Saturday, November 29, 2008
Our government is struggling mightly to shovel out trillions of dollars to the plutocrats and oligarchs who pull the strings at the White House and in Congress, give this money away to a class of unwilling and protesting bankers and speculators and investors before the spectre of Socialism descends upon the land and Class War (by other means) gets under way in earnest.
They can't shovel the money out fast enough. They can't find enough plutocrats to give it to. But they keep trying.
Meanwhile, millions of people are losing their jobs, social services are groaning under the additional caseload of people at the end of their ropes, foreclosures continue to mount, inflation looms on the horizon, people who are still working are seeing their incomes fall and expenses mount, factories and merchants are shutting down, cities and counties and states are running out of money, running out of alternatives, civil society is cracking up.
And our government in Washington not only won't do anything about it, they are actually engaged in policies and practices which are making the problems worse, far worse, and they are doing it in the face of a shocked and astonished populace that just voted for a "Marxist" president and the "Most Liberal Congress in History."
Why can't the government in Washington do anything -- at all -- on behalf of the People of the United States of America? Why are they so utterly intent on emptying the treasury -- apparently for generations to come -- into the pockets of the super-rich, who say, bless their hearts, that they don't need and don't want the money?
What is keeping the government from acting on behalf of the People?
Our government has become ideologically incapable of recognizing let alone doing anything about the situations faced by the People. Since the Reagan Revolution and its consolidation under the Busheviks, the government has become fully integrated with and accountable to the Plutocracy only. The People, at best, are an afterthought. Ideologically, the People are of no consequence at all. They may as well not exist.
And unfortunately, the People of the United States of America have accepted this state of affairs as if it were natural and normal.
And yet they just elected this Big Marxist Redistributor to the White House. Surprise, surprise. So far, he has shown no interest in the plight of the People at all, has repeatedly reassured the Plutocrats that their interests shall continue to be served by the government -- and that everyone else will just have to tighten their belts and suck it up.
This Big Marxist Redistributor.
Who is apparently as aligned with the Powers That Be as any of those who went before him since Reagan.
If the People continue to be passive in the face of what is going on, can we really blame the Plutocracy and their Government for ignoring them?
Monday, November 24, 2008
I actually heard a version of this notion on the radio as I was driving this afternoon listening to the Tom Sullivan show. Right wing hack that he is, sometimes Sullivan lets a smidge of uncommon sense slip through.
The idea goes something like this:
While trillions upon trillions of dollars are being shoveled out of the Treasury to support the lavish ways and styles of the plutocracy, the common folks are withering on the vine, their homes foreclosed, cars repossessed, jobs disappearing, credit evaporating. The crunch on Main Street is gathering steam even as the hit on Wall Street is deeply cushioned to say the least.
So why not do a "bottom up" stimulus? This is something people have been clamoring for and it is something the Powers That Be have resisted with all their souls and all their might.
So do it anyway. And the way to do it is to issue a credit account to every taxpayer, an account of say $100,000 for individuals, $200,000 for families (more or less), that could only be used for certain things, such as:
- to pay down or pay off a mortgage with the limitation that the mortgage must be at least 24 months old.
- to pay off credit card balances more than two years old.
- to purchase a new fuel efficient vehicle and/or pay off a car loan
- to pay off certain other debts (such as medical bills)
Any amounts not used within, say, 12 months would revert to the treasury.
Something like this, essentially getting large amounts of money into individual taxpayers' hands to use for specific purposes intended to "turn the economy around" could well do the trick.
Throwing more trillions at phantoms of wealth on Wall Street and in the bankers' boardrooms can't and won't do it.
Putting significant amounts of money in circulation at the bottom of the pyramid just might.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
It's really nuts-making.
The Lame Duck Congress met and heard from the Big Three Automakers regarding a $25 billion bridge loan to tide them over until some of their restructuring and adaptations to the New Economy can be made. The usual huffery and puffery transpired, and much hoo-hah about corporate jets and what not, but eventually the real issue became clear: American car makers are in a bind; the market for new (big) cars has collapsed and it is not going to revive soon, especially not if the other parts of the economy don't improve. So. The car companies say they need a loan for now in order to stay in business while they restructure for current conditions, making sure their suppliers are paid, their workers are employed, their retirees are taken care of.
It makes a lot more sense on its face than the Paulson Extortion Scheme the Congress was Johnny-on-the-Spot improving and approving just a couple of months ago.
But Congress could not bring themselves to approve the Big Three automakers' request for loans and loan guarantees. They cannot bring themselves to approve a moritorium on home foreclosures and the restructuring of mortgages to keep people in their homes. They cannot bring themselves to approve anything that would actually keep ordinary people working and in their homes.
The only thing they can do is hand over trillions of dollars to CEOs and Smart Guys -- the very Wizards who brought on the financial collapse -- on demand and under orders.
They cannot do anything for people. Oh. Sorry. They did extend unemployment benefits for a few weeks.
The foreclosure crisis that is at the bottom of the economic collapse has been going on for two years or more, and Congress has dithered about it the whole time. Done nothing. They have been told by some of the Smart Guys who were extorting them that they better not do anything about the mortgage crisis, for it would be "unfortunate" to interfere in the market that way. "Let it sort itself out."
Yet the longer this drags on, the worse things become. There is now real panic abroad in the land because the economy is not recovering and all the trillions paid in extortion to the financial sector has done nothing to bring relief. In some ways, the extortion payments have made things worse.
Congress approved those payments -- essentially giving a blank check to the Treasury Secretary to do his will -- and the American People were ripped off in the biggest and most obvious heist in world history.
But comes an opportunity to actually do something positive for the American People, the answer is "No."
Congress is completely useless for the purpose of representing the interests of the American People. All they can do is take orders from the White House and serve their corporatist/imperialist masters.
This government needs a re-boot.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Parts of the "Progressive Blogosphere" are getting all pissed off at the multiplicity of Obama-Betrayals of "Progressive Values".
Yeah, he's moving with all deliberate speed to put in place a Serious Adult Administration, staffed with people who are considered by the Netroots to be traitors to the Nation and the Cause. People like the reviled and despised Hillary. People like the reviled and despised Rahm. People now like the
And yeah, he's been doing plenty of flipping and flopping and offering support for the corporatist/imperialist line about this and that issue, whether it be support for retroactive immunity for telecoms or NAFTA or the Paulson Extortion Program or even supporting keeping Holy Joe in the Dem Caucus and letting him run the Heimat committee.
He ain't no Liberal. Ain't no Progressive, either.
Yes? So? You voted for him anyway, didn't have any choice. Your purple passion hatred for Hillary blinded you to some of the flaws in Barack, and now that he's doing pretty much what he said he was going to, surprise, surprise.
No. Come on. Barack did not run as a Liberal or a Progressive. He ran as a "centrist" -- read, rightist -- Democrat, slightly to the Left of the lunatics in the Republican Party. So many people projected so many expectations on him, believed so strongly that HE was what the nation wanted and needed, and that HE would set to rights all that the Busheviks had done wrong.
Well, no. He didn't run on that premise. He made plenty of rhetorical stabs at accepting some Progressive Agenda items, but most of the time, he was just happy to have Progressive support (and money) and leave the matter of a Progressive Agenda for some other time. That people thought he was some kind of Big Progressive or Liberal is just bizarre. He never ran as one.
In some ways the situation now illuminates what might have happened if Howard Dean had got the nomination and then went on to win the Presidency back in the day. Howard was -- and is -- very much in the mold of a Progressive Republican (like his parents, surprise, surprise) not really a Liberal Democrat at all. And he ran as what he was. Anyone who followed his campaign and its rhetoric understood he was really all about being a responsible Progressive on the Republican model of the early 20th century. But lots and lots of people saw him otherwise and were convinced he was some Big Liberal Savior. No. He never was. He was basically a Republican in Democratic garb and with some Democratic cachet.
Obama is not that much different.
It's not a bad thing to be.
What is bad, though, are all the expectations that he'd be different. And all the disappointment. Turning to anger at betrayal.
He didn't betray anyone who was paying attention. But it's clear that a lot of people were too wrapped up in the fantasy image of who and what they wanted him to be to understand who and what he really is.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Stories are going around, triggered by this one in the New York Times, to the effect that now that the country has hit the economic skids, sales of SPAM -- that rectangular canned delicacy made up of ground pork, ham, salt, pink coloring and sodium nitrate -- are booming because it is so convenient and so cheap.
Uh. No it's not.
In my area 12 ounce cans of SPAM go for up to $3.99, always over $3.00, and usually around $3.79. This translates to over $5.00 a pound, quite a bit more than either canned or smoked bone in ham from the meat cases.
And yet, all the stories in the media claim it's "cheap." It's not. Not even close. It used to be pretty cheap in the Old Days, but those days are long gone.
"Cold or hot... SPAM hits the spot!"
What I remember when I was a kid and times were lean in our house was Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast. Known colloquially as "Shit on a Shingle" or "SoS."
Maybe that's because both my parents were in the military.
Chipped beef (dried but not jerked beef slices) came in a glass jar, but I haven't seen any in a market for years. They say it's still sold, though, and Stouffer's makes a frozen version of "SoS."
I'm sure it costs a fortune. Specialty food. For hard times.
What are you doing to cope with the worst economic crisis since 1932?
[SPAM Image: Back cover of National Geographic Magazine January, 1945]
Friday, November 7, 2008
No I didn't forget. I was even watching the call -- right after the polls closed on the West Coast -- on teevee. It was really something. The excitement in the air was palpable, and the numerous crowd shots on all the channels, the joyous tears of the multitude, the shouts of glee, all were very moving.
It was a long time coming. A hard fought battle. And a battle won.
The future prognosis is guarded.
No one can say with any certainty what the situation will be like in the few months it will take for the transition. I was looking for signs before the election that the Busheviks were actually going to vacate the government they had for so long used and abused for their own selfish purposes and interests, and there were no such signs. Now they seem to be everywhere (though whether Darth Cheney will actually leave his undisclosed location is anyone's guess. Maybe he'll hole up there permanently with Holy Joe Lieberman and we'll just have to cement over the entrance.)
Bush is actually leaving. Or so it would seem. Good riddance. It won't be soon enough for millions around the world.
I saw Obama's press conference on the economy, thought he did OK, though he seemed to be somewhat halting in his responses to reporters' questions. Halting, and compared to the loquatiousness of so many presidential types, he was very brief. Mercifully so.
There's something very Zen about him.
And I think that he will surprise everyone.
This could be a good thing...
Sunday, November 2, 2008
They've gone totally off the rails, totally.
This whole notion that Obama is some kind of Marxist who will turn the nation into a Socialist/Communist/Maoist/Stalinist Hell has reached epic proportions among the wingnuts. George W Bush and Dick "I'll shoot you in the face" Cheney are more Marxist (not to mention totalitarian) than Obama has ever hinted at being.
And yet the wingnuts and their manipulators are constantly "arguing" -- if you want to call it that -- that Obama and Pelosi and Reid are some kind of Unholy Trinity who are eager to hand the nation over the the Soviet Union, to fly the Red Flag and parade around in Red Square.
(The last time I paraded around Red Square was at the University of Washington. Their Red Square is eminently paradeable.)
Is it complete lunacy or is it something else?
I'd sure like to see any, you know, evidence of Obama's Marxist orientation.
But that would be allowing reality to intrude on reverie.