« Older Entries | Newer Entries »

Just What IS The G20, And Who Is Protesting It?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on June 28, 2010 by admin in Politics

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Judging by the damage done to Starbucks and American Apparel last weekend, the protesters mostly hate crap coffee and hipsters. And is the G20 creating the new world order? Maybe.

Whatever the G20 is up to, it gets their fans
more excited than Detroit Tiger fans in 1984

If you don’t feel like you have a clear idea of what the Group of Twenty really is, you’re not alone. More than half the people randomly surveyed on the streets of New York recently had no idea either. Is it a luxury car? A high-powered handgun? A French supermarket chain? A group of avant-garde Belgian artists? While the answers to all those questions are “yes”, we’re talking about the G20 that met in Toronto over the weekend. And the answer to what that G20 is is a little more complicated. If you’re a little more on the paranoid side, you’re probably convinced that it’s the public face of the mysterious Bilderberg Group, and that it’s an evil cabal engineering the demise of the US Dollar and planning a global currency so that its members (essentially bankers and multibillionaires) can take control of the global economy, and thereby have secret control of all the nations of the world. And who knows; you may be right. In spite of the Group of Twenty’s wall-to-wall media coverage, we still mostly only hear about how much their meetings are being protested, not what they’re actually planning. I personally don’t get a warm tingly feeling about the organization; if you look at the member list, you’ll note that the US representatives are two of the geniuses – Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke – that spin back and forth through the revolving doors of Wall Street, the Treasury Department, and the Fed Bank, and can largely be given credit for getting the economy in the mess it’s in in the first place. Which should be reason enough to protest them. But seriously, what are the protesters protesting? Judging by the damage done to Starbucks and American Apparel, they mostly hate crap coffee and hipsters. But this piece on SocialistWorker.org probably sums it up with the least hyperbole I was able to find, and it boils down to this: the G20 is a handful of bankers and world leaders that no-one has asked to get together and decide that they know what’s best for over 6 billion people, and they haven’t shown in the past that they really have anyone’s interest in mind but their own. And who exactly are the protesters? Well, it’s hard to tell, because the Black Bloc strategies used by the more violent ones dominate media coverage, to the extent that the more “wingnut” sources perform in-depth shoe analyses to imply that the black bloc protesters are actually cops. But if you visit a site like TorontoMobilize.org, it appears the bulk of the protesters were Toronto-based organizations of women, people of color, indigenous peoples, the poor, the working class, queer and trans people, and disabled people, and that they just may have some legitimate complaints. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks A Trillion, Frank

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 2, 2010 by admin in Politics

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

How the GOP will stick you with the biggest economic debacle in history and make you think Obama did it.

This example uses $100 bills

It’s time once again for people like you and me to have their heads spun by the incomprehensible numbers that are the US Budget. Personally, ever since I learned about fictitious capital, I’ve had a hard time understanding why the government expects us to pay OUR bills, when THEY operate at a deficit almost all the time. Short of a revolution though, not much can be done about that, so let’s just try to understand the numbers. There are two ways to look at numbers like this. One is to just look at them, and say “Wow. Those are some really big numbers.” The New York Times has a great interactive for doing just that. You can also try to visualize the numbers, as in the graphic at left, which was assembled from the larger images here. We explored this in more detail last year. You can also do what politicians do, and talk about the numbers in ways that sound good but make no sense in reality. That’s what the GOP has been doing for a while, largely with the help of Frank Luntz. Frank Luntz is the guy that was largely instrumental in the success of the GOP over the past decade, through their implementation of his GOP Playbook. If you’ve never given it a look, you should, because it was his language – refined through dial groups and other marketing-style research – that allowed the previous administration to rack up the hugest deficits in history, while making you think they were frugal conservatives. Now that the previous administration has trashed the economy, saying goodbye on the way out with Bush nationalizing the banks and essentially destroying American capitalism as we knew it, it’s time to make it look like it’s all Obama’s fault. And Frank is back, with the words to do it. He’s penned the new talking points in a memo called Language of Financial Reform. That’s a link to the full document, which is also embedded and excerpted below. Read the rest of this entry »

America: Land Of The Fleeced & Home Of The Brazen

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on January 24, 2010 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’m not sure I know how to live in this country any more, they’ve changed too many rules. Maybe we need to start making our own.

I’m not so sure I know how to live in America any more. When it comes to politics, I’ve always been the sort who’s in favor of a mixed economy, believing that a balance of free markets and social programs is the best choice for governing. Regardless of the finer points of my political opinions, I got good grades in Civics class, and was properly indoctrinated as a US citizen growing up. Although what I’m about to say is going to sound like it’s partisan and politically motivated, it’s really not. It’s about lifestyle, and responsibility to my fellow citizens and financial agreements. Like many, I’ve had some credit issues here and there, but as we’ve learned recently, lenders are kind of like drug dealers, offering a magical solution to all your problems, without advising you of the long term dangers of the solution they provide. But by and large, I’ve always believed in hard work and paying my bills and taxes on time. The entire fabric of my basic moral fiber as a citizen of the world’s leading capitalist democracy has been slowly unraveling for a while though, and I find it harder and harder to keep living like the American I thought I was. For me it all started when 19 Saudis engaged in terrorist acts against the US, and the administration at the time perplexed the world by responding to the attacks by starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And as if going against a long-standing tradition of not engaging in wars of aggression wasn’t bad enough, it was clear that a large part of that administration’s motive at the time was personal financial benefit, and a desire to privatize the military, so other “disaster capitalists” could do the same. Check out Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine if you don’t know what I’m talking about. This unraveling of my faith in our government continued when the same administration – under the guise of keeping us safe – started data mining citizens and otherwise eroding our basic rights, and in collusion with a monopolistic telecommunications company, no less. The fact that two presidential elections appeared to be stolen bothered me, but election fraud is more or less a tradition in American politics, just read Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, an American Political Tradition-1742-2004 if you don’t have a rational level of cynicism on the topic. All of this left me rather unsettled, but what really has finally made me consider chucking the social contract altogether was the massive bank and insurance industry bailouts and the recent supreme court decision to grant corporations the same rights as individuals. The former flies in the face of the most fundamental principles of capitalism. The latter suggests that if corporations have the same rights as individuals, I deserve a bailout and a bonus too. I’m not joking about this. I’ll gladly play the game of capitalism by the rules; I think it’s a great game when played with the right balance of self-interest and social responsibility. But the fundamental rules have changed, and I feel I have no choice but to reconsider my lifestyle accordingly. Does this sound melodramatic? I don’t think so. What about you? Is it business as usual? Do these paradigm shifts in government bother you? If so, do you plan to do anything about it? I fear we won’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Obama’s Proposed Bank Tax Purely Political?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on January 15, 2010 by admin in Politics

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Well OF COURSE it’s political, but something like it is certainly warranted. Or maybe we could do the old Roman thumbs-up thumbs-down thing, complete with lions and stuff.

If you’re a conservative, you may be finding yourself in a slightly untenable position right now. Your obligatory knee-jerk response to Obama’s new proposed tax on bailed out banks will be to say: “Sure. More taxes are the solution for everything for you ignorant weepy liberals“. At least that’s the stance of business-minded republicans like Tom Donohue, the CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, who calls the plan a bad idea. So why is your position going to be untenable? Well, the first part of your problem is that if they’re not taxing the banks, they’ll be taxing you and your offspring for generations to come. And because the next part of your argument is going to be that that the banks won’t even feel it, or will pass the buck to consumers. Which suggests that either a.) The fees should be even higher, or b.) That we need to regulate the banks so they’ll stop raping the consumer and anybody else in sight that they’re not directly invested in. Granted, this is a complicated situation, and there’s a fair amount of political populism in the president’s proposal, but how could any American – other than a banker who just got his multimillion dollar bonus, of course – be against the idea of punitive measures against the bankers who created this entire travesty continuing to benefit from their failures and miscalculations? I mean, especially if you believe in Ayn Rand-driven laissez-faire capitalism like a good Republican should? Even Timothy Geithner says it’s sensible. Of course, he’s got his own problems, so maybe that’s some personal damage control at work. In any case, I have a better idea for dealing with the bankers. Put it to simple popular vote and see what the average hardworking American would do about it. I’m sure the results would be fairly grisly, but gratifying. What do you think?

Why I Don’t Care If The Health Care Bill Passes

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 3, 2010 by admin in Health & Wellness, Politics

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system. But the Health Care Bill certainly will present someone with a bill.

When I’m in a hospital room, I usually have a
hard time telling which way the blood is flowing.

I feel sorry for Barack Obama. Not only will history likely blame him for the long tail of the bank failures and bailouts for which the Bush administration was actually responsible, it will also likely blame him (because of the passage of the health care bill that has divided the country recently) for the continued malignancy that is our decrepit, bloated, and corrupt “health care system”. I put that phrase in quotes because I believe that – as the late Walter Cronkite once said – “America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system“. While a bunch of Democratic congressmen who have nothing to worry about regarding their health care plans sit around patting themselves on the back for passing a health care bill that has supposedly been the dream of generations of Democratic politicians, the fact is that things won’t change for many, and we’ll still be left saddled with the most expensive and least effective health care in the developed world. The bill does NOTHING to fix what any intelligent person sees as the fundamental problem; it might in fact worsen it. Whether you describe the problem as being a result of government meddling and insurance, or as patient overuse of treatment because insurance will pay for it, or as a result of doctors requiring malpractice insurance, you will notice the word “insurance” keeps popping up. The fact is that the mind-boggling arrangements for billing and payment that exist today would be IMPOSSIBLE without the insurance industry supporting its piece of what really is an incredibly elaborate and blatant ponzi scheme being pulled off by an industry and a profession that operates under the ultimate smokescreen: an illusion of benevolence Read the rest of this entry »

« Older Entries | Newer Entries »