Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ha-Joon Chang - on Trickle Down Economics

Monday, August 29, 2011

Wikileaks Cables Confirm U.S. Efforts to Push Genetically Engineered Food Abroad

So much for being the great champion of laissez faire Neal Boortz likes to make us out to be....
 

U.S. diplomatic cables recently released by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks reveal how the United States has pushed foreign governments to buy genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the interests of agribusiness giants such as DuPont and Monsanto. Dozens of newly released cables detail how the United States has instituted so-called “bio-technology outreach programs,” throughout Africa, Asia and South America in order to establish a foothold for the biotech agriculture industry. U.S. efforts have been particularly robust in Europe where there is a strong anti-GE food movement. A 2007 cable describes a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Paris between U.S. diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-sciences. The companies’ spokesmen reportedly described their concerns regarding a movement of French farmers, who were vandalizing GE crop farms at the time. The cables also confirm reports that the U.S. government, as well as philanthropic foundations and agribusiness companies, have set up front groups in countries such as Tunisia, Mozambique and South Africa to promote biotech agriculture.

Wikileaks Cables Confirm U.S. Efforts to Push Genetically Engineered Food Abroad

So much for being the great champion of laissez faire Neal Boortz likes to make us out to be....
 

U.S. diplomatic cables recently released by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks reveal how the United States has pushed foreign governments to buy genetically engineered (GE) crops and promote the interests of agribusiness giants such as DuPont and Monsanto. Dozens of newly released cables detail how the United States has instituted so-called “bio-technology outreach programs,” throughout Africa, Asia and South America in order to establish a foothold for the biotech agriculture industry. U.S. efforts have been particularly robust in Europe where there is a strong anti-GE food movement. A 2007 cable describes a meeting at the U.S. embassy in Paris between U.S. diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-sciences. The companies’ spokesmen reportedly described their concerns regarding a movement of French farmers, who were vandalizing GE crop farms at the time. The cables also confirm reports that the U.S. government, as well as philanthropic foundations and agribusiness companies, have set up front groups in countries such as Tunisia, Mozambique and South Africa to promote biotech agriculture.

Let’s Not Raise The Medicare Retirement Age reason #5697

"What’s a 64 year-old who loses a job when hit by some combination of recession and sectoral shift supposed to do for health care? People in their mid-60s are not going to be at the front of anyone’s list of awesome candidates for retraining." --Matthew Yglesias

Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women

Via Incidental Economist: 

A study published in Pediatrics finds that about 9% of women marry before the age of 18 years. They also found that the “overall lifetime and 12-month rates of psychiatric disorders were higher for women who married as children, compared with women who married as adults.”

Ethics official’s pay cut, job eliminated after subpoenas prepared

The state’s top two ethics investigators were preparing in June to serve subpoenas on Gov. Nathan Deal, his chief of staff and other associates in connection with Deal’s 2010 campaign when one investigator’s salary was cut and the other’s job was eliminated, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

Scientific Socialism and Marx

What is "Scientific Socialism"?

The usage of the word science by Idealists philosophers seems to me to be problematic. 

"Scientific Socialism" appears to be a commonly used term with Marx and Marxists. 

Yet, I am absolutely, positively, certain that socialists in the 20th century didn't use the term "scientific socialism" with an eye to someone like Feuerbach who said in the introduction to The Essence of Christianity that science is a cognizance of specie.

Even a contemporary of Marx's like the anarchist Michael Bakunin jumps all over Marx and his flock about "scientific socialism". So that makes me wonder if even from the beginning equivocation of science was common within marxists/socialist circles (or at the very least with critics of Marx).

Does this ambiguity around the term science lead to core philosophical problems that erode the entire foundation of the Marxist edifice? Does such ambiguity lead to false interpretations that send critics and their critiques of Marx and communism/socialism in general off in a wrong direction from the get go? 

Its a bit of a stretch on my part but can something simple like ambiguity of a term--in this case science-- lead to violence and repression? 

1. What did Hegel mean when he uses the term science?
2. What did Marx mean by the term "scientific socialism"
3. Is equivocation of the word science common with Marxists?
3.1 Does such an equivocation lead to fundamental philosophical problems that have direct impacts on political actions/tactics

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can Boortz get anything about the economy right?

Neal Boortz was making fun of some high school graduates who didn't know what capitalism was this morning.  The thing is, since the US isn't a free market capitalist economy, nor have we ever been (we're a mixed market form of Corporatism) you've got a grown man making fun of some kids for not knowing what he in turn is proving he doesn't know anything about. 

Its pretty basic economic history Boortz should look into it before tearing into some 17 year old kids.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Study: Tea Party Members Cultural Dispositions 'Authoritarianism, Fear Of Change, Libertarianism And Nativism'

What are the four primary characteristics most associated with those Americans sympathetic to the Tea Party? "Authoritarianism, ontological insecurity (fear of change), libertarianism and nativism." So says one of the many findings in a study presented to the American Sociological Association on Monday.

The academic study, Cultures of the Tea Party, purports to break down the cultural attitudes of Tea Party loyalists, through a mix of polling data and interviews with tea partiers at a gathering in eastern North Carolina. The study's lead author is Andrew J. Perrin, an associate professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, with co-authors Steven J. Tepper, an associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University, Neal Caren, an assistant professor of sociology at UNC, and Sally Morris, a doctoral student in sociology at UNC.

The study used polling of North Carolina and Tennessee, conducted by Public Policy Polling (D) in the Summer of 2010, and determined the cultural dispositions by measuring the responses of tea partiers to set questions. After PPP surveyed over 2,000 voters who were sympathetic to the Tea Party, researchers then reinterviewed almost 600 in the fall of 2010. Those interviews included everything from personality based queries like "Would you say it is more important that a child obeys his parents, or that he is responsible for his own actions?" to more political ones, like "Do you think immigrants who came into this country illegally but pay taxes and have not been arrested should be given the opportunity to become permanent legal residents?" The study also incudes interviews and short responses with ten participants at a Tea Party rally in Washington, NC.

"American voters sympathetic to the Tea Party movement reflect four primary cultural and political beliefs more than other voters do: authoritarianism, libertarianism, fear of change, and negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration," a statement accompanying the report reads, as the findings themselves point out a few disconnects between the what self-described members of the Tea Party say and their actual policy stances.

The report quotes one Tea Party activist as saying, "We don't want the big government that's taking over everything we worked so hard for...the government's becoming too powerful... we want to take back what our Constitution said. You read the Constitution. Those values - that's what we stand for," but that sentiment is not reflected in the polling data from the surveys. From the report:

In our follow-up poll, 84% of those positive towards the TPM [Tea Party members] said the Constitution should be interpreted "as the Founders intended," compared to only 34% of other respondents. Other respondents were also three times more likely not to have an opinion on the issue, highlighting the salience of the question for TPM supporters. Support for Constitutional principles is not absolute. TPM supporters were twice as likely than others to favor a constitutional amendment banning flag burning; many also support efforts to overturn citizenship as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment. That TPM supporters simultaneously want to honor the founders' Constitution and alter that same document highlights the political flexibility of the cultural symbols they draw on.
The TPM supporters' inconsistent views of the Constitution suggests that their nostalgic embrace of the document is animated more by a network of cultural associations than a thorough commitment to the original text. In fact, such inconsistencies around policy, whether on the right or left, highlight what many sociologists see as the growing importance of culture in political life. The Constitution - and Tea Party more generally - take on heightened symbolic value and come to represent a 'way of life' or a "world view" rather than a specific set of laws or policy positions.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Schneiderman Is Said to Face Pressure to Back Bank Deal - NYTimes.com

Its hard to raise a billion dollars from these people with pesky legal investigations getting in the way.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices, according to people briefed on discussions about the deal.

In recent weeks, Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and high-level Justice Department officials have been waging an intensifying campaign to try to persuade the attorney general to support the settlement, said the people briefed on the talks.

Mr. Schneiderman and top prosecutors in some other states have objected to the proposed settlement with major banks, saying it would restrict their ability to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing in a variety of areas, including the bundling of loans in mortgage securities.

But Mr. Donovan and others in the administration have been contacting not only Mr. Schneiderman but his allies, including consumer groups and advocates for borrowers, seeking help to secure the attorney general’s participation in the deal, these people said. One recipient described the calls from Mr. Donovan, but asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

Not surprising, the large banks, which are eager to reach a settlement, have grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Schneiderman. Bank officials recently discussed asking Mr. Donovan for help in changing the attorney general’s mind, according to a person briefed on those talks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rick Perry’s employment record in Texas

Felix Salmon gives a break down of Rick Perry's not very impressive jobs miracle in Texas.  

txpop.jpg

The employment-to-population ratio in this chart is lower than the employment-to-population ratio we normally see, because it includes everyone, from infants to convicted felons. According to the figures we have for 2011, 44.7% of the total US population has a job, compared to 43.5% of the Texas population.

And Perry’s record is pretty bad, here: he inherited a ratio of more than 47% in Texas from George W Bush, and has presided over a steady decline ever since — including every year of the Bush presidency bar 2005.

The single most important task facing the US is to turn the employment numbers around and get the employment-to-population ratio rising again. Obama has been bad on this front. But Perry’s decade-long record in Texas is no better.

Matt Taibbi vs the SEC; our broken media

Felix Salmon does the leg work for you to compare and contrast the mainstream media with the blogosphere in discussing the Matt Taibbi article on SEC document shredding story.  The corporate media sits back, the quality blogs push you directly to the quality sources and content.  We have a systemic problem on our hands of journalism doing the digging that needs to be done for quality over sight of government ineptitude and dysfunction. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tea Party Movement Getting Americans Steamed

The more Americans see the psychiatric wing of the GOP in action; the more attention their core beliefs, values, and policy solutions[sic] receive, the less America likes it.

The Tea Party movement, as an idea, was originally about anger at the way things turned out after 2008. Congress had been taken over by Democrats, and President Obama came into office after a change election with high approval ratings and the political capital to make that change. Then, surprisingly, those Democrats didn't work to enact Republican policies, they proposed and passed a few of their own. This was not how government is supposed to work, according to some very conservative Americans.
So they got some signs and some bags of tea and a few video cameras followed. They protested what they called an oncoming wave of socialism perpetrated by the Democrats who controlled the legislative and executive branches of government. Then they went to some town halls and yelled about the possible reforms to the American health care system. When that passed, they started supporting candidates for Congress that not only advocated the policies they wanted but also held the same contempt for the government process that they did. Then some of those candidates won, and they had to govern.

That's really when more Americans started to have a more formed opinion on the Tea Party, and over the last few months that opinion has been turning increasingly sour.

"The Tea Party has become somewhat less popular over time, even before the current debt crisis," said Carroll Doherty, Assistant Director of the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Pew itself had released some data showing as much: in April of this year there had been a fifteen point jump in the negative rating of the Tea Party amongst all voters in a Pew survey, up from a similar survey in March of 2010.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

64% of Americans Can't Handle a $1,000 Emergency Expense

This is a stunning stat and shows how out of touch Washington and Wall Street are with Main Street. Imagine if gas prices spike $2.00 per gallonCNN writes,

A majority, or 64%, of Americans don’t have enough cash on hand to handle a $1,000 emergency expense, according to a survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC, released on Wednesday.

Only 36% said they would tap their rainy day funds for an emergency. The rest of the 2,700 people polled said that they would have to go to other extremes to cover an unexpected expense, such as borrowing money or taking out a cash advance on a credit card.

Back in the 1990's we used to discuss and joke with our European friends, who have relatively strong safety nets, as to why Americans worked so hard and mutually concluded it was because they knew they were two paychecks from the street. No joke anymore.

Can we finally declare the Reagan Revolution of low taxes for the rich, budget cuts, and deregulation an utter failure?  Where'd the middle class go?  The Reagan revolution took back the middle class that Government created during the New Deal/Great Society and transferred that wealth to the top 1%.  

#gop are #Thugs4WallStreet

Rick Perry says Social Security and Medicare are Unconstitutional

Rick Perry Says Social Security And Medicare Are Unconstitutional | ThinkProgress

#gop are #thugs4WallStreet

End programs that keep millions above the poverty line?  Not only cruel, and heartless, but would devastate the economy because of the decrease of aggregate spending that would come from shifting millions of grandma's and grandpas' into poverty... The GOP are thugs for Wall Street.

Free Market champions don't know their history and their policy failures follow accordingly

"While history and ethnography know of various kinds of economies, most of them comprising the institution markets, they know of no economy prior to our own even approximately controlled and regulated by markets."   --Karl Polanyi

As Barry Ritholtz recently put quite succinctly,the sooner we recognize that the field of economics is a branch of Sociology and not Mathematics, the better off we will all be. 

How to make monkeys out of rating agencies

Sovereign downgrade? Been there, done that ... such is likely to be the response of any investor in Japan to the news that Standard & Poor’s has removed its triple A rating on US debt.


Japanese government bonds lost their stamp of premium quality in 2002. Early this year S&P took a second shot, with another downgrade to double A minus. The result? In last week’s turmoil the yield on Japan’s 10-year bond briefly dipped below 1 per cent. If Sidney Homer’s classic History of Interest Rates is any guide, this represents the lowest level of interest rates anywhere since Babylonian times.


No less a person than Kaoru Yosano, minister of economic and fiscal affairs, warned in a Financial Times interview that “Japan faced a dreadful dream”. On the face of it the numbers appear to back him up. Japan’s net debt to gross domestic product ratio comfortably exceeds 100 per cent and primary deficits stretch out as far as the eye can see. Yet the markets themselves are saying something quite different – that the supply of Japanese government bonds, far from being excessive, is actually insufficient.


This is no aberration. For the past decade the Japanese bond market has been making monkeys out of not just the credit rating agencies, but also academics, trigger-happy short sellers and politicians and bureaucrats who see fiscal austerity as a virtue in its own right. All have been proclaiming that out-of-control public debt had set Japan on the road to fiscal perdition.


To call this a disconnect is putting it far too mildly. The markets and conventional opinion are on different planets. Until recently this was a Japan-only affair, but now the implications are too important to ignore. Public debt has become the hottest topic across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. No assertion about the sustainability of public finances can be convincing unless it accounts for the Japanese paradox.


It is possible, of course, that the market is simply wrong or, in a different formulation, rigged. Possible, but unlikely. The Japanese government bond market is the second largest in the world. It cannot be dismissed like some crazy aunt in the attic. Yields have exhibited an unbubble-like stability, holding between 1 per cent and 2 per cent since the late 1990s. Nobody, not even Japan’s financial bureaucrats, can muster the wherewithal to pull off manipulation on that scale.

The Flat Earth Society was in Ames Iowa yesterday.

Appears the Flat Earth Society met yesterday in Ames Iowa.  Here is a little ditty in celebration.  Feel free to sing along... 

Cuts to Government spending, which Obama has pushed for and supported, is stalling economic recovery

Richard's Real Estate and Urban Economics Blog: Anti-stimulus

The Government Component of the  National Income and Product Accounts for the past 6 quarters (QI 2010 through Q2 2011):

21Government consumption expenditures
    and gross investment
-1.23.7 1.0-2.8-5.9 -1.1
22   Federal 2.88.83.2 -3.0-9.42.2
23      National defense 0.56.05.7 -5.9-12.67.3
24      Nondefense 7.814.7-1.8 3.1-2.7-7.3
25   State and local -3.90.4-0.5 -2.7-3.4-3.4
Anyone see a problem here? It's not like we have seen a rip-roaring "crowding-in" of the private sector. For those who think we should cut government spending, well, we are, and more is to come thanks to the debt-ceiling deal. I hope I am wrong about this, but it is hard to see how this leads to a recovery in jobs any time soon.

Its time for US war crimes to be punished

Arctic Ice Thinning 4 Times Faster Than Predicted by IPCC Models

Thursday, August 11, 2011

23 Polls Say People Support Higher Taxes to Reduce the Deficit

Here.  If you need a sign the our democracy is broken and that the two parties are to the right of the general population this is a pretty good example to start with.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why I think right-libertarians are cute.

The comment thread of a recent facebook post by Cato got me to thinking.

Right-Libertarians have this naive belief that somehow a modern industrialized economy is going to magically reform into a laissez faire economy of small producers who harness perfect information to properly allocate resources allowing price to always meet market equilibrium. 

Corporatism will just magically disappear, humans with vested interests of protecting their profits via rent seeking, regulatory capture, and restricting a free flow of information to the markets so consumers will have all information available will just magically have a change of heart.   The reality is they sound like people who are drinking a strange strand of Hegelian/Marxist historicist Kool-aid in a very subtle way. They probably should keep their Ayn Randian utopia to the fiction shelves and beef up on some behavioral science and sociology.

They'd do a lot for empower individuals and expanding the autonomy of people in a highly bureaucratic society where states and corporations tread on the individual in oh so many (reformable) ways.

Downgrade Doesn’t Matter as Bonds Show Faith in Fed After S&P

File under who [aside from the GOP/Tea Party] didn't see that coming?  

 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signaled he may expand record monetary stimulus over the most opposition of his tenure to revive the faltering recovery and reduce unemployment stuck around 9 percent.

The central bank said yesterday that officials “discussed the range of policy tools” to strengthen growth and are “prepared to employ these tools as appropriate” while pledging to keep the benchmark interest rate near zero until at least mid-2013. Three policy makers dissented from the decision for the first time since Bernanke, 57, became chairman in 2006.

“Bernanke will push through QE3 if the economic conditions warrant it,” said Steve Lear, who helps manage $150 billion at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. The first two rounds of so-called quantitative easing totaled $2.3 trillion yet have left the Fed with a recovery that officials yesterday judged to be “considerably slower” than anticipated.

Treasury yields plunged to record lows, stocks soared and the dollar fell on the Fed’s first move to bolster stimulus since November 2010, when officials agreed to the $600 billion second round of asset purchases.

“The chairman will do the right thing for the economy regardless of what people might say,” said Randall Kroszner, a professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who served on the Fed board under Bernanke from March 2006 to January 2009. “Bernanke has shown his skin is elephant- thick.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 4.7 percent to 1,172.53, the biggest gain since March 2009, one day after the worst drop since December 2008. The two-year government-bond yield dropped 0.07 percentage point to 0.19 percent after touching a record low of 0.16 percent, while the 10-year yield reached a low of 2.03 percent and closed at 2.25 percent.

‪Chomsky: We Shouldn't Ridicule Tea Party Protesters‬‏

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Standard and Poor's downgrade

The downgrade by S&P is a statement on one thing and one thing only.  We are very close to being a banana-republic that can't function properly.

Ezra Klein: Standard & Poor’s has been wrong before. But they’re right now.:

“The downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges,” they explained in the statement accompanying Friday’s decision. After Republicans in Congress spent three months weighing whether or not to default on our debt and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that paying our bills would never again be a foregone conclusion, can anyone really argue with that? After every Republican presidential candidate save Jon Huntsman either remained silent on, or flatly opposed, the deal to raise the debt ceiling, can anyone really say that U.S. debt is completely riskless? That there’s no chance of a political miscalculation, and if there is such a chance, that they can perfectly predict the outcome of the ensuing chaos?

In Washington, it’s almost trite to say that the political system is broken. It’s been clear for some time that things really are different, that norms and procedures that once kept fractious congresses functioning have eroded with terrifying speed. If anything, S&P is, as usual, noticing the deterioration too late. But that doesn’t mean the deterioration is not real, or that it should be ignored. Too often, the pressure in Washington is from interest groups and activists and political consultants who are, perhaps without meaning to, pushing towards further dysfunction. Those of us in Washington who would like to see the government work have long wondered when the business community and other entities who need a functioning political system would begin exerting a countervailing force. Perhaps it begins now. If not, then this may be the first of many downgrades to come.

The Economist magazine warned 3 weeks out from the deadline that the Republicans were needlessly playing a dangerous game.

Dean Baker comments on the paradox of the economics of a downgrade of U.S. credit rating:

It would have also been worth asking what S&P thinks it means by this downgrade. U.S. government debt is payable in dollars. The U.S. government issues dollars. What does it mean that S&P thinks that at some point the government will not have the dollars needed to pay interest and principle and its outstanding debt. Does S&P think the U.S. government will forget how to print dollars?

Nope.  It just thinks our government is so dysfunctional because of the Right-wing of the GOP that we might forget how to govern itself.

In terms of what the markets think about this downgrade what should we look for?  Ajay Rajadhyaksha, a managing director at Barclays Capital in New York answered this in recent Businessweek article on the downgrade:  “What really matters is whether the markets are willing to ‘downgrade’ the U.S. bond market. As this week’s move showed, U.S. Treasuries remain the flight-to-quality asset of choice.”  I think Baker's comments above explain why they aren't concerned.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Its not a redistribution of your wealth when you didn't earn it on your own...

Why does a bus driver in Sweden get paid more than a bus driver in India? Or equally trained doctor paid more in the US than in the Philippines? Or an economist in Belgium more than one in Kenya? 

Are they more valuable or more worthy of higher incomes? 

Nope, government policy protects these individuals from a free flow of labor that would lower wages to the markets true equilibrium. Its not "redistribution of your wealth" to tax high income earners at higher rates of taxation when that wealth is higher not because of your effort but because of government policy.

The proportion of your personal income coming because of government policy, social capital, and institutions; the proportion of your income that comes from "free riding" increases as you move up the income level.

‪Bernie Sanders discusses Super Committee‬‏ on MSNBC

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tell The President We Want Bernie Sanders On The Super Committee

Help put someone we can trust to protect Medicare on the Super Committee and join me in making Friday "Put Bernie Sanders on the Super Committee day" on twitter and facebook... pass it on.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chris Hedges on our cultural decline...

Chris Hedges is one of those few and far between voices of reason that every generation is handed.  We ignore him to our own peril.  We must seek out the prophets of our time and listen closely.  He is one of those...

The gravest threat we face from terrorism, as the killings in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik underscore, comes not from the Islamic world but the radical Christian right and the secular fundamentalists who propagate the bigoted, hateful caricatures of observant Muslims and those defined as our internal enemies. The caricature and fear are spread as diligently by the Christian right as they are by atheists such as Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Our religious and secular fundamentalists all peddle the same racist filth and intolerance that infected Breivik. This filth has poisoned and degraded our civil discourse. The looming economic and environmental collapse will provide sparks and tinder to transform this coarse language of fundamentalist hatred into, I fear, the murderous rampages experienced by Norway. I worry more about the Anders Breiviks than the Mohammed Attas....

--------------
....We live in a fundamentalist culture. Our utopian visions of inevitable human progress, obsession with endless consumption, and fetish for power and unlimited growth are fed by illusions that are as dangerous as fantasies about the Second Coming. These beliefs are the newest expression of the infatuation with the apocalypse, one first articulated to Western culture by the early church. This apocalyptic vision was as central to the murderous beliefs of the French Jacobins, the Russian Bolsheviks and the German fascists as it was to the early Christians. The historian Arnold Toynbee argues that racism in Anglo-American culture was given a special virulence after the publication of the King James Bible. The concept of “the chosen people” was quickly adopted, he wrote, by British and American imperialists. It fed the disease of white supremacy. It gave them the moral sanction to dominate and destroy other races, from the Native Americans to those on the subcontinent.

Our secular and religious fundamentalists come out of this twisted yearning for the apocalypse and belief in the “chosen people.” They advocate, in the language of religion and scientific rationalism, the divine right of our domination, the clash of civilizations. They assure us that we are headed into the broad, uplifting world of universal democracy and a global free market once we sign on for the subjugation and extermination of those who oppose us. They insist—as the fascists and the communists did—that this call for a new world is based on reason, factual evidence and science or divine will. But schemes for universal human advancement, no matter what language is used to justify them, are always mythic. They are designed to satisfy a yearning for meaning and purpose. They give the proponents of these myths the status of soothsayers and prophets. And, when acted upon, they fill the Earth with mass graves, bombed cities, widespread misery and penal colonies. The extent of this fundamentalism is evident in the strident utterances of the Christian right as well as those of the so-called New Atheists....

---------

Our faith in the inevitability of human progress constitutes an inability to grasp the tragic nature of history. Human history is one of constant conflict between the will to power and the will to nurture and protect life. Our greatest achievements are always intertwined with our greatest failures. Our most exalted accomplishments are always coupled with our most egregious barbarities. Science and industry serve as instruments of progress as well as instruments of destruction. The Industrial Age has provided feats of engineering and technology, yet it has also destroyed community, spread the plague of urbanization, uprooted us all, turned human beings into cogs and made possible the total war and wholesale industrial killing that has marked the last century. These technologies, even as we see them as our salvation, are rapidly destroying the ecosystem on which we depend for life.

There is no linear movement in history. Morality and ethics are static. Human nature does not change. Barbarism is part of the human condition and we can all succumb to its basest dimensions. This is the tragedy of history. Human will is morally ambiguous. The freedom to act as often results in the construction of new prisons and systems of repression as it does the safeguarding of universal human rights. The competing forces of love and of power define us, what Sigmund Freud termed Eros and Thanatos. Societies have, throughout history, ignored calls for altruism and mutuality in times of social upheaval and turmoil. They have wasted their freedom in the self-destructive urges that currently envelope us. These urges are very human and very dangerous. They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress. When this progress stalls or is reversed, when the dreams of advancement and financial stability are thwarted, when a people confronts its own inevitable downward spiral, dark forces of vengeance and retribution are unleashed. Fundamentalists serve an evil that is unseen and unexamined. And the longer this evil is ignored the more dangerous and deadly it becomes. Those who seek through violence the Garden of Eden usher in the apocalypse.

There is no linear movement in history. Morality and ethics are static. Human nature does not change. Barbarism is part of the human condition and we can all succumb to its basest dimensions. This is the tragedy of history. Human will is morally ambiguous. The freedom to act as often results in the construction of new prisons and systems of repression as it does the safeguarding of universal human rights. The competing forces of love and of power define us, what Sigmund Freud termed Eros and Thanatos. Societies have, throughout history, ignored calls for altruism and mutuality in times of social upheaval and turmoil. They have wasted their freedom in the self-destructive urges that currently envelope us. These urges are very human and very dangerous. They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress. When this progress stalls or is reversed, when the dreams of advancement and financial stability are thwarted, when a people confronts its own inevitable downward spiral, dark forces of vengeance and retribution are unleashed. Fundamentalists serve an evil that is unseen and unexamined. And the longer this evil is ignored the more dangerous and deadly it becomes. Those who seek through violence the Garden of Eden usher in the apocalypse.

Bernie Sanders the 3rd most popular Senator in the US

Netanyahu Said to Be Ready to Negotiate on Basis of 1967 Lines

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be willing to resume talks with the Palestinians on the basis of the 1967 boundary line, which would mean withdrawing from West Bank territory, Israel’s Channel Two television said yesterday.

An Israeli official, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject, said that as part of Israel’s effort to return to peace talks and counter a Palestinian bid for UN recognition, Israel is willing to accept a U.S. proposal on borders. Netanyahu had publicly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to use the 1967 boundaries as a starting point for negotiations when the two leaders met at the White House May 21.

Obama had called for negotiations that would establish a Palestinian state based on the line that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and Jerusalem in the 1967 war with Arab nations. The proposal included provisions for land swaps that would allow Israel to keep some large West Bank settlements in return for offsetting land on the Israel side of the 1967 line.

Socialism watch: Henry County GA

 I look forward to hearing moans from my local Republican friends about government intervention in the free market...

Could This Deal Raise Budget Deficits?

File this under: people that use their "household budget" to explain to all of us why its obvious we have to cut government spending, don't tend to understand how economy's work. If you slow economic growth, by cutting spending, you decrease revenues and increase the deficit...

Concerns that debt ceiling spending cuts will weigh on US economy

Demand for the dollar was limited on concern an agreement between President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders on raising the debt ceiling and spending cuts will weigh on growth in the world’s biggest economy. The House approved legislation to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and cut federal spending by $2.4 trillion or more. The measure goes to the Senate for a final vote planned today.

“Looking ahead, people will be wondering whether the debt agreement will work, and spending cuts may weigh on growth,” said Tsutomu Soma, a bond and currency dealer at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo. “The dollar won’t switch to a real upward trend.”

U.S. personal income increased 0.2 percent in June after gaining 0.3 percent in May, according to the median estimate of economists in a Bloomberg News survey before today’s data.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 50.9 in July, the lowest since July 2009, from 55.3 the prior month, data showed yesterday. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected it would drop to 54.5.

The US is not outside of the norm in terms of its debt levels

Debt Figure 7 (1).pdf Download this file

There isn't a debt "crisis" in the US.  In response to the collapse of the housing bubble revenues declined, automatic stabilizers that kick in (like unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc.) and our tiny (but helpful nonetheless) stimulus.  Governments are supposed to run deficits during economic downturns to make up for the decline in private sector spending.

Here is a comparison of of nations by the Brookings Institute.