Why the wealthy of America are responsible for underwriting ‘entitlements’



From MOSHE ADLER
Truthdig
Thanks to John Lovejoy

What we should be talking about when we talk about the debt ceiling is the proper role and size of government. Instead, we are asking whether the government spends too much on programs that alleviate the pain that is the result of government policies in the first place. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and food stamps are all good programs, but all are meant to deal with the consequences of the income inequality that the government makes possible by the laws it passes. Income security programs make up 65 percent of all government expenses, and from this we are asked to conclude that the government is mainly in the business of serving and taking care of common people. But the most profound actions that the government takes, passing laws that make the rich rich, ostensibly cost no money and, because we play along, enforcing them supposedly has no cost.

Any agreement by Congress to cut the income security programs while leaving the main beneficiaries from our government—the rich—untouched, would be unconscionable. If Congress does not reach an agreement, and the deficit remains unfunded, this will give the president an unprecedented opportunity to expose who the government really serves, because it will be up to him alone, no agreement from Congress would be necessary

Don Sanderson: Some random thoughts


From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

Our modern society appears to be saturated with fear, which is quite reasonable it seems to me. On the far right, the Tea Party and its wealthy supporters are attempting to build barriers to keep the world out. On the left, we are more inclusive, but are also searching for ways to shield ourselves. Yet, on both ends and in the middle, we are attempting to escape while taking at least the rudiments of our lifestyles with us. I reflect on so-called transition towns. Can you think of such a community, say a possible Ukiah, without electricity and or natural gas? We can’t live long without water, but without electricity the city’s wells would cease to function – as would its sewer system. Would we carry our water from Mendocino Lake or the river? How would we cook our food, if we can find any, with fire wood? How would we cut it without a chainsaw? How would we burn it in our houses as mostly are presently constructed? How would we haul it out of the woods? From where will we get our clothing and shoes when they wear out? If you think these would be difficult, think of attempting to survive in San Jose.

So, we depend upon high tech engineers to develop solar, wind power, and biofuel solutions.  But, the development and maintenance of such depends upon cheap, available fossil fuels and electricity in so many aspects. We, our modern lifestyles, are so locked into such expectations. Even the most radical of us can only dream of returning to earlier times maybe only a century past in much of the country when human and animal labor were preeminent and most communities

Here is who spent all our current debt


Republicans’ total: 312%
Democrats’ total: 64%– LESS THAN 1/4TH AS MUCH AS THE REPUBLICANS
…and Clinton left us with a surplus…

Keep the pressure on…

CONGRESS CONTACTS HERE
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Debt Madness Was Always About Killing Social Security

This phony debt crisis has now passed through the looking glass into the realm where madness reigns. What should have been an uneventful moment in which lawmakers make good on the nation’s contractual obligations has instead been seized upon by Republican hypocrites as a moment to settle ideological scores that have nothing to do with the debt.

Hypocrites, because their radical free market ideology, and the resulting total deregulation of the financial markets, is what caused the debt to spiral out of control this last decade. That and the wars George W. Bush launched but didn’t have the integrity to responsibly finance. The consequence was a banking bubble and crash leading to a 50 percent run-up of the debt that has nothing to do with the “entitlements” that those same Republicans have always wanted to destroy.

Even Barack Obama has put cuts in those programs into play, warning ominously that a failure to lift the debt ceiling could cause the government to stop sending out Social Security checks. Why, when the Social Security trust fund is fully funded for the next quarter-century and is owed money by the U.S. Treasury rather than the other way around? Why would we pay foreign creditors before American seniors?… Complete story here
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Assange: ‘We are becoming the agents of perspective… burning the mass media to the ground.’



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The 6 Biggest Lies About the U.S. Debt and the Biggest Lie of All — Market Fundamentalism


From ARUN GUPTA
AlterNet

As Congress nears a vote on the various debt ceiling deals, let’s look at the lies and misinformation that got us into this mess

There is one simple truth about the discussion of the looming U.S. debt crisis: it is largely a compendium of half-truths, distortions, myths and outright lies.

For example, is it true that the U.S. debt is unsustainable, which is spurring the budget-cutting fever? Far from it. While U.S. debt is at one of its highest levels ever in terms of gross domestic product, the interest payments in 2011 on the  $14.3 trillion public debt will be a mere $386 billion. This is barely more than the $364 billion paid way back in 1998. In real terms, the U.S. economy has grown nearly 30 percent since then. Rock-bottom interest rates on U.S. government debt account for the low payments today, but the practical effect is that servicing the debt as a percentage of GDP is the lowest it’s been in decades.

Or what about hysterical headlines like “U.S. Debt Default Looms” (courtesy of NPR) unless Democrats and Republicans agree to raise the debt ceiling? They are completely untrue. Richard Wolff, professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, says, if there is no agreement by Aug. 2 to allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow more funds, then “the government instead would choose among cutbacks on various expenditures such as state and local aid, medical aid, for war, for infrastructure.

Suppose that, with the collapse of our civilization, the world looks like this…


Afterculture.org

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

[...] Suppose that, by 2200, with the collapse of our civilization, the world looks like this:

  • Human population is back to 1800′s level of about one billion people, declining slowly by 1%/year (the reasons for this continuing decline are complex, and I may explore them in another article).
  • About 97% of the population is living as farmers, using a variety of catastrophic agriculture and permaculture methods. Cities are mostly abandoned and used as a source of materials for scavenging for one-off manufacture of essential products, since there is no oil to power industrial machinery to make new mass-produced goods.
  • A high quality of life has been achieved, due to the retention of knowledge about sanitation and disease prevention, and the abundance of scrap materials for building, making clothing etc. Most of our time is spent in leisure activities.
  • There are much lower chronic disease rates, due to less stress, less pollution, and improved nutrition.

Obama really believes in trickle-down economics. He believes that Wall Street are job creators. That’s the tragedy of all this. He’s a Wall Street Democrat, which we used to call Republicans.


From AMY GOODMAN
Democracy Now

Pushing Crisis: GOP Cries Wolf on Debt Ceiling in Order to Impose Radical Pro-Rich Agenda

We’re joined by economist Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and author of “Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire.”…

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, more details have emerged about the massive government bailout of the banking industry. On Thursday, the Government Accountability Office issued an audit of the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs. It revealed the Fed provided more than $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the audit by saying, quote, “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”

To talk more about the debt debate in Washington, as well as the overall economic crisis here and in Europe,

‘I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me’


From TIM DeCHRISTOPHER

[DeChristopher's civil disobedience, courage and story in defence of the planet, needs to be repeated one million times by me, you and anyone who cares that each passing hour draws humanity and all other species nearer to a cold, cruel, unfair, avoidable, big-business devised end of life as we know it. ~John Lovejoy]

Tim DeChristopher, who was sentenced on July 26 to two years in federal prison for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management auction in 2008, had an opportunity to address the court and the judge yesterday immediately before his sentence was announced. This is what he said:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.” He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I’m not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.

Mr. Huber has leveled a lot of character attacks at me, many of which are contrary to Mr. Manross’s report. While reading Mr Huber’s critiques of my character and my integrity, as well as his assumptions about my motivations,

Domestic Terrorism — Every single one from the Right Wing



From DAVID NEIWERT
Crooks and Liars

Terrorism directed at ‘liberal’ and ‘government’ targets since July 2008: An interactive map UPDATED here

Since all those isolated incidents involving terroristic violence directed at “liberals” and the “government” keep adding up into a serious trend, we’ve decided it’s time to start keeping systematic track of the problem — especially because mainstream media seem intent on refusing to recognize the trend.

Here’s the text for the 20 23 24 events we’ve enumerated so far:

July 2008: A gunman named Jim David Adkisson, agitated at how “liberals” are “destroying America,” walks into a Unitarian Church and opens fire, killing two churchgoers and wounding four others.

October 2008: Two neo-Nazis are arrested in Tennessee in a plot to murder dozens of African-Americans, culminating in the assassination of President Obama.

December 2008: A pair of “Patriot” movement radicals — the father-son team of Bruce and Joshua Turnidge, who wanted “to attack the political infrastructure” — threaten a bank in Woodburn, Oregon, with a bomb in the hopes of extorting money that would end their financial difficulties, for which they blamed the government. Instead, the bomb goes off and kills two police officers. The men eventually are convicted and sentenced to death for the crime.

Janie Sheppard: Ben Cunningham’s Coit Tower Mural Revealed


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

Making a special trip to San Francisco was worth it to see muralist Ben Cunningham’s 9’ by 23’ fresco, “Outdoor Life.” Cunningham is the artist who painted the mural in the Ukiah Post Office, which is currently under a death sentence, thanks to ill-conceived, purported cost-saving measures by the Postal Service.  Public art is endangered nationwide; to save it we first have to know it is there. Hidden treasures must be revealed.

Ben Cunningham’s mural in Coit Tower is a revelation; most of the time it remains unseen; thus the special trip. The picture above is only part of the mural.  Because the mural is in a very tight space and goes around a door, I could capture it only in segments.

So, from left to right, here are the segments:

Up To Us


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To the Editors (AVA, UDJ):

Up To Us

Floods, drought, natural fires, hurricanes, violent storms, massive species extinction, infrastructure collapse, terrorist attacks, food riots, starvation, economic disaster, peak oil, climate change, water shortages, food shortages, soil depletion, wars, rumors of wars, entitlement slashing, and political ineptitude seem now to be reaching critical mass. Will technology save us? How about ideology? Don’t want to think about it?

Here on Mendo Island, it’s much easier to just go to the beach, or drift off in a purple haze of giggly weed. Surely someone is going to figure all this out and save us. Someone? Anyone? Where are you?

Nope, up to us… up to you… and up to our local communities. We will get through this with local mutual aid or we will not get through this at all.

The world economy and corrupt politicos are bringing us down. Local economies and community-level solutions can bring us forward to a simpler, saner, sustainable living.

Here are some ideas and inspiration to google: shareable, resilience circles and transition towns.
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The system was not built to handle a takeover of the system by an unreasoning cult


From DAVID ATKINS
digby

Jonestown D.C.

It is easy to get caught up in every rivulet of the default crisis as we approach the inevitable cascade of market panics followed by shock doctrine cuts to social services. It is easy to find fault with the Administration for its many flaws in handling the situation, and with Congressional Democrats as well.

But it’s also important to remember the big picture. The big picture is that America is being held hostage by a conservative movement that behaves much more as a bizarre religious cult, than a legitimate political entity. It is perhaps the most dangerous cult to have ever held sway over a major nation-state in modern times.

It is a cult founded on a number of dogmatic beliefs that have no basis in reality. These are people who believe that the inflection point of the Laffer Curve is somewhere in the low single digits, and that cutting taxes to insanely low levels will magically lead to revenue increases. These are people who believe that government itself is basically unnecessary but for a private property protection scheme, and that the unfettered market will provide all that society needs, and will dole out the appropriate price for all goods, wages and services with zero inflation through the magic of the market. These are people who believe it is impossible for humans to affect the climate, and that it is better for humans to attempt to magically adapt somehow

Share or Die


From NEAL GORENFLO
Shareable

Share or Die is the first collection of writing from Generation Y about post-college work and life in the 21st Century.

America stands at a precipice; limitless consumption, reckless economics, and disregard for the environment have put the country on a collision course with disaster. It’s up to a younger generation to rebuild according to new forms of organization, and Share or Die is a collection of messages from the front lines. From new growth in urban Detroit to backyard gardens, young people are finding ways to produce and share resources differently.

Editor’s Preface:

About six months ago, a weather-beaten, middle-age man asked me for money on the platform of the Mountain View Caltrain station.

I gave him three dollars. He thanked me, and asked what I did for work. I introduced myself, learned his name (Jeff) and we shook hands. I pulled out a card from my computer bag, and handed it to him as I told him that I publish an online magazine about sharing.

Jeff lit up, “Oh I get that, when you’re homeless, it’s share or die.”

That got my attention and I asked him to explain. Jeff said that a year earlier, his girlfriend drank herself to death alone in a motel room.

Book Review: The End of Growth by Richard Heinberg


From FRANK KAMINSKI
Mud City Press
via Energy Bulletin

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality By Richard Heinberg

While “experts” assure us that the economy is slowly emerging from recession, a growing camp of well-informed dissenters thinks not. The scant evidence of recovery, insists this group, is not an anomaly but the sign of a profound sea change. The End of Growth, one book unequivocally calls it, next to a cover image of a burst balloon and a pin. The book’s author, Richard Heinberg, makes his case by far the most eloquently and comprehensively—and though it may be a decidedly unwelcome one for those now struggling, that doesn’t detract from its validity.

The limits-to-growth debate began in 1972 with the MIT report of the same name. That seminal study concluded that without preventive action, sometime early this century the global economy would collide catastrophically with hard ecological limits. No one acted, and now the economy is, in Heinberg’s judgment, trapped in a rut from which there’s no escape. Heinberg is a leading authority on one critical natural limit precluding further growth, that of oil supply—on which his The Party’s Over is a standard reference. In this new book, he argues that industrial economies are on the eve of a great contraction… Full book review here
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Miss USA 2011: Should Evolution and Math Be Taught In Schools?




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Mendo Island Action Center: Vote Yes on Libraries — Measure A


From VOTE YES ON LIBRARIES

The countywide “Vote Yes on Libraries” campaign committee announced the start of its active organizing to make sure our county libraries have proper funding. It requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass the initiative, called “Measure A” on the fall ballot, so “Vote Yes on Libraries” groups are forming in every community within the county.

The money raised by the initiative cannot be used for any other purpose because state law, and the ordinance itself, says the monies raised “shall be used exclusively for preserving existing libraries, reversing the deterioration in services…upgrading facilities, services and collections…”  When approved, Measure A will keep all branches open five days per week and restore and expand the children’s reading programs.

“Libraries contribute to the health and vitality of our community. This is an investment in the future. The one-eighth cent increase in the sales tax will be 13 cents for every hundred dollars spent on taxable items which will cost the average household less than $2 per month,” said Valerie Frey of Fort Bragg, the president of the Yes on Libraries Steering Committee.

The library system is in jeopardy. Measure A will provide the money ($1.3 million annually) to solve its problems. Soon whole branches may have to be closed. Already library hours

The Internet is my religion


From JIM GILLIAM
PersonalDemocracy.com

Via Shareable

In this talk at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum, startup founder and grassroots activist Jim Gilliam speaks about his born-again Christian upbringing, and his crisis of faith after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the death of his mother. Through this crucible he emerged with a refound faith—in what people are capable of accomplishing when they work together and raise one another up. In this moving video, Gilliam speaks about the network of activists and supporters he built online, and the redemptive power of community and human decency.


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Mendo Food Sovereignty?


Thanks to Janie Rezner

Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. Earlier this year the town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.”

This is WITHOUT government regulation.

This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It means that farmer and patron agree to enter into private agreements with one another, and settle any disputes that arise personally and civilly.

It is the way things used to be done before Americans sacrificed their freedoms to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Food sovereignty ordinances are what must be in place to enable an explosion of local food production. This is only the beginning!

Learn about the international principles developed by Via Campesina in this entry from Wikipedia

Via Campesina’s seven principles of food sovereignty include:

  1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare
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