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February 16, 2012 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Does Rick Santorum want to go back to 19th century capitalism?

In his speech after the Iowa Republican Primary, Rick Santorum told a moving story about his grandfather, who came to the United States as an immigrant from Italy. He had to work long hours in a coal mine (probably 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 days a week), and wasn’t even paid in cash, but in company coupons. He had to live in a shack. His wages were so low that it took him five years to save enough money to pay for the ticket to bring his son to join him. This was apparently before there was Social Security, because he said his grandfather worked in the mine until he was 72! I was waiting for him to say “and he liked it!” But he did say that the source of our economic problems is that it costs 20% more to produce goods in the U.S. than in the countries that are our top 9 trading partners. Only 20%? It must be an average, because I’d guess it must cost about 50% more to produce goods in the U.S. than in China, and 60% more than in Haiti or Guatemala. Whatever the case may be, Mr. Santorum said the reason for this was…. government regulations! One can only assume he wants workers to live like his grandfather did, and workers in some developing countries do today, before there was overtime pay, a minimum wage, safety regulations, child labor laws, environmental protection laws, paid holidays, health insurance and social security, so that American companies can produce goods as cheaply as workers in any sweatshop anywhere in the world.

Or we could accept the fact that there are imbalances between the world’s economies, that we can’t possibly compete with countries where workers make $100 a month (for working 70+ hours a week), and not only put tariffs into place to protect American companies (and workers), but also require that imported goods be produced under the same labor and environmental conditions as in the U.S. (and give a preference to goods produced in countries with higher standards, like in Europe). We also need to penalize American companies that move production overseas, by restricting their access to the U.S. market. We are still the biggest market in the world (except for automobiles, more are sold in China now). Everyone wants access to U.S. consumers. That gives us a huge amount of leverage that we can use to uplift those whose working conditions are (or were) almost unimaginable for American workers. Workers in their 20’s who are fired after being crippled for life due to workplace accidents. Workers who die in their thirties from being poisoned in the workplace. Communities blighted by toxic waste. Sawdust and who knows what else in our sausages. Orphans living in the streets. Old people begging for food. Workers committing suicide to protest their intolerable working conditions. Union organizers murdered. Strikers fired upon by the national guard. Look around at the developing countries of the world. Do we really want to go back to those days?

January 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

Militarism at the top of the Democratic Party

Stephen Zunes writes about militarism among leaders of the Democratic Party in his article “Iraq: Remembering Those Responsible”:

“Even after the lies about the alleged Iraqi ties to Al-Qaeda and alleged “weapons of mass destruction” were revealed as such, most supporters of the war continued to rationalize for the invasion and occupation.  Democratic Senators John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Biden and others continued to defend their decision to vote to authorize the war even after acknowledging the absence of WMDs or Al-Qaeda ties, thereby effectively admitting that their vote was not about defending the United States, but ultimately about oil and empire.

Given the tragic consequences of the war, one would have thought it would have ruined their political careers. Instead, many of them were rewarded.

Though only a minority of Congressional Democrats voted to authorize the war in 2002 and even though a large majority of Democrats nationally opposed the war, the Democratic Party chose to nominate two unrepentant war supporters – Kerry and Edwards – as their nominees for president and vice-president.  As a result, many of us who opposed the right of the United States (or any nation) to engage in such aggressive wars refused to support the Kerry-Edwards ticket and, not surprisingly, they lost a narrow election as a result.

Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination and ultimately the presidency four years later on his promise not just to end the Iraq War, but to “end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.”  However, he ended up appointing supporters of the Iraq War to most of his key foreign policy and national security positions, including his Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security, Chief of Staff, and Vice-President from among the right-wing minority of Democrats who supported Bush’s policy.

Meanwhile, pro-war Democrats in Congress continue to dominate such key positions as Senate Majority Leader, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Assistant House Minority Leader, and ranking members of other key House committees.

In effect, like the Republicans, the Democratic Party is willing to effectively reward failure.

And many of these Democrats are joining like-minded Republicans in threatening a new war with Iran.”

Full article at:

January 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm Leave a comment

FDA caves on antibiotics in animal feed, proving that lobbyists still rule Washington

The Food and Drug Administration, in a stealth, holiday season announcement in the Federal Register, has decided not to move to restrict the feeding of human antibiotics to healthy farm animals. Instead of following the advice of researchers, who point to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria in livestock, it has decided to… let the industry regulate itself! I’m sorry, I thought George Bush wasn’t president anymore. Do they realize that people are dying from eating food with antibiotic resistant bacteria? According to a story in The Guardian (a British paper that covers the stories the American media seem to overlook), 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to farm animals.

“A growing number of scientific and medical institutions have urged action on antibiotic resistance. The World Health Organisation devoted a WHO day to microbial resistance. In September, several institutions, including the American Medical Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, wrote a letter to Congress, calling for them to to reiterate the link between antibiotic resistance and the overuse of antibiotics in food animals.

“Hundreds of scientific studies conducted over four decades have shown that feeding low doses of antibiotics to healthy food animals leads to drug-resistant infections in people,” they wrote in an ad. “In fact, America’s leading medical, scientific and public health organizations have been warning of the danger for years.””

The European Union banned the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in healthy farm animals in 2006. But the FDA, which has waited 33 years to decide the issue, has decided not to take action. Whose government is this?

December 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

White House: No evidence of aliens

In response to a petition submitted on the Obama administration’s “We the People” website (“Your voice in our (sic) government”) , Phil Larson of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy has replied, “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”!/response/searching-et-no-evidence-yet

However, scores of former government employees and military personnel have reported sightings of alien craft:

So someone is lying……

And at least one former astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, who walked on the moon, believes there has been a cover-up:

December 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

Why you shouldn’t vote for Ron Paul

First off, let me say that I agree with Ron Paul on ending U.S. occupations of other countries and cutting military spending to actual defense levels. But in my opinion, his economic plan would be a disaster for most of the American people. Here’s why:

According to Zachary Roth, Paul wants to:

Cut the official corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. I say “official” because as I mentioned in a previous post, the actual tax rate paid by most corporations is about 18%.

Extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Eliminate the estate tax (which only falls on estates of $1,000,000 or more)! This is an inheritance tax you pay when someone leaves you (a lot of) money. No tax at all????

He wants LESS regulation of Wall Street and corporations by getting rid of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate governance law passed after the Enron scandal!

He wants to make Social Security and Medicare optional. This may sound like a good idea to some, but in countries that have this system (like Japan for example) guess what happens? You have lots of destitute old people who chose not to pay into the system living on the streets and depending on charity.

Why do I oppose these things? Well, we have a clear choice for our future. Do we want to continue to go in the direction of many less developed countries with huge disparities in wealth, and have a small elite living in gated communities with private security, while most of the population lives in poverty? Or do we want to have a society where everyone is on the same team? If you compare the quality of life in a country like Norway to life in a country like Haiti, you’ll soon see that life in Norway is better for everyone (except for the weather).

Specifically, we should tax those who can afford to be taxed without a lot of pain. If a corporation pays taxes on its profits, or the wealthy on their income, or beneficiaries on huge inheritances, these people are not going to miss a meal, skip medical or dental treatment, drive their car on bald tires, or lose their home, a situation that all too many Americans find themselves in. I’m not saying they should be taxed to the point that they actually have to live like the rest of us, but hey, is 20% really unreasonable? That’s like a nice tip. You can still afford to keep the yacht, the Mercedes and the Rolex, and you’re much less likely to have your kids held for ransom by gangs, which is a serious problem in some of the countries Paul seems to want to emulate.

Now, less regulation on corporations and Wall Street??? Are you kidding? Surely he’s kidding. Does he also favor less regulation of organized crime?

Finally, Social Security and Medicare. The best way to run Social Security is to run it like a real pension fund and carefully and professionally invest the surplus (and there have been huge surpluses). And national health insurance would actually be good for the economy, because it cuts waste (over-treatment by doctors who are in it for the money) and because it is much, much, much cheaper to treat diseases in the early stages than when the person is dying from lack of medical care. And the health system could negotiate huge volume discounts from suppliers. And you don’t have to pay the corporate profits of layers of middlemen. And you’re less likely to get infected by sick people who are staggering around untreated. And it works. Canada, England and France all have it, they spend a lot less than we do, and no one dies from a tooth infection.

Here’s the story on Ron Paul’s proposals:

December 22, 2011 at 9:59 am Leave a comment

Will President Obama sign away our Constitutional rights?

Jim Garrison outlines the attack on the constitutional rights of American citizens since the 9/11 attacks, and warns that Obama’s signature on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act could be decisive:

“What is at stake is more than the Constitution itself, as central as that document has been to the American experiment in democracy. What is a stake is nothing short of the basic fundamentals of western jurisprudence. Central to civilized law is the notion that a person cannot be held without a charge and cannot be detained indefinitely without a trial. These principles date back to Greco-Roman times, were developed by English common law beginning in 1215 with the Magna Carta, and were universalized by the Enlightenment in the century before the American Constitution and Bill of Rights were fought for and adopted as the supreme law of the land.”

December 15, 2011 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

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