Excerpts: Americans have an illogical love affair with their vehicles. There are 209 million licensed drivers in the U.S. and 260 million vehicles. The U.S. has a higher number of motor vehicles per capita than every country in the world at 845 per 1,000 people. Germany has 540; Japan has 593; Britain has 525; and China has 37. The population of the United States has risen from 203 million in 1970 to 311 million today, an increase of 108 million in 42 years. Over this same time frame, the number of motor vehicles on our crumbling highways has grown by 150 million. This might explain why a country that has 4.5% of the world’s population consumes 22% of the world’s daily oil supply. This might also further explain the Iraq War, the Afghanistan occupation, the Libyan “intervention”, and the coming war with Iran.
If you are twenty four or younger, you are likely either under or unemployed. Only about 60% of those 16 to 24 years old are in the labor force (those employed or seeking jobs). Their unemployment rate is 18%.
For years, Money Party lackeys, our (s)elected officials, put out a propaganda line that said, Get an education or there’s no future for you. Well, lots of people got a college or trade school education or on the job training and there are no jobs for them.
Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino. The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end.
The word “derivatives” sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard. A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made. Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
Descriptions of the event on Wall Street might seem eerily familiar. “It was a crush out of a blue sky—an unexpected, death-dealing bolt,” one witness observed, “which in a twinkling turned into a shambles the busiest corner of America’s financial center and sent scurrying to places of shelter hundreds of wounded, dumb-stricken, white-faced men and women—fleeing from an unknown danger.… Looking down Wall Street later I could see arising from the vicinity of the subtreasury building and the J.P. Morgan and Co. bank, a mushroom-shaped cloud of yellowish, green smoke which mounted to a height of more than 100 feet, the smoke being licked by darting tongues of flame.”
Olbermann interviews Michael Moore who says, “I think there needs to be a multi-pronged approach” urging civil disobedience locally as well as nationally, and refusing to move out under a foreclosure notice since no one owns your mortgage any more. “The banks lost them,” he says, when they bundled them into their little Ponzie schemes.
It is high time to describe the Obama Administration by its proper name: corrupt. The latest example is its heavy-handed campaign to convert New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman to a card carrying member of the “be nice to our lords and masters the banksters” club.
[Image: Kathryn S. Wylde, New York Federal Reserve Board Member]
As corporate overlords position themselves to seize what little remains of a tattered social net (adieu Medicare and Medicaid! Social Security? Au revoir!), the Obama administration is moving at break-neck speed to expand police state programs first stood-up by the Bush government.
The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study.
“As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world,” said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
A popular documentary, Inside Job, captured kudos at the 2010 Academy Awards. Its hard-hitting analysis marked a milestone among filmmakers for shining light in the dark corners of Wall Street. Writer, producer and director Charles Ferguson provided a public service by exposing key perpetrators.
Laudable yet incomplete, Ferguson’s popular film left unaddressed the all-important “how.” The storyline left moviegoers with the impression that the film’s featured insiders operated virtually alone in perpetrating history’s greatest heist. In truth, the real “inside job” is far more sinister and remains ongoing.
Plutocrats aimed another weapon at the nation’s poor and at small and midsized farmers, this time thru the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill, H.R. 2112, which the House passed on June 16. The 82-page bill returns some federal spending to 2006 levels and others to 2008 levels.
Now being reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, the final version of HR 2112 will lay the terrain on which the 2012 Farm Bill will be crafted. The House Agriculture Committee began preparatory hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill this week, reports NSAC.
Key sections provide deep cuts to domestic food programs, threatening food banks, low-income seniors, women and children, and farmers markets supported by WIC vouchers issued thru the Women, Infants and Children program.
It’s time for Plan B. The White House is about to be sold to the same people who bought it in 2008. The front page of today’s New York Times says it all. President Obama is on the hunt for campaign cash and the Wall Street crowd represents his main target. After all, he and his “good friend Tim” (Geithner) delivered in the biggest way possible. Obama must be thinking that it’s payback time! Pony up fellas.
This much is clear. There will be no federal prosecutions of Wall Street crooks for the 2008 financial collapse, no day of judgment for massive mortgage fraud before, during and after the housing bubble, and no representation for the people the in the White House, no matter who wins in 2012. Populist rhetoric will guarantee a place on the no-fly list for any who stray from the new party line.
The Times article resorts to irony right out of the gate:
“Mr. Obama, who enraged many financial industry executives a year and a half ago by labeling them “fat cats” and criticizing their bonuses, followed up the meeting with phone calls to those who could not attend.” New York Times, June 13
A “working class hero,” John Lennon told us in his song of that title, “is something to be/ Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/ And you think you’re so clever and classless and free/ But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”
The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is a myth blown away by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz in the current issue of Vanity Fair. In an article titled “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%” Stiglitz states that the top thin layer of the superwealthy controls 40 percent of all wealth in what is now the most sharply class-divided of all developed nations: “Americans have been watching protests against repressive regimes that concentrate massive wealth in the hands of an elite few. Yet, in our own democracy, 1 percent of the people take nearly a quarter of the nation’s income—an inequality even the wealthy will come to regret.”
The Golden Age of the American working class is over and McDonald’s Golden Arches provides a glimpse of what lay directly ahead for many working Americans. McDonald’s will be adding as many as 50,000 new hires on April 19. The newly disenfranchised who were unfortunate enough to be swept away by the housing bubble collapse had to penny pinch on shoestring budgets. Those no longer able to afford Starbucks coffee, instead sipped on the newly developed McDonald’s McCafe line and the restaurant chain financially exploded despite the tanked economy. While the entrepreneurial spirit of McDonald’s is certainly noteworthy, there is a more important element to this story to be considered. The poor substitute for coffee is symbolic of a far greater crisis to the American people than just a preference for coffee beans.
Here are some recommended essays, reviews and an ode to Joe by Fred Reed.
The Devil and Mr Obama Barack promised change — and sure enough, things changed for the worse
December 8, 2009
Well lookee here! An invite from my limey comrades to recap Barack Obama’s first year in office. Well comrades, I can do this thing two ways. I can simply state that the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon. Or I can lay in an all-night stock of tequila, limes and reefer and puke up the entire miserable tale like some 5,000 word tequila purged Congolese stomach worm. I have chosen to do the latter.
“There is definitely a fear among certain Jews in this industry…And it’s because it’s spreading past Wall Street now. There’s a growing animosity towards the wealthy, and especially the wealthy that have made money on Wall Street and real estate and finance, as so many Jews have—some legitimately, some not so. It’s very easy to generalise that it must be the entire Jewish people.” Jewish employee with a top New York investment bank who asked that his name be withheld.Jewish Journal (October 7 2008)
“Inside Job”, The Academy Award documentary film about the current financial crisis is a worthy documentary, and it certainly delivers on many fronts. It explains the disastrous shift within the American financial industry over the last decade, exposing the elements, the decisions and the people who destabilised the global economy. In doing so, it provides an insight into the systematic, faulty structures that transformed American financial services industry markets into a risky bubble. And it also explains why the bubble eventually burst.
Maine Governor Paul LePage has ordered state workers to remove from the state labor department a 36-foot mural depicting the state’s labor history. Among other things the mural illustrates the 1937 shoe mill strike in Auburn and Lewiston. It also features the iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” who in real life worked at the Bath Iron Works. One panel shows my predecessor at the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances Perkins, who was buried in Newcastle, Maine.
The LePage Administration is also renaming conference rooms that had carried the names of historic leaders of American labor, as well as former Secretary Perkins.
The Governor’s spokesman explains that the mural and the conference-room names were “not in keeping with the department’s pro-business goals.”
As he did with the occupation of Iraq in No End in Sight, Charles Ferguson shines a light on the global financial crisis in Inside Job. Accompanied by narration from Matt Damon, Ferguson begins and ends in Iceland, a flourishing country that gave American-style banking a try – and paid the price.
[This is probably one of those times when you have to watch it now, before it gets yanked. Be sure to read FAQ 10 so that you can watch the entire film.~Ed.]
Then he looks at the spectacular rise and cataclysmic fall of deregulation in the United States. Unlike Alex Gibney’s fiscal films, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Casino Jack, Ferguson builds his narrative around dozens of players, interviewing authors, bank managers, government ministers, and even a psychotherapist, who speaks to a culture that encourages Gordon Gekko-like behavior, but the number of those who declined to comment, like Alan Greenspan, is even larger.
Financial crisis in the US is entering its third year, but recent studies show that many of the country’s cities and rescued banks are facing bankruptcy while the rich keep getting richer. Interview with Max Keiser, a financial journalist; Wayne Madsen, an investigative journalist; and Dr. Roger von Hanwehr, managing director of Arcxeon International.
We’re on our own. It’s official. The House of Representatives completed what the Senate began (which seems like the wrong way around). The giveaway to millionaires, also known as the Obama-Republican tax bill, is now law. The grand total is now $900 billion in tax cuts, a large sum of which comes from the Social Security Trust Fund. Shameless politicians have created an open wound in the Social Security that they say is “temporary.” They lie so consistently, there is no reason to believe that the payroll tax will ever be restored; certainly not in the next two legislative seasons with a super majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives. (Image)
There was no real debate, hence no public awareness, of the crime committed. But when the word gets out over the next few months, there should be an awful reckoning when the people wake up to this theft. Those who voted for this proposal didn’t just touch the third rail of American politics, they sat down on it.