September 30, 2008 archive

Boom and Bust, from a Notable Economist

While many of us find ourselves swallowed up by the panic stimulated by 24-hour news cable services and the dying daily press, when we consider the current credit crunch and threats of doomsday, it is important to get some perspective on what is really happening.

History provides us that perspective. The following description of the famous economic panic that followed the collapse of the speculative bubble that surrounded railway expansion in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century presents an illustrative example.

The economist writing here looked back at this famous economic collapse and drew some serious conclusions. The parallels between then and now are striking, even if “then” was over 150 years ago (emphases added):

Four at Four

  1. The Chicago Tribune reports Obama-sponsored mercury-storage bill sent to President Bush. The legislation would ban export of mercury as of 2013.

    Stockpiles of toxic mercury kept by industry soon will be stored safely in the United States instead of ending up on the world market where it might pollute the environment.

    Under bipartisan legislation Congress sent to President George W. Bush Monday for his expected signature, mercury exports would be banned in 2013 and the Energy Department would be required to store the heavy metal permanently.

    The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Barack Obama, introduced the bill in response to a 2005 Tribune series about mercury contamination in fish.

  2. McClatchy Newspapers report Those who remember the Depression fear its return. “For those who lived it, the Great Depression has been seared into them like a scar or worn like a talisman they can touch any time they want… At the depths of the Depression, over one-quarter of the American workforce was out of work.”

    Geneva Spickard is pretty sure America today couldn’t do again what America did to live through its hardest economic times and reign as the financial power it has.

    Turner Hinkle agrees. We simply don’t know how.

    “I’m afraid if the next depression that hits is like the one in the ’30s, we would not long have a democracy,” says Turner Hinkle. “I don’t think the government can let it be. People are too used to having everything handed to them.”

    At 91, she is plagued by arthritis of the spine. She is proud of her two sons, one who became a stockbroker, one who became a doctor.

    But a woman who was never afraid during the Depression is afraid now. She is afraid for her great grandchildren and for the world they have been born into.

    She calls it “cruel.”

    Then adds, “God help them.”

Four at Four continues with young Chinese losing their religion and the Brazilian government facing criminal charges for Amazon deforestation.

Obama’s mercury export ban legislation sent to Bush

Sen. Barack Obama can add another accomplishment to his legislative record.

Today, the Chicago Tribune reports Obama-sponsored mercury-storage bill now sent to Bush.

Stockpiles of toxic mercury kept by industry soon will be stored safely in the United States instead of ending up on the world market where it might pollute the environment.

Under bipartisan legislation Congress sent to President George W. Bush Monday for his expected signature, mercury exports would be banned in 2013 and the Energy Department would be required to store the heavy metal permanently.

The bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Barack Obama, introduced the bill in response to… mercury contamination in fish.

And last year, because of pressure from Obama and “a handful of other senators”, the Department of Energy agreed to “keep its own 1,300-ton stockpile of mercury off the market” as well.  

Pony Sliding Kitty Party for undercovercalico

and because it would serve us well to remember simple stuff like this:

All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.

Albert Einstein, 1954

Getting “There” From Here: No Joyride

Or: Why I am a Liberal, Part 4

We as Progressives/Liberals have an unspoken, almost unspeakable vision within us. We look around at the current world and want to change it. Some of us would be content with relatively minor changes. Others see the existing world, see what is wrong with it, and want to take the changes needed all the way to their logical end. To create a new and different world based on Progressive principles, to get ‘there.’

We have The Idea, even though we are not really able to articulate it cleanly and clearly right now. The Idea of a world far different from this one.  A world based on equality and justice, on freedom and on the worth and dignity of the individual. A planetary society based on and adhering to real, universally human, moral principles, but without the moral dogmatism and hypocrisy of our current, failed model. A world, to put in the current frame, where the economy (and everything else) is based on benefit of ALL the people, not for the very few. A world where “the greatest good of all concerned” is the driving paradigm. Where people are as, if not more, important than profit. A world where political, economic, and moral decisions are NOT arrived at solely because they benefit those making the decision. A world based on cooperating for the greater good, not competing against every other human for personal or ‘tribal’ advantage.

And above all, by necessity, a world that has ‘solved’ the Climate Crisis, with a healthy atmosphere fit for humans to breath and oceans that are not vast pits of acidic brew incapable of supporting life. A world we can leave to our grandchildren and the next Seven Generations with a clear conscious.  

That sort of thing. Something closer, at least, to a utopia not a dystopia. Creating this better world, or as much of it as we can get, is what is at the heart of Progressivism.

Or to put it strictly in terms of contrast, a world without the ideologies of Republicanism and its outdated worldviews and policies of separation and hate and conquering….everything and everybody. Again in the current context, a world without Class War, where the well being of the privileged Ruling Class is based on ensuring and continuing the suffering of the poor and middle class. A world, if it is possible, without a Ruling Class. An egalitarian world where hard work and intelligence is still rewarded, but not at the expense of the ‘average guy.’ And especially not at the expense of the poor and the weakest members of society, since society, ideally, exists to protect the weak and less fortunate from the strong and powerful.

Civilization and the Rule of Law, not the Rule of the Jungle…..which somehow the privileged and strong always seem to try to create.

As one Progressive put it: “Some people look at the world as it is and say why, I look at the world as it could be and say …why not?


ABC Advertiser blackout against Air America memo revealed

Corporate feudalism at it’s absolute worst. Read ’em and weep. Original story here.

Snow Falling on Mars

The very idea is beautiful — just say the words and it is like poetry, “Snow falling on Mars.”

Mars Craft Detects Falling Snow

By Marc Kaufman

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 30, 2008; Page A02

Icy snow falls from high in Mars’s atmosphere and may even reach the planet’s surface, scientists working with NASA’s Phoenix lander reported yesterday.

Laser instruments aboard the lander detected the snow in clouds about 2 1/2 miles above the surface and followed the precipitation as it fell more than a mile. But because of limitations with the technology, it was unclear whether any of the powdery stuff made it all the way to the surface.

It’s apparently real snow — made of water.

Open Thread


This sucker could go down.  

~George W. Bush  

Docudharma Times Tuesday September 30

Down In Flames Or Up In Smoke Goes That Bill

Perhaps The Congress Will Listen To The People

Oh Never Mind Money And Power Is More


Tuesday’s Headlines:

Gates Criticizes Conventional Focus At Start of Iraq War

Olmert: Israel has to return occupied lands to achieve peace

Young Iraqi girls turned into perfect weapon

Sumo hit by match-fixing claims

Chinese arrests over milk scandal

Flawed victory for ‘last dictator’ Lukashenko as Belarus elections denounced

Far-right leader claims he is ‘real victor’ in Austria

Stolen tanks add urgency to piracy fight

Obama’s Plans to Fight Poverty in Africa  

Ecuador votes to lock in its shift to the left

Lawmakers Grope for Resolution as They Attempt to Avoid Economic Calamity  



Published: September 29, 2008  

WASHINGTON – Defying President Bush and the leaders of both parties, rank-and-file lawmakers in the House on Monday rejected a $700 billion economic rescue plan in a revolt that rocked the Capitol, sent markets plunging and left top lawmakers groping for a resolution.

The stunning defeat of the proposal on a 228-205 vote after marathon talks by senior Congressional and Bush administration officials lowered a fog of uncertainty over economies around the globe. Its authors had described the measure as essential to preventing widespread economic calamity.

Panic grips world’s markets

 Shock as American rescue plan rejected on a day of nationalisations and bail-outs  

Andrew Clark in New York

The Guardian,

Tuesday September 30 2008

The US government’s $700bn bail-out of the banking industry collapsed yesterday as Congress defied the White House by voting down the plan, sending Wall Street stocks plummeting and spreading shockwaves through the global economy.

In a snub to George Bush’s authority, Republicans in the House of Representatives led a rebellion which defeated the rescue by 228 votes to 205.

As alarm mounted on Wall Street about the stability of the financial system, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 777 points to 10,365 – its biggest percentage fall for seven years and its worst drop ever in terms of points.



In Nevada, Democrats are on a roll

Obama has built one of the most formidable political operations the state has ever seen, and party registration is up. Even so, the presidential race there remains a dead heat.

By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

September 30, 2008    

RENO — By just about any measure, now is a fine time to be a Democrat in Nevada.

Barack Obama has built one of the most formidable political operations the state has ever seen. Party registration is soaring. The Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, may be the most unpopular state executive in the country.

The economy, which thrived for decades, is in frightfully poor shape — for months Nevada has led the nation in home foreclosures, and unemployment stands at a 23-year high — handing Democrats a bludgeon with which to pound the GOP.

For all of that, however, the state’s presidential race is a dead heat, making Nevada one of a dozen or so states that could decide the contest between Sen. John McCain and the senator from Illinois.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XIX

Art Link

Breaking Out


Free from the prison of my mind

Free from the fear that bound me

Free from denial and guilt and pain

Free of the sorrows of the past

Free to experience passion and joy

Free to grow, free to feel, free to love

Free to laugh, free to cry, free to sing

Free to live rather than merely exist

Free to walk my own path

Free to follow my dreams

Free to embrace the splendor and the beauty

Free to explore; free to be me

–Robyn Elaine Serven

—September, 1993

Dishonorable Mention


Dishonorable Mention ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

Dimensions: 56″ x 20″

Description: Oversized American flag award ribbon with presidential seal and articles of Impeachment from Bill Clinton’s term contrasted with the documented, yet not acted-upon,  impeachable offenses committed by George W. Bush.

Materials: Three American flags, Acetate, gold trim, iron on transfer of Presidential Seal, plastic needlepoint grid.

See larger views of the artwork on my blog BLOG . Cross-posted there and at DailyKos.

Overnight Caption Contest

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