Class Consciousness Is Back

From In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12413/class_consciousness_is_back

Once you notice inequality, you can’t escape the realities of class in America.

BY Susan J. Douglas
December 14, 2011

Multiple times and on multiple days, my local NPR station actually used the “c” word on the air. No, not that “c” word–it was “class.” Yes, that most unmentionable of topics: socio-economic class and how it determines the fate of millions of Americans.

Our vernacular obscures the country’s very real class divisions, with crippling–even lethal–consequences. The term “middle class” is used capaciously in the United States to include almost everyone, while the term “working class” is eschewed (it sounds way too Marxist). Even the “99%” signs and chants of Occupy protesters occlude the multiple and often stark divisions within that 99%.

Class position, of course, affects everything: access to healthcare, education, where you live, what restaurants you eat in, nutrition, careers, income, tax breaks, how much credit costs you, who you marry (and when), who fights and dies for our country, and on and on. But with our media’s national obsessions about gender, race and ethnicity, class may be the most under-covered feature of structural inequality in the country. In November, NPR-affiliate Michigan Radio aired an 11-part series called “Culture of Class,” which rolled back the stone, showing what lurks in America’s cave of inequities.

Let’s start with the legal system. “There, perhaps, is no moment in life when the difference in class is more apparent than when you are accused of a crime,” reporter Lester Graham notes in his piece on class and the courts. If you’re upper-middle class, or even truly middle class, you hire a lawyer, and the richer you are, the more choices you have.

But if you’re a low-income person and are assigned a public defender, you are especially screwed in Michigan: The state ranks 44th in public defense funding. The report also noted that in Detroit, five part-time public defenders handle caseloads up to seven times the national average for full-time public defenders; they get to spend an average of 32 minutes on each case. Graham then put a public face on these statistics: David Tucker, whose public defender was totally unprepared for court. The result? Tucker lost four years of his life in jail before his conviction was finally overturned.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12413/class_consciousness_is_back

Posted in Austerity, Class War, Classism, Corporate Abuse, Depression, Discrimination. Tags: . Comments Off on Class Consciousness Is Back

Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich, The Fall of the “Liberal Elite”

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175480/tomgram%3A_barbara_ehrenreich_and_john_ehrenreich%2C_the_fall_of_the_%22liberal_elite%22/

Posted by Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich
December 15, 2011

Class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs.

— E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class

The “other men” (and of course women) in the current American class alignment are those in the top 1% of the wealth distribution — the bankers, hedge-fund managers, and CEOs targeted by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They have been around for a long time in one form or another, but they only began to emerge as a distinct and visible group, informally called the “super-rich,” in recent years.

Extravagant levels of consumption helped draw attention to them: private jets, multiple 50,000 square-foot mansions, $25,000 chocolate desserts embellished with gold dust. But as long as the middle class could still muster the credit for college tuition and occasional home improvements, it seemed churlish to complain. Then came the financial crash of 2007-2008, followed by the Great Recession, and the 1% to whom we had entrusted our pensions, our economy, and our political system stood revealed as a band of feckless, greedy narcissists, and possibly sociopaths.

Still, until a few months ago, the 99% was hardly a group capable of (as Thompson says) articulating “the identity of their interests.” It contained, and still contains, most “ordinary” rich people, along with middle-class professionals, factory workers, truck drivers, and miners, as well as the much poorer people who clean the houses, manicure the fingernails, and maintain the lawns of the affluent.

It was divided not only by these class differences, but most visibly by race and ethnicity — a division that has actually deepened since 2008. African-Americans and Latinos of all income levels disproportionately lost their homes to foreclosure in 2007 and 2008, and then disproportionately lost their jobs in the wave of layoffs that followed.  On the eve of the Occupy movement, the black middle class had been devastated. In fact, the only political movements to have come out of the 99% before Occupy emerged were the Tea Party movement and, on the other side of the political spectrum, the resistance to restrictions on collective bargaining in Wisconsin.

Continue reading at:   http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175480/tomgram%3A_barbara_ehrenreich_and_john_ehrenreich%2C_the_fall_of_the_%22liberal_elite%22/

Posted in Class War, Classism, Economic Issues, Equal Treatment. Comments Off on Barbara Ehrenreich and John Ehrenreich, The Fall of the “Liberal Elite”

Americans say Wall St. has too much power, but CEO pay keeps climbing

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/15/americans-say-wall-st-has-too-much-power-but-ceo-pay-keeps-climbing/

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Executive pay in 2010 was up as much as 40 percent in some cases, even as Americans’ approval of mega-corporations on Wall Street plunged to its lowest levels yet, data released this week reveals.

In a study first examined by The Guardian, U.S. executive pay skyrocketed in 2010, up 40 percent. America’s highest paid executive, John Hammergren, CEO of health insurance company McKesson, earned more than $145 million in compensation for a single year’s work.

Corporate governance group GMI Ratings also found that the overall median for executive profits on stock options also rose in 2010, up 70 percent thanks in large part to many corporations seeing sizable profits as the economy recovered from a near dead-stop in 2008.

 In spite of soaring corporate profits and executive pay, hiring has has only seen marginal improvement. Recent government studies place the overall unemployment rate at 8.6 percent, although unemployment claims are at the lowest they’ve been in nearly four years.

Meanwhile, Americans’ opinions of mega-corporations and Wall Street in general could hardly be lower. A survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center found that even among Republicans, often the most pro-business political party in the U.S., a slim majority (53 percent) agree that wealthy people and large corporations have too much power.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/15/americans-say-wall-st-has-too-much-power-but-ceo-pay-keeps-climbing/

Posted in Class War, Corporate Abuse, Economic Issues. Comments Off on Americans say Wall St. has too much power, but CEO pay keeps climbing

Depression and Autocracy From Merkel to Michigan

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/blog/165134/depression-and-autocracy-merkel-michigan

Laura Flanders
on December 14, 2011

“Depression and Democracy”—Paul Krugman’s Monday column took on a key topic. Amazingly, having seized the critical question, he let it squirm away. Insurgent neo-Nazi extremists may pose a threat, but right now mainstream governments are doing the real damage to democracy. They are suspending accountability on both sides of the Atlantic, and they’re doing it before our eyes, even to applause, in the name of emergency financial management.

Starting in Europe, Krugman focuses on Hungary’s governing far-right Fidesz party, whose plans, he writes, “amount to the re-establishment of authoritarian rule under a paper-thin veneer of democracy.” The Fidesz sound like a nasty lot, but how authoritarian is last week’s Eurozone deal? Led by Germany, the agreement requires individual nations to shrink pensions, scale back health insurance, cut services, privatize public enterprises and de-unionize public jobs—no matter what their voters say. It’s all so as not to default to the large banks and financial institutions.

Over at Counterpunch, economist Michael Hudson is calling it the “deadly transition from social democracy to oligarchy.” Ulrich Beck, writing in the Guardian, describes it as a power shift that imposes on an entire continent a take-it-or-leave-it “German culture of stability.”

“The basic rules of European democracy are being suspended or even inverted, bypassing parliaments, governments and EU institutions,” wrote Beck shortly before the Deutschmark deal was done. “Multilateralism is turning into unilateralism, equality into hegemony, sovereignty into the deprivation of sovereignty, and recognition into disrespect for the democratic dignity of other nations. Even France, which long dominated European unification, must submit to Berlin’s strictures now that it must fear for its international credit rating.”

European heads of state have already toppled, from Ireland to Portugal, Italy and Greece. No doubt there’s more to come. As far as international credit raters are concerned, it’s end-of-history time: there’s no going back on austerity plans, and there are no alternatives—no matter how poorly they perform.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/165134/depression-and-autocracy-merkel-michigan

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President Obama Richly Deserves to Be Dumped

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/14-6

by John R. MacArthur
Published on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 by The Providence Journal (Rhode Island)

As evidence of a failed Obama presidency accumulates, criticism of his administration is mounting from liberal Democrats who have too much moral authority to be ignored.

Most prominent among these critics is veteran journalist Bill Moyers, whose October address to a Public Citizen gathering puts the lie to our barely Democratic president’s populist pantomime, acted out last week in a Kansas speech decrying the plight of “innocent, hardworking Americans.” In his talk, Moyers quoted an authentic Kansas populist, Mary Eizabeth Lease, who in 1890 declared, “Wall Street owns the country.. . .Money rules.. . .The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us.”

A former aide to Lyndon Johnson who knows politics from the inside, Moyers then delivered the coup de grace: “[Lease] should see us now. John Boehner calls on the bankers, holds out his cup, and offers them total obeisance from the House majority if only they fill it. Barack Obama criticizes bankers as fat cats, then invites them to dine at a pricey New York restaurant where the tasting menu runs to $195 a person.”

As it happens, Moyers’s remarks anticipated the trenchant question posed in an interview by another prominent liberal, Barbara Ehrenreich, just after billionaire Michael Bloomberg and mayors of other cities cleared public spaces of Occupy Wall Street protesters: “Where in all this was Obama? Why couldn’t he have picked up the phone and called the mayors of Portland and Oakland and said: ‘Go easy on these people. They represent the anger and aspirations of the majority.’ Would that have been so difficult?” Well, yes, particularly if your principal occupation is shaking down bankers and brokers for campaign donations on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

By now it should be obvious that the system, and the Democratic Party, run Obama, not the other way around. Under this arrangement, the president carries out his duties as pre-eminent party functionary — fundraising being at the top of his list of responsibilities — and defers on legislation, leaving it to corrupt Democratic barons such as Sen. Max Baucus (D.-Mont.), devoted friend of the insurance, pharmaceutical, and banking crowd and sworn enemy of reform.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/14-6

Posted in Class War. Comments Off on President Obama Richly Deserves to Be Dumped

How Credit Collectors Have Reinvented the Debtors’ Prison

From New Deal 2.0:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

by Mike Konczal
Wednesday, 12/14/2011

ew tactics have an old ring to them and low-income debtors are falling prey.

NPR just ran a story called “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.” As they report, ”Here’s how it happens: A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.” Marie Diamond has more.

This is increasingly common across the country. My colleagues Matt Stoller and Bryce Covert have both written about debtors being jailed for failure to appear in court. Debtors’ prisons are illegal, and some point out that this is really jail for a summons problem, not a payment. But I haven’t had a full vision of the practice until I read this excellent working paper by Lea Shepherd of Loyola Chicago law school, “Creditors Contempt” (h/t creditslips). Beyond laying out the problems with the current system, which gives a disproportionate amount of the coercive powers of the state to creditors, this paper also has implications for another topic I’m interested in — the class bias of the submerged state.

The key here is something called in personam debt collection remedies. In an agrarian economy, it was relatively straight forward for creditors to order a sheriff to seize the property of a debtor. In rem actions, where a sheriff would go and seize property, would work just fine. But this became harder to do as time went on.

The debt collection market evolved in personam debt collection remedies. This in personam action has two goals: discovery and collection. The court orders the debtor to disclose information about his property, location of his assets, etc. to help creditors track down those assets. Then the court orders certain payments to be made, which allows for collection. This court order is enforced through the court’s authority to hold debtors in contempt, which in turn is enforced through threats of imprisonment. Depending on the jurisdiction, contempt charges can be made against either the failure to show up for the discovery process or the failure to stick to the collection ordered.

Continue reading at:   http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

Illinois Debtors Thrown In Jail: Lisa Madigan Working To Stop Debt Collector Arrest Warrants

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/12/illinois-debtors-thrown-i_n_1144093.html

First Posted: 12/12/11

Some Illinois residents struggling to pay off their debt have yet another thing to worry about: getting thrown in jail.

As WBEZ reports, creditors in the state have figured out ways around laws that prevent them from putting debtors in jail, and the number of people being issued arrest warrants linked to unpaid bills is growing. Collection agencies can reportedly file a lawsuit requiring a court appearance, and if the defendant doesn’t show up for their hearing, an arrest warrant can be issued.

The practice has been happening more often in a stagnant economy, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to do something about it.

“We can no longer allow debt collectors to pervert the courts,” Madigan told the Wall Street Journal, adding that some victims of this practice were thrown in jail without knowing that they were being sued due to misleading or sloppy paperwork submitted to the court by debt collectors.

NPR spoke to one Illinois woman who was shocked to learn that a warrant was out for her arrest:

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/12/illinois-debtors-thrown-i_n_1144093.html

Posted in Austerity, Civil Rights, Class War, Constitutional Rights, Corporate Abuse, Economic Issues, Fascism, Hard Times. Comments Off on Illinois Debtors Thrown In Jail: Lisa Madigan Working To Stop Debt Collector Arrest Warrants

Report: Child Homelessness Up 33% in 3 Years

From Reader Supported News:  http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/320-80/8889-report-child-homelessness-up-33-in-3-years

By Marisol Bello, USA Today
13 December 11

One in 45 children in the USA – 1.6 million children – were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.

The numbers represent a 33% increase from 2007, when there were 1.2 million homeless children, according to a report the center is releasing Tuesday.

“This is an absurdly high number,” says Ellen Bassuk, president of the center. “What we have new in 2010 is the effects of a man-made disaster caused by the economic recession. … We are seeing extreme budget cuts, foreclosures and a lack of affordable housing.”

The report paints a bleaker picture than one by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which nonetheless reported a 28% increase in homeless families, from 131,000 in 2007 to 168,000 in 2010.

Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor of social policy, says HUD’s numbers are much smaller because they count only families living on the street or in emergency shelters.

Continue reading at:   http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/320-80/8889-report-child-homelessness-up-33-in-3-years

Posted in Civil Rights, Class War, Classism, Economic Issues, Homelessness, Poverty, Social Justice, Workers. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Report: Child Homelessness Up 33% in 3 Years

Boycott Target on Black Friday: 37,000 Target Employees Sign Petition To Protest Working Long Hours On Thanksgiving

I absolutely refuse to shop at Target.

In fact I dislike target far more than I dislike Walmart, which for all its flaws caters to low income people with good prices on essential food product including name brands.

When I was working and had to wear a bra for work I found bras for ten dollars that fit better and were far better value for my working class dollar than any thing I could find at Macy’s for two to three times the price.

Yes I know Walmart’s treatment of their employees suck.  But almost all big box store corporations suck when it comes to how they treat their employees.

This is why all retail store employees should be unionized.

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/15/368716/target-thanksgiving-protest/

By Marie Diamond
Nov 15, 2011

amondon Nov 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

It’s no secret that to boost profits during a down economy, many retailers have put the squeeze on their employees to work longer and harder for less and less. That pressure only increases during the holiday season, when stores try to woo consumers with marathon sales and midnight openings. Workers are often forced to choose between being with their families or working long hours on holidays to keep their jobs.

Now, thousands of employees are standing up to the retail giant Target to protest the long hours they’re being required to work on Thanksigiving:

Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. (TGT) on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.

Target, Macy’s Inc. (M), Gap Inc. (GPS), Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.

Continue reading at:   http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/15/368716/target-thanksgiving-protest/

 

 

Posted in Class War, Social Justice, Unions, Workers. Comments Off on Boycott Target on Black Friday: 37,000 Target Employees Sign Petition To Protest Working Long Hours On Thanksgiving

Bank Of America Makes Millions Charging Fees To Withdraw Unemployment Benefits

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/14/367467/bank-of-america-unemployment-benefit-fees/

By Marie Diamond
Nov 14, 2011

Late last month, a national backlash forced Bank of America to abandon its plan to charge customers $5 a month to use their debit cards. But Huffington Post reportsthat the corporation has quietly been mining other sources of fees, preying on its most vulnerable customers to rake in millions in revenue:

Shawana Busby does not seem like the sort of customer who would be at the center of a major bank’s business plan. Out of work for much of the last three years, she depends upon a $264-a-week unemployment check from the state of South Carolina. But the state has contracted with Bank of America to administer its unemployment benefits, and Busby has frequently found herself incurring bank fees to get her money.

To withdraw her benefits, Busby, 33, uses a Bank of America prepaid debit card on which the state deposits her funds…Busby visits the ATMs in her area and begrudgingly accepts the fees, which reach as high as five dollars per transaction. She estimates that she has paid at least $350 in fees to tap her unemployment benefits. […]

In short, the same banks whose speculation delivered a financial crisis that has destroyed millions of jobs have figured out how to turn widespread unemployment into a profit center: The larger the number of people who are out of work and dependent upon the state for sustenance, the greater the potential gains through administering their benefits.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/11/14/367467/bank-of-america-unemployment-benefit-fees/

Posted in Class War, Discrimination, Economic Issues, Hard Times. Comments Off on Bank Of America Makes Millions Charging Fees To Withdraw Unemployment Benefits

Senator warns of layaway’s cost

I am never surprised by how low the rich and their corporations will go in exploiting the poor.

First credit cards with usurious interest rates, pay day loans, rent to own stores that sucker people in by offering a low price and then doubling the actual price with the fine print, interest and carrying charges.

Here’s a revolutionary proposition for this years annual orgy of ritualized gift giving.  Boycott the chain stores, the big box stores. Regift.  Give the gift of time or actual money.  Buy something made in the USA from an independent merchant.  Buy something used or hand made. Shop at flea markets and antique stores.

Or ask family and friends to contribute to a cause in your name.

Fuck the chain stores and the corporate masters.

Just say no to Xmas shopping.

From Yahoo News:  http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-senator-warns-layaways-cost-131026072.html

By MICHAEL GORMLEY – Associated Press
November 14, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The return of layaway plans this holiday shopping season is raising concern that the break from credit cards might actually cost consumers far more.

For example, a rock ‘n’ roll Elmo doll that requires a $5 layaway fee and a 10 percent down payment for a month can equal a credit card that charged more than 100 percent interest, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

Schumer is asking major retail associations to direct their members to more clearly present their layaway fees to customers. The Democrat says the ultimate cost of a layaway with a $5 fee can equal 40 percent interest over a month or two for many common purchases compared to the annual rates of most credit cards.

He said if stores don’t better present the cost of layaway purchases, he will ask the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the increasing use of layaway is a deceptive or misleading business practice. Historically, stores started dropping layaway plans in the 1990s in part because of these costs and inconveniences.

But it’s wrong to compare layaway fees to credit cards and the fees are already clear, a major retail association says.

“It is a leap to suggest that $5 on a $100 purchase is twice the going rate on credit cards, which today averages 14.99 percent nationwide,” said Brian A. Dodge of the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

Continue reading at:  http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-senator-warns-layaways-cost-131026072.html

Posted in Class War, Discrimination, Economic Issues, Hard Times. Comments Off on Senator warns of layaway’s cost

Why I Voted No on the Deficit Deal

From Reader Supported News:  http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/6911-why-i-voted-no-on-the-deficit-deal

By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Reader Supported News
05 August 11

$2.5 trillion deficit-reduction deal brokered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and President Barack Obama is grotesquely unfair. It also is bad economic policy. In the midst of a terrible recession, it will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

At a time when the wealthiest people in this country are doing extremely well, and when their effective tax rate is the lowest in decades, the rich won’t contribute one penny more for deficit reduction. When corporate profits are soaring and many giant corporations avoid federal income taxes because of obscene loopholes in the tax code, corporate America will not be asked to contribute one penny more for deficit reduction. On the other hand, working families, children, the sick and the elderly – many of whom are already suffering because of the recession – will shoulder the entire burden.

The corporate media – which, by and large, covered this debate as if it were a baseball game with political “winners and losers” – mostly glossed over the real-life implications of $917 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Nobody can predict exactly what programs will fall under the knife or say how much they will be cut. Those decisions will be made over the coming months and years by the appropriations committees. But here’s what’s at stake:

  • At a time when there are long waiting lists for affordable childcare and Head Start, it is likely that these programs will be cut significantly.
  • At a time when the United States is falling further and further behind other countries in the quality of our education, it is likely that tens of thousands of teachers and school personnel will be laid off.
  • At a time when working families are finding it harder to send their kids to college, it is likely that there will be cuts in federal student aid programs.
  • At a time when hunger among seniors and children is rising, it is likely that there will be cuts in various nutrition programs.
  • At a time when 50 million Americans have no health insurance and many of them are utilizing community health centers for their medical needs, it is likely that there will be cuts in primary healthcare.
  • At a time when states, cities and towns already laid off over 500,000 public service employees, it is likely that there will be even more police and firefighter layoffs and large reductions in federal support for roads, bridges, water quality, sewage and public transportation.

That’s just for starters. There likely will be cuts in home heating assistance, affordable housing, support for family-based agriculture, and research in finding cures for cancer and other diseases. There likely will be major staffing reductions in agencies charged with protecting the physical health and economic well-being of our people. It is quite likely that the EPA, which enforces clean water and clean air rules, will be cut. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates Wall Street, will be undermined. It is also very possible that the Social Security Administration, which assures that seniors and the disabled receive the benefits to which they are entitled in a timely manner, will also be cut.

That is just the first round of $900 billion in cuts.

In the second phase of the $2.5 trillion package, sweeping new powers are given to a 12-member, evenly-divided House and Senate super committee. The panel’s mandate is to look at every federal government program and come up with $1.5 trillion more in savings. With Republicans and an increasing number of Democrats calling for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, all of those programs will be in jeopardy.

If the committee is unable to agree, cuts will happen anyway. A sequestration process would require $500 billion in cuts to defense spending and $500 billion more in across-the-board cuts to domestic discretionary spending. In that scenario, Social Security, Medicare benefits and Medicaid would be spared, but even more draconian cuts would occur in programs that sustain working families.

There is a great irony in all this. The deficit deal does exactly the opposite of what the American people wanted. In poll after poll, the American people said they believe in shared sacrifice. Instead of putting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and environmental protection on the chopping block, overwhelming majorities say the best way to reduce the deficit is to end tax breaks for the wealthy, big oil, and Wall Street and take a hard look at military spending. What President Obama and Congress did, however was to let the wealthy and large corporations contribute nothing while making major reductions in services for working families and the most vulnerable people in our country.

Enough is enough! The American people must fight back. We need a government which represents all the people, not just the wealthy, campaign contributors and lobbyists. In these tough and discouraging times, despair is not an option. This fight is not just for us, it is for our children and grandchildren and for the environmental survival of the planet.

Posted in Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, Social Justice. Comments Off on Why I Voted No on the Deficit Deal

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/

Posted in Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, Human Rights, Labor, Social Justice. Comments Off on The Super-Rich Get Richer, and Everyone Else Is Going Down the Drain

Bitter Tales from the Massive White Underclass in Joe Bageant’s “Redneck” Memoir

I write more about class than most LGBT/T folks do.  That’s because I grew up poor and working class.  Awareness of my working class roots is why I am a leftist.

When I come across a book that relates to the class structure and class oppression, well that’s a book I’m going to want to read.  Joe Bageant’s book isn’t out yet here in the US and the link on Alternet takes you to Amazon UK.

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/books/148237/bitter_tales_from_the_massive_white_underclass_in_joe_bageant%27s_%22redneck%22_memoir/

“Economic, political, and social culture in America is staggering under the sheer weight of its white underclass, which now numbers some sixty million.”
September 20, 2010 |

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of Joe Bageant’s new book Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir (Portobello Press, 2010).

The United States has always maintained a white underclass — citizens whose role in the greater scheme of things has been to cushion national economic shocks through the disposability of their labor, with occasional time off to serve as bullet magnets in defense of the Empire. Until the post-World War II era, the existence of such an underclass was widely acknowledged. During the U.S. Civil War, for instance, many northern abolitionists also called for the liberation of ‘four million miserable white southerners held in bondage by the wealthy planter class’. Planter elites, who often held several large plantations which, together, constituted much or most of a county’s economy, saw to it that poor whites got no schools, money, or political power. Poll taxes and literacy requirements kept white subsistence farmers and poor laborers from entering voting booths. Often accounting for up to 70 per cent of many deep-southern counties, they could not vote, and thus could never challenge the status quo.

Today, almost nobody in the social sciences seems willing to touch the subject of America’s large white underclass; or, being firmly placed in the true middle class themselves, can even agree that such a thing exists. Apparently, you can’t smell the rabble from the putting green.

Public discussion of this class remains off limits, deemed hyperbole and the stuff of dangerous radical leftists. And besides, as everyone agrees, white people cannot be an underclass. We’re the majority, dammit. You must be at least one shade darker than a paper bag to officially qualify as a member of any underclass. The middle and upper classes generally agree, openly or tacitly, that white Americans have always had an advantage (which has certainly been the middle- and upper-class experience). Thus, in politically correct circles, either liberal or conservative, the term ‘white underclass’ is an oxymoron. Sure, there are working-poor whites, but not that many, and definitely not enough to be called a white underclass, much less an American peasantry.

Economic, political, and social culture in America is staggering under the sheer weight of its white underclass, which now numbers some sixty million. Generally unable to read at a functional level, they are easily manipulated by corporate-political interests to vote against advances in health and education, and even more easily mustered in support of any proposed military conflict, aggressive or otherwise. One-third of their children are born out of wedlock, and are unemployable by any contemporary industrialized-world standard. Even if we were to bring back their jobs from China and elsewhere — a damned unlikely scenario — they would be competing at a wage scale that would not meet even their basic needs. Low skilled, and with little understanding of the world beyond either what is presented to them by kitschy and simplistic television, movie, and other media entertainments, or their experience as armed grunts in foreign combat, the future of the white underclass not only looks grim, but permanent.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/books/148237/bitter_tales_from_the_massive_white_underclass_in_joe_bageant%27s_%22redneck%22_memoir/

Posted in Class War, Discrimination, Economic Issues, Employment, Poverty. Comments Off on Bitter Tales from the Massive White Underclass in Joe Bageant’s “Redneck” Memoir

For the Unemployed Over 50, Fears of Never Working Again

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/business/economy/20older.html?_r=1&hp

By MOTOKO RICH

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. — Patricia Reid is not in her 70s, an age when many Americans continue to work. She is not even in her 60s. She is just 57.

But four years after losing her job she cannot, in her darkest moments, escape a nagging thought: she may never work again.

College educated, with a degree in business administration, she is experienced, having worked for two decades as an internal auditor and analyst at Boeing before losing that job.

But that does not seem to matter, not for her and not for a growing number of people in their 50s and 60s who desperately want or need to work to pay for retirement and who are starting to worry that they may be discarded from the work force — forever.

Since the economic collapse, there are not enough jobs being created for the population as a whole, much less for those in the twilight of their careers.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/business/economy/20older.html?_r=1&hp

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.

Posted in Anarchism, Civil Rights, Class War, Economic Issues, Employment, ENDA, Frugal Living, Human Rights, Labor, Police State, Social Justice, Unions. Comments Off on The Revolution will not Enjoy 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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Posted in Class War, Discrimination, Economic Issues, Employment, Hard Times, Labor, Unions. Comments Off on Fox News bullies organized labor in run-up to Labor Day

Economic forecaster: ‘Greatest Depression’ coming

From Raw Story: http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0820/economic-forecaster-greatest-depression-coming/

By Daniel Tencer
Friday, August 20th, 2010 — 5:42 pm

Collapse of middle class means there’s no fuel for recovery, Gerald Celente argues

The US economic recovery in recent quarters is little more than a “cover-up” and the world is headed for a “Greatest Depression,” complete with social unrest and class warfare, says a renowned economic forecaster.

Gerald Celente, head of the Trends Research Institute, told Yahoo!News’ Tech Ticker that there’s no risk of a “double-dip recession” because the first “dip” never ended.

“We’re saying there’s no double dip, it never ended,” Celente said. “We’re looking at the Greatest Depression. There’s no way out of this without [rebuilding] productive capacity. You can’t print [money to get] out of it.”

Celente, who has been credited with predicting the 1987 stock market crash, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subprime mortgage crisis of recent years, said the US and other developed countries can expect to see the sort of social unrest the world witnessed in Greece this year once government attempts to shore up the economy fail and lawmakers turn to “austerity measures” to plug gaping budget holes.

Continue reading at:  http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0820/economic-forecaster-greatest-depression-coming/

Posted in Class War, Economic Issues, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Economic forecaster: ‘Greatest Depression’ coming