Category Archives: infrastructure

The Doomsday Economy

Back in January of 2018 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ moved what they call the Doomsday Clock two minutes from midnight. The clock represents the hypothetical global catastrophe as “midnight” and this adjustment is the closest the clock has been set since 1953. The countdown clock was design and developed as a warning since the development of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war. Although the clock in 2018 was moved due to the threat of climate change, nuclear war and, the lack of confidence in U.S. leadership; I bring this up because the clock represents a real threat and humanity should be aware of the probability of crisis, but why don’t we have one for the economy?

I have listened to a number of economists that have warned for years since the Great Recession of 2008 and that wages have stagnated despite productivity increasing and the stock market showing record highs and recovery. For example, the minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, and, although a movement has called for a $15.00 an hour, a minimum wage of $21.72 per hour if adjusted with average productivity growth.

Of course there are arguments against raising the minimum wage such as it will create inflation; but inflation is already rising. Those that make more money and have skills, education or trades should not make the same as those who do not, and if a rising tide raises all boats, these skilled laborers would make more money too. Businesses can’t afford a raise in the minimum wage; yet a report by the American Sustainable Business Council showed 61% support for raising the minimum wage with the cost of living by small business owners.

From what I have read the likely threat is to the amount of subsidies the average tax payer has to pay for major corporations to provide low wages. Low wage workers turn to public assistance for help. Medicaid, food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families subsidized fast-food workers and their households at $243 billion over four years a paper from UC Berkeley reported. Estimates by Americans for Tax Fairness estimates Walmart costs taxpayers 7.8 billion a year. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is on the bargain as well.

After the 2008 crash the Federal Reserve responded by bailing out banks and lowering Federal Interest rates to 0.25% in Dec. effectively making the rate 0. These are the mechanisms in place that financial leaders have used to fix the economy and help the people: and they have failed. Bailouts saved the banks and reinforced that deregulation can work as long as a constituency of taxpayers are available to maintain the the institutions that lobby for “free markets”. With Federal Interest rates lowered banks and those that have assets in non-taxing accounts (such as the Cayman Islands) and can borrow money from the Federal Reserve at these low interest rates and buy stocks back and finally cancelling them driving up the cost. Driving up the cost is rewarded buy bonus and higher valued stocks options. The results are in and the mechanisms didn’t work.

Dani Burger wrote an article for Bloomberg titled “Rife with Anxiety, Markets are Churning at the Fastest Rate Since 2008” in the article Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, a J.P Morgan “strategist”, is quoted as saying “Market turnover tends to be high when uncertainty is high, as institutional investors tend to reshuffle their portfolios,” This is a period Max Keiser has called “smart money selling to dumb money”. My opinion is to watch as much economic news as you can, the battle of propaganda between investors has begun. While trying to convince some that the economy is fine or as John McCain said in 2008 “The fundamentals of economy are strong…” or as CNBC’s Jim Cramer from Mad Money answered in March 2008 whether Bear Stearns was still a safe investment his answer was … Bear Stearns is fine. Do not take your money out.” Bear Stearns investment bank and brokerage firm fails and gets a taxpayer bailout.

Media outlets like Bloomberg are late, too late. The failed policies over the past few decades have eroded the middle class and threatened the system that the 1% praise. The problems of our economic system are deeply rooted and originate in our corporate-captured political system. Attacks on Unions, wages, and the deregulation of the banking industry have crippled labor and the blue collared workers

Going back to the Doomsday Clock, maybe it’s time for an Economic Crisis Clock. We know that the economy cycles in booms and busts, some are honest about the causes of these busts other choose to ignore the contradictions. We need those with insight and foresight that have a wide view of the issues challenging or society and economy.  This board of economic advisors needs to be a group of economists, environmentalists, biologists, botanists, and climatologists.

Economists such as David Harvey, Richard Wolff, Kate Raworth, Michael Hudson, Stephanie Kelton, Herman Daly, Ann Pettifor and, Nomi Prins have given us warning and solutions to upcoming economic collapse. Suggestions for fixing our economic system have been worker co-ops (like Mondragon), raising minimum the wage, regulating Banks and Wall Street (like the Glass-Steagall Act), instituting a Green New Deal (an economic stimulus package that would invest in renewable energy and resource efficiency while creating new jobs), Framing our understanding of economics within social and planetary boundaries, eliminating college debt, Medicare fore all, or community based cryptocurrencies, all these potential solutions for big problems.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists factor in Climate Change in their calculations for the Doomsday Clock, all agree that time is running out (if it hasn’t already) for the nations of the world to respond in a meaningful way to limit the damage that is already predicted. The effects of Climate Change are already making an impact on our planet. 2018 is expected to be the hottest summer on record. Louisiana is losing coastal land to rising sea levels with the lower third of the state expected to be underwater if levels rise 3-5 feet, the islands Laiap and Ros of Micronesia have already lost two-thirds of their land area. The Antarctic is melting three times faster than expect and the largest contributed of rising ocean sea levels. In 2017 an iceberg the size of Delaware was discovered to have broken off from the ice shelf in Antarctica. Our Planet is presenting evidence that we are stressing its’ ability to sustain our living standard, the boundaries are being strained.

Energy Watch Group and The Post Carbon Institute argue that with the largest oil discoveries having been made between the late 1930’s to the late 1970’s new oil discoveries cannot continue to meet the world demand. Not only will these new discoveries be unable to meet current and growing demand these discoveries will not be able to meet the demand that will be need to use this energy for the conversion to renewable, sustainable and more ecological sources of energy. The pursuit of oil as the primary energy resource with coal not far behind has not only made our environment and climate stability tentative but also our economy and our international relations with global nations.

In the meantime industry not only squandering resources that could be used to convert our society to that of a more ecological and sustainable economy. Our financial industry is ruthlessly applying its’ influence and investment to the gain of a few, subsidizing the conspicuous  consumption of the wealthy affluent instead of making investments that could be used to ease, develop and optimize our communities and society.

The effects from our lack of planning and investment will present itself more so than it has in our climate. Our chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will be used up in four years, the Global Carbon Project the rapidly increasing carbon emissions will push us past the 2 degree limit in only three decades. The small rise in global temperature will not only increase the heat but limit availability to freshwater, slow crop production, rise sea levels, melt ice and permafrost, none of these things are going to be good for the people or the economy.

The rich affluent may horde their paper money and gold but when the earth is your home and your home is unlivable those tokens lose value. Today people are concerned about their livelihood and are worried about the mechanisms and markets that affect them the most that is why the subjects of housing, food, water, healthcare, education keep being brought up. These are the issues that matter. If people could be concerned beyond these they could understand and potentially have an impact on the issues mentioned that will also greatly impact them. The economy is what we use to improve ourselves and the community, deregulation, lack of investment in the development of our infrastructure, suppressed wages are steering us toward another financial collapse.

The economy is cycling toward another crisis and we are two minutes to midnight.

 

Michael DeWitt

CoolCatM   Twitter: @CoolCat0001    Guerrilla Communication Tactics

It started with William Howard Taft

By Joseph Ballin 1/3/2018 8:16 am EST

People always wonder how we got to Trump. How did the GOP lose it’s mind? Where did everything go so wrong? This all didn’t start with Trump, go back to Mitt Romney, well actually go back to McCain, well actually go back to George W. Bush Jr., well actually go back to Bob Dole, well actually go back to George H. W. Bush, well actually go back to Ronald Reagan, well actually go back to Gerald Ford, well actually go back to Richard Nixon, well actually go back to Barry Goldwater, well actually go back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, well actually go back to Thomas E. Dewey, well actually go back to Wendell Willkie, well actually go back to Alf Landon, well actually go back to Herbert Hoover, well actually go back to Calvin Coolidge, well actually go back to Warren G. Harding, well actually go back to Charles Evans Hughes, and finally we get to William Howard Taft.

I did that to show you that this cancer that that has infected the Republican Party and later the Democratic party has been around for a long time, and has historically go by different names over the years. Regan ran on “trickle down economics”, also called “voodoo economics” by his very own vice president George W. H. Bush. Coolidge ran on “Less government in business and more business in government.” One of the earliest critics of trickle down economics was Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a political hero of mine, who would say the following about that issue, “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.” Bryan not only was the Democratic presidential candidate several times, he also changed the party platform of the Democratic party to move away from the Bourbon Democrats like Cleveland who governed as fiscal conservatives. Imagine if Sanders won the Democratic nominee and somehow managed to change the entire platform and party structure of the Democratic Party.

The Republican Party also saw an insurgency of it’s own on the progressive and nationalist side. Theodore Roosevelt was the vice president of William McKinley, until McKinley’s assassination by an anarchist. Roosevelt was trusteed into the presidency. During the time just before the United States entered World War 1, America was at it’s height in terms of the power of unions and radical movements in the US. We had anarchists, Wobblies, Socialist Party candidates receiving a million voters in a presidential election, etc. It was an era of American history called the “Pogressive Era”. Roosevelt came into the presidency dealing with a Republican Party that since at least the 1880s had sold out to big business and the intrests of the robber barons.

Roosevelt went to war with big industry, enacting break up of big corporations, who would later go on to merge together due to neglect, protecting our national parks, his “Square Deal” social welfare program, brought about the birth of our national parks, and brought an end to the Russo-Japanese war without involving US troops. It would be later he would be held up by Congress who refused to enact his progressive agenda. Roosevelt did not run again in 1908 and William Howard Taft. However, Taft was a conservative and refused to continue Roosevelt’s progressive. Roosevelt felt betrayed by Taft and the Republican establishment. After losing the nomination to Taft and created his own third party, the Pogressive Party. The Pogressive Party platform called for the following:

* Strict limits and disclosure requirements on political campaign contributions
* Registration of lobbyists
* Recording and publication of Congressional committee proceedings
* A National Health Service to include all existing government medical agencies.
* Social insurance, to provide for the elderly, the unemployed, and the disabled
* Limited the ability of judges to order injunctions to limit labor strikes.
* A minimum wage law for women
* An eight-hour workday
* A federal securities commission
* Farm relief
* Workers’ compensation for work-related injuries
* An inheritance tax
* Women’s suffrage
* Direct election of Senators
* Primary elections for state and federal nominations
* The recall election (citizens may remove an elected official before the end of his term)
* The referendum (citizens may decide on a law by popular vote)
* The initiative (citizens may propose a law by petition and enact it by popular vote)
* Judicial recall (when a court declares a law unconstitutional, the citizens may override that ruling by popular vote).

Kept in mind this was in 1912 his platform was purposed, not 2016. What America would look like today if Roosevelt didn’t lose control of the Republican Party to the right wing of the party, which caused the Republican Party to turn far right and the Democratic Party to move to the right wing, is up for debate. However, Taft refusing to continue Rooesevlt’s progressive policies would inevitably lead to the rise of Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, who would massively slash US taxes (The top marginal rate was reduced annually in four stages from 73% in 1921 to 25% in 1925.), lead to a massive economic bubble in the US, with massive inequality and most of the US being ruled as a police state by the KKK, and finally the collapse of 1929. Trump’s 2017 tax cut will go down in history in the same way the Harding tax cuts went, a complete economic collapse of the global economy. My only hope is this time we learn our lesson.

The Sam Seder Tim Black debate, or the Sam talks over Tim while Michael Brooks makes snarky commentary.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/iyXhdzgGOSc/maxresdefault.jpg

By Joseph Ballin 6/29/2017 5:37 PM EST

Reader’s note: I am a fan of both Sam Seder’s The Majority Report and The Tim Black Show. I do not hold any hostilities towards either person debating in this piece and am writing this to illustrate how we on the left can find better solutions to our problems. That being said I’m biased toward Tim in this debate.

What’s the difference between a liberal and a progressive? Personally I don’t care or like these labels. Hillary described herself as a “progressive who can get stuff done.” So I couldn’t care less about those labels, but Tim goes into what I think he meant is between neoliberal corporate shills and people who want change in this country. Yes Sam is correct that the Majority Report does talk about all of the issues that Tim Black listed. So Sam goes to Tim’s youtube page and criticizes him for not covering healthcare enough. However, Sam has not watched Tim’s show and doesn’t know that he’s covered healthcare numerous times on his show. And now Sam goes into the Seth Rich / Kimdotcom territory.

The one thing me and Jimmy Dore have both been very clear on, we want evidence. We want evidence of Russiagate, evidence Assad gassed his own people, evidence for or against the Seth Rich cover up, etc. That’s reality based thinking. That’s why I’m an agnostic atheist, because I can’t prove there isn’t a god/gods, but there is no evidence that they do exist so there is no reason for me to believe in them. In fact, nothing in the universe can be proven. A fact is a statement that is taken to be true based off of evidence. It is something we collectively as a society agree what is real and fake. A theory is a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.

Ok now that we got that out of the way let’s deconstruct all this shit. There is no verifiable evidence Russia hacked, interfered, or colluded with Donald Trump or his campaign. In fact, as president, US relations with Russia under Trump are at a record low. Trump has repeatedly attacked the government of Bashar Al-Assad and Iranian militias several times, Russia’s allies. Trump signed a treaty expanding NATO to Montenegro, something Russia opposes. He signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, which authorized $100 million dollars for the “Countering Russian Influence Fund”, to counter “Russian influence and aggression” and to “support civil society organizations in Europe and Eurasia.” It also included a measure imposing new restrictions and oversight on Russian diplomats in the United State. The Act also includes provisions that no appropriated funds may be used to support the Russian annexation of Crimea and assist Crimea, if such assistance includes the participation of Russian Government officials, or other Russian owned or controlled financial entities. It also states that no funds may be used to support “the Russian occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia” or to assist the central governments of other countries that have recognized the two territories’ independence. On top of all that, US has imposes more sanctions on Russia during Trump’ presidency. If Trump’s a Russian puppet, he’s doing a really shitty at it.

Again this is not to say there isn’t business ties Trump has to Russia, like with Deutsche bank and Trump hotels because he’s a billionaire, but he also has business ties to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Philippines, Azerbaijan, mafia, etc., but the mainstream media never mentions this. Why does mainstream media never bring up the fact General Flynn was a paid agent of the Turkish government? Why does the mainstream media not bring up the fact Trump appointed all these Goldman Sachs people because of his ties to Israel? Or China provisionally granting Trump 38 trademarks after getting elected? Or the Clinton’s business dealings in Russia? So there is enormous hypocrisy on this issue. Focus on Russia and nothing else. Why you may ask? Because starting a new cold war with Russia ensures defense contractors can make giant profit because now we have a great power enemy again. Also we can’t start a cold war with China because our economies are to tied together. It has less to do with Trump himself and more to do with more spending on the military and strengthening the police state. That’s why you don’t hear anything about getting rid of voting machines or having open, fair, and free elections.

As for the Syria gassing of 2017, the entire thing was brought up so briefly and forgotten about so quick by mainstream media and the Trump administration it really makes you wonder what really did happen in Syria. Why has there been no independent UN investigation into the gassing? There is no evidence Assad ordered the gassing of any civilians. As for the Seth Rich story, I stated on day one when I first heard about the Seth Rich murder that I found it very fishy. I have no idea is Seth Rich was the Wikileaks leaker or who killed him, but I do know a couple things. I do know Assange has hinted, but not confirmed, to Seth Rich being the leaker. Wikileaks, outside of the Garani Massacre Video which they said they would publish, but never did, has been 100% on point. So now that we got all that out of the way, back to the debate.

So Sam now brings up whether or not it’s a good thing to promote the Russia fear mongering story to split off three Republican votes in the Senate for healthcare. First of all I won’t advocate a new cold war with Russia over healthcare. Second of all why does Sam think Russia influences how Republican senators vote on healthcare. We’ve already seen the Senate healthcare bill be delayed because of how awful it is. People aren’t thinking about Russia when they think of healthcare, they are thinking of NOT DYING! Plus I would wager all that corporate cash the Republicans senators take is more of an influence than the so called Russia scandal over Trump’s head. The only thing that will force Republicans to change their votes on healthcare is though mass movements.

Now Black brings up the rigged 2016 Democratic primary and the DNC fraud lawsuit. Tim brings up exit polling being used by the US to determine whether an election is legit or bs in foreign countries. I would like to point out that irregularities in exit polling in Ukraine were cited by the US and EU for the fascist coup in Ukraine. And I would also like to point out Sam Seder has had on Greg Palast on Ring of Fire, someone who says the 2016 Democratic primary was rigged. But ok Sam I guess the primary wasn’t “rigged.”

Continuing on Tim brings why Democrats blaming progressives for the lose of Hillary Clinton. So Tim brings up Susan Sarandon and her revolution comment about Trump, stating we are seeing a revolution already taking place under Trump. Ok so I agree and disagree with Tim here. A revolution against Donald Trump hasn’t sustained itself, yet. It needs to be sustained though mass rallies every week and civil disobedience in the streets. And I believe a revolution under Trump can happen if he topples Assad and invades Iran

Michael continues to break into this heated debate to make a funny comment. Now we get back to Seth Rich. So Sam again thinks that it’s crazy to think that politicians won’t murder people to cover up corruption. I agree Tim Black that we need to ask questions. Again I’m an agnostic on Seth Rich, I don’t know who killed Seth Rich.

One of the most damming quotes from the Sam Seder vs Tim Black debate comes right around here. “She (Nancy Pelosi) is a great leader. I would not support a challenge to her” – Sam Seder. Ok so let’s give Sam the benefit of the doubt and say Pelosi wasn’t guilty for the thousands of losses of Democrats in elections over the past decade or so. So why is it Sam doesn’t bring up the fact Pelosi didn’t do shit to bring about real progressive change during her time as speaker from 2007 to 2011? She opposes single payer, she didn’t prosecute GWB, and she didn’t bring up the Employee Free Choice Act.

And finally Sam says Steny Hoyer would be worse than Pelosi. So Sam why not get rid of Hoyer? And if he’s replaced with another corporate Dem get rid of them until we get someone who will at least listen to progressives. That’s what the Republicans did with Eric Cantor and their party is stronger than ever. Tim brings up the fact Sam voted for Hillary Clinton in New York, a blue non-swing state, but he doesn’t blame Hillary for not appointing Bernie Sanders as her VP pick, which everyone agrees would have won her the election. You know why she didn’t do it? Because of spite and corporate greed. She would rather lose to a Republican than give an inch to progressives, and that’s why we have Trump.

Wikieaks: Hillary Clinton Thinks Walmart is Essential for Democracy

 

In the Wikileaks latest batch of Releases, Hillary Clinton in Paid Speech Part 1, her staffers annotated problematic paid speeches. In November 4, 2013, she gave one of her Paid Speeches, to London Drugs.  Here are some uber idiotic things even Donald Trump wouldn’t say

Walmart Essential for Democracy

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Indians need Walmart To learn how to Store Grain

In one of the most ignorant, and imbecilic speeches at London Drug in Toronto, in November 2013,Hillary Clinton expresses grief that Walmart can’t impart their wisdom upon the savage Indian on how to store grains.

IndiansGrain

 

Of course, this statistic is preposterous.  Research done by the world bank and other agricultural researchers:

According to a World Bank study(1999), post-harvest losses of food grains in India are 7-10 per cent of the total production from farm to market level and 4-5 per cent at market and distribution levelsH. Basavaraja

As for her ridiculous claim that Indians don’t have cold storage?

Read the Time’s of India, who say India has 31,200,000 Tonnes of Cold storage for their grains.

 

Shovel Ready

This story took place in Reefercake’s backyard. There is heavy traffic on this road and absolutely no shoulder, and kids are jumping off of it all summer long. Suprise, suprise, a kid got hit and is critical condition.

Something needs to be done, ie pedestrian bridge, and some of that stimulus money would do the trick. But this concept of shovel ready, is complete bullcrap, and that is probably why we hear that a lot of the money isn’t being spent as quickly as we would like…WTF is shovel ready, but a made up term? I guess the point being that we don’t want to do anything that requires planning or thought or design, we wouldn’t want to use our brains, we just want to send a bunch of guys out with shovels and “have at it!” Classic conservative anti-intellectual bullshit.

Reefercake is making a vow to get something done here, before my son reaches puberty…so we should be breaking ground on this one in 2015.