Thursday, August 11, 2011

World at a Tipping Point

While this extra hot summer appears to be adding to the problem it can feel some days as though we are all losing our senses. Maybe it is the heat-maybe it is living in Washington but the US seems right now to reflect the world's self destructive mood as its leaders failed to rise to the challenge of the time and focus on the right issues--job creation and not short term deficit reduction. Perhaps it takes an outsider like former PM Gordon Brown writing an op ed in the Washington Post to nail just how bad the latest US debt deal was:

"At the core of Washington’s debt decision last week were four “no-go” areas for policy: no more taxes, no more stimulus, no more public investment and no more cuts or increases in entitlement spending. Under these politically imposed constraints, growth from consumer spending and public investment is blocked off. With little chance of private-sector investment in a stagnant home market, America has locked itself into a low-growth cycle for years to come."

We did it to ourselves and now the only hope for the global recovery--that stands in the way of the double dip recession that the debt crazed Republicans seem to have welcomed with their threats of bringing about default if their demands were not met (is this is the only strategy they can come up with to defeat Obama in 2012 one wonders?)
Gordon Brown's solution is --"to export our way to growth"--which is exactly the strategy of every other country--in the world--including China, Germany, and the rest. We cannot all export without someone importing all the stuff we produce and that is why Brown hangs his hopes on the G-20 meeting later in the year coming out with some kind of grand bargain, but:

".. without a grand plan, the “export or die” strategies look like a zero-sum game..Is it possible to find a pathway to balanced, sustainable growth in a world that cannot sign a global trade agreement or a climate-change agreement (despite the fact that it would have stimulated billions of trade in renewables) and where the instincts of protectionism and nationalism are far more powerful forces than the imperative for global cooperation?"

We have to hope that the world that has been driven near to the brink by greedy bankers and their aiders and abetters among the political class will finally come to their senses. The media has to stop playing court to spin doctors and rise to the challenge of explaining to people the stakes since the politicians seem incapable of even telling simple truths that tax cuts will not do anything to create the new jobs we need in the quantity we need them and that taxing billionaires at a rate above the level that their secretaries pay is not some form of class war but a reasonable effort to create a fairer and more equal society. But as long as the media paints these ideas as extreme we will not make much progress. At some point we all need to focus on the real issues that long term unemployment and the sense of hopelessness among the youth is far worse than any short run deficit as it undermines social stability. You don't have to take a look at the London riots for examples just take a tour around any major or minor American city in the mid west's rust belt and you can see the devastation this kind of economy takes on people's lives and hopes. Let's hope that we come to our senses before it is too late.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In the Post Murdoch Era: Time to Uncover Some of the Real Scandals

Why cannot we get a press that is fair to the most vulnerable in the world instead of one that protects the interests of the most powerful? The answer is that we can and those that know where to look for good, well sourced news can find it--but it sometimes takes digging.

I want to start a campaign today to see if we can aggregate the best sources around the globe that do the kind of fearless reporting that seems to have gone out of vogue in the 24 hour news world we currently inhabit--that elevates pseudo crises and nonsensical celebrity gossip while missing the real story over and over --here is my start at a list.

Greg Palast--just an extract today with his usual biting critique
of the Republican hostage takers and the fate of the Obama presidency:

"It was quite upsetting to find our President blindfolded and tied to a chair at the GOP Tea Party headquarters, but I'm sure the $2.2 trillion ransom we paid to the hostage-takers is worth it.

Well, now that the Obama presidency is over, we can move on to more serious matters.

Look out your window. What you'll see is that, while the debt-ceiling hostage crisis played out on cable TV, the planet has been burning down."

How is that for an intro that will never appear on any front or back page anywhere in the western press.

Stuff that never makes it to the bloated and now corporate minded Huffington Post--for example---

Reid is already upset that Republican leaders have declared that they will not appoint anyone to the joint committee who backs any tax hike, a virtual replay of the spending cuts vs. new tax revenues fight that consumed Washington for the past several months.

"So what does that leave the committee to do?" Reid said. "Should Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?"

If you want to find out why the next election will be fought on ground that the plutocrats expect to win on (hint it is not jobs) read Firedog Lake

Pro-Romney Super PAC Gets $1 Million from a Dummy Company
By: Jon Walker Thursday August 4, 2011 12:00 pm

pocketed (photo: Psychonaught)

"This is a frig From MSNBC:

A mystery company that pumped $1 million into a political committee backing Mitt Romney has been dissolved just months after it was formed, leaving few clues as to who was behind one of the biggest contributions yet of the 2012 presidential campaign.

The existence of the million-dollar donation — as gleaned from campaign and corporate records obtained by NBC News — provides a vivid example of how secret campaign cash is being funneled in ever more circuitous ways into the political system.


The corporate records provide no information about the owner of the firm, its address or its type of business.

If you ever wonder why in our “democracy” Washington politicians seem so much more concerned about the desires of a few rich people instead of what regular people want you need look no farther. It takes money to run and win political office. Regular people can not afford to set up secret dummy corporations to funnel millions into efforts help politicians. On the other hand a single rich person can. This is exactly why politicians spend so much time trying to make a relatively few rich happy."

and if you want to find out what is going on in the world of green energy read Ethan Goffman a contributor to E Magazine for some great analysis of prospects for renewable energy :

"With the Wikileaked news that Saudi Arabia may have overstated oil reserves by as much as 40%, speculation about peak oil has been rampant. Peak oil is the principle that once half of oil reserves are gone (the peak), scarcity will increase and prices rise as the remaining reserves become more difficult to reach. The result is more like a slow bleed than a sudden catastrophe—and the resulting record-high pump prices are already being felt..."