(Personal Note: As a last ditch effort (possibly, seeing the way things are going on the jobs front in NC today) to keep head above water, please consider a special Labor Day contribution (if you have the extra income) to this blog's continued operation. Thank you for your past support. Peace and love to all.)
PK comes through as usual.
Happy Labor Day.
September 1, 2013
By Paul Krugman
It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect for labor.
Here’s how it happened: In 1894 Pullman workers, facing wage cuts in the wake of a financial crisis, went on strike — and Grover Cleveland deployed 12,000 soldiers to break the union. He succeeded, but using armed force to protect the interests of property was so blatant that even the Gilded Age was shocked. So Congress, in a lame attempt at appeasement, unanimously passed legislation symbolically honoring the nation’s workers.
It’s all hard to imagine now. Not the bit about financial crisis and wage cuts — that’s going on all around us. Not the bit about the state serving the interests of the wealthy — look at who got bailed out, and who didn’t, after our latter-day version of the Panic of 1893. No, what’s unimaginable now is that Congress would unanimously offer even an empty gesture of support for workers’ dignity. For the fact is that many of today’s politicians can’t even bring themselves to fake respect for ordinary working Americans.
Consider, for example, how Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, marked Labor Day last year: with a Twitter post declaring “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yep, he saw Labor Day as an occasion to honor business owners.
More broadly, consider the ever-widening definition of those whom conservatives consider parasites. Time was when their ire was directed at bums on welfare. But even at the program’s peak, the number of Americans on “welfare” — Aid to Families With Dependent Children — never exceeded about 5 percent of the population. And that program’s far less generous successor, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, reaches less than 2 percent of Americans.
Yet even as the number of Americans on what we used to consider welfare has declined, the number of citizens the right considers “takers” rather than “makers” — people of whom Mitt Romney complained, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives” — has exploded, to encompass almost half the population.
And the great majority of this newly defined army of moochers consists of working families that don’t pay income taxes but do pay payroll taxes (most of the rest are elderly).
How can someone who works for a living be considered the moral equivalent of a bum on welfare? Well, part of the answer is that many people on the right engage in word games: they talk about how someone doesn’t pay income taxes, and hope that their listeners fail to notice the word “income” and forget about all the other taxes lower-income working Americans pay.
But it is also true that modern America, while it has pretty much eliminated traditional welfare, does have other programs designed to help the less well-off — notably the earned-income tax credit, food stamps and Medicaid. The majority of these programs’ beneficiaries are either children, the elderly or working adults — this is true by definition for the tax credit, which only supplements earned income, and turns out in practice to be true of the other programs.
So if you consider someone who works hard trying to make ends meet, but also gets some help from the government, a “taker,” you’re going to have contempt for a very large number of American workers and their families.
Oh, and just wait until Obamacare kicks in, and millions more working Americans start receiving subsidies to help them purchase health insurance.
You might ask why we should provide any aid to working Americans — after all, they aren’t completely destitute. But the fact is that economic inequality has soared over the past few decades, and while a handful of people have stratospheric incomes, a far larger number of Americans find that no matter how hard they work, they can’t afford the basics of a middle-class existence — health insurance in particular, but even putting food on the table can be a problem.
Saying that they can use some help shouldn’t make us think any less of them, and it certainly shouldn’t reduce the respect we grant to anyone who works hard and plays by the rules.
But obviously that’s not the way everyone sees it. In particular, there are evidently a lot of wealthy people in America who consider anyone who isn’t wealthy a loser — an attitude that has clearly gotten stronger as the gap between the 1 percent and everyone else has widened. And such people have a lot of friends in Washington.
So, this time around will we be hearing anything from Mr. Cantor and his colleagues suggesting that they actually do respect people who work for a living? Maybe. But the one thing we’ll know for sure is that they don’t mean it._ _ _ _ _ _ _
I keep asking myself if President Obama saw no reason to consult with Congress prior to Great Britain's refusal to join the Syria strike coalition (actually it's a constitutional necessity that he do so before making war on foreign countries), with whom was he consulting (and shouldn't the citizenry know who's more important than their Congressional representatives)?
By Michael Payne
The vast majority of the American people are solidly against this president launching an attack on Syria. If this president dismisses the will of the people and violates articles of the Constitution that grant specific authority to initiate war solely to the U.S. Congress, then the question is, will impeachment follow?
By Mark Weisbrot
No one had put forth any military or security reason for the rush to attack; no one claimed that speed was essential or even relevant to saving any lives. Rather, it now seems, the urge to shoot first and ask questions later was driven by the need to carry out this illegal attack before the public, and their representatives in national and international bodies, could weigh in.
From my buddy, Mark Crispin Miller we get the insidest of the inside news:
And in other interesting news . . .
Israeli Licence to Cheney-Linked Energy Firm on Golan Heights Raises Eyebrows
"The company is a local subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd. The Strategic Advisory Board of another subsidiary, Genie Oil and Gas, includes former Vice President Dick Cheney, media magnate Rupert Murdoch, and former Republican Rep. Jim Courter." "The granting of the licence by Israel's Ministry of Energy and Water Resources, which was initially reported by Dow Jones Thursday, comes amidst continuing civil war in Syria, which has demanded the return of the Heights since Israel took them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War."
The world is not going to bail out Washington, now universally hated, with currency swaps, more loans, and foreign aid. Americans are going to pay heavily for their negligence, their inattention, their unconcern, and their ignorant belief that nothing can go wrong for them and that anything that does is temporary.
Two decades of jobs offshoring has left the US with a third world labor force employed in lowly paid domestic non-tradable services, a workforce comparable to India's of 40 years ago. Already the "world's sole superpower" is afflicted with a large percentage of its population dependent on government welfare for survival. As the economy closes down, the government's ability to meet the rising demands of survival diminishes. The rich will demand that the poor be sacrificed in the interest of the rich. And the political parties will comply.
Is this the reason that Homeland Security, a Nazi Gestapo institution, now has a large and growing para-military force equipped with tanks, drones, and billions of rounds of ammunition?
How long will it be before American citizens are shot down in their streets by "their" government as occurs frequently in Washington's close allies in Egypt, Turkey, Bahrain?
Surely the following cannot be true. Not in the land of always-right make believe.
(Although it surely seems like it has a pretty good basis in reality.)
By Paul Craig Roberts
(about the author) Permalink
A foolish President Obama and moronic Secretary of State Kerry have handed the United States government its worst diplomatic defeat in history and destroyed the credibility of the Office of the President, the Department of State, and the entire executive branch.
Intoxicated with hubris from past successful lies and deceptions used to destroy Iraq and Libya, Obama thought the US "superpower," the "exceptional" and "indispensable" country, could pull it off again, this time in Syria.
But the rest of the world has learned to avoid Washington's rush to war when there is no evidence. A foolish Obama was pushed far out on the limb by an incompetent and untrustworthy National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, and the pack of neoconservatives that support her, and the British Parliament cut the limb off.
What kind of fool would put himself in that vulnerable position?
Read it all here.
Western Pathological Liars Hold World To Ransom
Pathological liars can't help themselves even when they sound ridiculous. Washington, London and Paris are telling the world that they are preparing a "carefully calibrated" blitz on Syria to "save civilians" and not aimed at "regime change." Just like in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali where the West is conducting "humanitarian work." The lunatics are indeed in charge of the asylum.
By Robert Parry
A Dodgy Dossier on Syrian War
President George W. Bush misled the world on Iraq's WMD, but Bush's bogus case for war at least had details that could be checked, unlike what the Obama administration released Friday on Syria's alleged chemical attacks - no direct quotes, no photographic evidence, no named sources, nothing but "trust us."
By Norman Solomon
While Cameron Defers to Parliament, Obama Locks into Warfare State of Mind
Some progressive groups and members of Congress have focused on urging that Congress get to vote - or at least play a role - in the decision on whether to bomb Syria. But we should not imply that we'll be satisfied as long as the matter comes to a congressional vote. Time is very short we should cut through the preliminaries and get to the point: No attack on Syria!
By Alan Grayson
We Are Not the World's Policeman
A possible U.S. attack on Syria is in the news, and on people's minds today. Here is what Congressman Alan Grayson had to say about it, in an interview on national radio this morning.
Wealth Distribution in America, Graphically Shown
The distribution of wealth in America. If you thought you knew what it was, or wanted to know, you'll find this short video rather astounding.