America Is Declining at the Same Warp Speed That’s Minting Billionaires and Destroying the Middle Class

From Alternet:

Not a single U.S. city ranks among the world’s most livable cities.

By CJ Werleman
May 5, 2014


“The game is rigged,” writes Senator Elizabeth Warren in her new book A Fighting Chance . It’s rigged because the rich and their lobbyists have rigged the rules of the game to their favor. The rules are reflected in a tax code and bankruptcy laws that have seen the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich in U.S. history.

The result?

America has the most billionaires in the world, but not a single U.S. city ranks among the world’s most livable cities. Not a single U.S. airport is among the top 100 airports in the world. Our bridges, road and rail are falling apart, and our middle class is being guttered out thanks to three decades of stagnant wages, while the top 1 percent enjoys 95 percent of all economic gains.

A rigged tax code and a bloated military budget are starving the federal and state governments of the revenue it needs to invest in infrastructure, which means today America looks increasingly like a Third World nation, and now new data shows America’s intellectual resources are also in decline.

For the past three decades, the Republican Party has waged a dangerous assault on the very idea of public education. Tax cuts for the rich have been balanced with spending cuts to education. During the New Deal era of the 1940s to 1970s, public schools were the great leveler of America. They were our great achievement. It was universal education for all, but today it’s education for those fortunate enough to be born into wealthy families or live in wealthy school districts. The right’s strategy of defunding public education leaves parents with the option of sending their kids to a for-profit school or a theological school that teaches kids our ancestors kept dinosaurs as pets.

“What kind of future society the defectors from the public school rolls envision I cannot say. However, having spent some time in the Democratic Republic of Congo—a war-torn hellhole with one of those much coveted limited central governments, and, not coincidentally, a country in which fewer than half the school-age population goes to public school—I can say with certainty that I don’t want to live there,” writes Chuck Thompson in Better off Without Em.

Comparisons with the Democratic Republic of Congo are not that far-fetched given the results of a recent report by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which is the first comprehensive survey of the skills adults need to work in today’s world, in literacy, numeracy and technology proficiency. The results are terrifying. According to the report, 36 million American adults have low skills.

It gets worse. In two of the three categories tested, numeracy and technological proficiency, young Americans who are on the cusp of entering the workforce—ages 16 to 24—rank dead last, and is third from the bottom in numeracy for 16- to 65-year-olds.

The United States has a wide gap between its best performers and its worst performers. And it had the widest gap in scores between people with rich, educated parents and poor, undereducated parents, which is exactly what Third World countries look like, i.e. a highly educated super class at the top and a highly undereducated underclass at the bottom, with very little in the middle.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on America Is Declining at the Same Warp Speed That’s Minting Billionaires and Destroying the Middle Class

Antarctic Ice Shelf On Brink Of Unstoppable Melt That Could Raise Sea Levels For 10,000 Years

From Huffington Post:


By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO, May 4 (Reuters) – Part of East Antarctica is more vulnerable than expected to a thaw that could trigger an unstoppable slide of ice into the ocean and raise world sea levels for thousands of years, a study showed on Sunday.

The Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica, stretching more than 1,000 km (600 miles) inland, has enough ice to raise sea levels by 3 to 4 metres (10-13 feet) if it were to melt as an effect of global warming, the report said.

The Wilkes is vulnerable because it is held in place by a small rim of ice, resting on bedrock below sea level by the coast of the frozen continent. That “ice plug” might melt away in coming centuries if ocean waters warm up.

“East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant. Once uncorked, it empties out,” Matthias Mengel of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, lead author of the study in the journal Nature Climate Change, said in a statement.

Co-author Anders Levermann, also at Potsdam in Germany, told Reuters the main finding was that the ice flow would be irreversible, if set in motion. He said there was still time to limit warming to levels to keep the ice plug in place.

Almost 200 governments have promised to work out a U.N. deal by the end of 2015 to curb increasing emissions of man-made greenhouse gases that a U.N. panel says will cause more droughts, heatwaves, downpours and rising sea levels.

Worries about rising seas that could swamp low-lying areas from Shanghai to Florida focus most on ice in Greenland and West Antarctica, as well as far smaller amounts of ice in mountain ranges from the Himalayas to the Andes.

Sunday’s study is among the first to gauge risks in East Antarctica, the biggest wedge of the continent and usually considered stable. “I would not be surprised if this (basin) is more vulnerable than West Antarctica,” Levermann said.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Antarctic Ice Shelf On Brink Of Unstoppable Melt That Could Raise Sea Levels For 10,000 Years

Climate Change Is Already Here, Says Massive Government Report

From Huffington Post:

Kate Sheppard

WASHINGTON -– Climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a real and present danger in the United States, according to a government report issued Tuesday.

The report is the latest update from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and details ways that climate change — caused predominantly by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — is already being felt across the country.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the report says in its introduction. The full report, at more than 800 pages, is the most comprehensive look at the effects of climate change in the U.S. to date, according to its authors. (Even the “highlights” document provided to reporters the day before the release weighed in at 137 pages). The report includes regional and sectoral breakdowns of current and anticipated impacts, which have implications for infrastructure, agriculture, human health, and access to water.

Those impacts include increased severity of heat waves and heavier downpours. On the coasts, sea level rise is already contributing to increased flooding during high tides and storms, the report notes. And in the West, conditions are getting hotter and drier, and the snowpack is melting earlier in the year, extending wildfire season.

Average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.3 degrees to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the part of the country) since people began keeping records in 1895, and much of that warming has come in recent decades. The report notes that the period from 2001 to 2012 was warmer than any previous decade on record, across all regions of the country.

The length of time between the last spring frost and the first fall frost also has increased across the U.S. The average time between frosts in the Southwest increased by 19 days in the years 1991 to 2012, compared with the average from 1901 to 1960.

Heat waves are already the top cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., and that will only get worse. Extreme heat can cause more heart, lung and kidney problems, especially among the poor, sick and elderly. The number of days where temperatures top 100 degrees is predicted to increase in the future. If emissions continue to rise, temperatures on the very hottest days during the last 20 years of this century may be 10 degrees to 15 degrees hotter across most of the country, the report finds. Under a lower-emission scenario, those hottest days of the years 2081 to 2100 would still be 3 degrees to 4 degrees warmer than now.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Climate Change Is Already Here, Says Massive Government Report

It Isn’t Aways About Being Trans*

This may come as a big surprise to a lot of TS/TG Folks who come out later in life and suddenly find themselves experiencing employment issues.

It isn’t always about being TS or TG.

When did you come out?  Has it been since 2008?  Has it been since you got that letter from AARP?

Guess what…  You not only transitioned and entered a new demographic but you passed an age milestone.  From here on out your employment opportunities are in decline.

All this assumes you are perfectly passable.

If you aren’t you entered a world occupied by many non-conforming people including hippies, bikers, folks with tats or something about them that deviates from the pasty white bread model of conformity.

I’ve met engineers who worked in management but who now work the concrete floors of the big box stores.

I know a number of professors with doctorates teaching as part time adjuncts.

Welcome to the Brave New World Order.

It is part of the oligarchy’s formula for transferring more wealth into their pockets while impoverishing the bulk of society.

Those of us who were obviously different from the cradle have known we are destined to live on the fringes of society from the start.  As a result we have honed our survival skills in fields less demanding of conformity.

When I read a piece on Huffington Post the other day: The Challenges of Finding Employment as a 52-Year-Old Transgender Woman by Rebbecca Pell, I really wanted to sympathize.

Nah just kidding…  I wanted to say “Kiss your male privilege good-bye.  It’s time to cowgirl up.”

Transitioning in Middle age moves one into a category of being different.  Like being a hippie.

I served in the Army as a Military Policeman from 1984-1987 and during that time got married. After my discharge I went to college, but decided to temporarily put school on hold and go to work full-time after our first son was born. I worked 11 years for the Department of Energy in a variety of capacities, including managing environmental remediation projects. By the time we relocated to Missouri in 2001 for my wife’s job we had two sons, and I began working for a large Mid-western university as the Operations Manager for a research center. Shortly after moving to Missouri my wife was diagnosed with depression, which eventually led to her being unable to continue working or help with the responsibilities of raising a family. I was working full-time, taking classes to finish my degree, taking care of the boys and the housework, and it finally reached the point where I was starting to get overwhelmed which affected my ability to be an effective parent. So in 2004 we divorced. The safety and well-being of my sons was my top priority and was what ultimately led me to make the decision to file for divorce.

From 2004 on I was a single father, and I remained in Missouri to provide stability for the boys, even though my family is all on the west coast and my ex-wife moved away. I tried to hold things together and provide as normal a life as possible for the boys, but we went through some difficult times given the circumstances, in part because I was dealing with depression. Although I had a good job at the university, money was still tight and things were stressful. But I realized how fortunate I was to be with my kids and be part of their lives every day and to appreciate the time we had together. So I coached my son’s baseball team, went to all their band concerts and school functions, and tried to be the best dad I could for them.

In other words this person was part of the privileged male class.

In September of 2010 I was unexpectedly laid off from the university due to loss of funding for my salary. My overriding fear was that I would not be able to take care of my kids. Thankfully, I had a decent separation package from the university, so for the most part I was able to make ends meet financially. The difficult part was the stress and embarrassment of being unemployed, and the difficulty of finding another job. My depression got progressively worse the longer I was unemployed. Added to that was the stress of worrying about my transition and all the uncertainty caused by being unemployed, and wondering whether or not I would be able to continue with hormones.

You and how many more people your age?  Many who enjoyed being middle class just as you did.  I watched the high unemployment rate, the houses that were foreclosed on.

Did you think you were special and that none of this could happen to you?  Or that your being trans may have had nothing to do with either your unemployment or inability to find new employment?

Finally in September of 2011 I was hired back at the university with the Employee Wellness Program. It was a fun and rewarding job and I worked with a great group of people, and I felt like I got my life back. In November of that year I made the decision to start living full-time as Rebecca, including at work. The transition at work could not have gone any smoother; everyone there was very supportive and understanding, and I felt very fortunate. Even more importantly, my family has been great about accepting me for who I am. So I felt like the worst was over and that I could finally relax and enjoy having a job I loved and being able to live as Rebecca and to have the opportunity to finally be happy.

In the spring of 2012 after some unexpected personnel moves within my department, my position was reclassified, leading to my termination in July of 2012.

You have fallen into the world of contingency employment.  We now live in a world where most workers can be hired or fired on a whim.  A world where the corporations dictate the terms and ask us to smile when we submit to drug testing.

The problem with identity politics are that they limit people’s ability to see the universality and commonness of issues that are the same issues that affect people beyond one’s identity group.