The coming GOP austerity-induced economic cliff dive

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2011/12/13/the_coming_gopausterity_induced_economic_cliff_dive/

A perfect recipe for an election year: Government spending cuts boost unemployment and freeze the economy

By Andrew Leonard
Tuesday, Dec 13, 2011

The Black Friday spending spree turns out not to have been so great, after all. The rate of retail sales growth in November actually slowed down. But no matter, private economic forecasters are still giddily revising their estimates for economic growth in the fourth quarter upwards. If they’re right, the current quarter is experiencing the fastest economic growth in well over a year.

But then what happens? According to a dispiriting Goldman Sachs research report relayed by Jared Bernstein, there’s a big Christmas hangover coming. The economy, says Goldman Sachs, is about to flatline again. Even worse, their forecast has unemployment rising throughout all of next year.

Goldman Sachs cites a likely recession in Europe as one reason for the downbeat assessment. But the policies enacted by the U.S. government are equally important.

Second, we expect the pace of fiscal restraint to pick up in early 2012. We estimate that fiscal policy at the federal, state and local level subtracted about half a percentage point from real GDP growth in the middle of 2011, but we expect this drag to increase to around 1 percentage point in early 2012. Even this assumes an extension of the temporary payroll tax cut currently scheduled to expire at end-2011. If it lapses, there would be an additional hit of one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point to GDP growth in early 2012.

Continue reading at:    http://www.salon.com/2011/12/13/the_coming_gopausterity_induced_economic_cliff_dive/

Home Sweet Home: The New American Localism

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/13/143538472/home-sweet-home-the-new-american-localism?sc=fb&cc=f

by
December 13, 2011

You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.

These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.

“One bedrock thing that is going on,” says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that “because of aging and the recession, people aren’t moving around as much.”

The U.S. Census Bureau backs him up with a news release — based on a recent report — titled “Mover Rate Reaches Record Low.” The bureau found that only 11.6 percent of Americans changed their living spaces between 2010 and 2011. That is the lowest rate on record since the Current Population Survey of the United States began tracking geographical mobility in 1948. In 1985, for instance, the changed-residence rate was 20.2 percent.

“With homeowner mobility at an all-time low, more people are putting down roots and getting to know their neighbors,” Edmondson says. “At the same time a lot of households have seen sharp declines in discretionary income. They are looking for ways to relax that don’t cost as much, and they are substituting cooperation for cash.”

The new version of the popular bumper sticker “Support Your Local Sheriff” could become “Support Your Local Everything.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.npr.org/2011/12/13/143538472/home-sweet-home-the-new-american-localism?sc=fb&cc=f

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The Super-Rich Get Richer, and Everyone Else Is Going Down the Drain

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/economy/148294/the_super-rich_get_richer%2C_and_everyone_else_is_going_down_the_drain/

By Robert B. Reich

Only twice before in American history has so much been held by so few, yet they’re going to keep their fat tax cuts.

September 24, 2010

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/economy/148294/the_super-rich_get_richer%2C_and_everyone_else_is_going_down_the_drain/

Blame the Ultra Right Wing Extremist Republicans

I’m tired of liberals, progressives and especially LGBT/T folks blaming the Democrats for actions of the ultra right wing Republi-Nazis.

As the late Molly Ivins used to say, “You got to dance with them that  brung you…”

We don’t have a Progressive Party.  Every attempt that has been made to build a third party has been performed top down and ass backwards.  The most recent example being “The Green Party”, which is now mostly a burnt out shell funded by Republi-Nazis.  Before that there was “Peace and Freedom”.  The lesson that needs to be learned is, “You do not start a political party to run someone for president.  You start by running someone for school board.”

We have spent the last 40 years or so engaging in self-defeating behavior including identity politics, only organizing among people like ourselves.

The Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s crossed racial lines.  It may have seemed patronizing to some but a multi-racial movement had seriously left wing progressive roots and the potential to unite poor black and poor white people as well as the better educated  and higher up the class structure, leaders.  One year to the day after Martin Luther King started talking about matters of class and how poor whites and poor blacks were in much the same boat when it came to opportunity, they killed him.  They being the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Hillary was right on that one, there is a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” in this country.  It is both long standing and powerful, backed by moneyed interests like Murdoch, Mellon-Scaife, and Koch.  They own the media, fund right wing think tanks, and fund astro-turf organizations like the Tea Baggers.  They are in a partnership with the religious right, which is funded via tax free tithings from their flocks.

They have a police state on their side that has the power to disrupt and destroy any movement that threatens to actually stand up for equality and social justice.  They infiltrate and subvert our movements, sow dissension and suggest we get apathetic.

They whisper in our ear, “Aww the Democrats didn’t get you what you wanted.  Why don’t you show them who is boss and sit this election out?  Why don’t you withhold money from them?”

Of course Democrats aren’t helped by having a bunch of oh so nice wimps on our side.  You know the kind, the ones who spew the lines about how calling Republi-Nazis the same sorts of names they call us is stooping to their level.  Shit, the oh so nice wimps don’t even want us to bring a knife to a gun fight, they want us to bring kind platitudes, an oath to passivity and a flower to that gun fight.

And at the first sign of failure on the part of the Democrats they want to give up.

Fuck that shit.

We let those Nazi dickwads funded by Breitbart  destroy ACORN, a truly progressive organization and we didn’t put up a protest or a fight.  We have let the media give these bestiality loving Nazis like that cum bag Paladino and self avowed Satanist Christine O’Donnell all the publicity while they ignore serious Democratic candidates who might be better equipped to govern this nation.  We aren’t making a huge uproar when Tea Bagger candidates suggest committing genocide on LGBT/T people by invoking the imprimatur of  “The Bible” and “God”.

It is time to get tough.  Out organize them and take seats from them rather than giving up seats.  If they sling one clod of mud at one of out candidates dump a truck load of manure on theirs.

The corporate funded media have treated ultra right wing airheads like Rand Paul as people to be taken seriously, when in reality they are insane and their ideas are totally un-American.

Speaking of which…  Remember Molly Ivins?  She said of Pat Buchanan’s speech at the ’92 Republi-Nazi Convention, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

We have let these Confederate flag and Nazi values assholes trademark “American Values” and after giving them exclusive rights of usage allowed them to pervert those very same values into something I sure as hell do not recognize as American Values.

I was pretty proud of how far we have come when we elected President Obama, even prouder still when the nomination came down to being between a man of color and a woman.  When I looked at our convention I saw the common people who make up the beautiful tapestry of this diverse nation, and I was proud to be a Democrat.

Not that the Democrats have gotten me the things I want but they have at least tried.

When I looked at the Republican Convention, my only comment was….  “I…I…see white people…” They do not represent us.  The majority of the people of this nation including the majority of Republican voters support the repeal of DADT.

We have about 45 days to work for the party.  Less than half a month to show we refute all the Birther lies about Obama.  45 days to show the world how proud we are of all sorts of people, of all different races and sexualities as well as classes all pulling our oars in the same direction in 2008 to elect the first President , who wasn’t a white male.

Even if we are disappointed this isn’t a time to retreat or to surrender… And damn it I am sometimes seriously disappointed with both Obama and with our congress.  I want them to fight harder but then I realize that we Democrats are a wishy-washy bunch and we don’t like fighting.  Say something is “socialist” and we fold when we could fight for it instead and make the Democratic party represent the sort of democratic socialism they have in much of western Europe.

Am I disappointed with not having Single Payer, inclusive ENDA, the Repeal of DADT and Marriage Equality?  Damn right I am.  But giving in now means never getting those things.  Giving in now means letting a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots who care only for the interests of the rich win.

Now isn’t the time to mourn our failures. Now is the time to organize.

The Revolution will not Enjoy Corporate Sponsorship

The Revolution  absolutely will not be brought to you by Absolut

The Revolution will not give the leaders of the revolution passes to fly on American Airlines as long as they wear a corporate pin

Working Assets may fund a lobbyist to kiss up to some congress person but it will it put some one on a picket line?

Wearing a rainbow pin while waving a rainbow flag sucking down the beer that is sponsoring this years Pride Festival will give you neither freedom nor Pride

Do you really think corporations will sponsor workers rights to a fair share?

A living wage?

Or will they maybe try to buy you off  by helping you focus all your energy on getting a bill passed that will help you enjoy equal access to being a 9.00 dollar an hour barista with a college degree.  A job where you get to pee in the bottle for the manager of the Starbucks that under pays you and over works you.  You know the one that came in and drove the neat funky coffee house where they had poetry readings out of business.

I may be wrong but I sure wouldn’t count on Starbucks sponsoring the revolution.  Because when push come to shove Starbucks is just another Walmart.

Corporations will not sponsor your fight to end NAFTA/CAFTA/GATT or the off shoring of all the jobs that paid a decent wage.

I’ll tell you an open secret about corporation… The only purpose of a corporation is to make a profit for their executives and shareholders.  The corporations do not give a flying fuck about your gender identity or your sexuality.

They will throw you under the bus if some Christer doesn’t like your looks and complains.  If you are not in a union and have the misfortune to live in a so called “right to work” state they do not need a reason to fire you and see to it you do not get un-employment.  And ENDA won’t do a damned thing about that.  If you think otherwise look at the rate of un-employment for people of color.

Corporations do not have your best interests at heart.  You are a human resource to be used to increase the one thing that a corporation exists for, the bottom line.  They care only about money.

When they say something different they are lying.

There will be a revolution when and only when people stop arguing over bull shit like identity and unite to say they are tired of being collectively fuck by corporations that don’t give a rats ass about their lives.

The revolution will start when people start saying no to advertising.  When people stop buying stuff they don’t need but are brainwashed into wanting.  Or if they do buy it they pay cash and say no to paying the banks usurious piles of interest charged for using credit cards.

Because the only real value we have to the rich, to the corporations is  in buying, consuming, endlessly…

If we picked just one or two corporations at a time and stopped buying from them until they start treating workers with respect, permitting unions, paying a living wage etc…  That would be revolutionary and I guarantee that revolution will not have corporate sponsorship.

Fox News bullies organized labor in run-up to Labor Day

From Media Matters for America

http://mediamatters.org/research/201009030041

Fox News figures have attacked labor unions in the days leading up to Labor Day, a national holiday originally created to honor the victories of the labor movement and the achievements of American workers.

Fox News figures assail organized labor

Beck: “I think the unions are like Biff,” the bully from Back to the Future. During the September 2 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said, “You know what I think of some of the unions? I actually think of Back to the Future. I think the unions are like Biff.” Beck showed a clip featuring Biff Tannen, the bully in the film, and added, “But in the end, once you really realize who they are and you’re not afraid anymore, it always turns out exactly the same way for the bully every time.” Beck then showed a clip of Biff working for the man he originally bullied.

Malkin accused unions of embezzlement, violence, and corruption. During the September 2 edition of Fox News’ America Live, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin accused labor leaders of “embezzlement,” “violence,” and “corruption.”

Varney: There will be “[t]wo more union outrage stories to bring to you in our next half-hour.” During the September 2 edition of Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., guest Joseph Caruso criticized a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would allow more shareholders of public companies to use proxy votes to nominate board members. Caruso claimed that unions would use the rule to “wreak havoc” by nominating labor-friendly board members. In response, Fox Business’ Charles Payne suggested, “So, this will be used more as a tool of intimidation than anything else.” In a subsequent tease, Varney said, “Two more union outrage stories to bring to you in our next half-hour.”

Cavuto likened unions to Hurricane Earl on a “collision course on our towns.” During the September 2 edition of Fox News’ Your World, host Neil Cavuto compared unions to Hurricane Earl, saying, “The monster and the mess. Your World on top of Earl’s collision course with our coast and what could be unions’ collision course with our towns.” Cavuto added: “And get ready for Earl’s wallop and, to hear some state and local governments tell it, unions’ direct hit on their wallet.”

Carlson: How much of the cost of a Chevy Volt is “because you have to pay the unions so much money?” During a discussion of the Chevy Volt on the September 2 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked, “How much of that money … is because you have to pay the unions so much money?”

Beck: Labor hero is “indoctrinating children.” During the September 1 edition of his Fox News show, Beck accused Dolores Huerta, an 80-year-old labor activist who co-founded the United Farm Workers with César Chávez, of “indoctrinating our children” because she spoke at a high school. Beck also criticized the Labor Department for spending money on what he called a “catchy tune” that included Labor Secretary Hilda Solis saying, “You work hard, and you have the right to be paid fairly,” and, “[I]t is a serious problem when workers in this country are not being paid every cent they earn.”

Labor Day honors the progress of the labor movement

DOL: Labor Day is “a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s “History of Labor Day,” Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

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Gay and Lesbian Journalists to Bust Boycott by Hotel Workers in Order to Hold Their Conference as Planned

My grand parents on my father’s side came here from Poland.  At Ellis Island they got a different name.  From Ellis Island they were taken to the iron mines of a company town called Mineville with company housing and a company store.  They were paid in company money called script good only for that company house and the company stores.  They were illiterate and the doctor who delivered my father spelled his name differently from the rest of his brothers and sisters.  My grandfather died of miner’s lung.

My other grandmother worked as a seamstress in the clothing and textile factories.

After my father came home from WW II he got a union job as a welder.  He was a member of the United Steel Workers Union.  Good pay, good benefits and a pension for hard body breaking work.

I grew up in a union house and learned early on that only the lowest forms of life cross workers picket lines. Rats, louses and scabs…

I am working class and proud.  I believe every worker should belong to a union and that unions should be able to break a corporation as easily as the corporations now break unions.

Therefore imagine my utter shock and disgust when I read the following from The Washington Bladehttp://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/09/01/gay-journalists-to-face-union-picket-line/

Gay journalists to face union picket line

Lou Chibbaro Jr. | Sep 01, 2010

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has declined a request to withdraw its annual convention from San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Hotel this weekend in connection with a labor union boycott of the hotel.

In a statement posted on its website, NLGJA officials said a cancellation of its contract with the hotel, which was signed three years ago, would result in a $150,000 penalty that could bankrupt the group.

The San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work, an LGBT labor group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, joined the city’s hotel workers union, Unite Here! Local 2, in calling on NLGJA to honor the union-initiated boycott of the Hyatt in an effort to win a long-delayed union contract for hotel employees.

“Although NLGJA understands the importance of collective bargaining and recognizes that worker actions are not to be blithely ignored, it is simply impossible at this late date for us to move this year’s convention to another hotel,” NLGJA President David Steinberg said in a statement.

“NLGJA was contacted by organizers from Unite Here! Local 2 in June, and we have had conversations with them for more than a month,” the statement says.

About 225 people were expected to attend the NLGJA convention, which was scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront district Sept. 2-5, according to NLGJA executive director Michael Tune.

<snip>

Israel Alvaran, community outreach organizer for Unite Here! Local 2 and a member of Pride at Work said NLGJA would likely be faced with some added expenses for moving its convention to another hotel. But he said the union would have intervened to help NLGJA challenge a penalty fee from the Hyatt on grounds that the hotel most likely did not inform NLGJA of labor disputes and the possibility of a hotel boycott at the time the gay journalists group signed its contract with the hotel.

He noted that hotel labor disputes have been taking place in San Francisco for the past four years or longer.

“We’re disappointed that it never got to that point,” Alvaran said. “They never took the first step to look into moving the meeting.”

Read entire article complete with rationalizations on the part of this Gay and Lesbian Journalists organization as to why they won’t honor the picket line at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2010/09/01/gay-journalists-to-face-union-picket-line/

Today when I listen to so many people who transition in middle age I am struck how many have class privilege.  They have professions and degrees, economic security that so many of us who were runaways or throwaways, people of color who grew up poor will never have.

I listen to those who carry on about ENDA, which for them means keeping that professional job.  But ENDA doesn’t mean so much when the jobs available to members of your class are part of the new servant economy.  When you are a barista with a degree.

For some of us the Employee’s Free Choice Act, benefits that include part time and contract/temp worker as well as issues like a “Living Wage” mean as much or more than things like ENDA.  Big fucking deal if you get a job where you aren’t discriminated against if you can’t afford to keep a roof over your head, eat, dress well enough to meet the dress code.  And I might add have enough left to enjoy living if only a little.

When the Textile workers in Lowell, Mass. went out on strike in the early 20th Century they demanded not just bread but roses too.

The LGBT/TQ movements owe much to the idea of Unions.  Harry Hay was a union organizer and many of us who have fought long and hard for LGBT/TQ rights are the children of union parents.

So I say to those of you who are journalists attending this conference. Shame upon you if you do not honor the worker’s picket lines.

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