Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Grand Bargain Hoax

The Campaign to Fix the Debt, the $40 million dollar astroturf “supergroup” that CMD exposed on the cover of the Nation magazine, and other Billionaires, have shifted into high gear in an effort to leverage the debt ceiling crisis into cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Via Mark Fiore and PR Watch.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New York City | This Must Be The Place

Is there anything that some of the wealthiest 1% of Americans aren't doing to ruin this country?

According to one of my favorite Talking Heads, David Byrne, New York City is in danger of losing what remains of its creative soul as the wealthiest one percent usurp the cultural resources that once made the city "a repository of ideas and information".

As quoted by David in Rolling Stone Magazine -

"The cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top one percent."

As the "arty types" have had increasing difficulty finding jobs, the rich financiers have taken over.

Byrne notes their monetary contributions to civic institutions such as museums and symphony halls. "But it's like funding your own clubhouse," he writes. "It doesn't exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don't pay taxes – that we know."

But, David Byrne isn't the only NYC creative artist that can be found complaining about the problem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

About The Government Shutdown

The criminals running the show and playing their games have no sympathy for ordinary Americans.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inequality for All | Robert Reich

Just watched Robert Reich's documentary, Inequality for All, at the Camelview theater in Scottsdale.

Before I give my own personal review of this movie, let me state Dr. Reich's objective in creating this documentary beforehand. According an excerpt from the film's website -

We’re in the biggest economic slump since the Great Depression, and we can’t seem to get out of it. Why? Because, exactly as in the 1920s, so much of the nation’s income and wealth are going to the top, that the vast middle class doesn’t have the purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Until we can take a step back and understand the big picture, we can’t do anything to get ourselves out of this mess. Our democracy as we know it depends on it. I’m an educator. I love the classroom. But I also write books, appear on television and on the radio, and do everything else I can do to help people understand the economic truth. It’s my life’s work and it’s more important than ever.

One of the best ways to help people understand the challenges we face, is with a movie that can grab an audience and move them to action. And this movie will do exactly that.

With that in mind, this documentary did exactly what Dr. Reich said it would do.

It explained the big picture of our country's current economic crisis, how we got here, what's causing the widening inequality in America, and provides a generalized optimistic point of view that the 99% of us can overcome the serious threat that our democracy faces from the 1%.

You can't help but like Dr. Reich, especially since he's on the side of the people. He's a captivating and knowledgeable educator, with a self-deprecating sense of humor, but serious about his mission. He's an unfailing optimist and great motivator for positive change, and this film will show that.

Not that it's a bad thing, but be aware, Inequality for All also serves as a personal narrative about Dr. Reich. The film includes many personal introspects into Dr. Reich's life, from his youth through his time serving as Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration, and his legacy since.

Dr. Reich also didn't venture into any specifics on how to fix our economic problems and the widening inequality gap, instead deferring potential solutions to the young people that he's trying to motivate. His basis for optimism is America's prior history with inequality at the beginning of the 20th Century (Progressive Era), and the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s. We've done it before, so we can do it again.

I liked the documentary. If there was one negative to it, it was Dr. Reich's one-sided view of the Clinton Administration's accomplishments, citing many of its positive contributions to the economy without including President Clinton's political failings, which contributed to causing the Great Recession and what's happened since. However, you can't fault the guy for trying to do his old friend/boss a solid.

Because I keep up with these things on a daily basis, am already familiar with Dr. Reich's work, and already understand the big picture, I would give Inequality for All a rating of 6/10. I found it to be more of a documentary about the author himself, instead of a film that provides any specifics into fixing our decaying economic and political systems. I failed to read the film's objective beforehand.

In essence, what the good professor is saying through this documentary is basically the same thing that I've been saying for years myself - that the only way to change things is for the people to band together as one voice, and act out against these injustices. He's confidently optimistic that we will.

Unfortunately though, like my other hero points out, I think that we're still too fat and happy.

Until Americans can get our heads out of the cellphones that make us pancakes and rub our balls, nothing is going to change. And it doesn't seem as though inequality has inflicted enough pain upon the middle class just yet. We need our balls to be squeezed in order for change to occur.

To be fair about my rating, if you're not someone who frequently keeps up with these type of things, then you'll probably find Inequality for All an enlightening, educating, motivating, and enjoyably entertaining film, and probably rate it higher. Go see it and decide for yourself. Here's the trailer -

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Costs of Extreme Inequality

I just finished reading Joseph E. Stiglitz's investigative tome about the increasing rise of inequality in America, The Price of Inequality. Professor Stiglitz was the economist credited for first coining the phrase "The 1 Percent", in regards to describing the upper 1% of wealthiest Americans topping of the economic pyramid. Occupy Wall Street coined the term "The 99 Percent" to refer to the rest of us.

If there is just one book that 100% of Americans should read in order to gain a better understanding the causes behind our increasing economic inequality in easy-to-read, non-economist terminology, The Price of Inequality is it. It's a clear, concise, and a well-referenced explanation about how today's divided society endangers our future. Get out there and read it! It's even available at your library.

Of course, Professor Stiglitz wouldn't produce a book describing and documenting the 1% problem without also providing potential solutions to help fix the problem, and to create a more equal society.

But it's been just over a year since this book was published and I haven't noticed our political leaders doing anything to reverse the widening gap. As a matter of fact, Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley (pdf), and Annie Lowrey at Economix Blog, say that economic inequality is getting even worse.

Professor Stiglitz even described it himself earlier this year that the problem has also worsened since he published his book. So, like Professor Stiglitz says, "is there hope?"

Personally, I'm not too optimistic. Like the recently-released documentary Four Horsemen describes, perhaps we've reached a point of no return, and that our society is destined for revolution and change. Here's the trailer. You can watch the entire documentary online at Renegade Economist.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Join Together With The Band

You know, I'm just some everyday American, an average Joe. But even I can see that America has a serious problem on it's hands with the ever-increasing polarization of wealth.

I don't have all of the answers to fix the serious problem I see with the 99% of Americans continuing to be marginalized by the moneyed-interests of the other 1% of Americans sitting at the top of the economic pyramid. I don't know how to specifically change things, but I do know that I'm upset with the deteriorating democratic situation for most Americans.

What I also know, is that we've reached a point where if we majority of Americans don't join forces to fight against this growing unfairness and economic inequality in America, then we're doomed to be continually marginalized forever.

But how do we find people to believe in? How can we tell who's on our side? Many of us Progressives believed in Barack Obama and his promises of "hope and change" only to be disappointed when things remained the same (or deteriorated) after his elections, and the criminals remained in charge.

We've spent the last 5-years of our lives expecting things to change for the better only to watch the 1% gain even more wealth and power, while our political representation has disappeared, our standard of living has declined, and our Constitutional rights have eroded even further.

It's obvious to me that our political (and judicial) system has been captured by the 1%.

So what do we do? Do we keep voting for corrupted politicians who serve the corporate interests, that both the GOP and Democratic parties keep throwing at us, or do we seek to find "new and improved" leaders to represent us that aren't part of the corrupted political establishment? Where do we find such leadership? Who can we trust to serve our interests without compromise, and to affect change?

Again, I don't know. But what I do know is that first - We Need To Unite!

And someone much politically smarter than me thinks the same.

According to the New York Times, Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., has a bold new plan to reverse organized labor’s long slide in America: let millions of nonunion workers — and perhaps environmental, immigrant and other advocacy groups — join the labor federation.

That sounds like a great solution to me, or at least the beginning of change.

According to that same article, Mr. Trumka says he believes that if unions are having a difficult time increasing their ranks, they can at least restore their clout by building a broad coalition to advance a worker-friendly political and economic agenda. And according to me, who's to say that clout can't be used to serve the agenda of the majority of Americans?

Maybe we should put our faith in Mr. Trumka. WHO knows? We 99% could band together as one.