April 7, 2013

artwork_images_423841944_504846_mc-escherIn an age where down is down and the stakes are way-up high, President Obama’s leaked budget proposal (officially due this Wednesday) does cough up some change, but not really something the poors can live on: By comparison, Social Security is about 70 percent of the income of a typical retiree. Since President Obama’s proposal would lead to a 3 percent cut in Social Security benefits, it would reduce the income of the typical retiree by more than 2.0 percent, more than three times the size of the hit from the tax increase to the wealthy.
And so swift did John ‘The Boner’ Boehner reject Obama’s plan, he apparently didn’t have anywhere near enough time to read the whole thing.

Suicidally-insane is the only notion of how screwed the US, and especially those below the wealthy zone.

(Illustration: M.C Escher’s ‘Scholastica’  found here).

Lawrence Lessig, a techno-ethics guy, says it’s the way we put these assholes in power is the root cause of our disturbing situation — money quote from an essay at CNN:

For members of Congress and candidates for Congress spend anywhere between 30 percent and 70 percent of their time raising money from this tiny, tiny slice of us.
Think of a rat in a Skinner box, learning which buttons to push to get pellets of food, and you have a pretty good sense of the life of a congressman: a constant attention to what must be done to raise money, and to raise money not from all of us, but from the tiniest slice of the 1 percent of us.
And so what issues might that tiny, tiny slice of the 1 percent care about?
Out-of-control health care costs?
Actually reforming Wall Street?
Obviously not.
The issues that matter to this tiny fraction of the 1 percent are not the issues that matter to America.
This is the corruption of USA-land.
And it will only ever change if we change the way we fund elections.

A pissed-off example: Billionaire gambling’s ancient asshole, Sheldon Adelson, cracking wise last week during his $328 million breach-of-contract lawsuit in Las Vegas.
Via the LA Times:

He talked about his impoverished Boston childhood, his parents fresh off the latest immigrant boat.
“I could have been a rags to riches story,” he said, smiling, congenially facing the jury.
“But my parents couldn’t afford the rags.”
Jurors smiled unconsciously.
Moments later, guided by the soft questioning of his attorney, Adelson, 79, hit them with another one-liner that would have made Henny Youngman proud: “I came from the other side of the tracks.
In fact, I came from so far on the other side, I didn’t know the tracks existed.”

Sheldon, you’re a fucking card, alright. As of last month, Adelson was ranked 15th on Forbes billionaires list (ninth in the US) with a net worth of about $26.5 billion — yes indeed, Sheldon is concerned with the US employment outlook. Last year, he reportedly gave nearly $150 million to GOPers, though, most all lost, and puffed up Newt Gingrich to the bursting-point of absurdity.
He’s a smart-ass always. This most-hilarious snip the day after last November’s election: Asked how he thought the millions of dollars he showered on Romney’s candidacy was spent, Adelson responded: “By paying bills. That’s how you spend money. Either that or become a Jewish husband — you spend a lot of money.”

Last July, Adelson donated $10 million to the horrific Koch brothers for their ‘grassroots mobilizing and advertising‘ campaign against anything humane.
This leads absolutely-straight to the real crunch in the ability to combat all of mankind’s biggest-ever, most-urgent problem: Climate Change. Even as I write, bad-shit is moving right along without hindrance, and these .oo1 percent of the 1 percent are playing games with the dumb-ass wad of humanity, to the ultimate end.

Case in point is entire sphere of the supposedly controversial Keystone XL pipeline — the issue should be a no brainer because of the horrible environmental concerns, and not just with the oil, but everything about the entire project, from getting it out of the ground, to transporting it, to refining it, bad shit all around.
Most-likely Obama will okay the scheme, and therefore, despite vocal calls from such as James Hansen a couple of years ago that to approve the pipeline creates a nightmare scenario where “…it is essentially game over” for our environment, we be fucked.
Bill McKibben at The Nation writes “the signs aren’t good” for Obama to make a sensible decision, especially with a nit-twit, straight-rod John Kerry at the State Department:

A month after he took over at State, it issued a preliminary environmental ruling giving the project a clean bill of health.
It didn’t take scientists more than a few hours of study to point out the many flaws and basic math errors in the ruling; perhaps stung by the embarrassment, the State Department announced that the “public comments” we’re now submitting will, in fact, be kept secret.
(They may also have been stung by the pictures of tar-sands oil from a much smaller pipeline fouling an Arkansas suburb after a leak in late March.)

In reality, this moneyed-class is bringing about the end of current civilization’s 5,000+year-run.
Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money pretty-much summed up the situation: This really can’t be overstated. If climate change isn’t the greatest challenge we as a human race has ever faced, I don’t know what would be. From a national perspective, we could call it our greatest problem since slavery and I’d be OK with this. We could call it our greatest crisis since World War II and I would disagree. Climate change is a far greater threat to the United States than our enemies in the 1940s. And we do nothing except make it worse.

Loomis was commenting on Charles Pierce’s most-excellent piece at Esquire about how the big bucks affect/effect climate change and the bald-faced lie that  ‘…environmental concerns are the province of the liberal elites…‘ and concludes:

“Political demands” versus “the insistence” of some people to believe in fairy tales.
(There will not be that many jobs created and the oil, assuming it’s not spilling out all over Nebraska, will be headed to China.)
Also, too: the 2014 midterms.
That’s the way a critical issue within the universe of the most critical issue of all is presented in the nation’s most important newspaper.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that not a single one of our major institutions, within government or without, is capable of confronting this problem.
And if we can’t, that’s rather the ballgame, isn’t it?

Except it’s lights out, game over, but no one goes home.


Also last Friday, was a real-bad jobs report — only 88,000 jobs created in March, way-down from the 250,000 in February and motions toward a bad summer for work:

Normally such a weak job number would push up the jobless rate, but the unemployment figure fell a notch in March to 7.6 percent as hundreds of thousands of people left the labor force and were no longer counted as jobless.
In fact, the share of working-age Americans who have jobs or are looking for work sank to a 34-year low of 63.3 percent last month.
“It says job opportunities are so weak, hiring is so low and demand for workers is so depressed that we’re just having people drop out or otherwise not enter the labor force,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

Even as the national stats look shitty, there’s a sweet perfume in that porta-potty –via US News & World Report:

But there is one sector that’s heating up, even as other industries suffer the side effects of sequestration and squabbles in Washington: residential construction.
The homebuilding industry, beaten down during the housing bust, is benefiting from the overall tight inventory of homes for sale and the rush of would-be homebuyers to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates.
Housing starts—around 917,000 in February—are still much lower than the 1.5 million economists say is closer to normal, but still almost 30 percent above construction levels seen this time last year, fueling job creation in the industry.

The spoon of the forked problem, however, is in workers: So it came as something of a surprise when a trade association representing the construction industry announced that it was experiencing a growing labor shortage.

A couple of decades ago I was a framer for a few years — the neatest job I ever had, and although I wasn’t all that great a carpenter, I loved the shit out of the work. Walking onto a empty slab and help build somebody’s home was most rewarding.
And to me anyway, pounding nails was fun.
If I was twenty years younger, I’d moved to where-ever to pound nails.
The only humane thing to do.

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