29 October 2011

Greedy and UnAmerican

There's an internet circulator going around that's supposed to be a letter from constituent of former Sen. Alan Simpson (of Catfood Commission fame), lambasting him for calling ordinary people greedy and referring to Social Security as a "cow with 310 million teats."

I find it just unbelievable hypocrisy that these people call ordinary folks, who just tried to do what they were supposed to do, working hard all their lives, who have the entirely reasonable expectation that they'd have some kind of secure retirement and medical security in their old age, greedy.

What about the corporate oligarchs who induced through political influence changes in accounting and financial rules that allowed them to loot pensions and other benefits and create rigged "retirement plans" that create huge fees for the financial sector and no real financial security, for those employees who even get them? And who increased the ratio of CEO pay to ordinary worker pay from 15 to 1 to 400 to 1 in a generation, so that the income of the top one percent tripled while the income of ordinary people remained flat? And who saw to it that the rights of collective bargaining were weakened to the point that corporations can ignore worker rights with impunity and have little fear of workers organizing unions? And who saw to it that trade agreements that favor only the oligarchic class made it possible to eviscerate the collective power and wealth of American manufacturing and labor? And who saw to it that casino capitalism was legalized and the tax code was heisted so they could make billions and billions while producing absolutely nothing of any concrete use to the people of our country? 

You just gotta ask... who is greedy, and who is unAmerican, here?

28 October 2011

FDR's Economic Bill of Rights

It's amazing to think that 65 years ago this was political currency:

“The Economic Bill of Rights”

Excerpt from President Roosevelt's January 11, 1944 message to the Congress of the United States on the State of the Union:
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure. This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.


From the 1944 State of the Union Address.

25 October 2011


Is it actually possible that the majority of voters don't get it that Republican "flat tax plans" and Cain's "Plan 999 from Outer Space" are huge wealth transfers to the already super-rich at THEIR expense? Really? You gotta be kidding me.

America the (*most*) Unequal -- What Occupy Wall Street is Really All About

Jeffrey Winters, in his new book Oligarchy, notes that in terms of concentration of wealth in the top 500 or so households as compared to the average of the bottom 90% of society, the United States today is the most unequal society in the history of this planet. In comparison, ancient Rome had a ratio of about 10,000 to 1. Ours is 20,000 to 1. And the state now exists primarily to protect the wealth of the wealthy, whereas at many times in the past they had to take care of that themselves (through direct military power).

Here is my theme for a movement to change the hideously disproportionate political power of the uber-rich in America today:

Government by Entrenched Monied Interests
for the Super-Rich and Big Corporations
It's time to restore Government by the People and for the People to our nation.

20 October 2011

Gadafi Murdered

Although it is obvious to anyone that Muammar Gadafi was a tyrant and a criminal, I for one do not celebrate his murder by mob today. It is a good thing, of course, that the conflict in Libya is now over (or, "for now"), but it is never justified to simply murder someone who has been taken captive, which appears to be what occurred here, based on video images released by Arabic language television and available on the Huffington Post.

17 October 2011

Krugman essential reading

Krugman in the Times is essential reading today. Here.

I believe if the Democrats, and particularly the White House, were to realize, and soon, that they must offer the frustrated majority a sharp choice between reform and a major Paradigm Shift along the lines of The Way Forward (here), which I mentioned earlier in one of my posts, on the one hand, and more of the same on the other, the floodgates of support, including small and medium dollar financial support, would open. Folks like me, who are reluctant to contribute to the DNC or the House and Senate official committees, or to the Obama campaign, because we don't support more of the same, will step up once a definitive break, and a bold leadership plan, is made manifest. I hope the White House is realistically assessing what the Occupy Movement really means, because the future of our country is in the balance.

16 October 2011

You have just GOT to be kidding me !!

Report: Cain proposes 20 foot electric fence to electrocute illegal migrants.

Events of the last couple of years make me think Mencken's famous phrase needs to be updated to No one ever went broke underestimating the lunacy of the American people, but this is just unbelievable, coming from the supposed frontrunner of one of the two major political parties' nomination race.

If the Off the Cliff Republicans actually nominated this nut, I just have to believe enough of the public would come to its senses that his defeat would be of historic proportions. I just have to.

12 October 2011

E-mail to White House: Support NAF "the Way Forward"

I strongly urge the White House to seriously investigate the profoundly well thought out New America Foundation paper "The Way Forward" here.

The president should convene his advisors and demand of them that they say what, exactly, they have to offer in the way of a program that is in any way better than this program.

Then, he should make the essence of this plan the centerpiece of his re-election campaign. Run against the Do-Nothing Obstructionist GOP and PROMISE that if the people will re-elect him, AND elect a majority of Democrats in both houses, he will see to it that the obstructionist rules in the Senate are changed, and this plan is enacted into law, to protect and restore the Middle Class, as well as protecting the essential social system of this country, all for the 99%, not the 1%.

This is truly popular... people are realizing, finally, that short term debt service will only make things worse, that our nation is in deep trouble, and only TRULY BOLD action will work to get us back on track.

The president must be much more vocal in support of Government of by and for the people, getting money out of politics, and investing in the future.

In doing this, making clear that he STANDS WITH, not against, the OWS demonstrators, will help to make clear that he gets it, and that things will be different if the people will support a bold new agenda.

07 October 2011

Bloviating Eric Cantor fearmongers #OWS

The always reliable bloviator Eric Cantor fearmongers Occupy Wall Street, as might be expected. (See this). The only problem is that there's no truth to it whatsoever. The #OWS demonstrators are adamantly committed to Sharpian nonviolent strategy and tactics, so when Cantor refers to "some" "condoning pitting Americans against Americans," he's, well, full of it as usual.

Repubs "steamed" over Reid "nuclear option."

Here is an explanation of Harry Reid's procedural power play with regard to the Jobs Bill the other night.

Reports are that the Repubs, and McConnell in particular, are "steamed." I say, wonderful. These despicable people should be kept on low boil indefinitely.

06 October 2011

Zucotti Park OCCUPY WALL STREET Statement

Partial Transcript of Keith Olbermann's Countdown from yesterday:

In our third story, it is not a catch phrase, but it is a declaration of what they want. That the document — which I will read in full in a moment — is not a list of laws to be repealed nor politicians to be elected, may only confuse the precocious ninth graders now passing for TV anchors and news men these days, but the absence of the kind of painted footsteps with which they used to mark the floors of dance-instruction studios is — in a way — breathtaking.

The two by four that Errol Louis described — it implies that there is so much to change, that such a tipping point has been reached, that some easy to apply band-aids just are not going to be enough — and it implies that the commentators, and politicians, and moneyed interests that do not come to understand the scope of what must change will be without influence, and without power before they realize that the change has happened.

So with that as preamble, here is formerly and finally, what Occupy Wall Street says and wants. It is, in essence, their special comment:

“As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies. As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members. That our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors. That a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people, and the Earth, and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.
We come to you at a time when corporations — which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality — run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here as is our right to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in workplaces based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is, itself, a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut worker’s health care and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams, but look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products, endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives, or provide relief in order to protect investments that have
already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully kept people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners, even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City general assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard.”

The statement issued from Zuccotti Park by the general assembly at Occupy Wall Street. We will continue, and we’ll continue to update you on the events and the violence that ensued this evening.

05 October 2011

Bittman Wrong on Food Tax

Two stipulations, if you please. First, I am no libertarian. Second, I generally find Mark Bittman's columns in the New York Times  both simpatico and interesting.

I think he's dead wrong today, however, to praise the Danes' tax on saturated fat in foods. For two reasons.

1.  First, and foremost, is that this is the Nanny State gone wild. I favor regulation on toxins in food and drugs, environmental hazards, etc. I am not advocating Ron Paulism, and far from it. But saturated fat is not poison, and if people choose to eat it, that's their business. It's not like second hand smoke. It doesn't hurt other people. And the concept that it increases medical costs (if true, see below)... well, so do a lot of other things. I draw the line short of here: the government has no business using taxes to disincentivize these choices.

2. Now, if that didn't convince you, how about this? The scientific justification for this kind of tax is specious. There is, in fact, absolutely no evidence, despite many attempts to prove otherwise, that saturated fat in the diet causes heart disease, obesity, cancer, or any other health conditions. Don't believe it? Refer to Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, with its extensive footnotes and bibliography. It's the truth.

04 October 2011

Harry Shearer features Yves Smith again

Harry Shearer's terrific weekly radio show Le Show (KCRW.com or iTunes for podcast--free) featured the excellent financial commentary of Yves Smith (pseud.; she's a high level former financial analyst). See her excellent blog: Naked Capitalism.

Crazy Harridan Ann Coulter and Irony So Thick You Can Cut it with a Knife

Fox news' far right (of course) host introduces Ann Coulter, about to compare Occupy Wall Street protesters to Nazis (again, of course), by saying "Hundreds of lefty Wall Street protesters were rounded up and arrested...." Nutcase Annie came on to say that this (the protests) was how totalitarianism always starts out.

Now, Ann, let me set you straight: rounding up and arresting protesters is what the beginning of totalitarianism looks like. Get a clue. People protesting non-violently in the streets is what DEMOCRACY looks like.

01 October 2011

Kudos to Kamala Harris for nixing foreclosure deal

I agree with Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris's decision not to cooperate in the Feds' deal with the big banks to plough through their criminal conduct in regards to foreclosures and improper property documentation in connection  the speculative housing bubble. I see that as just another example of the Obama administration putting its political financial interests (in obtaining a billion dollars to finance re-election from Wall Street contributors) over economic justice.