Friday, February 27, 2009

It's the lack of jobs, not the lack of lending

What is needed to fix this crisis is job security, and the only way to create that is by creating jobs.
If the president really wanted to kick-start the economy, he would have announced a government program to directly hire the unemployed, by both the federal government and state and local governments (through block grants to the states), which would put people to work right now as teachers’ aides, park workers, school crossing guards, library assistants, companions for the elderly, city and rural clean-up crews, housing renovation project workers, mural painters, etc.
Millions of out-of-work people could be put productively to work with far fewer dollars than what is about to be shoveled out to contractors to construct or repair bridges and highways a year or more from now.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word "clean"

Thanks to the Coen Brothers for harnessing their awesome powers for good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Popular explosions are inevitable

Given a global situation in which one startling, often unexpected development follows another, prediction is perilous. At a popular level, however, the basic picture is clear enough: continued economic decline combined with a pervasive sense that existing systems and institutions are incapable of setting things right is already producing a potentially lethal brew of anxiety, fear, and rage. Popular explosions of one sort or another are inevitable.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"What has Wall Street given up?"

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, MI, deserves every working person's support and kudos for calling it like it is on national television. On Faux "News" even!

When asked another loaded question about what unions are willing to give up, Mr. Bernero "snaps" and calls the interviewer out on the assumptions built into his question. "Why do working Americans always have to be the ones who make concessions?" he asks. "What has Wall Street given up?" Indeed.

Send him a note of support here:

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The bloated, Blagojevich-esque Faux "newsman" tries to maintain "decorum" (the same decorum that cringes when the word "fuck" is painted on the napalm we plan to drop on women and kids) by steering the mayor back to his loaded question about salaries, and the mayor will have none of it. Good for him.

No more playing nice guys, folks. The people on Wall Street need to feel the extent of our pain. I suggest we help them come to an understanding by eating their livers with a nice chianti.

Welcome to the Casino at the End of the World

This is the best explanation for all the quasi-magical economic terminology that's been flying around for the last couple of years. Too bad it all boils down to bad gambling debts that we get to pay off.

So welcome to the Casino at the End of the World. Where you’re now backing every remaining wager and paying off the winners. In bailout bucks.

Why, instead of doling out trillions of taxpayer dollars through the Fed and Treasury Department, didn’t our government simply nullify these crazy bets that never should have been made — thereby averting the present crisis? It can’t be that contracts are really all that sacrosanct. Credit card companies change terms on us all the time.

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The people in power are either nitwits or manipulating an opportunity to profit further

My money, such as it is, isn't on them being nitwits.
Either the people in power in Washington and the financial community are total dimwits or they are manipulating an opportunity to redistribute wealth from taxpayers, equity owners and pension funds to the financial sector.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

"The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school... A lot of that is gone."

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But "the worst is yet to come," according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, who believes American's standard of living is undergoing a "permanent change" - and not for the better as a result of:

  • An $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values.
  • A $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets.
  • A $14 trillion consumer debt load amid "exploding unemployment", leading to "exploding bankruptcies."

"The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school [and] buy a car," Davidowitz says. "A lot of that is gone."

Going forward, the veteran retail industry consultant foresees higher savings rate and people trading down in both the goods and services they buy - as well as their aspirations.

The end of rampant consumerism is ultimately a good thing, he says, but the unraveling of an economy built on debt-fueled spending will be painful for years to come.

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Olympian toker's gold medals dispel drug war mythology

“If 14 gold medals aren’t enough to prove that marijuana users can achieve success and shouldn't be scrutinized, what will it take to break the stigma?”
“The situation reeks of hypocrisy,” the petition states. “More than one hundred million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once in their lives (including the president, former presidents, members of Congress and justices on the Supreme Court). Smoking marijuana is not unusual behavior and you shouldn't hold Phelps to a higher standard.”

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Obama's no-brainer: Reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy

Let people making more than a quarter of a million dollars pay their fair share.

Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, mainly by making good on his promise to eliminate some of the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003. While the budget would keep the breaks that benefit middle-income families, it would eliminate them for wealthy taxpayers, defined as families earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule in 2011. That means the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the tax on capital gains would jump to 20 percent from 15 percent for wealthy filers and the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million would be maintained at the current rate of 45 percent.

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The big question: What will the near future look like, and what will be its impact on the long-term viability of H. sapiens?

Ultimately, it is a question of whether the great depth of our Madness will carry us into a final conflict with biophysical reality – a madman flaying at imaginary demons while being tormented by a disinterested reality to which he is blind – or will we come again into the wind and the rain, into the seasons, cycles and other realities of earthly existence? 
My sensible reason answers that the Madness will dominate the final days of this iteration of my species, that over the next 30 to 80 years we will cling to the most misguided and defeating self-referenced notions of reality until an enraged environment indiscriminately smites the living world – and we will still behave badly even in the ruins of our world. 
But my capacity of imagination and wonder believes, in the way that the consciousness order designs impossible ‘possibilities,’ that we can come to see the madness and demand its retreat; the way that smokers now have to hide next to the dumpster in the back of the building.
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Disarm the police, not the citizens

Police seldom, if ever, prevent a crime.  Their job is to appear after a crime is committed and to investigate with a view to identifying the perpetrator.  A large number of careful studies show that private gun ownership prevents far more crimes than police ever solve.  Criminals are routinely deterred, apprehended, and sometimes killed, by armed private citizens.
In contrast, police, especially the notorious SWAT teams, accidentally kill more law abiding citizens than they do criminals.  If anyone should be disarmed, it is the police. When police become militarized, as they increasingly are in the US, their attitude toward the public changes from protective to hostile. Militarized SWAT teams have established a record of showing up at the wrong address.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Associating a chimp with a black man isn't racist, and only a nigger would think so

Of course this cartoon has no racist overtones. And neither did this one. And we've always been at war with Eastasia.
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"The rate will be determined by adding 26.15% to the Prime rate."

Dear money-grubbing cocksuckers (aka Wall Street financiers),

Please explain:
  1. Why unilaterally changing our "agreement" is kosher,
  2. How this is a positive sign for "the economy,"
  3. What happens when millions of newly jobless people default on these credit cards,
  4. How you plan to live after your head has been placed on a pike.
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

“Too big to fail” should mean “too big to exist.”

Remember all the ancient history from high school about antitrust laws? Did any of you remember these history lessons when Paulson said that some companies are just "too big to fail"? Probably not, since the business-owned "culture" in the US assists us in forgetting this history and subsequently condemns us to repeat it.

So for the record: When they are too big to fail, enforce already existing antitrust legislation to break 'em into manageable, not-too-big-to-fail pieces.

The country is being dragged down by monstrous businesses, all of which, we’re told, are just “too big to fail.”  As a consequence of this, the nation’s taxpayers, and their progeny born and yet unborn, are having trillions of dollars sucked away to prop up these giant rotting corporate corpses.

Zombie banks, zombie automakers, zombie insurance companies, all bigger than nation states, and all on life-support.

There is a simple answer to this problem. Bust them up.

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Follow-up: Last night on MSNBC, Jim Cramer specifically mentioned the size and complexity of these banks as reason #1 for why they should not be de jure) nationalized. (I say de jure since the banks have already been de facto nationalized, seeing as how they are running purely on taxpayer money.) To my way of thinking, that is precisely why they need to be smashed into dozens of smaller banks.

Economic patriotism?

Do the people responsible for this rape of thought and language (not to mention of the planet and humanity) really believe the shit that comes out of their mouths? Supporting foreign workers while Americans lose their jobs, homes, and futures is patriotic?

It is particularly ironic that the same "conservatives" who are now behind the "economic patriotism" (i.e., the "fuck Americans") doctrine were the rabid supporters of WalMart's "Made in the USA" campaign of the 1980s.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said that buying abroad was “economic patriotism.”
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Debts that can't be paid, won't be

This summarizes why I think Obama's "stimulus" is a sham. At best, all it will do is postpone the inevitable economic contraction.
The U.S. economy cannot “inflate its way out of debt,” because this would collapse the dollar and end its dreams of global empire by forcing foreign countries to go their own way. There is too little manufacturing to make the economy more “competitive,” given its high housing costs, transportation, debt and tax overhead.
The aim is to re-inflate property markets to enable owners to pay the banks, not to help the public sector break even.
One would think that politicians would be willing to do the math and realize that debts that can’t be paid, won’t be. But the debts are being kept on the books, continuing to extract interest to pay the creditors that have made the bad loans. The resulting debt deflation threatens to keep the economy in depression until a radical shift in policy occurs – a shift to save the “real” economy, not just the financial sector and the wealthiest 10 per cent of American families.
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Christianists take note: "We are no longer a Christian nation, if we ever were."

While the rest of the Western world wrestles with substantive issues like global warming and economic collapse, some USAmerican Christians are still wrestling with the First Amendment and the secular nature of the US government.

When will these shitheads learn that just because an "overwhelming majority of Americans identify as Christians" does not mean that the US is a Christian country? The entire purpose of the First Amendment is to protect minority dissenters (like TJ the deist) from the tyranny of a Christianist majority.
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Not everyone was happy with President Barack Obama's nod to nonbelievers and non-Christians in his inaugural address.
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers."
With that one line, the president "seems to be trying to redefine American culture, which is distinctively Christian," said’ Bishop E.W. Jackson of the Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, Va. "The overwhelming majority of Americans identify as Christians, and what disturbs me is that he seems to be trying to redefine who we are.’"
Jackson said he and others have no problem acknowledging that "this country is one in which everybody has the freedom to think what they want.’" Yet Obama crossed the line, in his view, in suggesting that all faiths (and none) were different roads to the same destination: "He made similar remarks in the campaign, and said, 'We are no longer a Christian nation, if we ever were. We are a Jewish, Hindu and non-believing nation.'"
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Bonus Army - 1932

The past won't repeat itself precisely, but...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Latin American commission: The War on (Some) Drugs is a failure

I wonder when we'll finally start basing drug policy on evidence, rather than molding evidence to fit drug policy.
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As drug violence spirals out of control in Mexico, a commission led by three former Latin American heads of state blasted the U.S.-led drug war as a failure that is pushing Latin American societies to the breaking point.

"The available evidence indicates that the war on drugs is a failed war," said former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a conference call with reporters from Rio de Janeiro. "We have to move from this approach to another one."

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The choice we face

We have come to the moment when the Officer (the biophysical reality) is demanding that we choose between our present values and beliefs and others with which we are less familiar or comfortable, but which offer the possibility of sustaining the present designs of our living planet.  Much of what we know and love (in my view, pathologically) will have to go.  Much that is new and difficult will have to be confronted.  Making a choice that does not doom us will be the trick.
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Credit expansion can't replace good working class incomes

The Reagan Revolution /Great Restoration/New Democrats strategy of relying on credit expansion to fill the demand hole caused by heightened fucking of the working class is now at its final — and completely logical — end.  Either we start to reverse the basic class-fuck from above, or this depression continues to deepen.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mother of fourteen perfect mirror of national delusions

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“People feel, you know, this woman is being completely irresponsible and selfish to bring these children in the world without a clear source of income and enough help to raise them,” Curry told Nadya Suleman in a segment that aired Friday on TODAY. “The world outside is saying, ‘What are you doing?’ ”

“I know I'll be able to afford them when I'm done with my schooling,” the 33-year-old single mom replied. Calm, poised and articulate in the glare of the media spotlight, Suleman added: “If I was just sitting down watching TV and not being as determined as I am to succeed and provide a better future for my children, I believe that would be considered, to a certain degree, selfish.”

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Have you actually watched the interview with this woman? She is USAmerican delusion condensed into a single human form --- thinking that if she just "believes" enough and "applies" herself enough that she can manage to support FOURTEEN children on ONE income --- at exactly the same time that the US economy has decided to sublimate.

Synchronicity is amazing, isn't it? At exactly the same time that our unsustainable national delusions (e.g., shop your way to savings) have begun to collapse around (and on top) of us, we see in the mirror of our national consciousness a single person who embodies the profligacy and thoughtlessness of the herd.

What particularly irks me is that, instead of using inadvertent public figures like her as a mirror for the national unconscious, we pillory them and pat ourselves on the back for how much better we are.

Folks, if you supported Bush's policies of the last eight years or persist in the belief that permanent growth is beneficial, or even possible, then you are little different from Ms. Suleman in fundamental matters. Reality is reality, regardless of what we believe or wish to be true. One cannot spend one's way to savings, cut taxes while increasing spending, or regard having fourteen children as a "risk" one has to take to follow one's dreams.

Her mental illness is our culture.

Higher education increasingly unaffordable

Increased access to higher education was responsible for lifting many post-WWII working class folks into the newly minted "middle" class. Of course it is only a coincidence that the same policies that rewarded the ultra-rich over the last 30+ years and eroded the real income of everyone else would now lead to the increasing lack of affordability in higher education and thus to the erosion of opportunities for the middle class.

Yep. Just a coincidence.
"The nation's colleges and universities have become less affordable for students and their families since the early 1990s," said the report. "This year continues the trend in deteriorating college affordability in the majority of states."
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Decrease in real income, culture of militarism underly USAmerican economic woes

US policymakers have ignored the fact that consumer demand in the 21st century has been driven, not by increases in real income, but by increased consumer indebtedness.  This fact makes it pointless to try to stimulate the economy by bailing out banks so that they can lend more to consumers.  The American consumers have no more capacity to borrow.
Unless US corporations can be required to use American labor to produce the goods and services that they sell in American markets, there is no hope for the US economy.  No one in the Obama administration has the wits to address this problem.  Thus, the economy will continue to implode.
The unreality in which he US government operates is beyond belief.  A  bankrupt government  that cannot pay its bills without printing money is rushing headlong into wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. 
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Electronic run on the banks

"The Treasury opened its window to help. They pumped a hundred and five billion dollars into the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts, and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic and there. And that's what actually happened. If they had not done that their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed."

"It would have been the end of our political system and our economic systems as we know it."
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Monday, February 9, 2009

Comparison of job losses --- WTF

Holy shit is how I'd describe this graphic. Of course, the fundamentals of our economy are strong, etc. etc. etc.
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