Freddie: Out of school, yeah
Larry: County fair in the country sun
Sly: And everything is cool, ooh yeah!
All: Hot fun in the summertime!
Jul 06 2010
When a society becomes corrupt it becomes economically unhealthy. Although it may continue to accumulate wealth through global plundering, the depletion of trust resulting from corruption undermines domestic productivity, as increasing numbers of citizens lose the incentive to cooperate constructively. The wealthy and powerful respond to the economic deterioration in classic zero-sum fashion: to preserve and extend their advantages, they extract more resources from the poor and the weak.
This is the situation America faces at the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The rapacious rich, having consolidated their control over the government since the “Reagan Revolution,” have undermined the economic productivity of the United States to the point that their only remaining avenue for further enrichment is to extract wealth from the middle and lower classes. They will do this by causing the US Government to default on domestic obligations to the poor and middle class – specifically Social Security and Medicare.
The cutbacks will fall on the weakest members of society because the wealthy and powerful control the executive branch, the Congress, and the courts. Behind a huge propaganda blitz, and possibly a new war of choice, the middle class and poor will be told that “sacrifice” is every American’s patriotic duty. Meanwhile, CEO salaries will continue to rise and wealth will be further concentrated, as the oligarchy continues to feed on the decaying carcass of our former democracy.
When social conditions for the middle class reach a point of intolerable deterioration, a political backlash will develop, but this is likely to be brutally suppressed by “anti-terrorist” tactics similar to those utilized in third-world regimes. The people may ultimately prevail against the oligarchs, but the cost will be frightful.
Given the sociopathic character of the American economic elite and their highly perfected tools of political and media manipulation, this unhappy outcome is inevitable. The public Internet has arrived too late to halt America’s plunge into the abyss. The forces of greed have overwhelmed the nascent movements for justice and sustainable society. Something true, just, and decent may arise from the ruins of the American culture of predation, but it will not emerge from simple reason and honest communication; it will be the result of a colossal and costly failure, the global failure of selfishness and deceit in a world sustainable only through sharing and honesty.
Jul 06 2010
This past holiday weekend I visited two Civil War battlefields: Antietam and Gettysburg. While part of my motivation to go was purely the tourist’s curiosity, I also went to remind myself of the multitude of ironies present in armed conflict. It does me well to contemplate what I believe to be the overall futility of warfare, regardless of the context. I certainly found plenty of both. I chose to go in part to celebrate Independence Day in a completely different sort of context. While I do appreciate the sacrifices made to establish a new nation and with it a groundbreaking experiment in Democracy, my pacifist beliefs often leave me deeply conflicted. To move nearly one hundred years forward in time from the Revolutionary War to the conflict that tore a hole in our nation’s fabric seemed much more suited for the occasion.
Jul 06 2010
BP approaches funds to fend off takeover bids: source
By Amena Bakr and Nicholas Parasie
July 6, 2010
|(Reuters) – British oil company BP is seeking support from sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia to defend itself from any takeover bids while it deals with its massive U.S. oil spill, a senior UAE source said on Tuesday.
BP executives have held talks with a number of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) including Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar and Singapore, the source told Reuters under condition of anonymity.
“BP is seeking a strategic partner so it doesn’t get taken over by other major oil companies such as Exxon and Total,” the source said. “It’s BP that is approaching the sovereign wealth funds not the other way round. They are the ones in need of a partner.”
Jul 06 2010
I dreamed I was dead and talking to your spirit at the tree of life Mr. President. You were somewhat annoyed at having been summoned by greater powers than you, but you listened and were very considerate of hearing what I had to say. I didn’t need to tell you all the details of what you are considering signing, and I understood your complex predicament. I told you that you had a choice to make since most the remaining natural resources of the Earth Mother are on Indigenous lands, and you are president of all the people of this country. I told you I pitied your predicament and would not want it for myself. When respecting one’s sacred lands means compromising the survival of another, how do you decide between what is right and necessary but evil?
Jul 06 2010
Economies in Latin America Race Ahead
Under this jolly headline on June 30, 2010, the New York Times deployed a joyful panaorama of “economic” news from Latin America.
While the United States and Europe fret over huge deficits and threats to a fragile recovery, this region has a surprise in store. Latin America, beset in the past by debt defaults, currency devaluations and the need for bailouts from rich countries, is experiencing robust economic growth that is the envy of its northern counterparts.
Robust economic growth! Hurrah!
The World Bank forecasts that the region’s economy will grow 4.5 percent this year.
Hurrah! Brazil up 9 percent! Mexico up 5 percent! Peru up 9.3 percent!
Jul 06 2010
Muse in the Morning
Phenomena IX: choosing
Jul 06 2010
I really didn’t have the heart to go out to a fireworks display yesterday, and so, in my worst form of thinking not so far ahead, this was my effort to keep the despair at bay. I live in New Jersey. I can’t really afford to live here, and not too far from now that’s going to become a desperate situation, which may mean I’ll need to move or find some other form of support in an economy where I don’t really expect any real solution, unless one appears by magic or kismet.
Making odd little videos is one desperate measure among many to keep the hounds in my mind at bay. Please feel free to pass this one along, if you find it amusing.
Too many of the jokes are in the video description, I’m afraid.
Since YouTube has redesigned their pages to make descriptions all but invisible to those who go there to look, I’m adding the description here as well:
Warning: THIS VIDEO IS VUVUZELA-COMPATIBLE
July 4, 2010 – Whackaninny County Court House, Gorp’s River, NJ
Whackaninny County Board of Supervisors regret to announce that, due to extreme budget cuts and a really fat governor, this year’s Fireworks display has been reduced drastically. We hope you understand. Jack’s nephew Walter has offered this video in place of fireworks. It’s about twice as long as the actual display, and contains special effects we could never afford to contract out, at least not in the state of New Jersey.
Please stop calling. Due to budget cuts we had to hock the answering machine and sell the receptionist into slavery. We tried to cancel the phone service but discovered we could not afford the disconnection fee.