Our Growth Economy: A System Designed to Crash

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/22-6

Why a money system dependent on constant growth can’t last

by David Korten

Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 by YES! Magazine

The unrealistic expectation that money should grow effortlessly in perpetuity [see my last blog] is more than an issue of unrealizable expectations. It combines with a Wall Street controlled debt-based money system to create an imperative for the economy to grow the profits of bankers, and thereby the richest among us, to keep the financial system, and thereby the economy, from collapsing.”For too long, we have put up with a money system designed to grow the financial assets of rich people at the expense of assuring continuing cycles of economic boom and bust, confining billions to lives of desperation, and reducing Earth to a toxic waste dump.

It is odd that we experienced a financial collapse in 2008 because of a credit crunch, a shutdown on lending, at a time when the world was already awash in money. BusinessWeek’s July 11, 2005, cover story shouted “Too Much Money” and spoke of a savings glut. Its June 11, 2008, European issue reiterated the theme: “Too Much Money, Inflation Goes Global.”

Most discussion of the financial crisis focuses on the details and misses the big picture. First, much of the money was tied up in the Wall Street casino rather than facilitating productive activity in the real economy and was simply pumping up a phantom wealth bubble. Second, virtually every dollar in the system was borrowed, because in our money system, banks create money by lending it into existence. When this debt is used to inflate financial bubbles and support Ponzi schemes, eventual default is inevitable.

The problem appears to be a lack of money, even though the total money in circulation is far more than enough to cover real-wealth exchanges in a rational real-wealth economy.

Third, Wall Street and the Federal Reserve are joined in an alliance to keep “wage inflation” below the level of growth in the real cost of living. This assures that the benefits of productivity gains all go to owners rather than being shared with workers. It also keeps inflation confined to financial bubbles that inflate the phantom wealth financial assets of the rich.

Furthermore, it forces the bottom 90 percent of the population—the people who make their living by producing real goods and services—into debt at usurious interest rates to the top 10 percent to cover daily basic daily expenses. Inevitably, the amounts owed exceed the borrower’s ability to repay. The lenders then stop lending and foreclose on the assets of the desperate borrowers.

When a loan is repaid or goes into default, the debt is canceled and the money supply shrinks by that amount. Most loans continue to be repaid, but if new loans are not being issued, the demand for real goods and services falls because people don’t have the money to pay for them. As demand falls, businesses lay off workers, who then join those pushed into default.

The problem appears to be a lack of money, even though the total money in circulation is far more than enough to cover real-wealth exchanges in a rational real-wealth economy. The money, however, is locked up in the Wall Street casino economy rather than circulating in the real Main Street economy. Pouring public bailout money into Wall Street serves only to reflate the bubble. It does nothing to revive the real economy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/22-6

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GOP offers bill cutting pensions for new federal employees

Here’s and idea.  Make it illegal and subject to fine and/or prison for any elected official to go to to work for, lobby for or benefit in any way from any industry or corporation the passed any legislation regarding for ten years after they leave office.

Cut the pensions of all elected officials by 50%.  No special perks or benefits any retired civil servant would not receive.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/22/gop-offers-bill-cutting-pensions-for-new-federal-employees/

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

WASHINGTON – New legislation introduced in the Senate would slash retirement pensions for all federal employees hired starting 2013, invoking the argument that benefits for government workers are too generous and are a large contributor to budget deficits.

The “Public-Private Employee Retirement Parity Act,” offered Thursday by Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and co-sponsored by Tom Coburn (R-OK), would eliminate all pensions under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) but keep the Thrift Savings Plan in tact. The bill would also apply to members of Congress.

“Right now, federal government workers receive far more generous retirement benefits than private sector employees,” Burr said in a statement. “The cost to taxpayers of these benefits is unsustainable and we simply cannot afford it. We cannot ask taxpayers to continue to foot the bill for public employee benefits that are far more generous than their own.”

Coburn said the FERS pensions program “serves to foster political careerism and should have been frozen years ago,” and fretted that “federal workers generally earn up to 20 percent more than their private sector counterparts.”

Critics fear that eliminating the security that comes with pensions — a major perk of relatively low-paying federal jobs — could conceivably sway bright workers away from working for the government.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/22/gop-offers-bill-cutting-pensions-for-new-federal-employees/

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Dallas Tx.: Contact Clay Jenkins and Elba Garcia and ask them to add transgender protections

From The Dallas Voice: http://www.dallasvoice.com/contact-clay-jenkins-elba-garcia-add-transgender-protections-1069886.html

—  John Wright

Posted on 22 Mar 2011 at 6:37pm

Above is a screen grab of the transgender-less amendment to Dallas County’s employment nondiscrimination policy that was approved by the  Commissioners Court earlier today. The sexual orientation-only amendment can also be found on page 113 of the Commissioners Court Briefing Agenda for today. As we reported earlier, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, who spearheaded the amendment, said they thought sexual orientation included gender identity/expression, and apparently they didn’t consult with anyone from the LGBT community about the amendment. This includes lesbian Sheriff Lupe Valdez and gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, who both have nondiscrimination policies for their county departments that protect transgender employees. Moreover, no one from the LGBT community contacted Jenkins or Garcia in the last three months to ensure that this amendment was drafted properly and on track for approval. We all share the blame for this, including this newspaper. Now, the Commissioners Court will have to be asked to go back and amend the policy again, which will take months and possibly draw opposition from the religious right — with its bogus claims about restroom abuse. This is extremely unfortunate, but that’s the row the LGBT community must now hoe. An entire segment of the community has been left out of this policy — a segment that is in fact more likely than gays, lesbians or bisexuals to suffer employment discrimination. After the jump is a letter from Resource Center Dallas sent to both Jenkins and Garcia responding to the new policy. If you’d like to contact Jenkins and Garcia to thank them for adding sexual orientation to the policy and ask them to also add gender identity/expression, here is their info:

Clay Jenkins
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653.7949

Dr. Elba Garcia
411 Elm Street, 2nd Floor • Dallas, Texas 75202 • 214.653-6670

County Commissioner Elba Garcia
Dallas County Commissioner’s Court
411 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75202      VIA EMAIL

Dear Commissioner Garcia:

On behalf of Resource Center Dallas, we wish to thank you and the Court for voting to expand the County’s nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. This effort is long overdue and demonstrates a commitment to fairness and equality. We believe the policy should also specifically enumerate protections for gender identity and gender expression. I’d like to discuss this issue with you at your earliest convenience.

I read the post on today’s vote on the Dallas Voice’s website. Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are three separate characteristics. As subject-matter experts who offer diversity training as part of our mission, these are the definitions the Center uses:

• Sexual orientation: A person’s enduring physical, romantic, emotional and spiritual attraction to another person.

• Gender identity: A person’s internal and personal sense of being a man or a woman. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same; transgender people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual.

• Gender expression: External manifestation of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through “masculine,” “feminine” or gender-variant behavior, clothing, haircut, voice or body characteristics. Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression match their gender identity.

The Center and others in the LGBT community assert that a policy would need to specifically enumerate all three characteristics for maximum effectiveness and protections. It simply makes business sense. As you know, both the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth already offer these protections for their LGBT employees, as does DFW International Airport. Also, a better understanding of the LGBT community will aid Dallas County in employment recruiting and retention, and in serving your diverse public.

You may have seen some of the stories in the Dallas Morning News last summer about the Center’s work with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) as it added gender identity to its nondiscrimination policies. This is part of our ongoing work with businesses, universities and governmental agencies including Dallas ISD, DFW International Airport and TABC as they strive to make their workplaces more inclusive.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Rafael McDonnell | Strategic Communications and Programs Manager, Resource Center Dallas
2701 Reagan St., Dallas, TX 75219


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Next GOP Target: Planned Parenthood

Abortion Foes Target Family Planning Program

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134662664/abortion-foes-target-family-planning-program

by Liz Halloran
March 21, 2011

For more than four decades, the federal government has subsidized family planning programs that provide contraceptive and related health and family services to millions of low-income women and men.

The Title X Family Planning program, established in 1970 with bipartisan support in Congress and signed into law by President Nixon, has been largely noncontroversial.

It makes no funds available for abortion, and focuses on what Nixon characterized as the premise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

But funding for Title X, which serves more than 5 million men and women annually, is on House Republicans’ chopping block.

Supporters of defunding have characterized it as an effort to strip funds from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that use other funds to provide legal abortions, without singling out any particular group. The House in February voted 240-185 to defund Title X in the current budget year.

But even staunch anti-abortion legislators like Rep. Mike Pence, the Indiana Republican who has crusaded against federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics, say that jettisoning the Title X program may be going too far.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/2011/03/22/134662664/abortion-foes-target-family-planning-program

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Vatican tells U.N. that critics of gays under attack

Aaah gee, the real pedophile men in dresses are upset that people are calling them the organized misogynistic hate group that they truly are.

The best thing that could happen to the planet and humanity would be everyone realizing there is no gods and that all religion is a worthless scam.

I hate the Catholic Church and the evil filthy perverts that run it.  I hate them on a deep and personal basis.

I renounce all rites they ever performed on me.

From Reuters Africa: http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE72L4XU20110322

by Tom Heneghan
Tue Mar 22, 2011

GENEVA (Reuters) – People who criticise gay sexual relations for religious or moral reasons are increasingly being attacked and vilified for their views, a Vatican diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Roman Catholic Church deeply believed that human sexuality was a gift reserved for married heterosexual couples. But those who express these views are faced with “a disturbing trend,” he said.

“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex,” he told the current session of the Human Rights Council.

“When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature … they are stigmatised, and worse — they are vilified, and prosecuted.

“These attacks are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances,” Tomasi said.

The Catholic Church has clashed increasingly in recent years with governments over sexual equality legislation. In Britain, it had to close down adoption services because they refused to allow same-sex couples to adopt orphans in their care.

Continue reading at:  http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFTRE72L4XU20110322

I fail to see any real difference between the Catholic Church, the KKK, Wahhabism or Nazism.

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REPORT: Three States Propose Massive Tax Cuts For Millionaires, Tax Hikes for Middle Class

From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/22/estate-tax-vs-middle-class-report/

Kevin Donohoe

Mar. 22, 2011

Last week, ThinkProgress documented conservative efforts in twelve states to shift the tax burden onto the middle class even while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In three states, conservatives are going even further, proposing massive estate tax cuts for millionaires even as income inequality is at its worse since the 1920s. Here are the details:

MAINE: Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage’s (I) tax reform package would raise the state’s estate tax exemption from $1 million to $2 million — allowing four hundred of the state’s wealthiest estates to escape taxation. At the same time, the tax plan would raise property taxes on middle class Mainers while freezing health care funding for working parents, cutting money for schools, and raising the retirement age for public workers. Republican legislators want to go even further, and are currently considering eliminating the estate tax altogether.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/22/estate-tax-vs-middle-class-report/

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Nearly all of Texas’ anti-abortion subcontractors are Christian groups

From The American Independent:  http://www.americanindependent.com/173694/nearly-all-of-texas-anti-abortion-subcontractors-are-christian-groups

More than 99 percent of subcontractors’ funds went to religious centers from 2006-2010

By Patrick Brendel

From 2006 to 2010, the state spent $11.7 million on its Texas Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, with nearly $7 million of that finding its way to 33 nonprofits (all but one with Christian affiliations) via the state’s primary contractor, the nonprofit Texas Pregnancy Care Network, according to public records obtained by the Texas Independent.

The Alternatives to Abortion Program — funded by state and federal money — was created in the 2005 legislative session for “the development and operation of a statewide program for females focused on pregnancy support services that promote childbirth,” according to the contract between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and TPCN.

Of the $6.9 million received by the 33 subcontractors, more than half went to three nonprofits. San Antonio’s Seton Home, a Catholic residential facility for homeless pregnant and/or parenting adolescents, has received $1.8 million through the state program. The vast majority of that, $1.7 million, was spent on counseling sessions.

Overall, reimbursements for counseling totaled $5.4 million for all 33 subcontractors, about 78 percent of the $6.9 million. The rest went to client referrals, classes on topics such as pregnancy and parenting, and for food, clothing and furniture pantries

Continue reading at:  http://www.americanindependent.com/173694/nearly-all-of-texas-anti-abortion-subcontractors-are-christian-groups

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