The truth about poverty in America

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An End of Growth: Striving for Sustainability in a Post-Capitalist Society

In the late 1960s I ascribed to Zero Population Growth.  I actually believe Paul Ehrlich was right with his book “The Population Bomb” even if his calculations were off a bit.

Rather than being alarmist he saw the trends earlier than even Al Gore with his “Inconvenient Truth”.

It didn’t take a genius to see Peak Oil and the subsequent decline of easily available energy that made the green revolution possible.

Part of the reason President Carter was hounded from office was that he was part of the reality based community. He put solar panels on the White House, spoke of sustainability and a limit to growth.  His administration instituted the CAFE Standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy).  He suggested we put on sweaters when it is cold rather than turn up the heat and turn off the lights when we weren’t in the room.

Well now we have twice as many people.  Less oil, higher carbon levels and Global Climate Change.

We would need some three other Planet Earths to maintain our present population.

The only thing Capitalism, particularly End Stage Capitalism understands is perpetual growth of both population and ever increasing consumption.

This does not work when you have transferred most of the wealth around the world into the hands of a miniscule minority of absurdly wealthy oligarchs.

But it doesn’t work on yet another level.  The resources are not there.

Both population and levels of consumption need to shrink.  Those hard facts are at odds with End Stage Capitalism no matter how you spread economic imperialism.

Socialism and more equitable distribution of wealth and resources are perhaps the only alternative to a brutishly harsh world filled with police states and constant revolution.

Birth control and access to abortion are preferable to war and genocide.

Local production of food, goods and services is essential as the end of oil spells and end to the trans-oceanic transportation of both food and manufactured goods.

We have to seriously limit fishing and clean up the oceans.

Mostly we have to spend much of the next few hundred years undoing the damage of the last century and a half.

I found the following two articles very interesting:

From Common Dreams:

Toward a Post-Growth Society

It’s business as usual that’s the utopian fantasy, while creating something very new and different is the pragmatic way forward.

by James Gustave Speth
Published on Thursday, July 7, 2011 by YES! Magazine

Today, the reigning policy orientation holds that the path to greater well-being is to grow and expand the economy. Productivity, profits, the stock market, and consumption: all must go continually up. This growth imperative trumps all else. It is widely believed that growth is always worth the price that must be paid for it—even when it undermines families, jobs, communities, the environment, and our sense of place and continuity.

“Building the strength needed for change requires, first of all, a political fusion among progressives,” writes Speth. “And that fusion should start with a unified agenda. Such an agenda would embrace a profound commitment to social justice and environmental protection, a sustained challenge to consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer, a healthy skepticism of growthmania, a democratic redefinition of what society should be striving to grow, a challenge to corporate dominance and a redefinition of the corporation and its goals, and a commitment to an array of pro-democracy reforms in campaign finance, elections, the regulation of lobbying, and much more.”

The Limits of Growth

But an expanding body of evidence is now telling us to think again. Economic growth may be the world’s secular religion, but for much of the world it is a god that is failing—underperforming for billions of the world’s people and, for those in affluent societies, now creating more problems than it is solving. The never-ending drive to grow the overall U.S. economy hollows out communities and the environment; it fuels a ruthless international search for energy and other resources; it fails at generating jobs; and it rests on a manufactured consumerism that is not meeting the deepest human needs. Americans are substituting growth and consumption for dealing with the real issues—for doing things that would truly make us and the country better off. Psychologists have pointed out, for example, that while economic output per person in the United States has risen sharply in recent decades, there has been no increase in life satisfaction and levels of distrust and depression have increased substantially.

We need to reinvent the economy, not merely restore it. The roots of our environmental and social problems are systemic and thus require transformational change. Sustaining people, communities, and nature must henceforth be seen as the core goals of economic activity, not hoped for byproducts of an economy based on market success, growth for its own sake, and modest regulation. That is the paradigm shift we seek.

For the most part, reformers have worked within this current system of political economy, but what is needed is transformative change in the system itself. The case for immediate action on issues like climate change, job creation, and unemployment extension is compelling, but the big environmental and social challenges we face will not yield to problem-solving incrementalism. Progressives have gone down the path of incremental reform for decades. We have learned that it is not enough.

Growing Jobs and Well-Being, Not the Economy

It is time for America to move to a post-growth society where working life, the natural environment, our communities and families, and the public sector are no longer sacrificed for the sake of mere GDP growth; where the illusory promises of ever-more growth no longer provide an excuse for neglecting to deal generously with our country’s compelling social needs; and where true citizen democracy is no longer held hostage to the growth imperative.

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From The Guardian UK:

Sustainability leadership requires a combination of masculine and feminine values

Competition, linear and rational thinking on one side, and cooperation, holistic and intuitive thinking on the other are key to leadership for sustainable development

Posted by Tania Ellis for Guardian Professional Network
Tuesday 5 July 2011

The late Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop and a role model for social entrepreneurs, described her personal leadership style like this: ‘I run my company according to feminine principles – of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life not separate from it, putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits, recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom.’

Since then, Roddick’s approach to business has contributed to the rise of the formula that is most commonly referred to as corporate social responsibility (CSR). The blending of economic and social value creation requires a combination of so-called ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ values with, among other things, competition, linear and rational thinking on the one side, and cooperation, holistic and intuitive thinking on the other.

Iceland – women in charge

In Iceland, which suffered a major collapse during the economic crisis in 2008 and where the collective understanding is that it was ‘young men in black suits’ who caused the crisis, there is much talk about a new culture and new values. In a way it is now operating as the world’s ‘credit crunch lab’ with women at the forefront of the clean-up. There is a discernible determination to reinvent business and society by injecting values of openness, fairness and social responsibility, being driven by its new female prime minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, a higher number of female cabinet members and women bankers in charge of some of the collapsed banks that used to be governed by men.

One of the few firms in the Icelandic finance sector that is actually turning a profit is Audur Capital – an innovative value driven business that was set up by former managing director of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, Halla Tómasdóttir, and former senior banking executive, Kristin Petursdóttir, just before the credit crunch.

At Audur, there’s a simple recipe for success. ‘We’ve brought greater female values into the financial world,’ says Tómasdóttir and explains the company’s five core feminine values.

‘First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don’t understand. Second, profit with principles – we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence – or check on the company – we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice.’

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Tom Morello:

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Christian Jihad? Why We Should Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway’s in the US

From Alternet:

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country.

By Frank Schaeffer
July 23, 2011

The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

In my new book “Sex, Mom and God” I predicted just such an action. I predicted that right wing Christians will unleash terror here in America too. I predict that they will copy Islamic extremists, and may eventually even make common cause with them.

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country as fallen and evil because we allow women choice, gays to marry, have a social safety net, and allow immigration from other cultures and non-white races.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the killer wrote:

“Today’s Protestant church is a joke,” he wrote in an online post in 2009. “Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic.”

It seems Anders Behring Breivik longed for a “pure” and ultra conservative religion. He was a man of religious conviction, no liberals with their jeans need apply! Liberals beware.

Norway is just a first taste of what will happen here on a larger scale.


There is a history to the far right, religious right extremism on the rise today, extremism so extreme that in its congressional manifestation it is risking the good faith and credit of the US in the debt calling fiasco. The Tea Party activists also want purity of doctrine.

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Norway terror suspect member of Nazi web forum: advocacy group

From The Local (Sweden):

The suspect in the twin attacks that killed at least 92 people in Norway was a member of a Swedish neo-Nazi Internet forum, a group monitoring far-right activity said Saturday.

Published: 23 Jul 11 16:46 CET

“He created a profile in 2009, with a pseudonym that can be traced back to his email address,” Mikael Ekman, a researcher with the Stockholm-based Expo foundation, told AFP.

It was not possible however to determine when the suspect, named by Norwegian media as Anders Behring Breivik, was last active on the forum, which counts some 22,000 members from across the region, he said.

Nordisk, a web forum founded in 2007, describes itself as a portal on the theme of “the Nordic identity, culture and traditions.”

It hosts discussions on “everything from white power music to political strategies to crush democracy,” Ekman wrote in an article published Saturday on the Expo magazine’s website.

Nordisk’s members range from Swedish members of parliament for the far-right Sweden Democrats party to Nazi leaders, the article explained.

“What united the members is a critical attitude to the current refugee policy and immigration,” it said.

Some contributors to the forum have posted comments inciting violence.

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What Do Obama, the “Gang of Six” and Paul Ryan Have in Common?

From Truth Out:

by: Jack Rasmus, Truthout | News Analysis
Saturday 23 July 2011

What do Obama, the “Gang of Six” and House radical Teapublican, Paul Ryan, all have in common? They’ve all proposed a $4 trillion deficit reduction package. Does anyone think that is pure coincidence?

Obama’s tactical move today, July 19, along with the Senate Gang of Six, is to hitch his (and the Gang’s) proposed $4 trillion proposed cuts to the current negotiations simultaneously going on between Reid and McConnell in the Senate to immediately cut spending by $1 trillion to $2 trillion in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Obama’s move shows clearly he does not want to take on deficit cutting piecemeal. He wants to get it all over at once and behind him before campaigning for 2012 begins in earnest. And he’s willing to offer big cuts in spending to get it done now, before the 2012 election cycle gets seriously underway after this summer.

The likely outcome of this “rush to get it done” will be that the immediate, short-term $1 trillion to $2 trillion in spending cuts being worked out by Reid-McConnell will still pass, while the longer term $4 trillion now resurrected “grand deal” by Obama-Gang of Six will quickly follow. It may even be appended to the short-term package.

While the short-term package will be all spending cuts, the now revived $4 trillion “grand deal” package will contain some tax revenue raising. However, as previously noted, the tax revenues will be primarily tax loophole closings that are often difficult to collect and verify, while the tax code revision will include major reductions in the top personal and top corporate tax rates, both currently at 35 percent.

What might the likely “relative proportion” between spending cuts vs. tax loophole hikes look like in the final package? If Obama’s previous “grand deal” is any indication, it could look similar to that prior deal’s 87 percent spending cuts to 13 percent tax hikes. Certainly no less than a 75 percent to 25 percent mix.

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Why Medicare Is the Solution — Not the Problem

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Friday, July 22, 2011

Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.

But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs — if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Yet the typical American lives 77.9 years – less than the average 79.4 years in other advanced nations. And we have the highest rate of infant mortality of all advanced nations.

Medical costs are soaring because our health-care system is totally screwed up. Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to spend on unnecessary tests, drugs, and procedures.

You have lower back pain? Almost 95% of such cases are best relieved through physical therapy. But doctors and hospitals routinely do expensive MRI’s, and then refer patients to orthopedic surgeons who often do even more costly surgery. Why? There’s not much money in physical therapy.

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After Long Wait, Same-Sex Couples Marry in New York

From The New York Times:

Published: July 23, 2011

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples across New York State began marrying on Sunday — the first taking their vows just after midnight — in the culmination of a long battle in the Legislature and a new milestone for gay rights advocates seeking to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.

Against a cascade of rainbow-colored falls, and with cicadas humming in the background, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd married at the first possible moment in Niagara Falls. After a bell tolled 12 times to ring in the new day, Ms. Lambert, 54, and Ms. Rudd, 53, held hands and kissed in front of more than 100 friends and family members.

In New York City, 823 couples signed up in advance to get marriage licenses on Sunday, and many of them were expected to marry in city clerk’s offices across the five boroughs. Officials from more than a dozen cities and towns from Buffalo to Brookhaven said they would open their offices to issue marriage licenses on Sunday, and more than 100 judges across the state have volunteered to officiate at the couples’ weddings on the spot.

“This is long overdue,” said Mayor Matthew T. Ryan of Binghamton, who planned to preside at the wedding of at least two local couples, and who invited same-sex couples from Pennsylvania to come to his city to be married. “It really is a great day for all of us who believe in inclusiveness and equal rights for everybody.”

The weddings — businesslike ceremonies in fluorescent-lighted city offices for some, lavish catered affairs for others — represent the end of a political campaign that lasted for years. On June 24, the State Senate voted 33 to 29 to approve same-sex marriage, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed it into law that night. But the law did not take effect for 30 days, which is why Sunday is the first day that clerk’s offices were permitted to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

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