- Central Banks are Dumbfounded. The usual tricks that U.S. and European central banks use to avoid recessions are long-exhausted. Interest rates cannot get any lower.
- Trade War. For a global economy to grow, global cooperation is needed. China's economy will become the world's largest by 2016, surpassing the US for the first time.
- Military War. Foreign war is a good symptom of economic decay. $57,000 a minute – that's how much the United States spends on Iraq and Afghanistan.
- U.S. Economy at a Standstill. The most important consumer market in the world, the U.S. is a nation of nearly bankrupt consumers. Nearly thirty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, while further job losses are certain.
- Bailout Capitalism. First it was the banks and other corporations that needed bailing out, and now whole nations. Western nations bailed out their banks by falling into the massive debt that they are now drowning in.
- Bailout Repercussions. All western nations -- including the U.S. and England -- are grappling with their national debts. Rich bond investors are demanding that these countries drastically reduce their deficits, while also demanding that the deficits be reduced through hidden taxes on working families, instead of rich investors.
- The Far Right Emerges. To deal with working people more ruthlessly, the radical right is being unleashed. In normal times these bigots yell furiously but no one listens. But in times of economic crisis they're given endless airtime on all major media outlets.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Fall of An Empire (part 1)
Fall of the American Empire: Part One
This posting is the first in a series of three articles (or sermons on my virtual church website) on the current status of the United States as a country, and why our situation is so serious. The are based on my book, “The Middle and Working Class Manifesto” (Salt and Light Publishing, 472 pages, $14.95). In my previous postings I have outlined the problems of the US middle class, and how it is slowly being obliterated by the top 1% of the financial pecking order. The end result of this is that the country is being ruined, literally from the inside out. Our only hope remaining is to protest, boycott, strike against and occupy America every way we can.
The plight of 99% 'ers like us is that we are experiencing what is tantamount to the confiscation of our wealth and prosperity, and with it our way of life. Many of our jobs, our savings and pensions, our housing and transportation, and our access to higher education and preventative health care, are evaporating before our eyes, and this social injustice will continue unabated until we as a united people rise up as one in a chorus of peaceful revolution. I am convinced that if we do not, the next battle front being entrenched by the top 1% will be against our very freedom. In fact, this latest round of class warfare being thrust against us has already begun, and it has become known as the 'prison-industrial complex'. Record numbers of people, many of whom are either wrongfully convicted or are harmless substance abusers in need of professional help, are being locked up systematically, and the process is slowly getting worse.
The United States, according to the New York Times, has 5% of the World's population and 25% of all people incarcerated on the planet! In reality, in the United States, one in every hundred people are in some kind of incarceration. Incarceration is big business in the United States. Private corrections companies such as Wackenhut and others charge either the States or the federal government from $65 to $160 a bed per night to warehouse all these people. In 2007, according to the National Association of State Budgeting Officers, states spent $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections. That is up from $10.6 billion in 1987, a 127 increase adjusted for inflation. With money from bonds and the federal government included, total state spending on corrections last year was $49 billion. By the end of 2011, the report said, states are on track to spend an additional $25 billion.
The United States ranks first in prison population. Where did we get all of these criminals? Well the answer comes from the reckless and costly War on Drugs, the new prohibition that makes convicts and criminals of those who are classified in more enlightened countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands as having a medical problem. In 2000 there were 74,276 drug related prisoners. In 2008 it was 95,079. In 2010 it was 95,205. This amounts to 50.7% of the entire prison population (as of 2011 that number is estimated at 54% and it continues rising unabated). It's also an increase of 28.2% since 2000. We house those with substance abuse problems with professional criminals. What will we get when these people are released after serving an average 55 months in prison?
This is what capitalism has done. People are now profiting by locking up other human beings. And the longer people are are locked up, the more profitable the industry is. Should we be proud that we imprison more people than any nation on Earth? Have we outsourced so many industries along with their factories that we need a giant prison system to keep people employed? If we continue to allow such a disproportionate number of poor and minority citizens to be locked up, released without rehabilitation, and locked up again, modern slavery will continue to thrive. We are supporting a modern form of slavery if we do not, at the very least, lessen the punishment for drug offenses, do away with the unconstitutional "three strikes" laws and offer education and rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration. If we retrain prisoners by paying for their vocational education, we give them a trade. If we simply incarcerate them and release them, all we get are more prisoners.
Remember, this “prison-industrial complex” is bought and paid for, and brought to you by the same "government" that has brought you: The FBI, The DEA, The BATFE, The only Atomic Bombs ever used in War, Three mile Island, Area 51, The Bay of Pigs invasion, Vietnam, Watergate, Iran Contra, Ruby Ridge, ID., Waco, TX., Grenada, Nicaragua, Somalia, FEMA disasters and the Patriot Act. and of course the war in Iraq I and II, and now Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya. All of this has been and will be done in the name of National Security. When the American war machine finishes its conquests overseas to “acquire” Middle Eastern oil, the final step will be to bring the troops home so the “new world order” can turn their weapons on us. The final step, you see, will be the conquest of the Untied States. Only then will the domination and control over everything and everybody by the top 1% be secure. Allow me to document how this is being done and what the end result will be for our nation if we don't turn this around in our favor.
American citizens have a patriotic duty to dissent and to speak out when it is apparent their government is creating policies and taking actions that are in conflict with the best interests of the people and the laws of the land. The right of patriotic dissent has been a part of America since those days that brought us our independence. Yes, anyone can and should exercise the right to dissent, when the situation requires it, and I certainly have no hesitation about doing so.
We find ourselves living in a world where the next terrorist attack could kill everyone in your city or town, where the cost of fuel could skyrocket into the stratosphere with the next conflagration in the Middle East or the next natural disaster, and where you can become the next crime statistic on less than a moments notice. And as all these things are taking place, the solution being offered by your government, your political and economic system, your media outlets and even your churches are for more security by way of less individual freedom and personal liberty. I think it is high time that “we the people” rose up to challenge this erroneous notion that security is preferable to freedom. And I think it's high damn time to correct the perception of the top 1%, making them understand that people are not expendable, nor are we a commodity to be exploited. We need to take matters into our own hands if we hope to get anything done, and we need to directly confront our terrible economic situation if we hope to get things moving back in our favor. The system is broken, and it's up to us to either fix it, bypass it, or replace it altogether.
The end result of the hijacking of our political and economic system by the top 1% is that the country has been run into the ground. In my opinion, and based on quite a bit of on-line research and a library of saved Internet postings and articles, it is severely damaged but it may be repairable. In the meantime, here is what America is faced with in the short term.
Seven Reasons Why Capitalism Can't Recover Anytime Soon
Seven more facts about the decline of the USA.
1.In 2000, USA was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, USA fell to seventh.
2. USA has lost approximately 42,400 factories and 32 percent of manufacturing jobs since 2000. In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of economic output. In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.
3. Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
4. In 1980, the United States imported 37 percent of its oil. Now its 60 percent.
5.America's trade deficit with China increased 300 percent in last ten years,which could eventually cost half a million jobs this year alone. Half a trillion dollars yearly leave America due to trade deficit.
6. US 15-year-olds do not rank in the top half of all advanced nations in math or science literacy.
7. The United States has the third worst poverty rate among all the advanced nations.
So where are US resources being directed? Towards war, of course!
QUICK FACTS ON WARS AND DEFENSE SPENDING
---The National Security Advisor says there are less than 100 Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and we have over 100,000 troops and probably as many mercenaries chasing them.
---Maintaining one American soldier in Afghanistan for one year costs one million dollars. This expenditure could be for twenty jobs at home with a salary of $50,000 each.
---There are now over 90,000 battlefield casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Over 500,000 veterans patients from the two wars have flooded into VA hospitals and clinics. That's one new war casualty walking into a VA medical facility every five minutes of every day---about 9,000 new patients every month with no end in sight. Also, one third of all returning veterans from these illegal wars wind up on psychiatric disability. They will never work again. That's what war does to people, so why do we continue?
---The Iraqis still don't have a government and Christians are being ethnically cleansed.
---The cost of the Iraq war alone is likely to be more than three trillion dollars according to Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel winning economist.
---190,000 AK-47s handed out by the US Army to Iraqi security force recruits vanished and wound up in the hands of militants.
---Afghanistan soldiers have been shooting our troops.
---The total DOD budget for the current fiscal year is over $700 billion. It is an amount just under what the entire rest of the world spends for defense and most of them are allies.
---The Defense Department spends in a few hours more than al Qaeda spends in an entire year.
---According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 36 million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on food stamps. In the richest country in the world, this is inexcusable.
---Some people think the Federal Reserve banks are United States Government institutions. They are not Government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.
But I don't believe for one instant that it will be the end of the line for the USA. The country itself, the land and its people, its infrastructure, the commercial structures and all the houses, most of the businesses and everything related to them, will all still be here. It will be up to us, the working people of this country (employed or not) who keep things going, to change the system from the bottom up. More on this topic in my next posting.