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How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?

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Author Topic: How do we eliminate the paradox of poverty & privation amid plenty & abundance?  (Read 6486 times)
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« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2010, 12:34:52 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/big-lies-little-lies.html

Big Lies, Little Lies

Paul Craig Roberts
Prisonplanet.com
Nov 8, 2010

If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reported that the jobs were “phantom jobs” created by “concurrent seasonal factor adjustments.” In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS.

As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.
 
The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work force entrants than before the decade began.

During two years from December 2007 – December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty “birth-death model,” which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that “the current annual decline [in employment] remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.

In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of unemployment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5%. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed.

The entire way through this process the government will lie and the media will lie.

The United States of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

But we “have freedom and democracy.” We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth, the light unto the world.
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« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2010, 05:10:30 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/americans-on-foodstamps-hits-new-record-in-august-increase-by-over-half-a-million-to-42-4-million-17-increase-year-over-year.html

Anyone who thinks they'll exempt the latter instead of the former is either blissfully ignorant or in willful denial.

A BBC report last night on Radio featured an interview with an advisor to welfare under Clinton's presidency, he stated that some, I think it was 4 million, maybe 8 Million Americans currently, and at this time, have their sole source of income from Foodstamps. This Since welfare cuts under Clinton's regimen that sought to force people to take jobs or lose their state benefits.

The Man also had resigned because of disagreements over welfare cuts during his time under that president ...

When the same ex-Clinton administration man was asked about what UK PM Cameron and IDS (Iain Duncan Smith) just did, by suggesting benefit claimaints will lose all their rights to any benefits for 3-whopping years if they refuse to take a job THREE Times (Reminiscent of 3 hits and you're out American penal modality) he replied:

"When we did it during Clinton's Presidency, it worked with ~50% of people finding jobs, because that was in a time of economic boom, but to do the same during a recession is pure idiocy".

unquote.
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« Reply #42 on: November 16, 2010, 01:35:40 pm »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21947

Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street's "Super Rich": The Financial End Time has Arrived

by Prof. Michael Hudson



Global Research
November 16, 2010

Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his bipartisan willingness to renew the tax cuts for the super-rich enacted under George Bush ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by Mr. Obama’s promise to rise above partisan politics – by ruling on behalf of Wall Street, now that it is the major campaign backer of both parties?

It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the past two weeks to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% for “just” two more years. For all practical purposes the euphemism “two years” means forever – at least, long enough to let the super-rich siphon off enough more money to bankroll enough more Republicans to be elected to make the tax cuts permanent.

Mr. Obama seems to be campaigning for his own defeat! Thanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout – while keeping the debt overhead in place for America’s “bottom 98%” – this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (~75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). This is nearly double what it received a generation ago. The rest of the population is being squeezed, and foreclosures are rising.

Charles Baudelaire quipped that the devil wins at the point where he manages to convince the world that he doesn’t exist. Today’s financial elites will win the class war at the point where voters believe it doesn’t exist – and believe that Mr. Obama is trying to help them rather than shepherd them into debt peonage as the economy settles into debt deflation.

We are dealing with shameless demagogy. The financial End Time has arrived, but Mr. Obama’s happy-talk pretends that “two years” will get us through the current debt-induced depression. The Republican plan is to make more Congressional and Senate gains in 2012 as Mr. Obama’s former supporters “vote with their backsides” and stay home, as they did earlier this month. So “two years” means forever in politician-talk. Why vote for a politician who promises “change” but is merely an exclamation mark for the Bush-Cheney policies from Afghanistan and Iraq to Wall Street’s Democratic Leadership Council on the party’s right wing? One of its leaders, after all, was Mr. Obama’s Senate mentor, Joe Lieberman.

The second pretense is that cutting taxes for the super-rich is necessary to win Republican support for including the middle class in the tax cuts. It is as if the Democrats never won a plurality in Congress. (One remembers George W. Bush with his mere 50+%, pushing forward his extremist policies on the logic that: “I’ve got capital, and I’m using it.” What he had, of course, was Democratic Leadership Committee support.) The pretense is “to create jobs,” evidently to be headed by employment of shipyard workers to build yachts for the nouveau riches and sheriff’s deputies to foreclose on the ten million Americans whose mortgage payments have fallen into arrears. It sounds Keynesian, but is more reminiscent of Thomas Robert Malthus’s lugubrious claim (speaking for Britain’s landed aristocracy) that landlords would keep the economy going by using their rental income (to be protected by high agricultural tariffs) to hire footmen and butlers, tailors and carriage-makers.

It gets worse. Mr. Obama’s “Bush” tax cut is only Part I of a one-two punch to shift taxes onto wage earners. Congressional economists estimate that extending the tax cuts to the top 2% will cost $700 to $750 billion over the next decade or so. “How are we going to go out and borrow $700 billion?” Mr. Obama asked Steve Croft on his Sixty Minutes interview on CBS last week.

It was a rhetorical question. The President has appointed a bipartisan commission (right-wingers on both sides of the aisle) to “cure” the federal budget deficit by cutting back social spending – to pay yet more bailouts to the economy’s financial wreckers. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform might better be called the New Class War Commission to Scale Back Social Security and Medicare Payments to Labor in Order to Leave more Tax Revenue Available to Give Away to the Super-Rich. A longer title than the Deficit-Reduction Commission used by media friendlies, but sometimes it takes more words to get to the heart of matters.

The political axiom at work is “Big fish eat little fish.” There’s not enough tax money to continue swelling the fortunes of the super-rich pretending to save enough to pay the pensions and related social support that North American and European employees have been promised. Something must give – and the rich have shown themselves sufficiently foresighted to seize the initiative. For a preview of what’s in line for the United States, watch neoliberal Europe’s fight against the middle and working class in Greece, Ireland and Latvia; or better yet, Pinochet’s Chile, whose privatized Social Security accounts were quickly wiped out in the late 1970s by the kleptocracy advised by the Chicago Boys, to whose monetarist double-think Mr. Obama’s appointee Ben Bernanke has just re-pledged his loyalty.

What is needed to put Mr. Obama’s sell-out in perspective is the pro-Wall Street advisors he has chosen – not only Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke (who last week reaffirmed his loyalty to Milton Friedman’s Chicago School monetarism), but by stacking his Deficit Reduction Commission with outspoken advocates of cutting back Social Security, Medicare and other social spending. Their ploy is to frighten the public with a nightmare of $1 trillion deficit to pay retirement income over the next half century – as if the Treasury and Fed have not just given Wall Street $13 trillion in bailouts without blinking an eye. President Obama’s $750 billion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 2% is mere icing on the cake that the rich will be eating when the bread lines get too long.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2010, 01:40:32 pm »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21967

Hunger in America

by Patrick Martin



Global Research
November 17, 2010

Some 15 percent of US households, 17.4 million families or about 50 million people, were too poor to buy adequate food last year, according to a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). More than a third of these households, with as many as one million children, were missing meals on a regular basis, the study found.

The number of families classified as “food insecure” according to the USDA, which administers the food stamp program, has more than tripled since 2006, before the current economic slump which has brought near double-digit unemployment. Because most people are reluctant to admit they have a problem putting food on the table, particularly when they have children, “food insecurity” was calculated from survey questions about skipping meals or running out of food stamps, combined with comparisons of income and food prices.

Virtually the sole cause of food insecurity in America—the largest producer of agricultural and food products on the planet—is lack of money. The poverty rate has risen sharply over the past three years, with an estimated 50 million people living below the official poverty line, which grossly underestimates the income needed for basic necessities.

Highlighting the significant inequalities in food resource availability across US households, the USDA report noted that the typical food-secure household spent a whopping 33 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition.

In keeping with the Obama administration’s policy of minimizing the depth of the social crisis, the USDA official who released the report, Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, said the latest hunger survey showed a “stabilization” of the problem compared to the year before. In other words, just as many people were hungry in 2009 as in 2008, as though that represented “progress” rather than making permanent a level of social misery not seen in America for 40 years.

Concannon said the report was a hopeful one, since the number of hungry people did not increase even though the number of unemployed Americans rose sharply from 9 million in 2008 to 14 million in 2009. He credited food stamps and other federal programs for staving off any further increase in hunger. “This report highlights just how critical federal nutrition assistance programs are for American families,” he said.

The number of Americans receiving food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rose to 42.4 million. Another one million children received free or subsidized school lunches daily, while some 400,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers received milk, butter, eggs and other food under the WIC program. All told, one quarter of US households have at least one person receiving food stamps or other food aid. However, 43 percent of food-insecure households were not participating in any of these three programs.

Despite the complacency voiced by the Obama administration official, there is ample reason to believe that the present nutrition programs, already inadequate to meet the social need, will be further slashed by Congress. The Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized this year, and the Senate version of the bill cuts more than $2 billion from food stamps in order to pay for the increasing cost of school lunches—essentially robbing children at home in order to feed them in school. Earlier this year, an extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless was funded in part by cuts in the food stamp program.

In a society which took seriously the value of human life and the future of its children, the spectacle of 50 million people at risk of hunger, including 17 million children, would be a social emergency. Given that the United States once boasted of its ability to feed the planet, the indifference to the growth of hunger at home is a national scandal.

But in the America of 2010, the news about hunger was relegated to small items on the inside pages of newspapers (A21 in the Washington Post, nothing in the New York Times), and failed to make a splash on the evening news broadcasts, more concerned with the engagement of Britain’s Prince William.

The hunger report provides another dimension for measuring the social irresponsibility, greed and outright cruelty of the US financial aristocracy, which is far more concerned with fattening its own outrageous bank accounts and assets than with alleviating mass suffering in the richest country in the world.

The US Congress began its “lame duck” session Monday, to be followed by a bipartisan summit Thursday between President Obama and congressional Democratic and Republican leaders. The food crisis will not be on the agenda in these discussions. The only hunger being discussed is the truly insatiable craving of the rich for even more wealth.

The Obama administration and the Republicans are currently negotiating the terms for the Democratic Party’s surrender to right-wing demands for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This will cost $700 billion over the next decade, or $70 billion a year, more than the cost of all federal nutrition programs combined.

Meanwhile, Obama has praised the proposal from the chairmen of his deficit reduction commission to impose drastic cuts in social programs for the elderly and the poor along with lower taxes for the rich and for corporations and higher taxes for the working class. The mantra of the White House, the political establishment and the media is that the American people have been living beyond their means and must accept a reduction in their consumption.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #44 on: November 29, 2010, 09:45:57 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22149

Cutting the Deficit: Sacrificing Workers to Save the Rich

by Prof James Petras



Global Research
November 28, 2010

“There’s class warfare, all right, but its my class, the rich class that’s making war and we’re winning” -- Warren Buffet

The most important and popular social and tax programs in the United States are threatened by a self-styled “Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform”. Appointed by President Obama on February 18, 2010, co-chaired by two longstanding champions of Wall Street: ex Senator Simpson (R, WY) and former Clintonite White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. The Commission Report issued November 10 proposes to slash social security payments, reducing recipients to poverty, raise the retirement age to 69 ensuring that millions of workers will die before they can retire, or enter retirement in ill health; reduce or freeze cost of living increases through inflation indexes which understate by half the rises in food, gas, hospital and education. The Commission proposes deep cuts in Medicare, increased Medicaid co-pays and slashing $54 billion from graduate medical education. The Commission proposes to eliminate tax breaks including deductions for home mortgage interest payments while taxing employer provided medical insurance.

The same Commission Report proposes to reduce capital gains and income taxes for the rich by up to 24%.

President Obama and the Republican leadership praised the Commission and wants “to give them space to work on it”.
 
The so-called crisis of Social Security is a result of the Republican and Democratic governments siphoning off payments into the general fund. The forthcoming shortfall (2030) can be easily remedied by lifting the payroll tax ceiling, for the rich, taxing all earned income.

Medical costs can be reduced by 50% by replacing the for profit corporate health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations with a non-profit national health system, similar to successful programs in Europe and Canada.

Both Medical plans and Social Security can be easily funded by imposing a 1% sales tax on the sale of stocks and bonds.

The deficit proposals put forth by Obama’s Bipartisan Commission threaten to push the one-third of retirees who depend mainly on their social security payments into the food kitchens or destitution. The added cost and reductions in health care will increase the mortality rate among working families. The increase in retirement age will result in “work until you die”, with no time for leisure, travel or grandchildren.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #45 on: January 25, 2011, 01:17:55 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/20-statistics-that-prove-that-global-wealth-is-being-funneled-into-the-hands-of-the-elite-%e2%80%93-leaving-most-of-the-rest-of-the-world-wretchedly-poor.html

20 Statistics That Prove That Global Wealth Is Being Funneled Into The Hands Of The Elite – Leaving Most Of The Rest Of The World Wretchedly Poor

The Economic Collapse
Nov 30, 2010

Today global wealth is more highly concentrated in the hands of the elite than it ever has been at any other point in modern history.  Once upon a time, the vast majority of the people in the world knew how to grow their own food, raise their own animals and take care of themselves.  There weren’t many that were fabulously wealthy, but there was a quiet dignity in having land you could call your own or in having a skill that you could turn into a business.  Sadly, over the past several decades an increasingly growing percentage of agricultural land has been gobbled up by big corporations and by corrupt governments.  Hundreds of millions of people have been pushed off their land and into highly concentrated urban areas.  Meanwhile, it has become increasingly difficult to start a business of your own as monolithic global corporations have come to dominate nearly every sector of the world economy.  So more people than ever around the world are forced to work for “the system” just to make a living.  At the same time, those at the very top of the food chain (the elite) have spent decades rigging the system to ensure that increasing amounts of wealth will continue to flow into their pockets.  So now in 2010 we have a global system where a few elitists at the top are insanely wealthy while about half the people living on earth are wretchedly poor.

There are very few nations around the world that have not been almost entirely plundered by the global elite.  When the elite speak of “investing” in poor countries, what they really mean is taking control of the land, water, oil and other natural resources.  In dozens of nations around the world today, big global corporations are stripping fabulous amounts of wealth out of the ground even as the vast majority of the citizens of those nations continue to live in abject poverty.  Meanwhile, the top politicians in those nations are given huge bribes to go along with the plundering.

So what we have in 2010 is a world that is dominated by a very small handful of ultra-wealthy elitists that own an almost unbelievable amount of real assets, a larger group of “middle managers” that run the system for the global elite (and are rewarded very handsomely for doing so), hundreds of millions of people who actually do the work required by the system, and several billion “useless eaters” that the global elite don’t really need and that they don’t really have much use for.

The system was not ever designed to lift up the poor.  Nor was it ever designed to promote “free enterprise” and “competition”.  Rather, the elite intend to funnel all wealth to themselves and to have the rest of us enslaved either to debt or to poverty.

The following are 20 statistics that prove that the wealth of the world is increasingly being funneled into the hands of the global elite, leaving most of the rest of the world wretchedly poor and miserable….

#1 According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the number of “least developed countries” has doubled over the past 40 years.

#2 “Least developed countries” spent 9 billion dollars on food imports in 2002.  By 2008, that number had risen to 23 billion dollars.

#3 Average income per person in the poorest countries on the continent of Africa has fallen by one-fourth over the past twenty years.

#4 Bill Gates has a net worth of somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 billion dollars.  That means that there are approximately 140 different nations that have a yearly GDP which is smaller than the amount of money Bill Gates has.

#5 A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population owns approximately 1 percent of all global wealth.

#6 Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry each night.

#7 The wealthiest 2 percent own more than half of all global household assets.

#8 It is estimated that over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where the income gap between the rich and the poor is widening.

#9 Every 3.6 seconds someone starves to death and three-quarters of them are children under the age of 5.

#10 According to Gallup, 33 percent of the people on the globe say that they do not have enough money for food.

#11 As you read this, there are 2.6 billion people around the world that lack basic sanitation.

#12 According to the most recent “Global Wealth Report” by Credit Suisse, the wealthiest 0.5% control over 35% of the wealth of the world.

#13 More than 3 billion people, close to half the world’s population, live on less than 2 dollar a day.

#14 CNN founder Ted Turner is the largest private landowner in the United States.  Today, Turner owns approximately two million acres.  That is an amount greater than the land masses of the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.  Turner also advocates restricting U.S. couples to 2 or fewer children to control population growth.

#15 There are 400 million children in the world today that have no access to safe water.

#16 Approximately 28 percent of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight or have had their growth stunted as a result of malnutrition.

#17 It is estimated that the United States owns approximately 25 percent of the total wealth of the world.

#18 It is estimated that the entire continent of Africa owns approximately 1 percent of the total wealth of the world.

#19 In 2008, approximately 9 million children died before they reached their fifth birthdays.  Approximately a third of all of these deaths was due either directly or indirectly to lack of food.

#20 The most famous banking family in the world, the Rothschilds, has accumulated mountains of wealth while much of the rest of the world has been trapped in poverty.  The following is what Wikipedia has to say about Rothschild family wealth….

    ”It has been argued that during the 19th century, the family possessed by far the largest private fortune in the world, and by far the largest fortune in modern history.”

Nobody seems to know exactly how much the Rothschilds are worth today.  They dominate the banking establishments of England, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and many other nations.  It was estimated that they were worth billions back in the mid-1800s.  What the total wealth of the family is today is surely an amount that is almost unimaginable, but nobody knows for sure.

Meanwhile, billions of people around the globe are wondering where their next meal is going to come from.

At this point, many readers will want to start arguing about how horrible capitalism is and about how wonderful socialism and communism are.

But capitalism is not the problem and as we have seen countless times over the past several decades, government ownership of business is not the solution to anything.

What we have in the world today is not capitalism.  Rather, it more closely resembles “feudalism” than anything else.  The elite are “monopoly men” who use their unbelievable wealth and power to dominate the rest of us.  In fact, it was John D. Rockefeller who once said that “competition is sin.”

It would be great if we lived in a world where those living in poverty were encouraged to start owning land, to create businesses and to build better lives for themselves.

But instead, things are going the other way.  Wealth is becoming more concentrated in the hands of the elite, and the middle class is starting to be wiped out even in prosperous nations such as the United States.

It turns out that the global elite have decided that they don’t really need so many expensive American “worker bees” after all and they have been moving thousands of factories and millions of jobs overseas.  Meanwhile the American people are so distracted watching Dancing with the Stars, Lady Gaga and their favorite sports teams that they don’t even realize what is going on.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #46 on: January 25, 2011, 01:20:17 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/20-statistics-that-prove-that-global-wealth-is-being-funneled-into-the-hands-of-the-elite-%e2%80%93-leaving-most-of-the-rest-of-the-world-wretchedly-poor.html

It would be great if we lived in a world where those living in poverty were encouraged to start owning land, to create businesses and to build better lives for themselves.

The author of the above article seems to think that the primary reason why those living in poverty don’t “own” land already is not that they were forcibly dispossessed of all land by the overextension of law-made property, but the mere fact that no one ever “encouraged” them to purchase any.

That, of course, is no less ridiculous -- and no less arrogant -- than suggesting that the primary reason why so many Third World peasants fall prey to starvation is that no one ever “encouraged” them to purchase food when they’re hungry.  Roll Eyes

Thus, as far as I'm concerned, this is merely another subtle, condescending way of blaming the victims of ruling-class parasitism instead of the parasites themselves.

The fact is, it is precisely this institutionalized, aristocratic notion that a mere subset of the population can rightfully assert exclusive, unconditional “ownership” of the land on which all must live yet which none produced, that ultimately made so many people “poor” in the first place.

As Henry George put it:

-------------------------------------

"Place one hundred men on an island from which there is no escape, and whether you make one of these men the absolute owner of the other ninety-nine, or the absolute owner of the soil of the island, will make no difference either to him or to them.

"In the one case, as the other, the one will be the absolute master of the ninety-nine--his power extending even to life and death, for simply to refuse them permission to live upon the island would be to force them into the sea.

"Upon a larger scale, and through more complex relations, the same cause must operate in the same way and to the same end--the ultimate result, the enslavement of laborers, becoming apparent just as the pressure increases which compels them to live on and from land which is treated as the exclusive property of others. Take a country in which the soil is divided among a number of proprietors, instead of being in the hands of one, and in which, as in modern production, the capitalist has been specialized from the laborer, and manufacturers and exchange, in all their many branches, have been separated from agriculture. Though less direct and obvious, the relations between the owners of the soil and the laborers will, with the increase of population and the improvement of the arts, tend to the same absolute master on the one hand and the same abject helplessness on the other, as in the case of the island we have supposed. Rent will advance, while wages will fall."

-- Progress and Poverty, pp. 347-8

-------------------------------------


And as Albert Jay Nock put it:

-------------------------------------

"This imperfect policy of non-intervention, or laissez-faire, led straight to a most hideous and dreadful economic exploitation; starvation wages, slum dwelling, killing hours, pauperism, coffin-ships, child-labour -- nothing like it had ever been seen in modern times....People began to say, perhaps naturally, if this is what State absentation comes to, let us have some State intervention.

"But the State had intervened; that was the whole trouble. The State had established one monopoly, -- the landlord's monopoly of economic rent, -- thereby shutting off great hordes of people from free access to the only source of human subsistence, and driving them into the factories to work for whatever Mr. Gradgrind and Mr. Bottles chose to give them. The land of England, while by no means nearly all actually occupied, was all legally occupied; and this State-created monopoly enabled landlords to satisfy their needs and desires with little exertion or none, but it also removed the land from competition with industry in the labour market, thus creating a huge, constant and exigent labour-surplus." [Emphasis original]

-- Free Speech and Plain Language, pp. 320-1

-------------------------------------

Yet rather than acknowledge this cause-and-effect relationship, apologists for so-called “capitalism” (read: landlordism) prefer to turn reality on its head by suggesting or implying that world poverty persists in large part because the economic rent of land isn’t more privatized than it already is.

Bottom line: most of those living in acute poverty couldn’t become “owners” of land even if they wanted to, because the very fact that they’re poor means they lack the money with which to buy land. And why do they lack such money? For the most part, because of the parasitic rack-renting that those who already “own” all the land are allowed to engage in at the crippling expense of the landless.

The solution?

According to Austrian School “capitalists,” the only solution is to further entrench the very privilege-based land tenure system that gave rise to poverty-creating rack-renting in the first place.

According to Marxist “socialists,” the solution is first to agree with Austrian School “capitalists” that there’s no fundamental difference between the private ownership of capital goods (“capital” for short) and the private ownership of land, then to err in the opposite direction by insisting that both land and capital alike should be treated as “collective” property, and accordingly subjected to both heavy taxation and strict regulation.

At odds with both sides of this controlled-opposition debate are Georgists, who hold that the respective values of labor and capital should be treated as private property -- and accordingly exempted from taxation -- and that the value of land should be treated as common property -- and accordingly subjected to Henry George’s Single Tax.

Yet both “capitalists” and “socialists” alike -- despite being supposed “opposites” -- seem equally determined to keep the masses blissfully ignorant of the Georgist “Middle Way” approach to economic reform.

Hence the point I keep making that Democrat-vs.-Republican is not the only false paradigm within which countless people have allowed their minds and intellects to be literally enslaved via elite-funded propaganda campaigns.
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« Reply #47 on: January 25, 2011, 01:21:47 pm »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22335

Rising Inequality in America: Go, Wall Street, Go! Never mind the rise in unemployment and foreclosures...

by Danny Schechter



Global Research
December 9, 2010

Go, Wall Street, Go!

Never mind the rise in unemployment and foreclosures. Never mind the folks waiting to know if they will get the benefits they need before they are cut off. Never mind the growing gap between rich and poor, and the continuing spread of poverty.

(Did you know that inequality in the US is at the highest level of any industrialized country?)

Does any of this matter?

The idea of equality as a social goal is apparently passé.

Christmas has a special meaning on Wall Street:

It’s bonus time. This brings to mind Peter Wolf singing with the J Geils Band, “First I look at the Purse.”

The context was different but the meaning is the same.

Just five too big to fail bankster companies have stashed $90 billion for payouts to prized employees. They know that the beat on The Street is fading, so it seems to be take the money and run time.

Incidentally, that “bonus pool” will rise with end of the year earnings.

Right now, the greedsters have a PR problem—how to transfer all this wealth from the banks to themselves with the lowest possible tax rate and the lowest degree of bad publicity.

They also will try to focus the media on supporting their right to such over the top rewards and “incentives” in the name, of course, of fostering an economic recovery.

Yes, it is a cynical exercise but no more blatant that the successful campaign to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires.

The mantra is simple: to those who have, more should be given.

So sayeth the faux populists of the Tea Party and their Republican benefactors. So sayeth the Democrats in the interest of compromise and getting some unemployment benefits to workers even at an unacceptable cost.

Who will remind the American people that many of these banks are only here to pay because the government—our government—bailed them out and, then, the Federal Reserve Bank pumped trillions in no interest loans into their coffers?

Can we count on the media to point this out, to make the connection clear about the many government subsidies behind the gigantic payouts that are on the way to companies lobbying against government programs?

Don’t count on it.

Last Sunday. 60 Minutes sat down with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. They asked him about the bonuses. The Fed head had nothing to say about that. He just wanted to praise his own efforts to save the financial system.

If you watched his body language you could see that his stab at optimism was forced. He admitted it will be at least 5 years—if that—before more jobs come back.

He seemed depressed perhaps because he didn’t want to tell us we are in a depression. His past track record as a forecaster has been flawed to a fault. That was not noted.

As is common these days on the networks, no criticisms or contrary concerns intergrated into this world-shaking interview. There was no comment from Bernie Sanders who challenged the Fed’s admission of a “jaw-dropping” injection of trillions into banks here and abroad. There wasn’t even a response from libertarians like Ron Paul who was also horrified.

So much for reporting.

David Degraw of Amped Status says, the recent Fed disclosures were shocking.

“Just when I thought the banksters couldn’t possibly shock me anymore… they did. We were finally granted the honor and privilege of finding out the specifics, a limited one-time Federal Reserve view, of a secret taxpayer funded “backdoor bailout” by a small group of unelected bankers. This data release reveals “emergency lending programs” that doled out $12.3 TRILLION in taxpayer money - $3.3 trillion in liquidity, $9 trillion in “other financial arrangements. Wait, what? Did you say $12.3 TRILLION tax dollars were thrown around in secrecy by unelected bankers… and Congress didn’t know any of the details?”

Of course not!

The myth that the media continues to truck in is that somehow the Congress and the President are in charge of the economy,

They aren’t.

Wall Street and the corporate world are clearly running the show, with little restraint so far, effective oversight or regulation.

Back to Degraw: “The Federal Reserve was secretly throwing around our money in unprecedented fashion, and it wasn’t just to the usual suspects like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.; it was to the entire Global Banking Cartel. To central banks throughout the world: Australia, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, England… To the Fed’s foreign primary dealers like Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Royal Bank of Scotland (U.K.), Barclays (U.K.), BNP Paribas (France)… All their Ponzi players were “gifted.” All the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations got their cut.

“If you still had any question as to whether or not the United States is now the world’s preeminent banana republic, the final verdict was just delivered and the decision was unanimous. The ayes have it…. I’ve been arguing for years that the market is rigged and that the major Wall Street firms are elaborate Ponzi schemes, as have many other people who built their beliefs on rational thought, reasoned logic and evidence. We already came to this conclusion by doing the research and connecting the dots.”

Where does this leave us? Is there any hope?

The critics of the Fed see little:

There are some related developments underway that could shake things up.

The Bernie Madoff ponzi probers are targeting banks including HSBC that went along with his $65 billion dollar fraud. A Swiss bank has already admitted it was complicit. The FDIC is investigating officials from banks that failed. Bank Of America just coughed up millions for financingan illicit bond scheme.

At the same time, the “Justice Department” (sic) has mounted an investigation into insider trading. They say there are 343 criminal investigations underway but none against big players. (The NY Times says they are “chasing small timers.)

ProRublica wites: “Everyone is wondering: Where are the investigations related to the financial crisis? John Hueston, a former lead Enron prosecutor, wonders: “Have they committed the resources in the right place? … Nobody from Lehman, Merrill Lynch or Citigroup has been charged criminally with anything.”

At the same time, Wikileaks is promising new revelations about financial chicanery at a major US bank that many suspect is Bank of America. On the housing front, many class action suits and investigations by state officials are challenging major fraudclosures.

The crimes of Wall Street may yet do the bonus babies in.

There is still a slim chance that, as the economy gets worse, the people of this country will finally get to see through the haze and the BS and act.

Neither the Democrats nor the Repugnicans seem to have any fresh ideas.

It’s up to us to break through our own illusions to fight the plunder of our country and world. We need to call for a jailout, not a bailout, of financial criminals –a full investigation followed by the prosecution of wrong doers. We need a campaign for economic justice.

If you are as disgusted by all this, as I am, it’s time to act. Will we? Will you?

[Continued...]
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« Reply #48 on: January 25, 2011, 01:22:52 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/desperation-sets-in-more-than-100000-people-apply-for-low-paying-flight-attendant-positions-with-delta-air-lines.html

Desperation Sets In: More Than 100,000 People Apply For Low Paying Flight Attendant Positions With Delta Air Lines

The American Dream
Dec 16, 2010

All across America, job seekers are becoming increasingly desperate. Today, unemployed Americans often find themselves competing against hundreds or even thousands of other job applicants for the same position. An absolutely stunning example of this happened recently when more than 100,000 people applied for just 1,000 open flight attendant positions with Delta Air Lines. The starting salary for these positions is only “in the upper $20,000s”, and serving peanuts and sodas to cranky passengers can get really old really fast. But this just shows how desperate people are becoming. For many unemployed Americans, any job is a good job at this point. Right now there are approximately 5 unemployed Americans for every single job opening, and 6 million Americans have been out of work for 6 months or longer. When you get that many unemployed people fighting over so few positions the desperation in the air becomes almost palpable.

For most Americans, all they have to offer in the marketplace is their labor. But today there is a tremendous shortage of jobs. Even job openings that were once considered to be “undesirable” are now being flooded with applicants.

The following are some more examples of the desperation that is starting to set in around the nation….

*More than a thousand desperate job seekers recently lined up to apply for temporary positions paying between $8.25 to $9.75 per hour picking, packing and shipping orders for Zappos.com.

*One 54-year-old woman in California recently went to apply for one of four county clerk positions and discovered that she was competing against over 2000 other applicants for those four spots.

*Recently more than 500 desperate applicants submitted applications for just 120 positions at a new IHOP restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area. The new positions pay just $3.32 an hour plus tips.

*Several months ago, thousands upon thousands of people lined up at the crack of dawn for a chance to get an application for one of the 400 openings at Ford’s plant in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood.

The positions only pay 15 dollars an hour plus benefits, but that was enough to draw massive crowds of job applicants. In fact, the crowds were so immense that many applicants were turned away without receiving an application even after waiting for many hours.

For example, 32-year-old Larry Smizer was sent home at 11 AM without an application even though he had been waiting in line since 7 AM. It turns out that there were so many thousands of people that had gotten there before him that there were no applications remaining when his turn finally came….

“I’ve been out of work since April, but there were a lot of people in line with me who were out longer than that.”

The truth is that the vast majority of Americans want to work. There are millions of hard working men and women across the United States sitting home tonight desperately hoping that someone will give them a chance.

But unfortunately, our economy is actually bleeding good jobs. Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were approximately 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

So what is going to happen if the U.S. keeps losing large numbers of good jobs?

Many hard working Americans are now completely broke and have been pushed to the edge of desperation because of the lack of jobs. Just consider the following testimony from unemployedworkers.org….

[Continued...]
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« Reply #49 on: January 25, 2011, 01:28:55 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/desperation-sets-in-more-than-100000-people-apply-for-low-paying-flight-attendant-positions-with-delta-air-lines.html

Right now there are approximately 5 unemployed Americans for every single job opening, and 6 million Americans have been out of work for 6 months or longer. When you get that many unemployed people fighting over so few positions the desperation in the air becomes almost palpable.

One of the key reasons why ruling-class parasites are having such a ridiculously easy time economically ass-raping the masses is that We the People have yet to unite politically against them.

And one of the key reasons a critical mass of us have yet to unite is that far too many of our fellow citizens are too busy looking down their snooty little noses at whoever happens to be further down the economic ladder than they are at the moment.

For instance, how many times have you heard some blame-the-victim-firster wax self-righteous about what "lazy deadbeats" welfare recipients are -- as if to say that, contrary to reality, there are not far fewer job openings than there are people in need of employment?

Until enough of us stop looking for excuses to blame the victims of economic terrorism instead of the terrorists themselves, it will be business as usual for the parasitic ruling elite, and will consequently be just a matter of time before practically all of us are in a bitter, demoralizing struggle for mere survival, not just the bottom 40%.

-------------------------------

“That’s the way the ruling class operates in any society: they try to divide the rest of the people. They keep the lower and the middle classes fighting with each other, so that they, the rich, can run off with all the f**king money.

"Fairly simple thing; happens to work.

"You know, anything different, that’s what they’re gonna talk about: race, religion, ethic and national backgrounds, jobs, income, education, social status, sexuality -- anything they can do [to] keep us fighting with each other, so that they can keep going to the bank."



-------------------------------
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« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2011, 01:32:26 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/everything-is-falling-apart-20-facts-that-you-will-not-want-to-read-if-you-still-want-to-feel-good-about-america%e2%80%99s-decaying-infrastructure.html

Everything Is Falling Apart: America’s Decaying Infrastructure

The Economic Collapse
Jan 5, 2011

If you haven’t noticed lately, America is literally falling apart all around us. Decaying infrastructure is everywhere. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes. Our rail system is ancient. Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days. Aging sewer systems all over the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate. Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle. Meanwhile, our national spending on infrastructure is way down. Back during the 1950s and 1960s we were spending between 3 and 4 percent of our national GDP on infrastructure, but today we are spending less than 2.5 percent of our national GDP on it. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

Does anyone have an extra $2.2 trillion to spare?

If you get the feeling that America is decaying as you drive around this great country of ours, it is not just your imagination. It is literally happening.

You should not read the list of facts below if you want to keep feeling good about the condition of America’s infrastructure. There really is no way to sugar-coat what is happening. Previous generations handed us the greatest national infrastructure that anyone in the world has ever seen and we have neglected it and have allowed it to badly deteriorate.

This first set of facts about America’s decaying infrastructure was compiled from a fact sheet entitled “The Case For U.S. Infrastructure Investment” [.pdf] by an organization called Building America’s Future….

[Continued...]
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« Reply #51 on: January 25, 2011, 01:36:48 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/everything-is-falling-apart-20-facts-that-you-will-not-want-to-read-if-you-still-want-to-feel-good-about-america%e2%80%99s-decaying-infrastructure.html

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

If we had taken the advice of monetary reformer, Byron Dale, we could have hit two birds with one stone a long time ago:

-------------------------------

http://www.wealthmoney.org/articles/what-would-happen/

If the American Transportation Act were passed you would no longer pay tax on gasoline, diesel or other fuels. You would pay no tax on oil products, no tollway fees, no axle taxes, license fees, or other taxes normally collected to pay for roads and bridges.



Taxes to build and maintain roads and bridges would no longer be collected. No more bonding would be necessary for road & bridge construction and maintenance....All new money would now be created and exchanged into circulation as a Wealth (debt-free) payment for the labor and raw resources used in combination to build and maintain our roads and bridges. These are a Wealth produced that benefit ALL citizens equally. This was the principle behind the 'monetizing' of gold and silver bullion Free as a Wealth to the people who produced it and a debt-free medium of exchange to ALL. The government would hold the roads and bridges in "trust" for the people who would thereafter use them free-of-charge with no taxation or fees of any kind. The new money would represent the Wealth of our Nation (peoples' labor and raw sources) just like gold certificates once represented the Wealth metal money produced by the people and deposited with the Treasury. The certificate represented the production and was as good as the Wealth (gold or silver) it represented.

An immediate multiple benefit would result in the forms of: Tax relief, increased consumer spendable income, a stimulated demand for production and employment, lower freight charges, lower retail prices. Freight charges would be lower to retailers, retail prices would be lower to consumers. Prices would start coming down at the same time more money was becoming available for purchasing. The debt would start coming out of the system as we slowly stopped the creation of all money as interest-bearing debts and simultaneously put all new money into circulation as debt-free Wealth based upon work completed that benefitted everyone equally.

Taxes on loans normally used to build roads and bridges would be replaced with brand new money created and available only for payment in exchange for road and bridge work completed to bid specifications.

This new Debt-Free money created as payment for roads and bridges necessary to move our production and our people would provide the medium of exchange necessary to pay our otherwise "unpayable" bank-credit debts and pay the debt out of the system.

[Continued...]

-------------------------------

Unfortunately, when it comes to public policy reform, most people are still in the fatal habit of sheepishly letting one or the other of the two banker-owned major parties dictate to them what their options are.

Isn't that right, "lesser evil voters"? 
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« Reply #52 on: February 12, 2011, 10:11:43 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22804

The Class War Launched by America's Wealthiest

by Larry Beinhart
Global Research, January 14, 2011
AlterNet 

We’re in a class war.

It’s the corporations and the very wealthiest against all the rest of us. We’re losing.

In 1962 the wealthiest 1 percent of American households had 125 times the wealth of the median household. Now it’s 190 times as much. Is that a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, just a few of them a little bit higher? No.

From 1950 to 1965, median family income rose from $24,000 a year to $38,000 a year. That’s close to 4 percent a year, close to 60 percent over 15 years. That’s a rising tide.

In 1964 there was a big tax cut. That’s when things started to slow down for average people. By the mid-'70s the rise of the middle class stalled. From 1975 to 2010 median family income rose $42,936 to $49,777. That’s not quite 16 percent over 25 years, less than six-tenths of 1 percent per year.

Briefly, when taxes went up under Clinton, median income rose, peaked at $52,587 in 1999, and then, after Bush cut taxes, declined. Keep in mind that this is median family income. In the '50s and '60s, family income was usually earned by a single person. Today, family income normally comes from at least two people.

At the same time, income for the richest soared. In 1979 the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 9 percent of all U.S. income. Now they earn 24 percent of all U.S. income. One percent of Americans earn nearly one-fourth of all the income in the country.

Then came the crashes of 2001 and 2008 and the recessions that followed.

The crash hasn’t changed anything. Things have become worse.

From 1990 to 2005, adjusted for inflation -- the minimum wage is down 9 percent, production workers’ pay is up only over 15 years 4.3 percent.

At the same time, the rich get richer:

Corporate profits are up 106.7 percent. The S&P 500 is still up 141.4 percent since 1990. CEO compensation is up 282 percent. Call it transfer of wealth. Or call it class warfare.

What’s wrong with the rich getting richer?

Slate's Timothy Noah, in "The United States of Inequality," wrote, “Income distribution in the United States [has become] more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador.”

Take a look at that list.

Countries with wide income inequality don’t lead the world in research, technology, industry, and innovation. They’re unstable. They have large underclasses. They have high rates of crime. They have little opportunity.

In such countries the rich have disproportionate power. They take control of all aspects of society, especially government, the police, and the judiciary. They become self perpetuating.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #53 on: February 12, 2011, 10:13:13 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=22836

Wall Street Celebrates Record Profits

by Tom Eley



Global Research
January 18, 2011

JPMorgan Chase’s profit report for 2010, released Friday, has become the occasion for a celebration by the American plutocracy of the return of the good old days before the Wall Street crash of 2008. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s CEO, summed up the general mood of the financial elite when he declared the bank’s record profits to be evidence of a “broad-based economic recovery,” adding, “I think the future is extremely bright.”

The very fact that Dimon can speak this way in the midst of the worst social crisis since the Great Depression without any repercussions from the government or the media is an expression of the immensity of the chasm separating the modern-day aristocrats from the people.

Such remarks—under conditions where the official unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent, hunger and poverty are soaring, record numbers of homes are being seized by the banks, household wealth is being devastated by the collapse in home values, wages are declining, and school closures and cuts in social services are spreading across the country—could come only from someone secure in knowledge that the Obama administration, both political parties, Congress and all of the other official institutions are securely in his pocket.

JPMorgan’s announcement kicked off a week of earnings reports that is expected to show that 2010 was a record-setting year for America’s banks and corporations.

The banking giant reported a 48 percent increase in profits over 2009 and a 47 percent increase for the fourth quarter of 2010 over the same period the previous year. JPMorgan netted a profit for the year of $17.4 billion, a figure equivalent to the gross domestic product of Bolivia. Its fourth quarter performance lifted the stocks of the other major banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, which are slated to release their 2010 results this week.

The New York Times reported, “Across the company, bankers expect to reap the benefits” of “the most profitable year in the history of JPMorgan.” Out of more than $102 billion in revenue, some $28.1 billion has been set aside to compensate employees, “much of which will be paid out as bonuses.” Employees in JPMorgan’s investment banking wing are taking home an average of nearly $370,000 for 2010, while top executives “can still expect to collect multi-million-dollar bonus checks.”

The profit windfall in the financial sector is part of a broader surge in US corporate profits, which analysts estimate rose 27.1 percent in the fourth quarter, nearly triple the median profit growth since 1988. This comes on the heels of record-setting year-over-year profit increases (37 percent, 51 percent and 92 percent) reported for the first three quarters of 2010.

For the broad mass of the population, there are records of a different sort. The official unemployment rate has been higher than 9 percent for 20 straight months, the longest such span since the Great Depression. Home prices have fallen by 26 percent since June of 2006, breaking the record 25.9 percent decline that took place in the Depression between 1928 and 1933. Household wealth has fallen precipitously and the official poverty rate is as high as it was in the mid-1960s.

From day one, the policy of the Obama administration has been to utilize the economic crisis to effect a vast restructuring of class relations in favor of the financial elite. While ruling out any serious measures to put the unemployed to work, Obama has overseen the funneling of trillions of dollars to the banks, intervened to block legislation limiting bonuses at banks bailed out with taxpayer funds, and given the signal for a campaign of wage cutting across the country by imposing a 50 percent wage reduction on newly hired auto workers as part of the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler.

The administration has refused to provide significant aid to states and localities facing gaping budget deficits as a result of the recession, tacitly supporting cuts in jobs, wages and pensions for teachers and other public employees and crippling cuts in social services.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #54 on: February 12, 2011, 10:14:56 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23064

Record Pay for Wall Street Executives in 2010

by Tom Eley
Global Research
February 4, 2011

While the great majority of the American population is suffering from the consequences of mass unemployment, pay-cutting, record foreclosures, and ruthless cuts to all forms of social spending, America’s corporate elite are flush with record pay and profits.

According to a new study by the Wall Street Journal, total compensation handed out to employees at publicly traded Wall Street banks hit a record $135 billion in 2010, an increase of 5.7 percent over the combined payout in 2009.

The $135 billion in “compensation” given to the lords and ladies of Wall Street is $10 billion more than the combined budget deficit of $125 billion facing 44 states and the District of Columbia for fiscal year 2012—budget deficits that will be used to cut funding for schools, food stamps for the hungry, health care for the poor and working class, and unemployment compensation for the jobless.

One firm, Bank of America, paid out $35.1 billion in compensation alone. The figure is equivalent to the combined budget deficits of California and Illinois, which are together home to 50 million people.

In compiling the data, the Wall Street Journal analyzed 2010 financial reports from 25 Wall Street banks with stock-market evaluation of at least $1 billion. The 25 have a combined value of $750 billion, or 85 percent of the banking industry’s stock market value.

The payout to executives was about one third of the total $417 billion in Wall Street bank revenue in 2010, another record. This figure, the financial haul of America’s 25 biggest banks, is about twice the size of the 2010 GDP of Egypt, with a population of 80 million.

For top bankers, eight-figure payouts are once again the norm. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, took home about $14.6 million in 2010, $12.6 million of it in the form of a corporate shares-based bonus. His pay package is about 340 times the median US income of $43,000.

The incomprehensible wealth making its way into the pockets of executives at publicly traded firms pales in comparison to the payouts given to the managers of hedge funds, investment groups generally only open to top investors who are even less subject to regulation than the finance industry as a whole.

One hedge fund manager, John Paulson, netted nearly $5 billion in personal profit in 2010. By way of comparison, with symphonies, museums, and parks being shut down across the country, Paulson’s income was about 31 times the $161 million Obama has proposed for 2011 funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, a $6 million cut from last year.

Several other hedge fund managers also received personal compensation in the billions, according to the Wall Street Journal. David Trapper of Appaloosa Management, Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates, and James Simons of Renaissance Technologies each made between $2 billion and $3 billion, it reports.

And how do these hedge fund managers “earn” this money? Paulson’s eponymous Paulson & Paulson Co. and other hedge funds “made winning bets on commodities,” including gold, according to the Journal. In other words, profiting from the “quantitative easing” bond buy-back program from the Federal Reserve Board, the hedge funds speculated in US Treasuries on one side, and foodstuffs and other commodities, on the other. This has resulted in a catastrophe for people the world over who can no longer afford the goods that sustain their lives.

For Paulson and his ilk, money is to be made on the way up and on the way down, by betting “short” on certain kinds of investments—and thus helping to precipitate crashes—and by going “long” on others. As the Journal notes, though a record, his “performance last year... paled in comparison to his 2007 returns, when Mr. Paulson made a huge wager against subprime mortgages and his funds scored gains of as much as 590 percent.”

Nonetheless, last year found the hedge-fund industry “back on its feet after a rough stretch,” the leading US business newspaper explains. “Assets managed by hedge funds have grown to a near-record $1.92 trillion, up 20 percent over the past year. Assets jumped almost $150 billion in the fourth quarter alone, the largest quarterly growth on record, according to Hedge Fund Research, Inc.”

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the most prominent measure of US securities, crossed 12,000 points for the first time since June of 2008, largely based on a steady stream of record corporate profit reports in recent weeks. Share values are up an astonishing 84 percent since their post-financial crisis nadir of March 2009.

The “turnaround” since March 2009, which has been solely to the benefit of the financial elite, is not due to the mysterious workings of the market but to the conscious intervention of the Obama administration.

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« Reply #55 on: February 12, 2011, 10:16:16 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/ashley%e2%80%99s-tragic-story-a-heartbreaking-example-of-how-the-economic-collapse-of-america-is-destroying-lives.html

Ashley’s Tragic Story: A Heartbreaking Example Of How The Economic Collapse Of America Is Destroying Lives

The Economic Collapse
Feb 7, 2011

What you are about to read is perhaps the most heartbreaking story that I have ever come across. It is so tragic that I am not even quite sure how to introduce it. Some time ago, a reader named Ashley sent me an email that described the nightmare that she has been living through over the past year. Ashley’s email was very different from the vast majority of emails I usually receive, and I wrote her back right away and asked her some questions. One of the most important questions I asked was whether or not she really wanted me to share her story with the public. Privacy is such a precious thing, and I wanted her to understand that if I shared her story that thousands upon thousands of people would end up seeing it. After considering what I had to say, Ashley said that she was 100% sure that I should share her story because she felt that it could really help some people.

Sometimes it can be really easy to get lost in the economic numbers and to forget that this economy is really and truly destroying lives. The truth is that there are millions of Americans out there today that are hurting just like Ashley is. Her story is more dramatic than most, but that doesn’t mean that we all don’t know someone that could use our help. We have lost our sense of community in America, and thousands upon thousands of people like Ashley are falling through the cracks.

I cannot even imagine going through the things that Ashley has had to go through over the past year.  If you think about it, please say a prayer for her.  Also, let this story be an inspiration to all of us to stop being so cold-hearted and to help out those in need that are all around us.

The following is Ashley’s story as told in her own words….

*****

Dear Michael,

My name is Ashley. I live in Upstate New York I have been reading your Economic Collapse blog for the past year. Everything that you have said is true. Our economy is dying, and the economic collapse has destroyed the lives of many, many people. I should know. I am one of them. I lost my house, my car, my feet and my father, all in just seven months.

My father and I had a great life together. He raised me as a single parent. My mother died while giving birth to me. So it was just him and me as I was growing up, and things were wonderful for us, but then everything changed.

In September of 2009, my father was laid off from his job after 26 years. He tried so hard to find another job, but he just couldn’t get one. The economy was too horrible. As a result of the loss of income, he was unable to continue making the mortgage and car payments. Our car was repossessed, and not long after that, the bank foreclosed on us and we lost our house.

We moved into a low rent, hole in the wall apartment and lived off of his savings and his unemployment benefits for the next few months. Finally, in December of 2009, I was lucky enough to get a part time job at a pizza place. It was a really long walk from our apartment, but we needed the money badly. So I took the job.

By mid winter, my old snow boots, which had successfully lasted me through several terrible winters, were beginning to rapidly deteriorate. They had holes all over them and they were splitting at the seams. My feet were soaked and freezing all day long. At that point, we were lucky to have food on the table. We had to watch every penny. We couldn’t afford to get me new boots. So I had to make do with the ones I had. My father worked feverishly to try and repair them. He spent hours supergluing them duct taping them. In addition to that, I doubled up on socks and wore plastic bags inside my boots, but nothing did any good. My feet still got drenched.

One morning, in mid February of 2010, I took the last walk I would ever take on my own two feet. There was a huge blizzard raging outside, but we couldn’t afford to lose a day’s worth of pay. So I ventured out into the blizzard and made the long trudge to work anyway. As usual, my feet were drenched and freezing within minutes of leaving my apartment, but there was no choice but to just stick it out. So I kept going. I finally arrived at work to find the place closed. Nobody had called to tell me. There was nothing to do but turn around and make the long trudge back home. By the time I got home, I knew that something was seriously wrong with my feet. They felt horrible. My father helped me out of my drenched boots and socks and we discovered that my feet were all purple and swollen. They were severely frostbitten.

My father was terrified to take me to the emergency room because that would have bankrupted us. So he did everything he could to try and rewarm my feet at home. He spent the next several days giving me hot chocolate, bundling my feet up in blankets, putting my feet on his stomach, etc. But nothing did any good. My feet didn’t get any better. They just kept getting worse. They eventually turned black and began to ooze. At that point, my father broke down and called a car service to take us to the hospital. The doctors told us that, given the extent of the damage, they would not able to save my feet. The frostbite had progressed too far. I ended up having both of my feet amputated.

For the next whole month, my father didn’t do anything but sob. He sobbed himself to sleep every night. He blamed himself for me losing my feet. I rolled myself into his room on my wheelchair every night and wrapped my arms around him as tight as I could. I told him that it wasn’t his fault and that I didn’t blame him for anything. I told him he was the best father any girl could ever have and that I wouldn’t trade him for anything. I think it helped a little in the moment, but as time went on, he just fell further and further into depression.

On the morning of March 15th, 2010, I was awakened by a knock on the door from a police officer. He told me that my father was dead. I told the officer that was ridiculous and that there had been a mistake, but he insisted that my father was dead and that I should come with him. I went racing into my father’s room as fast as my wheelchair could carry me, but he was gone. There was a note on his bed that he had left for me. In the note, he told me that he loved me dearly. He loved me more than anything, but that he had failed me. He told me that I would be better off without him. At that moment, my heart stopped as I began to realize what must have happened. Horrified, I made my way back to the police officer, and he told me that my father had jumped out the window of our apartment in the middle of the night. I went into shock and begged the police officer to let me see him, but he insisted that I wouldn’t want to see him that way. I started sobbing so hard that the police ended up having to take me to the hospital.

I’ve cried myself to sleep every night since. I’ll never understand how my father could have thought that I’d be better off without him. If only he had known how much I needed him. If it wasn’t for my extremely kind hearted and caring neighbor, I don’t know where I would be right now. She’s such a sweet lady. After I lost my father, she took me in and took care of me as though I were her own family. She has gradually helped nurse me back to health, both physically and mentally.

This is probably going to sound really crazy, but throughout this past year, you have been one of my heroes, Michael. As devastating as the truth of your words may be, it is refreshing that somebody has the good sense and the good judgement to come forward and say them. All the government and the media do is lie to us, every single day. I only wish more people would listen to you and heed your warnings. Feel free to post my story on your blog if you would like. You have my permission to do so. I just ask that you not reveal my full name and my email address. Just use my first name. Perhaps my story will serve some purpose in the way of helping to wake some of these idiots up and getting them to realize that this nightmare is real.

Best Regards,

Ashley
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« Reply #56 on: February 12, 2011, 10:17:03 am »

http://www.infowars.com/10-reasons-why-the-latest-unemployment-numbers-are-no-reason-to-cheer/

10 Reasons Why The Latest Unemployment Numbers Are No Reason To Cheer

Economic Collapse
Feburary 7, 2011

The U.S. government is telling us that the unemployment rate fell all the way down to 9.0% in January.  Should we all cheer?  Is it now going to be a lot easier to find a job?  Has the economy finally turned around?  Are happy days here again?  Well, it is a good thing to have a positive attitude, but the truth is that there is just not much to cheer about when you take a closer look at the recent unemployment numbers.  First of all, the U.S. economy only added 36,000 jobs in January.  Economists had been expecting an increase of about 145,000 jobs, and an increase of 150,000 jobs per month is necessary just to keep up with population growth.  So why did the unemployment rate go down?  Well, the government says that over half a million Americans suddenly dropped out of the labor force in January.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is how the government calculates their numbers.  So what happened to those 500,000 Americans?  Did they all win the lottery?  Have they all become independently wealthy?  Did they all die?  No, the vast majority of them are still around and the vast majority of them still desperately need jobs.  It is just that the government does not count them as “looking for work” anymore.

It would be great if the employment situation in America actually was getting better.  All the time people send me absolutely heartbreaking stories about what they have had to endure in this economy.  Soon I hope to share some of those stories with you all.  It is hard to try to describe the absolute horror that many Americans are going through right now.

People would like to believe that things are going to get better, but unfortunately that is just not going to be the case.  The government can try to massage the numbers to make them look better, but the truth is that the tens of millions of American families that are deeply suffering right now are not fooled.

The following are 10 statistics that reveal that the latest unemployment numbers from the government are no reason to cheer….

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« Reply #57 on: March 19, 2011, 09:23:50 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23228

Social Inequality Causes Economic Crashes

by Washington’s Blog
Global Research
February 14, 2011

John Kenneth Galbraith and Marriner Eccles Explained 50 Years Ago that Inequality Causes Crashes
 
In his definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929, John Kenneth Galbraith wrote:

    There seems little question that in 1929, modifying a famous cliche, the economy was fundamentally unsound. This is a circumstance of first-rate importance. Many things were wrong, but five weaknesses seem to have had an especially intimate bearing on the ensuing disaster. They are:

    (1) The bad distribution of income. In 1929 the rich were indubitable rich. The figures are not entirely satisfactory, but it seems certain that the five per cent of the population with the highest incomes in that year received approximately one-third of all income. The proportion of personal income received in the form of interest, dividends, and rent – the income, broadly speaking, of the well-to-do – was about twice as great as in the years following the Second World War.

    This highly unequal income distribution meant that the economy was dependent on a high level of investment or a high level of luxury consumer spending or both. The rich cannot buy great quantities of bread. If they are to dispose of what they receive it must be on luxuries or by way of investment in new plants and new projects. Both investment and luxury spending are subject, inevitably, to more erratic influences and to wider fluctuations than the bread and rent outlays of the $25-week workman. This high bracket spending and investment was especially susceptible, one may assume, to the crushing news from the stock market in October 1929.

Galbraith wrote that in 1954.

Marriner S. Eccles - Federal Reserve chairman from 1934 to 1948 - made a similar point in his 1951 book Beckoning Frontiers:

    As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth -- not of existing wealth, but of wealth as it is currently produced -- to provide men with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economic machinery. Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had by 1929-30 drawn into a few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This served them as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for their products that would justify a reinvestment of their capital accumulations in new plants. In consequence, as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

Numerous prominent economists in government and academia have since agreed that large inequalities can cause - or at least contribute to - financial crises, including:

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« Reply #58 on: March 19, 2011, 09:25:13 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/as-the-obamas-and-the-ultra-wealthy-live-the-high-life-most-americans-are-going-through-economic-hell.html

As The Obamas And The Ultra-Wealthy Live The High Life Most Americans Are Going Through Economic Hell

The Economic Collapse
Feb 22, 2011

Barack Obama recently made the following statement to American families that are struggling to survive in this economy: “If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, or you might put off a vacation.” A few days after making that statement Obama sent his wife and children off on yet another vacation, this time to a luxury ski hotel in Vail, Colorado. But the Obamas are not the only ones enjoying the high life. Wealthy corporate executives and greedy Wall Street fatcats insist that profit margins are too tight to hire more American workers, and yet sales of luxury cars, private jets and vacation homes are soaring. Meanwhile, most American families are going through economic hell right now. In 2010, more Americans than ever before were living below the poverty line. Over 4 million Americans have been unemployed for more than a year, and over 5 million Americans are at least two months behind on their mortgage payments. As the Obamas and wealthy corporate executives jet off to fancy ski resorts, half of all American workers are earning $505 or less per week and 55 percent of American families are living paycheck to paycheck. Something is very wrong with this picture.

So is there anything wrong with working hard and enjoying the fruits of success? Of course not, as long as it was done honestly and not on the backs of the American taxpayers. But the truth is that many of the corporate executives that are enjoying luxury vacations right now would not even have companies to run if the American taxpayers had not stepped in and bailed them out during the financial crisis. Thanks to the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve, Wall Street bankers and top corporate executives are once again enjoying bonuses that most of us would consider obscene.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the country is suffering very deeply.

Over the past several decades, the biggest financial institutions and the biggest corporations have worked really hard to “fix” the rules of the game in their favor. The truth is that our economy is no longer a “free market” capitalist system. Rather, what we have now is more accurately described as “corporatism” or “neo-feudalism”. The big corporations dominate almost everything, and whatever they don’t dominate the government does.

One of the key features of a “corporatist” system is that it tends to funnel all the wealth to the very top.

Back in 1976, the top 1 percent of earners in the United States took in 8.9 percent of all income. By 2007, that number had risen to 23.5 percent.

Ouch.

There are two different Americas today. There is the America of the gated communities, the private planes and the good life, and there is the America of declining wages, thrift stores and rising desperation.

What is saddest of all is that the most vulnerable people in society often suffer the most from all of this.

According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States were living below the poverty line in 2010.

Do you think that the Obamas are thinking about any of this while they are enjoying their stay at a luxury ski hotel in Vail, Colorado?

The truth is that leadership is not just about words. Leadership is about setting an example.

Back in August, Michelle Obama took her daughter Sasha and 40 of her friends for a vacation in Spain.

So what was the bill to the taxpayers for that little jaunt across the pond?

It is estimated that vacation alone cost U.S. taxpayers $375,000.

Hey, Barack Obama won the most votes in 2008 and so if he wants his family to get as much enjoyment out of these four years as they can that is his prerogative.

However, if he wants to tell American families that they “might put off a vacation” after all the vacations that the Obamas have taken over the past two years then he is just being a massive hypocrite.

According to the New York Post, Barack Obama enjoyed a total of 10 separate vacations that stretched over a total of 90 vacation days during the years of 2009 and 2010.

During his first two years in office, he also managed to play 29 rounds of golf.

Oh, but it is the rest of us that have to cut back on our vacations.

But it is not just the Obamas that are enjoying the high life right now.

The wealthy have recovered nicely from the “recession” and now they are spending money by the gobs once again.

According to Moody’s Analytics, the wealthiest 5% of households in the United States account for approximately 37% of all consumer spending.

Life is very good in America if you have got enough money.

A recent article in USA Today detailed some of the things that wealthy corporate executives are spending money on in 2011….

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« Reply #59 on: March 19, 2011, 09:26:17 am »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110223/ts_yblog_thelookout/separate-but-unequal-charts-show-growing-rich-poor-gap

Separate but unequal: Charts show growing rich-poor gap

By Zachary Roth
Yahoo! News
Feb. 23, 2011

The Great Recession and the slump that followed have triggered a jobs crisis that's been making headlines since before President Obama was in office, and that will likely be with us for years. But the American economy is also plagued by a less-noted, but just as serious, problem: Simply put, over the last 30 years, the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm.

Gradual developments like this don't typically lend themselves to news coverage. But Mother Jones magazine has crunched the data on inequality, and put together a group of stunning new charts. Taken together, they offer a dramatic visual illustration of who's doing well and who's doing badly in modern America.

Here are three samples:

This chart shows that the poorest 90 percent of Americans make an average of $31,244 a year, while the top 1 percent make over $1.1 million:



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« Reply #60 on: March 19, 2011, 09:27:34 am »

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/03/02/mother_jones_colbert_income_inequality

The scandal no one talks about: Income inequality

And a novel solution from Stephen Colbert: "Let the rich start their own country"

By Peter Finocchiaro
Salon.com
March 2, 2011


                                            Comedy Central

The March/April issue of Mother Jones magazine has a fascinating account of the growing income gap and staggering economic inequality in America. Bolstered by a selection of illuminating infographics, MJ writer Kevin Drum paints a bleak picture of opportunity in the U.S.:

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« Reply #61 on: March 19, 2011, 09:28:40 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/21-signs-of-impending-doom-for-the-2011-economy.html

21 Signs Of Impending Doom For The 2011 Economy

The American Dream
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If you are not aware of how rapidly the global economic situation is unraveling you need to snap out of it and start paying attention.  The world economy was relatively stable in 2010, but here in 2011 things are deteriorating very quickly.  Right now there is major civil unrest in at least a dozen different nations in Africa and the Middle East.  The civil war going on in Libya has sent the price of oil skyrocketing and the protests that are scheduled to begin in Saudi Arabia later this month could send oil prices even higher.  Meanwhile, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe just seems to get worse by the day.  Several nations in Europe are suddenly finding that it has become extremely expensive to finance more debt.  It appears that it will only be a matter of time before more bailouts are needed.  Meanwhile, the United States is also covered in a sea of red ink and the economic situation in the largest economy on earth continues to deteriorate rapidly.  It is as if the entire world financial system has caught a virus that it just can’t shake, and now it looks like another massive wave of financial disaster could be about to strike.  Does the global economy have enough strength to weather a major oil crisis in 2011?  How much debt can the largest nations in North America and Europe take on before the entire system collapses under the weight?  Will 2011 be a repeat of 2008 or are we going to be able to get through the rest of the year okay?  Only time will tell.

But it is quickly becoming clear that we are reaching a tipping point.  If the price of oil keeps going up, all hopes for any kind of an “economic recovery” will be completely wiped out.  But if the globe does experience another economic slowdown, it could potentially turn the simmering sovereign debt crisis into an absolute nightmare.  The U.S. and most nations in Europe are having a very difficult time servicing their debts and they desperately need tax revenues to increase.  If another major economic downturn causes tax revenues to go down again it could unleash absolute chaos on world financial markets.

The global economy is more interconnected than ever, and so a major crisis in one area of the world can have a cascading effect on the rest of the globe.  Just as we saw back in 2008, if financial disaster strikes nobody is going to escape completely unscathed.

So what should we expect for the rest of 2011?  Well, the truth is that it doesn’t look good.  The following are 21 signs of impending doom for the 2011 economy….

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« Reply #62 on: April 13, 2011, 04:21:28 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/good-economic-numbers-don%e2%80%99t-be-fooled-by-the-financial-sugar-high.html

Good Economic Numbers? Don’t Be Fooled By The Financial Sugar High

The Economic Collapse
April 2, 2011

The U.S. financial system is like a junkie that needs continually increasing amounts of “junk” to get the same “buzz”.  So what is the U.S. financial system addicted to?  It is addicted to money and debt.  For many years, whenever the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates or the U.S government would borrow and spend more money, the U.S. economy would respond positively.  But just like with any other kind of artificial stimulation, over time it has taken greater and greater amounts of debt and cheap money to get a response from our economic system.  So yes, the fact that the official unemployment rate went down 0.1%  last month is good news, but considering the massive amount of spending that the U.S. government is doing and considering the gigantic quantity of money that the Federal Reserve is injecting into the financial system, the truth is that the unemployment rate should be falling much faster than that.  So don’t be fooled by the good economic numbers and don’t be fooled by the financial “sugar rush”.  The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have been pulling out all the stops to stimulate the economy, and the fact that all of their efforts are barely moving the unemployment rate at all is an indication of just how far our economic situation has degenerated.

Many in the mainstream media were extremely excited when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the U.S. unemployment rate declined to 8.8% in March.  U.S. stocks soared as investors enthusiastically welcomed the news.  But should we all really be jumping up and down over this?

The truth is that some other measures show that the unemployment situation in the United States is becoming worse.

According to Gallup, the number of Americans that are either unemployed or working part-time but desiring full-time work actually rose from 19.8 percent in February to 20.3 percent in March.

So let us not get too excited about the employment situation. Yes, unemployment is not spinning wildly out of control at the moment and that is good news.

However, when you look at the larger picture things look rather grim.

What the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have been doing is that they have been mortgaging our future big time for short-term economic gain.

This year alone, the U.S. government is going to run an all-time record budget deficit of approximately 1.6 trillion dollars. By borrowing 1.6 trillion dollars that we do not have and spending it into the system, it does stimulate the economy.

There are some members of Congress that would like to implement substantial budget cuts, but most members of Congress fear doing too much budget cutting right now because it would “harm the economy”.

And you know what? They are right – budget cuts would harm our economy in the short-term.

But continuing to pile up all of this debt is setting the stage for an absolute economic nightmare in the mid to long term.

We have lived far, far beyond our means for decades, and most of our politicians are acting like this can go forever.

But tell me, does anyone out there actually believe that we can keep expanding the national debt like this indefinitely?….



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« Reply #63 on: April 13, 2011, 04:27:16 pm »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/good-economic-numbers-don%e2%80%99t-be-fooled-by-the-financial-sugar-high.html

We have lived far, far beyond our means for decades, and most of our politicians are acting like this can go forever.

As I explained on page 1 of this thread when the author of the above blog parroted this same talking point in a previous article, the problem is not that "we" have been "living" beyond our means, but that ruling-class oligarchs have been parasitizing us beyond our means.

Whether they realize it or not, those who blindly insist otherwise are merely shifting blame from where it belongs -- on the financial terrorists who engineered this economic collapse in the first place -- to where it does not belong -- on the lower- and middle-class victims of the collapse.

--------------------------

"Have you ever wondered how everyone -- governments, corporations, small businesses, families -- can all be in debt at the same time and for such astronomical amounts? Have you questioned how there can be that much money out there to lend? Now you know: there isn't. Banks do not lend money; they simply create it from debt....Isn't it astounding that, despite the incredible wealth of resources, innovation and productivity that surrounds us, almost all of us -- from governments to companies to individuals -- are heavily in debt to bankers? If only people would stop and think: 'How can that be? How can it be that the people who actually produce all the real wealth in the world are in debt to those who merely lend out the money that represents the wealth?' Even more amazing is that once we realize that money really is debt, we realize that if there's no debt, there'd be no money. If this is news to you, you are not alone. Most people imagine that if all debts were paid off, the state of the economy would improve. It's certainly true on an individual level. Just as we have more money to spend when our loan payments are finished, we think that if everyone were out of debt, there would be more money to spend in general. But the truth is the exact opposite: there would be no money at all. There it is: we are totally depenedent on continually renewed bank credit for there to be any money in existence. No loans, no money."


--------------------------

Was it "we" who created the quadrillion-dollar derivatives bubble? No, it was the bankers who did that.

Was it "we" who, through the use of bought-off politicians, instituted a debt-based money system in which "borrowing" is the only way any money is allowed to come into circulation in the first place, in which money is destroyed whenever the principal of a bank loan is repaid, and in which the money needed to pay the interest on all these loans is never created to begin with (thus creating a built-in shortage of money, and hence a dog-eat-dog, musical chairs economy)? No, it was the bankers who did that.

And was it "we" who knowingly failed to provide lawful consideration for any of the collateral-backed IOUs that were accepted by private banks in exchange for the non-existent "money" they loaned? No, it was the bankers who did that.

So the wealth-producing lower and middle classes must not let themselves be bullsh*ted either by the global warming cult or by the let-the-banker-engineered-depression-"run-its-course" Austrian School cult into falsely believing that they must pay the price for the economic crimes of the non-producing, parasitic banking class.

It's the Rockefellers and Rothschilds of the world who should be forced into bankruptcy and foreclosed on, not us!

Or, to put it another way, it is not "we" who should be made to experience a standard of living far below what we've grown accustomed to, but parasitic robber barons who should be made to experience a standard of living far below what they've grown accustomed to!

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« Reply #64 on: April 20, 2011, 03:31:40 pm »

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

-- Warren Buffet, New York Times, November 26, 2006

--------------------------------

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24271

Fight Economic Oppression, Target the Top One Percent

by Joel S. Hirschhorn



Global Research
April 11, 2011

Massive economic inequality is killing America and we the people. It has already killed American democracy. The rich have captured the political system so they could manipulate the economy and benefit unfairly. Economic freedom and opportunity are gone. Greed among the top one percent has succeeded so well that a true uprising and revolt by Americans, like that seen in Egypt, may be needed to restore America.

US society is riddled through and through with constant lies and political propaganda to keep Americans stupid and distracted. The truth is here, hidden from easy view for most citizens by an epidemic of dishonesty and irresponsibility among elected officials, corporate leaders, cowardly, corporate controlled mass media, and especially right-wing pundits, many of whom are in the top one percent. The truth, of course, is often revealed, but only in venues that relatively few people with sufficient intelligence and critical thinking skills access. Two recent articles should be required reading in every classroom and home.

First, some key numbers tell the true story about the decline of America in recent decades as revealed by acclaimed economist Joseph E. Stiglitz in Vanity Fair. Upper one percent Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s annual income and own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. The top one percent’s incomes rose 18 percent over the past decade as those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. As the recession still hurts most Americans, especially the unemployed, hungry and foreclosed, the top one percent, many of whom created the economic meltdown, keeps their tax cuts and riches.

Most citizens are doing worse year after year,” correctly observes Stiglitz.

Also, in our delusional democracy run by a bipartisan corporate dictatorship: “Virtually all U.S. senators, and most of the representatives in the House, are members of the top 1 percent when they arrive, are kept in office by money from the top 1 percent, and know that if they serve the top 1 percent well they will be rewarded by the top 1 percent when they leave office. By and large, the key executive-branch policymakers on trade and economic policy also come from the top 1 percent.” No surprise that those who poisoned the economy have not been prosecuted.

You cannot vote away this insanity by electing Republicans or Democrats, even those claiming Tea Party status, who mostly want to protect rich and corporate elites as evidenced by their disinterest in removing corporate subsidies and welfare, nor raising taxes on the rich. This behavior is brainless for non-wealthy Americans.

Stiglitz says: “The top 1 percent may complain about the kind of government we have in America, but in truth they like it just fine: too gridlocked to re-distribute, too divided to do anything but lower taxes.” In truth, they own our government.

The second article in The Nation by Robert Scheer smartly noted: “The delusion of a classless America in which opportunity is equally distributed is the most effective deception perpetrated by the moneyed elite that controls all the key levers of power in what passes for our democracy.” Mostly ignored, “the corporate rich reward themselves in direct proportion to the amount of suffering they have caused.”

Scheer referenced this: During Clinton’s presidency the income of the top one percent increased by 10.1 percent per year, while that of the other 99 percent of Americans increased by only 2.4 percent a year. From 2002 to 2006, a period in which the top one percent increased its income 11 percent annually the rest of Americans had a truly paltry gain of 1 percent per year.

What kind of population would endure all this? Submissive, stupid and sidetracked Americans refusing to see the economic oppression strangling the nation.

To be in the top one percent you need an adjusted gross income of about $400,000, most not coming from salaries or wages. And those households with less than 5 million people total have a net worth of at least $8 million each. Do you make the cut? If not, then wake up to reality. You are a victim!

The top one percent people are the enemy. THEY have stolen your financial security and opportunity. THEY have sold us out to China and other nations. YOU have been sacrificed to satisfy their greed. You have a better chance of winning a huge lottery than becoming one of them.

Abusive inequality is no accident of history. It has occurred by design. Forget morality and fairness. The wealthiest of the wealthy have ingeniously engineered the political and economic systems to get exactly what they want and screw the rest of society. They do not fear outright revolution, peaceful or violent class war.

Pause for a moment. Think in terms of an invisible corporate dictatorship run in a bipartisan way by people who know how to use their money to retain a thoroughly corrupt political system. That is the tool used to protect themselves from the wrath of a few hundred million victims of their villainy. The economic oppression by the richest one percent is far greater than that of the British which spurred the American Revolution. We desperately need a second revolution against domestic tyranny.

In addition to the two excellent recent articles, you would benefit from examining the Who Rules America? website. If you appreciate data also peruse this excellent Mother Jones article, which points out most Americans perceive wealth distribution more fairly distributed than it really is, delusional thinking.

[Continued...]

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« Reply #65 on: August 22, 2011, 11:16:31 am »

With particular regard to said tax system, whenever this system is in place, there is always -- in the words of economist Fred Foldvary -- a "constanct race” between (a) the process by which labor-saving technology increases wages and (b) the process by which increasing numbers of people with increasing incomes all competing for access to the same amount of land enables titleholders to absorb much of these wage gains through higher rent demands while providing no service in return -- a parasitic process commonly referred to as rack-renting.

http://www.prisonplanet.com/soaring-costs-force-some-renters-to-choose-between-shelter-and-food.html

Soaring Costs Force Some Renters To Choose Between Shelter And Food

Yepoka Yeebo
Huffington Post
April 27, 2011

NEW YORK — Around 10 million American households — or one in every four families that rent their homes — could have to choose between paying rent, buying groceries or keeping current with bills, according to a report released Tuesday.

The number of households spending more than 50 percent [.pdf] of their income on rent and bills jumped by 2.6 million over the last decade, according to a Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies report. Economists generally consider “affordable” rent to cost about 30 percent of a tenant’s income.

When housing costs hit certain levels, many Americans are forced to choose between rent and food. “In real terms, it means more people have less money to spend on household necessities such as food, health care, or savings,” Eric Belsky, director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, said in the report. Households which spend 50 percent or more of their income on rent also spend almost 40 percent less on food and over 50 percent less on health care than households with more affordable rent.

“In the last decade, rental housing affordability problems went through the roof,” Belsky said in the report. “And these affordability problems are marching up the income scale,” he added.

Already, rising rents mean the household budgets of working-class and middle-class families are under strain. Growing numbers of middle-income, and lower-middle-income renters are spending between 30 percent and 50 percent of their incomes on rent. And the report found that rents could start to soar as the recovery takes hold.

Full article here
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« Reply #66 on: August 22, 2011, 11:19:35 am »

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/569425/study%3A_most_americans_want_wealth_distribution_similar_to_sweden/

Study: Most Americans Want Wealth Distribution Similar to Sweden

By Daniel Tencer
AlterNet
April 24, 2011

Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.

For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans -- around 40 percent -- consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.

According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden's model over that of the US.

What's more, the study's authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #67 on: August 22, 2011, 11:21:25 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/about-1-in-7-in-u-s-receive-food-stamps.html

About 1 in 7 in U.S. Receive Food Stamps

Sara Murray
WSJ
Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Growth in the food stamp program appeared to reach a plateau in February — with 14.3% of the population relying on the safety net program.

The number of food stamp recipients was essentially flat in February, the most recent month available, with 44.2 million Americans receiving benefits, according a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See a sortable breakdown of the data here.)

The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.

Food stamp numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted though, meaning a variety of factors could influence the monthly tallies and the program could grow again in coming months.

Full story here.

------------------------------

Something to keep in mind as you read the following:

-- "The budget [by Senator Rand Paul] provides two years of war funding, at the President’s requested levels."

-- "The food stamp program and the child nutrition program" (cut)

-- "The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program" (eliminate)

-- "Affordable Housing Program" (eliminate)

Source: http://campaignforliberty.com/materials/RandBudget.pdf
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« Reply #68 on: August 22, 2011, 11:23:01 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/ceos-at-the-nations-largest-companies-were-paid-better-last-year-than-they-were-in-2007-when-unemployment-was-roughly-half-what-it-is-today.html

“CEOs at the Nation’s Largest Companies Were Paid Better Last Year Than They Were In 2007, When … Unemployment Was Roughly Half What It Is Today”

Washington’s Blog
May 7, 2011

CNN Money points out:

    Just 22% believe the country is on the right track, Rasmussen tells us. According to a new Gallup poll, more than half of us say the economy is in recession or depression, despite the fact that output has been expanding since the summer of 2009. In fact, more of us (29%) say the country is in a depression than say the economy is growing (27%).

    There’s a good reason for this: As inflation surges at the store and the gas pump, the economy is stalling. And the heart of the problem could very well be the Federal Reserve’s $600 billion “QE2″ money-printing initiative, which was implemented last November to great fanfare on Wall Street and is set to end in June.

    ***

    Yes, the stock market has posted impressive gains since the idea of QE2 surfaced….

    But stock ownership is concentrated among the wealthy: On average, just 12% of households worth $100,000 or less own stocks and mutual fund shares outside their retirement plans — a group that comprises 74% of the total population. While many more own shares through 401ks and IRAs, they’re not in a position to easily tap that wealth for current spending.

    At the same time, QE2 has pushed up borrowing costs, pressing down the prices of homes — a much more widely held asset. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index started falling last summer as the idea of QE2 was floated, and it hasn’t stopped since. The broad 20-city index now sits below 2009 levels.

    This is a continuation of trends that have been in place since the recession ended in 2009. According to Credit Suisse equity strategist Douglas Cliggott, it suggests the improvement in net worth during the past two and half years “has been heavily skewed towards that relatively small part of the U.S. population that has significant equity holdings.”

    While the program has helped push up the cost of living for all of us — sending inflation into the red zone and damaging consumer confidence — evidence suggests its benefits have accrued only to the top tier of the net-worth ladder.

    In other words, the Fed’s “stimulus” has made the rich richer, with limited impact in terms of new spending. It’s made the vast majority of people poorer, and less able to spend. It’s this tradeoff that threatens to snuff out the feeble, three-year-old economic recovery.

And salaries have only gone up for the very top. AP notes:

[Continued...]
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« Reply #69 on: August 22, 2011, 11:25:40 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/20-facts-about-child-hunger-and-child-poverty-that-will-break-your-heart.html

20 Facts About Child Hunger And Child Poverty That Will Break Your Heart

The Economic Collapse
May 12, 2011

Did you know that nearly half of the 44 million Americans that are on food stamps today are children?  Did you know that more than a fifth of all U.S. children are living in poverty and that a fourth of all U.S. children are enrolled in the food stamp program?  Did you know that most of the people that starve to death around the globe are children?  In 2011, child hunger and child poverty are major problems in the United States and they are at epidemic levels in many areas of the world.  The facts that are you are about to read are tough to stomach and they are meant to break your heart.  Most of us need to be touched on an emotional level before we will take action.  As I have written about previously, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis.  Unless a miracle happens, there is not going to be nearly enough food for everyone in the world in the future.  We all need to prepare so that we will be able to feed our own families when that time comes and so that we will be able to be generous and share with others in need.
 
The food stamp program is the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned bread lines.  Today, the number of Americans on food stamps is absolutely exploding.  Despite claims that the economy is “recovering”, the number of Americans relying on food assistance just continues to increase.
 
Many food retailers have seen food stamp usage soar to unprecedented levels.  Just check out the following quote from a recent article posted on the website of a local Pennsylvania news station….

    “The trend started about three years ago and it has increased significantly we have some stores up 40% from last year,” said Scott Karns owner of seven Karns Supermarkets in central PA.

Sadly, a disproportionate number of those on food stamps are children.  Even as you read this article, there are millions of children in the United States that are wondering where their next meal is going to come from.
 
The following are 20 facts about child hunger and child poverty that will break your heart….

[Continued...]
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« Reply #70 on: August 22, 2011, 11:27:56 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/one-percent-holds-39-percent-of-global-wealth.html

One percent holds 39 percent of global wealth

AFP
June 1, 2011

WASHINGTON — Around one percent of households have 39 percent of the globe’s wealth according to a study published Tuesday, pointing to increased inequalities in the wake of the global downturn.

The number of millionaire households across the globe increased 12 percent in 2010, according to The Boston Consulting Group report, increasing millionaires’ share of wealth from 37 percent in 2009.

Despite being at the epicenter of the global financial meltdown, the United States had by far the most millionaires last year, with 5,220 millionaire households, and increase of 1.3 percent from the previous year.

Japan was second with 1,530 and China third with 1,110.

Full article here
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« Reply #71 on: August 22, 2011, 11:29:51 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/20-facts-about-us-inequality-that-everyone-should-know-with-an-update-on-the-uber-wealthy-and-global-wealth-inequality.html

20 Facts About US Inequality That Everyone Should Know (With An Update On The Uber-Wealthy And Global Wealth Inequality)

Tyler Durden
Zero Hedge
June 5, 2011

Courtesy of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, we bring you the “20 facts about US Inequality that Everyone Should Know”. For everything one has always wanted to know about wage inequality, CEO pay, homelessness, education wage premium, gender pay gaps, occupational sex segregation, racial gaps in education, racial discrimination, child poverty, residential segregation, health insurance, inter and intragenerational income mobility, bad jobs, discouraged workers, wealth inequality, labor market deregulation, job losses, immigrants and inequality and productivity and real income, this is the definitive resource.

1. Wage Inequality

Over the last 30 years, wage inequality in the United States has increased substantially, with the overall level of inequality now approaching the extreme level that prevailed prior to the Great Depression. This general characterization of the inequality trend oversimplifies, though, the actual pattern of change: The chart below shows that the trend at the top of the income distribution (the “upper tail”) is not exactly the same as the trend at the bottom of the distribution (the “lower tail”). “Lower-tail” inequality is measured here by taking the ratio of wages at the middle of the income distribution (i.e., the 50th percentile) to those near the bottom of the distribution (i.e., the 10th percentile); “upper-tail” inequality is measured by taking the ratio of wages near the top of the distribution (i.e., the 90th percentile) to those at the middle of the distribution (i.e., the 50th percentile of workers). We find that lower-tail inequality rose sharply in the 1980s and contracted somewhat thereafter, while upper-tail inequality has increased steadily since 1980.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #72 on: August 22, 2011, 11:31:34 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/will-the-banksters-and-the-corpocracy-eventually-own-it-all-29-statistics-about-extreme-income-inequality-in-america-that-will-blow-your-mind.html

Will The Banksters And The Corpocracy Eventually Own It All? 29 Statistics About Extreme Income Inequality In America That Will Blow Your Mind

The Economic Collapse
June 6, 2011

Today, average Americans have less power relative to the monolithic corporate and governmental institutions that dominate our society than at any other point in U.S. history.  Sadly, this is not what our founding fathers ever envisioned.  Our founding fathers established a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but what we have today is very far from that ideal.  In America today, wealth and power are very highly concentrated, and if you have neither wealth nor power than most of our politicians really do not have any interest in you.  Over the past several decades, those with huge amounts of money and power have been busy rigging the game so that the rest of the money and power slowly but surely funnels into their hands.  If current trends continue, the banksters and the corpocracy will eventually own it all.  Below you will find 29 statistics about extreme income inequality in America.  Sadly, most of these statistics will be out of date in a year or two because wealth and power will be much more concentrated by that time.

If you are a “Kool-Aid drinking Democrat” you are going to be really upset by this article.  If you are a “Kool-Aid drinking Republican” you are going to be really upset by this article.

Most Republicans have been brainwashed into believing that “capitalism” means cheerleading while the big corporations hoover up money and power.

Most Democrats have no trouble with big corporations either because most establishment Democrats have been brainwashed into believing that large concentrations of power (whether governmental or corporate) are generally good.  Most Democrats just wish that big corporations were a little less greedy and were a little more “socially responsible”.

Today, the big banks, the big corporations and the federal government are all in bed with one another and it is average Americans that always lose out.

Our founding fathers tried to warn us about large concentrations of power.  They attempted to establish a very limited central government, they wanted to keep us free from the tyranny of the big banks and they were very suspicious of large corporations.

In a 2010 article, Rick Ungar noted that corporations were very seriously restricted in the early days of America….

    After the nation’s founding, corporations were, as they are today, the result of charters granted by the state. However, unlike today, they were limited in how long they were permitted to exist (typically 20 or 30 years), only permitted to deal in one commodity, they could not own shares in other corporations, and their property holdings were expressly limited to what they needed to accomplish their corporate business goals.

My how things have changed.

“Capitalism” is supposed to be about the empowerment of individuals and families and small businesses.

Instead, today “capitalism” has come to mean something completely different. Today, the biggest, meanest concentrations of wealth devour everyone else with a big assist from the government.

At this point, average Americans mean next to nothing in the political process. This point was eloquently made in a recent column by Robert Reich….

    The unemployed are politically invisible. They don’t make major campaign donations. They don’t lobby Congress. There’s no National Association of Unemployed People.

    Their ranks are filled with women who had been public employees, single mothers, minorities, young people trying to enter the labor force, and middle-aged men who have been out of work for longer than six months. You couldn’t find a collection of people with less political clout.

I would not normally quote Robert Reich, but he made a good point. If you don’t have an army of lobbyists or any money to give to them then most of our politicians don’t really care what you think or how much you are hurting.

Just think about the amount of power and money that Exxon Mobil or Wal-Mart has compared to the amount of power and money that an average American has.

Our society has veered very far from the egalitarian ideal that our founding fathers once hoped for.

The corporate giants are so powerful that it is next to impossible for small businesses to directly compete with them.

Just try it some time.

Many banks and corporations have become so big that the world literally cannot afford for them to fail.

For example, three U.S. corporations control approximately 90% of the world’s grain trade.

So what happens if those three corporations collapse?

That is something to think about.

But of course average Americans are never “too big to fail”. The big banks begged and begged for bailouts, but if you are late on your debt payments they will chuck you into prison.

Also, when wealth and power are so highly concentrated, economic rewards flow only to a few. Corporatism (as opposed to true capitalism) produces a handful of winners and a whole lot of losers.

As I have written about previously, the middle class is being destroyed. If current trends are allowed to continue long enough we eventually won’t have much of a middle class left at all.

The following are 29 statistics about extreme income inequality in America that will blow your mind….

[Continued...]
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« Reply #73 on: August 22, 2011, 11:33:42 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25232

The Rich Are Destroying the Economy

by Shamus Cooke



Global Research
June 12, 2011

Ever since the Great Recession shook the foundations of the U.S. economy, President Obama has been promising recovery. Evidence of this recovery, we were told, was manifested in the massive post-bailout profits corporations made. Soon enough, the President assured us, these corporations would tire of hoarding mountains of cash and start a hiring bonanza, followed by raising wages and benefits. It was either wishful thinking or conscious deception. The recent stock market meltdown has squashed any hope of a corporate-led recovery.

The Democrats fought the recession by the same methods the Republicans used to create it: allowing the super rich to recklessly dominate the economy while giving them massive handouts. This strategy, commonly referred to as Reaganomics or Trickle Down Economics, is now religion to both Democrats and Republicans; never mind the staged in-fighting for the gullible or complicit media.

When it becomes obvious to even the President that the economic recovery never existed beyond the bank accounts of the rich, questions will have to be answered. Why, for example, did nobody in either political party foresee the disastrous consequences of the bailouts? Not only did the U.S. deficit drastically increase but the same U.S. corporations that caused the recession were given reinforcement for their destructive actions, ensuring that it would continue unabated.

In his book, Crisis Economics, Nouriel Roubini outlines the insane response to the recession by Republicans and Democrats. Because both parties simply threw money at the banks and hedge funds instead of punishing them, a condition of "moral hazard" was created, meaning, that banks would assume another bailout would come their way if they destroyed the economy again -- too big too fail, remember? Roubini explains how the Democrats allowed the "too big" banks to get even bigger; how Wall Street salaries based on short-term profits went unregulated; how the regulations that were put into place were inadequate and filled with loopholes; how nothing of any significance changed.

Roubini has also written extensively about how the post-bailout Federal Reserve policies were fueling a commodity bubble that may be in the midst of bursting, possibly triggering a double dip recession. Essentially the big banks and rich investors were borrowing cheap dollars from the Fed and investing abroad in commodities with the hopes of higher returns. Roubini states:

“The risk is that we are planting the seeds of the next financial crisis...this asset bubble is totally inconsistent with a weaker recovery of economic and financial fundamentals." (October 27, 2009).

This investor-created commodity bubble pushed up prices in oil, food, and other basic products, causing further pain for working families and the economy as a whole. This speculative bubble was easily predictable but ignored by both political parties, since they claimed the bubble was a sign of recovery.

[Continued...]
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« Reply #74 on: August 22, 2011, 11:36:01 am »

http://www.infowars.com/unemployment-no-extended-benefits-for-people-laid-off-from-now-on/

Unemployment: No Extended Benefits For People Laid Off From Now On

Arthur Delaney
The Huffington Post
June 30, 2011

After this week, workers laid off through no fault of their own will not be eligible for any of the generous extended unemployment benefits layoff victims have received from the federal government since 2008.

States typically provide the first 26 weeks of unemployment insurance and Congress has provided extensions during every recession since the 1950s. But the current extensions, which give the unemployed an unprecedented 73 additional weeks of aid in some states, are set to expire at the beginning of January.

“There’s a real potential cliff coming for unemployed people,” emailed Judy Conti, a lobbyist for the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. “The federal unemployment programs all expire at the end of this year. This means that anyone who is laid off on July 1st or later, will ONLY receive state benefits unless Congress acts to keep these needed programs up and running.”

Read more

------------------------

Note: Even more disturbing than the termination of unemployment benefits both in the midst of a banker-engineered depression and in the context of trillions of tax dollars being wasted on banker bailouts and terroristic wars of aggression is the fact that an alarming number of privilege-worshipping, austerity-promoting right-wingers become giddy with delight upon hearing the news of such termination, because they actually perceive it as an advancement of "liberty." 
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« Reply #75 on: August 22, 2011, 11:39:54 am »

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25529

The Economy Cannot Recover As Long As Inequality Continues to Skyrocket ... But Government Policy Is INCREASING Inequality

by Washington's Blog
Global Research
July 6, 2011

The Economist noted in January:

    Hu Jintao, David Cameron, Warren Buffett and Dominique Strauss-Kahn ... have all worried, loudly and publicly, about the dangers of a rising gap between the rich and the rest.

    ***

    A new survey by the World Economic Forum, whose annual gathering of bigwigs in Davos begins on January 26th, says its members see widening economic disparities as one of the two main global risks over the next decade (alongside failings in global governance).

Numerous prominent economists in government and academia have all said that large inequalities can cause - or at least contribute to - financial crises, including:

       *  Robert Shiller

       *  Joseph Stiglitz

       *  John Kenneth Galbraith

       *  Raghuram Rajan

       *  Robert Reich

       *  Mark Thoma

       *  Emmanuel Saez

       *  Thomas Piketty

       *  David Moss

       *  Kemal Dervi

       *  Michael Kumhof

       *  Romain Rancière
 
       *  Robert Wade

       *  David Ruccio

       *  Marriner S. Eccles (Federal Reserve chairman from 1934 to 1948)

Add Alan Greenspan to the list, who says:

    Our problem basically is that we have a very distorted economy, in the sense that there has been a significant recovery in our limited area of the economy amongst high-income individuals...

    Large banks, who are doing much better and large corporations, whom you point out and everyone is pointing out, are in excellent shape. The rest of the economy, small business, small banks, and a very significant amount of the labour force, which is in tragic unemployment, long-term unemployment - that is pulling the economy apart. The average of those two is what we are looking at - that they are fundamentally two separate types of economies.

And IMF economists. As Bnet wrote in May:

    New research (shows) that high income inequality may actually hurt long-term economic growth. Two economists at the International Monetary Fund, Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry, released a paper in April that concludes that countries with high inequality are more likely to have shorter spells of positive growth compared to countries with less inequality. That’s another way of saying that high inequality hurts the economy.

    Instead of looking purely at the relationship between inequality and growth, Berg and Ostry examined the relationship between inequality and the duration of periods of positive growth. They measure a growth spell as a period of sustained growth and estimate the effect of inequality and other factors on how long growth spells last.

    Their model included a variety of factors that economics have previously found to affect economic growth, such as external shocks, the initial income of the country (ie., did it start out very poor or wealthy?), the institutional make-up of the country, its openness to trade, and its macroeconomic stability.

    The finding: Only income inequality stood out “as a key driver of the duration of growth spells.”

    The economics concluded with the following:

    “The main results in this note are that (i) increasing the length of growth spells, rather than just getting growth going, is critical to achieving income gains over the long term; and (ii) countries with more equal income distributions tend to have significantly longer growth spells. …. growth and inequality-reducing policies are likely to reinforce one another and help to establish the foundations for a sustainable expansion.”

Economics professors Saez (UC Berkeley) and Piketty (Paris School of Economics) show that the percentage of wealth held by the richest 1% of Americans peaked [.pdf] in 1928 and 2007 - right before each crash:

       

The Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote in June:

       

    ***

    Krugman says that he used to dismiss talk that inequality contributed to crises, but then we reached Great Depression-era levels of inequality in 2007 and promptly had a crisis, so now he takes it a bit more seriously.

    The problem, he says, is finding a mechanism. Krugman brings up underconsumption (wherein the working class borrows a lot of money because all the money is going to the rich) and overconsumption (in which the rich spend and that makes the next-most rich spend and so on, until everyone is spending too much to keep up with rich people whose incomes are growing much faster than everyone else's).

(The graphics above are slightly misleading, as Saez notes that inequality is actually worse now than it's been since 1917 [.pdf].)

Robert Reich has theorized [.pdf] for some time that there are 3 causal connections between inequality and crashes:

[Continued...]
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« Reply #76 on: August 22, 2011, 11:41:33 am »

http://www.prisonplanet.com/rampant-unemployment-the-death-of-the-middle-class.html

Rampant Unemployment = The Death Of The Middle Class

40 Facts That Prove The Working Class Is Being Systematically Wiped Out

The Economic Collapse
July 9, 2011



Without an abundance of good jobs, the middle class in the United States is going to shrivel up and die.  Right now, rampant unemployment is absolutely killing communities all over America.  Hopelessness and poverty are exploding and many are now wondering if we are actually witnessing the slow death of the middle class.  There simply are not nearly enough “good jobs” to go around anymore, and even many in the mainstream media are referring to this as a “long-term structural problem” with the economy.  The only thing that most working class Americans have to offer in the marketplace is their labor.  If nobody will hire them they do not have any other ways to provide for their families.  Well, there is a problem.  Today wealth has become incredibly centralized.  The big corporations and the big banks dominate everything.  Thanks to incredible advances in technology and thanks to the globalization of our economic system, the people with all the money don’t have to hire as many ordinary Americans anymore.  They can hire all the labor they want on the other side of the globe for a fraction of the cost.  So the rich don’t really have that much use for the working class in America anymore.  The only thing of value that the working class had to offer has now been tremendously devalued.  The wealthy don’t have to pay a lot for physical labor anymore.  Thousands of our factories and millions of our jobs have been shipped overseas and they aren’t coming back.  The big corporations are thriving while tens of millions of ordinary Americans are deeply suffering.  Almost all of the wealth being produced by our economy is going to a very centralized group of people at the very top of the food chain.  The rich are getting richer and the working class is being systematically wiped out.

So the fact that we are facing rampant unemployment that never seems to go away should not be a surprise to anyone.  Today, the “official” unemployment rate went up to 9.2 percent even though a whopping 272,000 Americans “dropped out of the labor force” in June.  The government unemployment figure that includes “discouraged workers” went up from 15.8% to 16.2%.  The mainstream media is proclaiming that this was “a horrific report” because most economists were expecting much better news.

Well, guess what?

Things are going to get a whole lot worse.

More job cuts are coming.  One recently released report found that the number of job cuts being planned by U.S. employers increased by 11.6% in June.

It is also being projected that state and local governments across the U.S. will slash nearly half a million more jobs by the end of next year.

Needless to say, things don’t look good.

Most people that still have jobs are desperately trying to hold on to them.

Employers know that most workers are easily replaceable these days, so wages are not moving up even though the cost of living is.

We are right in the middle of the worst employment downturn since World War 2.  Jay-Z recently summed up the situation this way….

    “Numbers don’t lie. Unemployment is pretty high.”

Jay-Z certainly has a way with words, eh?

If something is not done about the rampant unemployment in this nation, the death of the middle class will accelerate.

Most Americans just assume that the United States will always have a large middle class, but there is no guarantee that is going to happen.  In fact, there is a whole lot of evidence that the middle class in America is rapidly shrinking.

Take a few moments to read over the facts compiled below.  Taken together, they provide compelling evidence that the working class is being systematically wiped out….

[Continued...]
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« Reply #77 on: August 22, 2011, 11:44:57 am »

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

-- Warren Buffet, New York Times, November 26, 2006

-------------------------------

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25754

Class War Without Mercy
Vast wealth for those at the top, unemployment and poverty for the rest of society

by Gregory Elich



Global Research
July 23, 2011

One can never have too much money. In the U.S., the top one percent of the population rakes in almost a quarter of the national income and enjoys 40 percent of the wealth. That class sees this as a problem. It is not enough.

For ordinary workers, the recession brought only economic hardship. But for corporate America, it meant one thing: opportunity. This is the chance to permanently mold the economy into something approximating the Third World model: vast wealth and privilege for those at the top, and unemployment, falling wages, and inadequate or nonexistent social services for the rest of society.

The recession ended two years ago, yet more than nine percent of the population remains without work. If one takes into account discouraged workers and part-time workers wanting a full-time position, nearly one sixth of the workforce is underutilized. For people of African descent, the situation is even more dire, with unemployment approaching a rate twice as high. Yet, a jobs program has never been on lawmakers' agenda.

Instead, the trend has been to slash benefits at a time of heightened need, while simultaneously calling for more tax cuts for the wealthy. Deficits run up by the George W. Bush Administration and President Barack Obama have handed the right wing a cudgel to impose their will and discipline workers. President Obama needed no votes from Congress had he been willing to simply let the Bush tax cuts expire. By insisting on an unwinnable partial continuation of the tax cuts, Obama ensured that the entire package would remain in effect. At a time when the recession has caused a plunge in tax revenue, starving the government of funds when they are most needed is exacting a toll on the well being of the population, and opening the door for slashing benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office, continuation of the Bush tax cuts through the year 2020 will contribute $3.3 trillion toward the national debt. This is money that would be better utilized in providing much needed social services and launching a real jobs program, assuming of course, the political will to do so - which has been noticeably lacking.

Add in the fact that the Bush Administration's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were mostly run on borrowed funds to the tune of $1.2 trillion. Take into consideration associated costs, and the total price tag on the Iraq and Afghan wars rises to at least $3.2 trillion, according to the Costs of War project. Those wars are still underway, chewing up resources, and for good measure President Obama has added a third war, in Libya. There is no end in sight for military adventurism, and the defense budget remains sacrosanct. For all the talk of budget cuts, this department remains immune. Indeed, the House of Representatives recently voted to boost the already bloated defense budget by an additional $17 billion.

What we get instead of a responsible and progressive tax policy or trimming of the defense budget is the steady drumbeat of debt panic, with loud demands to cut social services, shrink pensions and pay, and, oddly enough, provide additional tax reductions for the well-to-do. This debt panic has become the driving argument for a ferocious assault on workers. Class war is being waged, and sensing victory, the owning class is taking no prisoners.

[Continued...]

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« Reply #78 on: August 22, 2011, 11:46:50 am »



--------------------------------------

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25811

Tax Cuts for the Middle Class and Poor STIMULATE The Economy, But Tax Cuts for the Wealthy HURT The Economy

by Washington's Blog
Global Research
July 28, 2011

Extreme conservatives push for tax cuts ... but just for the wealthy.

Extreme liberals are against all tax cuts, believing that we need higher taxes to pay for government programs ... and that taxes somehow won't create any drag on the economy.

Both extremes are wrong.

In fact, tax cuts for the middle class and poor stimulate the economy, but tax cuts for the wealthy hurt the economy.

This is actually a very simple concept, although some politicians and economists unintentionally or intentionally muddy the waters.

As Ed Harrison notes today:

--------------------------

Bruce Bartlett, a Republican political appointee and domestic policy advisor to Ronald Reagan, points out that:

    Taxes were cut in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006.

    It would have been one thing if the Bush tax cuts had at least bought the country a higher rate of economic growth, even temporarily. They did not. Real G.D.P. growth peaked at just 3.6 percent in 2004 before fading rapidly. Even before the crisis hit, real G.D.P. was growing less than 2 percent a year...

    According to a recent C.B.O. report, they reduced revenue by at least $2.9 trillion below what it otherwise would have been between 2001 and 2011. Slower-than-expected growth reduced revenue by another $3.5 trillion.

    Spending was $5.6 trillion higher than the C.B.O. anticipated for a total fiscal turnaround of $12 trillion. That is how a $6 trillion projected surplus turned into a cumulative deficit of $6 trillion.

Bartlett offers this killer chart as a summary of the numbers:

       

If you recall, it was George W. Bush’s father, GWH Bush, who, when campaigning against Reagan, called supply side economics’ claims that tax cuts pay for themselves Voodoo Economics. And Bush was proved right when deficits spiralled out of control and both Reagan and Bush were forced to raise taxes.

***

The Bush tax cuts accrued disproportionately to the wealthy. The Tax Policy Center shows that 65 percent of the dollar value of the Bush tax cuts accrued to the top quintile, while 20 percent went to the top 0.1 percent of income earners.

If you want to talk about redistribution, there it is.

--------------------------

The New York Times reported in 2007:

    Families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts, according to a new Congressional study.

    The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also shows that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available, while rates for people at the very top continued to decline.

    Based on an exhaustive analysis of tax records and census data, the study reinforced the sense that while Mr. Bush’s tax cuts reduced rates for people at every income level, they offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top — especially the top 1 percent of income earners.

The Economic Policy Institute reported in June:

    The Bush-era tax changes conferred disproportionate benefits to those at the top of the earnings distribution, exacerbating a trend of widening income inequality at a time of already poor wage growth.

    ***

    The top 1% of earners (making over $620,442) received 38% of the tax cuts. The lower 60% of filers (making less than $67,715) received less than 20% of the total benefit of Bush’s tax policies.

       

    The Bush-era tax cuts were designed to reduce taxes for the wealthy, and the benefits of faster growth were then supposed to trickle down to the middle class. But the economic impact of cutting capital gains rates and lowering the top marginal tax rates never materialized for working families. Inflation-adjusted median weekly earnings fell by 2.3% during the 2002-07 economic expansion, which holds the distinction for being the worst economic expansion since World War II.

This isn't complicated. Rampant inequality largely caused the Great Depression and the current economic crisis (and see this). Cutting taxes on the middle and lower classes reduces inequality and stimulates the consumer economy. But cutting taxes for the wealthy reduces aggregate consumer demand.

As economics professor Robert Reich notes [.pdf]:

[Continued...]

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« Reply #79 on: August 22, 2011, 11:50:25 am »

"Are there no prisons...or workhouses...or treadmills?" -- Ebenezer Scrooge

----------------------------

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25888

Neoliberalism's Newest Product: The Modern Slave Trade

by Ignacio Ramonet
Global Research
August 3, 2011

PARIS, Jul (IPS) Two centuries after the abolition of slavery we are seeing the reintroduction of an abominable practice: human trafficking. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 12.3 million people each year are taken captive by networks tied to international crime and used as forced labour in inhuman conditions.

In the case of women, the victims are subjected mostly to sexual exploitation while others are exploited as domestic servants. There is also the case of youths who are taken captive through various scams so their body parts can be sold in the international human organ trade.

These practices are expanding more and more to satisfy the demand for cheap labour in sectors like the hotel and restaurant industries, agriculture, and construction.

The OSCE dedicated two days of its last international conference in Vienna in late June to this subject. Though the phenomenon is international, various specialists asserted that the plague of slave labour is growing rapidly in the EU. Unions and labour groups estimate that in Europe there are hundreds of thousands of workers subjected to the blight of slavery.

In Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, and other countries of the EU, foreign migrant workers attracted by the mirage of Europe find themselves trapped in the networks of various mafias and working in conditions like slaves of past ages. An ILO report reveals that south of Naples, for example, 1200 homeless farm labourers work twelve hours per day in greenhouses without contracts and for miserable pay, guarded by private militias and living in what resemble concentration camps.

This "work camp" is not the only one in Europe; thousands and thousands of undocumented immigrants have met similar fates, victims of a modern slave trade flourishing in any number of European countries. According to various unions, this form of forced labour accounts for almost 20 percent of agricultural production.

Responsibility for this expansion of human trafficking lies largely with the current dominant economic model. In effect, the form of neoliberal globalisation than has been imposed over the last three decades through economic shock therapy has devastated the most fragile levels of society and imposed extremely high social costs. It has created a fierce competition between labour and capital. In the name of free trade, the major multinationals manufacture and sell their goods around the world, producing where labour is cheapest and selling where the cost of living is highest. The new capitalism has made competitiveness its primary engine and brought about a commodification of labour and labourers.

Globalisation, which offers remarkable opportunities to a lucky few, imposes on the rest, in Europe, a ruthless and unmediated competition between EU salary workers, small businesses, and small farmers and their badly-paid, exploited counterparts on the other side of the world. The result we now see clearly before us: social dumping on a planetary scale.

For employment the result is disastrous. For example, in France in the last twenty years this phenomenon has caused the elimination of more than two million jobs in the industrial sector alone.

Certain sectors in Europe where there is a chronic shortage of labour tend to use undocumented workers, which in turn fuels the trafficking of more workers by clandestine networks that in many cases force them into slave labour. Numerous reports clearly evidence the "sale" migrant farm workers.

Despite the many tools of international law available to combat these crimes, and despite the proliferation of public statements by government officials condemning them, the public will to put an end to the practice is weak. In reality, the management of industry and construction and major agricultural exporters exert constant pressure on governments to turn a blind eye to the trafficking of undocumented workers.

Industry management has always supported mass immigration because it depresses the price of labour. Reports by the European Commission and BUSINESSEUROPE (an association of European industries and businesses) have called for more immigration for decades.

But today's human traffickers are not the only ones exploiting slave labour: now a form of "legal servitude" is being developed. For example, last February in Italy Fiat served its workers with the following extortionate ultimatum: either agree to work more, for less money, in worse conditions, or the company will shift operations to Eastern Europe. Faced with the prospect of being fired and terrorised by the conditions in Eastern Europe, with its rock bottom wages and no weekends off, 63 percent of the Fiat workers voted for their own exploitation.

In Europe many employers, taking advantage of the crisis and brutal fiscal adjustment policies being imposed, are trying to establish similar forms of "legal servitude".

[Continued...]

----------------------------

I'm reminded of the following:

----------------------------

http://www.wealthandwant.com/docs/ajo_slavery.html

SLAVERY

By Arthur J. Ogilvy

THE SLAVER

Suppose I own a sugar estate and 100 slaves, all the land about being held in the same way by people of the same class as myself.

It is a profitable business, but there are many expenses and annoyances attached to it.

I must keep up my supply of slaves either by buying or breeding them.

I must pay an overseer to keep them continually to their work with a lash. I must keep them in a state of brutish ignorance (to the detriment of their efficiency), for fear they should learn their rights and their power, and become dangerous.

I must tend them in sickness and when past work.

And the slaves have all the vices and defects that slavery engenders; they have no self-respect or moral sense; they lie, they steal, they are lazy, shirking work whenever they dare; they do not care what mischief their carelessness occasions me so long as it is not found out; their labor is obtained by force, and given grudgingly; they have no heart in it.

All these things worry me.

FLASH! ....

Suddenly a brilliant idea strikes me. I reflect that there is no unoccupied land in the neighbourhood, so that if my laborers were free they would still have to look to me for work somehow.

So one day I announce to them that they are all free, intimating at the same time I will be ready to employ as many as I may require on such terms as we may mutually and independently agree.

What could be fairer? They are overjoyed, and falling on their knees, bless me as their benefactor. Then they go away and have a jollification, and next day come back to me to arrange the new terms.

THEY BELIEVE ...

Most of them think they would like to have a piece of land and work it for themselves, and be their own masters. All they want is a few tools they have been accustomed to use, and some seed, and these they are ready to buy from me, undertaking to pay me with reasonable interest when the first crop comes in, offering the crop as security. As for their keep, they can easily earn that by working a few weeks on and off on any of the plantations, or by taking a job clearing or fencing, or such like. This will keep them going for the first year, and after that they will be better able to take care of themselves.

HOLD ON, NOW!

"But," softly I observe, "you are going too fast. Your proposals about the tools and seed and your maintenance are all right enough, but the land, you remember, belongs to me. You cannot expect me to give you your liberty and my own land for nothing. That would not be reasonable, would it?" They agree it would not, and begin to propose terms.

A fancies this bit of land, and B that. But it soon appears that I want this bit of land for my next year's clearing, and that for my cows, and another is too close to my house and would interfere with my privacy, and another is thick forest or swamps, and would require too long and costly preparation for me who must have quick returns in order to live, and in short that there is no land suitable that I care to part with.

THE BENEFACTOR

Still I am ready to do what I promised — "to employ as many as I may require, on such terms as we may mutually and independently agree." But as I have now got to pay them wages instead of getting their work for nothing. I cannot of course employ all of them. I can find work for ninety of them, however, and with these I am prepared to discuss terms.

At once a number volunteered their services at such wages as their imagination had been picturing to them. I tell the ninety whose demands are most reasonable to stand on one side. The remaining ten look blank, and seeing that since I won't let them have any of the land, it is a question of hired employment or starvation, they offer to come for a little less than the others. I tell these now to stand aside, and ten others to stand out instead. These look blank now, and offer to work for less still, and so the "mutual and voluntary" settlement of terms proceeds.

But, meanwhile, I have been making a little calculation in my head, and have reckoned up what the cost of keeping a slave, with his food and clothes, and a trifle over to keep him contented, would come to, and I offer that.

They won't hear of it, but as I know they can't help themselves, I say nothing, and presently first one and then another gives in, till I have got my ninety, and still there are ten left out, and very blank indeed they look. Whereupon, the terms being settled, I graciously announce that though I don't really want any more men, still I am willing, in my benevolence, to take the ten, too, on the same terms, which they promptly accept, and again hail me as their benefactor, only not quite so rapturously as before.

WAGE SLAVES? ...

So they all set to at the old work at the old place, and on the old terms, only a little differently administered; that is, that whereas I formerly supplied them with food, clothes, etc., direct from my stores, I now give them a weekly wage representing the value of those articles, which they will henceforth have to buy for themselves.

There is a difference, too, in some other respects, indicating a moral improvement in our relations. I can no longer curse and flog them. But then I don't want to; it's no longer necessary; the threat of dismissal is quite as effective, even more so; and much pleasanter for me.

I can no longer separate husband from wife, parent from child. But then again, I don't want to. There would be no profit in it; leaving them their wives and children has the double advantage of making them more contented with their lot, and giving me greater power over them, for they have now got to keep these wives and children out of their own earnings.

My men are now as eager as ever to come to me to work as they formerly were to run away from work. I have neither to buy or breed them; and if any suddenly leave me, instead of letting loose the bloodhounds, I have merely to hold up a finger or advertise, and I have plenty of others offering to take their place. I am saved the expense and worry of incessant watching and driving. I have no sick to attend, or worn-out pensioners to maintain. If a man falls ill there is nothing but my good nature to prevent my turning him off at once; the whole affair is a purely commercial transaction — so much wages for so much work. The patriarchal relation of slave-owner and slave is gone, and no other has taken its place. When the man is worn out with long service I can turn him out with a clear business conscience, knowing that the State will see that he does not starve.

Instead of being forced to keep my men in brutish ignorance, I find public schools established at other people's expense to stimulate their intelligence and improve their minds, to my great advantage, and their children compelled to attend these schools. The service I get, too, being now voluntarily rendered (or apparently so) is much improved in quality. In short, the arrangement pays me better in many ways.

REJOICE! I AM CAPITAL AND I EMPLOY PEOPLE!

But I gain in other ways besides pecuniary benefit. I have lost the stigma of being a slave driver, and have, acquired instead the character of a man of energy and enterprise, of justice and benevolence. I am a "large employer of labour," to whom the whole country, and the labourer especially, is greatly indebted, and people say, "See the power of capital! These poor labourers, having no capital, could not use the land if they had it, so this great and far-seeing man wisely refuses to let them have it, and keeps it all for himself, but by providing them with employment his capital saves them from pauperism, and enables him to build up the wealth of the country, and his own fortune together."

Whereas it is not my capital that does any of these things. lt is not my capital but the labourer's toil that builds up my fortune and the wealth of the country.

It is not my employment that keeps him from pauperism, but my monopoly of the land forcing him into my employment that keeps him on the brink of it. It is not want of capital that keeps the labourer from using the land, but my refusing him the use of the land that prevents him from acquiring capital. All the capital he wants to begin with is an axe and a spade, which a week's earnings would buy him, and for his maintenance during the first year, and at any subsequent time, he could work for me or for others, turnabout, with his work on his own land. Henceforth with every year his capital would grow of itself, and his independence with it, and that this is no fancy sketch, anyone can see for himself by taking a trip into the country, where he will find well-to-do farmers who began with nothing but a spade and an axe (so to speak) and worked their way up in the manner described.

ENTER THE LANDLORD ....

But now another thought strikes me. Instead of paying an overseer to work these men for me, I will make him pay me for the privilege of doing it. I will let the land as it stands to him or to another — to whomsoever will give the most for the billet. He shall be called my tenant instead of my overseer, but the things he shall do for me are essentially the same, only done by contract instead of for yearly pay. He, not I, shall find all the capital, take all the risk, and engage and supervise the men, paying me a lump sum, called rent, out of the proceeds of their toil, and make what he can for himself out of the surplus.

The competition is as keen in its way for the land, among people of his class, as it is among the labourers for employment, only that as they are all possessed of some little means (else they could not compete) they are in no danger of immediate want, and can stand out for rather better terms than the labourers, who are forced by necessity to take what terms they can get.

The minimum in each case amounts practically to a "mere living", but the mere living they insist on is one of a rather higher standard than the labourers'; it means a rather more abundant supply and better quality of those little comforts which are next door to necessaries. It means, in short, a living of a kind to which people of that class are accustomed.

For a moderate reduction in my profits, then — a reduction equal to the tenant's narrow margin of profit — I have all the toil and worry of management taken off my hands, and the risk too, for be the season good or bad, the rent is bound to be forthcoming, and I can sell him up to the last rag if he fails of the full amount, no matter for what reason; and my rent takes precedence of all other debts.

All my capital is set free for investment elsewhere, and I am freed from the odium of a slave owner, notwithstanding that the men still toil for my enrichment as when they were slaves, and that I get more out of them than ever.

If I wax rich while they toil from hand to mouth, and in depressed seasons find it hard to get work at all; it is not, to all appearances, my doing, but merely the force of circumstances, the law of nature, the state of the labour market — fine sounding names that hide the ugly reality.

If wages are forced down it is not I that do it; it is that greedy and merciless man the employer (my tenant) who does it. I am a lofty and superior being, dwelling apart and above such sordid considerations. I would never dream of grinding these poor labourers, not I! I have nothing to do with them at all; I only want my rent -- and get it. Like the lilies of the field, I toil not, neither do I spin, and yet (so kind is Providence!) my daily bread (well buttered) comes to me of itself. Nay, people bid against each other for the privilege of finding it for me; and no one seems to realise that the comfortable income that falls to me like the refreshing dew is dew indeed; but it is the dew of sweat wrung from the labourers' toil. It is the fruit of their labour which they ought to have; which they would have if I did not take it from them.

This sketch illustrates the fact that chattel slavery is not the only nor even the worst form of bondage. When the use of the earth — the sole source of our daily bread — is denied unless one pays a fellow creature for permission to use it, people are bereft of economic freedom. The only way to regain that freedom is to collect the rent of land instead of taxes for the public domain.

Once upon a time, labour leaders in the USA, the UK and Australia understood these facts. The labour movements of those countries were filled with people who fought for the principles of 'the single tax' on land at the turn of the twentieth century. But since then, it has been ridiculed, and they have gradually yielded to the forces of privilege and power — captives of the current hegemony — daring no longer to come to grips with this fundamental question, lest they, too, become ridiculed.

And so the world continues to wallow in this particular ignorance — and in its ensuing poverty and debt.


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"For the first years of [Ludwig von] Mises’s life in the United States...he was almost totally dependent on annual research grants from the Rockefeller Foundation.” -- Richard M. Ebeling

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