Thursday, July 23, 2015

Plutocrats Explain What's Wrong With Working Americans

Jeb Bush’s unending cascade of clueless tactless and gormless remarks rubbishing working people has been unfairly ignored because of Donald Trump’s far more impressive and much louder tsunami of clueless tactless and gormless remarks about every group that doesn’t include billionaires.

To even things out, here’s Jeb in his own words...

"Americans need to work longer hours” ~Jeb Bush (And some feedback from Americans, via the Guardian)

“The American economy needs more immigrants because they’re more fertile.” ~Jeb Bush (There’s been less feedback on this one, possibly because people are laughing...via the Washington Post)

That’s enough Bushism for one meal. There are commentators who are less gormless than Bush. Here are a few:

Robert Reich writes about the biggest myths about poverty.

Paul Krugman writes about the myth that Americans are “living on welfare”. You know, moochers.

Interesting fact: most of those lazy selfish folks living off food stamps are white and living in Republican districts. (Via a recent report in TIME magazine)

The whole Trickle Down Philosophy that has shaped post Reagan America has created enormous prosperity among a tiny percentage of very rich people ––you know, the people who own for a living––and an epidemic of anxiety among the rest of us who work for a living. (Courtesy of the Atlantic)

Even in the Magic Kingdom life is getting very mean. Before they fire you they ask you to please train the imported worker who will be replacing you. (From the New York Times)

In case you’ve bought the propaganda about Climate Change being a “good thing,” consider this (and it’s fairly big): Scientists are now predicting mass malnutrition because of the warming climate. (Via the Washington Post)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

David Brooks, the Explainer of the Working Class

Today’s Fun Facts. How deeply unfair has the American system become? Read on.

Libertarianism is an invention of a mischievous corporate cabal. It’s about their liberty not yours. Read and Learn Here.

David Brooks: “Bernie Sanders doesn’t get the working class…” Priceless omniscience from Brooks can be enjoyed here.

And David Brooks understands the working class completely. Like God. Underneath that smooth expensively suited Brooksian facade is a true working man, complete with sweat, weariness, worry about paying the mortgage, fears about some venture capitalist looting his pension, concern about his kids’ lives being poorer than his own. Yeah, Brooks is the working man personified. He knows that the triumph of the working man will only come when he realizes his interests are best served by following instructions. People who work for a living are meant to serve the people who own for a living.

Here ends the Gospel.

Why democracy isn’t working has something to do with the antidemocratic unAmerican concentration of wealth and power. Learn more here.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jesus the Corporate CEO

Bill Moyers asks the question: Why have Americans gone along with the concentration of economic privilege?

Where did Americans get the idea of Jesus the Venture Capitalist? Salon has the history.

This man works full time preparing gourmet meals for wealthy New Yorkers while his family lives in a homeless shelter. God bless our free economy. From Raw Story.

The gospel of trickle-down is proving untrue in the Deep South. From the Washington Post.

And finally, a Republican wonders why money always flows uphill in America, unlike in other countries. But he’s only pouting because it’s hurting him. Washington Monthly talks to poor deprived Republican candidate Lindsey Graham.

Oh, and one more thing... The problem of homelessness? There is a solution if you want to solve the problem. From Nashville Public Radio.

Of course it would cost money. The problem then is the Republicans, who think if you don't spend money on a problem there isn't a problem.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Working for a Living Vs. Owning for a Living

Jeb Bush said something odd yesterday: he said that our economy will do better if American workers will only work longer hours. Spoken like someone who owns for a living. The number of working people with jobs divided by those same workers working longer hours equals fewer jobs. It’s not that Bush is stupid, or that he is unable to think. His problem is he thinks like his money. His money thinks all problems should be solved to the benefit of money and people who have lots of it.

This from Bill Moyers. Lest anyone think Bernie Sanders is outside the American mainstream, he’s actually in the middle of it, historically. Unless you think every cooperative effort from barn raising to Social Security is unAmerican...

From The Guardian's George Monbiot: The Greek crisis is just a repetition of the age old conflict between people who work for a living (the 99%) and people who own for a living, between labor and capital. When it comes to money, capital always writes the rules.

The always perceptive and clearheaded David Cay Johnston writes about how venture capitalists loot pension funds. It’s a shame it’s in Al Jazeera where it will never persuade those it needs to persuade.

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

More Greek Perspectives (with some humor mixed in)

Germany vs. Greece, the Python Version.

From the NYRB, an interesting essay explaining how austerity policies like those the EU is imposing on Greece are similar to the policies George III imposed on the 13 American colonies. The result then was revolution.

Jeffrey Sachs urges the EU creditors to write down the debt.

Joseph Stiglitz, the views of a Nobel economist.

Kenneth Rogoff explains why the bailout failed. (And this is the fault of both the European creditors and Greece.)

Another worthwhile argument (From the Guardian, the dangers of deficit fetishists)

A thought I’ve been having: how would this work in a family? Most of the children are fine, doing well in school, if grown they’re earning a living. But one child fails in school. How does it help to withhold food from the one who fails in school? Will he stop failing if he has nothing to eat? If he’s refused medical care or family affection?

The perspective of a former “economic hit man”: what is happening to Greece looks a lot like the kind of damage he used to do.

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Friday, July 03, 2015

Are We Like Greece?

There’s also this view of Greece. From the Daily Beast, a review of a new book about the Greek dilemma.

Is it a nation of tax dodgers? A place where nobody wants to pay the cost of public necessities?

What does this sound like? Sounds like America.

Sounds more than a bit like those Americans who bank in the Caribbean to avoid the taxes that would pave the roads––and employ construction workers. This 2013 article in the Economist estimates rich Americans have hidden $20 Trillion offshore.

Sounds a lot like the very profitable American corporations who pay no taxes and instead get corporate welfare paid to them. GE? Boeing? Verizon? Citigroup? Bank of America? FedEx? Senator Bernie Sanders compiled a list.

The grim austerity Greece is experiencing now sounds like Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin and a handful of other Republican-run states where austerity policies have taken a severe toll. They’ve lowered taxes on the wealthy and paid for it with deep cuts to public sector needs like schools and healthcare. Sounds a lot like what Germany is forcing on Greece, where the wealthy Greeks still evade taxes but teachers and doctors and nurses go unpaid.

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Greece Explained

An excellent video from VOX. No more oversimplified than the final demand letters Greece is getting from Angela Merkel.

I keep going back to the meme I invented a couple of years ago: Kiss Up, Kick Down. Is this crisis just an international version of junior high bullying? The powerful preying on the powerless? Noam Chomsky writes about this.

Vox has discovered that NSA wiretaps reveal Angela Merkel's cynical calculations prior to the Greek bailout. Why did Merkel and Germany send Greece so much money knowing the debt would be unsustainable? Maybe the potential profit caused them to ignore the risks. No intention of fixing a problem, just a strong impulse to milk that problem for profit. The payday loan model again.

Europe isn’t a family. Families don’t starve the child that does poorly in school. Families don’t think how they can profit from a family member’s failure.

I realize it gets complicated in families too. But nations and organizations of nations need to lean toward the helpful model rather than the exploitive one. Think St. Francis not some mob kingpin. Keynes not Friedman. The Marshall Plan, not the Versailles Treaty.

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Greece is the Word

When a nation is in a financial crisis it’s not always best to think like a banker. A banker cares more about his money than about the people involved. (It's easier that way.) There are certainly hard truths we need to face about the Greek crisis, and difficult problems that need to be fixed. But is a crisis the best time for a banker to extract his late fees and penalties? Does it matter if Greece recovers from this? For many of the financial experts discussing it, the money is less abstract than the people.

In the Guardian, Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz returns us to a more rational discussion of what is involved and what will restore Greece’s financial health.

Even the conservative Daily Telegraph has a negative view of how Europe’s bankers have handled this. This writer says the Euro bankers set Greece up to fail.

Europe is a far different place than it was in the era of Keynes. We took Keynes' advice after WW2. By then we knew from grim experience not to treat a fallen nation the way Europe treated Germany in 1920.

I have an idea: look at how Germany was helped by the Marshall Plan after WW2. Maybe Greece would be treated better now if they'd invaded Europe instead of joining it.

From the Economist

From the London School of Economics

From TruthOut

German bankers think Greece has already been helped enough. The point is, after WW2 Germany was helped until they recovered. There should be mechanisms put in place that help repair the problems that caused the Greek crisis. Instead the European bankers, apparently, prefer to create a profitable lender-borrower relationship, and profitable relationships are meant to last, creating longterm profits for the lender. Did the European banks base their rescue plan on the model of payday lenders? (From the Guardian)

The Greek finance minister takes a very dim view of austerity.

The austerity model fails wherever it is tried. Why? Because it doesn't allow recovery. Instead it extracts the pound of flesh from the corpse of the debtor. Only money exists in the world of these bankers. No people, no communities, no societies, no nations, just money.

Economist Lars Syll on the failed austerity model

In Europe as in the U.S., it’s a case of Kiss Up, Kick Down. Pay the rich, gouge the poor. In any failed transaction the fault always lies with the poorer party. He always pays the penalty. (From the Washington Post)

Here are some key views from the bankers’ table via the New York Times

If Europe were a federal system like the U.S., the crisis in one state would matter to everyone. This idea gets a fuller airing at VOX.

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