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Drowning Liberty

November 16, 2009

“Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Liberty, she’s going down.

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    November 16, 2009 9:46 am

    American Expats: Take China seriously, educate U.S. workers

    Interesting article about Americans who have outsourced to China for work and their perceptions of the emergence of China. The article also reveals that Barbie has been Shanghai’d. Literally. Perhaps its a good thing, though I’ve always felt Barbie should be dispensed as a plastic fantastic relic of the past.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 16, 2009 1:44 pm

      All of those suggestions about what Americans need to learn sound pretty good whether China is on the verge of kicking our ass or not. Something needs to be done to reverse the stupid infecting this country, that’s for sure.

      And China sounds like a great place for Barbie. Maybe they’ll come up with Personal Hygiene Barbie, complete with Chinese toothpaste. The squidlet got taken along on a shopping trip this weekend and evidently she was eyeing the barbies at the department store, much to my chagrin.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    November 16, 2009 9:48 am

    Roubini reassesses the unemployment picture and he says its not looking good for the next couple of years at the least.

    The Worst is yet to Come: Unemployed Americans Should Hunker Down for More Job Losses

    Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.

    While losing 200,000 jobs per month is better than the 700,000 jobs lost in January, current job losses still average more than the per month rate of 150,000 during the last recession.

    Also, remember: The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

    So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

    There’s really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 16, 2009 2:10 pm

      About those shovel-ready labor-intensive infrastructure projects. Sounds like a good idea, so why the hell aren’t any being done? Instead we get promises from politicians of a stimulus, they throw a bunch of money around, mutter “green shoots” a few times and call it a day. But it isn’t as if we are lacking for projects or for people who need work. The bridge collapse in Minnesota a few years ago brought attention to our crumbling infrastructure but I’m just not seeing much done about it in my area at least. The only projects I see are to widen small stretches of existing highways near toll booths to accommodate more tourons and noise barriers being put up between highways and residential neighborhoods at tremendous expense so a handful of people will hear less traffic. Not exactly burning needs if you ask me.

      Meanwhile things like this bridge across Lake Champlain continue to fall apart. Now the bridge is closed and people in towns on both sides are suffering because the bridge was pretty much the only way for people on either side of the lake to get they-ah from he-ah. Officials knew the bridge was crumbling but didn’t immediately do anything about it.

      HNTB’s report notes repairs to the cracked piers were recommended after the 2005 inspection. Those repairs were not immediately done, but were anticipated as part of a future rehabilitation of the bridge.

      DOT Chief Engineer Bob Dennison said the deterioration escalated dramatically.

      “The cracking in 2005 wasn’t troubling,” he said. “The acceleration demonstrates a dramatic increase.”

      Those who depend on the bridge have shaken their heads in wonder at why officials weren’t doing more frequent inspections and repairs, given the 2005 report. Dennison defended the work, saying the state knew that, overall, the bridge was in rough shape and had started plans to rehabilitate or replace it in 2013.

      Stuff like this just leaves me shaking my head.

      • Stemella permalink*
        November 16, 2009 2:29 pm

        I’m seeing the same thing in my area. Sidewalks being installed at a snail’s pace in areas where no one actually walks or would want to walk, as make work projects, when there are other roads nearby crumbling with potholes and swamping with rains due to inadequate drainage. Meanwhile the schools are becoming armed prisons and the prisons are becoming private capitalist ventures. Misplaced priorities and mismanagement abounds.

        I have little confidence that Team O will get a handle on the joblessness situation. I’m sure they will attempt to spin it positively in any case.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    November 16, 2009 10:02 am

    In just moments the SEIU will stage a protest at Cephalopod Central (Goldman Sux HQ in DC – hat tip ZH)

    Here’s a link
    High noon: Goldman Sachs

    Enough is enough. Join hundreds of taxpayers on November 16th, when we demand that Goldman Sachs give its $23 billion in bonuses to foreclosure prevention programs and press Congress to implement rules that would protect Americans from big bank greed.

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 16, 2009 2:05 pm

      Here’s video of the protest. Few in number but loud and boisterous. I loved the woman in red. My sentiments exactly.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 16, 2009 2:14 pm

        You read my mind. I was just about to make a comment wondering if any video of the event was available yet.

        Fuck ’em up!

        • Stemella permalink*
          November 16, 2009 2:31 pm

          Did you notice the vampire squid costume at about 11 seconds in? It’s kind of a red cone with tentacles and a black cape. Haha!

  4. cometman permalink*
    November 16, 2009 10:44 am

    Whaddya know – Drug Makers Raise Prices in Face of Health Care Reform . Is there anyone surprised to see this after Obama and the Democrats have made it clear that the government will not negotiate for lower drug prices in any new health care plan, just like George W did?

    In the last year, the industry has raised the wholesale prices of brand-name prescription drugs by about 9 percent, according to industry analysts. That will add more than $10 billion to the nation’s drug bill, which is on track to exceed $300 billion this year. By at least one analysis, it is the highest annual rate of inflation for drug prices since 1992.

    ~snip~

    Drug makers say they have valid business reasons for the price increases. Critics say the industry is trying to establish a higher price base before Congress passes legislation that tries to curb drug spending in coming years.

    I’m with the critics, except I don’t believe Congress is even trying to curb spending on drug prices and the companies are raising prices simply because they can with no consequences whatsoever.

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 16, 2009 11:14 am

      Sickening. Congress is worthless to us. We should boycott big Pharma and propagate our own pharmaceutical companies.

      Portland (the warmer one) is off to a good start :)

      Portland Gets Its Very Own Cannabis Cafe

      NORML legalization petitions were among the very first petitions I signed upon becoming a legal aged voter.

      • cometman permalink*
        November 17, 2009 7:13 am

        Maine just passed a medical Mary Jane law so maybe we can get one of those cafes too. Just reading about it makes me feel sick, like I need some kind of medication :)

        • Stemella permalink*
          November 17, 2009 7:22 am

          Yes, I know that feeling too. Unfortunately rather than taking my medicine I have to go earn some bucks to afford the medicine at a later time. :( On the other hand, I’m grateful to have the work.

          Have a great day!

  5. cometman permalink*
    November 16, 2009 10:52 am

    here’s another one that is simply shocking, SHOCKING! Who would have thunk that the fucked up financial institutions the taxpayers bailed out wouldn’t be able to pay back the money?!?!?!?!

    A year ago, the financial system was tottering and government officials arranged a $2.3 billion emergency cash infusion into CIT Group, a troubled lender to small businesses.

    Today, CIT is in bankruptcy court, and the taxpayers’ investment is on the brink of being wiped out. It would be the largest loss so far from the government’s massive rescue of the financial system, but it isn’t likely to be the last.

    Officials poured about $700 billion into investments in scores of companies, from giants such as the automaker General Motors and the insurer American International Group to smaller regional banks. Of them, 46 had missed required dividend payments to the government as of the end of September, according to the inspector general overseeing the program.

    On Nov. 6, United Commercial Bank of San Francisco failed, becoming the first recipient of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, to collapse. The cost to taxpayers: $299 million.

    But hey, I’m sure it’s nothing another round of “stress tests” can’t fix….

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 16, 2009 11:07 am

      Yeah, shocking (stretch, yawn) I’m shocked out of my skin. ;) A couple of the bank failures on the last two Fridays (there were 3 more this last week) were also TARP recipients and we won’t be seeing any of that money back either. One was a biggy from Calif.

      Why does this administration even pretend anymore?

      There’s a good TARP related post at Naked Capitalism today Of Course, Treasury Wants To Hang on to TARP Money

  6. cometman permalink*
    November 16, 2009 11:18 am

    Nice excerpt from a new book by the Economic Hit man John Perkins – Poverty, Global Trade Justice, and the Roots of Terrorism .

    Nowhere did the Times—or any of the other media outlets that I read, heard, or saw—attempt to analyze the roots of the problem in Somalia. Debates abounded about whether to arm ships’ crews and send more Navy vessels to the region. There was that vague reference to reconstituting regional and national institutions, but what exactly did the author mean by that? Institutions that would truly help, like free hospitals, schools, and soup kitchens? Or local militias, prisons, and Gestapo-style police forces?

    The pirates were fishermen whose livelihoods had been destroyed. They were fathers whose children were hungry. Ending piracy would require helping them live sustainable, dignified lives. Could journalists not understand this? Had none of them visited the slums of Mogadishu?

    He also mentions the origin of the word “boogeyman”. Sounds like a good book.

  7. Stemella permalink*
    November 16, 2009 2:11 pm

    More recent news on Goldie Sux from Max Keiser

    surreal and yet real, wow

    • cometman permalink*
      November 17, 2009 7:33 am

      Good video. I got curious about Press TV and looked them up. Maybe you knew this already but they are the first international news network from Iran and funded by the Iranian government.

  8. Stemella permalink*
    November 17, 2009 6:24 am

    Two from the NYTimes

    Trouble at home, evidence of the pain
    Hunger in U.S. at a 14-Year High

    The number of Americans who lived in households that lacked consistent access to adequate food soared last year, to 49 million, the highest since the government began tracking what it calls “food insecurity” 14 years ago, the Department of Agriculture reported Monday.

    Timmeh the Elvin in trouble? Doubtful. We’ve known the jist of this story for a while from other sources, but now it is official by government audit. Will there be any change in behavior as a result? Again, doubtful.
    Audit Faults New York Fed in A.I.G. Bailout

    The Federal Reserve Bank of New York gave up much of its power in high-pressure negotiations with the American International Group’s trading partners last year, according to a government report made public on Monday.

    Just two days before the New York Fed paid A.I.G.’s partners 100 cents on the dollar to tear up their contracts with the insurance giant, one bank volunteered to take a modest haircut — but it never got the chance.

    snip

    There have been suggestions that the Fed chose to negotiate weakly, Mr. Barofsky said, to give a “backdoor bailout” to A.I.G.’s banks. He said Mr. Geithner and the Fed’s lawyers had denied this, but added that “irrespective of their stated intent,” there was no doubt about the result: “Tens of billions of dollars of government money was funneled inexorably and directly to A.I.G.’s counterparties.”

    • cometman permalink*
      November 17, 2009 7:42 am

      The NYT article mentions that “Rising food prices, too, might have played a role.” Really???? You think??? Seems like groceries cost more and more every time we go to the store. I’ve noticed that our grocery store doesn’t carry good steaks like t-bones much anymore, probably because they are so expensive nobody buys them. And yet the liars and damn liars who produce government statistics tell us that the CPI went down last year which is why they can’t give a cost of living increase for Social Security. Rrrrrrrrrrrr.

  9. Stemella permalink*
    November 17, 2009 6:28 am

    And one more.

    U.S. Says Kuwait Company Overbilled It by Millions for Troops’ Food

    A Kuwaiti company defrauded the United States government of tens of millions of dollars by exaggerating the cost of providing food to troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan, federal prosecutors here said Monday.

    The prosecutors charged the business, the Public Warehousing Company, with six counts of fraud, saying it had “grossly overcharged” the military. The prosecutors would not provide an exact dollar amount for what they thought was the total extent of the fraud, saying the investigation was continuing.

    The company, which changed its name to Agility in 2006, has received $8.5 billion in contracts from the Department of Defense since 2003, and is one of the largest service providers to American troops in the Middle East.

    Lovely.

    When are they going to investigate and report all the fraud perpetrated by KBR and Halliburton, hmmm?

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