Tuesday ReadsPosted: May 31, 2011
Good Morning!! It sure was a long weekend! I’m kind of glad it’s over, although it was relaxing. I guess I haven’t gotten used to being unemployed yet, because I almost got bored.
Let’s see if there is any news out there this morning. Practically the only thing on Memeorandum this weekend was the silly story about Anthony Weiner and Twitter. You probably heard that Breitbart is trying to pull another one of his fake outrage tricks. I don’t feel like writing about it, but you can read about it at Cannonfire
.Paul Rosenberg has a stimulating piece up at Alternet: Vision: How to Make Media Reflect the Popular Views of Americans, Not Those of Elites. It’s long but well worth reading. Rosenberg writes about efforts to force the media to reflect the views of real Americans. Here’s just a bit of it:
“Liar! Liar!” “He’s lying!” That’s how Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s constituents responded at a town hall meeting in Kenosha a week after House Republicans passed Ryan’s draconian budget plan to privatize Medicare and slash taxes for the wealthy.
Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, totally unprepared for the grassroots outrage and for good reason: the gap between Washington elites and the American people seems to have reached an all-time high. While Ryan’s plan was lauded as “brave” and “visionary” inside the Beltway, poll after poll showed that the American people wanted none of it.
62 percent believe the government should focus on creating jobs, even if it means increasing the deficit in the short-term, according to a Lake Research Partners poll in March 2011.
76 percent believe cutting Medicare to help reduce the budget deficit is mostly or totally unacceptable, and 67 percent believe the same about Medicaid, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in February, 2011.
68 percent believe that phasing out the Bush tax cuts for families earning $250,000 per year is mostly or totally acceptable to help reduce the budget deficit, according to the same poll.
65 percent oppose changes to Social Security as a way to reduce the budget deficit, according to a Pew Research poll in March, 2011.
Yet, despite similar results in dozens of polls over the past few months, none of it seemed to penetrate the Beltway bubble.
He goes on to tout the The American Majority Project, led by Roger Hickey. There have been many attempts by liberals to influence the media as the Republicans have been able to do for the past 30 years. I don’t know if this one will be successful, but I sure do support the goal and the effort.
According to The New York Times, the latest housing index will show that home prices have hit a new low.
Even as the economy began to fitfully recover in the last year, the percentage of homeowners dropped sharply, to 66.4 percent, from a peak of 69.2 percent in 2004. The ownership rate is now back to the level of 1998, and some housing experts say it could decline to the level of the 1980s or even earlier.
Disenchantment with real estate is bound to swell further on Tuesday when the most widely watched housing index is all but guaranteed to show that prices of existing homes sank in March below the lows reached two years ago — until now the bottom of the housing crash. In February, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 large cities slumped for the seventh month in a row.
Housing is locked in a downward spiral, industry analysts say, not only because so many people are blocked from the market — being unemployed, in foreclosure or trapped in homes that are worth less than the mortgage — but because even those who are solvent are opting out.
Of course no one is doing anything about this, any more than they are doing anything about unemployment. At Common Dreams, Dave Lindorff asks: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?
In his latest speeches on the Middle East, President Obama, both at the State Department and at the G8 meeting in France, has pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Middle Eastern countries, drawing a direct connection between the unrest and demonstrations that brought down the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and the joblessness and hopelessness felt by the young people in those two countries.
His adviser on international economics, David Lipton, has been more specific, saying that, “We believe that these two pillars go hand in hand. Without economic modernization, it will be hard for governments trying to democratize to show people that democracy delivers.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
If the official rate of unemployment for all Americans of 9% is actually less than half of the actual rate of 20%, then even if we took a conservative estimate, simply eliminating the adjustment of those working part-time who want full-time work from the youth unemployment figure, and just keeping the adjustment for those who have dropped out of the labor force (stopped looking for work) because it is fruitless, we would still see actual unemployment figures for young people in the US at staggering Egypt-like levels: 30% for all young people, 45% for young Latinos, and as high as 66% for black youth!
So why is the president so concerned about providing economic support to boost jobs in countries like Tunisia and Egypt, in order to “support democracy,” while in here in the US, he has basically thrown in the towel on job creation efforts, and is just talking about cutting the deficit–a Republican theme?
Very good questions. If only we could get some answers from the President.
At Truthdig, Chris Hedges has a post on global warming: The Sky is Really Falling.
The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.
Those who concede that the planet is warming but insist we can learn to live with it are perhaps more dangerous than the buffoons who decide to shut their eyes. It is horrifying enough that the House of Representatives voted 240-184 this spring to defeat a resolution that said that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” But it is not much of an alternative to trust those who insist we can cope with the effects while continuing to burn fossil fuels.
Along similar lines, this piece by a Canadian journalist on our dependence on oil is real eye-opener: Why Our 21st Century Slave Society Can’t Last
In 2009 a British family living in a four-bedroom house became the subject of a subversive energy experiment about modern slavery.
While the foursome flicked on gadgets one Sunday with the abandon of Roman patricians, an army of volunteers (The Human Power Station) furiously pedalled 100 bicycles next door to generate the needed energy.
The unsuspecting family, of course, had no idea they had been unplugged from a power grid fueled largely by fossil fuels.
At the end of the day the slave masters literally dropped their jaws when a BBC television crew introduced them to the exhausted slaves that boiled their tea. (Get this: it took 24 peddlers to heat the oven and 11 cyclists to make two slices of toast.)
At the end of the experiment many of the cyclists collapsed. Several couldn’t walk for days. The peddlers actually consumed more energy in food than they generated by peddling.
Go read the whole thing. It’s a fascinating argument.
That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading and blogging about today?