Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged Economic Crisis

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Catholic Bishop's Labor Day Statement 2013

Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God. From an ethical and moral perspective we embrace the exhortation of St. Paul “to anticipate one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10). Today’s competitive culture challenges us to strive for victory and advantage, but for St. Paul the challenge is to build each other up and honor one another’s innate dignity.

Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, “Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person… . It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.” Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse, and exploitation.

Even with new indicators of some modest progress in recovery, the economy still has not improved the standard of living for many people, especially for the poor and the working poor, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. More than four million people have been jobless for over six months, and that does not include the millions more who have simply lost hope. For every available job, there are often five unemployed and underemployed people actively vying for it. This jobs gap pushes wages down. Half of the jobs in this country pay less than $27,000 per year. More than 46 million people live in poverty, including 16 million children. The economy is not creating an adequate number of jobs that allow workers to provide for themselves and their families. Jobs, wages, and poverty are interrelated. The only way to reduce the widening gap between the affluent and the poorest people in our nation is by creating quality jobs that provide a just compensation that enables workers to live in the dignity appropriate for themselves and their families.

Right on. It’s not often I praise the Catholic Church for anything, but it’s lovely to see the Catholic Bishops moving back towards a message of social justice, versus one of exclusion. Not that I think this speaks for the church as a whole, but praise when it’s due, y’know? Pope Frank ain’t perfect, but he’s better than Emperor Palpatine Pope Benedict.

Filed under Catholic Church labor Labor Day organized labor dignity economy economic crisis economic violence politics news religion

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Brand new radio show!

Economist Anne Alexander dropped by the show to discuss just what the hell QE3 is, and how we got here. Meg went on an epic First Amendment rant within the first 30 minutes of the show. Why? Because the University of Wyoming has learned nothing from history, or the principles of freedom of expression in the face of controversy.

Legit Conservative and Meg solve the financial crisis and debate whether or not Vladimir Putin should be allowed to just go full out Bond villain. Let’s just say this: Do you believe in miracles?

D-bags included Rep. Todd Akin, Sen. Scott Brown, and Ann Coulter. The one d-bag to rule them all = the people who are so lazy in their bigotry that they lynch chairs. 

The show was awesomesauce! All content remains copyright original creators.

Listen and chat live next week here.

Track listing:

  • Billy Bragg, “The Internationale”
  • Street Dogs, “Decency Police”
  • Eels, “Get Ur Freak On”
  • Mark Lanegan, “Down in the Dark”
  • Dinosaur Jr., “Watch the Corners”
  • Mumford & Sons, “Holland Road”
  • Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, “Grey Cell Green”
  • The Twilight Singers, “Bonnie Brae”
  • Reverend Deadeye, “Can’t Take It With You”
  • Scott H. Biram, “The Wishing Well”
  • Throwing Muses, “Teller”
  • L7, “Shove”
  • The Distillers, “Love Is Paranoid”
  • Bikini Kill, “Rebel Girl”
  • My Bloody Valentine, “Soon”
  • The Morning After Girls, “Who is They”
  • The Jim Carroll Band, “Catholic Boy”
  • Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”
  • Jenny Owen Youngs, “Hot in Herre”
  • The Gaslight Anthem, “Great Expectations”
  • Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, “Two Against One (feat. Jack White)”
  • Morphine, “Buena”
  • Randy Newman, “I’m Dreaming”
  • Mojo Nixon, “Pirate Radio”

Filed under Cognitive Dissonance Radio live podcast politics progressive radio Election 2012 Econmics QE3 Economic crisis University of Wyoming Todd Akin Mitt Romney Barack Obama Vladimir Putin

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Occupy Tulsa Denounces Ron Paul and Other Republican Candidates: “Puppets for the One Percent.”

Occupy Tulsa issued on its website today a condemnation of Ron Paul and other Republican presidential candidates, calling them “puppets for the One Percent.” Group organizer Daniel Lee writes, “The Republican Party has worked for years against the working class of this country, promoting crony capitalism and unregulated corporate corruption, handing tax breaks and corporate welfare to the rich, while slashing public support programs for the poor and encouraging the exploitation of the people. Ron Paul is no exception.”

[Lee] continued, “His blatant racism and fanatical support of rampant unregulated corporate greed under the guise of ‘free markets’ poses as great a threat to the freedom and equality of the people of this country as bloated, openly bigoted Republican bureaucrats like Newt Gingrich or the trust-fund club elitists like Mitt Romney.”

Occupy Tulsa, now as ever, does not promote or endorse political parties or candidates. However, it is committed to exposing corruption and cronyism wherever it is found, and it bears a strong responsibility to the people to warn of candidates seeking to adopt a populist stance while promoting the interests of the One Percent, such as Ron Paul. Paul’s strong defense of Mitt Romney’s record as a venture capitalist shows clearly he is on the side of the very institutions which have exploited the American people and ruined our economy. Despite his stance on the war and other popular libertarian issues, Paul’s public social and economic policy would bring this country to a complete state of ruin, and dismantle what little safety net is left for minorities, the poor, and the working class.

As such, his positions are incompatible with the ideals and goals of the Occupy movement, and concerted attempts by Ron Paul groups to co-opt the movement should be taken as a serious threat to the cohesion and unity of the revolution. As always, all individuals are welcome to join Occupy Tulsa as part of the 99%, but it is imperative that the movement remain true to its founding ideals of direct democracy and complete social and economic equality.

I’m delighted to see a condemnation like this for one significant reason - in recent debates and interviews, Ron Paul has begun stating he sympathizes with the plight of the 99%. Notice he also essentially states he empathizes with the one percent as well, using the same language as Romney about punishing success, then typically moves into claims it was too much government regulation which caused the financial crisis. 

If over-regulation were the case, the decrease of government oversight, coupled with the increase in severity of crises and complexity of risky financial instruments, makes for an awfully interesting correlation.

Using the language of populism does not make one a champion of the working class.

Filed under Ron Paul One percent 99 percent politics Occupy Occupy Tulsa populism crisis economy economic crisis

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Former AIG CEO Sues Claiming Taxpayers Need To Pony Up $25 Billion More

Brass ones. And not in a good way:

For many years, insurance behemoth AIG was so poorly managed that the American taxpayer eventually had to invest nearly $70 billion in the incompetently run company to prevent its collapse from taking the entire U.S. economy along with it. Former AIG CEO Maurice Greenberg, however, thinks that the American people haven’t done enough to protect his massive fortune, so his company filed a lawsuit demanding even more taxpayer money.

For reals. He’s suing on the basis that when the government seizes or takes over property (aside from property used in illegal activity, i.e. RICO seizures) the government must provide ‘just compensation’ - typically, fair market value. ThinkProgress points out that when we bailed out AIG, the fair market value was nearly nil.

See?

Now, let’s say AIG’s assets were involved in illegal activity. Just kidding! Quite a bit of what companies like AIG did was legal - or borderline legal. Deregulation doesn’t make tanking the market illegal - it makes it a near certainty.

Filed under AIG Maurice Greenberg Wall Street Economy politics fraud Financial markets economic crisis financial crisis the 1%

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Panic of the Plutocrats

It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

This is so perfect. The plutocrats should be worried.

Filed under Paul Krugman Occupy Wall Street Politics plutocrats we are the 99 percent one percent protest economy economic crisis

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The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country’s income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it’s been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US’ 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US’s social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.

The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.

How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.

This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on August 2, 2011 at 0930 GMT.

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/faultlines/

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AJFaultLines
Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/AJFaultLines
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Watch this. Now. Share it far and wide.

Filed under Al-Jazeera politics inequality poverty wealth income Wall Street Globalization Capital capitalism Working class working poor labor finance capitalism crisis economy economic crisis public policy deregulation

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'The Worst I've Seen by Far': Budget Cuts Meet Poverty in the Heartland

"Both Congress and the Ohio General Assembly still have this bizarre notion that if we just channel enough money to rich folks they’re going to come down here to Athens, or Meigs or Vinton County, and invest money in jobs down here in Appalachia,” says Frech. “It’s been proven untrue year after year after year—and yet both parties keep selling it to us anyway.”

As a result, Frech’s department has been forced to cut services at precisely the time when the need is greatest. For example, a dental program that helped 150 clients per month was eliminated; a program helping 690 clients study and work at community college was cut to 500, and slots continue to decline…money to help people with fuel and automobile repairs so they could fulfill their TANF work requirement was also eliminated.

"If you’re living on $300 to $400 per month, you don’t have money to get your car fixed or pay for gasoline," says Frech. "So these are people who literally have to take food out of their kids’ mouths in order to sweep the county garage and meet their work requirement. And that situation is going to get worse with the next round of budget cuts." Frech says he listens in disbelief as politician after politician—from state legislators to President Obama—claim to be "protecting the most vulnerable people, especially children" but support budgets that make the lives of poor people and kids harder.

"Things are just so much harsher now, the way we treat poor people," says Frech. "It makes you wonder—who is going to champion their cause? When you keep your eyes open to how much people are hurting out there, there’s a lot of nights I don’t sleep.

I shudder at what’s happened to my home state. This is Ohio, but this could be anywhere.

Filed under Ohio Budget Appalachia Poverty economic crisis economy shared sacrifice inequality

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Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

Economists long ago tried to justify the vast inequalities that seemed so troubling in the mid-19th century—inequalities that are but a pale shadow of what we are seeing in America today. The justification they came up with was called “marginal-productivity theory.” In a nutshell, this theory associated higher incomes with higher productivity and a greater contribution to society. It is a theory that has always been cherished by the rich. Evidence for its validity, however, remains thin. The corporate executives who helped bring on the recession of the past three years—whose contribution to our society, and to their own companies, has been massively negative—went on to receive large bonuses. In some cases, companies were so embarrassed about calling such rewards “performance bonuses” that they felt compelled to change the name to “retention bonuses” (even if the only thing being retained was bad performance). Those who have contributed great positive innovations to our society, from the pioneers of genetic understanding to the pioneers of the Information Age, have received a pittance compared with those responsible for the financial innovations that brought our global economy to the brink of ruin.

A sobering look at inequality in the United States that raises a serious question: Where do we go from here?

Filed under Inequality Wealth economy economic crisis economic violence top 1% United States

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The Real Housewives of Wall Street Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs? 
By Matt TaibbiApril 12, 2011 9:55 AM ET
America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we’re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year’s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.
Most Americans know about that budget. What they don’t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the “official” budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.
Read more…

The Real Housewives of Wall Street
Why is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?

By Matt TaibbiApril 12, 2011 9:55 AM ET

America has two national budgets, one official, one unofficial. The official budget is public record and hotly debated: Money comes in as taxes and goes out as jet fighters, DEA agents, wheat subsidies and Medicare, plus pensions and bennies for that great untamed socialist menace called a unionized public-sector workforce that Republicans are always complaining about. According to popular legend, we’re broke and in so much debt that 40 years from now our granddaughters will still be hooking on weekends to pay the medical bills of this year’s retirees from the IRS, the SEC and the Department of Energy.

Most Americans know about that budget. What they don’t know is that there is another budget of roughly equal heft, traditionally maintained in complete secrecy. After the financial crash of 2008, it grew to monstrous dimensions, as the government attempted to unfreeze the credit markets by handing out trillions to banks and hedge funds. And thanks to a whole galaxy of obscure, acronym-laden bailout programs, it eventually rivaled the “official” budget in size — a huge roaring river of cash flowing out of the Federal Reserve to destinations neither chosen by the president nor reviewed by Congress, but instead handed out by fiat by unelected Fed officials using a seemingly nonsensical and apparently unknowable methodology.

Read more…

Filed under Wall St. Matt Taibbi fraud bailout economic crisis economic collapse economic violence class war Rich versus Poor Rolling Stone Wall Street

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Polite Robber Asks for a Favor: Empty the Till

The owner of a Seattle, Wash., convenience store says the man who robbed him at gunpoint was polite.

Shell station owner John Henry told the police that the man bought a cup of coffee and then asked for a favor - empty the till.

When Henry asked what he meant, the man said, “I’m robbing you, sir.”

Henry offered him $40, but the man took all the money, about $300, apologizing and saying that he had bills to pay and children to feed.

As he left, the robber said that if he ever got back on his feet, he’d pay the money back.

This is one of many desperate stories out there. I’m not going to condone his actions, but it’s goddamn hard to condemn them. Particularly when people like him have been the victims of robbery themselves in favor of bailing out the crooks of Wall St.

Filed under economic crisis economic violence Economy Class war Seattle Who's being robbed

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As Harold Meyerson documents in a brilliant piece for The American Prospect, our most admired corporations — GE, Apple, Hewlett Packard, Intel — are creating ever more jobs overseas and relatively fewer at home. This has the double benefit of taking advantage of cheap labor abroad and disciplining workers to accept low wages at home. Along with the high unemployment rates have come declining earnings. Meyerson writes: “In 2001, 32 percent of the income of the firms on Standard & Poor’s index of the 500 largest publicly traded U.S. companies came from abroad. By 2008, that figure had grown to 48 percent.”

Robert Kuttner: Business Doesn’t Need American Workers (via bluntlyblue)

You are unnecessary. 

(via sp-a-m)

Filed under America Jobs Economy economic crisis economic violence

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'Give It Back For Jobs' Helps Affluent Return Tax Cuts

For affluent Americans outraged by the fiscal and social consequences of tax cuts handed to them by President George W. Bush and recently extended for two more years, a trio of similarly dismayed academics has furnished a way for them to put their money where their mouth is.

Their new website, giveitbackforjobs.org, invites high-income Americans to calculate the value of their tax cut under the extension and then pledge to donate that money directly to charities that the site says encourage “fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class.” The site doesn’t accept contributions directly, but links users to those charities.

The site has been engineered to offer Americans who view the tax cuts as misguided a means to personally direct dollars toward countering the effects, while also registering a protest for broad policies that have exacerbated economic inequality.

"It’s like civil disobedience," said Daniel Markovits, a professor at Yale Law School, and one of the three academics behind the initiative. "You’re not committing a crime, but the government says, ‘This is what you should give,’ and you’re saying, ‘No, I should give more.’"

This just made me happy.

Filed under Tax cuts Tax cuts don't solve everything rich rich people poverty economic crisis doing the right thing jobs employment