The paradox of middle-class aspiration


From THE GUARDIAN
Thanks to Herb Ruhs

[This Guardian article is as cogent an assessment of economic paradox in the US as I have found. The paradox of middle-class aspiration:Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy? -HR]

Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy?

The generally accepted explanation of why many Americans, even those that are poor, are opposed to raising taxes for the rich is the enduring belief in upward social mobility or that they may one day be rich themselves. We still believe America is the land of opportunity. You can be born in the ghetto and rise to super stardom. A welfare recipient from a broken home may become president. But the truth is, for the vast majority of people, these dreams are out of reach and, in fact, the US actually has the lowest social mobility of any industrialised nation.

Is it the enduring myth of the American dream that persuades so many to support tax cuts they will never earn enough to enjoy?

One thing we can thank the Great Recession for is that it has finally drawn attention to the growing inequality in American society. Any study or report you care to look at leads to the same sorry conclusion: the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class are disappearing. These trends have accelerated since 2000, but they have been in place for decades; yet, a large percentage of people who are suffering as a result of the inequality seem to favour, or at least tolerate, the policies that perpetuate it.

Bruce Anderson Sues Supervisor Kendall Smith: Give the taxpayers back their money!


From UDJ

Newspaper editor Bruce Anderson, in his capacity as a taxpayer, took the first step Wednesday toward filing a small-claims lawsuit against Mendocino County for failing to reclaim $3,087 of travel reimbursements overpaid to 4th District Supervisor Kendall Smith.

Anderson, who is editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, filed a claim as an individual against the county seeking to recover the amount on behalf of the county’s taxpayers.

His claim states, “We do not seek to recover any funds ourselves, but we demand the county recover $3,087 (as documented by the Mendocino County grand jury) plus all applicable costs, fees, interest and penalties from Supervisor Smith since the time of her claim.”

Smith allegedly claimed reimbursement for business trips between her Fort Bragg home and Ukiah from January 2005 until November 2006, “when there was no actual travel and when her cost of overnight lodging was little or nothing because she either stayed with friends or in a room which she rented for $100 per month (in Ukiah),” according to a letter District Attorney Meredith Lintott wrote in 2008 to Smith’s former attorney in the matter.

Anderson notes the claim is “preparatory” to seeking an injunction that would require the county to recover the money Mendocino County Auditor-Controller Meredith Ford determined Smith was overpaid, a calculation Ford said she did at the behest of the grand jury.

“Damages are suffered by the citizens of Mendocino County who are deprived of the use of funds wrongfully given to Supervisor Kendall Smith,” Anderson’s claim states

Transition Streets



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Dan Hamburg: Obama Declares Wrong Emergency


From LEWIS SEILER and DAN HAMBURG
CommonDreams

It’s often said by supporters of President Obama, with some justification, that too much has been expected of him. Sure he went in with high ideals about moving the country in a more progressive direction, but the reality of money and power in the nation’s capital have rendered him unable-at least in the two years he’s been in office-to achieve the objectives he so glowingly promised.

Contrary to this view of the president’s predicament, we would direct our fellow citizens’ attention to the action taken by the president on September 10. On that day, the White House released the text of a letter sent by Mr. Obama to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi entitled “Letter from the President on the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks”.

The O Man (Updated)



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“You Elected Me To Do What Was Right”

“We don’t quit!”

[Update]
From ANDREW SULLIVAN

Obama’s speech to Gen44 tonight knocked my socks off. It’s streaming on CSPAN here. If you’ve forgotten why many of you worked your ass off for this guy, and felt hope for the first time in many years, watch it. He deserves criticism when necessary as this blogazine has not shied from at times. But he remains in my judgment the best option this country still has left – and it’s far too easy for the left and far too dangerous for serious conservatives and independents to abandon him now.

What I particularly loved about the speech was his direct attack on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Pledge To America, the $700 billion it means we will have to borrow from China to sustain the unsustainable Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year. And what I agreed with was his embrace of government that is lean and efficient, because these are times when the government is necessary to help reverse self-evident decline, mounting fiscal crisis, deeply dangerous enemies, and socially dangerous inequality, exploited at home by ugly demagogues and know-nothing nihilists. Here is his invocation of Lincoln’s core argument about the role of government:

I believe the government should do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.

Then this passage where he soared like he hasn’t since the campaign:

I believe in a country that rewards hard work and responsibility, a country where we look after one other, a country that says I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper, I’m going to give a hand up, join hands with folks and try to lift all of us up so we all have a better future, not just some – but all of us. That’s what I believe.

I do too. I do not believe for a second that the GOP of Palin and Boehner and Beck and DeMint represents anything but more debt, more war, more social division and more denial about the deeply serious problems this country faces and the profound dangers that are metastasizing in the world. I have no love for the Democrats but I do fervently believe that this president’s record is far better than many now fashionably claim, that his inheritance was beyond awful, and I am not giving up on this president’s immense task now, and neither, in my judgment, should any of those who voted for him in 2008.

Know hope; and fight the cynicism and nihilism that is increasingly the alternative.
~~

Ben and Jerry’s admits ice-cream with a liberal conscience not ‘all natural’


From THE GUARDIAN

Unilever’s premium brand abandons claim after US food health watchdog notes use of unnatural ingredients such as corn syrup

[OMG! Stabbed in the heart! -DS]

Ben & Jerry’s founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, have had a difficult relationship with Unilever. Cohen said when the firm was bought by the multinational it was ‘just about the worst day of my life’.

The carefully cultivated socially liberal image of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has suffered a knock with a decision by the Vermont-based manufacturer to stop calling its food “all natural” following pressure from a watchdog that questioned whether ingredients such as partially hydrogenated soya bean oil fitted the billing.

Book Review: An Investigation into the World’s Most Hated Company


From CHRIS WALTERS
ACRES USA

Once upon a time, a chemical company in St. Louis discovered that normal limits did not apply to it. Whether its products sickened an entire town in the Midwest or poisoned villagers in Southeast Asia, things seemed to break its way. Regulators seemed reluctant to regulate, and judges delivered stupefying decisions with straight faces.

Microsoft’s monopolistic behavior resulted in trial conviction, and heavy penalties. Top executives of Archer Daniels Midland went to prison for price-fixing. Meanwhile the corporation with the sweet Spanish name went on a global tear, flooding the American food supply with dubious genetics, seeding government agencies with sympathizers, intimidating opponents, buying the loyalty of scientists, and transforming the rural landscape in country after country, always for the worse. Only the European Union, resisted it with some success. Only one of its major projects, transgenic wheat, was blocked decisively.

Nutrition: Can something as simple as sea minerals be more effective than all the high-tech drugs and vaccines?


From RALPH VOSS
ACRES USA

Newspapers, magazines and electronic media outlets all over the world recently announced a break-through vaccine that will hopefully protect women against breast cancer.

The following report — from CBS — is typical of what was said by numerous sources: “In the current study, genetically cancer-prone mice were vaccinated — half with a vaccine containing the antigen and half with a vaccine that did not contain the antigen. None of the mice vaccinated with the antigen developed breast cancer, while all the other mice did.”

Dr. Vincent Tuohy, Ph.D., the principal investigator on the project to create the vaccine, sums up the impact: “We believe this vaccine will some day be used to prevent breast cancer in adult women in the same way that vaccines prevent polio and measles in children. If it works in humans the way it works in mice, this will be monumental.”

Transition Culture: Solving For Pattern


From ROB HOPKINS
Transtion Culture

My years as a teacher taught me that if one person asks a question, even if they think they are “missing something obvious”, chances are that many others are wondering the same thing.  This is probably an opportune moment in the rolling out of this patterns approach to stop and take stock as to whether everyone is still with me here!  This was triggered by an email I received yesterday from Kate Clark:

“As a member of a Transition initiating group (Transition Whatcom) and a huge proponent of Transition, I have a lot of respect for your work. However, I am finding the term and concept of “Pattern language” to be very vague and frustrating.  I keep trying to make sense of it, as if I can find a ‘pattern’ in the language (repeat first sentence once, second sentence three times, then first sentence twice, then repeat the whole pattern five times?)!  Can you send me a single sentence description of pattern language? Where is the pattern? What is the language- do you mean permaculture terminology?  Sorry if I’m being dense. I’m a communications specialist, and finding this one to be so vague that I feel I must be missing something obvious. I have NO idea how to explain this to anyone else, as a result”.

Letter to the Editor — The AVA


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To: The Anderson Valley Advertiser

Editor:

A friend, author Gene Logsdon, recently wrote a book published by a major publisher: Holy Shit – Managing Manure to Save Mankind. In his blog, Gene lamented that Prairie Public Radio interviewed him and the Chronicle of Higher Education praised his latest book, in both cases carefully avoiding mentioning the title, which includes one of George Carlin‘s “seven dirty words you can never say on television” or on the radio or in major print media.

For example, a current bestseller is titled, Sh*t My Dad Says. Childishly, and hypocritically, we in America are shielded by our media from the most used, or second most used, word in the English language for fear of offending the three fundamentalist church ladies who still shudder at its mention.

The AVA may be the only newspaper in America where, in many more ways than one, shit really is shit. We shall see.
~~

Noam Chomsky: The Iranian Threat


From NOAM CHOMSKY
Chomsky.info

The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. General Petraeus informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2010 that “the Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability” in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East and Central Asia, the primary region of US global concerns. The term “stability” here has its usual technical meaning: firmly under US control. In June 2010 Congress strengthened the sanctions against Iran, with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding US offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia, claimed by Britain, which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacks in the Central Command area. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group.

19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind


From THE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE

The United States is rapidly becoming the very first “post-industrial” nation on the globe. All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing.

It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution. It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes. It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II. But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America. Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone. Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period. The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little.

Do you know what our biggest export is today? Waste paper. Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us. The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now just a shadow of what it once was. Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined. Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume

‘Conservatism’ Has Turned Into ‘Crackpotism’


From JIM HIGHTOWER
OtherWords

If you can think of a better, more apt term, please let this columnist know.

I’m at a loss for words, so I need your help.

Not so long ago, Republican officeholders in our country were conservatives, a political philosophy that literally encompasses the notion of conservation. Those Republicans wanted to conserve important things–including our public infrastructure, the rule of law, public education, and even our environment. During the last 30 years, though, voters in the GOP’s primaries systematically culled these classic conservatives from office, replacing them with right-wing, laissez-faire ideologues. These new-breed Republicans largely rejected our country’s commitment to the common good, instead supporting privatization of government functions and tax favoritism for the corporate elite.

The media, however, made no linguistic adjustment to this fundamental change in philosophy, simply shifting the “conservative” label to the right-wingers. But if they can be called conservative, what the hell do we call the new new-breed Republicans who’re presently displacing those politicos who displaced the actual conservatives?

This year, the Republican primary races went from plain old right-wingism to right-wing crackpotism. In Nevada, Wisconsin, Colorado, Delaware, New York, Kentucky, and elsewhere, many GOP nominees to Congress and other offices are farther out than Pluto! “End Social Security,” they rant. “Stop punishing BP,” “Cut off unemployment benefits to jobless Americans,”

OK, I Was Wrong — We Don’t All Have to Eat Vegan to Save the Planet


From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

I used to think being a vegan was the only ethical way to eat. But an important new book suggests we can change our food system to allow for healthy meat consumption.

This will not be an easy column to write. I am about to put down 1,200 words in support of a book that starts by attacking me and often returns to this sport. But it has persuaded me that I was wrong. More to the point, it has opened my eyes to some fascinating complexities in what seemed to be a black and white case.

In the Guardian in 2002 I discussed the sharp rise in the number of the world’s livestock, and the connection between their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. After reviewing the figures, I concluded that veganism “is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue”. I still believe that the diversion of ever wider tracts of arable land from feeding people to feeding livestock is iniquitous and grotesque. So does the book I’m about to discuss. I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.

In Meat: A Benign Extravagance, [Available in US January 2011] Simon Fairlie pays handsome tribute to vegans for opening up the debate.

Sheila Fetzer & Bob Daley, Mendocino Hotel Tonight 9/25/10


Hooked On Growth – Life After Growth


From GROWTHBUSTERS

[This column dedicated to Wendy Roberts and her ‘dumb-growth ideology’ supporters. “Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities. Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point and stops growing. You are not growing anymore, nor he nor me. But we continue developing ourselves… So development has no limits. Growth has limits. And that is a very big thing, you know, that economists and politicians don’t understand. They are obsessed with the fetish of economic growth.” As Wendy Roberts says, “polling indicates that Dan is right that the ‘growing on our own strengths’ is the winning argument.” Vote for a smart, local, healthy, sustainable economy. Vote for Dan Hamburg, 5th District Supervisor. -DS]

Dave Gardner’s upcoming documentary looks at modern society and asks, why are we behaving irrationally? There’s overwhelming evidence we’ve reached the limits to growth, yet continue in our addiction to it. In a search for the cure, Dave starts with the need to tell different stories and shares examples from several folks he’s interviewed. He highlights an amusing segment which depicts a family’s impacts remaining in their yard! This “crowd-produced” film will also show activities at the community level which could make a huge positive difference.

Economic Growth
Job Growth, Increasing Production And More Consumption – Holy Grail Or Siren Songs Leading Us To Destruction?

* In our documentary, Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity, our examination of population,

Wendy Roberts’ Dirty Tricks Campaign


From NICHOLAS WILSON
Mendocino County Listservs

The Press Democrat article ended with these two sentences: “Hamburg is a Green Party member who generally is embraced by the county’s liberal, no-growth and alternative living crowd. Roberts is a democrat who claims liberal credentials, but her supporters include some of the county’s staunchest conservatives.” This goes to the heart of the issue of who is supporting Wendy Roberts and why.  Apparently more than a few major Roberts supporters don’t live in the Fifth District: e.g. Jared Carter, a right-wing lawyer who has made a decades long career of serving every destructive corporate entity with interests in the county. Clearly their agenda is to get a third pro-“development” vote on the Board of Supervisors who will reliably support whatever the big money interests want.  They are willing to invest big bucks in Wendy, betting that their investment will be small compared to the big payback they anticipate.

The FPPC says: “Easily accessible and transparent disclosure of political information lies at the heart of any democracy.” I fully agree with that statement, so I call for Wendy Roberts to make a complete, easily accessible and transparent disclosure of who her political backers are,

Democracy Now: Greed is the dominant value in the world today


From AMY GOODMAN
Thanks to Tom Davenport

Guest: Manfred Max-Neef, Chilean economist. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his book Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics.

AMY GOODMAN: While President Obama is reporting looking into tapping a former corporate executive to become his next top economic adviser, many economists question the path the United States is on. Last week, during our trip to Bonn, Germany, I had a chance to speak with the acclaimed Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. He won the Right Livelihood Award in 1983, two years after the publication of his bookOutside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. I began by asking him to explain what barefoot economics is.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Well, it’s a metaphor, but a metaphor that originated in a concrete experience. I worked for about ten years of my life in areas of extreme poverty in the Sierras, in the jungle, in urban areas in different parts of Latin America. And at the beginning of that period, I was one day in an Indian village in the Sierra in Peru. It was an ugly day. It had been raining all the time. And I was standing in the slum. And across me, another guy also standing in the mud—not in the slum, in the mud. And, well, we looked at each other, and this was a short guy, thin, hungry, jobless, five kids, a wife and a grandmother. And I was the fine economist from Berkeley, teaching in Berkeley,

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