net of new start-ups. Not all the losses are due to offshoring. Some are the result of business failures.

US politicians, such as Buddy Roemer, blame the collapse of US
manufacturing on Chinese competition and “unfair trade practices.”
However, it is US corporations that move their factories abroad,
thus replacing domestic production with imports.

Half of US imports from China consist of the offshored production
of US corporations.

The wage differential is substantial. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2009, average hourly take-home pay for US workers was $23.03.

Social insurance expenditures add $7.90 to hourly compensation
and benefits paid by employers add $2.60 per hour for a total
labor compensation cost of $33.53.

In China as of 2008, total hourly labor cost was $1.36, and India’s is within a few cents of this amount. Thus, a corporation that moves 1,000 jobs to China saves $32,000 every hour in labor cost.

These savings translate into higher stock prices and executive compensation, not in lower prices for consumers who are left unemployed by the labor arbitrage.

Republican economists blame “high” US wages for for the current
high rate of unemployment. However, US wages are about the
lowest in the developed world.

They are far below hourly labor cost in Norway ($53.89), Denmark ($49.56), Belgium ($49.40), Austria ($48.04), and Germany ($46.52). The US might have the world’s largest economy, but its hourly workers rank 14th on the list of the best paid.

Americans also have a higher unemployment rate. The “headline” rate that the media hypes is 9.1 percent, but this rate does not include any discouraged workers or workers forced into part-time jobs because no full-time jobs are available.

The US government has another unemployment rate (U6) that
includes workers who have been too discouraged to seek a job for
six months or less. This unemployment rate is over 16 percent.

Statistician John Williams (Shadowstats.com) estimates the
unemployment rate when long-term discouraged workers (more
than six months) are included. This rate is over 22 percent.

Most emphasis is on the lost manufacturing jobs. However, the high speed Internet has made it possible to offshore many professional service jobs, such as software engineering, Information Technology, research and design.

Jobs that comprised ladders of upward mobility for US college
graduates have been moved offshore, thus reducing the value
to Americans of many university degrees.

Unlike former times, today an increasing number of graduates
return home to live with their parents as there are insufficient
jobs to support their independent existence.

All the while, the US government allows in each year one million
legal immigrants, an unknown number of illegal immigrants, and
a large number of foreign workers on H-1B and L-1 work visas.

In other words, the policies of the US government maximize the unemployment rate of American citizens.

Republican economists and politicians pretend that this is not the case and that unemployed Americans consist of people too lazy to work who game the welfare system.

Republicans pretend that cutting unemployment benefits and social
assistance will force “lazy people who are living off the taxpayers”
to go to work.

To deal with the adverse impact on the economy from the loss
of jobs and consumer demand from offshoring, Federal Reserve
chairman Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates in order to create
a real estate boom.

Lower interest rates pushed up real estate prices. People refinanced their houses and spent the equity. Construction, furniture and appliance sales boomed.

But unlike previous expansions based on rising real income, this
one was based on an increase in consumer indebtedness.

There is a limit to how much debt can increase in relation to
income, and when this limit was reached, the bubble popped.

When consumer debt could rise no further, the large fraudulent component in mortgage-backed derivatives and the unreserved swaps (AIG, for example) threatened financial institutions with insolvency and froze the banking system.

Banks no longer trusted one another. Cash was hoarded. Treasury
Secretary Paulson, browbeat Congress into massive taxpayer loans
to financial institutions that functioned as casinos.

The Paulson Bailout (TARP) was large but insignificant compared to
the $16.1 trillion (a sum larger than US GDP or national debt) that
the Federal Reserve lent to private financial institutions in the US
and Europe.

In making these loans, the Federal Reserve violated its own rules.
At this point, capitalism ceased to function.

The financial institutions were “too big to fail,” and thus taxpayer subsidies took the place of bankruptcy and reorganization.

In a word, the US financial system was socialized as the losses of
the American financial institutions were transferred to taxpayers.

European banks were swept up into the financial crisis by their
unwitting purchase of the junk financial instruments marketed
by Wall Street.

The financial junk had been given investment grade rating by the same incompetent agency that recently downgraded US Treasury bonds.

The Europeans had their own bailouts, often with American money (Federal Reserve loans). All the while Europe was brewing an additional crisis of its own.

By joining the European Union and (except for the UK) accepting a
common European currency, the individual member countries lost
the services of their own central banks as creditors.

In the US and UK the two countries’ central banks can print money with which to purchase US and UK debt. This is not possible for member countries in the EU.

When financial crisis from excessive debt hit the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) their central banks could not print euros in order to buy up their bonds, as the Federal Reserve did with “quantitative easing.”

Only the European Central Bank (ECB) can create euros, and it is prevented by charter and treaty from printing euros in order to bail out sovereign debt.

In Europe, as in the US, the driver of economic policy quickly became saving the private banks from losses on their portfolios. A deal was struck with the socialist government of Greece, which represented the banks and not the Greek people.

The ECB would violate its charter and together with the IMF, which would also violate its charter, would lend enough money to the Greek government to avoid default on its sovereign bonds to the private banks that had purchased the bonds.

In return for the ECB and IMF loans and in order to raise the money to repay them, the Greek government had to agree to sell to private investors the national lottery, Greece’s ports and municipal water systems, a string of islands that are a national preserve, and in addition to impose a brutal austerity on the Greek people by lowering wages, cutting social benefits and pensions, raising taxes, and laying off or firing government workers.

In other words, the Greek population is to be sacrificed to a small handful of foreign banks in Germany, France and the Netherlands.

The Greek people, unlike “their” socialist government, did not regard this as a good deal. They have been in the streets ever since.

Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the ECB, said that the austerity imposed on Greece was a first step.

If Greece did not deliver on the deal, the next step was for the EU to take over Greece’s political sovereignty, make its budget, decide its taxation, decide its expenditures and from this process squeeze out enough from Greeks to repay the ECB and IMF for lending Greece the money to pay the private banks.

In other words, Europe under the EU and Jean-Claude Trichet is a
return to the most extreme form of feudalism in which a handful
of rich are pampered at the expense of everyone else.

This is what economic policy in the West has become--a tool of the wealthy used to enrich themselves by spreading poverty among the rest of the population.

On September 21 the Federal Reserve announced a modified QE 3.

The Federal Reserve announced that the bank would purchase $400 billion of long-term Treasury bonds over the next nine months in an effort to drive long-term US interest rates even further below the rate of inflation, thus maximizing the negative rate of return on the purchase of long-term Treasury bonds.

The Federal Reserve officials say that this will lower mortgage rates by a few basis points and renew the housing market.

The officials say that QE 3, unlike its predecessors, will not result
in the Federal Reserve printing more dollars in order to monetize
US debt. Instead, the central bank will raise money for the bond
purchases by selling holdings of short-term debt.

Apparently, the Federal Reserve believes it can do this without raising short-term interest rates, because back during the recent debt-ceiling-government-shutdown-crisis, the Federal Reserve promised banks that it would keep the short-term interest rate (essentially zero) constant for two years.

The Fed’s new policy will do far more harm than good. Interest rates are already negative. To make them more so will have no positive effect.

People aren’t buying houses because interest rates are too high, but because they are either unemployed or worried about their jobs and do not see a recovering economy.

Already insurance companies can make no money on their investments. Consequently, they are unable to build their reserves against claims. Their only alternative is to raise their premiums.

The cost of a homeowner’s policy will go up by more than the cost of a mortgage will decline. The cost of health insurance will go up. The cost of car insurance will rise.

The Federal Reserve’s newly announced policy will impose more
costs on the economy than it will reduce.

In addition, in America today savings earn nothing. Indeed, they produce an ongoing loss as the interest rate is below the inflation rate.

The Federal Reserve has interest rates so low that only professionals who are playing arbitrage with algorithm programmed computer models can make money.

The typical saver and investor can get nothing on bank CDs, money market funds, municipal and government bonds. Only high risk debt, such as Greek and Spanish bonds, pay an interest rate that is higher than inflation.

For four years interest rates, when properly measured, have been negative.

Americans are getting by, maintaining living standards, by
consuming their capital. Even those with a cushion are eating
their seed corn.

The path that the US economy is on means that the number of Americans without resources to sustain them will be rising.

Considering the extraordinary political incompetence of the
Democratic Party, the right-wing of the Republican Party,
which is committed to eliminating income support programs,
could find itself in power.

If the right-wing Republicans implement their program, the US
will be beset with political and social instability.

As Gerald Celente says, “when people have have nothing left to
lose, they lose it.”


Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic
Policy in the Reagan Administration and Associate Editor of the
Wall Street Journal.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article29215.htm

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My God, It's Full of Stars

My God, It's Full of Stars

By Aaron Cynic
Diatribe Media
September 22, 2011

It might be odd to say and seemingly unconnected, but when
I consider what’s happening on Wall Street, or the halls of
government, or the streets of any number of cities across the world,
I can’t help but think back to our missions to the moon in the 60’s.

We had a clear goal, a common purpose and yes, it was for the
wrong reasons (beating the commies into the 21st century, global
superiority, etc) but I like to believe that some piece of every human
felt good about doing something so exceedingly evolutionary, so
extraordinary, that for one brief second it woke us out of our day to
day existence, shook the foundations of all our belief structures and
told our collective subconscious “we can do more.”

Because we can.

As Bucky Fuller pointed out, we have the technology and capability to feed, clothe, house and provide for every human being on the planet our most basic needs.

But instead of doing so, we buy into a belief of scarcity, of hoarding, of fear of losing what little we have.

The half percent that sits high atop Reagan’s shining city on a hill is still human, and they’re still afraid too.

Sure, they’ve been corrupted by years of power, wealth and gluttony, but they’re still human.

We’re all still human. Our hearts still beat, we still yearn for better lives and still want what’s best for each other.

The central tenet of the current hypercapitalist argument is that without a reward, usually a fiduciary award, there would be no progress forward.

Looking at the great accomplishments of history, I find that hard to
believe.

If we can put a man on the moon with duct tape and the
technological equivalent of a commodore 64, we can find
a way to pull the whole world out of the mess it’s in.

We don’t need an evil empire to show up, we don’t need fear, we don’t need some failed idea of providing for ourselves or our family.

We simply need to realize that value doesn’t lie in a collection of
resources or monuments to kings and presidents, or goals given
by a failed misinterpretation of Gordon Gekko.

Value lies in looking past history, through the present and forward to the future and saying “we can do better” – not for our own personal gain, but for the betterment of humanity.

To quote the words of one of the 20th century’s greatest philosophers, Bill Hicks:

“…it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”

http://www.diatribemedia.com/2011/09/22/my-god-its-full-of-stars/

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Inside the Trillion-Dollar Underground Economy

Keeping Many Americans (Barely) Afloat in Desperate Times

By Sarah Jaffe
AlterNet
September 20, 2011

The United States continues to suffer from mass unemployment.

People have had to adjust their lifestyles to the new reality—fewer jobs, lower wages, mortgages to pay that are now more than their homes are worth.

Millions have dropped out of the job hunt and are trying to find
other ways to sustain their families.

That's where the underground economy comes in. Also called the shadow or informal economy, it's not just illegal activity like selling drugs or doing sex work.

It's all sorts of work that doesn't get regulated by the government
or reported to the IRS, and it's a far bigger part of the economy
than most of us are aware—in 2009, economics professor Friedrich
Schneider estimated that it was nearly 8 percent of the US GDP,
somewhere around $1 trillion. (That makes the shadow GDP bigger
than the entire GDP of Turkey or Austria.)

Schneider doesn’t include illegal activities in his count-- he studies
legal production of goods and services that are outside of tax and
labor laws. And that shadow economy is growing as regular jobs
continue to be hard to come by—Schneider estimated 5 percent in
'09 alone.

The Young Women's Empowerment Project [PDF] describes the “street economy” as “... any way that girls make cash money without paying taxes or having to show identification. Sometimes this means the sex trade. But other times it means braiding hair, babysitting, selling CDs/DVDs, drugs or other skills like sewing and laundry.”

D.A. Barber explained:

“This underground economy goes beyond the homeless collecting
aluminum cans or clogging day labor halls. It includes the working
poor getting cash for all forms of recycling: giving plasma, selling
homemade tamales outside shopping plazas, holding yard sales,
doing under-the-table work for friends and family, selling stuff at
pawnshops, CD, book and used clothing stores, and even getting
tips from restaurants and bars--to name a few.”

That means nearly all of us have participated in some way in the underground economy.

Yet little is known or discussed about this area of our lives, even though it touches many of us as we try to make ends meet.

Economist Edgar Feige estimated in 2009 that unreported economic activity was costing the US government $600 billion in tax revenues, and the growth in that number—from the Internal Revenue Service's 2001 estimate of $345 billion—indicates the growth of the informal economy.

Reporting on Feige's work, Dennis Chaptman noted, “As the
recession deepens and regular employment opportunities decline,
unreported activities tend to grow, thereby swelling the tax gap
and worsening the government's budget deficit.”

Workers in the underground economy can also be vulnerable to
exploitation; the Monthly Review pointed out that workers,
especially undocumented immigrants, are pushed into off-the-
books work out of desperation and have no authority to appeal
to when their conditions are horrific or their pay substandard;
wages are pushed downward and expectations lowered.

Labor economist Mark Price agreed. He told me, “People enter such arrangements because of their difficulty finding formal employment. Think of undocumented immigrants that work as housecleaners or in the construction industry.”

He continued, “Employers or consumers who use workers in this way are doing so to boost profits or lower prices. Of course documented workers also can end up choosing to work in the underground economy but that choice, like the choice for the undocumented, has the same basic driver--the inability to find formal paid employment that meets a worker's needs.”

Alfonso Morales, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at
Madison, told the Christian Science Monitor that off-the-books
work “is probably neutral to good.”

He pointed out that it is impossible to separate the informal
economy from the formal. “People who make their money in
unregulated businesses probably spend it in regulated ones.”

Price compared the growth of the underground economy to payday lending; “a typically undesirable practice that develops and thrives because it fills a need created by the failure of public policy to address societal needs.”

The informal economy, though, does not only consist of low-wage workers.

Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, pointed out in her book Cities in a World Economy that there is also an informal economy of creative professionals.

In an article titled “Cities Today: A New Frontier for Major Development” she wrote:

“In brief, the new informal economy in global cities is part of
advanced capitalism. One way of putting it is that the new types
of informalization of work are the low-cost equivalent of formal
deregulation in finance, telecommunications, and most other
economic sectors in the name of flexibility and innovation. The
difference is that while formal deregulation was costly, and tax
revenue as well as private capital went into paying for it,
informalization is low-cost and largely on the backs of the workers
and firms themselves.”

She points out that by keeping creative professional work informal, these workers avoid the corporatization of creative work, and maintain the freedom to be innovative and self-sufficient.

While these creative workers prize independence, Lisa Dodson stressed the way communities come together to help one another through tough times, often through off-the-books economic activity, in her book The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy.

In one passage, she tells the story of arriving in a small-town farmer's market in Maine, only to overhear a discussion between locals on “neighbors and the market erosion of common fairness.” She wrote:

“Just then a middle-aged woman, who had been talking to friends,
suddenly turned around to face other shoppers and asked, 'What’s
happening to us? Why doesn’t the government do something?' A
local farmer, sorting vegetables nearby, responded immediately,
'The government is the same as the oil companies. There’s no
difference. We can’t wait for them to do anything.' A young mom
holding a baby as she stood in line said, 'So what do we do?' There
was no single response, but they were looking at each other to find it.”

Without solutions coming from Washington or local governments, it continues to be up to working people to find a way to negotiate the rough economy.

Price argued, “People shouldn't have to give up fundamental human rights like access to income in retirement or safety on the job because they need work.

But in a society like ours, which tolerates high levels of
unemployment, the underground economy is often the
next best alternative to starving.”

While some have been able to flourish working underground, it's
important to remember that most workers are not off the books
to dodge paying taxes or because they prefer it that way.

As we see more and more people dropping out of the formal labor
market in despair, the informal economy will remain a destination
of last resort—and will keep growing.


Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @seasonothebitch.

http://www.alternet.org/story/152446/inside_the_trilliondollar_
underground_economy_keeping_many_americans_(barely)_afloat
_in_desperate_times?page=entire

Sunday, September 18, 2011

U.S. Real Unemployment Rises To 22.8%

U.S. Real Unemployment Rises To 22.8%
By Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
September 18, 2011

According to the Census Bureau, nearly 1 out of 6 Americans
now live in poverty.

From the Associated Press today:

The Census Bureau’s annual report released Tuesday offers a snapshot of the economic well-being of U.S. households for 2010, when joblessness hovered above 9 percent for a second year.

It comes at a politically sensitive time for President Barack Obama, who has acknowledged in the midst of a re-election fight that the unemployment rate could persist at high levels through next year….

Measured by total numbers, the 46 million now living in poverty is
the largest on record dating back to when the census began tracking
poverty in 1959.

Based on percentages, it tied the poverty level in 1993 and was
the highest since 1983.

In fact, the real unemployment figure is 22.8%, according to
John Williams’ Shadow Stats.

During the last Great Depression, the unemployment rate peaked
at 25 percent in 1933.

The current boss of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has
admitted that the Federal Reserve engineered the Great Depression
(and future Federal Reserve chairmans – if we don’t get rid of them
will probably admit the current Greatest Depression was created by
the banksters).

Both unemployment and poverty are created by the fractional
reserve system and its expansion of the money supply.

“Poverty can be caused by real economy, that is to say, by the
lack of supply of real things,” writes economics professor
Ahamed Kameel Mydin Meera.

"It can also be caused by the monetary system. In a modern capitalist economy, the creation of abundance of money that accrues very unevenly in the hands of individuals can aggravate poverty."

Milton Friedman, a well-known monetary economist, says that inflation is predominantly a monetary phenomenon.

If this is the case, the worsening of the global poverty problem can be significantly pointed at the institutions that are responsible for the creation of fiat money.

In the United States, that institution – not federal, as claimed, but owned by a cartel of bankers – is the Federal Reserve.

http://beforeitsnews.com/story/1106/504/US_real_unemployment
_rises_to_22.8.html

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Meaning of Social Revolution

My Dear Fellow Global Citizens:

Below for your independent and thoughtful review, is a copy of an Address, that was delivered for the S. P. of C. in the Labor Temple, in Winnipeg, Canada on March 9, 1945, by J. Milne.

I now very respectfully ask what has really changed exactly 66 years,
6 months, and 6 days, later and as a Society, are we still in need of
a "Social Revolution" and are you ready to finally join the movement?

Sincerely,

Tony E. Whitcomb
Founder/CEO Expotera

The Meaning of Social Revolution

The word Revolution is a source of fear to a great many people. In their minds it brings forth a picture of civil strife, bloodshed and destruction.

It portrays the ruin of all the things they love and respect, and the setting up of conditions too horrible even to mention. It is a word that is not pleasantly received.

On the one hand, this attitude arises from a genuine consciousness of economic interests.

To the owners of capital, it is not disturbing that dictatorships
spread themselves across the earth, leaving economic and
intellectual wretchedness in their wake – so long as the interests
of capital are not affected thereby.

These activities, indeed, are even useful at times, since they give the proper people a firmer grip on the affairs of society by cleansing the minds and purging the ranks of workmen who have become misguided and discontented.

To the owners of capital it is not disturbing that bombs should drop
from the skies, that the work of man should be reduced to rubble,
and that men, women and children should be ground into that rubble
if these things happen in the interests of capital.

To the owners of capital it is fitting that insecurity and want should
be permanent features of a world of plenty, since these are the only
things upon which power and wealth can be built.

But Revolution! Intolerable!

On the other hand, this attitude towards Revolution arises from a
genuine lack of consciousness of economic interests. The workers
of the world do not understand wherein their interests lie.

They are under the influence of the perverted outlook of the ruling class; and because of this they accept the evils of modern society with tolerance, or resentment turned in the wrong directions, while they face the thought of Revolution with almost unanimous opposition.

We stand for Revolution.

But let it be made clear now that we mean by Revolution, not the
things they say we mean, not the tortured existence with which
you are now all so familiar, not a change of rulers, masters, or
government personnel: we mean a change that will put an end to
all these things, a basic change in the economic relationships of society.

We mean a Social Revolution – a Socialist Revolution.

Why do we speak of Revolution? There is a reason. What is it? Well, as a starting point, let us ask the question: “Is everyone satisfied with society as it is today?”

Even the most optimistic capitalist apologist would be compelled
to answer in the negative.

There can be no dispute about the fact that discontent is
widespread. It is not active, but it does exist.

Why are people discontented? Why are you discontented? Ask this question of yourself and of your workmates. Consider the answers.

In other parts of the earth, we should be obliged to head the list
with the terror brought by bombs and shells; the grief brought by
ruined homes; and the horror of living in the midst of death and destruction.

Here, we must head the list with the sorrow brought by little items: “Missing”, “Seriously wounded”, “Fallen in the line of duty”.

And following these comes the discontent arising from the many
restrictions and impositions brought by war, the shortages in
housing and in consumers’ goods, the rising price levels, etc.

It may be said that this discontent may be attributed mainly to the
war. That may be conceded, but was the war necessary? “Yes”,
perhaps you will answer, “It was necessary to destroy Hitler before
he destroys us”.

But that sort of thing was done once before, was it not? “No”, may come the reply, “but that was because we didn’t do a good enough job of it at that time. We shall not make the same mistake again.”

But let us suppose that a better job had been done last time. Would it have prevented the coming of Mussolini? Would it have prevented the rise of Japan? Would there never have been the Hungry Thirties?

And let us suppose that, after the war, Germany is completely exterminated. Will that prevent another Hitler from arising somewhere else – perhaps here?

Will that prevent another great depression, another great war?

These questions are occurring to workers. Only so far, at present, can they find answers that satisfy them.

The other questions remain unanswered, vaguely imprinted on their
minds, but looming ever greater as the months go by, bringing with
them the dawning thought that life can never be more than an
endless circle of want and viciousness, that their periods of greatest
access to the products of their own labors can come only at times
when millions of their kind are thrown at each other’s throats, only
at times of greatest tragedy.

A truly disturbing thought! Yet, where can there be found reason
for another thought?

Government plans for the post-war world (insofar as these concern the workers) are designedsolely to check actual starvation. How can such plans be reconciled with the thought of a world of plenty?

The “Big Three” conferences have already produced visible signs of disagreement, and if such signs are apparent in the midst of war, what hope can there be that the defeat of their present opponents will bring an end to such conflicts?

Peace and plenty may feature prominently in the words of capital,
but there is little room for them in the deeds of capital.

They talk of plenty and prepare for scarcity; they talk of peace
and prepare for war.

But even though the public figures of our time, the trusted and
honored statesmen of today, can and will do nothing to ease the
fears and difficulties of mankind, something can be done; and
our task is to show what can be done and how it is to be done.

This explanation will bring you closer to an understanding of
the meaning of Social Revolution.

There is one outstanding problem in modern society. It runs
constantly through all the changing fortunes of capitalism, ever
present, tending to become ever more intense with the passage
of time. And that is the problem of poverty.

If we trace back this problem to its breeding ground, we shall find
that these other problems which I have mentioned are related to it
in such a way that their solution can be effected only through the
solution of this fundamental problem.

The insecurity of trade depressions, the destructiveness of modern wars, the wretchedness of everyday life under capitalism can be ended only when poverty is ended.

You and I and the great mass of humanity, in order to live, are obliged to work for other people. We have no choice in the matter.

The mills, the mines, the factories, all the things that are needed
to sustain the life of all the people are owned by only a few of the
people – the capitalists.

This is a statement that hardly needs to be elaborated upon. It is common knowledge.

What is not common knowledge is the fact that here is to be found the source of the great evils of today.

The modern worker works in a plant which he does not own,
with machinery which he does not own; and the wealth which
he produces, he does not own.

What he receives in return is contained in an envelope, or is
represented by a check, and is called wages. And his wages
are a claim upon the wealth which he has produced.

Not all the wealth; only some of it.

He does not receive wealth proportionate to the amount which he produces. His wages rise at one time, and fall at another time; then rise and fall again at other times, depending largely upon the conditions of the labor market.

His productivity does not fluctuate like that.

And if we examine his real wage (i. e., the amount of goods he can obtain for his money wage) over an extended period of time, it will be seen that his standard of life has increased only in a trifling degree (in many cases not at all), and even this increase is of doubtful benefit in view of the greater insecurity of advancing capitalism.

Contrasted with the steady and tremendous advance in productivity, there can be room for doubt that the living standards of the workers come a sad-looking second.

Then what becomes of the ever-increasing wealth which the workers produce but do not receive? Into the coffers of capital it goes.

Part of it is used for the replacement and expansion of plant and machinery.

Part of it, of course, is used to surround the capitalist with massive evidences of wealth and luxury.

Part of it used to pay off the politicians, pedagogues, priests,
pressmen and such like for their services in keeping the minds
of the workers stunted.

But, between the factory and the coffers of capital, a devious
line is travelled by the wealth produced by labor.

Obviously, the articles produced in a given plant are not in
themselves of much use to the plant owner. The manufacturer
of shoes can wear only one pair of shoes.

It may suit his vanity to reserve for his personal use a dozen pair,
or even more; but clearly he cannot use the entire output of a shoe
factory. And that, of course, is not his purpose.

Neither is it his purpose to provide shoes to those who need shoes. His purpose is to realize profits.

So the shoes, which the workers have produced for him, are placed on the market, to be bought by those who need them and have the price to pay for them. And this, as everyone knows, is what happens to the entire out of modern industry.

The workers, as we have already pointed out, are not in a position
to buy back all their produce. Only part of it is within their means.

Nor can the capitalists themselves consume the balance. They are compelled, therefore, to reach ever farther afield in search of new outlets for their commodities.

But the markets thus created, although always expanding, do
not expand at a rate uniform with expanding productivity and
production, and every so often great masses of wealth pile up
and cause the capitalists to curtail production.

Then we have the spectacle of idle and hungry workers trudging the streets in search of work and begging the powers that be for crusts of bread in a land of plenty.

Such a condition existed during the Hungry Thirties. And the great
surpluses of wealth at that time were never fully disposed of until
the present war was well under way.

In the everyday production and circulation of wealth, the capitalists find themselves in need of sources of raw materials, protection in the transport of goods, new markets, etc. They fight amongst themselves over these things.

In a given country their differences are settled periodically at the ballot box.

On the international field, they frequently resort to violence, and
the workers are then called upon to join in the fight for freedom,
to save the world for democracy, to defend “our way of life” and
such-like nonsense.

Such is the true nature of this war.

This has been a brief sketch of the adventuresome and troublesome nature of commodity production. A great deal more could be said on the subject.

But perhaps enough has been said at this time to more than strongly suggest that wars are not the result of the wickedness of power-mad dictators, that depressions are not unfortunate natural phenomena, and that poverty is not the result of the failure of individuals to get ahead in the world.

Perhaps enough has been said to show that these evils are definitely related, that they are definite features of the economic fabric of society as at present constituted.

Perhaps enough has been said to show that they stem directly from the capitalist ownership of the means of life.

A lot of people around us think something ought to be done for the workers.

They think wages somehow out to be protected and even increased – reasonably, of course.

They think someone ought to take the workers under a protective wing during times of depression, that minimum standards ought to be set up, that boards of this and that ought to be formed, that the government ought to purchase some industries.

They think that if something (almost anything, it would seem) were done by a well-meaning government, it would prove beneficial to the downtrodden underdog.

These people (and occupying an honored position within their ranks
may be found the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation) forget,
or don’t know, that they are not pioneers in this kind of activity,
that they are simply the current representatives of a long line of
misinformed warriors who have been baying at the moon for generations.

Two great modern monuments provide adequate testimony to the success of their efforts: the Great Depression of the Hungry Thirties and the Great Catastrophe of the Bloody Forties.

Capitalism reminds one of the German worker back in the days
of secret rearmament in Germany. He worked in a factory that
produced parts for baby carriages.

His wife was to have a baby, so he naturally had to carry home the
necessary parts. He complained bitterly afterwards because, no
matter how he assembled the parts, the results was always the
same – a machine gun.

Capitalism is like that. No matter what you do to it, it reacts in the same way. Wrap yourself up in capitalism, sew up its rips and tears, call it by some other name, and it will still be a poor shelter from the wind.

The solution to the problem is Revolution – Social Revolution.

And by this we mean a new system of society, a system in which there will be neither private nor government ownership of the means for producing and distributing wealth, a system in which all these things will be owned in common by all the people, where wealth will be produced for no other purpose than to satisfy human needs.

We do not mean a condition of chaos, anarchy and bloodshed. We have these things now.

We mean a system in which peace, happiness and freedom for the mass of the people will have a real meaning for the first time in history.

We mean a system of society in which poverty, wars, insecurity
and all the evils existing and arising from the economic nature
of capitalism will be ended, once and for all time.

Is there any reason why such a state of affairs ought not to be introduced?

For thousands of years the slaves of society, with brains and
brawn and sweat and blood, have toiled to develop and erect
the magnificent structure that is the modern means for producing
the needs of mankind.

Who can stand up and state bluntly that only the capitalist class
may own these means and benefit from their operation?

Who can stand up and state bluntly that the workers of the world should continue to live in hovels and feed on swill and shower the greatness of their ever expanding abilities on the lap of a useless parasite class?

Is there any reason why the state of affairs which we propose
cannot be introduced?

The workers feed and clothe and fight for the capitalist class. They wait on them hand and foot and carry them around on their backs from the cradle to the grave.

When they decide that they will no longer engage in such
foolishness, what power on earth is great enough to prevent
them from asserting their will?

The day is coming when the workers of the world will rise from their knees, conscious of their own interests, their own strength, their own destiny.

The day is coming when the workers of the world will proceed about the task of building society anew.

How soon that day will come depends on how soon is built into an overwhelming force the movement striving for its attainment.

Today that movement is small, but its growth is the growth of the
working class will to power.

It is not a movement of banners and bunting, of fanfares and parades. Neither fireworks nor heroics feature its activities.

But it is the greatest movement ever undertaken by man.

And those who are its members are sure of their position, proud
of their position, and certain that every step they take is a step
forward. They know where they are going and they know how to
get there.

We invite you to join us. We offer you freedom from the mental enslavement of class society.

We offer you the companionship of men and women who are not
carried away by the sham, the hypocrisy, the lies of a decadent
ruling class.

Most of all, we offer you an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and take part in the activities of the one movement worth while – the movement for Social Revolution.

http://www.worldsocialism.org/canada/meaning.social.revolution
.htm

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Are You Creatively Maladjusted?

Are You Creatively Maladjusted?
By Annette Kahmann
Bella Spark Productions
September 13, 2011

From earliest childhood, parents and other well-meaning adults instruct us on how to behave, what to do and say, how to avoid problems with others, cultivate good manners and relationships.

As we become a little older, these early instructors are joined by fashion and makeup designers, the media and the advertising industry who tell us just how and who to be in order to gain the approval of others.

All of this is supposed to help us navigate through life without emotional pain — as author Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith explains in his book, Spiritual Liberation, “to assure your ego’s survival and protection from getting hurt.”

In other words, all of these well-meant efforts are geared towards
our ego, but what about our Spirit?

Beckwith distinguishes between living from personality (ego) and living from character (Spirit).

The word “personality” comes from the Latin word “persona,” a
word that denoted the mask worn by actors.

When we live from our personality or ego, we move through life
based on acceptance by our peers, following the latest trends,
looking for happiness that can be extracted from our experiences;
when things get emotionally challenging or don’t feel safe, the
personality-driven person will panic.

And according to Beckwith, living from personality is “an agreement with mediocrity.”

The word “character” on the other hand represents our innate strengths and virtues.

It is related to the French word “caractère” and means “imprint on the soul,” Beckwith says. Webster’s New World Dictionary lists the root of the word “character” as Greek, meaning “to engrave.”

While our personality is the façade that we tend to display to the world, “character is revealed when the mask is removed.”

When we live from character, we move through life even-minded; happiness is an inherent quality of our life, regardless of the situations in which we may find ourselves.

Our character is longing to express its innate gifts, skills and desires.

To find out whether you are currently living from character or personality, you have to be willing to take an honest look at yourself.

Find out what is running you: is it fashion and trends, being accepted by others, being “cool?”

Have you made a conscious decision about what is running you? Are your own core values determining your life? Do you serve the world, or do you expect the world to serve you?

Living from character means living in integrity with your true and divine nature.

To borrow Martin Luther King’s terminology, living from character means being a thermostat instead of a thermometer — while the thermometer merely reflects what is, the thermostat sets the status quo.

Living from our true character means contributing to the
improvement of our civilization, coming from compassion
versus judgment; it means “that we draw an energetic circle
large enough for everyone to fit into.”

While not all people that have made history have been living from
character, all positive forces in history (people that we revere for
the social improvements they have instigated or fought for) have
this in common, Beckwith says.

They all dared to be different and put up with scorn and ridicule
from people who were going through life based on personality.

All these contributors to the betterment of civilization have been
(or are) nonconformists and are “creatively maladjusted.”

What exactly does that mean? Living creatively maladjusted
means two things.

The first is the courage to defy society’s standards and step out
of the stale conformist’s role; “living creatively maladjusted is
beautiful because it creates space for you to be transformed by
the moment-by-moment renewing of your mind, heart, and spirit.”

The second thing that being creatively maladjusted means
is entertaining “new ways of being in the world” since it is
our “complete lack of creativity that keeps our world enmeshed
in false fear, useless wars, greed and global warming.”

The creatively maladjusted person will look and allow for
new creative solutions to old issues, regardless of seeming
impossibilities and past failures.

In Beckwith’s view, becoming creatively maladjusted opens
the way towards a “genuinely civilized global society.”

Are you ready to leave your mask behind and exhibit your
true character, to live from Spirit instead of your ego?

If so, you will find yourself in good company: Desmond Tutu,
Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein,
together with countless other social innovators whose names
have not entered the annals of history.

As Beckwith states: “Being creatively maladjusted in a society that values materialism over evolution is the higher part of wisdom.”


Annette Kahmann, MA, CR HTPA combines her training in career counseling, literature and languages with energy healing to assess where people’s passions lie and guide them along their chosen path and she can be reached at AllowGrace@gmail.com

http://bellaspark.com/articles/entry/are-you-creatively-maladjust
ed1/

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11: America looks back, forges ahead

9/11: America looks back, forges ahead
By Rod Lockwood
ToledoBlade.com
September 11, 2011

Ten years later it still doesn't make sense.

Passenger jets slicing through a beautiful blue late-summer morning and hurtling into the World Trade Center, plowing into the Pentagon, and falling to earth in a Pennsylvania field.

Two of the most recognizable symbols of commerce buckling and tumbling to the ground like broken toys. Everyday folks on a place transforming into heroes and sacrificing their own lives so that others would survive the day.

The people who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,
were accountants and secretaries, firefighters and police officers,
IT workers, janitors, and soldiers.

They were husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and lovers and friends, all going about their days exactly like the rest of us, reveling in the mudnade sense of purpose that we take for granted until we see it snatched away from someone else.

One minute you're drinking coffee and telling a co-worker about your
weekend. The next, you're standing at an open window 90 stories
over New York, desperately gasping for your last breaths and facing
a horrifying choice.

The thought is so sobering and raw and real that those of us who lived through that day -- from the grieving family members to everyone who watched from afar -- will never be the same.

We are scarred and battered, and the event was so big that
sometimes it feels like just now we're finally dusting ourselves
off as a nation.

Since 9/11 there have been two wars that caused the deaths of thousands of Americans, Iraqis, and Afghans.

The financial markets collapsed, a recession rocked the economy, and we've become mired in political dysfunction that illustrates just how self-absorbed and short-sighted we've become as a nation.

Remember after 9/11 when politicians from both sides of the aisle vowed to work together?

Remember that patriotism was defined in its most basic form as a love of country and a commitment to pulling together in the face of adversity so that we all would be stronger?

Remember the firefighters and police officers who waded back into those buildings to try to save lives?

Somehow we seem to have lost all of that good will, which is its own form of tragedy.

The question, 10 years later, still seems to be: Where do we go from here?

Do we shrug and think, "Gee, I hope that never happens again …" as we turn away and scream at a linebacker to kill someone on the other team?

Do we tune in to our favorite ideologue and nod stupidly when he or she points fingers at the other side and says, "It's all their fault. … "?

Or do we look back at 9/11 and see examples of what we're capable of as individuals and as a nation?

That was a day a handful of brave Americans on United Airlines
Flight 93 pieced together what was going on thousands of feet
below them and made the conscious decision to risk everything --
to never see their children or their spouses again or hold a baby
or hug a parent -- to prevent more people from dying.

No doubt there were Republicans and Democrats among those who charged the terrorists and no doubt those philosophical divisions were meaningless in those moments.

That was a day hundreds of New York City firefighters and police officers didn't flinch when they were called to do an impossible job -- fight a jet-fuel fire in a burning skyscraper dozens of stories above Manhattan.

As heroic as their actions were, it's a safe bet that none of them thought, "Today, I will be a hero." Instead, they were simply doing their jobs as best they could.

No doubt there were liberals and conservatives among them, men and women who argued about politics and social issues in the engine houses and squad rooms, and no doubt their disagreements were meaningless when those buildings were burning.

That was a day that across the country millions of people did small things to help the folks suffering in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania.

We moved toward the disaster and the family members rather than away from them.

In the weeks after 9/11, New Yorkers continued to risk their lives cleaning up the massive mess, and people from all over the country pitched in however they could.

In the midst of that tragedy, our true nature as a nation was revealed.

Tapping back into commitment could give us hope that there's a
way out of our current mess and provide a road map for handling
the inevitable disasters that will occur in the future.

Think of it like this:

Who cares about ideological differences or abstract interpretations
of public policy when you just want your husband or wife to walk
through that door for the first time in 10 years and tell you it has
all been an awful nightmare?

We owe it to those people, we owe it to the thousands who died on
Sept. 11, 2001, and we owe it to ourselves to use the anniversary
of 9/11 each year to reboot our real patriotism -- not the kind that
involves shooting off fireworks while listening to classic rock --
and think about what's best for the country and what's best for our
neighbors, not what's necessarily best for ourselves.

Perhaps then it will all start to make sense.

Rod Lockwood is a Staff Writer at the ToledoBlade.com and he
can be reach at rlockwood@theblade.com

http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2011/09/11/9-11-America-
looks-back-forges-ahead.html

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Future For Most Americans

Pathetic Jobs, Bad Debts And A Crappy Economy

By End Of The American Dream
Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sorry to break this to you, but the future for most Americans is going to be pretty crappy.

Unless you are independently wealthy, the chances are good that you will have a low paying job, that you will be drowning in a sea of bad debts and that you will have to go on government assistance at some point.

Most American families are completely dependent on their jobs for income, and right now good jobs are disappearing at a frightening pace.

Over the last couple of decades, millions of high paying
manufacturing jobs have been shipped out of the country
and they are being replaced by low paying service jobs.

Small business creation is being absolutely crushed by the federal government, and millions of illegal immigrants have been allowed in to the country and they are now competing for the limited number of jobs that are still available.

The vast majority of the money and the vast majority of the power
in this country are now in the hands of either the big corporations or
the government.

Together, the big corporations and the government are absolutely crushing everyone else.

If you are not part of the "privileged class", there is a good chance that your job is serving them.

Perhaps you are bringing them lunch or cutting their hair or stocking shelves for them.

Once upon a time, America was "the land of opportunity", but now that has all changed.

Tomorrow morning, millions of Americans will get up and go to
pathetic, low paying jobs and millions of others will wonder why
they can't find anyone to hire them.

Sadly, if nothing is done to reverse the long-term trends that are destroying our economy, the number of "working poor" is going to continue to increase.

Our founding fathers never intended for this to happen.

Our founding fathers intended to set up a capitalist system in which the power of the central government and the power of corporations was greatly limited.

The idea was that individuals and small businesses should be given the chance to grow and thrive in a free market system.

But that is not what we have today.

Instead of capitalism, what we have today is much more aptly
described as "corporatism". There are very few areas of the
economy where the corporations and the government do not
totally dominate.

For a while things worked fairly well because the big corporations were providing millions and millions of good jobs for American workers.

But now the big corporations have figured out that they don't really need expensive American workers and they are shipping millions of our jobs out of the country.

But the mainstream media keeps insisting that everything is going
to be okay if we all just have a positive attitude.

I had to laugh when I read the following line in an article posted on USA Today recently....

"Chances are your negative state of mind has a lot to do with the double-dip crowd's Weather Channel-like warnings of another catastrophic economic storm bearing down on the USA."

Look, chanting positive affirmations over and over is not going
to zap good jobs into existence out of thin air.

Right now there is intense competition for any good jobs that
happen to become available.

For example, last month approximately 17,000 people applied for
600 jobs that came open at Ford's Louisville Assembly Plant. So
those that applied were facing 27 to 1 odds.

The sad thing is that those jobs only paid 15 dollars an hour.

Back in the old days, a job at a Ford plant could easily support an entire family. One of my grandfathers worked at a Ford plant for years. Now, such a job will barely get you out of poverty.

But those Ford jobs are far better alternatives than working at
Wal-Mart or flipping burgers down at the local Dairy Queen.

When I was growing up, they told us in school that we were
becoming a "service economy". At the time I had only a vague
idea what that meant.

Now I know that it means lots of crappy, low paying jobs for everyone.

In general, true wealth is created when something comes out
of the ground or when something is made.

So if we are importing far more natural resources than we are
exporting and if we are not making much of anything in this
country anymore, what does that mean for the future of America?

Every single month, we send far, far more money to the rest of the world than they send to us. That means that we are getting poorer.

Meanwhile, we are also getting into much more debt as a nation every single month. That is also a huge drain on our national wealth.

The size of the "American pie" is continually getting smaller, and the people that are suffering the most from it are those on the bottom of the food chain.

Right now, unemployment in the United States is at epidemic levels and the number of "working poor" is absolutely exploding.

Last year, 19.7% of all U.S. working adults had jobs that would not have been enough to push a family of four over the poverty line even if they had worked full-time hours for the entire year.

How would you feel if you worked as hard as you could all year and your family was still living in poverty?

Sadly, unless something dramatic is done, the number of working poor is going to continue to increase.

Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40%of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

Perhaps you are reading this and you have a low income job.

Do you want to know where your good job went? It was likely
shipped out of the country.

The corporations have figured out that they can make much larger piles of money if they make stuff on the other side of the globe where they can legally pay slave labor wages to the workers.

The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its
manufacturing jobs since the year 2000, and over 42,000
manufacturing facilities in the United States have been
closed down since 2001.

But that is only part of the story.

The Obama administration recently announced that it will not be
deporting most illegal aliens any longer. Only convicted criminals
and "security risks" will be targeted from now on.

So now blue collar American workers will have even more
competition for the few remaining jobs.

Once upon a time in this country, you could support an entire
family very well with the income from one construction job.

Today, that is no longer true. Competition from illegal aliens has massively driven down construction wages in many areas of the country.

But you know what? Large numbers of blue collar workers will run
out and vote for Obama once again in 2012.

He may be shipping our jobs out of the country, but he sure does deliver a good speech. The following is from a speech that Obama gave at a union rally in Detroit on Monday....

"That’s why we chose Detroit as one of the cities that we’re helping revitalize in our “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative. We’re teaming up with everybody -- mayors, local officials, you name it -- boosting economic development, rebuilding your communities the best way, which is a way that involves you. Because despite all that’s changed here, and all the work that lies ahead, this is still a city where men clocked into factories. This is the city that built the greatest middle class the world has ever known. This is the city where women rolled up their sleeves and helped build an arsenal for democracy to free the world. This is a city where the great American industry has come back to life and the industries of tomorrow are taking root. This is a city where people, brave and bold, courageous and clever, are dreaming up ways to prove the skeptics wrong and write the next proud chapter in our history."

Doesn't that sound nice?

I know that I was a little bit inspired when I read that.

But where are the jobs?

I have written extensively about the lack of jobs in this country. It is not a great mystery what is happening to them, and it is not a great mystery about what is needed to start getting them back.

But sadly, very few of our major politicians are even addressing the real issues.

On Thursday, Barack Obama is going to unveil his latest "jobs plan". It will almost certainly be some rehashed nonsense that involves even more government spending.

Look, if you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.

We have a national crisis on our hands. We need very real solutions to our very real problems.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, when you factor
in all of the short-term discouraged workers, all of the long-term
discouraged workers and all of those working part-time because
they cannot find full-time employment, the real unemployment
rate is now approximately 23 percent.

Things appear even more frightening when you look at the number of Americans that actually do have jobs. Right now, only 47 percent of the U.S. workforce is "fully employed" at this point.

Things wouldn't be so bad if millions of unemployed people could
run out and start their own businesses. But in America today, it
is incredibly difficult to start a small business.

The federal government, our state governments and our local
governments have piled mountains of ridiculous regulations on
to our businesses.

Big corporations that have teams of attorneys on staff can handle
all of the regulations. Most individuals and small businesses can't.

But even if you are able to successfully navigate all of the red tape, you will still likely find yourself struggling to survive as you compete against the big corporate machines.

The big corporations have spent decades stacking things in their favor, and competing against them is not easy.

Millions of Americans are sitting at home today wondering why their businesses failed or why their careers went up in smoke. Meanwhile, their bank accounts continue to go down and their bad debts continue to pile up.

As bad as things have been, you would think that the big banks would show just a little bit of compassion on all of us.

But sadly, that is just not the case. In fact, they are becoming more insensitive than ever.

It turns out that the big financial institutions will come after your
relatives even after you are dead. An article on CNN recently
described the letter that Denise Towley received just two weeks
after her mother passed away....

"We have recently learned that [your mother], a valued Discover
Card customer, has passed away. Please accept our sincere
apologies," stated the letter from Discover, which Townley sent
to CNNMoney.

It then offered her or another family member the "opportunity" to assume the balance on her mother's credit card and offered a special introductory APR of 0% for the first six months (the APR would increase to 13.24% after that).

If Townley wasn't interested in taking over the account, then
the bank wished to discuss how the estate planned to pay off
her mother's credit card balance.

But that example is nothing compared to the next one that you are about to read.

Bank of America recently called one grieving widow up to 48 times a day to remind her that her husband's debts needed to be paid. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the Daily Mail....

The bank told the widow that it was unable to stop the calls until
the debt was paid as they were computer generated.

Mrs Crabtree claimed that the calls began the day after her husband died of cancer.

She told the bank that she only had $5,000 cash to hand, which was needed for food and to bury her husband, but debt collectors told her that she must use it to pay them.

Mrs Crabtree said she and her family spent her husband's wake repeatedly hanging up the phone on calls from the bank.

Can you believe that?

These are yet more examples of why I encourage everyone to get out of debt as fast as they can. The banks are not nice and they are not going to show you any mercy.

But isn't the government doing something about the banks? After all, the federal agency that watches over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has filed lawsuits against 17 major financial institutions, right?

Well, yes, some of the financial institutions are going to get slap on the wrist. But nobody is going to go to jail.

Rather, this is all about the federal government getting a cut of the action. That is how this kind of thing works. Everyone gets a cut.

The federal government is not going to give the homes back to the victims of mortgage fraud.

The federal government is not going to take the money and give it
to the people that lost everything.

No, any money from the future settlement will go right into the pockets of the government.

This is not going to fix anything for the large numbers of Americans that were defrauded.

Tonight, there are countless numbers of families all across America that are one step from living on the street. According to the Daily Mail, "millions of Americans" are now living in budget motels because they are out of other options....

They are known as the last resort. Millions of Americans are staying in budget long-stay motels as the country's economic problems get worse.

The grisly rooms are seen as the lowest of the U.S. housing ladder, only just above a cardboard box.

In tiny rooms with paper-thin walls and nylon sheets, vulnerable Americans are making their homes for a few hundred bucks a month.

I write a lot about how the middle class is being destroyed in this country, but it cannot be stressed enough.

We are literally watching the slow destruction of the greatest middle class that ever existed.

The poverty that we are now witnessing in some areas of the nation is absolutely jaw-dropping. For example, approximately one-third of the entire population of Alabama is now on food stamps.

Faith in the government is rapidly diminishing. A recent Washington
Post poll found that only 26 percent of Americans believe that the
federal government can solve the economic problems that we are
now facing.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to have any real answers these days.

A lot of Americans have given up hope and have become deeply pessimistic.

According to one recent poll, 39 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy has now entered a "permanent decline".

Sadly, they are right. The U.S. economy has entered a permanent decline.

If our politicians were trying to do the right things, we might have half a chance.

But with the way things are going, the vast majority of Americans are going to be facing a very bleak future.

Ignoring the truth is not going to change it. The U.S. economy is slowly dying and nothing is being done to fix it.

The frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are
going to get. From here on out, the economy is generally going
to get progressively worse.

An economic storm is coming.

You better get ready.

http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/the-future-for-
most-americans-pathetic-jobs-bad-debts-and-a-crappy-economy

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What Is Holding Us Back?

A Young Revolutionary Explains

By Cole Helsell
Adbusters.org
September 06, 2011

A troubling apathy grips most of my peers. The fabric of global
society is straining at the seams, and no one feels inclined to
even comment.

The time for global revolution is now. But we are cynics at an
early age. Change feels impossible.

Who can blame us for how we feel? We live in a society inimical
to all but the most benign criticism.

Even as our “progressive” liberal schools invite discussion about topics like US foreign wars and global inequality, the terms of the debate are limited to ridiculous particularities.

We argue about the tactics of the war in Afghanistan without even judging its goals.

We read whole chapters in economics textbooks justifying
sweatshop labor in Vietnam, and ask only if the data collection
was rigorous.

Bad grades and reproving looks teach us not to deviate from neoliberal ideology.

Those of us with the moxie to shout over the vast herd of fervent believers are chided lightly in terms usually reserved for a naughty child who will soon learn the error of her ways.

The institutions of educational power counter the revolutionary spirit with phrases like “distrust of authority is a phase in adolescence” or “every young person is a communist.”

We live in a culture of permanent counterrevolution.

The same end achieved by a police state is much more easily and
peaceably enforced by simply denigrating the radical with sneers
and accusations of immaturity or intoxication.

And any room for deviation is promptly hijacked by advertising
and media-based mass psychology.

“Environmentalism” is morphing into a lucrative business venture;
my generation has been taught that global capitalism will ensure the
Earth’s survival by manufacturing pretty trinkets.

The Klean Kanteen and the Prius are pitched as realistic answers
to the increasing fears of those of us who recognize a world on
the brink of collapse.

Our culture has learned to shame the bold excursions of
revolutionary behavior, while channeling any remaining
positive force into an old liberal consensus.

In short, radical dissent is considered “childish” and “unrealistic.”

I propose a new plan.

The style of protest adopted in 1960 will not work today because
the full coercive force of our government and society has been
marshaled to ridicule and dissolve it.

My generation views Woodstock as the punch line to a joke about hippies.

Yet the problem is not revolution itself: the world has never been more primed for radical change.

The problem is that revolution is considered laughable, a non-option.

This mentality silences all productive discourse about the catastrophe ahead.

Fundamental change will never be a choice on the ballot.

Our communists and ecologists have been tricked into thinking that representative democracy coupled with capitalism is the only option on the table.

That is unacceptable.

Only by reinventing revolt as responsible adult behavior can we
hope to break the chains of business-as-usual politics.

As Adbusters and free thinkers, we must remove the stigma from revolution. As Westerners, let us learn from the spirit of Tahrir Square.

Let us remember the power of the collective will. But change for
us has to begin with a simple acknowledgment: revolution is not immature.

The truth is that revolution is a mature response to an intolerable situation.

Until this truth is acknowledged, you can expect nothing but lethargy and cynicism from Western youth.

Cole Helsell, Albuquerque, NM

http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/adbusters-blog/failure-revolution.
html

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Counterfeit Culture

Useful Observations for Understanding why Collapse is Inevitable

By Mike Adams
NaturalNews.com
September 03, 2011

Through a devolving web of greed, self-serving power and a
departure from fundamental ethics, Western culture has, over
the last hundred years, become the counterfeit culture.

Nothing is real anymore -- not the food, not the money, and certainly not the evening news. And because it's not real, it's not sustainable.

That's why it's headed for collapse, which is all too real, as many people are about to find out.

In the mean time, here are some observations about the counterfeit culture in which we all frustratingly find ourselves.

It's all about corporations, governments and institutions being "in
the business of" counterfeiting something -- faking something or
pretending to create something of value when they really aren't.

Ring a bell?

The Federal Reserve is in the business of counterfeiting money.

The mainstream media is in the business of counterfeiting news.

The pharmaceutical industry is in the business of counterfeiting medicine (Biopracy! They are stealing molecules from nature then counterfeiting their own patented variations.)

The medical schools are in the business of counterfeiting medical degrees. (When a doctor graduates from medical school, he still knows virtually nothing about nutrition.)

Doctors are in the business of counterfeiting false medical authority.

The mega-sized food corporations are in the business of counterfeiting food. (Processed cheese food product, anyone?)

The global consumer product companies are in the business of
manufacturing counterfeit consumer products such a "baby oil"
(which is really a petroleum product).

Social networks like Facebook are in the business of counterfeiting friends. (Please LIKE this article, okay?)

Cookie-cutter home builders are in the business of constructing counterfeit homes out of plywood, styrofoam and sheetrock... many these homes will not be standing in just 20 years.

Local city councils are in the business of counterfeiting power. (Obey or be punished!)

Public schools are in the business of counterfeiting school diplomas. (Huh? What? Who needs to learn how to write, anyway?)

The Pentagon is in the business of counterfeiting war. (Don't have
a war to fight? Bomb the World Trade Center and blame it on someone!)

Mainstream historians are in the business of counterfeiting history. (Everything you were taught about history in public school is a lie...)

The globalist banksters are in the business of counterfeiting debt. (You thought it was money, didn't ya? But it's really just debt.)

And Yet, Things That Are Real Are Called Fake

A man who recently stamped his own gold coins -- out of real
gold -- was raided and arrested by the U.S. Treasury Department
which announced that his GOLD coins were "counterfeit!" (http://thewarningsigns.blogspot.com...)

After the drug companies stole the lovastatin molecule from
red yeast rice to create their own statin drugs, the FDA tried
to ban all red yeast rice as a dietary supplement, claiming it
contained "counterfeit statin drugs." (http://www.naturalnews.com/030010_d...)

When the alternative media like NaturalNews and Infowars publishes real news that nobody else will publish, it's called "fake" by the corrupt, openly bought-and-paid-for mainstream media (the OLD media).

Real Is Fake, Fake Is Real

That's how the world works today, folks: Things that are REAL -- herbal medicine, gold coins, truthful journalism -- are all called FAKE.

Meanwhile, things that are FAKE -- the money supply,
pharmaceutical medicine, myths of U.S. history and justification
for war -- are all called REAL.

No wonder most people feel like their world has been turned upside down. But there's an easy way out:

When you see someone from the government moving their lips, and words are coming out, there's no need trying to figure out whether what they're saying is REAL or FAKE.

It's all simpler than you think: If their lips are moving, then what they're saying is REALLY FAKE, and you can leave it at that.


Mike Adams is the Editor of Natural News.com, a consumer health advocate and award-winning journalist with a mission to teach personal and planetary health to the public.

http://www.naturalnews.com/033491_counterfeit_culture.html