Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bleaching in the sun

As much of America's heartland turns to desert, at least for this crop year and Texas perhaps permanently, the availability of food comes into question. You might expect that conservative global warming deniers would have a bounty of words to eat. Sadly, stupidity knows no bounds. They still cling to the weasel words, "you can't link a weather event to global warming". When extreme and formerly rare weather events become the new normal, the bones of that reasoning are just bleaching in the sun.

The fall back position for the intelligence challenged is that food production will simply move north into Canada when Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri and most of Iowa become uninhabitable. Yeah, that'll work. At least the refugees will get free healthcare.

It's incredible that there is a very real possibility that we could elect a President that just tells outrageous lies. Willard doesn't even bother with the hypothetical economic and security promises that Bush made in order to get appointed by the Supreme Court. He's simply running on the notion that Obama is so bad that an idiot like him would be better. If we let this happen, then we really don't deserve to survive as a species, and we won't.

Friday, July 20, 2012

We're richer than you because we're socialists, Eh

The median family wealth in the US is now less than $53,000. We aren't even in the top 15 anymore. Even Canada has passed us by, and at $89,000 is leaving us in the dust. Why is Canada doing so well? For one thing they didn't have a banking collapse, they regulate theirs. Other than that, their economy is a clone of the US, except for the 40% unionization of private sector workers (we have 7% including second tier workers that get starvation wages). That might have something to do with the decline of American wealth since Reagan declared war on unions. Then there is Canada's single payer healthcare system, no family loses everything from sickness. In the US, 2/3 of bankruptcy filings are a result of sickness.

The right-wingers will tell you that Americans are broke because they are lazy and spend all their money at Starbucks. Those $5 coffees do ad up, but seriously, and I'm pretty sure they have Starbucks in Canada (serving maple bark blended something for $5 CAN).  Besides, Starbucks is essential to the new service economy that replaced our industrialized economy. Do you suppose this has something to do with our decline? The right can't understand that money needs to circulate, so just convincing everybody to be stingy isn't going to make all of us rich.

But, just circulating money doesn't work either, Wall Street has been telling us that was the solution for a couple of decades. Clearly we should all be catching on to that scam by now. You can either produce wealth the old fashion way (you know make things), or you can steal wealth from the people who did (the Bain way).  

There is also the monopoly business model, just use overwhelming capital to drive your competition into the ground, and then clean up at your price. The six Walmart heirs now have more wealth than the bottom 40% of families in America. This doesn't count their control of corporate assets that effectively doubles their impact. If you own a business in a town invaded by Walmart, you and 200 of your middle class compatriots are on the way to working poor status. Your business assets become worth little or nothing, and the value of your home begins to decline.

This is the way of America in the past 30 years, try to find family owned businesses anymore. This is where the wealth went. If you still have some wealth you are simply a target. Sharks don't ever stop swimming or eating. Even if they don't target you directly, your customer base is simply disappearing into their hungry maw.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Turn on the Bat Signal, Bain is at it again

The AARP is reporting that a large number of seniors are at risk of their homes being foreclosed upon. Gosh you'd think Mittens had stolen their pensions or something. After Bane (I mean Bain, Holy typo Rush), after they loot a pension plan, the taxpayer picks it up, but pays only pennies on the dollar.

The Bush Crash took a big chunk out of the 401(k) ponzi scheme, and now a lot of people are forced to cash out what's left. They are paying huge penalties for the privilege of using their own money. These people are short of retirement, but have no hope of ever being employed again in the new Flat Earth economy of Ronald Reagan. He built the penalties into 401(k)s, do you see why?

It's absurd that any pension money is ever "invested" in the market. It's just an excuse to let rich people skim a big chunk off the top. The only legitimate place to put pension money is in government bonds, as Social Security does. The right would just love to get their hands on that money. Not because they need the money, but so they can take it away from you.

When you go to gas station, half your money goes to pay rich people. Prior to Obamacare half your insurance premium went to rich people, not it's "only" 20%, Medicare runs on less than 4%. Student loans only exist so the rich can skim off the top of that money. All privatization is created so that the rich can get a fat cut.

The Inspector General for Iraq reported that private contractors cost five times as much as using GIs for the same job. This is typical, Obama cut $200 billion off of the Bush budget by eliminating contractor jobs. He either converted them back to government jobs or simply eliminated them as redundant. Obama has presided over the largest reduction in the Federal Government since the de-activation following the Korean War. Ironically this has hurt the recovery because he laid off workers.

Red States have privatized prisons, sold their government buildings and leased them back, on and on and on. While this is always portrayed as a "cost savings", it's really more expensive by a multiple of 2 to 5 times the cost. With buildings they simply take new buildings and lease them to the state until they are falling down, then return them to the taxpayer. With water systems, highways and such, they just gouge the consumer. All of this does of course cripple the economy, this results in the rich looking for even more ways to gouge their victims.

There are no end to the schemes, but they all have the same underlying premises, take from the many  to give to the very few. Lying about it is taken for granted. The news media rarely tells you what is happening, and if they do, few people can understand the issue. It's not just a product of 40 years of bad education policies, it's also the deliberate misinformation that has been programmed into the bulk of Americans with the Right's illegal domination of the media. (The Sherman Anti-trust Act is still on the books)

Maybe we could put out some comic books or movies with simple plots to inform the people. Oh wait, Obama is doing that already with the new Batman movie, at least according to Rush Limbaugh. Gotham is saved! Rush thought he was being clever and sarcastic by accusing Hollywood of trying to help Obama. Instead he created an inadvertent parody that's actually funny, unlike the crap he spews. It's funny because it's true.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Iceland has hired an ex cop to hunt down the bankers that tried to steal their country from them. They are particularly interested in getting their hands on Board members from the banks that destroyed their economy. It's more of a publicity stunt than anything, they're calling on the Europeans to do the same. How do you say, 'don't hold your breath', in Icelandic?

The IMF was poised to simply steal the very rock out from under the people of Iceland. They were demanding that all natural resources be turned over to the corporate Oligarchs in return for a "bailout" that would have done nothing more than imposed grueling austerity. The decedents of the Vikings chose to simply flip the pirates off instead. Iceland now has one of the healthier economies in Europe.  

Why is nothing being done about the bankers here? The Republicans planned ahead. Regulators are loaded up with Bush appointees, the DOJ is grossly underfunded and poorly staffed, the laws have been diluted and the courts corrupted by Bush appointees. Banks have a hundred silk stocking lawyers for every DOJ lawyer and unlimited money to spend. The best the government can do is get cash settlements, that while these are huge sums of money, they amount to, "just the cost of doing business".

In the end none of this is about making money. Sure, the deck hands on the pirate ships do get a cut of the loot, but the power behind the fleet already have more money than they could ever pile up and burn if they used a bulldozer. It's about eliminating democracy, and getting rid of that annoying middle class that tends to think of themselves as somehow equal to their betters. "[Sniff], we can not have that".

Update on the Mittens Olympics, the opening ceremonies gear was designed and made in Canada. Romney is able to distance himself from that, but he personally approved the purchase of the torch bearer uniforms from Burma. A country that we don't even have diplomatic relations with, and when challenged by anti-slavery activists at the time, Romney responded that the uniforms weren't made in Burma. He said no they weren't, they were made in Myanmar. There is a reason McCain rejected Romney for VP and went with the crazy moose lady instead. Technically you can see Russia from her house, if you're high enough.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's the Austerity, stupid

Retail sales are down for the third straight month.... Panic, panic, gnash your teeth and rend your garments, or not. There was a second quarter slow down after two quarters of robust growth in retail sales. Sluggish sales were driven by high gas prices and fear of even higher gas prices to come. To put the icing on that cake, the biggest decline in June was gas station sales. Ironic that the corporate spin on the "terrible" economy is based on gas prices declining after it was high gas prices that did a big chunk of the damage.

The Red States laying off 1.1 million teachers, social workers, cops, fire fighters and bridge inspectors is also doing a lot to depress the economy. That sort of damage takes awhile to work through an economy, and some of it is offset by other factors. The Blue States taking Stimulus money to build projects for example. If the Republicans had been more successful in 2010 in capturing states and imposing Austerity-ism then the decline would have come sooner, larger and would be even more difficult to recover from.

The current decline in gas prices will have a positive effect, but doesn't provide any actual stimulus to the economy. The only real solution would be to run tariffs back up to where they should be. All the tariff rates are still on the books, they've just been cranked down to next to nothing. Since we are dependent on imports, the revenue it would produce would likely eliminate most of the deficit while our manufacturing base was rebuilt. The augment that this would create a trade war is absurd on the face of it. What exactly are they going to do? Stop buying from us? Ha, ha, ha.... (stop buying what?) or stop selling to us? Great! All the better.

Mittens says that he will confront China on his first day in office. Yeah, he'll confront them like a used car salesman and try to sell them the Washington Monument.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gold Medal performance

In response to Willard demanding an apology from the President, the Obama campaign responded with an ad featuring Romney singing very badly, (how can he be that out of touch?) with the graphics illustrating everything Mittens doesn't want you to know. Romney stands for everything that is fundamentally un-American, inherited wealth that has been multiplied by stealing from the middle-class, all the while tone deaf to that behavior even being wrong.

When Mitt was doing his media blitz on Friday, the CBS reporter asked him for a comment on the Olympic uniforms being designed in the US but made in China. He flatly refused to say a word about it, guess why? His big accomplishment of turning around the Salt Lake City Games (using gobs of Federal money, that he bragged only he could get), the uniforms for his games were not only not make in the US, but were designed outside the US as well. He deserves the Gold Medal for outsourcing.

Republican claims that Obama did it too by allowing stimulus money to leave the country, are of course more lies. Democrats tried to attach a buy American provision to the Stimulus bill, Republicans wouldn't allow it to pass.

Romney wants to cut his own taxes by 25%, this from a guy who only pays 14% now (we've only seen one return, others probably have zero taxes). He says he's going to broaden the tax base by eliminating loopholes. He won't name even one that he will close. Republicans don't close loopholes, it's not in their nature, unless it's one that only benefits people below their class. Of course the Republican talking point is that nearly half of Americans pay no taxes. First off, those people all pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than Mitt Romney does. They don't pay Federal income taxes because guys like Mitt Romney have made them into the working poor.

The median family income is around $46,000 and falling. If we went back to the way the economy worked before Ronald Reagan, current worker productivity would yield a family income around $75,000. You would also have fewer moms working, it was 1.1 workers per household then, now it's approaching 2 workers, even with all the single parent families.