Has America Reached The Tipping Point?


[The Fascist Majority on the Supreme Court is responsible now for much of the destruction of our democracy. They installed a defeated Presidential candidate as President who left us unprotected despite being warned repeatedly before 911, and who then put us into disastrous wars. They have now left us to the mercy of the very wealthy and to unrestrained corporate power. Things have got to change, and it is up to us to change it. ~DS]

See also: Senator Bernie Sanders on Income Inequality (Video) “Greed is an issue we have got to deal with.”

From Wake Up and Stand Up

Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don’t yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up.

1.  Egypt. It had to have an impact: so many Americans glued to their televisions, watching as people take to the streets, ready to die for freedom, destined to topple an oppressive regime that had dominated them for decades.  How?  By peacefully demanding self-governance.  Their triumph made us believe we could, and should, demand the same.

2.  Bob Herbert’s Challenge To America. While some Americans looked at Egypt and thought, “They’re trying to get what we already have,” Bob Herbert’s Feb. 12 column challenged us to look in the mirror.  He wrote, “Senator John Kerry said that the Egyptian people ‘have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.’ Americans are being asked to swallow exactly the opposite. In the mad rush

All You Fascists Bound To Lose


~

[We Progressives have been way too shy about calling what this US uproar is really all about: Fascism. When the wealthiest corporatists have bought off and merged with government it’s called Fascism. The Fascists have been showing us their real true face, and we cannot deal with them appropriately, intelligently and non- violently until we call them what they really truly are. They are not Conservatives. They are not Republicans. They are not Tea Baggers. They are democracy-hating, anti-union, nature-killing, sociopathic, money-crazed, genetically-modified, tax-dodging, war-mongering  Fascists. Damn it! Call them out for what they are! -DS]

The Doctrine of Fascism

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people…

Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State.

After Socialism, Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be levelled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage.

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions,

We don’t need no !@&%#$! budget cuts – We just need our richest tax dodgers to pay their fair share


From DAVIDSON LOEHR
Chelsea Green Publishing

In this winter of worldwide discontent, a powerful moral and political spirit has arisen in the Middle East. There are already uprisings of ordinary people all over the world: nobodies dumping Somebodies off their thrones, as the world watches.  It’s happening so fast our heads are spinning.  But it’s clear that we will turn that moral spirit loose here at home: the next Egypt – or England — will be the United States.

It is maddening and insulting to hear our president and our lawmakers simply accept the idea that we must cut social services, education, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security and other parts of our social safety nets – while the General Accounting Office has estimated that 83 of our top 100 corporations pay no taxes.  There’s no good reason we should accept that, because it isn’t fair.  It goes against the wishes of a large majority of our citizens.  Many of our laws were bought by corporations whose lobbyists seduced many of our elected officials into selling out their country for private gain.  If our government can’t or won’t see how unfair and morally reprehensible it is to use taxpayer money to bail out those who don’t even pay taxes, then it is up to us.  And the ongoing protests in Arab countries show that we can do it.

There Is No Terrorism and We Are Not at War

As a Google search for “Americans killed by terrorists” shows, terrorism is a red herring:  a bogus threat.  We’re much more likely to be killed by lightning, peanuts, handguns and a dozen more everyday dangers than by terrorists.  We’re being misled by propaganda used to take trillions of dollars of our tax money to deter a terrorist threat that isn’t there.  “Terrorism” is used to frighten us, and as a blank check to cover any military expenditures or assaults on our civil liberties that our leaders choose.

Our tax dollars go to swell the coffers of the military-industrial complex, which alienates all Arab countries and much of the rest of the world.  This is losing us both respect and allies.  It also gives our elected leaders this red herring to keep us stirred up by the untrue claim that terrorists are everywhere and the sky is falling. 

Don Sanderson: Freedom


From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

Since modern society ascribes no “reality” to inner experience, transcendent values have no power and materialist values prevail. Thus it seems reasonable for society to be characterized by economic rationalization of an ever-increasing fraction of social behavior and organization. Industrialization of the production of goods and services gradually extends to more and more of human activities; increasingly they become included in the economy. One result is monetization and commercialization (all things coming to be measurable by and purchasable in units of currency). The economic rationalization of knowledge leads to the “knowledge industry”; to science justified by the technologies it produces, and to education justified by the jobs it prepares for. Economic rationality become predominant in social political decision-making, even when the decisions it leads to are unwise by other standards (such as the wellbeing of future generations). Technological solutions are attempted for problems that are basically socio-political in nature. The worth of persons (to say nothing on non-human fellow creatures on Earth) is assessed by their value in the economy. Humankind’s relationship to the Earth is essentially an exploitive one. – Willis Harmon, “Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century”

We have watched and cheered as Egyptian youths threw out their repressive government and celebrated the possibility of freedom. They had found themselves without jobs, with failing schools, with rotten medical care, and without opportunities for a better future while a wealthy few milked the economy and government. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, Iran? It is fascinating that those supposedly backward Moslems are leading the way. Where next? England? Greece? Spain? Israel? the US? Or, will they all fizzle and only another reappearance of the same gang take charge in each case simply because of economic, monetary realities that dominate a predominantly urban life? If we survey history, we find meager successful examples.

When FDR Came to Wisconsin to Fight the Kochs and Walkers of 1934


From NEW DEAL 2.0

FDR didn’t just stand up for workers, but he took a stand against the fat cats working against them.

This past Tuesday evening, nearly 1,000 unionists and their supporters gathered here in Green Bay, Wisconsin to register their appreciation for Senator Dave Hansen, one of the 14 Democrats who have absented themselves from the state to deter passage of Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. The bill threatens to not only severely cut workers’ incomes but also effectively eliminate their collective bargaining rights.

We also came together to consider what we were going to do next about that threat. Everyone — from teachers and social workers to firefighters and snowplow drivers — said they were ready to fight on against a governor who has insisted he will not negotiate. Most, though it pained them, said they were willing to sacrifice income to address the state’s budget woes. And yet nobody was willing to give up their rights. Not only in “radical” Madison, but even here in supposedly conservative Green Bay, it seemed that Americans were ready to start making democratic history again — not on the gridiron this time but in the struggle to win, and hold onto, the rights of democratic citizens and workers.

Listening to the speakers, I felt their enthusiasms and anxieties. But I also had questions and concerns. It angered me that union leaders were giving way on the dollar question when we all know that tax cuts and giveaways for corporations and the rich will continue. I wondered why nobody on the platform referred to the fact that the “class war from above” against labor and working people had been going on for more than thirty years now. It disappointed me that we were not discussing how we might address the hostility — and plight — of those private sector workers who believe public sector employees have it easy. And it bothered me that we were not talking about a movement to “take back America” from the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers and the Tea Party. But I stayed quiet — recalling all too well how the efforts of some of us to organize Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice in support of the late 1990s revival of the labor movement had self-destructed in intellectual and political wrangling.

At the same time, I not only appreciated that my fellow citizens and unionists felt no less determined to defend themselves, their families,

Todd Walton: Your Inner Bushman


From TODD WALTON
Mendocino

“The five groups of San or Bushmen are called the First People. Most call themselves Bushmen when referring to themselves collectively.” Elizabeth Marshall Thomas from her book The Old Way

I wanted to open this article with that quote from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, a great friend of the Kalahari Bushmen, so I would not be accused of using a derogatory term when speaking of the people from whom all humans on earth are descended. One of my favorite scientific discoveries of the last few decades is that every human being currently alive on the planet can trace his or her lineage directly to the same Bushman woman who lived in Southwest Africa 172,000 years ago.

The gathering of pertinent genetic data from around the world, as well as the complicated figuring that went into determining the identity of our great Mother, has now been duplicated by multiple scientific teams, and there is today universal agreement among physical anthropologists and geneticists (though not among members of Congress) that Eve, as the European-centric researchers have named her, was, indeed, a Bushman. The name I prefer for our Very First Lady is N!ai, the exclamation point indicating a loud click made by pressing the tongue against the top of the mouth and popping it down simultaneously with the sound ai (I).

Among the many groovy things about tracing our collective beginning back to N!ai is that until the 1950’s there were still extant bands of Bushmen in and around the Kalahari Desert living very much as they had for tens of thousands of years, and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and her parents and brother were among the first and last non-Bushmen to gently interface with these people and to record in great detail, in writing and film and sound recordings, how our Neolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors lived. Thus we know, in a tangible way, from whence we came.

“Interestingly, no anthropologist wanted to join us, although my father tried hard to find one and would have paid for his or her salary and all expenses. However, unlike the modern Kalahari, where the anthropologist/Bushman ratio

Ukiah’s Historic Post Office Faces Closure


From The PD

Ukiah’s historic downtown post office is targeted for closure, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday. Postal officials plan to move retail mail services from downtown to the postal annex on the outskirts of town, confirming what Ukiah officials and residents have feared for months. “This is official,” said Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin, who was informed about the plan during a meeting with Postal Service officials Wednesday. She vowed to fight the move. “I’m really committed to doing whatever I have to do to try to keep it here,” Rodin said.

The 1930s era post office, with its 1940s federal works project mural, is an integral part of the downtown’s history and crucial to creating a vital, walkable downtown, she said. However, postal officials said the building would require $780,000 in repairs, including a new roof, heating and electrical systems and fire alarms, to remain open. A public hearing on the proposed closure is the next step, and will be held within 60 days, said Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel. “The sooner the better,” he said.

A community group formed to preserve the downtown post office plans to rally citizens to attend meetings and sign petitions to underscore its importance. “If you believe the post office should remain where it is, come to the public meeting and explain why,” said Ukiah attorney Barry Vogel, a member of the group.

Postal officials are hoping to have a final determination on the post office’s fate within three months, Wigdel said. If approved, modifications will be made to the annex to incorporate the retail services now offered downtown. The cost of the improvements and the move are expected to cost $360,000. The Postal Service is consolidating services nationwide to reduce its budgetary bleeding, estimated at $8.5 billion annually, Wigdel said.

Healdsburg officials and residents won a 2008 campaign against the planned closure of the city’s downtown post office just off the Healdsburg Plaza. But the post office was gutted by fire in August, effectively changing plans to keep the office open. The Postal Service has since refurbished its Healdsburg annex building and moved all postal business to that location… Full article here
~~

Will Parrish: Goldeneye — Anderson Valley’s Mercenary Vineyard?


From WILL PARRISH
Laytonville

If you want to mark a point-of-no-return in the Anderson Valley’s transformation into a full-on satellite of the Napa-Sonoma industrial viticulture complex, as good a choice as any is Duckhorn Vineyards’ takeover of three properties outside of Philo and Boonville in the late-’90s. Founded by a Napa investment banker named David Duckhorn in the 1970s, Duckhorn had by then established itself as one of St. Helena’s most successful vintibusinesses. Wine Spectator put it thusly: “Duckhorn Vineyards’ arrival in Mendocino County… caps the emergence of the Anderson Valley as a prime, Pinot noir appellation.”

In one of the wine industry’s characteristic superficial nods to local cultural artifacts and the natural environment, Duckhorn named its local wine label Goldeneye, after the black and white seaduck whose northward migratory pathway includes the Anderson Valley.

Duckhorn/Goldeneye quickly demonstrated, though, that its expressed interest in cultural heritage extends little beyond its brand name.

In 2000, long-time local resident and Anderson Valley Advertiser contributor David Severn rented an airplane and flew over the expanse of the Valley, snapping pictures and filming video of the landscape located in the portion of hills that are tucked away from view along the valley’s two main highways. The video that Severn packaged together, as Mark Scaramella wrote at the time, revealed “the frighteningly sudden extent of vineyard development and irrigation ponds all over Anderson Valley.”

Severn’s overflight noted Duckhorn/ Goldeneye’s recontouring of the earth on a property just south of Philo, near the confluence of Rancheria, Anderson, and Indian Creeks – where the Navarro River forms. As per the wine industry’s usual custom, Goldeneye was developing a series of large water storage ponds, all of them slightly smaller than 50 acre-feet, which is the cut-off for requiring a permit. After investigating the development further, Severn obtained a copy of an archeological report directly from the vineyard’s manager, Bruce Regalia.

If anyone was going to screw-up Oatmeal, it would have to be Mickey D


From MARK BITTMAN
NYT Opinionator
Thanks to Ron Epstein

There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their “bowl full of wholesome” — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the GDP of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today. From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates.

One “positive” often raised about McDonald’s is that it sells calories cheap. But since many of these calories are in forms detrimental rather than beneficial to our health and to the environment, they’re actually quite expensive — the costs aren’t seen at the cash register but in the form of high health care bills and environmental degradation.

Oatmeal is on the other end of the food spectrum. Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient. As such, it’s a promising lifesaver: oats are easy to grow in almost any non-extreme climate and, minimally processed, they’re profoundly nourishing, inexpensive and ridiculously easy to cook. They can even be eaten raw, but more on that in a moment.

Like so many other venerable foods, oatmeal has been roundly abused by food marketers for more than 40 years. Take, for example, Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, which contains no strawberries, no cream, 12 times the sugars of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and only half of the fiber. At least it’s inexpensive, less than 50 cents a packet on average. (A serving of cooked rolled oats will set you back half that at most, plus the cost of condiments; of course, it’ll be much better in every respect.)

The oatmeal and McDonald’s story broke late last year, when Mickey D’s, in its ongoing effort to tell us that it’s offering “a selection of balanced choices” (and to keep in step with arch-rival Starbucks) began to sell the cereal. Yet in typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added

Transition: How to build new local economies



From GRAHAM TRUSCOTT
Energy Bulletin

Transition Training and Consulting has been very busy lately. This is the (strictly not-for-profit) part of the Transition Network specifically designed to engage businesses and organisations in the process of transition. Businesses of all sizes have significant influence on our communities, and are themselves communities that need to be engaged if the wider economic and social transition is to be successful.

Members of the TTandC team are currently working with ten transition initiatives in a pilot project known as REconomy which will identify and spread best practice in engaging existing businesses and stimulating the start up of new social enterprises, so both can thrive and prosper in low-carbon, re-localised markets. REconomy is also looking to develop an understanding of what a ‘Transition local economy’ may look like. A survey will shortly be published to solicit your input to help inform our work, all of which will be openly shared.

TTandC has already developed services that help existing businesses appreciate and explore the economic, social and environmental paradigms emerging in the low-carbon, high-energy/resource cost world. These include an Energy Resilience Assessment tool which identifies specific vulnerabilities, and points to possible changes to a business model. To help this tool reach more organisations, TTandC practitioners warmly welcome introductions to businesses from Transition groups or individuals.

In addition, this month TTandC has been training (and also learning from) new Energy Resilience Assessment practitioners in the Basque Country of Spain who are associated with the Mondragon group of coops. This is building on a visit by Pete Lipman and Ben Brangwyn last July, who are still spoken of with utter awe and admiration for having cycled there!

Every Imperialist Nation Looks Strong Until The Last Five Minutes


From GARY G. KOHLS, MD
Body Mind Medicine

Czechoslovakian independence leader Eduard Benes is unique among national leaders for having been forced into exile twice in his political career. The first time was for opposing the Austro-Hungarian Empire before and during World War I and the second time was before World War II, for resisting Nazi Germany during Hitler’s takeover of the Sudentenland. The anti-monarchist, anti-fascist Benes once said: “Every imperialist nation looks strong until the last five minutes.”

I suspect that that saying could be justifiably applied to the views of the propaganda arm of the Mubarak regime: Egyptian state TV. And I think it could be applied also to the views of Mubarak’s 28,000 security police and hired thugs, some of which wounded thousands and murdered over 300 unarmed demonstrators in Liberation Square, trying to stop the unstoppable Young People’s non-violent pro-democracy revolution.

The anti-democracy right-wingers who had prospered during Mubarak’s 30-year rule were suddenly and rudely awakened from their delusions of grandeur, less than the proverbial five minutes after hearing that Mubarak had turned tail and fled Cairo. They had been asleep in their comfy beds, assured of their continued personal security after hearing their president-for-life’s out of touch bedtime speech the evening before.

I’ll bet that the ex-Air Force general himself was in massive denial about the impending end of his imperial rule.

And I also suspect that he is also denying his guilt in the massive crimes against humanity that he orchestrated during the reign of terror, a horrific period of Egyptian history during which arbitrary arrests were common, torture of suspects was routine and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of dissenters occurred. And while this repression was happening, tens of millions of innocents were living in poverty, humiliated and demoralized while the ruling elite were living in luxury.

If Saudi Arabia Cannot Make Up The Libyan Oil Loss, There Will Be Market Pandemonium


From ENERGY BULLETIN

Let’s say that Libya’s entire oil production shuts down, a process that currently seems under way. Would Saudi Arabia genuinely make up the difference, as its energy minister, Ali al-Naimi , has said in Riyadh? The answer is crucial — everyone from the presidents of the world’s leading industrial nations to the CEOs of the Fortune 500 to Wall Street expects Naimi to step up to the plate with Saudi’s 4 million barrels a day of excess production capacity should there be an oil shortage. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the global economy relies on this presumption.

Yet, not everyone thinks the answer is as pat as the conventional wisdom suggests. For instance, in its overnight note to clients, Cameron Hanover, an energy analysis firm, cast doubt on Saudi Arabia’s ability to keep the market supplied:

OPEC, namely Saudi Arabia, pledged to make up any oil lost from Libya, which exports around 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. Of course, that only works as long as Saudi Arabia avoids contagion. And we have not read of contagion ever spreading with greater speed than has been seen these last few weeks. The spread has rivaled the spread of the Black Plague 650 years ago. That very speed may be the factor that has oil markets most on edge.

So now we come to where the rubber hits the road with the turmoil in the Middle East: Just what is the risk of the entire global economy going south, which is what would happen if the Saudis couldn’t compensate for a global oil deficit as they have done in the past?

Reuters called a Saudi oil disruption “unthinkable,” and in his remarks yesterday, the long-reigning al-Naimi demonstrated that he still has the power to move markets as Brent benchmark crude rose just 4 cents for the day. Even if the Saudis had a bit of trouble, Michael Levi suggests that the world can plan ahead and make up the difference since it has so much in the way of stored-up reserves.

Chris Hedges: Huffington’s Plunder



From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

I was in New York City on Thursday night at the Brecht Forum to discuss with the photographer Eugene Richards his powerful new book “War Is Personal” when I was approached for an interview by a blogger for The Huffington Post. I had just finished speaking with another blogger who had recently graduated from UC Berkeley.

These encounters, which are frequent at public events, break my heart. I see myself in the older bloggers, many of whom worked for newspapers until they took buyouts or were laid off, as well as in the aspiring reporters. These men and women love the trade. They want to make a difference. They have the integrity not to sell themselves to public relations firms or corporate-funded propaganda outlets. And they keep at it, the way true artists, musicians or actors do, although there are dimmer and dimmer hopes of compensation. They are victims of a dying culture, one that no longer values the talents that would keep it healthy and humane. The corporate state remunerates corporate management and public relations. It lavishes money on the celebrities who provide the fodder for our national mini-dramas. But those who deal with the bedrock virtues of truth, justice and beauty, who seek not to entertain but to transform, are discarded. They must struggle on their own.

The sale of The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million, and the tidy profit of reportedly at least several million dollars made by principal owner and founder Arianna Huffington, who was already rich, is emblematic of this new paradigm of American journalism. The Huffington Post, as Stephen Colbert pointed out when he stole the entire content of The Huffington Post and rechristened it The Colbuffington Re-post, produces little itself. The highly successful site, like most Internet sites, is largely pirated from other sources, especially traditional news organizations, or is the product of unpaid writers who are rechristened “citizen journalists.” It is driven by

Gene Logsdon: Tasty Meat Comes From The Kitchen, Not the Field


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Furious arguments sweep back and forth over the landscape about whether pasture-raised meat is better or worse than corn-fed meat. I think pasture-raised might be healthier food depending on the quality of the pasture, but when the debate focuses on taste, oh my. Years and years ago, a similar argument was popular: whether hogs fed on steamed slop (garbage) tasted better or worse than corn-fed hogs. A butcher could supposedly tell by finger-punching a hog carcass, whether the hog had been slop-fed or corn-fed by how soft or hard it was. We farm boys had a sort of ritual. We would finger-punch each other and, if praise were in order, pronounce the boy so punched as “corn fed.” If he were deemed soft and sissified for whatever reason, a finger punch would draw forth a derisive “slop fed.” In that kind of culture, pasture-raised meat was never going to have a chance over corn-fed even if the hams had no more give in them than anvils.

Then along came my father-in-law who raised and butchered his own hogs and smoke-cured the best-tasting hams in Kentucky, so everyone who ate at his table claimed. He told me that the way to do it right was to feed a hog for two years (none of this modern four to five-month wonder stuff) mostly on acorns and then cure the hams by his own special mix of salt (had to be a particular kind of moist salt he bought by the barrel), brown sugar and pepper, rubbing the mix into the meat every day for the first month of the curing process. He even specified how many rubs (ten) each ham should be given at each rubbing. Then he smoked the meat with hickory just so-so and left it hang in the smokehouse to age a month or more. Corn, or lack thereof, had very little to do with it.

I was out in Nebraska once talking to a tough old cowboy type whose flesh was as dark and sinewy as father-in-law’s hams. He sort of snorted at my praise for a corn-fed beef steak I had eaten in Omaha. He declared that a really tasty filet came out of the back strip of a four- year- old range cow that wouldn’t know an ear of corn from a watermelon.

How to Build a Lifeboat



From STONELEIGH
The Automatic Earth (11/08)

[...] we are facing deflation and… I wanted to review and explain the suggestions we have made previously for dealing with a deflationary scenario….

1. Hold no debt (for most people this means renting)
2. Hold cash and cash equivalents (short term treasuries) under your own control
3. Don’t trust the banking system, deposit insurance or no deposit insurance
4. Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)
5. Gain some control over the necessities of your own existence if you can afford it
6. Be prepared to work with others as that will give you far greater scope for resilience and security
7. If you have done all that and still have spare resources, consider precious metals as an insurance policy
8. Be worth more to your employer than he is paying you
9. Look after your health!

1) The reason that getting rid of debt is priority #1 is that during deflation, real interest rates will be punishingly high even if nominal rates are low. That is because the real rate (adjusted for changes in the money supply) is the nominal rate minus inflation, which can be positive or negative. During inflationary times, this means that the real rate of interest is lower than the nominal rate, and can even be negative as it was during parts of then 1970s and again in the middle of our own decade. People have taken on huge amounts of debt because they were effectively being paid to borrow, but periods of negative real interest rates are a trap. They lure people into too much debt that they may not be able to service if real rates rise even a little. Most people are thoroughly enmeshed in that trap now as real rates are set to rise substantially.

When inflation is negative (i.e. deflation), the real rate of interest is the nominal rate minus negative inflation. In other words, the real rate is higher than the nominal rate,

Madison: It’s class warfare plain and simple


Thanks to Joe Wildman
~

From KRISTINE MATTIS
Common Dreams

[We can always count on the right wing nuts to go too far. Looks like this is the one that could turn the tide on the Reagan insanity. One can hope… DS]

From the front lines in Madison, WI

As someone who has been involved in the protests in Madison for the past six days, I find the news media coverage of the momentous events in this town to in no way portray the reality of what is going on here. In their attempts to constantly be balanced, the news media seem to have lost all ability to be accurate.

The mass protests by unions and their allies that have occurred in Madison, WI, resulted after an abrupt announcement by Governor Walker late last Friday, Feb. 11, that he was introducing and fast-tracking a so-called “Budget Repair” bill, which would not only deeply cut benefits to public workers, but effectively strip unions of all of their collective bargaining rights. The response to the Governor’s move was rapid and in no way orchestrated or long-planned – there was absolutely no possible time for that. By late Monday, Feb 14, the WI state legislature announced a hearing of the bill in the Joint Finance Committee which was open for public testimony. It was then that unions and affected public sector workers began to try to organize to fight the bill.

Interestingly, members of the public, including myself, arrived early Tuesday morning to have our positions heard in the committee hearing on the bill. When the public testimony began, numerous media outlets were present to cover the proceedings. The media portrayed the hearing as a chance for “both sides” to have their voices heard, as if this were an even dispute between two viewpoints with equally numbered constituents. That was not the case. The clerk’s office documented testimony against the bill versus for the bill to be roughly 20 to 1, at least. Moreover, I know first hand that many of the bill supporters who spoke before and after I did had not been waiting in line with the rest of us.

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Funding Gov. Scott Walker


From LEE FANG
Think Progress

Over 68,000 people have mobilized in Madison and progressive organizers are planning solidarity efforts across the country to denounce Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) radical attempt to bust Wisconsin’s public sector unions. So far, Walker has refused to compromise, even though Wisconsin labor leaders are already coming to the table with large concessions. How can Walker press on, even with public opinion beginning to turn against him? Much of Walker’s critical political support can be credited to a network of right-wing fronts and astroturf groups in Wisconsin supported largely by a single foundation in Milwaukee: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a $460 million conservative honey pot dedicated to crushing the labor movement.

Walker has deeply entwined his administration with the Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation’s CEO, former state GOP chairman Michele Grebe, chaired Walker’s campaign and headed his transition. But more importantly, the organizations lining up to support Walker are financed by Bradley cash:

– The MacIver Institute is a conservative nonprofit that has provided rapid-response attacks on those opposed to Walker’s power grab. MacIver staffers produced a series of videos attacking anti-Walker protesters, including one mocking children. Naturally, the videos have become grist for Fox News and conservative bloggers. In addition, MacIver created studies claiming that Wisconsin teachers and nurses are paid too “generously” and other reportsclaiming that collective bargaining rights hurt taxpayers. The Bradley Foundation has supported MacIver with over $300,000 in grants over the last three years alone.

– The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is a major conservative think tank helping Walker win support from the media. The Institute has funded polls to bolster Walker’s position, and like MacIver, produced a flurry of attack videos against Walker’s political adversaries

Ralph Nader: Time To Topple Corporate Dictators


From RALPH NADER

The 18 day non-violent Egyptian protests for freedom raise the question: is America next? Were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine around, they would likely say “what are we waiting for?” They would be appalled by the concentration of economic and political power in such a few hands. Remember how often these two men warned about concentrated power.

Crimes and misdemeanors

Our Declaration of Independence (1776) listed grievances against King George III. A good number of them could have been made against “King” George W. Bush who not only brushed aside Congressional War-making authority under the Constitution but plunged the nation through lies into extended illegal wars which he conducted in violation of international law. Even conservative legal scholars such as Republicans Bruce Fein and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believe he and Dick Cheney still should be prosecuted for war and other related crimes. The conservative American Bar Association sent George W. Bush three “white papers” in 2005-2006 that documented his distinct violations of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Here at home, the political system is a two-party dictatorship whose gerrymandering results in most electoral districts being one-party fiefdoms. The two parties block the freedom of third parties and independent candidates to have equal access to the ballots and to the debates. Another barrier to competitive democratic elections is big money, largely commercial in source, which marinates most politicians in cowardliness and sinecurism.

Our legislative and executive branches, at the federal and state levels, can fairly be called corporate regimes. This is corporatism where government is controlled by private economic power. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called this grip “fascism” in a formal message to Congress in 1938.

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