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Halfway Through the Lost Decade

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Posted on Apr 25, 2012
woodleywonderworks (CC-BY)

By Robert Scheer

Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon? Housing values are in the cellar, the Fed foresees unemployment remaining unacceptably high for the next three years, and national economic growth is predicted to be, at best, anemic.

Even the substantial rise of stock averages during recent years has been based in large part on the ability of companies such as Apple to outsource jobs and sales to booming markets led by China—while America’s graduating students face mountainous debt and what is shaping up as a decade without opportunity.

These are the inescapable conclusions to be drawn from a gloomy report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve. In that document, the Fed revises downward its growth projection for the next two years and predicts, in the words of a New York Times article about the report, that “unemployment will remain a massive and persistent problem for years to come.” The housing failure that is the root cause of this economic emergency continues unabated because there is no political will in either party to aid beleaguered homeowners.

Beneath all the pundit blather about the election lies the fact that most deeply affects the voters’ well-being: Home prices are at a decade low, and in cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas they are as dismal as they have been since the Case-Shiller indices started tracking housing prices in the early 1990s.

Without a resurgence in housing value, consumer confidence will remain moribund and a woefully weak labor market will persist. Every time housing seems to be rebounding, the banks and the feds unload more of their toxic mortgages and prices edge lower.

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The only thing preventing a complete collapse, one that would plunge us into deep recession or worse, is the Fed’s extremely low interest rate, which Wednesday’s report reiterated will remain at near zero until late 2014. If the Fed rate were to rise, driving up all of the adjustable rate mortgages out there, we would be in a full-blown depression.

All of this terrible news should spell disaster for Barack Obama’s re-election chances, since it is a direct consequence of his continuing the George W. Bush strategy of bailing out the bankers while ignoring the plight of the homeowners they swindled. But Obama will probably survive because his Republican presidential rival, Mitt Romney, is far worse on this subject.

At least Obama has made a stab at pushing the banks to provide mortgage relief, albeit a halfhearted one. When assessed in light of Romney’s splendid indifference to the suffering that he himself and other financial hustlers caused, Obama deserves support; at least the president seems alert to the pain the bankers have inflicted, while Romney blames their victims.

Romney’s is the sink-or-swim, tough-love approach that has come to mark the Republican Party. As he put it last fall in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “... [D]on’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit bottom. Allow investors to buy up homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.”

That of course does not address the painful losses of, for example, Nevada homeowners, who have witnessed a 62 percent drop in values since 2006. At fault is a free-market-rules philosophy that denies the essential reality of American housing: The market was not free, it was brutally rigged.

The securitization of mortgages into collateralized debt obligations turned homes—the castles of so many average Americans—into gambling chips, and the fallout mainly hurt those who were not even in on the game. As The Wall Street Journal reported in February when Romney was campaigning in Nevada, the primary victims of foreclosure are those who had paid down their home loans, or worse yet owned homes outright, only to find that repossessions on their block destroyed the value of their investment.

The appalling thing is that this enormous mess did not have to happen. It is a man-made disaster, the result of capricious Wall Street bankers who have no regard for the national interest. Perhaps that is to be expected, but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process.

In the end, the perpetrators of this calamity have been rewarded, and their patsies, the ordinary folks who are supposed to matter in a democracy, have been cast overboard.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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New and Improved Comments

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By Foucauldian, May 3, 2012 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Thanks, guys.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 3, 2012 at 7:21 am Link to this comment

Fou——I wish you a speedy recovery and am sure that it won’t slow you down all
that much or all that long. In a few weeks, you’ll probably feel perkier than you’ve
felt in a while.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, May 3, 2012 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

That’ll slow you down a bit.

Report this

By Foucauldian, May 2, 2012 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

Count me in, then, and let me know.  Aside from the
deteriorating quality of most comments, another reason
I’ve been sidelined—recovering from an open heart
surgery, triple bypass.

Report this

By heterochromatic, May 2, 2012 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

What are we to make of such a message?


we might surmise that the people of Antarctica have better things to do rather
than to attend

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, May 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, May 1 at 10:43 am:

Anarcissie, April 28 at 7:56 am:
“We also have student debt, acquired by people who
firmly believed that the money they borrowed would
buy them a good class position and an income—but
why?  Class position is not worth much unless there
is a productive lower class to exploit ,,, “

‘Am I wrong to detect a note of criticism here, Ana,
of OWS, insofar as “student debt” figures in among
the major grievances?’

I find the relations between the academic world, the class system, and progressive and Left-radical politics very interesting at times.  For instance, today I received the following email, which as far as I know is empty of any deliberate irony:


’  How Class Works 2012 Conference

Dear Friends and Colleagues

I invite you to come to the How Class Works - 2012 conference at SUNY Stony Brook June 7-9, 2012. Nearly 200 people from 15 countries on all continents except Antarctica will present in over 50 sessions - senior scholars and graduate students, labor and community activists, artists, all exploring ways in which class dynamics shape society and our lives, and how we can engage these class dynamics to improve the lives of working people. ,,,’

What are we to make of such a message?  What kind of scene is this that’s being proposed?

But I digress.  In the case of the student debtors it seemed to me odd that, while they can juggle Derrida, Baudrillard and Deleuze with one hand tied behind their backs and their eyes closed (perhaps best that way), they had not performed the most elementary political and economic analysis on their own lives, and I’ve been wondering why.

Incidentally I am vulnerable to sudden disappearance from these pages, and may have to continue my carping on another site.  I will probably set up 1freeworld.org as a commentable blog.

Report this

By Dr_Snooz, May 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“As he put it last fall in an interview with the Las
Vegas Review-Journal: ‘... [D]on’t try and stop the
foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit
bottom. Allow investors to buy up homes, put renters
in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and
come back up.’”

Romney makes a perfect summation of Andrew Mellon’s
(Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary) approach to the
Depression. “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks,
liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will
purge the rottenness out of the system. Values will
be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up
from less competent people.” He kept liquidating, and
things kept getting worse until FDR finally brought
some sense to Washington. Romney
wants us all to believe that he made his money
because he’s so smart. (He made it from leveraged buyouts, which are little more than legalized stealing.) Yet his statement proves that
you can make obscene amounts of money while being
both historically ignorant and economically stupid.
In fact, the only real requirement, as far as I can tell from him, is that one be
entirely devoid of conscience.

Report this

By Foucauldian, May 1, 2012 at 11:43 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 28 at 7:56 am


“We also have student debt, acquired by people who
firmly believed that the money they borrowed would
buy them a good class position and an income—but
why?  Class position is not worth much unless there
is a productive lower class to exploit ,,, “

Am I wrong to detect a note of criticism here, Ana,
of OWS, insofar as “student debt” figures in among
the major grievances?

Report this

By Foucauldian, April 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

David Harvey’s website:

http://davidharvey.org/

Report this

By Foucauldian, April 30, 2012 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

Review of David Harvey’s new book, “Rebel Cities,” and
the upcoming discussion with David Graeber this
Wednesday:

http://tinyurl.com/86xvp2u

Report this

By Foucauldian, April 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Interview with David Harvey on the significance of the
upcoming May Day:

http://tinyurl.com/crjpvpr

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Mensch, Any impression of respect one may have had for your comments has been tainted by your personal denigration of Lafayette and the one buried in Washington.

Oneupsmanship does not become you, have you ever attempted something called humility pie?

Social Denigration and lack of respect is a sign of despotism. (not just my opinion) Another thing when I was younger I happend to be a sheep herder for a time and sheepie in sheepies clothing are just about as dumb as a wolfs in sheepies clothing for example, Republican Tea Baggers so outstanding in their field.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

as you know all about the man, than you must know that he is buried in France
but lies covered in American soil.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, April 30, 2012 at 11:42 am Link to this comment

SOB

Mensch: plus to add to these facts that you have no comprehension of why his grave overlooks the city that is the Federal District that is Washington D. C.

Comments such as yours should not be dignified with a response. But the above does a disservice to the Marquis de Lafayette. I know more about the man than you do, apparently.

His grave is not in Washington, dork, but here in the Picpus Cemetary, Paris, France.

There are only two places in Paris where the American flag is permitted to fly night and day. At the American Embassy and at Lafayette’s grave.

It would help greatly to get your facts right before blathering-in-a-blog.

PS: Put me on your SOB list, would you? (SOB = Scroll On By.)

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americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 30, 2012 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

kulu:

The real irony here is that before long the only survivors wil be indigenous folks and the 1% who didn’t commit suicide.

And the 1% won’t even be the 1% very long, as they won’t like living off the grid and pushing a shopping cart with a broken wheel down a ruined highway in search of canned beans.

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kulu's avatar

By kulu, April 29, 2012 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

@Democracy

I share your views. The 1% is on a murderous and suicidal path. They might outlast many others but ultimately they will share the same fate.

Report this

By heterochromatic, April 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment

—-The only chance there is of arresting the spiraling debt crisis in America and
elsewhere is to end the destructive wars and shut down the 1000 or so military
bases around the world.——


wars are expensive and the taxes to fund them aren’t being collected, but what the
heck does shutting down military bases do to end our debt?

Report this
kulu's avatar

By kulu, April 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm Link to this comment

The only chance there is of arresting the spiraling debt crisis in America and elsewhere is to end the destructive wars and shut down the 1000 or so military bases around the world. Divert the resources wasted on these fruitless endeavours into productive, constructive things - education, healthcare, artistic efforts included.

This is no easy matter either since there are hundreds of thousands of personnel - many trained to kill - deployed by the MIC. These people will need to be provided with alternative employment - perhaps spread around the world to begin with, building bridges, health clinics, schools and whatever and generally helping to improve the lives of people rather than wrecking them.

Just a thought…

Report this

By Foucauldian, April 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment

Ana,

Zizek’s reflections on OWS and preview of new work,
2011, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously:

http://tinyurl.com/cyvpe9a

Report this

By elisalouisa, April 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Thank you for your most informative posts Mensch. Your efforts in educating the citizenry is not in vain I assure you. Worth repeating:
“But the conservative movement—like all successful movements built principally on fear, anger and ignorance—gained momentum and now cannot stop itself as it continues on its course of rolling so far off the street of reason and responsibility it only increasingly becomes a terror to the majority of nation. In order to make real progress and to create a valid future for America, people of all stripes on the left are going to have to unite and work for a common cause to establish a common good, a common covenant if you will, and not surrender to the idea that nothing can be changed or to be scared to confront the pathological excesses of the Republican Party. This means belonging to, and utilizing, those religious groups whose members are offended and sickened by Ryan’s proposed budget bill; this means too that the Democrats have to court small business owners uniting them with the intelligentsia of academia as well as spending time to counter the delusionary claims and outright fabrications and lies made by people such as Ann Coulter, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and even the Rommney campaign et al. who are financially dependent for their personal fortune selling perverted information to their flocks.”

I found your post about the Lafayette interesting and informative, a link to a C-Span event concerning the life of Lafayette is provided below for those seeking more information about this most valiant of men.

http://www.c-span.org/Events/Marquis-de-Lafayette/10737426705/

Report this

By ReadingJones, April 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

In case you don’t understand it Mr Human Being, you see
to folloe the rule “never use one word when 10 or 20 or
many more would do just as well.”

Tell me someone, did I just illustrate irony?

Report this

By ReadingJones, April 29, 2012 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment

Oh Mensch, Take it easy, even Balkas and Hetrowhatever
find a truffle now and then. That is the wonder of
democracy and the jury system, when enough voices are
heard, truth appears and is, frequently enough,
recognized. When one voice is squelched many others are
discouraged.

Even you would do well to recognize the utility of the
saying, “write less, say more.”

Report this
americanme's avatar

By americanme, April 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Alert:  The resident no-neck troll heterochromatic has another sockpuppet in the ring.

What happened to the on-the-rag sockpuppet?

Wore out its welcome?

Report this
Mensch's avatar

By Mensch, April 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

This commentary dear Truthdig readers is dedicated to, and directed toward the Truthdig blogger who goes by the name “Lafeyatte” who posts frequently on this.

    Mr. Lafeyatte, my fellow American citizen, dear sir,
please do the world and the Cosmos and the Universe a great favor and get a new username. You have no respect for who the real Lafayette was, what he did, how he was recieved and attacked by provincial yahoos in his time; what he accomplished and gave his heart to; your lack understanding of why George Washington respected him disqualifies you from using his name as your screen name; plus to add to these facts that you have no comprehension of why his grave overlooks the city that is the Federal District that is Washington D. C.; an important marker set in
earth that is adjacent to the National Cemetery of America’s valiant heroes who actually accomplished real things. Unlike you “Lafayette” who is a fraud and a weakling and disconnected from reality. You have no business what so ever employing a screen name to be the avatar for your personal fantasies of who you think you are. You dishonor the name you have chosen to be your image. Come up with something more relevant to your character, such as “bottom skeeber”.

Report this

By Alan MacDonald, April 29, 2012 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, and redpilled, were the only two td posters to mention Empire as the proximate cause of this lost decade—- and I appreciate their understanding of the core of our problem.

Yes, Empire is the single greatest financial drain on America, and this drain, this “extraction” (as Timothy Parsons says in his fabulously revealing “The Rule of Empires”), and this deadly looting of our former country and the world by the DGE (Disguised Global Empire) will certainly result in societal collapse quite soon.

But the even greater sin of this corporate/financial/militarist (and media) Empire which has now captured and “Occupies” of former country, by hiding behind the facade of its modernized two-party “Vichy” sham of faux-de3mocratic and totally illegitimate government (just as the Nazi Empire tried to hide behind its crude single-party “Vichy” facade regime in France during WWII), is not the ineluctable financial collapse that it will bring, but the moral collapse of the American public—- who are reduced to a situation similar to, but worse than, the “ordinary Germans”, who in their passive acceptance of murderous and suicidal Empire, allowed themselves to lose their moral compass.  A moral compass that Germans temporarily lost but were able to recover, but which Americans will never be able to recover when this DGE headquartered in our former country succeeds in its headlong goal of global destruction.

For those unaware or unmoved by Empire’s financial and moral impact on our former country’s involvement in what has been sometimes called a noble experiment in democracy and self-government I feel bad, but not guilty.

Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire” educational & revolutionary movement.

Liberty, democracy, equality, & justice
Over
Violent/Vichy
Empire,

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

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Mensch's avatar

By Mensch, April 29, 2012 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Here is the “thing” of importance:
The political enterprise of the United States is,__ yes__, is, changing as the consequence of various socio-economic factors that are in play. Nothing stays the same as life is always in a state of flux. The question is, how can one prudently look at the world and accurately interpret what is seen,correctly understand the direction the world is moving to, then make appropriate decisions as to where one needs to be in the emerging future. This requires that a person be engaged in a host of complimentary groups who are all concerned and acting in a similar matter to shape and direct the future. Yes, religion is often a corrupt enterprise, just another man-made power to control the masses. But everything involving man is corrupt to some degree as the human being must jostle with all sorts of individual issues, interchange of numerous psychological factors and basic human needs and work to make one’s tomorrow a success somehow. Becoming involved with various organizations is a sign of personal leadership and sincere commitment by the individual to better things and is the only way one is going to make genuine change as such course gives one exposure to different people, ideas, insights, emotions, perceptions… that act as a melding agent and polishing catalyst that betters the individual and, one must mention, the overall society.
 
  Obama’s real problem was that he was inexperienced with the ways of Washington Hardball politics and listened to his fellow Harvard cohorts like Lawrence Summers—-and was also totally unprepared for the Tea Party’s rise and influence. Politics is a serious, hard nosed business and it takes not just vision, insight and personal strength to succeed but the ability to fight against real adversaries. The conservatives have steam rolled over liberals in the last few decades as people such as Ronald Reagan appealed to emotional discontent in the middle and low white income classes and pointed their anger at the straw man of the poor and “big government regulation”.  But the conservative movement—like all successful movements built principally on fear, anger and ignorance—gained momentum and now cannot stop itself as it continues on its course of rolling so far off the street of reason and responsibility it only increasingly becomes a terror to the majority of nation. In order to make real progress and to create a valid future for America, people of all stripes on the left are going to have to unite and work for a common cause to establish a common good, a common covenant if you will, and not surrender to the idea that nothing can be changed or to be scared to confront the pathological excesses of the Republican Party. This means belonging to, and utilizing, those religious groups whose members are offended and sickened by Ryan’s proposed budget bill; this means too that the Democrats have to court small business owners uniting them with the intelligentsia of academia as well as spending time to counter the delusionary claims and outright fabrications and lies made by people such as Ann Coulter, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and even the Rommney campaign et al. who are financially dependent for their personal fortune selling perverted information to their flocks. There are valid and credible ways that one not only betters their own self but also betters the whole of society. It can not be done alone; the human being is a social animal. Thus, it requires active engagement.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 29, 2012 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

Lafayette, April 29 at 1:33 am:

Let’s add two more stumbling blocks to the recovery that we all want as RS describes aptly in this article….

I think the idea of ‘recovery’, of restoring the status quo ante, is one of the things people actually find dubious, both as to feasibility and desirability.  But the cautious, conservative Mr. O can’t think of anything else, and his right-wing opponents have nothing to offer but more of the same and worse.

Report this

By balkas, April 29, 2012 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

true, we ARE NOT sheep, ignorant, lazy, uncaring, warlike, greedy, envious,
vainglorious, devious, conniving, etc., we are MADE that way by clero-noble class
of people who themselves BECAME s’mwhen-s’mwhere-s’mhow ignorant, lazy,
greedy, devious, conniving, belligerent, etc.
unfortunately, they have ruled us since at latest 8 ky ago and still do today.
and how about forever?

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Mensch's avatar

By Mensch, April 29, 2012 at 6:28 am Link to this comment

Mr. Lafayette, sir,
constantly do you complain about the citizenry; ok. So be it. But here is the question for you: Are you part of any organizations working politically to change things? There are groups like Sojourners and the now Occupy S.E.C. who actively are involved and steadfastly work to make change a very real event. Even the despised Koch Brothers, Limbaugh, Gingrich, Norquist…did not succeed overnight and had to organize, craft and engage their message with the citizenry. Are you studying the data produced by think tanks such as The Center for American Progress and using that informational data to educate the people you know?(supposing you have a real social life). Or do you just want to think that placing your hand in your vest and blogging about your superiority over the common people is all you need to do? The Republican Party has lost not only the middle but those who are even partially right of middle as that political party has become an Apocalyptic cult. Those on the left—who are not nearly as mentally out of whack as are the uber-righties who now dominate the Republican Party—is making real head way as the righties have become so pathological to a severe degree that people are forced to turn away from their radical extremism. But the progress being made by the left today is not because they think they are superior to the common person but because they are people engaged with others and doing the hard, detailed work that politics requires.  So why not get involved, get off your stance, be real and help. Don’t keep bemoaning about the “boob tube” and the “sheeple” which has really gotten over worn and lame in your blogs. Be an active citizen.

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Mensch's avatar

By Mensch, April 29, 2012 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

Mr. Lafayette,sir,
you constantly are calling the citizenry the “sheeple” and bemoan their laziness, ok; but why don’t you engage in educating people at the local level—do you do that? Do you take time to study the data? Think Tanks like the Center for American Progress and the new “Occupy the S.E.C.” (which is the Occupy movement shifting into fighting Big Finance/Banks via understanding regulations) are all working to turn things around. Your constant derogatory comments reveal your own laziness and detachment from reality. You too, I am supposing, are a citizen; hopefully you are part of some organization that is working to change things instead of just blogging about them. Do you know there a organizations such as Sojourners actively involved with political change at the religious level? Politics is controlled by those who physically and intellectually organize. That automatically rules out the vast majority who don’t want to do the stubborn detailed work that politics requires. Even the Koch brothers and people like Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist—whom I consider to be the Devil’s agents—did not get where they are today overnight. Things are in fact changing—Truthdig is one part of that equation. But active engagement on your part also is part of the formula. There are now plenty of solid outlets that can effectively orchestrate counter arguments against the right wing propaganda. And the right wingers have gone so far overboard they have lost not just the middle ground but even those who are slightly right of the middle as the Republican party has become an Apocalyptic cult of sorts. Don’t just stick your hand in your coat and call the populace sheep and think your mouthing off is all you have to do. Work neighbor, for the change that is needed.

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Lafayette's avatar

By Lafayette, April 29, 2012 at 2:33 am Link to this comment

COLLECTIVE STUPIDITY

Let’s add two more stumbling blocks to the recovery that we all want as RS describes aptly in this article.

The first is the Dumbing Down of America by means of the BoobTube such that grassroot citizens seem to gobble hook, line and sinker the bent Media Messaging. They did so for Obama, first overly enthused then quickly disappointed because he could not walk on water and stop the Great Recession in only 12 months. He did stop unemployment from reaching double-digits but that was just not good enough. The grassroots was expecting miracles.

Recessions take two years to cure and Significant Recessions take 4/5 years. Great Recessions can take even longer.

So, they believed again the bullshit thrown at them by the Koch Brothers and stayed away from the polls to allow T-Party Dorks into control of the HofR – who promptly stopped any effort at a Stimulus Spending that, had it been effected then just after the mid-terms, quite likely would see us at 6/7% unemployment now.

It’s not a resurgence in housing prices that will make Americans have faith in the future. The Feel-Good-Factor comes first and housing prices then rise as Americans buy houses. The Feel-Good-Factor returns when there is a firm stabilization of job layoffs that leads to job-expansion, which has occurred. Thus the Factor is prepared for a come-back, but due to the deepness of the recession a full-fledged return will take longer.

There will be No QuickFix to the economic mess we are in.  Those who tell you the opposite are pipe-dreaming.

MY POINT?

We, the sheeple, out of sheer ignorance delayed the recovery by voting the Troglodytes into the HofR; so we, the sheeple, must now pay the consequences for our collective stupidity.

Blame the banksters all you want. Blame capitalism. Blame the One-Percenters. Blame the T-Party. Blame the useless and costly Killing Wars. Blame you mother - it doesn’t really matter.

If you want to see the real culprit … look in the mirror.  Because a principal characteristic of democracies is that the political class in power is always a reflection of the people who elected them.

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By cabell, April 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

i know obama has continued cronie capitalism and it is evident in his treasury hirings and other branches of government. obama has increased defense and military spending over bush. drone attacks have increased 500% since the iraq,pakistan,yemen,afghanistan and pan-african war agressions. he has deported more immigrants than anyone in recorded U.S. history. now, here we are in an election cycle and the snakes of deception are wagging their tales. once after the election is over, here we come iran and all africom neighbors. this snake needs to die. wire tapping and guantanamo.

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By faith, April 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Great article Mr. Scheer.  But, oh-oh so depressing.  Our nation is truly lost.  And
congress continues to fund illegal, vicious war expenditures. Grim.

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By heterochromatic, April 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

thank you. much the occasional bit of appreciation is all the more gratifying by
reason of its rarity

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D.R. Zing's avatar

By D.R. Zing, April 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Dear heterochromatic

Regarding your comment:

Bush increased the national debt by ramming through
tax breaks for the upper-income folks to which the
Dems in congress appended tax breaks for the lower-
income folks….thereby “spending” the potential
surplus as the republicans were concerned that the
surplus would be used on increased social program
spending.

when the Bush admin war spending kicked in there
wasn’t the tax base to come near to covering the
expense and the debt ballooned.

Obama of course inherited the melted economy and the
deficit spending was agreed to be necessary.

Well put. 

Zing

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 28, 2012 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

ReadingJones, Enjoyed your rant, electric bikes sounds like they would be biting into the oil and auto industry profits, it is like you are proposing radical ideas such as reading a book instead of webbing it or texting ones life away on electronic crap made by slaves in the Orient.

Actually refreshing not to hear the same old constant anti Obama whining claptrap for a change, of course I am whining about the whiners, but am seeing my therapist about giving it up!

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By felicity, April 28, 2012 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

Does anyone in government have an explanation for why
only 4.3% of the $46 billion allocated by TARP to aid
home owners refinance has been used for that purpose? 
Thought not.

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By Leefeller, April 28, 2012 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

From Robert Sheers article;... “but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process” the way I see the glass, may be in how one perceives it.

Not shocking at all, just follow the money which seems to be a spot on solid reason for what appears to be this unfettered greed.  Inability to expect one to challenge the buttering of ones own bread seems silly to me, it is not an inability but a bought and paid for program as Occupy so astutely nailed it; disenfranchisement.

As always, I find Robert Sheers articles promote discussion, but only after sifting through the clatter of whining posts.  Yes we have many questions which are always seeking answers and some who seem to feel they have all the answers?

All those whiners about Obama, how about giving it a rest. Little differentiates any whining sounds from Republican Tea Baggers who provide a phoney Koch illusion of wanting smaller government while telling women what to do with their bodies. The Republicans seem to be promoting themselves only on the myopic ticket of whining how bad Obama has been for the nation, a constant barrage of whining from inception most of it a lot of it made up horse pucky, from birthers to Obama not being the the bears just right kind of Christian.  Obama has had an uphill fight from the start, the Republicans obstructionist shenanigans have been forcing Obama to fight tooth and nail every inch of the way.

Cliff Clark highlighted the bag of crap Obama inherited when he came into office and some of the things Cliff feels Obama could have done a better job on, read them and provide your enlightened options or continue whining like a girly man Republican. 

As for those third party folks out there, how do you know anything about what would have or not have been done differently if the Greens or Nader where in Obama’s place? I propose the world is not all about you (A song?) unless you happen to be a card carrying solipsist.

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By democracy, April 28, 2012 at 9:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama worked for a year at the Business International Corporation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barak_Obama

“Business International Corporation (BI) was a publishing and advisory firm dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. In 1986, Business International was acquired by The Economist Group in London, and eventually merged with The Economist Intelligence Unit. BI has been known to be used as a CIA front company.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_International_Corporation

He’s been the faux progressive that give’s people like Mr. Scheer an excuse for not voting for a real candidate, like Nader. It’s a form of fraud, wall street style. Leverage the value (the embodiment of humanity) and then sell that value covertly to the other side (corporate fascism). In the end, there is feudalism-enslavement of the population for the benefit of the very few, who can and do rape and pillage at will, while beating, imprisoning, torturing and killing ostensibly “free” people.

In the past, there were partially successful revolts to the above, given time. Now, with one hundred per cent surveillance almost complete, the outlawing of public assembly and habeas corpus, and the overwhelming technological superiority of the fascists, there is little hope. It was the election of Obama that brought about the certain end.

When I say end, I mean it. The one variable that humanity had in previous struggles with fascism was time. There is no more time. The ecoshpere is on the verge of death. The capitalists are so pathological that they are committing ecocide, and with it their own demise, and that of every miraculous creature on the planet.

In the planning are more nuclear power plants, more genetic engineering, more toxic chemicals, more fossil fuels. The oceans and its creatures are being decimated by overfishing, nuked by Fukushima, poisoned by oil spills, not to mention all the other toxic pollutants washed into them by our chemical laden rivers. Finally, due to the rise in CO2 they are becoming too acidic for life, other than bacteria and viruses. On land,,,,all glaciers along with their life giving water will be gone soon. The same brutal regime of poisoning and decimation will destroy all semblance of living ecosystems on land. The pathological capitalists will do this because they have an ideology which is essentially anti-life. It kills for profit, one way or another, sooner or later, everything.

Most of you will not be informed of your poisoning by radioactive isotopes or toxic chemicals, or deadly food additives. Why? Because under Obama the agencies that had at least some effectiveness in protecting us have been completely silenced. All whistleblowers know, with certainty, that their lives will be destroyed by Obama’s “Justice Department” if they step over the line and actually do their job. They will end up much like Manning, only it won’t make the news. More whistleblowers have been destroyed by Obama, by far, than by all of the previous presidents combined.

Mr. Scheer and his ilk enabled Obama to get elected, they propagated the notion that a citizen shouldn’t vote for the best candidate, the one that was honest and knew that the planet was at stake: that a citizen had to choose the brand Obama. Now, there are no more citizens. We’re subjects. We’re commodities, to be used and discarded. Thanks Mr. Scheer.

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By Anarcissie, April 28, 2012 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

Marian Griffith, April 26 at 12:12 pm:

‘... It is not that the housing prices need to go up again but that somehow the debt mountain needs to go down. ...’

People seem to have a lot of contradictory ideas about what needs to happen.  Many appear to desire the restore the status quo ante, when the economy was kept going by ever-increasing debts.  I don’t see a good outcome to any of it.  We have not, as a national community, come to grips with facts.  The residues of the housing bubble are just one part of it.  We also have student debt, acquired by people who firmly believed that the money they borrowed would buy them a good class position and an income—but why?  Class position is not worth much unless there is a productive lower class to exploit—but we have deindustrialized our country, so there isn’t.  We have national debt, which funds our worthless wars and empire.  What are we spending ourselves into bankruptcy to achieve?

If we haven’t resolved these questions in some rational manner, won’t we just accumulate another debt mountain if we get rid of the one we have now, buying the same worthless goods?

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By Flickford, April 28, 2012 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Ramno or Obomber - pick a brand.

Lost decade? What a joker! Prepare for the new normal from here to eternity -
diminishing pay for service sector jobs. Take your college degree and the hype to
get one and set it on fire. Get a nursing certificate and get ready to wipe dying
boomer ass - best bet for employment. Or get into the growing surveillance biz
(military, enforcement and private) and hone up on your playstation skills -
opportunities abound to kill by drone strike at home and abroad. The pond scum
will rise to the top of the rigged financials game and eat your lunch. Take your
digital, televised and pharmaceutical Soma, shop at WaddleMart, supersize your
deep fried offal, root for the home team and LIKE IT SUCKA! If your looking for a
real life - emigrate.

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By heterochromatic, April 28, 2012 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

Bush increased the national debt by ramming through
tax breaks for the upper-income folks to which the
Dems in congress appended tax breaks for the lower-
income folks….thereby “spending” the potential
surplus as the republicans were concerned that the
surplus would be used on increased social program
spending.

when the Bush admin war spending kicked in there
wasn’t the tax base to come near to covering the
expense and the debt ballooned.

Obama of course inherited the melted economy and the
deficit spending was agreed to be necessary.

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By Cliff Carson, April 28, 2012 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

kulu, April 28 at 1:00 am

“I sometimes wonder if Scheer deliberately writes pieces that end up supporting Obama even while criticizing most of what he has done.”

It does appear that way Kulu and sometimes in this grand robbery of the American people rational discussion gets lost in Party Loyalty.

When I read your comment a few minutes ago I went to the data to see how Bush performed in his first term versus Obama.

I used the Fiscal Year data of our Government to make the comparison to compare apples to apples.

Keep in mind that Bush inherited a surplus with low unemployment where Obama inherited Chaos - unemployment rates increasing over half a million each month.

People who are unemployed don’t pay taxes therefore lowering the income of the United States.  Also keep in mind that the Bailouts began in 2007 not an Obama thing.

The first term of Bush the National Debt increased 136%.
And in his two terms the National Debt increased 205%.

In the Obama first term the National Debt has increased 132% with 5 months to go on Obama’s last fiscal year of his first term.  I expect that in the next 5 months it will exceed the 136% of Bush.

Sheer possibly means to be honest ( laying Party loyalty aside ) in the performance of the two.

The two compared might be judged like this:

Bush inherited a good thing and killed it.

Obama inherited a bad thing and might possibly be turning it around.

However neither of the two IMO are worth praise and it seems that as this election approaches neither of the two Party nominees will be good news for the American people.

The problem is that the two major parties are nothing more than Steppin Fetchit’s for the powers that truly run this Government.  That is not good news for you and me.

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By kulu, April 28, 2012 at 2:00 am Link to this comment

I sometimes wonder if Scheer deliberately writes pieces that end up supporting Obama even while criticizing most of what he has done.

If nothing else he does manage to get the debate going and the debate itself is what really is worth following.

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By prosefights, April 27, 2012 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

And who will bear the hurt? The clever elite? Those who understand the hustle? Those who own gold…houses…offices and apartment buildings?

Or those whose wealth is counted out in drips and drabs…from wages and meager savings?

Oh Dear Reader…watch out!

Regards,

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning

http://dailyreckoning.com/risky-investments-in-a-market-full-of-conmen/

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By REDPILLED, April 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Scheer manages to neglect the fact that the U.S. wastes more than one TRILLION dollars per year on its militarist Empire: at least six wars; covert operations in more than 100 countries; more than 1,000 military bases in dozens of countries; 11 nuclear-armed aircraft carrier strike forces and nuclear-missile submarines in every ocean; a nuclear arsenal of thousands of city-killing warheads decades after the USSR disappeared; a military budget larger than that of all other nations combined; and, underneath it all, a Permanent War Economy which cripples all other sectors of the economy except for the War Profiteers and their well-bribed White House/Congressional servants.

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By heterochromatic, April 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

housing values here in the Northeast and in the Midwest didn’t drop all that much,
.and considering that the prices were inflated, the people were weren’t squeezed
and held on, didn’t really lose much at all.

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By rodney simpson, April 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To answer your question: nobody in power in Washington cares about the average American—they only care about the rich and powerful.

Coincidentally in the NYTimes today in a review of Steve Coll’s new book about Exxon Mobil, the former CEO of Exxon is quoted as saying: “I’m not a U.S. company and I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the U.S.” Bada-bing, bada-boom!

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By americanme, April 27, 2012 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Let’s bring Godot up to date, folks.

Waiting for Godot in 1949 was a deluded, if HOPEFUL, posture.

Waiting for Godot today is simply waiting for extinction.

If Godot has not arrived in more than 60 years of waiting for him, he’s not coming.

Godot, like God, is dead.

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By americanme, April 27, 2012 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

amex:

It’s too late for folks in the US—exactly for the reason you already mentioned—that there are only two people who see neoliberalism for the escalation of savage capitalism and destruction of life forms on the planet that it is.

So long as folks in the US continue to put their heads up their asses and mumble mantras like The Great American Dream, you guys do not have a chance.

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By David W. Kent, April 27, 2012 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

Best policies and laws can be corrupted over time.  Our Constitution did not foresee Senate Rules which allowed a tight knit minority stop any legislation penned to right a wrong or serve a common purpose for this country.  Yet this is the case.  The Republican Leadership has followed the advice of a radical right wing radio commentator buffoon, named Rush Limbaugh.  Upon Obama’s election, Limbaugh stated, he hoped Obama would fail, and encouraged Republicans to do everything they could to stop any legislation which might prove solve our countries problems.  After stating this, he says, what he meant was to stop Liberals, thus saving the country.  The real message, after all, was, to act as tripping stones to progress.

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By StreetJustice, April 27, 2012 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

Thank you Scheer for expressing the outrage we have about our economy and sparking such a healthy debate in the comments.  Your statement, “but what is shocking is the inability of leading politicians of either party to mount a challenge to the unfettered greed that has come to dominate our political process” is precisely where I focus my efforts in bringing justice to our society.  The great majority of Americans who are not morally bankrupt have been hijacked by the few politically-connected and economically-elite, but we do still have individual rights and with those we have historically-important responsibilities. We must change the structure of our political system to remove the perverse influence of money.

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By cabell, April 27, 2012 at 4:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

itn is the same ole same ole. obama is dressing himself up for the election. another bail out will occur. who is next after greece? I WISH IT WAS US. THIS SO CALLED DEMOCRACY IS A RAVENOUS HAVEN FOR CAPITALIST CORRUPT THIEVES. there is no honor in subjugating any population. i think i might be safer retiring to cuba. at least i would have community and good healthcare. and good music.

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By ReadingJones, April 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Lee   I started my last rant because I
remembered that Roosevelt had put a freeze on
foreclosures during the Great Depression Graet ides
huh!It was called the Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy
Act. It was passed on 28 June 1934 by the Congress in
response to pressure and assistance from Roosevelt
It didn’t exactly prevent foreclosures but it
postponed repossesions for five years….. Roosevelt
also provided money for writers to write artists to
paint and CCC boys to build wilderness trails and
many many other innovative programs to get money
circulating again Ows could learn a lot about what to
advocate for by studying the Great Depression. A good
place to start would be the writings of Studs Terkel.

A third party candidate who pushed for these and
other innovations might have a real chance of
upsetting the 1% apple cart We need to establish farm
markets, community farms and slaughter houses and
clubhouses where meetings could be held and people
could can good clean food in a cooperative manner.
Instead of wilderness hiking trails we need bicycle
roadways away from roads for cars.

A Texas oil millionaire who started out as a
cattleman once said, “money is like cowshit. It
doesn’t do a damn bit of good until you spread it
around.”

OBomber has been doing a lot of work-arounds to get
things done in spite of an uncooperative Congress by
using Executive Orders and restatements of
regulations etc. He needs to do more.

Here is an example: Money should be loaned to a
company to design and and build Electric Bicyles.
Surely many more ideas will start popping up once OWS
starts turning the soil over.

Did you know that one of the best ways to jump-start
the economy of an undeveloped country is to get a
Tubing factory going. Tubing is the beginning of
sanitation projects and water wells and bicyles and
wheelchairs and greenhouses and crutches and on and
on.

I do tend to rant don’t I.

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By prosefights, April 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm Link to this comment

4.26.12 Recently, thanks to the shale oil story, scammy rig operators are promising returns as high as 14% PER MONTH.
Retired people, supplementing their Social Security payments with interest income, are tempted. At today’s rate, the pensioner gets less than $2,000 on his $100,000 of savings. He is desperate for more. Even to the point of listening to shysters and investing with fraudsters.

http://dailyreckoning.com/the-burgeoning-scam-market/

Natural Gas May 2012 contract $ / million BTUs Floor 1.91 Friday April 20, 2012.

Drillers report that they cannot make a profit if natural gas is less than $5/ MM BTU.

Then how do they make money? Listen up, liberal arts ‘educated’. Phone call received Tuesday April 17, 2012

http://www.prosefights.org/nmgco/intervene/hearing/wellscam/scam.mp3

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By MeHere, April 26, 2012 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

gerard:

I think I understand the points you make in your post but I don’t believe they relate to the concerns and questions I was raising.  You seem to have misread my intentions. I wasn’t asking that R. Scheer be an innovator, or that he should come up with solutions or dangerous alternatives, or that he should advocate for a specific political group. However, he does indeed comment on political figures in both parties, and he often paints a more benign picture of Obama and the Democrats. That is in fact advocacy for the status quo which is a rerun of the same shows. If R. Scheer is willing to do that, why isn’t he open to examine and discuss -not necessarily promote- other political figures and ideas….while we wait for Godot, as you say.

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By John Steinsvold, April 26, 2012 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

An Alternative to Capitalism (if the people knew
about it, they would demand it)

Several decades ago, Margaret Thatcher claimed:
“There is no alternative”. She was referring to
capitalism. Today, this negative attitude still
persists.

I would like to offer an alternative to capitalism
for the American people to consider. Please click on
the following link. It will take you to an essay
titled: “Home of the Brave?” which was published by
the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

http://evans-
experientialism.freewebspace.com/steinsvold.htm

John Steinsvold

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and
expecting a different result.”
~ Albert Einstein

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By prosefights, April 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

Thursday April 26, 2012 17:42

Recently, thanks to the shale oil story, scammy rig operators are promising returns as high as 14% PER MONTH.

Retired people, supplementing their Social Security payments with interest income, are tempted. At today’s rate, the pensioner gets less than $2,000 on his $100,000 of savings. He is desperate for more. Even to the point of listening to shysters and investing with fraudsters.

htthttp://www.prosefights.org/nmgco/intervene/hearing/wellscam/scam.mp3p://dailyreckoning.com/the-burgeoning-scam-market/

Natural Gas May 2012 contract $ / million BTUs Floor 1.91 Friday April 20, 2012.

Drillers report that they cannot make a profit if natural gas is less than $5/ MM BTU.

Then how do they make money? Listen up, liberal arts ‘educated’. Phone call received Tuesday April 17, 2012

How do they do it?

http://www.prosefights.org/nmgco/intervene/hearing/wellscam/scam.mp3

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By JoeT, April 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment

Here’s the deal, Robert S. Take a look at facebook: “my dog died, I have a new baby.” At least the former have some importance, but the rest of social media: “Checking in from _______ (local burger joint voted best burgers in the Twin Cities)” Status update: “a picture of my kid (ain’t she cute); this band is the greatest!” We have raised our children to consume. We did a fine job.

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By litlpeep, April 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Yes, Romney is grossly irresponsible about the housing disaster.

Yes, Obama is only slightly less grossly irresponsible about the housing disaster.

How much does it take for us voters to decide that neither of the above deserves our vote?

Obama’s lame apologies for having continued the Bush policies of bailing out (and continuing to bail out) the irresponsible bankers, is plenty of reason to not vote for him.  He has no excuse.  He had a majority of both houses singing his tune, and he let the bankers go with handsome rewards and Tim Geithner protecting them from regulation.

We should all be happy to vote for anybody but the Janus-twinned RomnObama bipartisan hack(s).

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By Leefeller, April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Reading Jones, I suspect the constant attack on education is the answer to your seeming question which ended with a period. ... “Does no one get taught any history or economics in school any more.” 

Money and power has traditionally always won and superseded the will of the huddled masses, after all isn’t it really about power to control and manipulate outcomes as control over everything?

Actually Occupy seems to have it right, it is all about disenfranchisement of the few over the rest. Hence the 1 percent over the 99 percent.

I present to you Romney, vulture entitlement glorified.

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By amex, April 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Americanme,
Now there are two people that I know in the entire world of my preferred blogs that talks about the true history crony capitalism and Milton “fucking” Friedman.
Now, how do we go about taking it all back?  I think, personally, it’s too late!

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By ReadingJones, April 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm Link to this comment

Does no one get taught any history or economics in
school any more. I was taught about the Glass Steagal
Act, the operations and rational for the Feds
existence,William Jennings Byron and the Cross of
Gold speech, how and why the income tax came into
being, why the estate tax was a good thing,  and
above all the perfidy of most but not all bankers.

My teachers were a school principal who had been a
small time grocery store operator and a custodian who
had been a rancher and a dry land wheat farmer and
who had been through five years of drought The
principal was a rock ribbed Republican who blushed
when he was teased about being a member of the NEA.
The custodian was a militant unionist and a Democrat.
Each in his own way was tough to the core. The
Democrat was a crack shot. He understood that the
Second Amendment was about protecting the people from
the government The Republican had enough personal
courage and humility and intellectual honesty to
change his mind when the facts required it. They
argued a lot but never forgot to be respectful and
courteous to each other and indeed to all. If either
had found a sackful of money they would have done
whatever was necessary to return it to its rightful
owner

They were nothing like the scum that now inhabit the
three branches of the Federal government and most of
the state goverments.

I was an eleven year old seventh grader when I was
taught most of things in my first paragraph. Now it
seems that most college graduates know very little
about any of it.

BTW what is wrong with derivative instruments is that
it is impossible to analyse them and quantify the
risks. The result is that intelligence and education
are of no use and the whole business is just a wild
crap shoot essentially financed by the government.
The bankers kept the winnings and the taxpayer kept
the losses. Now the greatest country that ever
existed is in fact bankrupt and our future is bleak.
If the banksters and the CEOs and the corrupt
politicians had any honor at all they would commit
hari-kari.

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By gerard, April 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

MeHere: Your question: “... stop supporting politicians that continue to be funded by “the perpetrators of this calamity”? Why doesn’t Scheer engage in this kind of discussion?
  Some tentative answers based on my sole and faulty personal opinion and nothing more:
1. Mr. Scheer doesn’t have any more idea than anybody else of how to untangle the mess.
2. Mr. Scheer does not want to get trapped into “advocating” any dangerous alternative like “revolution” which might lead to terrible bloodshed and failure.
3. Mr. Scheer does not believe (on the basis of what he knows and has seen firsthand) that any profound non-violent change is likely, or would “succeed” even if it were likely.
4. Mr. Scheer wants to encourage a relatively open platform for people to learn, talk to each other, discuss, perhaps share their knowledge, ignorance, fear, doubt and hope, thinking perhaps that may be a helpful opening to something new and better.
5. Mr. Scheer thinks that publshing articles on line that will educate people and perhaps inspire them is worthwhile in itself.
6. Mr. Scheer is essentially a reporter, an observer, a critic—not an innovator—though he might become one at any time—in short, just like the rest of us. We are all “Waiting for Godot” in a very painful sense. At the same time, we dread anybody coming who even vaguely looks like Mr. Godot because if all hell breaks loose, we may not know how to respond adequately in order not to commit the same mistakes all over again.
  Mr.Scheer R US, in other words probablly doing his best—or almost.

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By Leefeller, April 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment

After all the hot air and whining we know the president is responsible for everything which blows our way and some of that does not. I keep hearing some people saying they are tired of voting for the best of the worst, but show me the best of the best and I will agree to vote for them.

Come on folks, picking a president or congress person even dog catcher has it unknowns, what gives you some special insight on what or who is better or worse?  How do you know anything about picking one candidate over another candidate?  Making it even harder, I may not agree with your righteous choices as you do not like mine, so in the end it is just like the old saying you can pick you politicians and pick your nose, but you cannot pick your family, though I believe the high divorce rate in this nations means something about picking your family?

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By Marian Griffith, April 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@Anarcissie
—-Does Scheer want to restore the bubble, so we can have another crash?—-

I doubt it. It is true that the worth of the house (i.e. the ability to live) has not changed, only the price attached to it.

The problem here is that a large number of people are still paying off the vastly inflated prices through their mortgages in an economy that is otherwise adjusting to lower and lower income. They cna not sell their house as they would get only a fraction of what they initially paid for and still have to repay the bank the remainder on top of their new mortgage (that is of course if banks will give a mortgage to somebody who is 500,000 in debt).

So people do what they always do in uncertain economic times: they hunker down and save as much as they can. Thus the economic locking up.

It is not that the housing prices need to go up again but that somehow the debt mountain needs to go down. Current policy of banks and government is not doing that, and the kind of policy that Romney espouses will solve it, if you can stomach turning about half the population of the country out on the street and force them to live without shelter or protection. Kind of would turn large parts of the USA into Haiti style refugee camps where girls (and some boys) by the time they reach 14 years of age have been group raped at least once.
American exceptionalism indeed…

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By americanme, April 26, 2012 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment

Obama deserve to be tarred, feathered and run out on a rail.

Along with the rest of the political parasites.

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By traynorjf, April 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

@NABNYC

Very nice précis of the real estate situation. Nice suggestion for a cure too.

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By MeHere, April 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

R. Scheer says:

“In the end, the perpetrators of this calamity have been rewarded, and their patsies, the ordinary folks who are supposed to matter in a democracy, have been cast overboard.”

“At least Obama has made a stab at pushing the banks to provide mortgage relief, albeit a halfhearted one.  .... Obama deserves support;”

Why does R. Scheer insist on protecting Obama’s image? What does he believe can come out from that?  Isn’t it too late in the game for Obama and his Democrat pals to prove that they have something substantial to offer? Isn’t it time that those who “have been cast overboard” stop supporting politicians that continue to be funded by “the perpetrators of this calamity”? Why doesn’t Scheer engage in this kind of discussion?

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By prisnersdilema, April 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Americanme…

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By omop, April 26, 2012 at 12:27 pm Link to this comment

Increasing unemployent, housing in the dumps, outsourcing jobs, the Fed
doing its best, etc, and still able to daily continually spend dollars on war [Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan…..]

  Cost of War to the United States

Embed
Total Cost of Wars Since 2001
$1,326,136,133,451

One hates to even think about the next halfay of the lost decade.

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By frank1569, April 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here’s the problem:

Our economic system relies on perpetual over-
consumption by We The 99%. Which, back in the 20s-
30s, when WT99 had nothing, seemed like a good plan.

Today, the vast majority of WT99 have more than
enough crap. We’re obese, both physically and
materialistically. We couldn’t over-consume more crap
if we wanted to - how many more big TVs can ya buy?
Or iPhones? Or shoes? Plus, after 80yrs, the ‘thrill
of buying’ drug no longer gets us high.

So all of this talk about how to ‘fix’ our economy is
nonsense. Because our economic system worked - the
vast majority of us have bread on every table and a
car in every driveway.

The system was never supposed to succeed, which is
why nobody bothered developing post-Capitalism plans.

Now would be a good time to start.

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By americanme, April 26, 2012 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

prisners:

Thanks for your thoughtful post.  I would have to take it further than just the beginning of Reaganomics in the US.

Reaganomics and its clones in the UK, Latin America, the Eurozone twenty years before it was the Eurozone are all Neoliberalism—the Milton Friedman Fuck ‘em If They Can’t Take a Joke in the Shorts economic model that was actually test-driven in Latin America—in Chile, precisely, after Nixon and Kissinger overthrew the socialist government of Salvador Allende in 1973 and imposed the dictatorship of Pinochet.

The model is a blueprint for creating inequality—for creating a small percentage of super-rich savage capitalists and a huge percentage of lumpen.

Like it or not, anyone who is not in the 1% (really the smaller than 1%) is a memeber of the lumpen proletariat—working for wages that have less buying power every minute, without adequate benefits, with no or inadequate health insurance, and facing an old age of cat food and food banks (the old are not agile enough, typically, to dive the dumpsters in back of WalMart or Safeway).

This is a state of lost decades that is hemispheric and which also includes most of Europe.

It’s been a planned reality that shot into turbo mode once the option of socialism was knocked out of the box—even before the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

A few leaders, at great personal risk and with great courage in the face of the military muscle that capitalism still has, have stepped up to say no to savage capitalism and yes to creating some sort of decentlife for their people.  The fact that those leaders are all in Latin America, where the Chiago Boys first road-tested the Neoliberal model, may indicate—if one is an incurable optimist—that neoliberalism will run its course fairly soon in other venues.

However, given the persistent threats and destabilization attempts on the part of the failed capitalist givernments towards the leaders who have just said no, even with the high level of disconent in those failed capitalist countries, a reasonable speculation would be that the level of economic pain simply is not yet high enough to provoke real change.

A current example of that is Spain, whose recently elected rightwing president has threatened Argentina in the name of Repsol (savage capitalism in its worst and most inefficient model), despite more than a year of street protests and an unemployment rate in Spain of 23%—officially—and of Spain’s banks being centimeters away from being intervened by Europe’s Central Bank.  The shit has hit the fan, but folks have not been able to channel the pain into a script of solutions.

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By balkas, April 26, 2012 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

put another way: THEY, the onepercent, is at all times in control; if the ship yaws a bit left or a bit right,
THEY are in control; in control in both the intended [planned for] and unintended consequences.
moving slightly or by leaps to the ideal right position is also controlled by THEM.
it seems that at this time, THEM realize that they don’t have to go all the way in days, months, or even
years.
THEY have decades or even centuries to accomplish that; provided, of course, good 90% of americans
approve of it by silence or cries for it.
thus far THEY always enjoyed support by about 98% of americans of which good 40% are almost exact
replica of nazis.
===
why cannot most americans and even nearly all posters see the obvious fact that the ONEPERCENT with
help from another 20% of privileged layer of americans ARE IN TOTAL CONTROL OF WHATEVER HAPPENS
IN U.S?
it’s i think semantic blindness or heads loaded with american illusional dreams.

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By Anarcissie, April 26, 2012 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

‘Without a resurgence in housing value…’

In terms of use value, houses are about as valuable as they were ten or twenty years ago.  It was prices that crashed, and they crashed because they were tremendously inflated.  That is the normal course of nature in a bubble.  Does Scheer want to restore the bubble, so we can have another crash?  I don’t get it.

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By NABNYC, April 26, 2012 at 10:55 am Link to this comment

To understand the housing collapse, we need to start with Clinton and Rubin, and their policies to deregulate banking.  In previous years, banks required borrowers to pay a minimum of 20% as a down payment, and would not loan more than three times the gross income of the borrowers.  Given the current average family income in this country of $55,000, that means most families could not borrow more than $165,000.  With a 20% downpayment ($40,000), they could afford a $200,000 home.  With interest at 5%, they would pay about $1000/month on the mortgage, which would be about 20% of their gross, an affordable amount.

Among the most critical changes in banking was the decision to loan 100% of the cost of a home, loan greatly in excess of three times the gross income of the borrower, and set teaser interest rates or convince buyers to take out a second with a five-year balloon, so that people ended up borrowing much larger amounts of money, owing as much as half their gross income just on the mortgage, and facing increased mortgage costs as the interest rates raised or the second balloon became due.

A home which previously sold for $250,000 was soon selling for $750,000, with the fed holding down interest rates and banks having essentially no restrictions on lending.  People didn’t even have to have jobs to get a loan and buy an expensive home. 

The CDO trick dreamed up by Wall Street was simply to take thousands of promissory notes from mortgages, blend them together and sell a percentage of the slush to investors who had no ability to determine whether the borrowers who owed the note were a good credit risk, or whether the note was in fact fully secured by a deed of trust on property with solid value.

Assume property sold for $500,000, dropped 40%, is now worth $300,000 (at most), and borrowers are in default.  Bank forecloses and incurs fees and expenses in doing so, then turns around and sell the house for $300,000, the fair market value.  You can see that it would make much more sense for the banks to go ahead and write down the loans, if the current residents/borrowers were able to pay the lower mortgage rate.  So why don’t they?  The fact is the banks keep expecting another big taxpayer-funded bailout from the federal government.  They want the government to come in and pay them $200,000 on that hypothetical loan before they will write it down.

What could the government do?  Cut a deal with local credit unions.  Get them to make loans to people who lose homes in foreclosure.  The foreclosure goes through and the current owners “bid” $300,000 for the house at the foreclosure sale, and they keep their home, now owning $300,000 to the credit union.  That’s what should and could happen.  But it won’t. 

Bank of America is beefing up staff right now to begin a major foreclosure push before the election, to force the politicians to buy these bad loans from them.  I bet they’ll get what they want.  After all, they own the politicians.

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By jimmmmmy, April 26, 2012 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

Mr. Scheer Like Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Hedges, because of their long and personal struggles with extremisms have developed a pundits form of PTSD that makes them shy a way from direct confrontation now that so many battles have been lost, and the left exists only as an idea in AMERIKA. The left has no charismatic leaders and most importantly no “soldiers” to give the movement any basis in reality. Obamacrats are not on the left to make myself clear.

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By caped amigo, April 26, 2012 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

You keep on yapping Robert. We need your “voice”. No informed person is looking
to you or truthdig for a silver bullet solution. We understand that nothing is going
to change until we replace the ruling corporate state with a just and meaningful
third party alternative. Just hope it occurs in my short lifetime.

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By jimmmmmy, April 26, 2012 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Leefeller. Out of Chaos comes change. Us fiddling around on the internet accomplishes nothing other than our own amusement. Enjoy it while you can, Chaos is a beast.

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By prisnersdilema, April 26, 2012 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Actually I really have a problem with this Article. It many ways it is the epitome of liberal
myopia, and collusion with conservative economic views.  Try to understand Mr. Scheer.

In point of fact the economy has not been lost for a decade, it’s been lost ever since
Ronald Reagan took office. Clinton was no better,  disowning the poor, approving
NAFTA, and repealing Glass Steagal. Average Americans did not share in the boom, but
sank lower.  With Bush, looting the economy for the wealthy was the order of the day.
He presided over a financial Cous D’etat.  ....Obama, was a slicker liar, nothing more his
crimes have been noted elsewhere.

All of these presidents, have been worthless, offering cosmetic, change while the
economy was slaughtered, for their political funding sources. If they had a conscience,
they would feel nothing but shame for what they have done, to this once great country.
They raped her, sold her out, then lied about it. 

A lost decade, no.. A lost economy, yes, sinking further each hour.  It’s long past time to
take a good look at the truth..

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By jimmmmmy, April 26, 2012 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

BrilliantBill.  I agree with you , but think you were a little harsh on Mr. Scheer who is providing us an lightly censored forum to air our compaints . Try posting a contentious statement to HuffPost. If the left had any young vibrant leaders I’m sure Mr. Scheer would have retired by now.

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By A Warren, April 26, 2012 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Third party candidates from the left side
of the spectrum should campaign to be on
the ballots in states that traditionally go
to the Republican candidate in our
Electoral College voting system.  Left
leaning voters in these states might be
more likely to vote for the third party
candidate since their vote for the
Democrats - AKA lesser of two evils - won’t
change the results of their state’s
electoral college.

As a citizen of a state that always goes
Republican, my vote for the Democrat is
meaningless anyway.  However, my vote for a
third party candidate would bolster that
third party’s standing in our national
discourse and assist that party in
receiving federal campaign funds in the
next election.  Unfortunately, the
libertarians are usually the only third
party candidates on the ballot.  Too bad
parties with left sensibilities don’t get
on the ballot.  They would get my vote.

Voters in Red states should back third
party candidates.  Anyone who is concerned
about what happened in 2000 in Florida,
should keep track of a close race and make
their decision based on that, but if it
isn’t even close, you should cast your vote
for someone who better represents your
interest.

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By blogdog, April 26, 2012 at 10:12 am Link to this comment

don’t need higher income taxes; need:

1.  Wall Street transaction tax - 1% on all turnover of investment instruments
2. downsizing and conversion of MIC from tooling for war to tooling for peace
3. federal investment in education, health and general welfare

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By Leefeller, April 26, 2012 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

bpawk, seems one of us feels entitled with a mind reading display of certainty expressing a knowing clue!  Yeah, Transylvania has vampires, don’t mean we can’t have them here argument will go over real well in opportunism ville! 

Thanks for cluing the whole thing up,... the USA is ready to emulate Scandinavian countries, will go over the money and power folks like higher taxes, the same 1 percent who manipulate an inordinate number of imbeciles to believe all others are pinko Socialist countries, those who are not US!

Great sales pitch bpawk, join the alleged left tongue in four cheeks crowd, preforming the conservative diss dance of divided enlightenment.

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By BrilliantBill, April 26, 2012 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

.
Is there some great insight here I’m missing? Looks like someone had to write a column, threw a few graphs together about how bad things are, then went home to a comfortable chair and a glass of nice wine. All is well with the world.

“Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon?” The painfully obvious answer is NO. Hell NO. If anyone did, they would do something about it.

As long as we all have our cell phones and can text away the idle hours of unemployment, who cares! Wearying of that we can turn on the big screen TV propped up on great granny’s old end table, drop back into the old green bean bag chair and laugh at those idiots on reality TV “shows.” And periodically, the rulers provide us with some spectacle, the NCAA “Final Four” March Madness, the “Super Bowl,” a good mass murder or even an old-fashioned car chase. The food stamps are still coming so we’ve got Hot Pockets and plenty of sugar water. Life is good. Maybe Ashton can get on at the 7-Eleven if she graduates from high school, and doesn’t get pregnant. All is well with the world.

Last fall a few young people expressed a little disappointment and said they cared. The intelligence arms of the ruling class rooted out all the particulars and made short work of them. Life goes on and all is well with the world again.

Have you heard the rumors on that next Apple iPhone? They say it’s made of liquid metal. Wow, can’t wait. All is well with the world.

Meanwhile, Mr. Scheer, keep publishing your well-meaning columns and ask people to vote for awards for your work. For your remaining years, all is well with the world.

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By HC, April 26, 2012 at 9:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another sobering piece from Robert Scheer, but I need to point out a couple of things: 1) the analysis falls short in that homeownership, the so-called “American Dream,” is in itself a fiction propped up by all sorts of subsidies, tax treatments, and economic externalities that have warped this economy (society too, for that matter, if you really want to get into it, such as land use); and 2) even if homeownership is to be held as a central tenet of this economy, then just how can people pay for their homes if the ability to pay for them, meaning their jobs, has disappeared due to the same political and financial charlatans who’ve profited immensely through “globalization” and NAFTA while selling the rest of us a bill of goods?

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By Eric L. Prentis, April 26, 2012 at 9:35 am Link to this comment

Financial markets are a mirror on the real economy.

President Obama and his Wall Street cronies spend the last four years painting the mirror, forgetting the real economy. Americans, when looking into this painted mirror say, “Wow, I look great. But, why do I feel so bad?”

Let us count the ways:
1. The $5 trillion dollars of national debt used painting the mirror has drastically reduced future options.
2. The housing market is moribund.
3. Unemployment remains very high and employment prospects are bleak.
4. Low interest rates are severely hurting demand and capital formation.
5. Zombie banks are harming the real economy
6. Inflation is high (about 6%) and real wages are declining.
7. Industrial production has not regained its prior high level, and is weak.
8. Greedy, selfish psychopathic criminals control the political process and the economy.
9. Fraud is rampant. Those who caused the credit crisis are NOT in prison.
10. Trust in our leaders is gone.

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By prosefights, April 26, 2012 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

While there’s strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor’s degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-2-graduates-jobless-underemployed-140300863.html

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By bpawk, April 26, 2012 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Leefeller,
Looks like for you we might as well let dogs and cats rule the world! Like most Americans, you don’t have a clue what happens outside your country - there’s other ways of governing - look to Canada with its third party system that work for both capitalists and progressives; look at the Scandinavian countries for the same type of thing ... as long as Americans believe they are the best and nobody else matters, the average American will suffer - other progressive countries change the system when it breaks down, Americans blame themselves because they think their country is so great.

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By Leefeller, April 26, 2012 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Wishing for a fairy godmother to fix things seems a bit far fetched. It is a well known fact politicians make promises they don’t keep for various reasons, so why would a third party candidate be any different?

Disenfranchisement is real, so is unfairness and inequality across the nation, it boils down to the people tightening their empty money belts and holding their breath until turning blue, then the new world order will have done its job and politicians the obscene opportunists they are will not change, for they are part of and the whores for those who are doing the disenfranchising.

Yeah, its the liberals, the progressives who are the problem, ask anyone who appears to need a goat for their cause, when the problem is really them!

Politics is the ugly bottom side of humanity, a game played by wealth and power, yeah right a third party showing its ugly bottom is going to solve that, probably end up being worse then Obama, so lets call it hope and change?

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By Alan MacDonald, April 26, 2012 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

“Halfway Through the Lost Decade Caused by the Empire”

Best,
Alan

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By prisnersdilema, April 26, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

The only thing that will turn this mess around is a complete political purge of both
houses of congress, and a rejection of both political parties at the poles.

Otherwise, this country will continue to circle around the drain. Going around and
around in circles, gives the illusion of movement, but that is all.

Both parties, will continue to sell their peak delusions, but they become increasingly
irrelevant. One answer seems at this point local grass root efforts to change at the
community level.

It we continue going this way, whether housing comes back or not, it won’t matter,
because America will be gone. DOA, while the world leaves us its table scraps. We will
know the answer in much less than the 10 more years it will take to hit bottom in the
housing market. 

As to Obama, you can’t get anything from him except more political magic, sleight of
hand, and making the money disappear like a rabit in a bankers hat…

He is a smiling liar, and a banker stooge.

He has supported the corporate state just the same as Bush did, and for that reason
alone, he must be rejected.

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By Bill Desmond, April 26, 2012 at 7:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The rest of the civilized world has long ago discovered
Social Democracy.
Those of us that have, await with hope the United
States’ entry into the 21st century.
Or your continued descent into poverty, greed,
violence, racism and chaos.
We’re not holding our breath.

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By sofianitz, April 26, 2012 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

“Does anyone care that the economy is floundering and that we are not getting out of this crisis anytime soon?”

Yeah, Bob, we care.  What is most disconcerting is that neither you, or anybody else on the left has suggested anything remotely feasible that we can do about it. Highway 1968, revisited. Perhaps you haven’t noticed that you just sit around and yap like a dog,  without the slightest suggestion of a political program or approach that it is in any way feasible or workable.

Maybe the only alternative is totalitarianism, and it’s coming, soon enough, though that prospect is pretty tough for us to face, eh Robert?  Better to put your neck back in the sand, and write another complaining blog.

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By bpawk, April 26, 2012 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Why does the writer always go back to the fold (Dems) after spending years criticizing them between elections? Why doesn’t he argue for a third party that is not elitist? Why do people have to hit rock bottom before they make a change?

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By Jeff N., April 26, 2012 at 7:08 am Link to this comment

“Beneath all the pundit blather about the election lies the fact that most deeply affects the voters’ well-being: Home prices are at a decade low”

Not sure how you arrive at that conclusion Mr. Scheer.  The usual doom-and-gloom commentary backed up with zero viable economic solutions to the problem is not going to help your crusade for the webby award my friend.

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By Devon J. Noll, MPA, April 26, 2012 at 6:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Scheer, you recently wrote about the damage that the Clinton Administration did, with the help of a GOP controlled Congress, in setting the stage for the debacle we now find ourselves in.  Maybe instead of looking at what has happened, maybe we should be calling for the arrest and conviction of the politicians who devised and implemented this plan for the corporations:  Bill Clinton, Dennis Hastert, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, George W. Bush, Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Mitch McConnell, Ben Nelson, Barney Frank, Chuck Grassley, Phil Gramm, and on and on.  Maybe we can then get a political will that will arrest and convict the bankers and CEOs who played so fast and loose with America’s financial freedom, like Mitt Romney, Jamie Diamond, and all the rest of the speculators posing as responsible executives. 

Right, like that would ever happen, as long as the media writes pandering pieces and does not tell the public the truth, not even here.  Until someone starts telling the people the truth, puts down falsehoods for what they are, stops selling pie-in-the-sky stories that do not call out the true villains and start demanding justice loud and clear, and until someone tells this president that he is the president, not Bill Clinton, and to clean house of the very people who caused this mess to begin with, nothing is going to change.

But, perhaps most importantly, until the American people stop voting in people to office who are not career politicians and who have common sense, until people demand education for future generations include civics, the Constitution, economics, and US History - not religion and fake science, then very little is going to change.  We have embraced stupidity in our electorate, once free, now controlled by media hacks and corporations who tell us what to think and what to say and what to do.  No longer are our votes ours, they are for sale to the one with the best ad campaign.  Mr. Scheer, you want something to be done?  I wish you luck - no one cares anymore because to care you have to understand what being an American means, and even that was taken away by George W. Bush and GOP when they turned being a Patriot into being a Bully, and being American into being a Silent Fool who just nods his/her head and does what they are told by a corrupt government and a corrupt media.

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By csavage, April 26, 2012 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just halfway thru the “lost decade”? Not hardly….the elements that made the “lost decade” are still in place. American borrowing is up again. Student debt is sky-high and much of the debt was assumed while these kids were earning degrees in fields of study where there is no demand for their services-business, finance, accounting, etc. While I don’t deny the role of CDOs in the market crash, you can’t deny the amount of household debt that was incurred by consumers borrowing “125% of their home’s value” with companies like Ditech-as if their home’s value was the tax appraisal instead of the actual housing market. Our housing market will continue to be soft as long as the market is overbuilt as badly as it was in 2008. There is far more health in the economy than people like to admit-people are still spending billions on porn, gambling, and gaming. Our priorities are screwed up and have been for some time. Call it the decadence of the west…

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