Monday, August 23, 2010

End of Middle Class! RICH Again! Banksters Strike Back (Chase, et al.) Obamaniacs "Make Home Affordable" Scam - Fox News Out of Closet & GMOs Threaten

One more nail in the casket. Anyone got a ticket out (emphasis marks added - Ed.)? Cause I would surely like to borrow it.

On the Way Down

The Erosion of America's Middle Class

August 21, 2010

While America's super-rich congratulate themselves on donating billions to charity, the rest of the country is worse off than ever. Long-term unemployment is rising and millions of Americans are struggling to survive. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and the middle class is disappearing. Ventura is a small city on the Pacific coast, about an hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Luxury homes with a view of the ocean dot the hillsides, and the beaches are popular with surfers. Ventura is storybook California. "It's a well-off place," says Captain William Finley. "But about 20 percent of the city is what we call at risk of homelessness." Finley heads the local branch of the Salvation Army.

Last summer Ventura launched a pilot program, managed by Finley, that allows people to sleep in their cars within city limits. This is normally illegal, both in Ventura and in the rest of the country, where local officials and residents are worried about seeing run-down vans full of Mexican migrant workers parked on residential streets. But sometime at the beginning of last year, people in Ventura realized that the cars parked in front of their driveways at night weren't old wrecks, but well-tended station wagons and hatchbacks. And the people sleeping in them weren't fruit pickers or the homeless, but their former neighbors.

Finley also noticed a change. Suddenly twice as many people were taking advantage of his social service organization's free meals program, and some were even driving up in BMWs - apparently reluctant to give up the expensive cars that reminded them of better times.

Finley calls them "the new poor." "That is a different category of people that I think we're seeing," he says. "They are people who never in their wildest imaginations thought they would be homeless." They're people who had enough money - a lot of money, in some cases - until recently." The image of what is a poor person in today's day and age doesn't fly. When I was growing up a poor person, and we grew up fairly poor, you drove a 10-year-old car that probably had some dents in it. You know, there was one car for the family and you lived out of the food bank," says Finley. "In the past, you got yourself out of poverty and were on your way up."

. . . Today the American way is often headed in the opposite direction: downward. For a while, America seemed to have emerged relatively unscathed from the worst economic crisis in decades - with renewed vigor and energy - just as it had done in the wake of past crises.The government was announcing new economic growth figures by as early as last fall, much earlier than expected. The banks, moribund until recently, were back to earning billions. Companies nationwide are reporting strong growth, and the stock market has almost returned to it pre-crisis levels. Even the number of billionaires grew by a healthy 17 percent in 2009.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and 40 other billionaires pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy, either while still alive or after death. Is America a country so blessed with affluence that it can afford to give away billions, just like that?

Growing Resentment

Gates' move could also be interpreted as a PR campaign, in a country where the super-rich sense that although they are profiting from the crisis, as was to be expected, the number of people adversely affected has grown enormously. They also sense that there is growing resentment in American society against those at the top.

For people in the lower income brackets, the recovery already seems to be falling apart. Experts fear that the US economy could remain weak for many years to come. And despite the many government assistance programs, the small amount of hope they engender has yet to be felt by the general public. On the contrary, for many people things are still headed dramatically downward.

According to a recent opinion poll, 70 percent of Americans believe that the recession is still in full swing. And this time it isn't just the poor who are especially hard-hit, as they usually are during recessions.

This time the recession is also affecting well-educated people who had been earning a good living until now. These people, who see themselves as solidly middle-class, now feel more threatened than ever before in the country's history. Four out of 10 Americans who consider themselves part of this class believe that they will be unable to maintain their social status.

Unemployment Persists

In a recent cover story titled "So long, middle class," the New York Post presented its readers with "25 statistics that prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America." . . . In fact, the United States, in the wake of a real estate, financial economic and now debt crisis, which it still hasn't overcome, is threatened by a social Ice Age more severe than anything the country has seen since the Great Depression. The United States is experiencing the problem of long-term unemployment for the first time since World War II. The number of the long-term unemployed is already three times as high as it was during any crisis in the past, and it is still rising.

More than a year after the official end of the recession, the overall unemployment rate remains consistently above 9.5 percent. But this is just the official figure. When adjusted to include the people who have already given up looking for work or are barely surviving on the few hundred dollars they earn with a part-time job and are using up their savings, the real unemployment figure jumps to more than 17 percent.

In its current annual report, the US Department of Agriculture notes that "food insecurity" is on the rise, and that 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy enough food to stay healthy at some point last year. One in eight American adults and one in four children now survive on government food stamps. These are unbelievable numbers for the world's richest nation.

Part 2: Where Did All the Money Go?

The boom in stocks and real estate, the country's wild borrowing spree and its excessive consumer spending have long masked the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans derived almost no benefit from 30 years of economic growth. In 1978, the average per capita income for men in the United States was $45,879 (about €35,570). The same figure for 2007, adjusted for inflation, was $45,113 (€35,051).

Where did all the money go? All the enormous market gains and corporate earnings, the profits from the boom in the financial markets and the 110-percent increase in the gross national product in the last 30 years? It went to those who had always had more than enough already.

While 90 percent of Americans have seen only modest gains in their incomes since 1973, incomes have almost tripled for people at the upper end of the scale. In 1979, one third of the profits the country produced went to the richest 1 percent of American society. Today it's almost 60 percent. In 1950, the average corporate CEO earned 30 times as much as an ordinary worker. Today it's 300 times as much. And today 1 percent of Americans own 37 percent of the total national wealth. Income inequality in the United States is greater today than it has been since the 1920s, except that hardly anyone has minded until now.

Turning Out the Lights

As a result, many state and local governments are faced with enormous budget deficits. In Hawaii, for example, schools are closed on some Fridays to save the state money. A county in Georgia has eliminated all public bus services. Colorado Springs, a city of 380,000 people, has shut off a third of its streetlights to save electricity.

There are many discrepancies in America in the wake of the financial crisis. On the one hand, the Fed is constantly printing fresh money, and the government spent $182 billion to bail out a single company, the insurance giant AIG. On the other hand, the lights are in fact going out in some areas, because Washington, citing the need to reduce spending, is unwilling to provide local governments with financial assistance. "America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere," economist (Paul)Krugman warns.

Please read on for more of the same (like we need any more of this type news (we do actually)).

Paul Krugman says Now That's Rich today. And it is, friends, it certainly is (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

23 August 10

We need to pinch pennies these days. Don't you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What - you haven't heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I'm talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

. . . there’s a real chance that Republicans will get what they want. That’s a demonstration, if anyone needed one, that our political culture has become not just dysfunctional but deeply corrupt.

What’s at stake here? According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to following the Obama proposal, would cost the federal government $680 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the sake of comparison, it took months of hard negotiations to get Congressional approval for a mere $26 billion in desperately needed aid to state and local governments.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year.

And no one dares to argue the benefits of the "trickle down" theory anymore. Just too ludicrous. Humor from a seemingly-proud-to-be-a-corrupt-and-ignorant civilization. Imagine the level of education of people who buy this. And will fight you over its veracity.

Not at all surprising news below considering the depths to which the banksters have dived in search of new (drowning already this time) fools. Too bad it's poor Ted Rall on the receiving end (and thousands of others with no names yet).

The Banksters Strike Again Chase Bank and Obama's "Make Home Affordable" Scam By Ted Rall August 21, 2010


It isn't surprising, what with the world falling apart and all, that the world scarcely noticed that I lost my job as an editor in April 2009. Why should it? I was one of millions of Americans who lost their job that month.

But it mattered to me. It wasn't all bad. No more early morning commutes. And no more Lisa. Lisa was my boss. My mean boss. My mean and crazy boss. In the long run, I stand to save thousands of dollars on therapy.

In the meantime, however, one visit with HR cost more than half my annual income. (My ex-employer, the Scripps media conglomerate, offered just four weeks severance pay - if I agreed not to work as a journalist for the rest of my life. Needless to say, I refused.) Just like that, I was broke.

The bills, of course, kept coming. Including my home mortgage. Unlike many people, I was conservative. When I bought, in 2004, I put down more than 50 percent of the purchase price. Refusing an adjustable-rate mortgage, I took out a vanilla 30-year fixed-rate mortgage from Chase Home Finance LLC. My monthly nut, a combined payment of $2200 for the loan plus local property tax, didn't seem so bad in '04. But property taxes went up. Now I'm shelling out over $2700 - on half the income. I'm still making my payments on time, but only by borrowing from a home equity line of credit.

I'm not in foreclosure. But it's easy to see how, if this keeps up, I will be. The credit line isn't limitless. The more I borrow, the higher my payments on that. My cash flow is a disaster. So I asked Chase for help.

Responding to political pressure to cut distressed homeowners a break, the big banks who destroyed global capitalism in 2008 - including Chase - agreed to the Obama Administration's request to create a program to assist distressed homeowners. The result was "Make Home Affordable." (Nice name.)

From Chase's website: "No matter what your individual situation is, you may have options. Whether you want to stay in your home or sell it, we may be able to help." Key word: "May." Translation: "May" = "Won't."

As I can now attest from personal experience, "Make Home Affordable" is a scam. MHA is cited by bank ads as evidence that they get it, that their "greed is good" days are over, that we don't need to nationalize the sons of bitches and ship them off to reeducation labor camps.

In reality, it exists solely to give banks like Chase political cover. They deliberately give homeowners the runaround, dragging out the process so they can foreclose. As of the end of 2009, only four percent of applicants received any help. By June 2010 the vast majority of that "lucky" four percent had lost their homes anyway - because the amount of relief they got was too small.

Read on for the full sad story of what Chase and many others have been set up to do to us now (by our own people?) that is surely illegal fraud (and totally unethical, immoral, but not fattening).

And then Mike Whitney gives us the figures once again detailing exactly how screwed the lower classes (including most of the middle class now) in the U.S. are.

Frozen in the Headlights

The Economy is in Big Trouble

By Mike Whitney

August 21, 2010

The personal savings rate has risen to 6.4%. When households save, consumer spending declines and GDP shrinks. The reduction in economic activity can have serious knock-on effects. It can lead to more layoffs as investment sputters as aggregate demand flags. If the downturn persists, asset prices and wages fall leading to tighter credit, deflation and a deepening slump. The good news is that the problem can be fixed. The government merely needs to increase the deficits to satisfy the net savings desires of the private sector. In other words, the government needs to fill the hole created by the lack of personal consumption. That's all it takes to keep people employed, reduce the output gap, and avoid much of the pain from economic contraction. When the economy returns to trend, government revenues increase and the budget deficits shrink. This isn't theory; it's the way the system works.

Stimulus works because stimulus means spending. Spending IS economic activity, so (by necessity) it increases GDP. Whether it is 'wise' to increase the budget deficits or not is immaterial. That depends on one's own political orientation. But the fact is, stimulus works.The economy is not effected by our opinions or our political orientation. It's a system. It functions according to the rules which govern its operation. Investment and spending are the lubricants that keep the gears in motion.

The economy does not distinguish between public and private spending. It's all the same. If spending and investment are sufficient to generate growth, then the economy will grow. If spending and investment dry up, the economy will grind to a halt. Either way, the economy is merely responding to the amount of stimulus feeding into the system. Policymakers - the Fed and congress - have now decided to cut off additional stimulus even though the economy is still weak and all the data has been revised downwards.

Conservatives in the House and Senate believe that the budget deficits are too large and that the government must slash spending. Thus, the economy - which everyone agrees is weak - is being further battered by the muddled thinking of ideologues. This is politics; it has nothing to do with economics.

The opponents of stimulus don't believe that the government should meddle in the markets. They think the Fed should allow asset prices to tumble, unemployment to skyrocket, and financial markets to crash. The liquidationist approach is principled, but shortsighted. There's no need to let the economy crash when steps can be taken to soften the blow. The government has the means to support the economy until the private sector repairs its balance sheet and resumes spending.

Here's an excerpt from economist Richard Koo in "The Economist" which helps to explain what needs to be done: "The next move for the Fed, a long overdue one in my view, should be to announce that the US is afflicted with a balance sheet recession, a rare disease that strikes only after the bursting of a nationwide debt-financed asset price bubble. With its asset prices collapsing while its liabilities remain, the private sector is forced to deleverage or minimize debt even with zero interest rates in order to repair its battered balance sheets. The Fed should explain that in this type of recession, monetary policy is largely ineffective because those with negative equity are not interested in increasing borrowings at any interest rate.

The Fed’s continued failure to explain the exact nature of the disease only increases the public’s expectations for monetary policy which could lead to a big disappointment later with an equally serious loss of credibility for the central bank.

Moreover, during balance sheet recessions the effectiveness of monetary policy actually depends on the government’s fiscal policy. This is because when the private sector is deleveraging, money supply shrinks as bank deposits are withdrawn to pay down debt. The only way to keep money supply from shrinking is for the public sector to borrow money.

Read on for more short-term presciptives that will let the air out of the hot-air balloons (if our rulers only cared). And Fox, of course, is now out of the closet. (Fancy that!)

The Young Turks - Fox News finally made it official. They are part and parcel of the Republican Party. They are now the largest donors to the Republican Governors Association, having given them $1 million dollars. They also employ three out of the top four Republicans in the Iowa Caucus Poll for GOP presidential candidates. As I explain here, now that Fox News has come out of the closet, it's hard to distinguish where Fox News ends and the Republican Party begins: But there is one more factor here. It's not just that Fox News has a point of view. Many publications and shows have a certain perspective as well, whether it's conservative or liberal. It's that Fox News does propaganda. What's the difference?

They don't just have a perspective, they have an agenda. And they drive that agenda until their political goals are met. So, they don't just do the so-called Ground Zero Mosque story on one or two shows randomly depending on the host's interests. They all do it. Their talk show hosts do the story. Their so-called news anchors do the story. They do it 24-7 until it spreads to the other cable news stations, and then thereby spreads into the whole media.

That's not a coincidence, that's a well thought out strategy. And it works like a charm. So, for example, people are confused as to why the Democrats always seem to get slammed in the summers. That's because Congress is in recess, there is a news void and Fox fills that void with whatever propaganda they have decided will incite fear and loathing at that time. So, last summer it was death panels and Tea Parties. This summer it's the "Ground Zero Mosque."

And next summer it'll be something else, but here are the elements I guarantee it will have - a story that is covered non-stop, an incendiary topic that gets people talking, something that either stokes fear and/or hatred and involves a charge based on almost no facts. That's the formula. Watch, come back to this article next August and you will see that's exactly what happened again. The rest of the media is putty in Fox News' hands. So easy to manipulate and control. Don't get me wrong, this happens year around, too. It's just that the summer is their killing fields because of the dearth of other political stories. And how about the poor Democrats that are the victims of this propaganda machine? They are so clueless and feckless that it's almost hard to feel sorry for them. You begin to feel contempt. Is anyone ever going to fight back against this machine?

Do you people even know what's happening to you? The longer the Democrats and the rest of the media treat Fox News as a legitimate "news station," the longer this will happen. And then everyone will sit around confused about how such a large percentage of the country could think Obama is a Muslim, or that ACORN stole the election for Obama or that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11. They will wonder how these demonstrably false stories could get so much traction. All the while as the Fox News propaganda machine hums in the background. Four commenters provide further light:

mickperry: Murdoch does this everywhere he goes. Fox News might be the jewel in his crown, but lesser 'gems' like the New York Post and the UK Sun newspapers complement the process. They also serve to cultivate mass ignorance, hatred and fear, while at the same time extending his own personal agenda. He has tapped into a very dark side of human nature, and exploited it to the full. DRAGON: JUST WONDERING ? How is it that the ultra right wing nationalists, flag waving, Christian pontificators of Manifest Destiny, Nascar lovin folks that watch cars going around in "right"-hand circles ... religiously watch a TV network that is owned and operated by a FOREIGNER who is a global WORLD GOVERNMENT ADVOCATE ? ? ? There must be something in the water!! Beiruti:

Dear Dragon, I watched Bowling for Columbine, again, last night and there is your answer. Yes, it is "water", if we use it as a proxy term for social support. Yanks are always angry and stressed because they have no certainty in their lives. If a Yank develops a serious illness then it may bankrupt him or her. There is no guaranteed pension, no social benefits, no trust in fellow man and .... you get angry and frustrated. Of course, people on the top operate differently. They seek power for the sole purpose of power. That is why they are more than happy to send those in the bottom to do the dirty work in the military. Throw in the Israeli-firsters and you have an exploding mix: dumb ignorant masses who have no certainty and no promise in their lives, controlled by powerful elite who are Israeli firsters. Rupert Murdoch just loves that formula. powwow:

I'm rereading Washington's Farewell Address. The first time was just too mind boggling. To think how well those founders knew what was to come if their warnings within the Constitution were ignored, thereby dismantled is a slap in the face of a catatonic population, an exercise in futility. Read it anyway, and see how America was lost.

And then we must consider Genetically Manipulated Crops: The GMO Catastrophe in the USA. A Lesson for the World. Been thinking about what's made us so sick (and fat) lately? And why business had been pushing limits on suits for the last 20 years? My family has its first cancer in two generations - and it's a doozy.

Take heed. This is our final warning.

Global Research

August 18, 2010

Recently the unelected potentates of the EU Commission in Brussels have sought to override what has repeatedly been shown to be the overwhelming opposition of the European Union population to the spread of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in EU agriculture. EU Commission President now has a Maltese accountant as Health and Environment Commissioner to rubber stamp the adoption of GMO. The former EU Environment Commissioner from Greece was a ferocious GMO opponent. As well, the Chinese government has indicated it may approve a variety of GMO rice. Before things get too far along, they would do well to take a closer look at the world GMO test lab, the USA. There GMO crops are anything but beneficial. Just the opposite. What is carefully kept out of the Monsanto and other agribusiness propaganda in promoting genetically manipulated crops as an alternative to conventional is the fact that in the entire world until the present, all GMO crops have been manipulated and patented for only two things — to be resistant or “tolerant” to the patented highly toxic herbicide glyphosate chemicals that Monsanto and the others force farmers to buy as condition for buying their patented GMO seeds. The second trait is GMO seeds that have been engineered genetically to resist specific insects. Contrary to public relations myths promoted by the agribusiness giants in their own self-interest, there exists not oné single GMO seed that provides a greater harvest yield than conventional, nor one that requires less toxic chemical herbicides. That is for the simple reason there is no profit to be made in such.

Giant super-weeds plague

As prominent GMO opponent and biologist, Dr Mae-Wan Ho of the Institute of Science in London has noted, companies such as Monsanto build into their seeds herbicide-tolerance (HT) due to glyphosate-insensitive form of the gene coding for the enzyme targeted by the herbicide. The enzyme is derived from soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Insect-resistance is due to one or more toxin genes derived from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).

The United States began large scale commercial planting of GMO plants, mainly soybeans and corn and cotton around 1997. By now, GM crops have taken over between 85 percent to 91 percent of the areas planted with the three major crops, soybean, corn and cotton in the US, on nearly 171 million acres. The ecological time-bomb that came with the GMO according to Ho, is about to explode. Over several years of constant application of patented glyphosate herbicides such as Monsanto’s famous . . . Roundup, new herbicide-resistant “super-weeds” have evolved, nature’s response to man-made attempts to violate it. The super-weeds require significantly more not less herbicide to control. ABC Television, a major US national network, made a recent documentary about the super-weeds under the rubric, “super weeds that can’t be killed.”[1]

They interviewed farmers and scientists across Arkansas who described fields overrun with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate as farmers are able to spray. They interviewed one farmer who spent almost €400000 in only three months in a failed attempt to kill the new super-weeds. The new super-weeds are so robust that harvester combines are unable to harvest the fields and hand tools break trying to cut them down. At least 400000 hectares of soybean and cotton in Arkansas alone have become invested with this new mutant biological plague. Detailed data on other agricultural regions is not available but believed similar. The pro-GMO and pro-agribusiness US Department of Agriculture has been reported lying about the true state of US crop harvest partly to hide the grim reality and to prevent an explosive revolt against GMO in the world’s largest GMO market.

Read on for the rest of the revolting (should be an incentive to do such) news.

Suzan _______________


BuelahMan said...

I joined you today. Was fired. not becaue I was a bad employee but becuase od rewstructuring.

I'm drunk and don'tgive a fuck about spellingscrinsca

Suzan said...


First me, then Driftglass, then Busted, then you . . . and how many others who are too ashamed to raise their voices about the direction a country takes when it gets rid of the people who are most talented (and hard working) in favor of the people who are cheap (when they think this will help them hold on by their fingernails a little bit longer) as we all join the debris at the bottom of the toilet bowl?

Hang on to your life! (h/t Burton Cummings and Kurt Winter of The Guess Who - one of my favorites)

Love you (and don't stop being your old infuriated-at-the-powers-that-be self - it will help you hang on),


Hang On To Your Life!

Thinkin’ ‘bout the people gone by
Screamin’ that I don’t wanna die
You can push your head
But don’t you push it too far...

Thinkin’ ‘bout it’s here and it’s real
Wonderin’ how I really should feel
You can sell your soul
But don’t you sell it too cheap...

Hang on to your life
Hang on to your life

Thinkin’ ‘bout betraying a friend
Thinkin’ ‘bout delaying the end
You can ride the wind
But don’t you ride it too high...

Hang on to your life....

(Spoken, from Psalm 22)

They gaped upon me with their mouths
As a ravening and a roaring lion
I am poured out like water
And all my bones are out of joint:
My heart is like wax
It is melted in the midst of my bowels
My strength is dried up like a potsherd
And my tongue cleaveth to my jaws
And thou hast brought me into the dust of death.


Mr. Natural said...

Good post - seriously, though, too bad it is so true and so awful. We (planet Earth's inhabitants) are in such deep shit, that I seriously doubt if we could dig our way out even if Mr. Democratic Party President Obama were giving out free shovels.
There are so many awful scenarios playing out today, right before our eyes. Many loud, ignorant groups distract and obfuscate the unpleasant truth, including, I am sad to say, the Democrats.
I had so hoped for a leader with vision and ability.

Did you say Busted lost his job? I guess I better get over to the ornery one's blog and see what the fuck is going on. I stopped by his work one time on the way into Portland with a large (for my little Ranger pickup) load of scrap - he's one of the good guys.

"Where did all the money go? All the enormous market gains and corporate earnings, the profits from the boom in the financial markets and the 110-percent increase in the gross national product in the last 30 years? It went to those who had always had more than enough already."


Suzan said...

You are speaking to/for me, sweetheart.

I was writing back in the 80's about where the money had gone and no one seemed to be even interested then. And it certainly had started then, witness Raygun having to pass the bill with the minor tax increases in it (and Bush I getting into trouble with the real Tea Baggers (his rightwingnuts) then doing the same to stop the enormous increase in the deficit - which continued without pausing anyway).

Kinda reminds you of Arnie in CA doesn't it? (Lightbulbs, anyone?)

There are so many awful scenarios playing out today, right before our eyes. Many loud, ignorant groups distract and obfuscate the unpleasant truth, including, I am sad to say, the Democrats.

I had so hoped for a leader with vision and ability.

And the Tea Baggers are organized because they know they need to make a lot of noise to confuse the real victims.

Mark my words - it will go down in history as such.

And our people are either so "dumbed down" already about their own plights or sold on the fascism that when the knock on the door comes, it won't be a paddy wagon for them but instead will be the Publishers' Clearing House.

Love ya,