Left Blog

Today’s left ideology made here.

Elizabeth Warren – Senate rebel, fast moving up

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Known for her persistent attacks on the rich, and her barefoot run-ins with banks and corporate titans, Elizabeth Warren was warned to curb her opinions in the Senate,  according to her book, or she’d be isolated as an outsider – and she didn’t.  So she’s getting wider known for her rebel ways – for being a grenade thrower. That’s how you get noticed.  She’s heading to be President.  She’d provide some much needed strength of character in  that office.  A Washington Post article  here details her willingness to fling buckets of Left paint on those moneyed inhabitants of Congress, who are deaf to the social issue of vast income inequality, to wake them up. 

December 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Americans 40% poorer now the recession is over – new Pew report

Report from nonprofit Pew Research shows that although jobs are being added as  we leave the Great Recession behind, the average American family is now about 40% poorer.

Race is a factor too. Though all races have much less since 2007, white family wealth on average is now x13 black family wealth.

See the graphs in this report.

December 13, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1% of the population now owns 42% of the wealth. What happened to democracy?

 

Imagine if you were on an airplane where 1% of the passengers had 40% of the seats. That’s approximately the wealth pattern in America. Statistics.

The two prime values of democracy are freedom and equality. Those are the legs on which it walks. But with this degree of inequality, the second one is broken. More…

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Would you put the police on Angie’s List?

Police work is generally regarded as blue collar.  Consumer’s rights: Our taxes pay for the police, so we’re consumers of a paid-for service.

How would you rate the job they’re doing? 

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Whatever happened to the Occupy movement?

imagesCAJKWP0AAs The Daily Need noted in 2011, police actions around Occupy events got civil liberties scholars upset, article.   Arresting witnesses for filming police at Occupy demonstrations, for instance, is not what you expect in a free society, but its what some police announced they would do, and tens of reporters were in fact arrested for just doing that. 

Why did the Occupy movement disappear so quickly?  It didn’t lose steam. It didn’t get lost. And it didn’t dissolve for lack of leadership. It got squashed.  In a New York Review article 2012, Michael Greenberg documents some of the squashing.

The Occupy movement got a lot of attention and had a lot of public sympathy. Its disappearance leaves a political vacuum.

December 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pope scourges capitalism

Pope Francis continues a recent trend, beating the hell out of free market capitalism. His points on the danger of social inequality, and divisive individualism –a whooping for Ayn Rand.

But Left Blog suggests we keep one eye on what the Pope’s other hand is doing. We keep an eye on the Vatican’s enormous wealth vs. the abject poverty of most Catholics. Point is, the Catholic church is a steeply heirarchical organization. It could be used as prime example of social inequality. It’s headed by this one man. He orders 1.1 billion devoted people what to think, and until recently it’s run its parishes and schools on big fear. That’s what dictators do. It has the look and feel of a big cult.

Social inequality is measured by the Gini Index. It can be calculated for different communities and countries.  We look forward to a Gini rating for the Catholic Church.  

We’re going to see if Pope Francis starts practicing what he preaches.

esq-pope-style-1213-xl(Photo by Esquire, which says this man’s got style.)

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Race and police: 2nd police no-indictment

Eric Garner (43) was choked to death in July by an NYC police officer in Staten Island for allegedly selling loose (untaxed) cigarettes on the sidewalk. Garner was black, he was unarmed, the policeman is white. Garner has had many previous run-ins with the law. The cop, Daniel Pantaleo, has two previous lawsuits filed against him for bad behavior on the job. In July’s confrontation on the sidewalk, Garner raised his hands in the air and NYPD policy does not allow its cops to use chokeholds. A grand jury declined to indict the policeman. Protesters are filling the streets in NYC. President Obama said we need to make more progress in equal treatment under the law. This video  – Aol. This video - CNN.

Grand juries usually return indictments. It has been said that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. Mostly when they do not, the accused is a cop.

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ayn Rand, atheist

Ayn Rand refused to let religion into her Objectivism.  At one point she bluntly said “Objectivism is in incompatible with any form of mysticism or religion.” (1)

Get that?

According to Rand you can’t be both a follower of her capitalistic ideology and a Methodist, Catholic, New Age spiritual believer, 12-Stepper, Evangelical, Southern Baptist, Mormon, Unitarian, Presbyterian or Orthodox Jew, unless you can walk on both sides of a fence.

Which poses a problem for millions of Rand-adoring capitalists because most of them believe in God.

She refuses that.

At another point in her letters she says she sometimes called herself an atheist as a kind of shorthand:

” I do not call myself an ‘Atheist’ as an identification of my metaphysical position…But I do use the term ‘Atheist’ in the appropriate context such as, for instance, in answer to the queries of religionists or of those who spread verbal confusion by claiming that ‘a belief in natural law is a belief in God’, etc.” (2)

If you’re a believer and you claim to be on Ayn Rand’s side,  you should first know that capitalism and Christianity are opposed. Rand’s Capitalism is selfish. On the other hand Christianity is prosocial and altruistic.

Jesus acted like an anti-capitalist, kicking money changers out of the temple. His freely distributing fishes and loaves among a horde was an act of socialism.

Any Rand went on to develop a sociopathic politics, here.

(1) Letters of Ayn Rand, M.S. Berliner (Ed). New York: Plume Books. 1995. p. 621

(2) Letters of Ayn Rand, M.S. Berliner (Ed). New York: Plume Books. 1995. p. 577

 

November 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

So you think the best antipoverty program is a strong economy?

Still listening to that rising tide lifts all boats‘?

After all we’re going through. After the reports, the statistics, the debates. Next time you hear somebody talk that ‘rising tide lifts all boats,’  just do a U-turn. Flip the channel.  

It’s a wrenchingly insulting metaphor from a group of nasty people.

 

After the catastrophic events of the past years, they continue to natter the little sayism.  ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’

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But this image never fits what you see, looking out the window, as you drive through the city.

 

It is a competitive society. They are proud of that. Now, the outcome of any competition is inevitably a winner and a loser. That’s an inequality. Obviously both people are not lifted; only the winner’s boat.

 

So they musts concede that in a competition (between people or between groups) one side increases, the other side decreases. The sum of the two is zero. That’s why it’s called a “zero-sum”.

 

So the truth we need to be telling each other is another picture. Scrap the boats. The accurate picture is:  The higher the tree, the deeper the roots.

 US Drug War User Nation

The economy is an organic whole. The top and bottom parts are not disconnected from each other. Not detached like boats, and that aspect is obvious. Everything is connected in society.  The tree’s branches reach high into the glittering sun because the roots reach low into the clotted dark.

 

So in the business world. Stratospheric bonuses for CEOs are possible because the wages of the workers have not increased from mud-low.

 

So why do they keep drawing for us this picture ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ on us?

 

Because generations of greed are so rationalized.

 

But why do they say so, when it is clear it is not so? Over and over, like preachers who shout from the pulpit for two thousand years that the rapture is coming, and for two thousand years the congregation then turns out of the church door in rapture. But on the way home, the congregation doesn’t see any rapture. Just the city. On the way home, they notice that every year, the limousines get longer and every year there are more homeless people.

 

We think: it can’t be. Some people are raised, yes.  But not the poor. Not all are raised.

 

Educators: this is a teachable moment. That boats metaphor is insulting because it’s not rational. In any competition (on which business is based) one party wins because the other party loses. It is not possible that both the winner and the loser of a competition win.

 

The depth of this is that, after this is explained, that they will use their sayism again. But repetition is not the same as truth.

 

If we try to explain to them about the tree roots, they start to object, not on the basis of evidence, but with scorn that we do not understand.

 

That scorn is no substitute for reality. It is the way they nail their points. And it does not make the boats image true.  

 

Politicians know the effectiveness  of images and metaphor to convey complex processes because it’s hard to disprove an image. And in our culture of sound bytes, the shorter the communication, the better — few people stop to ingest an economic treatises. But a competing image, catching the imagination, has the power to move, because it combines concept and feeling. It has a sticking quality. Communicated, it has the power to upset a whole paradigm.

Less boat. More tree.

 

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November 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What is the Robin Hood tax?

The Robin Hood Tax would be a tiny tax of  0.5% on Wall St. transactions: stock buying and selling.  There are so many of those stock trades in an hour, many worth huge money, that such a tax would make hundreds of billions of dollars per year.  That would be good to help the poor, and good for education, healthcare and as a backup if the banks almost destroy the economy again. (Ordinary taxpayers paid the bill last time.) The good thing is, the rich pay the tax because mostly the rich trade stocks. The poor would get the benefits.

Simple idea. Social justice.

Here’s information: The Robin Hood Tax.

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

History shows stock market rises more when Democrat is president

CNN quotes finance research which shows that over several American presidencies, a Democrat president is better for the stock market than a Republican president. Markets rise less when a Republican is in the White House.

That’s odd. Aren’t the stock market and Wall St itself bastions of Republicanism?

Fox News reports the same finding here. Generally, corporate profits are better under Democratic administrations. Here.

Not so odd. Republican presidents don’t steer too well, prefering no regulations and we remember the cascading damage left after Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Bush.

Republican leadership lets America down. More reason for lefties to feel a little angry on the inside.

November 18, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cell phones are reducing police brutality

Occupy Oakland Police Officers

CNN says more cell phone videos of police violence are being posted on the internet and going viral and Bureau of Justice statistics show at least police brutality is not increasing. In a couple of cities, cameras on cops’ uniforms seem to be responsible for less police misbehavior. Here.

Despite some cops arresting people for filming them, it’s quite legal to video the police in public places.

November 18, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re empty of national leadership. What do real leaders do?

For conservatives this is the season of swagger. Republicans big on the Hill are seriously threatening to cancel Obamacare and roll back our hard won environmental protections.

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With a Republican House and Senate, the President is isolated, cornered.  So what should Obama do?

Obama is in this predicament because he can’t lead. He’s empty of some necessary qualities and habits. Here’s four obvious next steps.

 Find energy. Energy comes from the emotions. (Note the common root in the words emotion and motivation). Our president, being a model of rational analysis,  is the opposite of motivating. His habit in speeches is to explain the complications in things, and that’s  boring. His public approach is the elaborate minuet. That steals energy.

You don’t lead by analysis.  You lead by indignation; or distrust; or fear. That’s what the Republicans use for style, and it stinks but it works.  Better, Mr. Obama, learn how to inject still another emotion: courage.  But find some emotion.  Drop caution.  Strong leadership always has some theater.  This president doesn’t have it.

Capitalizes on uncertainty. Obama scores zero here.  A real leader skillfully catches the falling knife of confusion, and throws it back.  It’s a bit of drama  that pleases crowds. Obama mainly stands and shows off his beautiful suits.

Get publicly nasty. It’s the ability to look at your opponent boss-eyed. The benefits of a sudden display of temper include halting your opponents and getting people’s attention. It reminds people you have passion. It looks like you can be decisive.  Obama doesn’t have this.

Tell stories. The most powerful leaders know how to make narrative. There’s some urban anthropology research somewhere reporting that city gang leaders are not the most brutal member of the gang, but the best story tellers. Rank and file members of gangs are youth who have broken identities; they are randomly cynical and they are lost. The gang leader makes a  story about each member that weaves him into the overarching purpose of things. That gets their loyalty. Gang leaders are not bullies; through narrative they provide meaning to the confused.

Stories are powerful. Real leaders known that to sway a crowd, you feed them juicy parables.  Jesus was good at this but the best CEOs anywhere tell colorful anecdotes to their staff, who sit like kids sucking their thumbs when the CEO masterfully renders a Tortoise and Hare story.  Stories contain metaphor not logic. They contain problem and unexpected solution,  in very common and concise symbols. Obama can’t do this.

These are murky tmes in American politics.  It’s like the Left Wing is pacing around a forest, lost.  All Obama is doing is counting trees.

Come on, Mr. Obama.   Lead. 

Mr. Obama, why can’t you say it like it is?  Get judgemental.  Politicians who always want more war are sociopaths. People aiming to remove our environmental protections are profit hoodlums. Politicians who want to break up healthcare for the poor have no more compassion than toads. People who want more social inequality because heirarchy gives meaning to their lives are morally damaged

And their number grows.

   bush13

 

November 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The far right’s patriotism problem…Larisa Alexandrovna

Analysis here.  She says authoritarian ideologues distort to squash dissenting views.

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is dead peasant insurance?

Large companies take out life insurance on their rank-and-file employees, so if the employee dies, the company gets all the money. The employee’s family gets nothing. In fact the employee usually doesn’t know about this. No surprise, WalMart and many of the big banks have dead peasant insurance on their employees – here

November 7, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cautious President

obama  Faced with obstucting Republicans at home and inflamed military situations overseas, President Obama met with the press  8/1/14  in his usual careful way. Almost like a law professor dealing with fumbling students’ questions, he reminded the press of the context: those awful House Republicans, a Congress that can’t pass legislation,  he reminded us of the difficult budget choices when dealing with crises. Carefully he pointed out how complex it all is.  

One question from the press was: Is America losing influence in the world? Answer: Well, remember we’re only one country among many…

Obama’s performance on television was tepid. It usually is. His presence has no fire, no punch, no charisma. If  it takes an axe to get a job done, this president prefers to use a butterknife. His porcelain academic diction. We wonder if his speeches are written in disappearing ink. He meets obstreperous questions from reporters with a slight frown.

And he shows no swagger. But the President of the United States is entitled to strut. Especially when he faces up to Russia’s leader, Putin. Putin is different material. Hard eyed audacity; under the polish Putin shows is a pistol. Putin is currently out to control land in the Crimea and Ukraine, and so far nothing is stopping him except some vague economic “sanctions.”  Obama should be getting in Putin’s face dissuading him from jumping countries. But so far it’s all rational talk.

So what is Obama doing?

We think underneath that polished surface, the President is frail.  Detached. He has been tamed. He is not sure. 

World events are breaking fast. Now Israel devastates her neighbor Palestine, now Russia sends back tanks into Ukraine, now Latin America dumps orphans over our border, now the killer virus ebola erupts in West Africa. 

Come, Mr President. Tell us again what a complex situation it all is.

November 6, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Once we had a White House that spoke softly and carried a big stick. Now we have a White House that walks around in slippers

Obama-the-Cautious is quietly waiting to end this term.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Republicans now run Congress

With majorities in both Senate and House, this leaves Obama by himself.  He’ll promise to push Republicans back – but why didn’t he do that prior to the election?

So watch for a triumphant rise in conservative ideology. Watch for initiatives to dismantle healthcare. Watch for the conservative crazies (Tea Party) to rise again. 

 

We still lack a Left ideology.

November 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is wage theft?

 Wikipedia: “Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft, particularly from low wage legal or illegal immigrant workers of color, is common in the United States.[1] Wage theft can be conducted through various means: overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, not being paid at all. These violated rights have been guaranteed to workers in the United States since 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).[2]] 

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How common is wage theft?

Wikipedia   “A 2008 study based on surveys of over 4,000 workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City found: Wage theft from low wage workers in large cites in the United States is severe and widespread. Incidence varies with the type of job and employee; however, any worker may be impacted.[4]   “

 LA Times  article survey how much low-wage workers suffer, shows average lose 12.5%  of their pay, here

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What are we doing in Afghanistan?

Cash_Grabbing_93x70

Whatever we’re doing there (and nobody seems to know for sure, but it involves poppies) Huffington reports two-thirds of Americans think it hasn’t been worth the cost.

   What is the cost?

Difficult to estimate because corruption is pandemic in that country, so everything’s a guess. Perhaps $8 Billion per year to preserve basics, build infrastructure, feed the corruption, and some of this is paid by  other nations. National Priorities Project estimates over $10 million per hour, here, paid by American taxpayers. 

 

October 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wealth of the world’s 85 richest people equal to that of the 3.5 billion poorest

That’s according to Oxfam.   Here

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Afghanistan is a policy black hole

This from Daily Beast:

“The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an independent agency created by Congress to monitor U.S. spending in Afghanistan, has detailed the money wasted in the Afghan supply process in a series of audits focused on procurement of fuel and vehicle parts for Afghan security forces.

As of March 2013, the U.S. has spent (PDF) about $54 billion funding security forces in Afghanistan and $92 billion on reconstruction, agriculture, and other development projects, according to a SIGAR report.”

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New on income inequality – officially it’s getting worse

Janet Yellen,  Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank, at a Conference of Economic opportunity and Inequality, made a speech, here and raised the hackles of corporate business.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘A hungry man is not a free man’

America is the biggest exporter of food.

Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture reveals that at home, 4% of American households are going hungry for lack of money (that’s 4.4 million households), and another 12% are food-insecure: they eat if they don’t pay rent or other bills.

American poverty is a multifaceted disaster. Why do we export liberty and abundance to other lands when America is not taking care of its own?

We have had a conservative leadership. Many conservatives simply don’t want to take care of our poor. More welfare, according to Social Darwinists, just encourages the poor and then they won’t work. These conservatives are proud of their ruthlessness.

Those conservatives who do believe in helping also believe that the only help should be in the form of charity.

Many conservatives believe that charity is the answer to poverty.

(This is obviously wrong, because if charity really worked, there would be no more homeless and hungry.)

What’s the catch?

The catch is the conservative mindset that charity should only be given to people who are ‘deserving.’ (And conservatives insist on making that judgment themselves.)

So we have 18% of American children living in poverty, and their numbers are growing. We’d rather give charity to foreigners. Conservatives are giving charity selectively because of their prejudice against the poor. — These kids’ parents are welfare cases, so are not ‘deserving.’

But a nation with many hungry millions cannot be a strong nation. A hungry person is not a free person (originally Adlai Stevenson’s dictum) because hunger is coercive. A well-fed person can explore his options, read, and act as an informed member of a democracy. But a hungry person is a problem: he’s distracted, fearful, resentful, and he must look for food.

Unequally distributed hunger creates a division in a society.

Next: in a dangerous dog-eat-dog world, which conservatives insist, there’s Darwinian competition between nations. Conservatives keep saying: to survive, we have to be top dog. But how can we be top dog, with these internal divisions? Outsiders, looking at us, certainly see us weakened by them.

I’m not saying conservatives are rational.

Taking care of our own would heal us, naturally. But fathoms deep in the conservative mind is some dark, lurching logic that weakens us. Something even stronger than the fear of outside threats prevents them helping their fellow Americans.

An absurd calculus. It means that while America is the biggest exporter of food, we have hunger. We have poverty and blight. From the outside it cannot look like America is the land of the free.

Related article here.

August 23, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 53 Comments

Banks as public enemy

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Congress says it can’t find the money to provide healthcare for ordinary Americans, who are the public. Investment banks at this writing are furiously lobbying Congress and writing new legislation to push back regulations. And they know they will win. Those coiffed gentlemen want to play the very gambles that helped drop us all in the banking crisis of 2008. And they will do it again. Banks act like they own Congress. And thus you are entitled to feel violated.  Read more here

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

B of A to pay $16.65 Billion settlement, biggest ever fine to single corporation

Marketwatch here says it’s not as huge as big tobacco fines. (Interesting comparison, both toxic.) 

bank%20failure

Collective bank fines now up to $142 Billion. (That’s a B.)

August 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s legal to photo cops – in all states

Why do cops arrest people for photographing them?  Maybe the cops don’t know its wrong.  “Probably because they haven’t been trained otherwise,”  [attorney Mickey] Osterreicher told Huff Post. “I think that there are many officers that believe that the minute they tell somebody to do or not do something, that that’s an order. But police can only order somebody to do or not do something based on the law, and there is no law that says you can not record or photograph out in public.”  Here

Occupy Oakland Police Officers

August 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Left turn

  

Essay: THE WAR on INTELLECTUALISM

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Foreign war

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US bombs in Iraq – long term project says Obama

President Obama authorized the military strikes, here.

August 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

War, despair, chaos, anguish and fear

war4 The US protests Israel’s brutal attacks. The UN also protests.  But where is the World Court, to judge?  Where are the UN peacekeeping forces?

With Israel’s violent history, change is no more likely than the sun veer off its course.

August 3, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Capitalism and happiness

Question: If the freemarket capitalistic system is the best, providing people the most freedoms and satisfaction, which of these three nations has the highest suicide rate?   (1) England (socialist) (2) Canada (socialist) (3) US (capitalist)

Answer:  USA. It ranks 33  (out of 110 countries); England ranks lower at 37; Canada ranks 40.  People are killing themselves more in America, which also has the dubious distinction of more military suicides than lives lost to enemy combat.

Source here

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Obstacle to democracy: Equality is a deal killer for conservatives

 

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Democracy stands on two main values: Freedom and equality.  But conservatives think equality would take away incentive in their lives, here.

 

July 30, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A strong society means you can trust your neighbor

Put together this little game and check out the real motives of the person sitting next to you. It’s called the Nuts Game. Here…

July 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stock market rigged, says majority

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    Nearly 2/3 of voters think the stock market is rigged against them, here.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ranks of the numb

Ed Shane, media consultant, says people are more isolated, withdrawing to defend themselves against today’s media deluge. Media agressiveness backfires, and we become more separate from others (Disconnected America: The Consequences of Mass Media in a Narcissistic World – E. Shane)

February 25, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Anything we can do to keep Wall St. legal?

11finance_480  With J P Morgan paying nearly $2 billion in fines this time, we are reminded Wall St continues to behave like it was a power unto itself and pretty much lawless. It never gets better. Our laws have little influence because the Street is so scantily policed. (Unlike Occupy Wall St movement demonstrations, see above). What changes should be made if we want a lawful Wall St? – Keep in mind we are dealing with a coiffed horde  of ultra wealthy sociopaths. Al Lewis comments.

January 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Denmark is the happiest country. Its way of life -

Huffington, here

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tea Party badly damaged the Right

According to Huffington,  and polls, only about half of Republicans approve the  extreme conservative Tea Party.  It’s dysfunctional.  Will it get separate party status?

October 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Is this a coincidence?

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The heart of conservative economics is the idea that rich people’s wealth eventually benefits everybody. Rich people begin businesses, hire the poor, and pay them. Rich people spend money on goods the poorer people manufacture. So the wealth at the top “trickles down.”

We’re supposed to see a diagram here of the shape of society as roughly like a diamond, viewed from the side, with most people in the middle class. And as the rich get richer, the top of the diagram moves up, pulling lower ranks up.

But actually the bottom of society is not moving up. So as the top goes up, society just gets longer and more unequal. That’s what’s happening.

Trickle down theory is fairy dust. (But it drives a lot of government policy.) To a large extent, very wealthy people invest in things that bring no benefit for the working poor: paintings, jewelry, real estate.

What’s the alternative? Well there’s a new idea called the Winner Take All theory which says in this competitive society people have an intense drive to win. And the prize for rising to the top is that you grab it all – or a huge percentage – then the losers divide up what’s left.

A winner-take-all society has a different shape. A tall pyramid.

That shape is more accurate, because currently the top 1% of our population actually owns 40% of the wealth. This means a sharp inequality.

So are the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor?taxes

The Left is naturally opposed to laissez faire (free market) economics because it produces big wealth only for some people. What it always produces is inequality. The Left doesn’t like hierarchy (inequality) anyway, and the inequality creates great pain for the people who are left behind. The Right actually encourages social inequality. Some of them say it makes the economy run better.

There’s a statistic which population experts now use called the Gini Index. It shows how unequal a society is. It runs on a scale from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality) and in the U.S. it has been increasing steadily, and it stood at 0.47 in 2011. If the Gini Index gets high, it predicts social unrest.

And there’s some new scientific research comparing nations. It shows that the more social inequality in a country, the shorter the life expectancies. For everybody. Naturally, the Right is vigorously ignoring that research. But it’s your health. That research is the single biggest threat to free market economics. More here.

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October 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 72 Comments

One in six Americans lacks a secure supply of food, while 40% of all new food is thrown away

New study says this is due to shops throwing out food  at “faulty expiration dates.” Here 

The study says just 15% of all this wasted food would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year.

September 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Collateral Damage” – the video that got Bradley Manning 35 years in military prison

UTube here

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Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years for leaking this miiitary video of an American attack helicopter killing civilians in Iraq.  The video comes from inside the cockpit of an Apache helicopter. It records the voices of the crew as they find some Iraqis walking on the street, then decide they are carrying weapons, then shoot them all to death.  Turns out they were not weapons the civilians were carrying but cameras.  Two of them were local reporters. Turns out one was not killed, he crawled away wounded and when a local van stopped to rescue him, the Americans turned the helicopter back and shot up the van too. Two school children were inside the  van. They were badly wounded.  Altogether maybe 12 civilians were killed. This is a wrenching video, the more so because the American crew were recorded adding comments like “nice” to their carnage.

Because Pvt. Manning turned the video over to WikiLeaks, he was court martialed and will now spend most of his life in prison.

The video Collateral Damage is also on WikiLeaks here 

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Brash new political novel

BRASS AND IRON is set in 1898 Chicago, with the birth of unions and the story runs with labor protests,  work mutinies against exploiters , and it features a red hot, class-conflict romance. Available here71ZLLDYzK3L__SL1500_or click on the image.

Story: A sweeping romance set against the labor riots of Chicago in the 1890s. The young Wyand returns from war to Chicago. He is broken with war nightmares. 1898 finds big cities in America the same: the ultra-rich live next to the desperate poor, extravagance flaunted in the face of the overcrowded hungry. Wyand finds no work except in one of the hellish southside factories. The poor neighborhoods are awash in brutal labor riots. Wyand stumbles into a labor mutiny where he saves the life of a beautiful worker, Kate, about to be killed by hired goons. She promptly rejects him as an educated boy, not her working class. He is smitten by her spirit and her beauty, and he pursues. She extracts a price for her affections: Wyand has to help her organize another mutiny against the stranglehold of their exploiters. She leads him into the labor turmoil across gang-infested streets. Strikes were illegal and brutally crushed, and twice their organizing is broken, and suffering and hunger fill the streets. But Wyand is hypnotized by Kate’s spirit. Jailed for striking, he returns to the cause and wins the respect of the workers. Seizing the moment after a bloody street battle, he picks up as a street orator and once again rallies the crowd of desperate and broken. Kate is finally impressed. Together the two work tirelessly to get a foothold in the struggle for justice. They plan a third big uprising against deadly obstacles. They once again confront the widespread fear, the factory owners, the law.

August 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

1% of Americans but 47% of Congress are millionaires.

Nearly half of Congress are very rich, here

When will voters get popular representation?

August 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Struggle not going away: 4 of 5 adults in America will face near-poverty: survey

According to this AP article some 80 percent of American adults face poverty, near-poverty and unemployment at some time in their lives. Harvard’s Professor Wilson says it’s a social classcreweds thing, and there’s growing inequality.

Despite Obama’s declarations he want to repair the gap, things are not getting better in US, they’re getting worse. The rich get richer and the poor are fighting for breath.

Is anyone interested in reducing social inequality with its proven toxic effects (see post below)? Is anyone interested in closing the gap?

Not the top 1%. 

July 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty.”

This was not originally Jefferson.  John Basil Barnhill said it in 1914.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Problems with your bank account? That might be because somebody else has your account number. Banks recycle account numbers

bank%20failureInvestigative reporter discovers B of A and other banks routinely use old account numbers again. So the previous owner of your account number can continue to write checks on your account. Here.

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bank of America slams its whistleblower employees

bank%20failure    Banking is a predatory industry.

 

Marketwatch quotes under-oath statements from bank employees who said they had to to lie to customers so the bank could foreclose on their properties.

Marketwatch’s  Al Lewis: …”The accusations are so outrageous, it’s best to read them in the former employee’s own words — which they have submitted under penalty of perjury.”  Here.

Quotes from Bank of America employees:taxes

• “Although I was called a “Home Retention Specialist,” my job was to collect as much money as possible from homeowners,” said Recorda Simon, who worked at Bank of America’s call center in Fort Worth, Texas, from August 2010 to January 2011.

• “We were told to lie to customers and claim that Bank of America had not received documents it had requested, and that it had not received trial payments” when in fact it had, said Simone Gordon, who worked at Bank of America from July 2007 to February 2012. “A collector who placed 10 or more accounts into foreclosure in a given month received a $500 bonus. Bank of America also gave employees gift cards to retail stores as rewards for placing accounts into foreclosure.”

• “I saw records regarding hundreds of homeowners that Bank of America treated dishonestly,” said Erika Brown, who worked at Bank of America from June 2009 through June 2010. “The homeowners were eligible for loan modifications under HAMP, sent back all the required documents, and made all their required payments. Bank of America nevertheless damaged their credit ratings by reporting them delinquent, tacked on additional charges to their loans, increased the amounts it considered as being owed and often referred these homeowners to foreclosure.”

• “I told my supervisors these practices were ridiculous and immoral,” said William E. Wilson Jr., a team manager for Bank of America from June 2010 through August 2012, in Charlotte, N.C. “We were instructed to delay and then push homeowners to accept an internal refinance so that Bank of America would profit. Once an applicant was finally rejected after a long delay, the bank would offer them an in-house alternative. Bank of America would charge a higher interest rate, ranging up to 5%, as compared to 2% if the loan had been modified under HAMP.”

• “The numbers Bank of America were reporting to the government and to the public were simply not true,” said Steven Cupples, an underwriter who worked at Bank of America until 2012. “Employees who challenged … the ethics of Bank of America’s practice for any reason were fired.”

• “Bank of America was trying to prevent as many homeowners as possible from obtaining permanent HAMP loan modifications, while leading the public and the government to believe that it was making efforts to comply with HAMP,” said Theresa Terralonge, who worked for Bank of America from June 2009 to June 2010.

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sen. Elizabeth Warren hits corporations-courts alliance

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls for new judges to replace the present ones who haveimagesCA8BHQP4 grown up slanted towards money interests and who are accustomed to business being their business, hereBig businesses always trying to influence courts, she says. So do we have any courts that are fair?

Gotta love this senator.  She’s the only one with the strength to do what Obama should be doing.

June 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Reich: There’s two centers of power in America that are accountable to nobody. NSA and Wall St.

Robert Reich says we can’t do anything about these two  operations, here, both work under blankets of secrecy. Both are out of control.

June 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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