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Starving for Change

Posted on Nov 24, 2008
AP photo / Kiichiro Sato, file

Leah Poare visits a food pantry in Columbus, Ohio. Even with the help of free groceries, Poare and her husband limit themselves to one full meal a day, usually in the evening, so that their three children, ages 6, 7 and 17, can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

By Chris Hedges

Elba Figueroa worked as a nurse’s aide until she got Parkinson’s disease. She lost her job. She lost her health care. She receives $703 a month in government assistance. Her rent alone costs $750. And so she borrows money from friends and neighbors every month to stay in her apartment. She laboriously negotiates her wheelchair up and down steps and along the frigid sidewalks of Trenton, N.J., to get to soup kitchens and food pantries to eat.

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“Food prices have gone up,” the 47-year-old Figueroa said, waiting to get inside the food pantry run by the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton. “I don’t have any money. I run out of things to eat. I worked until I physically could not work anymore. Now I live like this.”

The pantry, which occupies a dilapidated three-story art deco building in Old Trenton, one of the poorest sections of the city, is one of about two dozen charities that struggle to provide shelter and food to the poor. Those who quality for assistance are permitted to come once a month and push a shopping cart in a U shape around the first floor where, clutching a piece of paper with allotted points, they can stock up on items using the pantry’s point system according to the number of people in a household. The shelves of the pantry hold bags of rice, jars of peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and cans of beets, corn and peas. Two refrigerated cases hold eggs, chickens, fresh carrots and beef hot dogs. “All Fresh Produce 2 pounds = 1 point,” a sign on the glass door of the refrigerated unit reads. Another reads: “1 Dozen EGGS equal 3 protein points. Limit of 1 dozen per household.”

The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country, many of them elderly or single women with children, have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. General welfare recipients receive $140 a month in cash and another $140 in food stamps. This is all many in Trenton and other impoverished areas have to live on.

Trenton, a former manufacturing center that has a 20 percent unemployment rate and a median income of $33,000, is a window into our current unraveling. The financial meltdown is plunging the working class and the poor into levels of destitution unseen since the Depression. And as the government squanders taxpayer money in fruitless schemes to prop up insolvent banks and investment houses, citizens are callously thrown onto the street without work, a place to live or enough food. 


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The statistics are already grim. Our banking and investment system, holding perhaps $2 trillion in worthless assets, cannot be saved, even with the $700 billion of taxpayer money recklessly thrown into its financial black hole. Our decline is irrevocable.  The number of private sector jobs has dropped for the past 10 months and at least a quarter of all businesses say they plan to cut more jobs over the next year. The nation’s largest banks, including Citigroup, face collapse. Retail sales fell in October by the largest monthly drop on record. Auto companies are on the edge of bankruptcy. The official unemployment figures, which duplicitously mask real unemployment that is probably now at least 10 percent nationwide, are up to 6.1 percent and headed higher. We have lost 1.2 million jobs since January. Young men of color have 50 percent unemployment rates in cities such as Trenton. Twelve million houses are worth less than their mortgages and a million people will lose their homes this year in foreclosures. The current trends, if not swiftly reversed, mean that one in 33 home owners will face foreclosure.

There are now 36.2 million Americans who cope daily with hunger, up by more than 3 million since 2000, according to the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.  The number of people in the worst-off category—the hungriest—rose by 40 percent since 2000, to nearly 12 million people.

“We are seeing people we have not seen for a long time,” said the Rev. Jarret Kerbel, director of the Crisis Ministry’s food pantry, which supplies food to 1,400 households in Trenton each month. “We are seeing people who haven’t crossed that threshold for five, six or seven years coming back. We are seeing people whose unemployment has run out and they are struggling in that gap while they reapply and, of course, we are seeing the usual unemployed. This will be the first real test of [Bill] Clinton’s so-called welfare reform.”

The Crisis Ministry, like many hard-pressed charities, is over budget and food stocks are precariously low. Donations are on the decline. There are days when soup kitchens in Trenton are shut down because they have no food.

“We collected 170 bags of groceries from a church in Princeton and it was gone in two days,” Kerbel said. “We collected 288 bags from a Jewish center in Princeton and it was gone in three days. What you see on the shelves is pretty much what we have.”

The largess of Congress to Wall Street bankers and investors does not extend to the growing ranks of the poor. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program donated $240 million in surplus food in 2003 to food banks and other programs. Those donations fell last year to $59 million.

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By fsebet, May 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

People with disabilities are not interested in our country. Senate needs taxpayers. Humanism is not on their side. Mark from crazy taxi.

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By Anarcissie, December 9, 2008 at 10:18 am Link to this comment

cann4ing—You seem to have not read to the end of the sentence you quoted.

Incidentally, another fact which may have gotten past you is that Folktruther and I have different views of Mr. O’s relation to Mr. B.  I believe Mr. O will try to revert to the standard model of American imperialism, for instance, from which Mr. B has been a radical deviation in some ways.  I hope and believe this will be something of an improvement, although Mr. C’s execution of the standard model had quite a body count even without visiting any quagmires.

Not everyone you disagree with has the same opinion.

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By cann4ing, December 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie, December 2 at 7:40 am #

You [Folktruther] are right in saying that he will not empower the unions as FDR did…


From Obama’s official web site:

“Obama and Biden will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama and Biden will ensure that his labor appointees support workers’ rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama and Biden will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year.

“•Ensure freedom to unionize: Obama and Biden believe that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is a strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a bipartisan effort that makes sure workers can exercise their right to organize. They will continue to fight for EFCA’s passage and Obama will sign it into law.

“•Fight attacks on workers’ right to organize: Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s “Kentucky River” decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction workers, and professional workers as “supervisors” who are not protected by federal labor laws.

“•Protect striking workers: Obama and Biden support the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. They will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.”

So much for the Folktruther, Obama is a Bushite, theory.

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By Anarcissie, December 2, 2008 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

Folktruther—I don’t think Mr. O has a trajectory yet.  His appointment of Clinton retreads could be quite Machiavellian—I think, for instance, that the Clintons themselves have now been neutralized.  This does not mean I think Mr. O has a secret left-wing agenda he’s going to pop on January 21.  There is nothing to indicate that in his voting record or his speeches.  But within the ruling-class framework I think he has established a lot of latitude which might include a modest rerun of harmless parts of the New Deal.

You are right in saying that he will not empower the unions as FDR did, but that is because there is now very little unionism to work with.  More capitalists than you might think see a benefit in unionism, because if the workers can raise their wages and benefits it puts more money in circulation and they can buy more stuff.  (Of course, the average capitalist wishes the unions, if any, would go after the other capitalists.)  But the people in general seem very passive these days, and such unions as there are seem to be just trying to hold on, that is, they are conservative.  You can’t give power to people who don’t even want a reasonable amount of control over their own lives.

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By Folktruther, December 1, 2008 at 8:46 pm Link to this comment

Oh, I agree, Anarcissie, that the political theater and money circulation of Roosevelt will be implemented by Obama.  But in addition, Roosevelt legitimated changes initiated by militant action which slightly changed the power balance in favor of the working population.  This Obama can’t do now.

He has enodrsed the neoliberal globalization, both in rhetoric and in appointments that preclude institutional change.  He is on a trajectory of more war, more class ineqauality, more police state.  According to the NYTimes, twenty thousand combat truth have been stationed in the US and are being trained for use against the American population.

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By lichen, December 1, 2008 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, glad we settled that.  I haven’t seen the pbs documentary, but I’m sure it would just really annoy me.  I’ve been rereading sections of Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine lately, and I just can’t believe how revolting the actions of wall street, the cia, milton freidman’s ‘free market’ cult, the IMF and world bank have been; together, they’re much worse than Stalin and Mao were. 

I’m very happy that ALBA has been created, so the countries of Latin America won’t be forced to privatize and cut social spending when they need money—The Icelandic people are revolting against the IMF’s plans to ruin their quality of life right now, and I hope they win.  Institutions like ALBA are what the whole world needs—people cooperating with their neighbors, creating peace and quality of life for their entire populations, and not trying to enslave countries on the other side of the world in order to maximize the profits of multinational corporations.

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By KDelphi, December 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

lichen—I appreciate that..and I agree. Maybe I was a little ‘testy” yesterday ? hehehe…

Did you happen to see the pbs “propagandatary” (??) on Chavez online? I think you can still see it—-bring a barf bag!

Today, there was a newsletter from Venezuela Info Office about the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), suggesting “regional, cooperative solutions to economic ...problems…and less dependency on the IMF and WB”. They also are suggesting a possible common currency.

Watch Lou Dobbs tonite, just to see his head explode!! lol

The NYT, as usual , wrote a propoaganda, scare piece on it.But, at least they admit the CIA being behind the coup atttempt in 2002….

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By lichen, December 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, my post wasn’t a response or criticism of what you said; I realize what your views are, and I was not saying that Chavez was above ‘criticism,’ but I do object to the typical sort of attacks against him launched by the economic rightwingers.

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By Anarcissie, December 1, 2008 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther—I think most of the New Deal stuff was made up with the idea of getting some money back in circulation.  Secondarily, it was theater, an act to give the people the idea that something was being done.  It seems to me that Mr. O might perceive the same needs.  It is true he has hired Clinton retreads rather than a Brain Trust, but then the new New Deal would be a retread, too.  I don’t think strikes or a rebellion will be required.

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By cann4ing, December 1, 2008 at 11:30 am Link to this comment

As usual, Folktruther, you attempt to erect mountains from tiny pebbles.  There is not a single Obama appointment which reflects an intent to follow the Bushite path—not even the one year retention of Robert Gates.

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By KDelphi, November 30, 2008 at 11:41 am Link to this comment

lichen-if you read my posts, or, knew what organizatins I work with, you would hardly be telling me not to criticize Chavez! I support his, Morales, and the entire Latin American movement away from US Imperialism. You are, as they say, preaching to the choir!

There is always a little “dear leader” stuff. It may be warranted, considering all that the uS has done to Latin Ametrica. It doesnt need to be carried too far.Castro is much better for Cuba than Batista—but, allowing elections to take place might be even better.

(I am not exactly comparing Chavez to Castro—-it is a very different situation,)

As I tried to state, this appears to be a “ground up” movement, as oppposed to US “trickle down ” or “piss on the poor”.

That being said, I dont believe that ANY leader (or movement, or organzization ) is above criticism. When they become so, they become what I was arguing that the Venezuelan revolution has NOT.How could they be? If you read what I have posted concerning Chavez, and his team (I get emails from the Venezuelan govt), you will see that I have defended the Latin American Socialist Revolution, much more than most neo-liberals have, maybe more than other Socialists..

I hear Obama is reading much more Lincoln than FDR—-the situation would seem to suit FDR better. I agree that FDR redux would not change the power structure, of the US—we DO need a Social Democracy. But, with the direction this “team” seems to be taking, at least, it would keep a few from starving to death.

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By Folktruther, November 30, 2008 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Cann4ing- I didn’t say that Obama WILL follow Bushite polices, I said that he is already following them NOW.  The appointments he made are FACTS, Cann4ing, and appointments are part of policy.  I base my reasoning on facts that you choose to ignore.

Obama said many things publically, as all politicans do.  He said, as Bush did, that the US does not torture.  He also stated that he supports the War on Terrorism.  Since this War is agaisnt the Muslim population, torture has been an essential part of it to intimidate the active population.  Both in the US and Israel.

The US has historically tortured and taught death and terror squads to torure in Latin America in the School of the Americas.  Or possibly this is not a fact you choose to recognize.  In that case it is quite true that I do not argue from recognized facts, since they are not recognized in the mainstream truth. 

And I assume that the US power system will do in the future what it has done in the past, no matter who is president and what rhetoric he states in public.  That Obama will prefer continuity to change despite his campaign rhetoric.  In political science, if you’ll remember, Cann4ing, this is characterized as the discouse of candidacy diviating from the discourse of governance.  Those of us who are uneducated call it lying.

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By cann4ing, November 30, 2008 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

By Folktruther, November 29 at 4:16 pm #

He is not following the Clinton path, he is following the Bushite path.

Since Obama is only the PE, he has yet to step onto “any” path.  There is not a scintilla of evidence to support your claim that he will “follow” the Bushite path.  His guidelines excluding lobbyists from working inside government in the same fields in which they have lobbied is not merely off the Bushite path, but on a different planet, as is Obama’s public statements about closing Guantanamo, ending extraordinary rendition and his rejection of the Unitary Executive theory embodied in the Bush signing statements.

As usual, Folktruther, your premature smears of the Obama path are baseless speculations, but then I have noticed over many posts you have made at TD that you hold “many” opinions that are not fact-based. 

Arnarcissie, what better place to effectuate meaningful change than in from the elevated position of the POTUS?  The fact that Obama has spent a good deal of time since the election reading Jonathan Alter’s book on FDR’s first hundred days reflects at least a base line understanding of the need for a new New Deal.  That said, my problem is not that I doubt that Obama aspires to be the next FDR but that the problem with the New Deal is that it was intended to preserve rather than end capitalism by enacting a regulatory scheme that would prevent the avaricious beast from devouring itself.

For me, at least, a truly democratic socialism would be far preferable to a Keynesian mixed-economy.  How far we can move beyond a new New Deal will be entirely dependent upon the effectiveness of progressive activism.

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By Folktruther, November 29, 2008 at 9:49 pm Link to this comment

I don’t think there is any Roosevelt in Obama, Anarcissie,not because he might not want to, but because the power conditions are against it.  We have not gotten to the end of neoliberal globalization yet, and class inequality will consequently continue to increase.

Roosevelt had to do something because workers were striking, taking over factories in sit down strikes, and organizing into unions.  Something had to be done.  Does anything have to be done now that the police, military, intelligence agencies, mercenaries and vigilates can’t handle?  I don’t think so.

Before the power system responds, the American people have to rebel. Things can change very fast politically, but in six months or a year?

But who knows.  People might find some substitute for the unions that will threaten the power structure.  It took about five years in the Depression.

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By merry-will-go-round, November 29, 2008 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges provides insightful commentary on the sorry consequences of corporatism that most Americans bear.  As close to the truth his words seem, it’s hard to align them with the following headline from today in perspective:  “Early data shows strong Black Friday shopping.”  Maybe many Americans are shopping for the poor in Trenton, NJ and elsewhere?

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By Anarcissie, November 29, 2008 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment


‘... Anarcisse: You wrote about “not mobilizing against but mobilizing for.  We (the United States) can certainly afford basic food, clothing and housing for everybody.  Let’s start with food.  Draw up a list of ten or twelve basic foods that will prevent people from going hungry…skip the bureaucracy….If we can’t afford this, we could always drop out of the war-of-the-month club.”

If only everyone felt this way, we wouldn’t have to have debates like the one inspired by Chris Hedges’ moving article. ...’

I was just talking about what is materially possible.  Everyone is not necessary.  The government could do it, the rich could do it, or even a substantial minority of the ordinary population.  Using economies of scale and basic, unprocessed food, you could probably feed a person for a dollar a day.  So ten percent of the adult population (20 million people) could, for one dollar per day each, feed 20 million other people—far more than I believe are now going hungry or threatened with hunger.

In an agricultural-surplus country like the United States, there is no reason for anybody to go hungry, ever.  So why are people going hungry?  The answer is left as an easy exercise for the reader.

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By Anarcissie, November 29, 2008 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

‘No, Arnarcissie, Obama is not “compelled” to follow the elite consensus.  Whether he moves to the left is dependent on whether the American left can ever stop squabbling amongst itself and actually take collective action to bring about meaningful progressive changes.  The man, himself, has said that real change comes only from the bottom up, but you are too cynical to ever accept anything he has to say at face value.’

I believe Mr. O’s statement is correct; my cynicism impels me to doubt that Mr. O believes in it, however.  If he does, and if he desires some sort of change or other, why did he run for president, or any other political office?

In any case, at this time it is necessary and appropriate for the Left to squabble because we don’t know what to do about things, and our guesses and interests are at odds.  Our job is to stir up social forces, not take power and command others to fulfill our will.

However, I will concede this: after actually taking office and consolidating his power, I think Mr. O might do some things very much at odds with the ruling-class consensus, although I am pretty sure they will nevertheless be within the ruling-class framework.  For example, now he seems concerned only with bailing out the rich, as I think he must, but I can see him putting over a sort of second New Deal six months or a year down the road, after certain heads have been removed and arms broken.  Those who call themselves “progressives” will jump up and down for joy if this happens, and eventually we might move back to the polity and economics of the Nixon era, and everyone but we nasty cynics and whoever is being bombed at the moment will be happy.  Sort of.

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By Folktruther, November 29, 2008 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing-With appointing Biden, Emmanuel as chief of staff, and the financial appointments, Obama has hemmed himself in with Zionist warmonger neoliberals.  From there it is only a step to keeping Gates because all Obama can do now is promote the Bushite policies he has inherited.  He is not following the Clinton path, he is following the Bushite path.  And he is going to unite the fake Dem Progressives and the Gops to support it.

The best thing progressives can do now is squabble, to seperate the Dem progressives from the anti-Dem-Gop left.  Most people didn’t expect Obama to sell out so fast, so we are a little behind the curve.  But by the time he is inaugurated, it wll be clear even to lawyers and political scientists that Obama has sold out progressives.

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By lichen, November 29, 2008 at 3:39 pm Link to this comment

There is no ‘leader worship’ in Venezuela; Chavez is supported by a very militant, diverse, politically active array of social movements that are not about him but about their own interests, and which are not afraid to act independantly of Chavez’s party; furthermore, the direct democracy through neighborhood councils and cooperatives really do mean that they are actively participating in the government, and are not ‘led’ or ‘gifted’ into what they have.  It is the same situation in Bolivia, where the movement which was behind Morales is decentralized and ready to replace him at any time if he betrays their interests.  Elsewhere, the democratic constitutional referendums and center-left governments are also not about ‘worshipping’ anything.  Such things are only said by people who ultimately dislike what Chavez et all are doing.

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By colin2626262, November 29, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

To Anarcisse: 

You wrote about “not mobilizing against but mobilizing for.  We (the United States) can certainly afford basic food, clothing and housing for everybody.  Let’s start with food.  Draw up a list of ten or twelve basic foods that will prevent people from going hungry…skip the bureaucracy….If we can’t afford this, we could always drop out of the war-of-the-month club. 

If only everyone felt this way, we wouldn’t have to have debates like the one inspired by Chris Hedges’ moving article.  I wasn’t saying we should let people starve.  I was making a point.  I was saying no matter what happens to your body, if you’re a believer in God, and you do your duty to God and to your neighbor in this life, you don’t need to worry about whether you’re rich or poor, or whether you live a long, comfortable life or a short, hard life.  We all suffer, and we all die.  I shouldn’t have said “so what?” when speaking about poverty, but, as I said, I was making a point, one that people with faith will understand.  It’s part of the religious life to help those who’re suffering, whether that suffering is physical, in the case of hunger, or spiritual, in the case of those who have no faith and therefore no happiness.

To Kdelphi:  Of course I wasn’t being sarcastic.  The God I’m talking about is the one that lives in all of us and makes us all brothers and sisters.  We should follow Anarcisse’s advice, and help one another with the basic necessities of living.  What I wrote was an attempt to point out that there’s more to life than the body.  We also have souls, souls from God, and we’re filled with the capacity and the desire for love.  The God I’m talking about is the God of all the major religions…the God of love and peace, and immortality.

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By KDelphi, November 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—By “compelled’ {to follow the elite consensus}, do you mean that Obama is forced by way of the structure of our govt, or , by his own personal stance on the issues, or loyalty to a group, who helped put him in power? I mean, do you think it compells all presidents to do this, until the power structure is changed—or do you just mean, the duopoly or Obama personally?

I suppose I agree on South/Latin Ametrica question…I get a little “romantic” over the idea of a lower class led “revolution”, I must admit. But, I just consider the history there, and, what has happened to the indigenous people there, and, like you, I want to see them make their own decisions—-it is certainly not as “open” as one would like. But, neither is out govt.

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By cann4ing, November 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm Link to this comment

No, Arnarcissie, Obama is not “compelled” to follow the elite consensus.  Whether he moves to the left is dependent on whether the American left can ever stop squabbling amongst itself and actually take collective action to bring about meaningful progressive changes.  The man, himself, has said that real change comes only from the bottom up, but you are too cynical to ever accept anything he has to say at face value.

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By Anarcissie, November 28, 2008 at 8:17 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi—conditions may be such in Venezuela and Bolivia that the poor need Great Leaders.  I am dubious about this, but I must leave the question up to them.  My perception of the South American social order is that it is breathtakingly class-based, far beyond anything we observe in the United States, and the struggles of the poor are closer to open war than what most of us know.

Here, I see little good likely to come from the worship of Great Leaders, and it is often aesthetically revolting as well.

In other news, I don’t believe the bailouts and stimulus packages are designed to frustrate a move toward social democracy, but rather that the ruling class doesn’t know what else to do and is patching and temporizing in the hope that something will turn up.  Mr. O must follow this consensus just as he must follow the war-and-imperialism consensus.  If alternative versions of our society and politics are to be developed, they must be developed elsewhere and otherwise; Great-Leadership itself contradicts such a development.

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By KDelphi, November 28, 2008 at 3:12 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie—I dont think so. There is some “leader worship” going on there—-but mostly among the poor, who are rarely , if ever spoken for. And certainly are not spoken for here.

While I suppose one could argue that Af Ams are rarely represented here, it remains to be seem whether Obama wil actually represent AF Ams interests, He doesnt seem to be much “for the Af Am comunity,.”, except as comes to bootstraps…

With the level of poverty in the uS today, even more apparent in the AF Ams communities, to not address it, seems heartless.

The “middle class” “tax cut”, “middle class” “stimulus pkg”—why not use it to fill food banks or pay off some debt, OR dont incur further debt at al right now—it will make any of the lame social welfare programs he proposed impossible. But, with that and the bailout—that could well be the point!

Not rolling back the obscene Bush tax cuts wil have a similar effect.

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By Anarcissie, November 28, 2008 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi: ‘Lichen and Jean Gerard—We could do what the people of Venezuela have done. Or Bolivia. ...’

We did, didn’t we?  Elect yet another Great Leader to take us to the Promised Land?

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By KDelphi, November 28, 2008 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Lichen and Jean Gerard—We could do what the people of Venezuela have done. Or Bolivia.

The Latin American awakening could become a continental American awakening….if we have the heart…and the guts. I hope we dont have to wait until more people die needlessly, but, I suspect that we will.


Romira—I am as critical of USA foreign policy as anyone. But many people here do not deserve what has been done to us as well as others. I never saw anything special about Obama, except his brains and good looks—-that is great, but it just puts makeup (lipstick?) on the problem (I didnt say pig!).It is true that he hasnt taken office yet—but it is not up to him anyway~

It doesnt have to end like this, peeps, we can take our place at the table of just and peaceful nations..we need to reject our “
leaders” definitions of “success”.And demand that our own be implemented.

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By Jean Gerard, November 27, 2008 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Reading through all these comments gives proof that there are a whole lot of people in this country who are aware of the basic sources of problems and recognize what needs to be done to improve things for the majority of people who are suffering from unfair economic and environmental policies. It would seem that what is lacking most is organization and then cooperative decision-making, and after that, practical action.  Maybe what is most needed now is not the airing of discontent but ideas for strategy and tactics.

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By argyle, November 27, 2008 at 8:55 am Link to this comment

These are problems of numbers on paper. There are still fertile crops and willing workers. This is bump as we end the major expansionist phase of a world economy. If you’re too tired to continue please retire to the low-rent apartment of your choice. Those of us left will continue to try and figure out how to fly this machine. Letting banks fail and factories empty won’t feed the poor.

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By Anarcissie, November 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm Link to this comment

Folktruther: ‘Anarcissie- Giving out food without preaching does no political or systematic good. ...’

Actually, I think it does.  Propaganda of the deed and all that.  But in any event there is a good deal of explicit agitprop of one sort or another.  It’s just not religious (usually).  People are invited to join.  Once they become involved with one thing they usually find out from talk, leaflets, websites and so on that there are related groups and activities they may also be interested in.  If I wanted to do activism all day every day I could find activist projects to fill the time with no trouble.  In fact I’m just scratching the surface.  There is a lot I don’t know about, under the radar of the government and the media and better so.

My answer also had to do with doing something immediate and concrete about hunger.

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By Virginia777, November 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm Link to this comment

Help! theres “hippie-bashing” going on on Truthdig:

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By lichen, November 26, 2008 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi, I watched the Klein/Hudson interview on democracy now last night, and I really enjoyed it.  I had called Naomi’s point earlier, that not repealing Bush’s tax cuts and spending so much money on continued wars and infrastructure is such a stupid idea.  I’ve also read/paged through several books recently on how yes, it is true that most wealthy people and corporations pay little to no taxes, because they have a million different ways to shift around their money that poor people live off income cannot do; and capital gains tax needs to be much, much higher; in fact, wealth itself, money sitting around in any form needs to be taxed.  But the IRS is severely underfunded, and certainly includes some ‘inside’ people who will cut back deals and look the other way with the super wealthy and powerful.  The situation was NOT good before Bush’s tax cuts, and it would take so much more than just repealing them to return to a truly progressive tax system that was inescapable by the wealthy, and which could fund we the people who have to live in this country. 

I also strongly support Chavez, what he has done is incredible for a Latin American country; the amount of human rights, the fact that the opposition holds 90% of the media, and the level of democracy is stunning.  Cuba and Vietnam were unable to do so because of the constant CIA subversion, plots, and attacks, but finally the us empire is beaten back!

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By cann4ing, November 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

By Son, November 25 at 3:31 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Diamond - Maybe we are close to same page. But, are you saying that you want a Social Democracy where anything and everything goes ? No right No wrong ?

Why do you think that the idea of Social Democracy entails the abandonment of the concepts of right and wrong?  Social democracy entails a recognition of the value of “we” being greater than the value of “I.”  It entails a more harmonious, less exploitative form of social interaction—an egalitarian format as opposed to the current system of voracious capitalism that places the greed of the few above the needs of the many—a system that can advance individual greed above sustainability when measured against the capacity of our planet to sustain life without overheating as embodied in the decades-long campaign by Exxon-Mobil and its paid-for pseudo-scientific hacks to deny the existence of global warming.

Christianity, indeed, all religions, are really irrelevant to a Social Democratic form of morality because all religions are anti-democratic in form and structure.  One does not need to believe in a diety in order to accept the morality of co-responsibility.

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By KDelphi, November 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

craig—Obama cannot “hear” these comments, and I am sure he wil not read them. “Courtesy” is a rather odd phrase to use in relation to someone I dont even know. I dont owe anyone loyalty.

I’m not going to a group home to cook to hand out food. My two sis’s are on the east coast, adn not coming in—-they never do. they stoped it years ago because of all the misery in my mom’s family (whom I dont speak to), My dad’s side is in Scandanavia, and, if I dont do something, I will have no excuse not to go up by cleveland (not IN the city—that might actually be a place to hunt down some fun!)to steve’s family’s and i am just sick of their holidays. Plus, I cant get high there.

I like the people in the group home, too. I used to work there.

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By craig, November 26, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
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8 years of Bush has made cynics us us all. Give Obama the civil courtesy—and maybe a second or two of loyalty—of actually taking office and implementing policy. Do any of you know how our legislative and executive branches work? Congress has to make and pass legislation before the president can sign it.

Are we really this nuerotic as a Nation?

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By Folktruther, November 26, 2008 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie-  Giving out food without preaching does no political or systematic good.  A power system will not change unless the population is welded into a cohesive force, and this requires ideas.  Emotional and spiriutal ideas, moral ideas as well as politial ideas.

What these ideas are does not yet exist historically.  So they have to be developed.  What ideas are effective can only be formulated as a discourse between truthers and the population, between folk intellecutals and the folk population.  Just as the Educated learn ideas best by teaching, so it is necessary for intellectuals to go to the people.

As the Civil Rights activists did to preach and practice new forms of activism. Often in a religous guise.  Feeding the body is politically useful only as a means of feeding the political soul.

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By Bob Dow, November 26, 2008 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We have only ourselves to blame. We are still the majority (working class heros)The only way to stem the tide is to get out the pitchforks. Storm their castles and take back what belongs to us “WE The People”. The rich have always lived with this fear.Thats why we always see the huge military build up. Thats the way a Third World rolls.

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By KDelphi, November 26, 2008 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

diamond—thank you. but, of course, the uS is stil primitivistic.

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By KDelphi, November 26, 2008 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

son—I dont know where the hell you went in Amsterdam..YOU are the fool! What, were the buildings too old for you? (werent they shiny enough or big enough?) Steel and glass enough? I would give my eye teeth (I probably will, since I have no dental coverage save a VISA Card)to live in Amsterdam.

I have been to many of the EU countries. What did you do, spend your time with hookers, getting high, in the Red Light tourist district?

The Dutch people do not hang out there anymore. It is like going to Disneyland and saying that you visited the US—well, wait, that might be true at this point…one big dog eat dog disneyland…“the rest of the world looks third world compared to the US?” That is truly one of the stupidest statements I have ever seen in print…

I am in a chat about the Frontline show tonight, about Chavez and Venezuela and came to see what people were saying about the Naomi Klein interview etc.  Most people here are making really good points, good ideas, and seem to give a damn about what is goin on here.. I believe that you are the majority. I have to.

The Frontline show on Chavez, and Venezuela, is showing opinion from both sides, but most is US propaganda. I love the way the US media keeps talking about censorship, spying on the opposition, etc. That is a laugh here!. Forgive me if I do not trust pbs now that it is corporate funded—Bush cut the funding. If people think that Chavez is too authoritarian, maybe they should check into WHY Latin America is turning Marxist. Check what the uS has been doing there for decades. I think that it will “open up”—but, considering how we have treated our southern neighbors , as a “lab” for the Chicago School (coming to a town near you!!), they are much better off with Chavez than the CIA. When is the last time you even heard a politician here mention “poverty”?

Chavez is “not helping the poor enough”—well, that is “funny” coming fron an American station! Because the uS is SO caring about the poor , right?

If the multi-nationals had not been raping the Southern Cone of resources,with Enron privitiaing the water supply, etc. , we might have a much needed ally and trading partner. Same as with Cuba.

People like “son” do not deserve whatever they do have. “Son” thinks that people who have worked hard, and tried to do the right thing, and, happened upon some bad “luck”,should just lay down and die.

Some still think that this is a “meritocracy”, eh? You think that those that are rich, are rich by their own virtue and hard work. Yep, I’m sure Trump, Hilton, Helmsley, Rothschilds, Greenspan, Summers, Bushes etc. all just worked their asses off…

YOU are the FOOL!

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By troublesum, November 26, 2008 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

Argue with Michael Hudson.  I was quoting him.  You might be able to find out how to reach him by contacting democracynow.  Again, Obama said he would raise income taxes on the upper brackets.  He said nothing about bringing back the capital gains tax to pre-Bush levels.  Income taxes on the top brackets amount to nothing.

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By Max Shields, November 26, 2008 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


To understand where Hudson is coming from you need to understand a broader concept of land and speculation from which trillions of unearned dollars flow into the hands of 1% of the population.

This is a gain which escapes capture by the government. Why? Because in the early part of the 20th Century, economists (and the way the US economy with its neoliberalism) moved away from what’s called classical economics to neoclassical economics. Classical economics states that wealth is generated by 3 variables = Land + Capital + Labor. Regardless of whether you are a believer in Adam Smith’s form of capitalism or Karl Marx’s socialism, these three are the central to creating wealth.

Neoclassical economists like M. Friedman (and the Chicago School - Obama knows all this from his Chicago school buddies) subsumed land under capital, thus creating a hugh gap in the acquisition of wealth and unearned income - i.e., making it invisible.

Hudson understands this problem and it is the basis for much of his writting. Land (including air/air waves, minerals, all of natural resources) is controlled by a small group of “land holders”. This has been true throughout US history. He who controls and privatizing the “commons” holds the keys to the kingdom; is another way of stating it.

Railroad barrons were the first to do this in a big way as they pressed westward, with massive land holdings while tax payers (like you and me) paid for this rail system (such as it is today).

UK built is “tube” with land value tax. Which is the right way to do it.

Wealthy people play by a set of rules which has nothing to do with our version of economic reality.

Understanding that will unveil a whole lot of what’s wrong and what’s REALLY needed for real change.

Btw, Michael Hudson was Kucinich’s economic advisor. Kucinich and Nader understand this and that’s why they will never be elected POTUS under the current established system of electing presidents.

Meanwhile, the wealthy will get wealthier under Obama, whether or not the empire collapses or not.

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By johnp, November 26, 2008 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

“If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people”.

which was what I was hoping the dem platform would have been. guess not.

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By cyrena, November 26, 2008 at 1:43 am Link to this comment


“Their income comes in the form of capital gains which are not taxed.”

Admittedly it’s been a while since I’ve needed to file a tax return, but when exactly did the tax code eliminate CAPITAL GAINS??!!!!

Capital gains have ALWAYS been taxed!!! Even middle class people have have been required to pay capital gains income tax on things like the proceeds from the sale of a home, unless they re-invest it in another within a given period of time.

So yes, ordinary people DO pay taxes on capital gain. If the wealthy don’t, it’s only because of the tax cuts that Dick Bush has been giving them for years.

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By diamond, November 26, 2008 at 12:51 am Link to this comment

Without knowing the details of your family health problems, son,  I can only say I live in Australia and while our health care system is not perfect it’s pretty damn good. It was studied by Americans trying to find a model for their own health care system. You will never be turned away from a hospital in Australia because you have no money. You will never be allowed to go through what the woman with Parkinson’s disease in this article is going through. If you’re sick you can get treatment.If you’re privately insured you go to a private hospital if not you go to a public hospital and they are very good.

If you’re unemployed you can get money (until you find a job) from Centrelink which administers unemployment, disability pensions, old age pensions, supporting parent’s benefit etc. and if your income is below a certain level you are also eligible for rent assistance. If your income is very low you get a health care card which entitles you to free medical treatment. You know how they say taxes buy you civilization? It’s true. I would like to know how any government can justify giving a very sick woman a payment that really only covers her rent. What the hell is she supposed to live on? It would be more humane to simply say to her ‘Look we don’t give a damn about you. you’re a nuisance so we’re just going to give you an injection and put you out of your misery’. What they’re doing to this woman is a form of torture and should not happen to anyone in a civilized society. It’s the kind of thing people like to think only happens in places like Zimbabwe. That this is going on in the 21st century is damn near unbelievable. The point I was making is that America is spending a billion dollars a month just for fuel to move its equipment around Iraq. Spending money to kill people? Money is no object. Spending money to save lives? That’s socialism!

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By KDelphi, November 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment

son—It would be useless to tell you how many ways you are full of it. But could you just do the US one little favor? When you are traveling abroad, say you are British or Canadian or something—we have enough enemies, thanks to people like you.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

I’ve been reading TRAITOR TO HIS CLASS by H W Brands about Roosevelt and the great depression which covers FDR’s entire life.  In the election of 1912 FDR supported Wilson over his cousin Teddy Roosevelt, the third party progressive republican, and the republican incumbent, William Taft.  Both Roosevelt and Wilson were competing for progressive voters in the election and both ran on promises to take control of capitalism which they believed was “running away with our democracy.”  Taft, says Brands, “trusted Adam Smith’s invisible hand to promote the interests of the nation…”  Brands says of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, “Each believed that capitalism was running away with democracy, that the invisible hand was strangling economic opportunity and holding millions of Americans in thrall to corporate greed.  Each endorsed the progressive idea that government must intervene in the marketplace on behalf of the private sector’s victims… Wilson concurred with Theodore Roosevelt that the fundamental problem of American life was the excessive power of corporate capital.”  The fundamental problem.
Again, this is 1912, and a hundred years on we still haven’t learned.

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By Anarcissie, November 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm Link to this comment

‘What is best way we folks with jobs can help Elba & Dolores????’

I meant to answer this before.

If you can stand being in or around a church, many churches have free food and clothing programs, especially those in poor neighborhoods.  You can donate the goods and put in time collecting them and handing them out.

Better yet (from my anarchistic point of view) there may be a Food Not Bombs group operating in your neighborhood.  They do roughly the same thing but without the religion stuff and as solidarity, not charity.  See or the Wikipedia entry.  If there isn’t one you can start one.

There are also tax-deductible charity organizations, but my instinct is to leave them to the bourgeoisie.

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By Folktruther, November 25, 2008 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

Cann4ing- Anarcissie’s analysis is simple and elequent.  The Anerican people want to negotiate a better deal with the power structure, not replace it.
There is no historical solution without replacing it. And people will see this more and more as the US power system continues to degenerate. Under both parties.

The electoral system can’t be reformed, because it is against the power interests of the power structure to reform it.  The government cannot effective regulate the banks and corporations because they will not allow it.  The continuing class inequality in the US requires a police state for the Security of the power structure.  US economic imperialism requires military aggression to protect and extend it.

there is no progressive power solution within the present power configuration.  So Obiden is serving the third term of Bush, consolidating the Bushite counterrevolution while making vague progressive noises to continue to woo the gullible. 

American bourgeois Democracy ended under Bush.  It was hollowed out by the globalization of Clinton.  We are now in the political END TIME as far as the American power system is concerned.

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By lichen, November 25, 2008 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

No one has the right to more resources than anyone else; all the ‘money’ comes from the earth, and such things are owned equally by nature, by other animals, and by all humans living in that particular region.  Fetishising the slavery of the capitalist system that requires people ‘work hard’ for no benefits so that others, the very wealthy, can lie about all day is supremely ignorant.  If you are going to ‘work your ass off’ it should be so that everyone can have a garunteed high quality of life, eight weeks paid vacation, 35 hour work week, living wages, free healthcare and college education/vocational training, clean water and organic, healthy food, free public transportation on green high speed rail…Otherwise, you are a fool to argue against everyone getting what you should have had in the first place.

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By Outraged, November 25, 2008 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

Re: son

Your comment: “You want to take all the money from the hard working ambitious rich people and give it to people who don’t want to work ? You want to take my money and give it to people who think the piddling amount of money and savings I have built for myself was handed to me on silver platter. I had to work my @$$ off for what I have you fools !!

Your assessment is alarming.  Do you really believe that everyone who “works their ass off” will make it in this world…?  They won’t.  How do you explain those “lazy” waitresses, factory workers and low level white collar positions for which the standard hourly rate is $8-10 an hour?  Most WEALTH is handed to people on a silver platter and MOST people don’t own one of those (silver platter)....too expensive.

We are talking about a SHARE OF THE WEALTH AND TAXATION!  The rich pay little if any taxes, especially in relation to even the lowest taxed workers.  Most wealth is accumulated by SLAVE LABOR tactics dictated by the wealthy to the worker.  These undesirables continue to buy-out our government and pass laws which will be the doom of the American idea.

Check your history book.  The wealthy did not come by their monies honestly nor in any way through their own toil.  They STOLE it from the workers by means of wages, benefits, safety and many times death.  If you have a “piddling amount of savings” then you are not acquainted with wealth and have not looked before you leaped, in your determination.

Slave labor, in any form.... is the foundation of a capitalist system.  That is why the “free trade agreements” are so popular with capitalists, in this way they undermined the American economy with the slave labor of other countries.

So… if you’re working like a dog and accumulating very little…. thank capitalism, which currently is more accurately described as corporatism.  And corporatism is a form of FASCISM.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

During the campaign it was reported that many people in upper income brackets were supporting Obama inspite of his promise to raise their taxes while lowering everyone else’s which was presented as proof of Obama’s wide appeal.  Now Michael Hudson explains why.  People in the upper income brackets don’t earn income which can be taxed.  Their income comes in the form of capital gains which are not taxed.  The upward redistribution or income will thereby continue. 11/25/08

Someone once said people should learn at least enough about economics to guage the thickness of the wool being pulled over their eyes.

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By Clash, November 25, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

One can always look around to point the finger of blame and shame. It is more difficult to accept personal responsibility in matters we think we have no control over. When facing up to the facts that we were lead like sheep to the slaughter pen it is always hard to recognize that we are the people who were taken like the marks we truly turned out to be, easier to speak using others ideas and words so as to risk nothing. As stated the damaged country we now find ourselves in has been suffering for better than forty years, the abuses to the population go back even further. As a society we have more times than not stood up for each other and by standing up we have shamed “the bosses” after stepping off on our own to help others. Not until recent history have we been able to communicate with each other in such rapid manner yet still there is the plight of the many who have struggled , worked and perished not recognized by most today. The class struggle has continued as long as civilization has been around and will continue until the end. Forty years is a very short period when looking at the history of civilization. In the1960’s 1970’s we were beat down with clubs shot at and some killed for the word Freedom and this is still happening. Why? Because people are afraid to bite the hand that feeds them, and before that there were the coal miners working for nothing how far do we go back it’s along way. While I know this is being written for blind eyes I write anyway knowing those that profess to care are as closed minded as their opposition and prefer to make obtuse comments than to face the situation as it is PEOPLE are HUNGRY and cannot help themselves at this moment in time and all the rhetoric no matter who spews it, helps no one, enlightens no one and feeds no one. There are many ways to help, no time write a check, not much extra, find a food bank and give what you can, got nothing volunteer. This is ethics at work, but I forgot it’s always somebody else’s fault.

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By son, November 25, 2008 at 4:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Diamond - by the way - Most every other country in the world is a 3rd world compared to the USA. And you want to change it. Go see for yourself. Have you been to Amsterdam lately. What a dissapointment. The last time I was there about 7 years ago was amazing. It isn’t the same now. Its almost like being in freaking Tijuana Mexico save a few nice pockets. Although, they have the socialized social Democracy you so desperately seem to crave.

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By Son, November 25, 2008 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Diamond - Maybe we are close to same page. But, are you saying that you want a Social Democracy where anything and everything goes ? No right No wrong ? No rules. Christians have to be tolerant towards you and your believes but you shouldn’t have to respect and tolerate their believes ?? I thought it was a 2 way street but now I am not so sure. I do want to live in country where all believes are tolerated and respected so long as they do not harm my family. I also want to have the freedom to isolate my children against believes that I don’t not agree with. Isn’t that Freedom ? Or should I allow people to force their beliefs on my children even before my children are old enought to understand consequences ?? This is a one way street.

Have you even been to France ? Have you been to France lately sir ??? I have…besides a few descent pockets its nothing but a stinky arm-pit full of mostly rood and very unhappy people. I do a lot of business in several different European countries France being one of them. Yes, they have a universal healthcare. But guess what ???  The old money wealthy people (some of which I deal with) still have to pay to get preferrred health care…like most American citizens get through their insurance. My wife is from Australia. A small country with Universal Healthcare. Yet, she and her extended family have had to come to the US to get real help because Universal Healthcare in Australia doesn’t offer it. Same thing in Canada. You go off on how our political system is that of a 3rd world (which I have to agree with) yet you advocate Universal Healthcare which will be run by the very people in our government you just said are a part of our 3rd world system. Oh wait - if healthcare is run by exclusively liberals it will work ?? Show me anything run by liberals that actually works !!!! Please show me anything at all ! PLease ! I would really like to see this…because, even as a conservative myself, I don’t want conservatives running it either. Don’t you see Diamond…government is the very reason we are having these problems. Conservatives and Liberal politicians ! Why can’t you people see this ? It isn’t Capitalism. It isn’t the whacko religious anti abortion right or the kill every inocent unborn or newborn baby possible but let murderers live left…Its because we allow government to have to much control in the first place.

I believe one of the first things we have to do is fight for term limits in the congress. NO MORE CAREER politicians on either side. That is where we are going wrong. But Diamond, if you want to take the thin one sided view and not look at the whole picture go ahead and worship liberal idealogy like the rest of the world has and blame all the worlds problems on conservative idealogy. Dude…you guys own everything. The media, all schools through college, trial lawyers, Unions, teachers assocation. Liberals are in charge of just about every one of the nastiest cities on the USA. Just research it Diamond. Don’t listen to me.  Do your homework and learn the facts.

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By diamond, November 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Son, you ask what they want? They want a country where most people can live like human beings and not animals. They want social democracy, which is why the far right which has a vested interest (financial and ideological) in the present unjust, chaotic system continuing spends so much time sneering at Liberals and calling them French and condemning universal health care as ‘socialism’. There are worse countries than America but they’re nearly all in the third world. For a long time now America has been a first world country with a third world political system. It’s like what they used to say about computers: garbage in, garbage out. Quite apart from the present situation being unjust, it’s humiliating and most Americans are sick of their taxes being squandered so that corporate hacks and politicians can live the ‘lifestyles of the rich and famous’ while the taxpayers’ sons and daughters have to fight crazy, unwinnable wars and the taxpayers also have to live on the street if they commit the capital offence of getting sick. Are you telling me you don’t think any of this is a problem? Telling the truth is not disloyal, it’s the first step to fixing the problems.

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By cann4ing, November 25, 2008 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

“NAOMI KLEIN:… I think in many ways we are paying the price of the intellectual dishonesty of the progressive liberals left during the Bush years. Because Obama said again and again during the campaign that the crisis on Wall Street represented the culmination of an ideology of deregulation and laissez-faire trickle-down economics that had guided the country for the past eight years.

“The truth is, it was not just eight years.  They guided them under Reagan and also under Clinton. That is where Larry Summers comes in because he was the last treasury secretary under Clinton. He along with Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin were the key architects of the policies of deregulation that created the crisis that we’re living now.”

“AMY GOODMAN: Barack Obama throughout the campaign continually said that well the people should be taxed, after the Bush tax cuts, but now owing to yesterday’s address, he seemed to back off, saying well, he would let them expire perhaps, that’s a possibility, in that I think it was 2011. Your thoughts?

“MICHAEL HUDSON: The kicker is when he is talking about, Obama is talking about tax, he is talking about income tax. Most wealth, is not taxed, because most wealth, takes the form of return capital gain, most wealth does not pay, if I see a wage if not others, so what Obama is talking about, well, is taxation at the margin. He is not talking about kind of wealth, and the kind of returns that Wall Street gets, which are not subject to taxation at all, in fact, the give aways, that the treasury put in to the bank available, says that because the banks are bought, affiliates that have cash, they are not even going to be subject of the income taxation. So the whole issue of the devils of detail of the small print and Mr. Obama, thanks to his appointing Summers in this aim, is going to leave it there. The Russian cryptnocrats didn’t have to tax on income, as the phrase went, only the little people pay taxes, I am afraid that’s going to be the case under Mr. Obama also.”

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By cann4ing, November 25, 2008 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie, November 25 at 1:21 pm #

  ‘… I agree that the bulk of the American people don’t know what socialism is.  I disagree that the majority do not desire it.  ...’

I don’t see much sign of a broad public desire to own or control the means of production.  What passes for the Left in the U.S. mostly seems to be on about getting a better deal from their bosses, not replacing them.

No so sure ‘bout that, Arnarcissie.  If the “bosses” include the swindlers on Wall Street, I think there are a growing number of Americans who not only want to see them fired, but want them to do jail time.

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By Son, November 25, 2008 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t understand the majority of these posts. You all act like the USA is the worse country on the face of the planet. Have you people stepped foot outside of your own home to see what is around you ? There is opportunity everywhere. Yes, even in a down turn economy. Have you people ever been to another country to see how their middle class lives ? Well, I have. And it ain’t pretty. What the hell do you people want ? Have you all be injected with some kind of I hate America Disease ? Your posts are simply unbelieveble. We live in a country that provides more opportunity and direction and personal help than any other country on the face of the planet. You don’t have to be graduate of Harvard to achieve in this great country. You don’t have to have rich parents…all you need is ambition. That’s it. I know this for a fact.

I didn’t even graduate from highschool. As you can see, my english and writing skills aren’t great. I have no formal education. My parents are poor but after I turned 30 I got sick of being poor and decided to change. I had to start at the bottom but worked my way up. I save money. I will personally ride out this mess that OUR POLITICIANs got us into. However, if you people allow our politicians to socialize our country we are finished. It won’t matter if you have ambition or not. Be prepared to have NO opportunity. Be prepared to see REAL unemployment like you never have seen in your life. Because, even the ambitious will be screwed.

So, what do you people want ? Anarchy ? No rules ? You want to take all the money from the hard working ambitious rich people and give it to people who don’t want to work ? You want to take my money and give it to people who think the piddling amount of money and savings I have built for myself was handed to me on silver platter. I had to work my @$$ off for what I have you fools !!

There is s certain segment of people that truly need our help. The elderly, the sick, children need our help. But not the way you people advocate. You people seem to be advocating an end to Capitalism. News flash people - The system of Capitalism drives the world economy. If you want to do away with the greatest monetary system in all of history, you are advocating world wide suicide.

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By Anarcissie, November 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

’... I agree that the bulk of the American people don’t know what socialism is.  I disagree that the majority do not desire it.  ...’

I don’t see much sign of a broad public desire to own or control the means of production.  What passes for the Left in the U.S. mostly seems to be on about getting a better deal from their bosses, not replacing them.  Now, that is just—it is certainly an affront to every decent principle that people are going hungry while billions of dollars are given to rich bankers and financiers whose supposed expertise has failed miserably to sustain the economy—but as just as it is, it isn’t leftist in the sense of moving toward greater equality and freedom.  Lecturing and begging the ruling class to be nicer is asking for more of the same.

You don’t have to be angry at the bosses.  You have to fire them.

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By Clash, November 25, 2008 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

Way to Much BULLSHIT. We need to be part of the solution those that can must for those that can’t. treat your brothers and sisters as you would be treated,for those that dont get it got extra feed someone.

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By cyrena, November 25, 2008 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

By Felicity..

“...When things get out of balance - as the Reagan revolution in essence zealously pursued in the drive to make the rich richer while the middle-class got poorer - any system is bound to collapse.  We know it happens in eco-systems.  We’ve got to learn that it also happens in economies…”


Ah…this is my mantra of course, because EVERYTHING is about the balance!!! We DO need to learn that, because it’s fundamental. It’s not like we’re talking about some ‘trend’ here. This is basic stuff.

Still, it seems like we have missed it, or somehow failed to connect the dots, or we wouldn’t be in this situation. Seems to me that if even a hundred people could see this coming, and proceeded to tell those who could do something to prevent it, that would do the trick. It hasn’t. So now, we’ve got all of these disillusioned (but genuine) chicken littles to whom nobody paid the least bit of attention when there might have been a way to prevent this, and now they’re either doing the “I told you so mantra” or (like me) are too traumatized to do much more than shake our heads.

This starvation and other Depression Era ‘symptoms’ aren’t NEW. I agree that it began with Regan, but this latest dumping of MOST of the middle class into poverty has all of it’s making in the Dick Bush regime, and that’s not to give Clinton any breaks. Still, this began…all of these same conditions that Chris talks about, and real life people he mentions, back in 2001. Millions of Americans began to live it then, and little has changed, other than that so many more have been added to the ranks of us…middle and working class forced into poverty. And that’s the reason that so many people are now more aware of it, including Chris Hedges. This has been going on for nearly a decade, but it had to happen to SO MANY people, before it would become this noticeable by more. I hate that. Why do we (as a species) seem to find it impossible to heed warnings?

I mean like, why aren’t more people willing to believe what is in their best interests? Why do we think we have to ‘experience’ the thing ourselves, (pain, suffering, blah, blah) instead of just trusting common sense when somebody makes it known?

I know, I know. I just keep asking these same questions over and over. It’s frustration I suppose, because what I really wanna say when I read these things is…“Well, DUH!!” We’ve been watching this for years, and feeling like we’re pissing in the wind to try to do anything to correct it. But, I guess the one person at a time survival course is better than nothing at all. I’d sure like to see a bigger operation though. But then, that’s why we elected Obama. Hopefully he can expand this survival operation to rescue a larger number of people.

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By diamond, November 25, 2008 at 1:50 pm Link to this comment

Ah, yes. But he gravy train still runs to the Pentagon, the CIA, Israel and the oil and coal companies. For heaven’s sake, get your priorities right! After all America has to be protected. The question is, who will protect America from its protectors? After 9/11 (which I believe very firmly was a black op) the amount of taxpayers’ money paid to the CIA and the Pentagon skyrocketed but money was stripped out of everything else, especially anything that would actually have made America a civilized country or even given Americans the standard of living they used to have in the fifties.Bush, the ‘Christian’, vetoed a modest plan to give health care to the poorest of America’s children. Laissez faire and wars: that’s their real religion.

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By nrobi, November 25, 2008 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

Part 2: In the economic world, the one the corporate oligarchs say that the common man does not understand, they have many friends in high places. Therefore, the people, not the sheeple, need to rise up and declare their freedom from them. It is high time that Americans declare that the country founded for them, not the corporate oligarchs, is free from the system founded by Ronald Reagan, and all of the following presidents, including William Jefferson Blythe Clinton.
We must take back the power that our ancestors fought and died for, if we do not, then there will be nothing left of this country in the next 20 years.
All forms of freedom will be done away with and the corporate oligarchs, will run the world. Right now, we are faced with an all-consuming debt, from the derivative market, in the amount of $485 Trillion dollars US, no one country, nor all countries combined have that kind of money, to shore up their economies. Therefore what you think can’t get worse, will in fact, be just the tip of the iceberg, as far as the economic downturn is considered. Should the inevitable happen, there will be massive and complete destruction of the economic systems of the world and faced with such a disaster, we will find that the American system of governance will become fascist and authoritarian. No more will America be what it once was, it will become Amerikkka.
There will be no dissent from government policies, no dissent if the corporate oligarchs decide war is on the agenda, the draft will be reinstated, and there will be no more choosing who will be president and the Houses of Congress will be powerless to do anything about the economic policies as well as all domestic and foreign policies. People will be starving and dying, medical care will be only for those people who are in the elite of their country.
We the people, will be left out in the cold and homelessness will be commonplace as well as people dying in the streets.
It is high time, before all this takes place, for a soft revolution of the people. We need to be revolting and soon if we are to stop the progression which in inevitable. If we do not, then watch out for yourselves and families, for this scenario is going to happen, without doubt and as sure as Sarah Palin, shoots moose and wolves from a helicopter.

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By Archie1954, November 25, 2008 at 11:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And there are still idiots in the US who stand by their man. Notice how poverty increased during the last eight years under Bush. See how the economy crashed suddenly but after eight years of complete and total mismanagement. Still want to stand by your man? Calculate the astronomical bonuses and salaries paid to the corporate oligarchs, the same incompetents who destroyed their own companies and still get paid bonuses for doing it! Unbelievable but you see they had friends in high places, friends who willingly allowed them to monetarily rape and pillage the treasury. Oh boy, is the world ever paying for American Red State, good ole boy stupidity. “I voted for him because he seemed like someone I could have a drink with”. It’s much too frustrating to comment any further on, it gives me a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach perhaps a little like the hunger pangs that Bush has willed to a great number of Americans now and into the future.

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By cann4ing, November 25, 2008 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

By Folktruther, November 25 at 10:06 am #

Anarcissie- you have stated the problem simply and elequently.  The American people, including the Educated American people, do not even know what socialism is let alone desire it.

I agree that the bulk of the American people don’t know what socialism is.  I disagree that the majority do not desire it.  The corporate propaganda networks would have you believe the public is center/right.  In truth, issue by issue the bulk of the American people are far to the left of how they are portrayed in the corporate media.

Consider Noam Chomsky’s observations in “Failed States.”

“In his landslide victory in 1984, just under 30 percent of the electorate voted for Reagan.  Of these, 4 percent gave as their primary reason that he’s a real conservative….polls showed that by 3 to 2, voters hoped that Reagan’s legislative program would not be enacted…[and] that the public favored tax increases devoted to New Deal and Great Society programs.  Support for equal or greater social expenditures was about 80 percent in 1980, and increased in 1984.  Cuts in Social Security were opposed with near unanimity….The public preferred cuts in military spending to cuts in health programs by about 2 to 1.  Large majorities supported government regulations to protect worker health and safety, protection of consumer interests, help for the elderly, the poor….But none of this matters as long as elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population, freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.” 

Take health care. Only Dennis Kucinich offered a single payer system—a superior concept on substance that essentially was buried by the corporate media’s marginalization of Kucinich and the sham of “universal coverage” which is no more than a subsidy scheme for the health care insurance industry.  It would be a mistake to attribute Kucinich’s dismal poll numbers to a rejection of the idea of single-payer, for most Americans simply did not understand the difference between single-payer and universal coverage.

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By Blackspeare, November 25, 2008 at 11:27 am Link to this comment

It has always mystified me as to why the USA had and still has a neurotic fear of socialism/communism.  If the US republic with its democratic principles is the best a country has to offer its citizens then why the excessive fear of socialism——it couldn’t be that maybe the US form of government is not quite the best it could be for all!

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By KDelphi, November 25, 2008 at 11:20 am Link to this comment

First iof all, if michele happens back here, I would like to entreat her to read my post again. I did NOT say I was “worse off then she”—I said that I was “worse off” than the lady described in the article—I get less than a full
SSI check, which is very little to begin with. I was trying to encourage you , Michele, (and others like US) to NOT wait for someone to help us, because WE are not considered a viable voting bloc. I have no idea why you took such offense..if you would prefer to “wait alone”, and that I would NOT support you—ok. Fine. It is just that people who are being crapped on here, will be able to do very little if they do not work said you were on disablity. I assumed that that put you in the same general povery range as me.(Since you said so) But I dont know that, and, I did not say that I did. I said it about the lady described in the article.

Whatever PE O would do there are things we should be doing besides “waiting”.But that is most certainly up to you.BTW, also, I assume you were speaking to me? I tried to find another post , where someone might have said that they were “worse off than you”...

cann4ing-I read that article by Klein in The Nation—it was great…everyone ought to read it.

troublesum—I hope you are right. It is always “unwise” for the elites to give the “people” nothing to lose. “Tempt not a desperate man!” But, they keep doing it. They couldnt, if we could act in solidarity…it wouldnt take very much, I dont think, to “shift the paradigm”—it would be quite a surprise for them, given the “sheeple” nature of population lately!

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By thebeerdoctor, November 25, 2008 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

Those who complain about Barack Obama not being radical enough, he never said he was. Read what he said. Read what he wrote.
For those who complain about his economic advisors ( I among them), he does not have to listen to what you say. He is in the center of the beast. He got the job he wanted, now he has to deal with it.
For those who complain about Peter Orszag becoming the OMB director, what do I know about any of these people?
In a country with a culture where the worship of money is the one the true religion, why should anyone be surprised that keeping the stinking ship afloat is top priority?
And before anyone gets misty eyed about FDR, it would be good to remember what Franklin and his Hollywood chums did to Upton Sinclair. Look it up.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

Civics test:  Average national score 49 = F

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By Folktruther, November 25, 2008 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie- you have stated the problem simply and elequently.  The American people, including the Educated American people, do not even know what socialism is let alone desire it.  It has been systemtically distorted in the American learned and mass media and in the schools, universities and other learned bureaucracies.

The initial problem is an ideological one.  It does not matter how much people are oppressed if they don’t realize their oppression and realize that there is an historical alternative to it.  People can only be united by a set of truths and values that they believe serves their interests against the power structure.  Wanting Something Else is not enough. 

No such set of truths and values currently exists.  The American people do not have an understanding of their condition from a world historial perspective.  Their Dem leaders are uniting wth the Gops to lead them toward more war, more impoverishment, and a police state.

Therefore an ideology must be developed that opposes both the Dem and Gop leaders and the entire power structure that controls the economy, including the mass media.  This can be done over historical time, since marxism was purveyed broadly in some countries in the 20th century. 

But aspects of classical marxism are obsolete, and a more general formulation is now necessary.  And historially possible.  But it can’t be developed by one person and handed down to the masses like the Nine Commandments (I only counted nine in the bible I swiped from a motel long ago.  I think they made a Mistake.)  It has to be done as a cooperative effort. And consequently a cooperative ideological organ must be institutionalized that develops it.

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By nrobi, November 25, 2008 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Re: to all posters, it is high time that there is a people’s revolution in America! Not the violent kind, but one which throws out the elites and oligarchs which by their own definition have caused the global economic crisis and replace them with people, “real people,” who will be held accountable and have no more power than what we give them.
Yes, I am talking about a socialist revolution! No more of the namby-pamby results that have ruined this country. No more bread lines and food pantries, no more homelessness.
We are faced with the corporate oligarchy running this country into the ground, all for this reason, they(the oligarchs) are f#$^%$#‘in greedy and avaricious. The only thing that these people care about is if you are going to buy their products and how much you spend in their stores!
It is high time that we the people, throw these greedy avaricious bastards out on their asses and show them that we the people, are the one’s with the power. I am all for a soft, revolution, all for throwing out anyone who stands behind them.
These people are the one’s who created this mess, and now we the people are the one’s, who with the tax money collected from our pockets, which are light enough, and the Congress and President are throwing good money, our money, after bad investments and unsound speculative banking firms.
There seems to be an inequity here and enough is enough as far as the banking sector of our economy is concerned.
My new slogan, “Show ME the MONEY!” not those greedy bastards who cannot tell a good investment from a hole in the ground.
More to come!

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By Arius, November 25, 2008 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

I have an idea. Let’s start taxing the now tax-exempt vulgarly wealthy churches and cults and ask them why they tuck away billions upon billions of $$ in banks around the world instead of using every penny they have for their so called godly good.  The catholic church’s wealth is bigger than anyone can imagine (unless you really google it and read up on the topic) and their control over corporations and national governments around the world is astounding. Their wealth is inexcusable.  then the Mormon cult, for its small (but dangerously growing) group, they have an astounding amount of money tucked away.  Let’s force these tax exempt fraudulent groups to use their monies for the good of mankind instead of for the manipulation of governments and profit-

Many corporations in this country solely stock food pantries around this country and have for a long time.

It might also help if Americans studied up on civics, stop electing incompetent corrupt presidents (and) if they had an education in general, so they wouldn’t sign dirty mortgage deals they couldn’t afford then be thrown out of the house they shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.  No, that doesn’t apply to all of them of course, but it is the mortgage crisis that set off this mess.  You have corrupt politicians behind the scenes who made it look like the economy was good so Bush could get re-elected.. they used the “sales of homes” to make that point back in 2004.  then you have the dumbed down illiterate nation who bought homes they couldn’t afford and didn’t read their contracts.  Thanks to these 2 main problems, it’s started a national crisis- 

Whatever happens to wall street and the auto industry, I don’t want to see my country ignorantly turned into a socialistic state-

The country is in one hell of a fix and it’s going to be complicated for all the financial experts to figure this one out and get us back to being a profitable nation. 

As for any monies given out- please keep in mind we borrow that money from other countries, many of whom we consider dangerous.  This is insane that we borrow money from China and are only paying the interest on that debt now.

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By Blackspeare, November 25, 2008 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

BHO has got one shot at rectifying the economy and the nation and he’s only got two years.  If things don’t improve substantially by his administration’s first mid-term elections, the GOP will improve their lot and make things a lot tougher for him.  You know the GOP is just waiting to take him down.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Roosevelt was forced to adopt more radical policies than he ever intended mostly because of labor organization and his fear of the radical left.  Obama is going to be faced with the same situation.  Throwing a few crumbs to the working class isn’t going to work for him.  As Noam Chomsky said in a recent speech, what happens next depends on us, not on Obama and the people around him.  I am surprised that Hedges believes that people will just passively accept the third worlding of the country.

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By cann4ing, November 25, 2008 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

And then there is Naomi Klein’s piece in “The Nation”

“In a moment of high panic in late September, the US Treasury unilaterally pushed through a radical change in how bank mergers are taxed…[depriving] the government of as much as $140 billion…

“Of equally dubious legality are the equity deals Treasury has negotiated with many of the country’s banks.  According to…Barney Frank…‘Any use of these funds for any purpose other than lending—for bonuses, for severance pay, for dividends, for acquisitions of other institutions, etc.—is a violation of the act.’  Yet this is exactly how the funds are being used.

“Then there is the nearly $2 trillion the Federal Reserve has handed out in emergency loans.  Incredibly, the Fed will not reveal which corporations have received these loans…

“Despite all this potential lawlessness, the Democrats are either openly defending the administration or refusing to intervene…

“I suspect that the real reason the Democrats are so far failing to act has less to do with presidential protocol than with fear; fear that the stock market, which has the temperament of an overindulged 2-year-old, will throw one of its world-shaking tantrums.  Disclose the truth about who is receiving federal loans, we are told, could cause the…market to bet against those banks.  Question the legality of those equity deals and the same thing will happen….

“...the market will react violently to any signal that there is a new sheriff in town who will impose serious regulation, invest in people and cut off the free money for corporations.  In short, the markets can be relied on to vote in precisely the opposite way that Americans have just voted.”

I say F*ck the Markets!  Do what’s right.

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By LibertyWatch, November 25, 2008 at 9:50 am Link to this comment

Well Chris on this one I have to differ with you but only slightly. . . I see third world activities already here in America. For example we saw armored cars with storm troopers enter New Orleans after Katrina. Normally we would have seen emergency responders such as the Red Cross and medical teams go into an area of such disastrous proportions. We have a superior medical system in talk only. We have witness patient dumping at the curbside and refusal of treatment because you’re poor.

Our values have decayed and our leadership has such low morals that greed and hubris has become the norm thus we have a stratified society of haves and have not. The premise of a Middle Class is little more than a myth today.

The me me me society has reached that point of decay where so many great nations have in the past. “Anything Goes has yielded Everything Went!”

We are not a nation we are little more than fragmented tribes suppressed by corporate fascist running the government and dictating where and who will receive what.

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By troublesum, November 25, 2008 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

I don’t think Americans will go quietly into third world economic oblivion.  Obama doesn’t have many choices.  He will have an uprising on his hands if he doesn’t deal with issues of unemployment and declinging living standards.  In the 30’s people were radicalized very quickly.  Lyndon Johnson said once that anybody who wasn’t a marxist in the 30’s was either rich or stupid.  William Ayres and the weathermen will begin to seem rather quaint.

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By Alan MacDonald, November 25, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris’s outrage is entirely justified.

Average American citizens are treated worse than citizens in ANY real democracy in the world——and the way things are moving we will soon be treated more like peons, serfs, and the destitute masses in ‘third world’ dictatorships, banana republics, and oil monarchies.

The economists’ measure (as well as the CIA’s measure) of how crappy citizens are treated in any country is the GINI Coefficient of income and wealth inequality—- and in this measure the US can fairly shout, “We’re number One”.

Well, we’re actually not #1 quite yet——Zimbabwe is—- but the US is far, far, far, closer to Zimbabwe, in this universal economic measure of citizen ‘unfairness’, than to the European and Japanese democracies that most Americans think or ‘wish’ we were living in.  And there may be hell to pay when all average Americans (working class, AND middle class, AND even professional class) realize how badly we are all being treated—- because, unlike Howard Beale in “Network” we’re not just going to open the window and scream, “We won’t take it anymore”.

Advanced social democracies, Germany and Japan, know well that any chance of maintaining a broad ‘working class’ high tech, high income manufacturing industrial base in their countries and continuing a middle-class life-style and fairly egalitarian distribution of income for their citizens requires a robust, advanced, sustainable, and environmentally balanced automotive manufacturing base—- which is also true for advanced machine tools, information technology systems and chip manufacturing technologies, the latest energy generation technologies and the like.

Germany and Japan as former empires until the end of WWII have seen the light regarding their country and citizen benefits of liberal social democracy and advanced education, technologies, and a broad middle-class based on development AND manufacturing of world class sustainable products——which has allowed their societies to consistently score admirably low on GINI Coefficients of income equality (0.23 to 0.30) for their educated, satisfied, and well served citizens within their social democracies, which enjoy basically harmonious social contracts with their business sectors.

However, HOWEVER, the super-capitalism and de-regulated crony finance capitalism unique to the United States has promulgated an entirely different model, nowhere near as satisfying, nor stable within our finance dominated, winner-take-all model of de-industrialization, de-laborization, broken social contracts, and abnormally high, and still fast rising, income inequality (U.S. GINI Coefficients above 0.48—- nearing Zimbabwe).

As the old Fram TV ads for their oil filters, and our own CIA country case-book warns, “You can pay me now, or pay me later” (in civil unrest).

The crooked, extreme, imbalanced, elitist scam of a hyper-unstable, highly hierarchical, finance capitalist economy in the U.S. which denigrates and destroys the labor-based value premise of a broad, well-paid middle-class /  ‘working-class’ economy, unlike Germany and Japan, with their cohesive social contract between employers and employees, and which instead seems to seek not much more than speculative de-industrialization, and profits from financial self-serving engineering is not a model of either sustainability or popular stability.

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By Fahrenheit 451, November 25, 2008 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

> colin2626262, November 24 at 6:52 pm;

Your particular type of pathology is self defeating and based in an innate inability to put 2 and 2 together to equal 4.  Fortunately for cogent, thinking humans, you’re in a minority of self delusional citizens.  Doomed to extinction; I wish you fast passage.  smile

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By mike112769, November 25, 2008 at 7:11 am Link to this comment

COLIN2626262:You are out of your mind! An afterlife is theoretical (probably nonexistant) while this life is REAL. People like you are the problem. If we could get away from thinking like that, we could have “heaven” right here right now. By your logic, the poor should just commit suicide and feel better. Are you on medication? If not, why not try some. Jesus christ that was the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while.

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By Ed Harges, November 25, 2008 at 6:34 am Link to this comment

The US is notorious as a country in which poor people are fat, instead of being thin, as has historically heretofore tended to be the case.

This has much to do with our farm subsidy system, which makes sugary carbohydrates and other caloric food artificially cheaper than, say, carrots or turnips.

But perhaps, with this unprecedented economic crash, we will reach a point where the poor cannot afford even the fattening junk they traditionally consume, and America’s obesity “epidemic” will disappear.

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By michele hemenway, November 25, 2008 at 6:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

how do you know you are worse off than me? You dont’ know anything about me.
When I say WAIT, I dont’ mean, do nothing and you dont know enough about me to know if I can stand up for myself. And you dont’ know that I am a “do nothing’ person. People in my world would fall down laughing if they saw your post to me.

And please, dont’ respond to this post.
I am not coming back to this site.
It’s packed too full with “half empty ” people.
I only come here to read Eugene Robinson and at one time, this author, but he’s gone too dark for me now. I work in the third world places he talks about every day. And I have three, count them, THREE family members in much worse shape than the article portrays whom I support.
Sad, but true. some of us, no matter how bad it is, feel hopeful again and what goes on here is the ______ ing all over that hope.
I stand up for myself by not going there. Read F.M.Lappe for a change instead of this perspective or at least to balance out this residue.

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By Fahrenheit 451, November 25, 2008 at 4:41 am Link to this comment

> TAO Walker, November 24 at 11:09 am;

We finally left the U.S. due to not being able to continue living a sustainable life.  Having no community/support; we left.
America has lost more than it knows and denile is a powerful way to go on in a hopeless, delusional situation.  Thanks for your perseverance and completely consistent pointing the way to “freedom”. 
I hope your “over and out” wasn’t the end of your teaching here; but if so; pity the rest.
It’s a very good day to live.

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By Fahrenheit 451, November 25, 2008 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

> boredwell, November 24 at 7:37 pm;

Go stand by the frozen food section in a large chain grocery store; you’ll see obese (mostly women) buying the cheapest pizzas on sale (under a dollar) and other high fat foods to feed their families.  It’s obvious they haven’t a pot to piss in.  It’s all they think they can afford and with no education; they don’t know any better.  Pity them.  I think you will see very few obese wealthy people.

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By KDelphi, November 25, 2008 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

colin2626262—Gee, colin..when I read Anarcisie’s copy of part of your post, I was going to say, “Anarcissie, I am sure he was being sarcastic”. But you werent, were you?

I am an agnostic, but, if there is the “god” of the christian “bible” (am I assuming correctly? Or no?) how in the HELL do you think you would end up anywhere in the “next world”, besides HELL with that attitude?

What kind of “god” are you talking about?

I had catechsim,. first communion, etc. And, I sure never learned anything like you are talking about! But, come to think of it, hate and greed is about all I have heard out of churches lately.

boredwell—I just have to mention, that, when W came into office, (My sister knew him before, so I had a pretty good idea what we were in for! of course, no one couldve predicted he would be this bad…)the FIRST bill he overturned, was one Clinton had signed on “workplace safety”...he spent the rest of his time in office—-well, you know what he did.

He will be “nero”, but, too cruel to be legally insane…

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By cyrena, November 25, 2008 at 2:33 am Link to this comment

By CJ, November 25 at 12:01 am

“No surprise then that collective American psyche remains so certainly judgmentally resentful—anal, that is.”


Thanks for the excellent post CJ!

You’re so right…

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By CJ, November 25, 2008 at 1:01 am Link to this comment

The statistics are indeed grim, worse than ever; but not so new. America has been in process of becoming Third World for going on at least four decades, ever since the first few times.

We’re officially only just noticing as the classes that count most are being semi-seriously affected. No one ever got elected to office by advocating on behalf of the worst-off among us. We talk the talk, but have never walked the walk. America is not founded on or in God, nor in or on secular possibility. It is founded on and in Protestant guilt, centuries ago internalized.

Ours is the society that has long blamed the Figueroas for their own plight. We’ve a four-hundred-year-long tradition of exploiting guilt. Indians were lame, incapable of modern warfare, and so deserved their fate. Slaves too “deserved” their fate. Cortez was a man of the world, a worldly man, who had no use for those not so worldly. And he was in possession of the most brutal means to power. Only in the interest of Spanish mercantile capitalism. Cortez was the desperate innocent, asking only for some minimal cooperation!

Savagery on the part of European and American colonialists reached high-water marks with World Wars I and II. Slaughter became wholesale—of themselves, even more of theretofore bystanders. Japanese colonialists too.

The “greatest generation”? Certainly the most murderous. Only in defense, of course.

We got poorer for “defense” of nation, as did Germans, Italians and Japanese. By now, fascism has finally prevailed—culturally even more than politically. Economically pretty much all along. Ike spoke 50 years (half a century) ago of a “complex.” He was behind the times.

I heard Chomsky say this morning—apparently without irony—that we’ve become “more civilized.” He said so with regard to the election of Obama. But then went on—rightly—about how policy will not change).

But how “more civilized”? We remain at murderous war on 99.9999% innocents. Using yet higher-tech weaponry, including drones for crissake! (One has to give the DOD credit for knowing just what to name a weapons system. Remember “Patriot” missiles?)

Morality has become cornball, Bennett, Perkins and Dobson forever speechifying only of cheesy, for-profit variety. (Chomsky’s variety is corny, man!) To be kinda leftist “hip” is to be cynically (ignorantly) “wise.” Who can be bothered with commas? To be intellectual is be naïve. It’s a hard-ass world, baby. Natural born. We got no time for “thinkery.” “

(I do NOT mean Chris Hedges!) We talk the talk but can’t be bothered to walk the walk.  We might make a little nice (not too much) if/when a massive hurricane obliterates, and maybe sometimes with soldiers who did as ordered, though not so much if any was so stupid as to get him- or herself wounded. (Why the military doesn’t revolt remains a mystery to me.)

Maybe because the nation for which and from which they take orders is so bent on celebration—of winning above all else. As much as we despise and then castigate losing and losers. (When the nation loses, at war—just for instance—denial is result: “We could have won had we…” What? Nuked ‘em?)

What poverty (also of morality, not of ideology)? What Third World? Never heard of either one. Not anywhere around here least-wise. And even if any suffering are nearby, it’s their fault, not mine. Those suffering should, “Get a [damn] life”! “Man”! “Survival of the fittest.” Etc., etc.

Eric Fromm called us, “anal.” I can’t think why.

Bill Ayers—on DN this morning—talked of having learned to doubt. That’s what Marcuse recommends in, “Reason and Revolution.” Ours is not a society of doubters. Never was, founded as it was on Protestant-born and encouraged, intensely personal guilt. No surprise then that collective American psyche remains so certainly judgmentally resentful—anal, that is.

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By boredwell, November 24, 2008 at 8:37 pm Link to this comment

On the the first page of this article there was an ad for losing weight! America is the obesity capital of the world. Farmers receive government subsidies to leave land fallow or to convert to corn (which we have in over abundance). And yet AIG gives out 500 million in bonuses after their $150 fed dollars were given them. Now they want al least $150 billion more.

Obama’s new treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, shepherded a bailout for AIG and bankrupted Bear Stearns(devoured by JP Morgan). Finally, he saw the error of his ways and let Lehman Bros sink. Larry Summers would lend to the Big 3 though hopefully Prof Christina Romer of the Economic Council will counsel against that folly.

The most egregious, though not wholly unexpected, omission during the campaign was the candidates’ failure to address the progressively worsening conditions for that critical mass which is our working poor. This group has been trapped and intimidated by NAFTA; working overtime without OT pay; and, after OSHA was defanged, suffering injuries in work increasingly dangerous work environments: nationally, they haven’t seen a cost of living increase in their wages in 4 years!

They lose when competing with the middle class for political consideration. One has only to look as far back as Guiliani’s denigrating treatment of NYC’s poor where he in fact punished them for their condition which he said was “self-made.”
The poor historically have been punished by a society and mindset that indulges itself at the expense of their others most commonly refrred to by the middle class as “those people.”

Obama’s top-down economic relief plan will not affect this underdog class, improve its lot. Though they live on Main Street, they’re not part of Main Street’s culture and therefore dismissed. I have a feeling Obama’s selection few are going to keep us on an economic merry-go-round. Merry for some, definitely not for others.

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By Anarcissie, November 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

colin2626262: What’s the worst that can happen?  So we become a third world country.  There’s massive unemployment, another Great Depression.  People are starving.  So what?  Do you think this is the only life we have? ...

Might be.  But in any case, “one world at a time.”  If you just let people starve in this world, then you’ll probably just let people starve in the next, no?  And in that case maybe God will kick your ass, since you failed to take advantage of the happy privilege of feeding the hungry in the current one.

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By paythepiper, November 24, 2008 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Military Industrial Complex/Empire is the root of our demise.
The Chalmers Johnson Trilogy sums it up.
As does the grim daily news.

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By colin2626262, November 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm Link to this comment

What’s the worst that can happen?  So we become a third world country.  There’s massive unemployment, another Great Depression.  People are starving.  So what?  Do you think this is the only life we have?  Do you think life begins and ends with a person’s stomach?  If we have only bodies, then, of course, these social ills are more important than anything else.  Yet there is something else.  There’s another life that isn’t about putting food in your stomach. 

I hate to sound harsh.  I don’t want to starve or live on the street.  Yet, I’m going to die someday anyway.  So is everyone else.  A bunch of fat cats are livin’ it up, causing all this turmoil, causing people to starve.  Do you think they’re going to win in the end?  You can’t cheat truth.  You can’t fool God.  Don’t talk about socialism.  Don’t worry.  If you die, be happy.  If you live for awhile longer, be happy as well.  God knows what goes on in this world.  Nobody’s fooling anybody.  This whole existence that we see and experience with our senses is unreal.  The only reality is that which is unseen, unfelt, and unknown—but whatever it is, we know it’s good.  God knows us.  Forget politics.  Focus solely on spirituality, faith.  Don’t think about the so-called elites.  They’re only elite on this earth for a little while.  But they have to face the Judgement Day.  Then we’ll see who’s the winner, and who’s the loser, who’s starved, and who’s lived.

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By Anarcissie, November 24, 2008 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

‘Anarcissie-You may be right—but, with this new Depression we are heading into, dont you think people will have had just about enough? Maybe not.’

Look at all the people who think, or thought, that Mr. O was going to save them.  I’m not talking about the ignorant masses here, I’m taking about savvy leftish political wonks, like the people who post messages on this website.

They don’t even know what socialism means.  They think it means government control, with handouts.

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By troublesum, November 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment

I believe that Obama has the power to make choices and that no one is dictating to him.  If it were the case that presidents were dictated to on these choices, Clinton wouldn’t have had so many problems in chosing his cabinet 16 years ago.  Bush has had a few problems also.  Presumably, the ones who are dictating would not make mistakes and have to be overruled by circumstances or congress.

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By Paolo, November 24, 2008 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges is an excellent columnist. He approaches issues from the left, and hence, I disagree with many of his positions, as I am a libertarian. Nonetheless, he makes several good points in this article.

Let’s consider the obscene 700 billion dollar bailout of the government’s Wall Street cronies. They earned this nauseating, obscene act of piracy by FAILING.

That 700 billion, distributed evenly to every man, woman, and child in the United States, would come to about $2,300 per person, or about $9,000 for a typical family of four.

What would help the economy more: $9,000 for every family of four in the country, or $700 billion to the pirates of Wall Street so they can have more parties in presidential suites, take more joyrides on their corporate jets, and attend more lavish DC cocktail parties?

Now, I’m not actually suggesting we print up more Federal Reserve monopoly money and hand it out. I’m just observing how completely obscene our “invisible handshake” government-business “partnership” has become.

If you really want solutions, go to (Ron Paul’s website).

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By KDelphi, November 24, 2008 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie-You may be right—but, with this new Depression we are heading into, dont you think people will have had just about enough? Maybe not.

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By purplewolf, November 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment

Kiss: You are right. I like in Flint, Michigan, where unemployment is well over 50%, most of us are no longer counted and if you add the elderly, disabled to that the count is even higher.

Since Bush has been in office, the government commodities program for the poor, disabled and elderly has been cut so much it amounts to about 5-10 dollars worth of food, maybe. The workers who volunteer their services for this program are up front about the cuts that Bush has made to this program and they tell us it going to get even worse. If you happen to be disabled, you are only allowed commodities once every 3 months, my last take was: 2 14 oz. cans tomato sauce, 1 quart cooking oil, 1 16 oz. bag egg noodles, 1 5 lb. bag of biscuit mix and 1 lb. ground beef(?) and since I am not 60 y.o.(they get every) month I cannot get cheese, powdered milk, peanut butter and many other items those with children or age get. I guess the government hopes that those of us who are disabled should just go away and die or something. Funny they never minded raiding my paycheck before I got it when I was able to work.

For a country that spends more money every year than the rest of the world put together on the war machine and on Pentagon spending, you would think that they could be more charitable to those at home that may need assistance and that includes all the military people coming home to no job or with medical problems that we never seem to have the money for, but we do for all the unnecessary things like weapons. When my friend and her husband were in the army they didn’t make enough money to pay for their military housing and feed their children they needed food stamps-around the time of Desert Storm. This country(government) should be ashamed of itself.

We have sent more food over to places we were fighting in to the enemy/civilians who didn’t like our type of food so they feed it to their camels and donkeys, I remember, yet our own at home who could have used this were denied it. Some people do need and use what we send and I would not deny them, however this government needs to realize that without a strong base, you have a crumbling country.

One of the main reasons for obesity is not the fast food myth, but the fact that to afford a well balanced diet with fruit and veggies is beyond a lot of peoples income or food stamp level. The government is still looking at the cost of food prices from the 1960’s when it issues out food stamp allotments and not what it actually is. Let’s see them try to eat a well balanced diet for the month on $17.00-seventeen dollars. Betcha they can’t do it.

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By Fadel Abdallah, November 24, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Starving for change?! Consider the following irony! Remember when a job at McDonald or Burger King was considered a demeaning dead-end job!

Today, I heard a report on Public Radio about McDonald and Burger King being two of the few industries that are experiencing increase in business volume. In light of this one might say that working for these two establishments is now a more secure job, even with their low wages, than a job in the financial or real state industries.

The point in this is the irony this situation presents and the fact that McDonald and Burger King workers should be vindicated for having a more secure jobs than anyone else!

What a turn of events! And what ironies of fate! This is change you can really count on and truly be able to document!

Long live McDonald! Long live Burger King!

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By Anarcissie, November 24, 2008 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment

Socialism is the ownership or control of the means of production by the workers, or by the people in general (according to me, anyway).  For about fifty years following World War 2, it would have been possible for the workers to buy their means of production.  With a few exceptions, they showed very little interest in doing this.  Subsequently, even interest in such a middle-of-the-road, mild, liberal-capitalist institution as the labor union failed.  I don’t know if a socialist U.S. would be better off than the present state of things, but I am pretty sure they wouldn’t be hiring CEOs that cost hundreds of millions of dollars a year to run their businesses down, and I am pretty sure the Supreme National Board of Directors or whatever wouldn’t see much point in blowing up the financial system with enormous credit bubbles and then suffering the consequent deflation.  It would be a very different scene than the one we now behold.

The reason I mention this is that at the root we have this problem of broad public passivity (and the ignorance that goes along with it, because if people are passive enough they don’t bother to find things out).  I don’t know how to change this, but it’s a prerequisite to anything happening besides more of the same.  Needless to say our great leaders are not going to do anything about it, unless they get in a great deal of trouble, because they got where they are by means of it.

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By KDelphi, November 24, 2008 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

felicity-I agree 100%.

I just cant keep track of everything people tell me, or post. Sorry about that. Honestly.

Anyway, I think, with what I have been seeing around my urban community, and I read that article, I get pretty emotional. It is very true, and is happening right here.

If you are one check away from homelessness, it is very scary. Like I say, my sisters (only family I have here in US)are not going to let me die in the streets. But, it is very humiliating to keep asking, especially when neither of them is rich, and one has a genetic disorder that costs alot, the other has breast cancer, and has to buy private insurance.

But, I am fortunate there. And, many others have absolutely no one. I have no one here in my state, which has been in a “depression” for so long, no one seems to even be surprised anymore.

Hearing the “change” candidate, caving in to conservatives alarmist cries to “not make any big changes”, does not bode well for the Democrats in Ohio, in the future. They will just drag out another list of false promises again though.

I am a member of sp-usa. Also, Freedom Socialist party .

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By felicity, November 24, 2008 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi - As I have said here before, I am a socialist.  It’s my guess that our present trouble began with the so-called Reagan revolution. The cost of living rose at the same time as wages remained stagnant. (If the minimum wage had kept up with the cost of living, it would today be about $18/hour.)

In our consumer driven economy people consume, and without the cash to do so they revert to credit.  Lending firms have, sans government regulations, been allowed to charge outrageous interest on consumer debt - sometimes as much as 50 percent.  Banks etc. have thus amassed obscene amounts of money.  Giddy with their new found riches they wanted more - sort of like who can eat one peanut.

In a nut shell, sorry, with just a modicum of socialist practices, wages will keep up with the cost of living, consumers will not have to buy everything on credit, lending firms will be disallowed from practicing usury. 

When things get out of balance - as the Reagan revolution in essence zealously pursued in the drive to make the rich richer while the middle-class got poorer - any system is bound to collapse.  We know it happens in eco-systems.  We’ve got to learn that it also happens in economies.

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By KDelphi, November 24, 2008 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

How about this?

This is a little cornball, but: (for more moderate peeps)
Or here (even):

I do not totally agree with this, but, I suspect that most would not agree with me, anyawy.. this one is good, as is, and

Actually writeon—if they are young enough to only remember Clinton and Bush (or even,just Bush!) they may not be disappointed at all! You know, been down so long it looks like up??

Frank—Speaking of things that couldve been spent on better things, how about not reversing the Bush tax cuts? These people have run this country into to ground, and bought private islands in Saudi Arabia. I think we shoudl take everything they own.

Why do people seem to assume that , no matter who is elected, they owe us nothing?Can you imagine having a job where, you told the person paying your salary what you were going to do? Of course artists do this. But, if the person paying dosent like it, they stop paying….how can we do this?

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