Monday, January 30, 2012

Marketing of an enemy

Wonderful clip of Bill Maher - he's absolutely correct, the Repubs have got multitudes of the scared and ignorant ready to take up arms against a foe that the marketing machine of the right wing completely made up - -

Sunday, January 29, 2012

..."predicaments that must be "chipped away at..."

Fascinating piece @ How to Save the World this week - The Intercession of a Thousand Small Sanities -

"Gopnik is saying, in effect, that complex ‘problems’ like crime, poverty, climate change, peak oil, corruption, pandemics, and unsustainable growth economies, are not ‘problems’ that can be ‘solved’ at all, but rather, as philosopher Abraham Kaplan explained, predicaments that must be “chipped away at” and adapted to. Our species tends to loathe complexity, and prefers to oversimplify everything, and the politicians, lawyers, corporations and media play on that loathing by always proposing analytic (“A or B”) dichotomies and simplistic “answers” — which cannot possibly work. “Three-strikes” laws, “trickle-down” economics, emissions trading schemes, subsidies, religious taboos and inquisitions, austerity programs, prohibitions, bailouts, military invasions and “quantitative easing” — these are all massively expensive complicated “solutions” to complex “problems”, and they have all failed spectacularly.
“The intercession of a thousand small sanities”, as Gopnik so elegantly puts it, will never be a popular approach to coping with complex predicaments, especially as they grow, through the indifference and incompetence of leaders and vested interests and the sheer size and scale of the systems creating them, into crises and then into chaos and collapse. Yet it is the only approach which has a chance of making things better.
And this is the reason, I think, why more and more informed, intelligent, imaginative people are giving up on trying to ‘reform’ our systems through various complicated solutions, and joining the ranks of the ‘collapsniks’ who concur with John Gray’s analysis that our civilization and our world cannot be “saved”, and that instead of hoping and trying to save it we should do nothing more than becoming more our animal selves — reconnecting with the rest of life on Earth and with our primeval senses and instincts, getting outside our heads, coping with contingencies (perhaps through “the intercession of a thousand small sanities”), relearning to play, living in the moment, turning back to real, mortal things, and simply seeing what is."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Short, pithy thought

So Apple is sitting on $100B in cash reserves - and their iPad's and iPhones are made @ the horrendous FoxConn facility by 800,000 Chinese living in conditions which resembles my worst nightmares of what prison would be like...

And Bill Gates is giving $750M to Aid's and Malaria and wants to give away 95% of his personal $56B before he kicks the bucket. 

How about if both of those companies paid people a living wage for making their crap and sold their stuff for less money?  Wouldn't that work out better for 100's of millions of people and really just hurt the pocket books of some already very rich people?

Friday, January 20, 2012

"...led by a gang of pathological misfits"

'Essentially, it comes down to the fact that a very large portion of Americans are crazier than shithouse rats and are being led by a gang of pathological misfits, most of whom are preachers and politicians.' - Joe Bageant

From a review of the new compilation of some of Joe's essays - HERE -  
Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant -  not yet available in the U.S.

"...myths that camouflage inconvenient truths."

Good piece by Neil J. Young at the NYTimes - "There They Go Again" - about the idealized version of Reagan that Evangelical's choose to portray and remember - Young makes clear that Reagan wasn't the evangelical that they remember.

From Young -
"The religious right wing of the Republican Party has clung especially close to the memory of Reagan. In Reagan, religious conservatives remember a president who spiced his speeches with Bible verses, fought for their issues, and championed the nation’s Judeo-Christian heritage. But memory is an unreliable guide, and history in the service of politics often breeds soothing myths that camouflage inconvenient truths.

In reality, religious conservatives were often dissatisfied with Reagan’s presidency. The Christian right of today – and Republicans generally – must stop using a mythic Reagan as their measuring stick for candidates because it drives them away from viable contenders who fall short of an impossible standard that Reagan himself couldn’t have met."

 I tried to point out HERE (and HERE) that he also wasn't the President the 'no  taxer's' remember.

What's interesting to me is how these myth's developed.  This isn't ancient history, but so many people get it so wrong.  Ultimately, his handler's were extremely effective at using the media to create the myth of a President that never was... the challenge is that  the power elite, and their media, have been doing this effectively for a number of years now in all facets of our life, thus creating generations that know nothing but the myth's created for them based on a world that never was...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gangsters and Banksters -

Very good piece from Dave Pollard - Gangsters and Banksters -

"...essentially all of the increase in real wealth and income over the last 40 years has accrued to less than 1% of citizens, and for the other 99% real wealth and income have declined, in some cases precipitously. As a result, nearly half of all Americans, and well more than half of American children, now live in poverty or near-poverty. There is essentially no social or economic mobility left in US society — if you’re born rich, you will surely grow richer, and if you’re born poor, you will surely grow poorer. The American Dream, and the American middle class, are dead.

This dramatic and accelerating shift has not been an accident. It is the result of deliberate policy decisions that have prevailed since the Reagan/Thatcher era: Huge subsidies, bailouts, tax loopholes and tax cuts for the rich and wealthy, near-zero interest rates (well below the real cost of living, masked by fake government statistics), massive deregulation (and non-enforcement or cheap out-of-court settlement of horrific regulatory violations), dismantling of employee benefits, crippling of unions and workers’ rights, incentives for offshoring and laying off domestic employees, and on and on.

The rich and powerful now own the politicians of all major parties, almost all of the large corporations that control much of the economy, and the mainstream media, and through them they have altered the financial, political, economic, tax, regulatory, information and education systems, globally, to suit their own purposes and entrench and further enlarge their power, wealth and privilege. As long as this elite continues to wield this much power, the situation will continue to get worse. And as renowned management consultant Charles Handy has said: No one gives up power willingly or voluntarily."

So, the question becomes, how do we take back power?  Our tendency is to look for that one big thing, on a national level, that will turn the tide.  But, I'm not sure there's a Santa Claus in Washington that's going to come in to our town and save us.  Interesting to study the right wing evangelical movement in the states... In the '70's the "Moral Majority" of Jerry Falwell took an approach that they were going to win the School Boards, the City Council's, the Planning Commission's, the State House's, etc.  It worked.  Perhaps, to challenge the power elite - the 1% - local people must challenge their local power elite and the local power elite's groupies, who Joe Bageant called the "pickle vendors" - he said:

"OK. So the truly rich may not get it. But the most dangerous weasels of all, the ones at the next level down from Dicko -- those little ankle biters trying to get a bigger piece of the action -- they get it all too well. Or at least to the extent they understand that the masses need to be roughed up from time to time. Kept in their place. Now I'm not talking about the barber or three-chair beauty shop or the deli owner up the street. I am talking about the realtors, lawyers and middlemen willing to cooperate in whatever it takes to destroy land use and zoning codes, bust unions and keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down and the "cullids" out. This group of second tier conservative professionals and semi-pros are dead set on being real players someday. On their way up the ladder they will screw you blind and make you beg for your change."

I've always lived in small places and pickle vendors are pretty easy to see in smaller places - they serve on every board of nonprofits, they are the "community leaders" on the 'strategic planning' committee's, and it's easy to trace them to the "real movers and shakers" in the community who have extracted wealth from the community for years, gave just enough back to be seen as "philanthropist" and now they run the show.  Sometimes large employers, sometimes not, they're not often challenged because they can make or break you in town... get you elected, get you that contract with the city, but what they also do pull the strings of the pickle vendors to, as Joe says, "bust unions, keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down" and the "cullids"... if not out entirely, they make sure the don't get in position's where they can cause any "serious trouble". 

With few exceptions the local power elite are held with reverence in their communities, they get lot's of credit (some of it even deserved) but they almost never get any blame.  Nobody ever challenges them and ask them point plant -  since you've been a community leader for 30 years and the community is struggling is any of that your fault?

Can we get people to ask, challenge, organize, and well, occupy locally? The local community building and activism of the 60's has  fallen out of favor, but perhaps the lessons learned from those struggles present a road map for the future.

"Most attractive place in the world for Job Creators"

Great piece from Jon Stewart - a good piece to keep in mind whenever they are arguing for us to 'compete' against China -

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Remaking America: From Poverty to Prosperity

Opening quote from the great Barbara Ehrenreich-

"Poverty is not a character flaw - Poverty it is a shortage of money.   And the biggest reason is that most working people aren't paid enough for their work."

Great panel and conversation available at CSPAN - HERE

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

America Beyond Capitalism

Interesting two part interview with Gar Alperovitz by Thom Hartmann -

To purchase the book - America Beyond Capitalism - click below

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Speaking of Myth's

Could anything be more annoying than Republican's scrambling to claim the Reagan space... but, not acknowledging that he signed the largest tax increase in the history of the United States?  I've written about this before (HERE) but Alternet does a good job with it HERE

An excerpt:
"The facts are indisputable: in Ronald Reagan’s first term, he signed off on a series of tax increases — even when unemployment was nearing 11% — and proceeded to raise taxes seven out of the eight years he was in office. The truth is, “no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people” as Reagan.

Of particular interest is the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982,” the largest of Reagan’s tax increases, and generally considered the largest tax increase — as a percentage of the economy — in modern American history. In fact, between 1982 and 1984, Reagan raised taxes four times, and as Bruce Bartlett has explained more than once, Reagan raised taxes 12 times during his eight years in office."

They call President Obama a Socialist, UnAmerican, etc., and he passes one of the largest tax cuts in the history of the United States, while their hero RASIED TAXES 12 TIMES!!??!

I think Barney Frank was right today when he said that the democrats slogan in 2012 should be -  "We're not perfect, but they're nuts"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Measuring Success

This piece @ Big Think - Why Economic Growth Is Not Imperative - asks an important question, not just for our global economy but for your region, town, community, and even personally - how are we measuring success?  Since we were young we've been warned against comparing ourselves to others, but isn't that what all of the current measures of success do?  From standardized testing in schools which purport to measure teachers/schools success by test scores, to GDP, to unemployment rates, income levels, etc.?

Reminds me of this slide from a Tom Peters powerpoint -
“To grow, companies need to break out of a vicious cycle of competitive benchmarking and imitation.”  —W. Chan Kim & RenĂ©e Mauborgne, “Think for Yourself —
Stop Copying a Rival,”
Financial Times