Massive Unemployment: Proof That Global Capitalism Doesn’t Work

From Alternet:

We may be witnessing the birth of a new permanent class of the marginalized.

By Steve Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman
September 11, 2011

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Not long ago, the city council of Ventura, California, passed an ordinance making it legal for the unemployed and homeless to sleep in their cars.  At the height of the Great Recession of 2008, one third of the capital equipment of the American economy lay idle.  Of the women and men idled along with that equipment, only 37% got a government unemployment check and that check, on average, represented only 35% of their weekly wages.

 Meanwhile, there are now two million ”99ers” — those who have maxed out their supplemental unemployment benefits because they have been out of work for more than 99 weeks. Think of them as a full division in “the reserve army of labor.”  That “army,” in turn, accounts for 17% of the American labor force, if one includes part-time workers who need and want full-time work and the millions of unemployed Americans who have grown so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for jobs and so aren’t counted in the official unemployment figures.  As is its historic duty, that force of idle workers is once again driving down wages, lengthening working hours, eroding on-the-job conditions, and adding an element of raw fear to the lives of anyone still lucky enough to have a job.

No one volunteers to serve in this army.  But anyone, from Silicon Valley engineers to Florida tomato pickers, is eligible to join what, in our time, might be thought of as the all-involuntary force.  Its mission is to make the world safe for capitalism. Today, with the world spiraling into a second “Great Recession” (even if few, besides the banks, ever noticed that the first one had ended), its ranks are bound to grow.

The All-Involuntary Army (of Labor)

As has always been true, the coexistence of idling workplaces and cast-off workers remains the single most severe indictment of capitalism as a system for the reproduction of human society.  The arrival of a new social category — “the 99ers” — punctuates that grim observation today.

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Investors Brace as Europe Crisis Flares Up Again

From The New York Times:

By and
Published: September 11, 2011

Fears about Europe’s deteriorating finances intensified on Sunday as new doubts about the health of French banks, as well as Germany’s willingness to help Greece avert default, left investors bracing for another global stock market downturn this week.

In Greece, the epicenter of the Continent’s financial disarray, government officials announced new austerity measures on Sunday, even as the country’s finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, warned that the Greek economy was expected to shrink much more sharply this year than previously anticipated. In a revision, a contraction of 5.3 percent in 2011 was predicted, rather than the 3.8 percent forecast in May.

Slower growth could make it harder for Greece to pay its debts, even as it tries to reduce them by cutting government spending and raising taxes.

While the Greek drama has been running for more than a year, only recently has it threatened French and German banks, unnerving investors around the world and sending stocks tumbling in Europe and the United States.

More than anything else, political and business leaders want to avoid the phenomenon of contagion, in which fears in one country spread to others, causing severe stress throughout the financial system, as happened in the fall of 2008. To be sure, Europe could still draw away from the precipice. That is especially true if policy makers come up with a plan to keep Greece afloat while also preventing anxiety from infecting other countries like Spain and Italy, whose huge debts and weak economies have fed worries that their borrowing has become unsustainable.

On Sunday, French government officials braced for possible ratings downgrades by Moody’s Investors Service of France’s three largest banks, BNP Paribas, Société Générale and Crédit Agricole, whose shares were among the biggest losers last week. The biggest banks in Europe, especially in France, hold billions of euros’ worth of Greek bonds, and investors fear even a partial default by Greece would sharply diminish the value of those assets, eroding already weak capital positions.

American financial institutions, typically heavy lenders to their French counterparts, have begun to pull back on these loans, but United States banks’ exposure to France remains substantial.

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Do Most Post-op Transsexual women Really Embrace the Transgender Umbrella?

This week end I was challenged by one of the Borg and told to STFU and disappear, that most post-ops embraced the Transgender Umbrella.

Which didn’t actually jibe with my real life experiences.

This isn’t to say they are so caught up in all things transsexual as to embrace HBS, ‘Classic Transsexual” or even WBT as an alternative.

Rather most become post-transsexual.  It isn’t going stealth particularly, because they still have friends who are also post-transsexual, hell they may even have transgender friends.

But they don’t give a rat’s ass one way or another about the whole pile of transgender crapolla that seems to be the obsession of the Transgender Borg.

Question:  How do you know when you are talking to a member of the Transgender Borg Collective?  Answer:  No matter what topic you bring up they put a transgender interpretation or slant on it.

Mention how hot it has been and how weird the weather has been and you have to listen to something about transgender people in the women’s shelter and how there shouldn’t be any sort of medical requirement to back up claims of “female identity”.  Mention how fucked up it is to be in an eternal war in the Middle East and get prepared to hear about the plight of transgender service people.

Mostly though I notice how most of us have a life beyond Transgender World.  We don’t live and breathe or obsess on all things transgender.

When I start listening to one of the Transgender Borg babble on about gender and identity my eyes glaze over and  I start thinking dark thoughts regarding the Borg’s grasp on reality.

Now I know there are a ton of “Professional Transgenders” who have never escaped the Borg Collective.  Either they are professional lobbyists or activists.  some are professional care givers, others are sex workers and entertainers.

But they are only a minority of those of us who had sex change operations.  People know about them and claim them as transgender because they have chosen to wear the t-shirt that says transgender rather than to assimilate in to the real world as an ordinary woman or man.

I’ve watched people leave the on-line fray between the transsexuals and transgender for the 15+ years that I have been on line.  People get tired of fighting and unlike transgender folks have real lives in the real world.

I think those of us who stay and fight realize the negative impact the whole transgender ideology has not only on transsexuals but on assigned female at birth women.

Silencing those who dissent from a party line is not the same as having people agree with the party line.  Nor is having people get tired of arguing and say fuck it I have better ways to spend my time the same as having them agree to be part of the Transgender Umbrella.

When post-SRS but not post-transsexual women say to me, “But I consider myself transgender and part of the transgender umbrella.” I think, “That’s really sad.”   Even sadder is when they add how they will never abandon the community.  You can’t be both transgender and a woman.  They are mutually exclusive.  To be transgender is to be in-between hence the usage of cisexual and cisgender for non-transgender folks.

No matter how the Transgender Borg present their ideology it doesn’t permit people they have colonized to transition into being ordinary men and women because ordinary men and women are by definition what the Transgender Borg refer to as Cissexuals/Cisgenders.

When I look at the arguments I feel like I’m in a real life version of a 1950s Ted Sturgeon SciFi novel.

So like the majority of post-transsexual women I don’t want to be part of the Transgender Borg Collective.

Unlike most I’m a politically radical old left wing dyke and speak out against people I view as oppressing women.  I view transgender ideology’s  substitution of gender for sex as a point of classification  as oppressing women.

Others have different reasons for speaking out.

But those of us who speak out are a minority just as those who side with the Transgender Borg are a minority.

If you recall the slightly pejorative term, “stealth” which implies hiding but really means just being an ordinary woman or man and not necessarily a straight woman or man then most post-transsexual women are stealth to one degree or another.  Don’t mistake having a Blog for being out, especially when there are seven billion people on this blue marble floating in space and only a few hundred visit my Blog each day.

Most post-transsexual women are not a part of the Transgender Borg Community.  Only those I think of as the enablers and activist, who are either young privileged gender studies majors or privileged middle aged folks who were professionals and are now professional activists.

I nearly spew soda all over my monitor whenever I read someone talk about post-transsexual women as though they are part of some sort of community other than the greater community of women. When  the only thing many of us actually have in common is that we had sex reassignment surgery.  Oh, and that we do not like being told we have to be part of the Transgender Borg Cult.

I just know there will be other post-transsexual women reading this who will write on their blogs, “Well, Suzan over at Women Born Transsexual has a good post up and makes a really solid point but her politics are appalling.”

I actually think it is time for us to get past expecting other sisters to be part of a community with shared ideals or politics. Agree to differ on those things we differ on and agree on those we agree upon.

Otherwise we will all have to act like transgender dicks are really “neo-clits” and scrotums are neo-labia”.  When I hear that sort of shit I just shake my head and ask, “Are these people fucking insane?”

Just Face It, We’ve Been In A Recession This Whole Time

From The Business Insider:

Cullen Roche, Pragmatic Capitalism
Sep. 9, 2011

I keep repeating that the debate over a double dip is meaningless. Why? Because we’ve been in one long balance sheet recession this entire time.

So, a good way to think about this is to think of the U.S. like a boxer. We were knocked flat on our back in 2008 and have since struggled to one knee. We never got back to our feet though. So these conversations that imply we might be on the verge of falling down again are rather pointless.

Sure, we might fall down again, but we already have one knee on the canvass! The point is, with this much slack in the economy, it’s unlikely that any economic downturn from here will be substantial. Does that mean I think the U.S. economy can’t contract from here? No, but I would be very surprised if we were to experience another blow similar to the 2008 recession where real GDP fell 5%.

To put this argument in some perspective, analysts at ING tend to agree. They see the economy as muddling through, but not collapsing. They cite 5 reasons for this perspective:

  • “Cyclical sensitive sectors, namely the housing sector and the auto sector, are already weak and are unlikely to contract much more.
  • Households’ balance sheets have improved since the global financial crisis. Lower rates over a considerable period of time benefit net borrowers. Most US households will benefit from low borrowing rates.

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U.S. measures to reduce teenage smoking deemed WTO violation

From Public Citizen:

September 06, 2011

U.S. measures to reduce teenage smoking violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, according to a panel ruling released late last week. Indonesia successfully argued that the U.S. Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) of 2009 violated WTO rules. The ruling opens the door to more teenage tobacco addiction, while further imperiling the legitimacy of a WTO that rules against environmental, health and other national policies 90 percent of the time.

The FSPTCA took a series of unprecedented and bold measures to combat teenage smoking, including  the banning of many forms of flavored cigarettes. There is substantial evidence that tobacco companies produce and market these cigarettes as “starter” or “trainer” cigarettes in order to hook teenagers into a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

However, as the U.S. noted in its defense in the WTO case, the U.S. did not ban all types of cigarettes. In particular, regular tobacco and menthol cigarettes were excluded from the ban. The justification for these exclusions was that, unlike candy flavored or clove cigarettes, large numbers of adults are also hooked on regular and menthol cigarettes. To abruptly pull these products out of the market could cause a strain on the U.S. healthcare system (as lifetime addicts would instantly seek medical treatment for wrenching withdrawal symptoms) and might lead to a rise in illicit black market sales and associated crime. Nonetheless, various studies were ordered on the feasibility of banning menthol cigarettes in the future.

The FSPTCA banned candy and clove cigarettes regardless of where they were produced or who produced them. But Indonesia successfully argued that, since its exporters are the primary providers of clove cigarettes to the U.S. market, the FSPTCA constituted de facto discrimination, in violation of WTO rules under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The WTO panel accepted this argument, despite the fact that the FSPTCA was totally non-discriminatory and many U.S. cigarette makers (such as those that make cola-flavored cigarettes) were also blocked from making these harmful products.

This severe blow to consumer protection comes on the heels of two other WTO rulings against America’s dolphin-safe tuna and beef country-of-origin labels, and are likely to put a significant damper on the Obama administration’s efforts to pass trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that contain similar anti-consumer rules.

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The New Surveillance Society: How “Community” Policing Follows Your Every Move

From Alternet:

A new notion of “community policing” has emerged, where monitoring communities has taken the place of solving crimes.

By Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford
September 8, 2011

 Ten Years Later: Surveillance in the “Homeland” is a collaborative project with Truthout and ACLU Massachusetts.

Surveillance now is everyone’s business, as the line between intelligence-gathering and crimefighting rapidly fades and the public is conditioned to play its part.

The work of Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) exemplifies the new surveillance paradigm. The head of the 750-strong counterterrorism force within the LAPD, he is on the hunt for “people who follow al-Qaeda’s goals and objectives and mission and ideology.” He says his officers collect intelligence and practice the “essence of community policing” by reaching out to Muslims and asking them to “weed out” the “hard-core radicals.”

He adds that he is pleased that many Muslims have adopted the LAPD’s iWatch program and are prepared, along with the general public, to call in tips about suspicious activity. With “violent Islamists” as his main target, Chief Downing is also keeping track of “black separatists, white supremacist/sovereign citizen extremists and animal rights terrorists.” If threats materialize, he can draw upon the LAPD’s “amazing” backup capacity – SWAT units, direct-action teams, air support, counterassault teams and squads that specialize in disrupting vehicle bombs.

Here we see several of the components of the new surveillance society. A militarized police force no longer leaves intelligence work to federal authorities. It seeks out information about anything that can be connected to “suspicious” activity and is keeping track of certain individuals and groups whether or not there is evidence that they are engaging in criminal activity. Police are expected to chase down unsubstantiated tips from the public, and not just to pursue evidence of wrongdoing. A new notion of “community policing” has emerged, where monitoring communities – with all the trust issues that this implies – has taken the place of winning community support by being accountable to residents and solving crimes.

The LAPD is one of some 3,984 federal, state and local agencies now collecting information about “suspicious activity” that could be related to terrorism. The Washington Post‘s “Top Secret America” series states that 854,000 people now hold “top-secret” security clearance. We estimate that’s about one for every 215 working-age Americans. An additional 3 million people reportedly hold “secret” security clearance.

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Severe weather warning as Hurricane Katia tail approaches UK

From The Guardian UK:

Gales, combined with heavy rain, could cause significant disruption in Ireland, England and Scotland, Sunday 11 September 2011

A severe weather warning covering northern Ireland, England and Scotland has been issued by the Met Office, with forecasts saying Britain will be lashed by the tail of Hurricane Katia, causing gale-force winds of up to 80mph late on Sunday and Monday.

The gales, combined with heavy rain, could cause “significant disruption” for Monday morning commuters and, where high winds coincide with high tides along western coasts, there could be flooding.

Although the winds will not be hurricane force by the time Katia – rated a category four hurricane at its peak – reaches the UK, the Met Office chief forecaster, Eddie Carroll, urged people to keep up to date with forecast warnings.

He added: “There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty about the track and strength of the winds.”

Union Dispute, Turning Violent, Spreads and Idles Ports

From The New York Times:

Published: September 8, 2011

The busy ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., were shut down on Thursday as an increasingly violent dispute between unionized port workers and the owner of a grain export terminal in Longview, Wash., spilled over to the other facilities.

About 500 longshoremen stormed the new $200 million terminal in Longview before sunrise Thursday, carrying baseball bats, smashing windows, damaging rail cars and dumping tons of grain from the cars, police and company officials said.

Later in the day, more than 1,000 other longshoremen shut down the ports of Seattle and Tacoma by not coming to work.

Officials with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, while claiming they had not authorized the actions in Seattle and Tacoma, said the ports would reopen on Friday.

Members of the union are livid that the Longview terminal’s owner, EGT, is seeking to export grain without reaching an agreement with the union. Instead, EGT hired a contractor that uses workers from another union

“It’s certainly getting more and more violent,” said Jim Duscha, police chief of Longview, a small community almost 40 miles down the Columbia River from Vancouver, Wash. “The terminal’s security guards were outnumbered by people with baseball bats. People were busting windows out of the guard shack. They took a security guard out of his rig and drove it into a ditch.”

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