At last count, Steven Katz owed $80,000 on his six credit cards, and he has no intention of paying any of it off. In fact, he’d like to show you how to be like him—a “credit terrorist” in open revolt against the banking system. (Image by Christoff Hitz)
Capitalism Is The Crisis: Radical Politics in the Age of Austerity examines the ideological roots of the “austerity” agenda and proposes revolutionary paths out of the current crisis. The film features original interviews with Chris Hedges, Derrick Jensen, Michael Hardt, Peter Gelderloos, Leo Panitch, David McNally, Richard J.F. Day, Imre Szeman, Wayne Price, and many more!
Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich just published an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times arguing that states would be wise to consider filing bankruptcy to relieve their financial troubles. They cite three states, California, Illinois and New York, while failing to mention the angry elephant in the living room with similar problems, Texas.
Texas faces a $25 billion shortfall for a $95 billion two-year budget. That equals California’s 18-month deficit inherited by the recently inaugurated Governor Jerry Brown.
“So why haven’t we heard more about Texas, one of the most important economy’s [sic] in America? Well, it’s because it doesn’t fit the script. It’s a pro-business, lean-spending, no-union state. You can’t fit it into a nice storyline, so it’s ignored,” said Business Insider.
Doesn’t it seem like almost everything is becoming a crime in America now? Americans are being arrested and charged with crimes for doing things like leaving dog poop on the ground, opening up Christmas presents early, not recycling properly, farting in class and having brown lawns. But is it healthy for our society for the police to be involved in such silly things? Every single day the United States inches closer to becoming a totalitarian society.
Erskin Bowles: former Chief of Staff to President Clinton and prior to that a North Carolina businessman. Alan Simpson: at age 79, fourteen years senior to Erskin Bowles, and a former Republican senator from Wyoming. Alice Rivlin: also age 79, and Clinton’s former budget director. Peter Domenici: age 79, and a former Republican senator from New Mexico. These four people are the principal players in a set of competing proposals to do something about the US federal debt. They all have what Washington calls “gravitas”, which is a certain respectability that comes with age and experience. They also display that precious quality of “bipartisanship” which makes them supposedly immune from political bias. That’s why you get these Republican-Democrat partnerships: Simpson-Bowles, and Domenici-Rivlin. You would trust these people, wouldn’t you, to give you the cold, hard truth that politicians cannot deliver?
You shouldn’t. These people are good at delivering cold, hard truths in terms of areas of the budget to cut, and new sources of revenue to tap, which together over the long run will bring deficits down to zero and reduce the interest burden of the national debt to something manageable. But they won’t give you a vision of America under these new fiscal conditions. Reading through their proposals, we are left to imagine what America would be like in such a permanent state of austerity. Continue reading →
Most Americans know that the U.S. economy is in bad shape, but what most Americans don’t know is how truly desperate the financial situation of the United States really is. The truth is that what we are experiencing is not simply a “downturn” or a “recession”. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the end for the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.
Our greed and our debt are literally eating our economy alive. Total government, corporate and personal debt has now reached 360 percent of GDP, which is far higher than it ever reached during the Great Depression era. We have nearly totally dismantled our once colossal manufacturing base, we have shipped millions upon millions of middle class jobs overseas, we have lived far beyond our means for decades and we have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world. A great day of financial reckoning is fast approaching, and the vast majority of Americans are totally oblivious.
What we are witnessing today is simply the entire foisted-upon-us “interdependency” idiocy coming home to roost. To repair and reform, we need to break out of the fascist trade and banking straight-jackets and rebuild local, national and regional freedoms – all according to real democratic processes and prerogatives.
Were there no European union there would be no Greek crisis beyond Greece, Greece would have retained its currency and paid its price for budget problems in the value of its currency.
But the stitching together of so many diverse countries and cultures into one unit, with one currency, has presented far more problems than it has solved and, worse, has removed national and cultural liberty, sovereignty, as well as necessary freedom for tariff-based re-balancing mechanisms.
As a result, we now have synchronized global pain and ruin serving to give the banksters more opportunities to gain evermore resources and power over our lives with their out-of-thin-air private money machines.
Worst of all is exactly this private central bank contagion, in which nations have given up their rights to create their own money and credit, and without interest if they see fit. The world-wide sovereign debt problem is essentially a private central bank, debt-money, problem. It’s the interest, stupid. Its the inevitable Kondratieff wave of debt-money.
Average Americans today aren’t hurting because the economy has stopped generating wealth. Average Americans are hurting because the wealth the economy is generating continues to cascade disproportionately to the top.
The Great Recession, new research shows, has left wealth in the United States even more concentrated at America’s economic summit.
Average American households have been riding an economic roller coaster over the last quarter century. The stock market has boomed and collapsed. Housing has boomed and collapsed. The entire economy has boomed and collapsed.
Where has this wild ride left the typical American family? Back to square one. And then back some more. The typical American household, as of mid 2009, held less in real net worth — that’s assets minus debts, adjusted for inflation — than the typical U.S. household held back in 1983.
But the even bigger story may be the reason why. New York University economist Edward Wolff tells that story in a new analysis of the Federal Reserve’s latest household wealth data research just published by the Bard College Levy Economics Institute.
We all grumble about having to pay taxes, but few people really know how the government spends that money. Where do our tax dollars really go?
In fiscal year 2008, federal government spending reached $3 trillion, which is roughly 21 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Of that amount, more than $2.5 trillion was financed by federal tax revenues collected by the government. The remaining $459 billion was financed by government borrowing to make up for the budget deficit, which occurs when total government expenditure exceeds total tax revenue in a given year. [Graphic details spending]
Three main areas each accounted for approximately one-fifth of the budget, while two sections of spending each made up about one-tenth, and the remaining fifth of the budget was used to finance a variety of programs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, here are the most expensive programs:
“The world has already, in the past two years, witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. What will follow is a global restructuring of class structure as the western educated middle class will largely be decimated and liquidated of all its material wealth. This is a new phase of globalization.”
By Andrew Gavin Marshall Global Research, March 30, 2010
This is Part 2 of the series, “When Empire Hits Home.”
The western nations of the world have built their great wealth and societies on the exploitation and plundering of the people and resources of the rest of the world. The wealth, freedom, and structures of our societies have been built on the starvation, robbery, deprivation and murder of millions upon millions of the world’s people, both historically and presently.
It seemed for a time that “Western Civilization” had worked, even if only for the west. We saw the emergence and growth of a vibrant middle class, which has its origins in the Industrial Revolution, out of which we also saw the formation of the “nuclear family.” The middle classes of the west grew in wealth, education, and access. While the great problems of the world, and for the majority of the world’s people, persisted and expanded exponentially, the great purpose of the middle class was siphoned and expanded into facilitating the development of a massive consumerist society. The function of the middle class became that of consuming, not necessarily contributing to determining the direction of society.
Unprecedented relationships are beginning to form in the global bond markets. For as long as anyone can remember, the US government has enjoyed the lowest cost of borrowing whatever the maturity of the bond, because the US has been deemed the safest credit anywhere in the world. The prospect of default of the United States has been considered so low that academics describe the US Treasury bond as the risk-free bond., from which all other credit instruments are priced.
This relationship seems to be breaking down, for the first time in living history. This past week Berkshire Hathaway was able to raise funds at an interest rate lower than that of the US Treasury. Headlines in the financial press stated: “Obama Pays More Than Warren Buffett For Money.” The bonds of DuPont and other stalwart corporate names also yielded less than equivalent maturity Treasuries. Continue reading →
Great News! The good life will soon return to America. Auspiciously, months before the holiday shopping season began, Americans were told that after more than a year of fiscal recession, or what some have characterized as akin to an economic depression, consumers were optimistic. The confidence index and other indicators were much improved. Manufacturing executives assured the public, the engine that drives the free enterprise system was in a “sustainable recovery mode.” In the very near future, products, and people’s sense of need, would be fabricated again. Everything will be right with the world, economically. Few feared the threat that, long ago, Americans had come to accept. The foundation of a democratic system had eroded in favor of consumption.