Archive for January 13th, 2014

2014: We Must Do Better

by lizard

It’s not even a full 2 weeks into this lovely new year, and I’m already questioning whether it’s worth tracking the insane trajectory of this country. Our mostly millionaire representatives in Congress presiding over this insanity are not responsive to the hell they keep shrugging their shoulders at, putting on a loud charade to hide how well they are serving their real constituency.

Paul Craig Roberts tears apart the December jobs numbers, and finds a troubling canary for the hilariously titled Affordable Care Act:

In America the unemployment rate is a deception just like everything else. The rate of American unemployment fell, because people can’t find jobs. The fewer the jobs, the lower the unemployment rate.

I noticed today that the financial media presstitutes were a bit hesitant to hype the drop in the rate of unemployment when there was no jobs growth to account for it. The Wall Street and bank economists did their best to disbelieve the jobs report as did some of the bought-and-paid-for university professors. Too many interests have a stake in the non-existent recovery declared 4.5 years ago to be able to admit that it is not really there.

I have been examining the monthly jobs reports for a decade or longer. I must say that I was struck by the December report. Normally, a mainstay of jobs gain is the category “education and health services,” with “ambulatory health care services” adding thousands of jobs. In December the net contribution of “education and health services” was zero, with “ambulatory health care services” losing 4,100 jobs and health care losing 6,000 jobs. If memory serves, this is a first. Perhaps it reflects adverse impacts of the ripoff known as Obamacare, possibly the worst piece of domestic legislation passed in decades.

Locally that rings true, with St. Patrick Hospital “restructuring” to save 5 million by March, and Community Hospital laying off staff and reducing hours. Not good, and a direct result of a bunch of ideological assholes in our state legislature turning down Medicaid dollars—their right to do so a gift bestowed by the Supreme Court.

But where do we, as a country, spend the most tax dollars? On a military to police the globe, of course. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got a quality product in return for our money? You know, something that would actually make the world a safer place to exist?

Instead we get Fallujah back in the headlines and stories about rogue Libyan militias selling the oil they now control.

Oh yeah, and let’s not forget how Democrats are helping Republicans help Israel (h/t larry kurtz) undermine the tentative diplomacy with Iran:

The White House has invited the entire Senate Democratic caucus to meet privately with the president on Wednesday evening, a Dem aide confirms, adding that Dems expect one of the topics to be Iran.

Which raises a question: Where are all the Senate Democrats on the bill to impose sanctions on Iran that is being pushed by Senators Robert Menendez and Chuck Schumer? How many of them are really prepared to support this bill, and how many oppose it? By my count, more than half the Democratic caucus have been mum on where they stand.

Will the announcement that the six month deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program is moving forward undercut the momentum of those pushing for a new sanctions bill? The White House says such a bill could derail negotiations and make war more likely, right at the moment when the process is showing preliminary signs of working.

Considering the slowly emerging reality of how bad Fukushima is, maybe the potential to kill millions of Iranians with a similar nuclear catastrophe could entice the zionist loyalists to sign off on diplomacy. Without an Iran resolution of some kind, that Asia pivot Obama wants to make probably won’t happen.

Trillions wasted in futile wars which leaves lasting chaos in its wake, and a domestic budget deal that continues the neoliberal class war here at home:

Voted on and passed by the House without debate, questions from the public or opportunity for adjustments, the Senate dutifully followed, quickly passing the agreement that was then signed into law by President Obama from his holiday vacation retreat.

When the details of the deal began to emerged, it became obvious that the agreement was yet another frontal assault on the working class and the poor that has characterized state policies over the last three decades. For the millions of people knocked to their knees by the economic crisis created by the robber barons of finance capital, the neoliberal fiscal priorities of the budget obliterated any hope that they would get relief from the insecurities and fears of living in an economy that seems aligned against them.

Not only was there no plan to use the power of the state to create or stimulate jobs, but the Christmas gift to the 1.3 million long-term unemployed left out of the deal was the elimination of their unemployment benefits on December 28.

The deal does not raise real revenue by closing tax loopholes for wealthy. It does not restore food stamps cuts for the 47 million receiving this assistance or cuts to Medicare and other vital public services like special education programs, Head Start and nearly $2 billion slashed from housing aid.

And because the deal lacks mechanisms for raising revenues, it places the burden for funding the deal squarely on the backs of working people by requiring federal workers to take another hit on their wages and benefits. This hit to federal workers is in addition to the increase in taxes that all workers experienced in January 2013 when the payroll tax cut was rescinded while the $4 trillion in Bush tax cuts for the wealthy were allowed to continue for another decade.

Furthermore, while poll after poll demonstrated that the public was no longer in favor of costly military adventures around the world and wanted to see a reduction in military expenditures, Congressional representatives still increased military spending by $20 billion.

This is the big picture context I think about when our city council, at the “request” of our downtown business community, rushes through ordinance amendments in a misguided attempt to control the behavior of a handful of “transients”. Tonight, the new city council will begin the process of reconsideration because, if they don’t, the city will get sued, and lose.

Money for things that matter are scarce. Things are tough, and the trajectory ain’t good. We must do better.

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