This celestial body [Earth] can no longer support the economic growth model that has driven society for the past 200 years. To avoid its own collapse, humankind must instead seek to maintain wealth and resources, in large part by shifting to more durable, localized economies—especially in food and energy production.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, March 20, 2010
As I explained in "Investment Themes for the Next Decade," the new normal will be cycles of bumping our heads against the supply ceiling, falling dazed to the floor, rising back to our knees, then finally standing... only to bump our heads against the ceiling once more.
Firing more teachers and creating more charter schools is not going to solve the education problem if the root cause is poverty and dysfunction. If we broaden our scope and begin to think of creative ways to support our communities, and see people and resources everywhere lying fallow, we could think of a new way utilize them. The economic collapse has taken a severe toll on every sector. Tens of thousands of social workers, substance abuse and domestic violence counselors are collecting unemployment. Can’t we come up with some way to tap the hard won skills that are trapped in their hearts and heads when we need them more than ever?
...this bill was negotiated using the standard, secret, sleazy Beltway lobbyist/industry practices that candidate Obama frequently condemned and vowed to defeat. And these industries extracted such huge benefits as a result of these secret deals -- a bill shaped to their liking and profit objectives -- that they are essentially in favor of it.
Indeed, even a day after having been blind-sided by the announcement that Israel would build 1600 new and exclusively Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, Biden was still trying. In a prepared speech, he once again bragged, this time to a Tel Aviv university audience, that he was a Zionist and that, “Throughout my career, Israel has not only remained close to my heart but it has been the center of my work as a United States Senator and now as Vice President of the United States,” a statement that should raise questions about dual loyalties and which, curiously, was omitted from all reports on his speech in the US press.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I have a lot of doubts at present. There seems to be a large element of naiveté in their strategy. I am referring to their lack of any concern about the larger economic system, and the very powerful, ruling capitalist class. From reading their literature one wouldn't anticipate any conflicts whatsoever. Look at their article entitled, "The twelve key ingredients to the Transition model", which lists the support of local governments as one of their key ingredients. Although they assure us that "Your local authority's role will be TO SUPPORT, NOT DRIVE, your Transition Initiative; they never suggest that there might be any problems with this effort.
I believe that this is highly problematic unless the TI plans to attempt to work within the capitalist system, in which case, the movement will hit a dead end. IMO, if this is the case, it will only permit some of us to reduce our standard of living to accommodate the needs of The Empire to devote more resources to their so-called "war on terrorism", i.e., their control over increasing areas of the earth to secure resources, cheap labor, and markets.
What is this monster? It’s the corpocracy, a marriage made in Hell between “our” government and large corporations. This monster is ruling and ruining America and Americans.
There are so many telltale signs that the monster exists that it would take one billboard after another to post them. The monster’s domination, often harmful, is over every aspect of our lives. Here are some of the signs to illustrate what I’m talking about.
Activism should not be bound by mere personal affiliation, and nor should it unreservedly embrace or accept ideological dogmas. An activist is an ambassador to his cause; yes, he or she must be morally focused, but there should also be a willingness to serve as a unifying force, and to strategize and organize accordingly.
If you had any doubt about the bank lobby's vice-grip on public policy, look no further than the meeting of the American Bankers Association currently taking place in Washington. In a shameless effort to curry favor with the deep-pocketed financial industry, House Minority Leader John Boenher, R-Ohio, urged lobbyists to fight hard against financial reform. And astonishingly, the nation's top bank cop, Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, actually agreed with him.
Money today is just a ticket, a receipt for work performed and goods delivered. We can fund the work we need done by creating our own credit. The real promise of publicly-owned banks is not that they can bail out subprime borrowers but that they can jumpstart the economy by creating real wealth. They can provide the liquidity to put labor and materials together, allowing the economy to build and grow. Our private, profit-driven banking sector has been bleeding wealth from the rest of the economy. Public-interest banks can transfuse the economy with the credit it needs to flourish and be productive once again.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Though nuclear power may seem a limited issue — related only to energy, and only one of several energy sources at that – the decision whether to pursue nuclear power may prove to be the most important decision now before world leaders.
The term “military-industrial complex” no longer adequately describes the multi-headed monster that has emerged in our times. The industrial (that is, big business) part of the military-industrial complex has become ever more deeply integrated into government—no longer simply providing arms but also increasingly offering their services on the fronts of war and deep inside the halls of government—commissioned to carry out the very missions of the DoD, DHS, and intelligence agencies. In the national security complex, it is ever more difficult to determine what is private sector and what is public sector—and whose interests are being served.
After fleecing the American public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress ... and no one says a word? How can that be?
I think it's because we're still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug. Despite all the damage and all the evidence to the contrary, the average American still wants to hang on to this belief that maybe, just maybe, he or she (mostly he) just might make it big after all.
So don't attack the rich man, because one day that rich man may be me!
A total of 10.6 million people either did not have a job, or have stopped looking for one, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, which indicated that more people than ever before had abandoned the workplace – choosing instead to study, go on sick leave or just give up searching for a job.
A more realistic interpretation is that the power elites fear that their party is over if governments return to supporting higher levels of employment and more equitable transfers of national income including a sensible (and necessary) realignment of real wages and productivity growth. They also fear that a new regulative environment might force them to work a bit harder for their living and stay within the law more often. This elite controls much of media and has its lobbying tentacles right into all major governments. They are not shy to spend big money bribing officials and cheating the “markets” – which they hold up as the pure form of freedom and entrepreneurship.
Actually the essay really addresses the question, "What do we have [the current proposed bill] that is better than what existed before Corporate America pulled out all the stops and poured money into the tea pot that is Washington, D.C.?
Let’s see. Insurance companies will not be able to drop you from coverage because you get sick. You will not be denied coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. You can keep your insurance plan, if you like it.Those are the advantages, but he goes on to list all the many disadvantages.
Nobel Prize-winning economists and scientists will deliver a letter to the U.S. Senate today, urging lawmakers to require immediate cuts in global warming emissions. The letter was signed by more than 2,000 prominent U.S. economists and climate scientists, including eight Nobel laureates, 32 National Academy of Sciences members, 11 MacArthur "genius award" winners, and three National Medal of Science recipients.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
...the election will produce another parliament dominated by sectarian and communalist factions of the Iraqi elite, each seeking to gain the maximum position and privilege at the expense of the others.It's the way The Empire controls its colonies.
Obama’s claim that the problems confronting Ms. Canfield and others like her—skyrocketing premiums, massive out-of-pocket expenses—would be addressed by his health care plan is a lie. He knows perfectly well that the proposed legislation would have no real power to rein in insurance premium costs.See also this.
Colleen Rowley: Minders Ensured She Didn't Say Anything About 9/11 the FBI Didn't WANT Told, Even to Government Officials With Top Security Clearance
Rowley said that in her testimony to the Joint Intelligence Committee regarding 9/11, she was “minded”. Specifically, she said that “FBI minders” listened to her every word, to trail her and make sure that she didn’t tell government personnel with top secret clearance even higher than her own anything which the FBI did not want to be told.(See the first comment in this article that indicates an error re the attribution to Scott Horton of Harpers.)
Also see this: Ashcroft, Tenet, Rumsfeld warned 9/11 Commission about ‘line’ it ’should not cross’
Scientists may have that feeling [loss of belief], but it has little basis in fact. You can’t discuss this subject in a serious fashion without looking at key factors like the anti-science disinformation campaign, the he-said/she-said coverage by the media, the decision by many enviros to downplay talk of global warming, and, in the U.S., the relatively coolish temperatures of the past two years....
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
...we now live in at least the third version of capitalism to blight this England. The first occurred around 1750 with the arrival of factory system, the second with the Enclosures Act in 1832 that saw the forcible removal of millions of workers from country to city and the third, the enforced deindustrialization that began in the Thatcher years. The fundamental effect of these transformations was to break the links with the past. What remains is a hollowed out ‘heritage’ version of our history, aka Walt Disney’s theme parks.
...the economy of community is based on abundance. There is pie for everyone, and more pie can always be had because we had the forethought to plant orchards. The more we share, the more we each have and are willing to give.
The soil of our earth is the foundation of the whole human and environmental food chain and thus our survival. The typical organic farm is teaming with life – from butterflies, to frogs, to bees, to you name it. Conventional farms have polluted and depleted and thus “dead” soils. They have been rendered sterile, using herbicides and pesticides to kill other life forms. Also through the vast degradation of our soil, we are losing cropland topsoil seven times faster than it is being replaced naturally.
It has no fixed meaning, and thus applies to virtually anything the user wishes to demonize, while excluding the user's own behavior and other acts one seeks to justify. All of this would be an interesting though largely academic, semantic matter if not for the central political significance with which this term is vested: both formally (in our law) and informally (in our political debates and rhetoric).
Dear New York Times,
OK, OK, we get the picture: you want the United States to attack Iran. Why don't you go ahead and put a permanent banner across the top of the front page with the Cato-like adjuration: "Iran Must Be Destroyed!" Or maybe you could just tack it on to every single story: "Yankees Trade to Bolster Outfield; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "Mixed Results for Apple I-Pad; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "Markets Anxious Over Health Care Vote; Iran Must Be Destroyed." "New Bistro Revels in Bohemian Ambience; Iran Must Be Destroyed."
It's part of a new influence game in Washington. Think tanks, once a place for intellectuals outside government to weigh in on important policy issues, are now enlisted by people within government to help sell its policies to the public, as well as to others in government. Institutions like CNAS are also heavily funded by major weapons manufacturers and Pentagon contractors, creating potential conflicts of interest rarely disclosed in the media.
The aim of the war was never to create democracy and justice nor to uproot the terrorist groups. The war's only purpose has been to perpetuate the occupation, install military bases and safeguard the takeover of a region that has substantial natural resources. Obama is just like Bush, if not worse, because he is escalating the war and bringing it to Pakistan. The American government is maintaining a dangerous situation in order to stay as long as possible in Afghanistan so it can more easily watch over neighboring countries like Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Deliberative democracy involves substantive discussion of issues through community meetings, conflict resolution mechanisms, and in-depth polls. According to the Civic Practices Network, the aim is to “cultivate a responsible citizen voice capable of appreciating complexity, recognizing the legitimate interests of other groups (including traditional adversaries), generating a sense of common ownership and action, and appreciating the need for difficult trade-offs.”
Broken Incentives: “People See What They're Incentivized to See. If You Pay Someone Not to See the Truth, They Won’t See the Truth.”
Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta, by the photojournalist Ed Kashi, documents the consequences of 50 years of oil extraction in the Niger delta. Oil companies operated here for decades with very little environmental supervision and the delta, notoriously beset by conflict and poverty, has been steadily pushed towards ecological disaster. Villagers struggle to live off land and water poisoned by years of oil spills, and crops fail under the acid rain caused by gas flares.
Critics say many schools exaggerate the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty. And the schools are harvesting growing federal student aid dollars, including Pell grants awarded to low-income students.
Chile is experiencing a social earthquake in the aftermath of the 8.8 magnitude quake that struck the country on February 27. “The fault lines of the Chilean Economic Miracle have been exposed,” says Elias Padilla, an anthropology professor at the Academic University of Christian Humanism in Santiago. “The free market, neo-liberal economic model that Chile has followed since the Pinochet dictatorship has feet of mud.”
Sunday, March 14, 2010
As a professor at Harvard Medical School who has written books with Bill Cosby, Dr. Poussaint fields frequent calls from the news media. He said he was upset to be told not talk to reporters — and to be told that a group fighting the commercialization of children’s lives should not advocate against corporations.See also this report from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
In the last 10 years the U.S. ruling class busted the budget engaging in wars of aggression in the Middle East and South Asia. They busted the budget giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. The Bush Administration was given war authorization with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans while the Bush tax cuts passed with enough Democrats voting for them to avoid a filibuster. Directly or indirectly, the two parties of Wall Street and big business ensured that the taxes paid by working people went to finance the gluttony of rich bankers, military contractors and big business in general.
So now, having sent the public debt even higher into the stratosphere by bailing out Wall Street after the crash of ’08, they want to make it possible to meet these new obligations by gutting spending on programs for poor and working people. A big part of these cuts will be the continuation of massive layoffs of public sector workers.
After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
...surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally. If there were to be a competition in indifference, or perhaps in insulation from reality, then Nero and his fiddle, Chamberlain and his umbrella, could not find a place on an early afternoon sustaining show....
The other thing is my fear that Obama will back down as the Democratic party's top donors start screaming. AIPAC is coming to Washington in a week or so for the annual grovelfest (see the grovelfest video). It is hard to imagine Democrats standing up to the lobby and its subsidiary among House Democrats (see Hoyer, Steny -- and the NY, FL and LA delegations).
First of all, I just got tired of all the misinformation that is spread in the US about President Chavez and the people’s Bolivarian Revolution. In only one example, the National Endowment for Democracy (another Orwellian named agency that receives federal money to supplant democracy) spends millions of dollars every year in Venezuela trying to destabilize Chavez’s democratically elected government.
Years of advising the US government to change course has also led Hansen to draw new conclusions about politics. He said the mainstream politicians have not acted on climate change because they are too compromised by the powerful fossil fuel lobby.