The Economic and Cultural Polarization of America 2

By Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Coming Apart: the State of White America 1960-2010, a recently published book by scholar and author Charles Murray, has generated some very interesting and important discussions about America’s increasingly polarizated society.  In a January NY Times Op-Ed, David Brooks wrote that Coming Apart will prove to be one of the most important books of 2012 because it “so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.”

The key premise of the book, as described by Murray in this Wall Street Journal column, is that “America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world – for whites, anyway.”  For most of its history, a major hallmark of American democracy has been the comfortable mingling of the social classes.  “Americans love to see themselves this way,” writes Murray.  “But there’s a problem: It’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.”

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Ambassador Lasse Birk Olesen at TEDx Copenhagen: Seasteading + Technology > Politics Reply

Seasteading ambassador Lasse Birk Olesen has been one of the most effective messengers of our vision, and probably the most effective messenger in all of Europe. He has spoken to dozens of groups in his native country of Denmark, and reached countless others through online forums and his volunteer work for the Institute and Blueseed.

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“Kick-a-Nigger” Politics 3

Welfare is back as the handiest weapon in the racist rhetorical arsenal. It’s back in the speeches of Republican candidates and surrogates, on right wing radio, and even in the language of those young “individualists” who see themselves as politically hip because of their perceived proximity to anarchist types. They believe the poor are poor because they want to be poor. Or are failed individuals. Or have grown so used to poverty that they are satisfied waiting for a check, that they like making the often humiliating trek to the local Department of Social Services office. ‘Welfare’ is back, which is to say ‘kick-a-nigger’ politics is in full swing. More…

Decisive Ecological Warfare Reply

At first the collapse will resemble a traditional recession or depression, with the poor being hit especially hard by the increasing costs of basic goods, particularly of electricity and heating in cold areas. After a few years, the financial limits will become physical ones; large-scale energy-intensive manufacturing will become not only uneconomical, but impossible.

A direct result of this will be the collapse of industrial agriculture. Dependent on vast amounts of energy for tractor fuel, synthesized pesticides and fertilizers, irrigation, greenhouse heating, packaging, and transportation, global industrial agriculture will run up against hard limits to production (driven at first by intense competition for energy from other sectors). This will be worsened by the depletion of groundwater and aquifers, a long history of soil erosion, and the early stages of climate change. At first this will cause a food and economic crisis mostly felt by the poor. Over time, the situation will worsen and industrial food production will fall below that required to sustain the population. More…

Forty Acres and a Mule 1

This Carson piece makes for an interesting comparison/contrast with this article from Walter Williams.

By Kevin Carson

When it comes to the “outrageous” remarks of the week, it usually takes me a while to get a handle on what all the fuss is about. (Update–the best commentary I’ve yet seen on the media reaction comes from Matt Taibbi.)  When the commentariat had their knickers in a twist back in the ’90s over Wayne LaPierre’s statements on guns and government tyranny, my reaction was, “Yeah, so?” It seemed pretty tame (not to mention self-evident) to me. And now, listening to Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s “God damn America” sermon, my reaction is pretty much the same: “Yeah, so?”

I’d take issue with his tendency to conflate “America” with the American government, and to confuse the American host organism with the glorified tapeworms in Washington and Wall Street who make foreign policy and run the corporate economy. I’d quibble over his AIDS howler, when his completely factual reference to the Tuskegee experiment was plenty by itself. And frankly, I don’t think Bill Clinton has ever been an “intelligent friend” to anyone but Bill Clinton.

But on the whole, my reaction is pretty much the same as Mark Brady’s:

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The Romney Lexicon: “Free Enterprise” = Corporate Welfare Reply

By Kevin Carson

As Thomas L. Knapp observes in a recent column (Election 2012: “Oil’s Well That End’s Welfarish,” October 17), Mitt Romney — famous for complaining about the 47% who expect to be taken care of — “whined that the Obama administration has been insufficiently charitable with ‘public’ land (and taxpayer money) toward the oil companies.”

He notes that “for every dollar a timber company paid in leasing fees, the US government spent $1.27 on road-building and other projects to enable the exploitation of those timber leases.” The same applies to oil drilling in places like the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve: “the next time a natural resources extraction company offers to cover the entire cost of its own operations on ‘public’ land, let alone deliver a net profit to the US government on the deal, will be the first time.”

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Enter At Your Own Risk: Police Union Says ‘War-Like’ Detroit Is Unsafe For Visitors Reply

“These are the men and women who we look to protect us… and police officers can’t protect you if they’re not there. Officers are leaving simply because they can’t afford to stay in Detroit and work 12 hour shifts for what they are getting paid… These police officers are beyond demoralized, these officers are leaving hand over fist because they can no longer afford to stay on the department and protect the public,” he said.

And that’s why Iorio cautions those who enter the city to be wary.

“The explosion in violent crime, the incredible spike in the number of homicides and for officers trying to work 12 hours in such deplorable, dangerous and war like conditions is simple untenable,” he said. More…

Obama or Romney: War and Economic Collapse Regardless Who Wins the Election Reply

By Kurt Nimmo

CNN is making a big deal out of Romney’s “right leaning” supporters. The corporate media branch of the Pentagon’s psyops program thinks there’s a good chance these “severely conservative” voters may push Romney over the top and get him installed in the White House as preeminent teleprompter reader for the global elite.

In August, Peter Schiff, economic adviser to Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, said he thinks the economic implosion will occur during the next administration. He has no faith in Obama and little in Romney to turn things around.

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America R.I.P. Reply

By Paul Craig Roberts

During the second half of the 20th century the United States was an opportunity society. The ladders of upward mobility were plentiful, and the middle class expanded. Incomes rose, and ordinary people were able to achieve old-age security.

In the 21st century the opportunity society has disappeared. Middle class jobs are scarce. Indeed, jobs of any kind are scarce. To stay even with population growth from 2002 through 2011, the economy needed about 14 million new jobs. However, at the end of 2011 there were only 1 million more jobs than in 2002. http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm

Only 426,000 of these jobs are in the private sector. The bulk of the net new jobs consist of waitresses and bartenders and health care and social assistance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the 9 years, employment for waitresses and bartenders increased by 1,188,000. Employment in health care and social assistance increased 3,087,000. These two categories accounted for 1,000% of the net private sector job growth.

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US Foodstamp Usage Rises To New Record High Reply

zerohedge.com

While the 0.4% perfectly unmanipulated and totally coincidental swing in the unemployment rate in an Obama favorable direction one month before the election came at a prime time moment for the market, one hour ahead of the open, setting the market mood for the rest of the day (which despite all best efforts still closed red, valiant efforts by Simon Potter and the FRBNY’s direct pipe to Citadel notwithstanding), there was one other, far more important data point released by the government’s department of agriculture, sufficiently late after the market close to impact no risk assets. That data point of course was foodstamps (or the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka SNAP), and we are confident that no readers will be surprised to learn that foodstamp usage for both persons and households, has jumped to a new all time record. More…

Private Prison Company to Demand 90% Occupancy Reply

Allgov.com

The nation’s largest private prison company is offering cash-strapped state governments to buy up their penitentiaries and manage convicted criminals at a cost-savings. But there’s a catch…the states must guarantee that are there are enough prisoners to ensure that the venture is profitable to the company.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) has reached out to 48 states as part of a $250 million plan to own existing prisons and manage their operations. But in return CCA wants a 20-year contract and assurances that the state will keep the prisons at least 90% full.

American prison labor means longer unemployment lines Reply

FOX News

Two southeast companies that make U.S. military uniforms are shedding hundreds of jobs, as the government looks to federal inmates for the fatigues.

American Power Source makes military clothing in Fayette, Ala., but its government contract expires in October. Federal Prison Industries – which also operates under the name UNICOR will snag the work, and leave the task to inmates. FPI has the first right of refusal for U.S. Government contracts, under a 1930 federal law.

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The Ghost of Bertolt Brecht and the Balkanization of America Reply

Bertolt Brecht’s name is now largely lost to history, but the idea expressed in the succinct question above remains as potent today as when he uttered it. Brecht, a self-made Marxist who was once investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) during the “Red Scare” era of the late 1940s and early 1950s, probably did not know a then-young Edward Kennedy or the other politicians who later devised the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, and he did not live to see the eventual mass migration of immigrants, legal and illegal alike, into the U.S. after his death. We can only speculate on how Brecht would have viewed the rapidly-Balkanizing United States of the early 21st century, but it seems safe to conclude that the old Marxist would be astounded at its scope, scale and rapidity. More…

Walmart Workers Ask For Basic Rights, Walmart Calls Riot Police 4

By Jessica Testa

Photo by @daneyvilla.

About 650 people protested a major Walmart distribution center Monday in Elwood, Illinois, the Chicago Tribute reports.

At Walmart contractor Roadlink, workers have been on strike since mid-September, claiming unsafe working conditions and unfair wages. From the movement’s website:

No one should come to work and endure extreme temperatures, inhale dust and chemical residue, and lift thousands of boxes weighing up to 250lbs with no support. Workers never know how long the work day will be- sometimes its two hours, sometimes its 16 hours. Injuries are common, as is discrimination against women and illegal retaliation against workers who speak up for better treatment.

Reports from the protest vary, but photos show riot police restraining some protesters with zip-ties. The rally had apparently been declared an “unlawful assembly.”

Photo by @daneyvilla.

Photo by @daneyvilla.

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How Free Are Today’s “Free”Markets? with Dr. Sean Gabb 1

Listen to the interview.

On Thursday, the 9th August 2012, Sean Gabb spoke in Bratislava to the Institute of Economic and Social Studies (INESS) on the subject of “Libertarianism: Left or Right?”

He made the following points:

1. That libertarianism is a child of the Enlightenment, and is a champion of rationalism and humanity. As such, it was inevitably opposed to large elements of the European Old Order. This can be seen in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Frederic Bastiat, and in the speeches and writings of Cobden and Bright.

2. That, during the 1880s, libertarians in England became increasingly alarmed by the progress of state socialism in its various forms that they entered into an alliance with the landed aristocracy, which was itself worried about the tendencies of the age. The most obvious sign of this alliance was the Liberty and Property Defence League.

3. That the decline of the landed interest after 1914, and the global challenge of Soviet socialism required libertarians to go into a new alliance with corporate big business.

4. That this need has evaporated since 1989, and libertarians are free to choose their friends in ways that were not possible before.

5. That, while the English landed aristocracy was perhaps the most liberal ruling class in history, and that compromise with it was natural and even desirable for libertarians, corporate big business is little more than the commercial arm of an utterly malign ruling class that legitimises itself by cultural leftism and maintains its global hegemony via the military-industrial complex.

6. That libertarians are perhaps mistaken when they worship actually existing capitalism as if it were a variety of a genuinely free market, and when they implicitly regard the poor as enemies and dismiss the complaints of the poor as hostility to free markets.

7. That libertarians should focus more on showing how the established order of things hurts the poor – by using the tax and regulatory structures to raise the minimum scale of output and stop the poor from starting micro-businesses that would free them from the oppresion of bad employers and the welfare authorities.

Much else is covered, including intellectual property and whether Britain and Slovakia should leave the European Union.

 

Modern drug cartels resemble corporate entities Reply

tennessean.com
Christopher Sherman , AP

Accountants, managers, security and more all part of criminal organizations

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS — When a regional manager for the Mexican Gulf cartel moved his operation to a more lucrative territory on the border, he took along not only his armored trucks and personal army, but also his department heads and a team of accountants.

In the grotesque violence that has enveloped Mexico, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, ultimately, these criminal organizations are complex businesses that rely on careful accounting as much as assault rifles.

Rafael Cardenas Vela, a Gulf cartel member who ran three important “plazas,” or territories, testified last week about the organization’s structure and operations in such detail that it could compose a short course. More…

Human Sex Trafficking Is Now Affecting America’s Elite Communities Reply

businessinsider.com
Abby Rogers

Prostitution

Wikipedia

Long thought to be a problem only in America’s poorest cities or the world’s most impoverished nations, human trafficking is now making a move toward the upper fringes of society.

During a speech Thursday at the University of Mississippi School of Law, federal prosecutors said sex trafficking, both in terms of victims and suspects, has spread to wealthy suburbs as well as small rural towns, The Commercial Appeal reported. More…