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On the eve of this G-20 gathering, let’s look at a few facts. Fact, the world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history. The richest 2% own more than half the household wealth in the world. The richest 10% hold 85% of total global assets and the bottom half of humanity owns less than 1% of the wealth in the world. The three richest men in the world have more money than the poorest 48 countries.

The words are from Maude Barlow, head of the Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization, and a founder of the Blue Planet Project. She opposes the G-20.   She spoke to a gathering of activists in Massey Hall who gathered in opposition to the summit.  

You can read the source of the quote here, where they were reproduced on Friday from Amy Goodman's Democracy, Now!.

A few more facts offered by Barlow:

2009 saw another 34 million added to the global unemployment, now at 239 million.   another 64 million will be added to those roles this year.

But we could bail out Wall Street and equivalent financial institutions around the world.

Or this:  

By 2030, more than half the population of the megacities of the Global South will be slumdwellers with no access to education, health care, water, or sanitation. Fact, global climate change is rapidly advancing, claiming at least 300,000 lives and $125 billion in damages every year.

One more:  

Fact, we are polluting our lakes, rivers and streams to death. Every day, two million tons of sewage and industrial agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water. That’s the equivalent of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people. The amount of waste water produced annually is about six times more water than exists in all the rivers of the world. We are minding our ground water faster than we can replenish it, sucking it to grow water guzzling chemical-fed crops in deserts or to water thirsty cities who dump an astounding 700 trillion liters of land-based water into oceans every year as waste.

We are destroying our planet.  We are condemning billions to a wretched existence.  We are seeing obscene accumulations of wealth and power that could only have been imagined in previous generations, simultaneously denying a future, hope, possibility to those left behind.

Today I should not be blogging.  Today I have to work on an essay review on how our educational policy is destroying the educational system and thereby the hope for millions of children in this nation, those whose parents lack money and power, who are often either children of color in inner cities and barrios, but who could be white, black or hispanic in rural communities into which the wealth and benefits of the American economy never seem to reach.

We have much to do to address the increasing inequality within our nation.  

We cannot forget that it is the policies of our government, which empower transnational corporate interests - ours and those of other nations - that are behind the acceleration of the inequity, the increase of suffering, the destruction of what should be the common heritage of all mankind.

I cannot easily summarize all of the points Barlow makes.  The general thrust of her argument should not surprise anyone reading my words, which are posted at a web site in which almost all of them have been addressed in some fashion over the recent years.  

Yet still her words contain power, because she ties together so much.

we can spend trillions on wars of choice, perhaps justifying our continued military endeavor in Afghanistan not so much because of Al Qaeda or even the Taliban, but rather because of the potential trillions in mineral wealth not purportedly identified within that nation.

We know where that will lead.  It will lead to more conflict, more accumulation of power and wealth, more disruption of the lives and communities of those who stand in the way of the development of those resources.  We have seen this with oil, we are now seeing it with water, and with food.  

the world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history -  and that we live in a so-called wealthy country will not protect us, not most of us, when those who have already become obscenely rich are allowed to continue to control the political and economic processes to their benefit while most Americans benefit not.  

Perhaps we need to go back to another time, to the 1930s, to the words of Florence Reece, as sung by Pete Seeger:  

The words may have been written on behalf of the UMW coal miners.  Think more broadly.  Think of all those who still have not.  Think of all those at risk of losing what they have.  

Think of those unwilling to pay taxes they can well afford, and simultaneously unwilling to let the government borrow to help those at risk survive, and then ask yourself:  Which side are you on?

This is a global issue.  It is an issue of basic morality.  

We must choose, for even to remain silent is to choose -  to support those who are Rich and Powerful and seemingly do not care about the rest of us, the billions who have not and are losing even what they did have -  no job, no income, no unemployment compensation . . .  then soon no home.  This is what we confront at home.  

And around the world?  No education, little water or food, still less hope.

The world is divided -   which side are we on?

I should be doing other things.  I will do that to which I have committed myself.

But I could not simply read and move on.  I felt I had to use the opportunity to call the words of Maude Barlow to the attention of others who might not have encountered them.

Having read - and listened to - her words, I do not find myself at Peace.

What about you?

Originally posted to teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:32 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  perhaps someone can do a better job (155+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, SarahLee, NYCee, Geenius at Wrok, emal, tommurphy, Stein, devtob, BenGoshi, Cassandra77, Agathena, wader, Texknight, TexDem, Chirons apprentice, Sychotic1, RebeccaG, lcrp, barbwires, DMiller, side pocket, Kitsap River, lyvwyr101, Daddy Bartholomew, snowbird42, TexMex, bobdevo, sandblaster, disrael, Paul Goodman, offred, Flint, Irons33, Annalize5, LABobsterofAnaheim, GreyHawk, Burned, paxpdx, FightTheFuture, FindingMyVoice, Pluto, JanL, xaxnar, third Party please, elliott, buddabelly, MissInformation, highfive, Clytemnestra, Opakapaka, dopper0189, tonyahky, Gorette, koNko, buckstop, anastasia p, blueoasis, cnmbfa, MarciaJ720, ER Doc, Randian, profh, Cassiodorus, blueoregon, airmarc, mariachi mama, Aaa T Tudeattack, tegrat, bigchin, Drama Queen, One Pissed Off Liberal, timewarp, dotsright, jessical, Cat Whisperer, godislove, grelinda, Jimdotz, ezdidit, LamontCranston, DWG, joyful, aliasalias, Uberbah, millwood, pioneer111, LWelsch, on the cusp, rmonroe, bkamr, Justus, RickMassimo, bythesea, Cat Servant, minerva1157, jamess, beltane, Cassandra Waites, TH Seed, rubine, Abra Crabcakeya, luckylizard, Quilldriver, In her own Voice, dreamghost, cameoanne, Dirtandiron, greengemini, Pariah Dog, thomasjefferson33, bsmechanic, be the change you seek, maryabein, viet vet, War on Error, shopkeeper, beijingbetty, DClark4129, allep10, rubthorn, Dragon5616, collardgreens, miss SPED, estreya, legalchic, Eddie L, AbominableAllStars, Egalitare, JRandomPoster, farbuska, Vik in FL, anafreeka, Im a frayed knot, DoubleT, sabo33, freesia, BlueJessamine, the national gadfly, marleycat, dle2GA, tardis10, Vtdblue, corvaire, svboston, siduri, Book of Hearts, Ezekial 23 20, RockyLabor, Dom9000, Patric Juillet, dance you monster, AnnieR, congenitalefty, Frisbeetarian

    of writing this up.  That does not free me from my responsibility, which is having encountered the words of Barlow, attempting to ensure that at least a few other people also encountered them.

    Our media does not tell us about things like this.  We have to communicate among ourselves, educating one another.

    So I took 30 minutes out of a busy day.  Not enough, to be sure, but better than nothing.

    Which side are we on?   Might not that be a question we must now confront?

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:32:11 AM PDT

    •  That essay you're writing (11+ / 0-)

      on educational inequity -- may we see it when you're done?

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:42:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  unortunately, I cannot share (22+ / 0-)

        it is headed for a peer-reviewed process.

        And to say educational inequity is somewhat limiting - it is examining several important books about educational policy for what they have to tell us, much of which is how what we are doing is perpetuating educational inequity.  

        I have a lot of work to get it down on paper today and tomorrow, and then to heavily edit and rewrite.

        Which is to what I now turn.

        Peace.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:45:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But it'll be published eventually, right? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allep10

          I'd appreciate a reference when it is.

          Also, I do moonlight as an editor, can provide references, and would be happy to dig through it in confidence and pro bono if you want an eye cast on it. I have three dissertation chapters from two different authors that I'm slogging through today, as well as a draft of an article for a liturgical magazine (yet another author), but could find the time to do this in the next few days.

          In any case, I'll keep an eye out for notice of your article's publication.

          "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

          by paxpdx on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:00:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  my inhouse editor (spouse) very skilled (8+ / 0-)

            she used to edit the text that went up on Library of Congress website.  She is skilled both as a writer and an editor.  She is out of town until Tuesday, which gives me today and tomorrow to at lest complete the 1st draft and start cleaning it up.

            Then is will go to peer review.

            Have about 2600 words down, having addressed one of three books I am dealing with in this essay review.

            Have some mental notes on changes needed to what i hve already written, and may insert them as parentheticals for now.

            Next 4000 is addressing two books about which I have already written reviews, from which i can at least in part draw from that previous work, although not precisely.  

            And beginning to see how I can tie it all together.

            wrote 2,000 words or so this morning.  Given myself a break for about an hour until returning.

            I presume that once I have been through the iterations of peer review it will be published.

            And I have five other books I have promised to review for one place or another in next 6 weeks.

            And then there is the possibility of a book proposal -  I have been approached by a well-respected editor for a well-respected house.  Cannot say more than that now.  But if her publisher is willing to explore further, I think I may finally be at the point where I am willing to try taking on something in longer form.

            Thanks for the offer.

            "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

            by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:07:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very good (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TexDem, buddabelly, allep10

              It's a standing offer; sounds like you have an excellent resource at hand, though.

              The person whose my primary "employer" for editing has his first book coming out in August from a major religious press. His first article was published about six years ago, much to his surprise, as he never thought of himself as a writer. Article #100 will be published in October, I think. (He picked up a monthly column a few years back, as well as a couple more regular venues.) He's still a little surprised by it all. :)

              These things start simply, but I believe there's a hunger for work with real substance these days. You see it here for the posts you share, but I'm glad you're reaching a wider audience now as well. You're doing important work - thanks for doing it.

              "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

              by paxpdx on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:17:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  teacherken -- (58+ / 0-)

      we have an economic SYSTEM which supports 793 billionaires while marginalizing a bottom half of the human race which lives on less than $2.50/day.  We call it "capitalism" because it grants power to capital -- i.e. that tiny elite which owns the means of production and can thus buy the services of government.  Business as usual means sales, which realizes the profits made through the exploitation of labor in the manner described in volume 1 of Marx's Capital.

       Democracy has become an insurance policy for them, because all the people really do in terms of "democratic participation" is to talk the discourse the media elites promote and elect the leaders the political classes choose, thus elite control extends to the political sphere as well.  Democracy, then, clears the roads of popular revolt so that the elites can restructure the world for their rule.  

      Any first step, then, to a saner world would imply that we willingly choose to promote, in thought and deed, a different system, in which public control of economic decisions triumphs over oligarchic control.  In the meantime the oligarchies have no answer for the dismantling of Earth's ecosystems as a byproduct of what they themselves call business as usual.

      "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:09:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  spot on. n/t (11+ / 0-)

        "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

        by bigchin on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:30:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The truth of this: (16+ / 0-)

        from your post...

        Democracy has become an insurance policy for them, because all the people really do in terms of "democratic participation" is to talk the discourse the media elites promote and elect the leaders the political classes choose, thus elite control extends to the political sphere as well.  Democracy, then, clears the roads of popular revolt so that the elites can restructure the world for their rule.  

        Any first step, then, to a saner world would imply that we willingly choose to promote, in thought and deed, a different system, in which public control of economic decisions triumphs over oligarchic control [... ]

        It is precisely because of the powerful truth of your words, there  - the strength of the oligarchical reality against the weakness of our 'democratic' ability to change that truth - that I cannot find any response to this relentless dilemma that is more appropriate than a radical one to have a mass movement of no more vote - one that rejects the sham/e (I meant to type "sham" but when the "e" sprang into the word, it was not without merit!) our 'democratic' voice has become.

        How many more times will we go thru the motions, take the bucket to the well, the bucket with a hole in the bottom, and pretend it will serve us to fill it up - cast our vote for our democratically elected leaders to serve our best interests?

        This came to mind as I thought of that bucket, from Bob Marley:

        Ev'ry day the bucket a-go-a well
        One day the bottom a-go drop out
        One day the bottom a-go drop out

        The bottom hasnt dropped out yet (beyond repair) but that's where we are headed and we are close.

        The message quoted from Maude Barlow, spread by TK, here, is simply one more attempt to get us to see the writing on the wall.

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:13:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Look at vote boycott movements (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rubine

          I see the larger ones I know something about (Mexico 2006, Honduras 2009) as actually counterproductive. YMMV.

          Voting isn't even 5% of being a responsible citizen, let alone an activist. In many cases it's a sham, and sometimes there's not even a lesser evil choice available. But I still prefer voting to not voting.

          Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

          by homunq on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:41:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If enough people boycotted voting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          to make a difference, they would make even more of a difference if they did vote.  The problem is that media promotion of the conventional thinking and corporate power combines with the average person's natural fear of change to make them unable to vote for real change.  If we could persuade people differently, they could make a bigger difference by voting then not voting.

          I can think to 2 immediate things we can do:

          1. Run primary challenges and vote in primaries.  To some extent that process has already begun.
          1. If you don't like any of the candidates, do a write-in vote.  If enough people did that, it would get more attention and have more influence then a vote boycott.

          "For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air."

          by Thutmose V on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:23:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If voting is unimportant -- (0+ / 0-)

          then boycotting the vote will also be unimportant.

          In light of that, my advice to all would be this: look for other ways to assert your power than those which you currently employ.  I wrote a whole series of diaries on power -- there's a list somewhere here.

          "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

          by Cassiodorus on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:30:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is an odd statement... (0+ / 0-)

            If voting is unimportant -- (0+ / 0-)
            then boycotting the vote will also be unimportant.

            If apples are fruit then oranges are also fruit? They both pertain to the electoral process, so that makes their results the same?

            These are apples and oranges, ie, different/cant meld, not fruit, as in same (category).

            Look at all the oxygen-sucking attention, action, movement around presidential elections. We had two damned years of elections for president, it seems... Look at all the swarms who turned out for rallies and volunteering, etc.

            If there were a movement of disaffected former Dem voters refusing to GOTV, refusing to attend rallies, to donate, refusing to participate (no, sorry OFA, Im not playing anymore), and making that position clear, showing up to make it clear, relentlessly during the campaign, in overwhelming numbers, that would be much different than conducting business as usual, ie, the ground army of volunteers and paid workers springing into action to get the electoral victory. If they turned, even 30% of them, to refuseniks, this would be shocking - a five alarm fright for any Democratic candidate.

            It wouldnt be seen as apathy. Au contraire, it would be seen as a proactive response to the insanely dysfunctional status quo. (like the gargantuan role that corporate money plays in our electoral process, including media censorship and manipulation of the process.)

            Again, saying yes to this by participating, no to this by not participating are not the same animal, even if they both pertain to the electoral process.

            Unfortunately, this is just a wild imagining. Americans are much less politically active and movement proactive than is good for them... they will color within the lines (and line up to vote, line up to shake hands with the famous president at appearances - Oh my god! He touched me!) until things get so bad they no longer have a crayon to hold, and then they will moan, "How did this happen?! I did my civic duty. I voted. I supported the process, the system. I voted for Democrats. I voted for progressive Democrats. How did we ever sink this low?!"

            Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

            by NYCee on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:18:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The result would be the same (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueoasis

              If there were a movement of disaffected former Dem voters refusing to GOTV, refusing to attend rallies, to donate, refusing to participate (no, sorry OFA, Im not playing anymore), and making that position clear, showing up to make it clear, relentlessly during the campaign, in overwhelming numbers, that would be much different than conducting business as usual, ie, the ground army of volunteers and paid workers springing into action to get the electoral victory. If they turned, even 30% of them, to refuseniks, this would be shocking - a five alarm fright for any Democratic candidate.

              If enough "disaffected former Dem voters" merely refused to vote, then the Rep political class would win, and you'd get what you had in '06 -- only with something more like the economy of '31.  Which is probably what we're going to get anyway.

              Bourgeois democracy is where elite rule risks itself.  Elite rule doesn't have to risk itself -- we could just as well live under a dictatorship,  It's easy to imagine -- the Democratic and Republican Parties merge into one, all-encompassing "We Rule You Party," and they could rotate the politicians from office to office now and then (say, at every Trilateral Commission meeting) to make it seem to the public as if "hope" and "change" are really in the offing, when they're not.  It wouldn't be too much unlike what we have now, except there would be no voting.

              Now if you want to do something else with your refusenik movement, like start a political movement (e.g. the Zapatistas), that might be effective.  But if voting is of merely symbolic effectiveness in validating the candidates of the status quo, well, the status quo can do without the symbolism, and proceed on its merry way.  A real refusal to participate in the status quo would require far more than not voting, and not voting would not be a prerequisite to such a refusal.

              "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

              by Cassiodorus on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:45:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  The darkside... (13+ / 0-)

        Yes... keep those imports coming to the US cheap at any cost!

        Brazilian taskforce frees more than 4,500 slaves after record number of raids on remote farms

        Brazilian authorities rescued more than 4,500 slaves from captivity last year, carrying out a record number of raids on remote ranches and plantations, according to figures released this week by the country's work ministry.

        The government said its anti-slavery taskforce, a roaming unit designed to crack down on modern-day slavery, had freed 4,634 workers from slave-like conditions in 2008. The taskforce, which often works with armed members of the federal police, said it had undertaken 133 missions and visited 255 different farms in 2008. The ministry said former slaves had been paid £2.4m in compensation.

        SNIP!

        "It is a very sad situation that leaves you feeling impotent. The federal government has acted - but having slave labour in a country where the wealth is so evident is a very painful contradiction," said Sakamoto, who is a member of Brazil's National Commission for the Eradication of Slave Labour and runs the NGO Repórter Brasil.

        Many of Brazil's slave workers come from the impoverished backlands of north-eastern Brazil, where unemployment is high. Rounded up by middlemen who promise them employment, the workers are packed on to coaches and taken to remote farms, often in the Amazon or Brazil's midwest.

        More...

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

        •  it ain't just in other countries (18+ / 0-)

          dengre has done yeoman's work in addressing what is effectively slavery in CNMI.   There are sweatshops in Los Angeles in other cities within the continental US which probably approach conditions of slavery, at lest on an economic basis.  Many of the brothels in this nation keep the women basically captive.

          Our hands are far from clean.

          The tilt of our legal system in the direction of corporate interests exacerbates the problems, and makes it harder to obtain justice for those who suffer.

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:20:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Never Said they were clean... (7+ / 0-)

            What I wanted to point out is that wages and income have been stagnant in this country for a very long time, but the "free traders" and "free marketeers" have been using cheap imports to mask that as well as break the back of the union movement in this country.

            The Debt Delusion

            By Thomas Palley

            Excerpt:

            America's economic contradictions are part of a new business cycle that has emerged since 1980. The business cycles of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush share strong similarities and are different from pre-1980 cycles. The similarities are large trade deficits, manufacturing job loss, asset price inflation, rising debt-to-income ratios, and detachment of wages from productivity growth.

            The new cycle rests on financial booms and cheap imports. Financial booms provide collateral that supports debt-financed spending. Borrowing is also supported by an easing of credit standards and new financial products that increase leverage and widen the range of assets that can be borrowed against. Cheap imports ameliorate the effects of wage stagnation.

            This structure contrasts with the pre-1980 business cycle, which rested on wage growth tied to productivity growth and full employment. Wage growth, rather than borrowing and financial booms, fuelled demand growth. That encouraged investment spending, which in turn drove productivity gains and output growth.

            More...

            http://www.thomaspalley.com/...

            While the GOP's finger prints are all over this phenomena... so are the Dems too. Reagan set the program in motion, but all of Washington went right along with them and sadly they still are.

            •  PS (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueoasis, farbuska, tardis10

              Witness the organized GOP attack on the teachers and nurses unions of late!

              •  Is Arne Duncan GOP? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                blueoasis

                because it's coming from him too.

                "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

                by Cassiodorus on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:12:24 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Is he anti-union? (0+ / 0-)

                  Or is he being pragmatic? I don't honestly know.

                  I teach at the university level and we are spending an inordinate amount of time and resources teaching remedial reading, writing, and math. There are very few deans in this country that won't say privately that public education is in serious trouble.

                  The Issues

                  Obama has always talked big on education. On the campaign trail, he spoke of $10 billion for early childhood education and more money to recruit "an army of new teachers."The Monitor’s editorial board, "Obama’s can-do education pick," Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 19, 2008(14)The Monitor’s editorial board, "Obama’s can-do education pick," Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 19, 2008 He has publicly supported charter schools and merit pay, both ideas that Duncan implemented in Chicago. "If pay for performance works ... then that’s something we should explore. If charter schools work, let’s try that," Obama said.Gensheimer, Lydia, "Obama’s choice of Duncan wins praise from educators, lawmakers," Congressional Quarterly Today, CQ Staff, Dec. 16, 2008(15)Gensheimer, Lydia, "Obama’s choice of Duncan wins praise from educators, lawmakers," Congressional Quarterly Today, CQ Staff, Dec. 16, 2008

                  Duncan shares this pragmatic approach to education reform. He experimented with incentive pay for students who got good grades and had good attendance. He didn’t hesitate to close failing schools in Chicago, even though he was criticized because they were located in poor, mostly black neighborhoods. And he forced teachers  to re-apply for their jobs, even though the decision was deplored by teachers’ unions."School’s out forever; Certain poor black schools are sitting on some might promising real estate. How convenient that enrollment’s down too," Chicago Reader, June 18, 2004;(16)"School’s out forever; Certain poor black schools are sitting on some might promising real estate. How convenient that enrollment’s down too," Chicago Reader, June 18, 2004; Nine months after taking over the reins of Chicago’s schools, Duncan had closed three schools. But he opened more than 75 new ones, most of them charter schools, during his seven years on the job.Khadaroo, Stacy Teicher, "For Obama, split looms over education reform," Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 18, 2008(2)Khadaroo, Stacy Teicher, "For Obama, split looms over education reform," Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 18, 2008

                  Duncan is also willing to be brutally honest. In a speech to the National Education Association in July 2009, Duncan told teachers they must be willing to budge on issues such as merit pay and evaluation methods. "It's not enough to focus only on issues like job security, tenure, compensation and evaluation," he said. "You must become full partners and leadres in education reform.

                  "I understand that tests are far from perfect and that it is unfair to reduce the complex, nuanced work of teaching to a simple multiple choice exam. Test scores alone should never drive evaluation, compensation or tenure decisions. But to remove student achievement entirely from evaluation is illogical and indefensible."Henderson, Nia-Malika, "Arne Duncan gives tough love to teachers," Politico, July 2, 2009(17)

                  http://www.whorunsgov.com/...

                  •  I tell you our "reforms" are making it worse (5+ / 0-)

                    Is Duncan really being "brutally honest" when describes Katrina as the best thing ever to happen to New Orleans public schools?  Is he even being honest when he claims success for what occurred in Chicago on his watch when independent analyses demonstrate Chicago improved LESS than the rest of Illinois, that Chicago continued to rank near the bottom of major large city public school systems, and the claims his administration there offered for "improved test scores" involved different groups of students than those being used as baselines for those schools.

                    In the meantime he destroyed what was often one of the last anchors in some communities by closing down local schools, and created real safety issues forcing students to cross hostile gang territory without improving the security necessary to give them any sense of safety.

                    We have been through multiple iterations of school reform.  This goes back to before Sputnik.  There is an ongoing industry of bemoaning American public schools usually combined with some set of nostrums supposed to cure all.  In just the past three decades think how many iterations have been applied -  and yet we are then told the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

                    If you want children to learn how to read, think, express, write, give them that kind of practice, not simultaneously insisting they learn an entirely new culture before they will be considered effective as writers or readers.  Oh, and consider providing meaningful materials rather than spending all that money on test prep materials that enrich the textbook and testing companies whose influence upon our education is already totally out of whack.  

                    Sorry, while I agree there are problems, I do not think what Duncan and Obama are doing represent a meaningful improvement.  Rather, I think they are making things worse.

                    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                    by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:09:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Start here: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    teacherken

                    "Any sensible person right now would join an anticapitalist organization." -- David Harvey

                    by Cassiodorus on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:52:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Beautifully said, Cassiodorus. n.t. (6+ / 0-)

        "The first step towards madness is to think oneself wise." ~Fernando de Rojas

        by Annalize5 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:45:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Few people (6+ / 0-)

      write things up better than you do, Ken. This is discouraging indeed. Even more discouraging is how little people know. Often here, posters complain that people are not "outraged" or "in the streets" but that's not what we need. We need for people to somehow be better informed about who they are electing and what those people are doing in their name When people don't understand anything, our elected officials feel free to do the bidding of their corporate masters, knowing they can get re-elected with money, attack ads, smear and fear.

      I'm just depressed about a poll this week in Ohio's Senate race showing that neither major party candidate has much name recognition. I guess it goes without saying that the Constitution Party and Socialist candidate have even less. If people don't know who they are, they don't know what they stand for, and if they don't know what they stand for, they vote by party affiliation or name or who has run the most convincing attack ads. And then we get a Senate that spits in the face of regular working people and does the bidding of the wealthy, and we get angry but that anger is impotent.

      Time to garden and kick Republican ass.

      by anastasia p on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:27:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, time is running out... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lcrp, blueoasis, cnmbfa, farbuska, joedennis

        So yes, people do need to take to the streets.

        The system is crooked, its fixed, its fucked up... and we are going down.

        That's why the diary is so "discouraging", as you noted.

        To attempt to incrementally build a progressive Congress is a very long term project... and one that proceeds under the illusion that our system, as it is, can throw us a life preserver, if we just keep plodding away, trying to get candidate X and candidate Y elected.

        Look at what we have at present. We have progressive members of Congress who get tempted/strong-armed into voting against our best interests... because once they get there, they cant seem to find any way out of doing what the machine relentlessly shepherds them toward doing...

        Look at the history of war funding.

        Look at the Public Option. Look at Drug Reimportation.

        All of those progressives, as candidates, probably stood squarely on their campaign stumps and shouted into their megaphones that damn straight they were for an affordable, comprehensive, accessible healthcare system for all, one that didnt feed the insurance companies any longer, at our expense...  damned straight they were going to get us renegotiated drug prices, too...

        But then ... when push came to shove, up there on the Hill, even though they had all signed a pledge NOT to vote for a bill that didnt have a public option (they werent even asked to do the same re drug reimportation... that one was given up without even the illusion of a fight) they all voted for a very non progressive bill, one that their pledges said they would NOT vote for.

        Sure, it's somewhat helpful to try to elect better candidates, but that is absolutely NOT enough. Until the citizenry shows up in a groundswell of a mass movement that shows how serious we are about things like those pledges, well, there will be no reason for those "better" candidates to risk their political skin and go out on a limb... in any effective way. We will continue to have rotating villains and folks caving at crunch time because they cant bear to "destroy the Presidency..." (Kucinich), et al... and because they dont see or hear enough of us out there.

        And if they dont see folks organizing in mass resistance to business as usual, folks drawing the line (the president's legacy or whatever else they use to scare us be damned), why would they think the voters are really have their backs, when it comes to crunch time? What they see, largely, is a progressive elect Dems machine that also rushes in to support the president at crunch time, or is that "crumb" time (as in what we get.)

        There is way too much silence out there. Silence from these so-called progressive fighters in Congress and outside it. Petitions signed on line have become a joke. They dont get a spot on "Breaking!!!" in the news. They dont get a few seconds' mention, either. They get zilch. Black hole.

        So it is with the really progressive, challenging voices... like Tasini was barred from debating Hillary (Time Warner) when he challenged her Senate seat in 2006, with true crystal clear progressive stances (everything from labor to Israel), even though he was on the ballot.

        Fixing an Election in Plain Sight

        A debate between Democratic Senatorial candidates is scheduled for August 22 to be held at Pace University and produced by NY1 cable TV. But NY1 has shut out Clinton's only challenger by setting the conditions for those who can take part: only those candidates who have or have spent $500,000. So, instead of a debate, as advertised, NY1 will televise Clinton's campaign speech. No surprise, as Time Warner, NY1's owner, has invested $101,000 in Sen. Clinton's campaign this year. Clinton's only challenger, Jonathan Tasini is on the ballot, has 13% voter support. He has, however, only $150,000 in the campaign funds. THE RICH NEED ONLY APPLY.

        This is how the system (dys)functions. When you have the leader of the progressive caucus, Lynne Woolsey, stumping for decidedly non progressive uber wealthy war hawk, Jane Harman, how much more evidence do we need that a movement that simply entails GOTV (for better candidates, so so candidates, bad candidates... which is what most of the base ends up supporting, the whole enchilada, in the end) is little more than progressives as stage hands, continuing to move the props into place because the show must go on... this show of our democracy serving our best interests, stagecraft = illusion.

        Like I said before, it's a sham/e.

         

        Should a "progressive" Dem blog dwell in the safe zones of a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

        by NYCee on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:17:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for telling us this. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Dirtandiron

      Some men see things as they are and ask, "Why?" I dream things that never were and ask, "Why not?" --R.F. Kennedy

      by farbuska on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:36:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well (5+ / 0-)

      to be honest, I think ABC news nailed it with their special
      http://abcnews.go.com/...

      I dont think civilization even makes it to the end of this century.  Possibly maybe a few little pockets but nothing like we have had these last few centuries.

      Things are changing fast, but to be honest, our fresh water supply is dwindling, the oceans are dying, and the atomsphere is heating up.

      So at some point, and probably sooner than we think, all this paper money will become nothing but toilet paper.

      We are living in historic times, and I believe we have missed our chance to alter them.

      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

      by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:35:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dark daze, farbuska

        ...it is overwhelmingly likely that humans physically survive the next, say, thousand years. However, I think the extreme likelihood is that there are far less of us (like, a few hundred million) living at subsistence living standards off the debris of this society for hundreds of years perhaps.

        Hopefully a few pockets of people in places can figure out how to keep the power on. Such places will be modern-day Libraries of Alexandria.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:39:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for link. I definitely want to go back & (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dark daze

        watch that later...Gad, it's always later, isn't it, for any action? Maybe it's later than we think.

        "I should have been a pair of ragged claws.." T.S. Eliot

        by collardgreens on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:56:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Important essay. Thank you once again. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis
    •  Clearly, no one today can do a better job. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, StepLeftStepForward

      There is a strong but subtle difference between angry but productive diaries that diagnose a problem and point to possible solutions and the some of the other recced diaries (and, IMHO comments below) that go way off the deep end in numerous entirely pointless ways. I could go on, but there is are right ways and wrong ways to express discontent and worry about the fate of our species and it's great that you're a teacher, because you usually do them them in one of the right ways.

      Happy 7/4.

      Forward to Yesterday -- Reactionary aesthetics and liberal politics (in that order)

      by LABobsterofAnaheim on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:54:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I want to provoke a discussion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LABobsterofAnaheim

        I will offer what I perceive, and then hope perhaps it will speak to others, and then we all - myself included - have our understanding deepened by the ensuing conversation.

        "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

        by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:10:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The same side as many teabaggers? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farbuska

      not said in gest.

      We are invited to be outraged by the facts, like the ones in this diary.

      They are invited to be outraged by disinformation.

      But we are all outraged.

      Now, if we can erase the divide between us, we have the groudswell needed to change our government.  Of course there is a percent that can't be reached.  The teabaggers that are just plain rascist, driven insane by the media, religiously hoping to make Jesus reappear, and just plain Timothy McVeigh evil.

      I find hope believing that the majority of Americans eyes are opening, but the media is hell bent on keeping us divided by stupid things.

  •  Teacherken: The first thing I thought when I saw (15+ / 0-)

    your diary heading was:   which side are you on?

    And ain't it the truth:

    Come all of you good workers,
    Good news to you I’ll tell,
    Of how that good old union
    Has come in here to dwell.

    cho: Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    My daddy was a miner,
    And I’m a miner’s son,
    And I’ll stick with the union,
    Till every battle’s won.

    They say in Harlan County,
    There are no neutrals there.
    You’ll either be a union man,
    Or a thug for J.H. Blair.

    Oh, workers can you stand it?
    Oh, tell me how you can.
    Will you be a lousy scab,
    Or will you be a man ?

    Don’t scab for the bosses,
    Don’t listen to their lies.
    Us poor folks haven’t got a chance,
    Unless we organize.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:43:38 AM PDT

  •  . (11+ / 0-)

    .
      Somewhat-to-Very Informed vs. Willfully Ignorant - America's Divided.

    Sorry, just thought I'd mention that on this, our Nation's birthday.
    .

    "I have to go now. I feel . . . sticky." Anthony Bourdain

    by BenGoshi on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:46:45 AM PDT

    •  I don't think people are "willfully" ignorant (15+ / 0-)

      I think accessing clear, accurate information has become staggeringly difficult — probably purposefully, since t serves the goals of the wealthy elite.

      Time to garden and kick Republican ass.

      by anastasia p on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:28:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd love to see a longer discussion on this point (8+ / 0-)

      I recently met an Ivy-League graduate who is thriving economically as a part of the investment speculation industry.  This person is smart, insightful and, I think, caring and compassionate.  However...

      She knows surprisingly little about the issues we discuss here.  Never heard of Zinn or Chomsky or Goodman or Moyers or even shows like "Frontline." Thinks global warming is debatable.  Favored deep-water drilling for oil until the catastrophe in the Gulf.  Etc.

      I think many of these very intelligent, successful people are hyper-focused on their fields of endeavor (and having as much relaxation and enjoyment as possible when they're not), they have little time or energy left over to explore (much less address) the big issues facing society.  It's a shame. We really could use their interest and skills.

      I've had a couple of good conversations with her, and she seems interested in learning more.  But she doesn't actively seek the information I had hoped she would.  I'd like to begin sharing some books, documentaries, and articles, but I'm wondering how one does that without becoming an unwelcome "Debbie Downer."  

      •  seen a lot of them (8+ / 0-)

        they have been conned, and have fell for the shallow rewards that is offered by the wall street life style.

        I walked away from it, and while I may never be rich financially, I am able to look at myself in the mirror, and know I dont have to screw people, the planet, nor society to make a place for myself in this world.  That is priceless.

        (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

        by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:41:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Beautifully put. -nt- (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MissInformation, dle2GA

          "I have to go now. I feel . . . sticky." Anthony Bourdain

          by BenGoshi on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:47:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  dark daze, any suggestions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BenGoshi

          on how best to reach the people who are still reachable?  

          by the way, did you leave the financial industry entirely? or did you find a way to use those skills to help socially-conscious or green-minded businesses?  just curious.  would love to be able to suggest alternatives to this person...if the time ever comes.  right now, she's pretty much helping to make rich people richer, and i don't think that's how she wants to spend the rest of her life.

          •  A couple of people I'm "working on." (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MissInformation, farbuska

            .
             Over at Facebook.  A couple of friends from high school with whom I haven't been in touch for more than 25 years (mid-to-late-40s people).

             They're clearly Republican, but over the past 6-8 months I see that they, too, go off on the insurance industry, big banking, etc.  Basically, these are working/middle class people who have no business being Republican, but because they live in the middle of Deep South Republicanism, they've sort of gone along with the flow.

             Anyway, whenever I can, I support and supplement their negativity about the health insurance behemoths, big oil (these are people who live in South Alabama, by the way), big banking, etc.  I've never said, "Republicans are wrong, Democrats are right" (hell, a lot of Deep South Dems, Mary Landrieu, e.g., might as well be Republican).  I just continue to reinforce the negative feelings they have against these natural Republican allies...

            .

            "I have to go now. I feel . . . sticky." Anthony Bourdain

            by BenGoshi on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:51:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  they need to see the big picture (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MissInformation, farbuska

            they need to pull away from our bullshit society, and its propaganda.

            I was lucky enough to see the personal lives of some very very wealthy people as I grew up, they were some of the most unhappiest people I have ever met. So I knew money and "power" wasnt the answer to life.  People need to get that.

            WHen people can read and understand things such as.  The rich dont own their possessions, the possssions own them,  they are on the way.

            I left the financial world 100%, I hate "money" to be honest.  Anyway, I have created my own businesses, and I try to create products that really help people, thus making it a win, win.  Anyway I have had some business failures some successes, but in the end I have had a charmed life and I continue to love my life, so in that regard, I have "won" and it has to do with being honest and true to myself, and barely aything to do with money.

            Money isnt the answer, but if you are in manhattan and surrounded in that culture its hard to see that.   There is hope for your friends,  but honestly all to many people only come to understanding what life is about way too late, often on their death beds.

            Its one of the ironies of life, sometimes you have to live it and miss it, to understand it in the end.

            (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

            by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:53:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The wealth disparity is alarming and (10+ / 0-)
    it surely deserves our attention. Good job!
  •  Prosperity theology. (21+ / 0-)

    The idea that God favors those he prefers with riches. What amazes me is how few people seem to know that term but how many people practice it.

    It's the only explanation for why people who say they believe in the "camel through the eye of a needle" Bible and the money-changer-clearing Christ (not to mention that "render unto Caesar" business) can sit and allow this to happen.

    Especially since it's a short hop from there to the "idea" that the best way to take care of the poor is to not give them anything but "opportunity."

    Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

    by RickMassimo on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:51:47 AM PDT

    •  Well, I am about to leave for church (11+ / 0-)

      (early because we have free yoga and tai chi classes this summer), and we do not believe that. We feed people and even grow the organic produce. We tutor kids and collect basic supplies for their families at our partner school. We do not believe being rich is the end goal of life.

      Time to garden and kick Republican ass.

      by anastasia p on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:30:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It is a popular concept in secular circles (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, RickMassimo, farbuska, dle2GA

      as well.  Most people who have a lot believe that they have what they have because they are entitled to it.

      That if you are a have-not, than it is basically somehow your fault.  The inverse of that viewpoint is that people who do have a lot are lulled into believing that they have what they have because of their own hard work or good nature or some such.  

      Very few of them are willing to admit that their wealth is usually due to a confluence of good fortune.  Bill Gates being a rare exception in that respect.

      •  While you're right ... (0+ / 0-)

        ...the thing I continue to be most struck by is how some people can claim to live their lives in accordance with the Bible, which says in black and white "turn the other cheek," "the meek shall inherit the earth," "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," "That man gave of his abundance; that woman gave of her need," etc., etc., then leave church and say "I got mine, Jack."

        Fight until we win. Then we can begin arguing about the details. - Kwickkick (RIP) 2009

        by RickMassimo on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:06:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent point, and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RickMassimo

      people, secular and otherwise, don't seem to see any logical fallacies in this thinking. "If God loves me I will be wealthy; I can affirm prosperity; (and create it) and also - if people are rich, it's because God wants them to be..."

      There may be germs of truth in some of that thinking but surely it's not the whole story, (putting it mildly...)

      Then we have the screamers who say all that progressives want to do is rob the wealthy (who they say are fully entitled to all of their money, no matter where it comes from...) when of course that's not what "we" want...

      read the comments on the WSJ lately? They're pretty alarming - and very often get right at wealth inequalities - regardless of the actual article they're commenting on....  

      If you haven't seen "V for Vendetta"... you oughta. :) The times they are hopefully a changin...

      by make a difference on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:34:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A most excellent diary teacherken. (20+ / 0-)

    Thank you sir.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Save the Internet!

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:12:00 AM PDT

  •  "Inequality in America" - The Nation (19+ / 0-)

    this is a Nation forum with 5 essays on inequality

    Inequality in America

    Robert Reich's essay is particularly apt: Unjust Spoils

    Wall Street's banditry was the proximate cause of the Great Recession, not its underlying cause. Even if the Street is better controlled in the future (and I have my doubts), the structural reason for the Great Recession still haunts America. That reason is America's surging inequality.

    Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation's total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America's total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

    Each of America's two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don't have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. America's median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class can boost its purchasing power is to borrow, as it did with gusto. As housing prices rose, Americans turned their homes into ATMs. But such borrowing has its limits. When the debt bubble finally burst, vast numbers of people couldn't pay their bills, and banks couldn't collect.

    China, Germany and Japan have surely contributed to the problem by failing to buy as much from us as we buy from them. But to believe that our continuing economic crisis stems mainly from the trade imbalance—we buy too much and save too little, while they do the reverse—is to miss the biggest imbalance of all. The problem isn't that typical Americans have spent beyond their means. It's that their means haven't kept up with what the growing economy could and should have been able to provide them.

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:20:15 AM PDT

  •  From my quote bag (9+ / 0-)

    "The work ethic is not a traditional value. It is a Johnny-come-lately idea. In ancient times, work was considered a disgrace inflicted on those who had failed to amass a nest egg through imperial conquest, profitable marriage, or in forms of organized looting"
    Barbara Ehrenreich

    Afghanistan - Come for the lithium and stay for the opium.

    by BOHICA on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:23:17 AM PDT

  •  There is a terrible poverty of spirit (22+ / 0-)

    in hoarding far more than is needed while others suffer from want.

    I had taught for years in poverty stricken classrooms, and ended my career in a wealthy school district.  The contrast was stunning.
    I found my affluent school to reek with the stink of privilege.
    The classrooms of the poor and wealthy are different universes, and the children that live in biggest  houses do not always have the biggest hearts.  

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:24:25 AM PDT

  •  Unfortunately too many here (6+ / 0-)

    don't believe there is a solution. They believe the spending necessary to create wealth for all cannot be done. I am tired of writing diaries espousing that money be spend to change the USA and the world.

    Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

    by LWelsch on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:28:51 AM PDT

    •  I cannot, will not, get too tired (19+ / 0-)

      to continue to speak out, to call attention to things that challenge our thinking, especially my own.  

      After all, I came from a certain amount of comfort, even if my father had grown up as one of six children of am immigrant tailor.

      It is interesting, as some have recently commented, that during the period of the greatest expansion of America's middle class we had the highest marginal tax rates in our history, and the heaviest penetration of the labor force by unions.    Not that the 50s were necessarily so ideal, or even the early sixties.  There was much wrong with the America in which I grew up- racism, sexism, intolerance towards those of differing political and religious orientations.  There is much that is better now.

      Still, Americans as a whole and as a nation could be shocked by things like Harvest of Shame or the images of civil rights demonstrators having fire hoses and police dogs turned upon them.

      Many of us who grew up with a fair amount of comfort had a realization that we had a responsibility beyond our own self-benefit.   This was the period of things like the Civil Rights movement, the Peace Corps, Vista . . .

      I see many younger people who similarly feel a responsibility more broadly towards others.  I look at how someone like Tom Perriello comes to elective office, and while I may disagree with him on some policy, I find much in common with what motivated me to service several decades back.

      And yet -  it is rarely now a part of our common discourse.  Even the way media covers things that should lead to such discussions is not conducive to reflective discussion, to examination of how our politics and policy contribute to the situations that Bowles so rightly condemns.

      So I try to use what voice I have to expand the conversation.

      I am far from perfect in my own practice.  I have too much stuff -  although in our case it is largely books and things on which music is recorded.  Perhaps Leaves on the Current and I only tinker around the edges, enough to assuage what should be a deeper passion, a far greater sense of a broad responsibility to others.  In our defense, at least we are willing to step back and examine what else we can do.

      For better or worse, sometimes when I write - or speak - it speaks to others and has an effect of greater power than my individual actions and choices can have.

      So I cannot, will not, get too tired.

      Peace.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  teacherken...this is so very true... (9+ / 0-)

        Still, Americans as a whole and as a nation could be shocked by things like Harvest of Shame or the images of civil rights demonstrators having fire hoses and police dogs turned upon them.

        I don't think much of anything shocks anymore. You've really put your finger on the pulse of this electronic age. It's truly a double edged sword.

        Our language alone, language we could never have imagined as accepted discourse, is now commonplace. I suggest we've been over-enlightened as in "too much information".

        I thank you for this diary. When I read such things I have a visceral reaction to them. Most of all because I've not one single idea of how to try to untangle the morass. The scale alone is mind-numbing.

        Even so, in order to stay sane we've no choice but to make an attempt to find the words. Thank you again for doing just that this morning.

        "The first step towards madness is to think oneself wise." ~Fernando de Rojas

        by Annalize5 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:42:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  capitalism is a failed experiment (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        srkp23, LWelsch, farbuska, dle2GA

        capitalism will be viewed as a failed experiment by those in the future, if indeed any data remains from this society.

        Capitalism is destroying our very planet, there is no escaping this and with dwindling fresh water supplies, dying oceans, heating up of the atomsphere, our future is one of wars, famine, death, and destruction.

        It would be interesting to see what remains of this planet and our species by 2150.  I suspect civilization as we know it will have collapsed, the planet will have started to heal itself, and hopefully the ockets of humaity that remian, rebuild a better way and toss the idea of capitalism into the waste basket of history.

        GREED always Fails in the end, thats the moral of the story

        (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

        by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:50:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Capitalism is successful for the Capitalists (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, LWelsch, farbuska, dle2GA

          at least as they define success, and they use their money as power to control the political processes and thereby ensure their continued economic "success" regardless of the price to anyone or anything else

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:00:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For now (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dark daze

            and perhaps for many years to come.  But ultimately -- like any closed system -- it will have to collapse in on itself like communism did.  Someday, they will go too far (if they haven't already) and their mutual pyramid ponzi schemes will burst bigger than they did in 07/08.  

            The scary thing is what will happen to everyone else when this happen?  

          •  no its not (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            farbuska

            you are simply wrong, Capitalism has led to a shallow existence for all of mankind. and has cut us off from our world and ourselves.

            as for the rich, I have known many a very very rich person , they are not happy people. They have won nothing.  Capitalism hasnt worked for them, they still have unhappy and failed marriages, alcohol and drug dependency, emotionally wanting kids, false friends and social environment, and on and on and on. Their lives are often worse than many of ours.

            Capitalism fails everyone in the end.

            And as the commenter points out below, capitalism fails ultimately and even tears down the very structures it has built itself, its a self defeating system.

            100% failure guaranteed

            (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

            by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 10:41:06 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you presume they care about the shallowness (0+ / 0-)

              if your attitude is that he who dies with the most toys wins, you don't care about shallowness.

              When we keep score the way we do -  think not only of Robin Leach and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, but the fact of the economic arguments we make about the worth of jobs and the effectiveness of education - then many who perceive themselves on top by such measures may choose never to be bothered.

              Some may feel guilt.  Perhaps like the young prince Siddartha they will actually encounter real poverty and start a process of transformation.  But first you have to encounter poverty. Then you have to be willing to look, listen, think, and consider how one's own life and actions might be responsible.  

              What if instead you are allowed to give some money or perform some "good work" for a while, then you can feel free and have some possible guilt assuaged while the real unmet needs remain unmet and the disparity not only continues, but worsens.  Spend two years with Teach for America and get money and a fast-track into the world of prestige law and business schools -  oh, and consider yourself an expert on urban education to boot.  

              "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

              by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:15:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  so you think (0+ / 0-)

                so you think the rich are happy?  Have you been around them in a personal way?  They aren't.  Capitalism has screwed them also, maybe not the extent it has screwed the poor and the environment, but make no mistake , it has screwed them also.  

                Nobody wins in capitalism, that's my point.

                I had a rich friend once tell me he envied me, since the women who married me did so when I was dirt poor, meaning she loved me for me,  he said, he will never be sure if he actually has a real friend, let alone a real love of his life.  Money and his family name doesnt allow it.  So you think thats not a burden?  I wouldnt even consider trading my life for his.

                Houses are just houses, cars are just cars, they are meaningless.  

                (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

                by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 04:55:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  oh I knoqw some rich who are quite happy (0+ / 0-)

                  I know some not so rich who are happy that they are better off than those below them.

                  Methinks you paint with far too broad a brush

                  "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

                  by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:05:05 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  nope (0+ / 0-)

                    again, I am not defending the rich, they are surely many of the villains here in our society, I am just saying, they are not getting away with anything or winning anything.  The dont have a secret Gulf of mexico to go to once this one is fucked.  There isnt some other source of air to breathe for their kids.  

                    My point is money and materialism doesnt buy happiness. The rich are destroying this world for nothing.

                    (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

                    by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:28:11 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately our society is (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueoasis, dark daze, farbuska

          more fascist than capitalist and becoming more so all the time. This is in part due to the length of time that patents, trademarks, and copyrights give exclusive rights for what I consider to be unduly long periods of time.

          Adam Smith envisioned an environment where many small companies produced goods, not the oligarchies that we have today. During the 20th century and now in the 21th century we are drifting further and further away from capitalism.

          I believe in heavy progressive taxation, either regulating oligarchies or trust busting them, unions, shortening the work week, lengthening vacation time, encouraging research and development through government spending and reduced taxation, paying people to attend high school, college and graduate school, more subjects being taught, providing shelter, food and health care for all, attacking global warming, and on and on.

          Yes I will write and work to achieve this for the USA and the world.

          Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

          by LWelsch on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:30:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you. You are right of course! (0+ / 0-)

        I too will write more diaries and also do many other things to try to change the USA and the world! As I repeatedly say there is so much work and so few to do the work to make a better world for all.

        I admit I wish as good a writer as you are. I also wish I was an educator at your level. You are a hero of mine.

        Keep on trucking.

        Practice tolerance, kindness and charity.

        by LWelsch on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:19:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  bless your heart ken (8+ / 0-)

    Education is too big to fail. Truth is too big to fail. Justice is too big to fail. Peace is too big to fail.

    by Burned on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:32:09 AM PDT

  •  My epiphany (11+ / 0-)

    Came back in 1968 when I took my first trip to the dump outside Bein Hoa Airbase.

    When we arrived we were swarmed by rag pickers and , little kids begging for anything. Weren't we there to win hearts and minds? If so it sure wasn't working for those folks. Still see it in my mind.

    Afghanistan - Come for the lithium and stay for the opium.

    by BOHICA on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:35:27 AM PDT

  •  Here we are on the 4th of July--a day when we (6+ / 0-)

    are supposed to celebrate things like "freedom" and "democracy"--and yet our wealth and freedom have been systematically stripped away by the rich elites. For many years, I have seen little to celebrate--for me, today is a time I will spend with my children, family, and friends.

    I don't know what the answers are--just that if we want to save ourselves, we are going to have to find a way to take back what the richest have stolen from everyone else.

    We have to find a way to break our dependence upon them--as it stands, the corporations control most of our access to even the basics of survival--which is why it will be so hard for so many folks in the west especially to break the stranglehold they have on us. Perhaps all those survivalists living back in the woods, raising their own food and striving for self-sufficiency are onto something--we should look at ways to divorce ourselves from "the system."

  •  From Common Dreams- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, Dirtandiron, farbuska

    "Republicans keep saying they want their country back. I want my country forward."-Bill Maher

    by lyvwyr101 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 05:51:14 AM PDT

  •  Not all wealth is created equal... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, timewarp, Dirtandiron, MGross

    ...and when you break down assets, over half is derived from economic activity  in which the lower 80 percent barely even participate.  So unless we're talking about dismantling security exchanges, directing middle income to lower classes to move more of their wealth out of principal residences and bank deposits, or opening up new activities to transform resources into wealth, all this jaw-jawing wealth inequality is just that...a lot of noise.

  •  During the 1960s (0+ / 0-)

    North Vietnam had a higher literacy rate than the United States.

    In January 1911 "poor" black Haitians will enjoy better weather than "rich" white folks in Larchmont and Scarsdale.

    It is often the lack of appreciation that makes for poverty.

  •  Americans are hopelessly gone. (6+ / 0-)

    Their TV, their iPod, their cell phone, their Facebook page are their soul.

    I ran into a man recently who said his daughter has been down in New Orleans waiting tables. She makes so little she lives without electricity.

    That is the future for at least 30% of this country.

  •  The right-wingers had a lot of success (6+ / 0-)

    getting elected by beating up on the poor. "Welfare queens", etc. People who were only slightly better off than the poor ate it up. Now the Karl Rove types are turning the middle class against itself. Demonizing the teachers, the state workers, and so on. They want the middle class to move down into poverty, and half the middle class people are cheering it on.

    •  In Britain (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, farbuska

      Alexander has told the education secretary, Michael Gove, and the defence secretary, Liam Fox, to plan for two scenarios – cuts to budgets of 10% at best and 20% at worst over four years. All other departments – including the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Transport – have been ordered to produce plans showing the impact of cuts of 25%, and at worst 40%.

      It is estimated that a 25% cut in the Home Office budget could mean a reduction in the number of police officers of almost 20,000.

      The government is expected this week to halt the rebuilding of around 700 schools in order to save a further £1bn a year. And in a move that will cause bitterness among the Whitehall mandarins drawing up the cuts, ministers intend to announce plans soon to slash payoff terms for hundreds of thousands of civil servants, many of whom fear redundancy as a result of the austerity measures. Last week it emerged that at least 600,000 public service jobs could be lost.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

  •  The food in a "rich" country (5+ / 0-)

    is often poorer in quality than that found in a "poor" country.

    That tomato sitting on my counter is far inferior to which might be grown and eaten in a "poor" country.

    Americans are often in bad physical shape since their food is often of a very bad quality.

    You probably spend an hour each workday merely getting to and from work.

  •  Thank You teacherken, your diary is as O.P.O.L. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, Dirtandiron, farbuska

    stated..."most excellent".

    I wish we still could hear Amy Goodman on our Tennessee NPR station (WETS, broadcast from Eastern Tennessee State Univ.), but her syndicated show @ 6:00 P.M. was removed due to some conservative donors who objected to her format, and the lack of monies donated at fundraising time for that show.

    Back to your diary:  I can't imagine the scenario of the "straw that breaks the camels' back" conclusion of this wealth and resource division, but I am sure it will not be pleasant, but rather very ugly and filled with death and despair.  

    Oh..., and it will happen.

    Very, very depressing, and a very major moral dilemma as well.

    "Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value." ~ Albert Einstein

    by LamontCranston on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:44:24 AM PDT

    •  Climate change and peak oil--when oil is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      timewarp, Dirtandiron

      gone, the wealth of the elites will evaporate--but so will much of our technological progress. I could see the world eventually break up into much smaller political units, since it will be impossible for the wealthy to hold onto much of their non-monetary wealth without the infrastructure an oil based economy provides. Climate change, too, will play a role--many areas that are now rich agricultural regions will eventually become worthless for such purposes. As the process goes on, there will be untold misery and suffering if we continue to allow the elites to continue on the same trajectory they are now on--and yet in the end, the common people will indeed "win." The question for us is whether we have the will to force change--and therefore alleviate some of the suffering that is staring us in the face--or continue on the way we are until it's too late.

  •  The real issues. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, Dirtandiron, farbuska

    Thank you.

    For the elite there are no material problems, only PR problems. Time for a new elite.

    by Paul Goodman on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:46:21 AM PDT

  •  Waste water (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    is not likely to dumped into oceans in many places.

    It is often reused to make the lawns of the "rich" green in Florida and California.

  •  Honestly, Ken, I grow more uneasy each day. (6+ / 0-)

    You and Maude Barlow present the facts that many of us have been touting since the middle of the Bush years, but, hearing them again.....makes my blood boil.  I fear how all of this will end.
    The world needs some heroes desparately.
    Will they appear, or will the villains win?
    I'm not at peace either, my friend.
    I watched some of John Adams again last night, and I thought about how courageous it was for those men to go against England.
    So, for this Independence Day, I will honor John Adamas and his budies.  At least we had a good run.

    United we stand - Divided we are all truly screwed. Keep them blaming one another - they'll never notice what's really going on.

    by Cassandra77 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:51:26 AM PDT

    •  watched the flim on John Adams last night (5+ / 0-)

      the early part of his career, including Boston Massacre, starring Paul Giametti and Laura Linney.  

      There are things about Adams that bother me, particularly during his Presidency.  There are things that I admire, including his role in the trial after the Massacre.

      And I refuse to surrender and say the run is over.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:53:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess we were both watching that film last (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lying eyes, Dirtandiron

        night.  And, yes, there were things about him that bothered me. My point was that I was so struck by what they did.  This little country of ours basically declared war on a big, powerful empire.
        That must have been terrifying.  And yet, they did it and they won.  It was amazing and awe inspiring.

        United we stand - Divided we are all truly screwed. Keep them blaming one another - they'll never notice what's really going on.

        by Cassandra77 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:10:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One of my neighbors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    makes his living by installing huge sealed modified plastic pipes underground so "rich" folks can use rainwater to make their seaside properties lush.

    Another neighbor works for him and says more Floridians should be doing that.

  •  Ken this was one of the best diaries I have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Annalize5, Dirtandiron, farbuska

    ever read on this subject, bravo

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 06:52:43 AM PDT

  •  Re (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catesby

    On the eve of this G-20 gathering, let’s look at a few facts. Fact, the world has divided into rich and poor as at no time in our history. The richest 2% own more than half the household wealth in the world. The richest 10% hold 85% of total global assets and the bottom half of humanity owns less than 1% of the wealth in the world. The three richest men in the world have more money than the poorest 48 countries.

    Do you know what the top 1% threshold for global income is? In 2003, it was 47,500. The top 10% was something like $22,000/year. So it isn't clear to me who exactly we are criticizing when we criticize "the rich" considering how fabulously rich nearly every American is against almost every person in the third world.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:01:16 AM PDT

  •  Gap between rich and poor. (6+ / 0-)

    I think one of the reasons for the wealth disparity in this country is sending the manufacturing base overseas. Conservatives scream about opportunity. Were decent paying factory jobs not an opportunity?

  •  The Japanese and Germans (0+ / 0-)

    have learned that purchase is cheaper than conquest.

    we can spend trillions on wars of choice, perhaps justifying our continued military endeavor in Pakistan not so much because of Al Qaeda or even the Taliban, but rather because of the potential trillions in mineral wealth not purportedly identified within that nation.

    I recycle metal, glass, and paper pretty effectively.

    The only major thing that isn't recyclable in the Voter household economy is raw materials burned to produce energy.

    In Sweden, they use trees in a renewable energy industry.

    In Florida, plants grow real fast.

  •  As Long As People Can Play Farmville (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, congenitalefty

    They are content. Keep the sheep occupied with nonsense and they will be sufficiently docile.

    The Modern GOP: A holy pwned subsidiary of the Tea Party.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:34:51 AM PDT

    •  image of Farmville means something different (4+ / 0-)

      to me and some of my generation

      it is the county seat of Prince Edward County Virginia, which totally shut its public schools to avoid integrating them.  Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County was one of 5 cases combined into the Brown decision, although this one was initiated by the students at the local high school.  

      The county jumped on the Massive Resistance approach of the Old Dominion, which allowed tuition grants to attend non-public (and hence racially segretated) schools.  In 1959 the County Board of Supervisors refused to appropriate any funds for public schools, worked with establishing a foundation to provide grants to private whites-only schools.  In 1963 the County lost in Federal courts, which ordered the public schools reopened, appealed to SCOTUS, where in May 1964 a unanimous Court ruled in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County that what the county had done violated the equal protection clause o the 14th Amendment.

      I look at some of the rhetoric on the Right, and some of the "legal reasoning" of current members of SCOTUS and I cannot help but think if there are not those who want to return to the Farmville of Prince Edward County in the period before 1964.

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:53:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  seemingly do not care about the rest of us (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barbwires, tonyahky, Dirtandiron, farbuska

    teacherken, there's no "seemingly" about it; the wealthy do not CARE about anyone else.  We must CARE about ourselves.  We need a CARING revolution that emphasizes our values - health care, education, child care, equality, etc...

    "There's no green there, they killed their mother" -- Avatar

    by noofsh on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:36:02 AM PDT

    •  actually quite a few wealthy people do care... (0+ / 0-)

      but the question of what exceedingly wealthy individuals can do, given the laws... is limited.

      They also choose to use their money for things that matter to them - malaria eradication, educational experimentation, and other things to compensate for government failures (e.g., Gates Foundation, Soros, Buffet and so forth).

      Failure for lack of money and for capture by corporations that do indeed pursue their own benefit to the exclusion of the public good.

      Even very wealthy people are priced out, in the lobbying battle, by corporations who deduct their "business" expenses, so that we small taxpayers pay indirectly.

      Of course, the Senate Finance Committee Chair, among others, should be answerable for what he did to the health care bill. Likewise, Nelson, Likewise, the Senator from Walmart, Blanche Lincoln. But they have so much money in their campaign pockets from those lobbyists that people like us cannot compete.

  •  You wanted WallMart prices. (7+ / 0-)

    A huge amount of people lost the shot of earning a living wage when WallMart took over.  A lot of people wanted cheap stuff, even if it was at the cost of people losing jobs so stuff could be made cheaper overseas.  

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:36:48 AM PDT

    •  We are our own worst enemies (5+ / 0-)

      Wanting cheaper prices leads to needing cheaper sources leads to requiring cheaper labor leads to fewer jobs that pay a living wage.

      Which, of course, leads to a real need for cheaper prices.

      WalMart's such a conundrum. I don't shop there, but I have a job with a living wage that lets me choose what I buy, and where I buy it. However, right now I'm helping keep another family afloat, and I understand why they shop there, and even spent a little time contemplating how much I'd save - which is money we could really use to help with other expenses if I picked up a few things there as well.

      Haven't done it, probably won't do it - there's still plenty that I can cut to free up more resources, and we're OK for now. For the first time, though, I really do understand why some believe it's their best option for shopping, and in most cases, I believe that we (collectively) have made decisions that have resulted in that being the case for many families.

      "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

      by paxpdx on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:10:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  a ponzi scheme... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paxpdx

        those who had money from good jobs were able to purchase things, as the jobs melted away. Now housing, education, transportation are too expensive, so we can move to a tent with our cells phones and big screen TVs and our credit card debt.

        Short sighted...

    •  Yes but our wages (0+ / 0-)

      Have always been very, very low compared to "modern" countries. And I've seen studies that say that the purchasing power of American wages has been basically flat since the 70's.

      Another little tidbit that keeps the rich richer...

      If you haven't seen "V for Vendetta"... you oughta. :) The times they are hopefully a changin...

      by make a difference on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:38:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what keeps the rich richer is the laws (0+ / 0-)

        that protect them and the relatively low taxes that do the same.

        The framing of the "death tax" is exceeding popular among the Walmart owner's crowd, I can assure you.

        The fact that they've persuaded all the sheeple to go along with it is a crime against the people, IMHO.

  •  Population control doesn't come easy. (5+ / 0-)

    Contemporary features of vampiresquidism and barbarism do not go far enough to describe the inhumanity.

    Changes may come when fervent adherents of idiotic right wing trickle-down policies realize they've been had...and we're very close to that.

    I'm a Democrat. That's why!

    by ezdidit on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:38:35 AM PDT

    •  after 30 years shouldn't they know (6+ / 0-)

      that they've been had.  I wonder - what more will it take?  I think the problem is that the right is very good at misdirection.  They deflect the blame for the current lack of economic opportunity to irrelevancies such as the budget deficit.  Funny, wasn't it the very same right wing that said budget deficits don't matter?  They are not following a consistent philosophy but are following a consistent strategy to deflect blame for the growing wealth gap.  Heck, I still know a person who insists that unions are the problem.  Really, no kidding.  With around 5% of the workers in unions, there still are people who think that unions create economic problems.  Mind boggling.

      "There's no green there, they killed their mother" -- Avatar

      by noofsh on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:47:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bringing down income inequality (3+ / 0-)

    should be a driver of nearly all Democratic policy. Nearly all policy decisions should consider it as a factor.

    You ought to be able to see the traditional Democratic and the traditional American concerns with fairness and equality in most of what Democrats do.

    We'd have a political philosophy, and a political vision.

  •  I have been following Maude Barlow for years (7+ / 0-)

    and have been to meetings of the Council of Canadians. If only they were the government instead of the government we have in Canada.

    Canadians in BC  just got hit with a new goods and service tax which now increases taxes for shoemaker service, second-hand clothes, bus and train travel, etc. while sparing gas at the pump. It should have done the opposite considering the world we live in.

    Thank you for high-lighting her speech. I'm on her side.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:46:49 AM PDT

  •  I think that it is an issue of: is money going to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa, tardis10

    circulate in the economy, money changing hands as people spend ,or is the money going, going to be hoarded by the top 1%. Which is going to provide more opportunity for people to make an honest living?

  •  I think... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, Dirtandiron

    ...this is the moral issue of our time.  Because we can see it, and the tools to address it are in our hands.  All lives have equal value.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:48:10 AM PDT

  •  No easy fix (9+ / 0-)

    I find Barlow's arguments simplistic. This is a very "integrated" problem.

    1. When I was hiking in Nepal, 10 days from the nearest road we still found people using cell phones. Of course the cell phones were originally for the wealthy (remember the brick like originals). The are made by multinationals (Apple, Nokia, Samsung etc), yer they provide access and information in a way that the people of remote areas never had.
    1. Big Pharma helped invent all kinds of drugs that save lives, especially early childhood vaccines, and all kinds of non-profits helped spread them. Yet these vaccines allowed more children in poor countries to survive to adulthood, and to procreate. Now the developing world is submerged under a sea of overpopulation and resource destruction. So good intentions in the short term actually led to a worsening situation in the long term. If anyone who has been to Pakistan/India/Bangladesh lately thinks that they can somehow evade an environmental catastrophe I'd love to hear how you think that is possible.
    1. Go into most American homes and ask yourself would these homes be able to have the conveniences that they do (big screen tvs, cell phones, Blu-Ray players, computers, all the Made in China stuff, etc.) if these products had been made in the US? How much more would these products have cost?
    1. If we really want to have a more equal distribution of wealth, do you mean globally, or just at home? If we mean globally, then the US will have to sacrifice a lot more. For example, with 5% of the world population the US uses 20-25% of the world's oil. If we want to share the wealth, then this has to stop and Americans must use about 75-80% less oil per person ! Possible? But that is what is required to be "fair".

    Ultimately it is the concept of "wealth" that has to change. Wealth is not just the amount of gold you have stored in the bank, or the size of your home, or the number of cars in your driveway. Wealth is family, friends, health, job satisfaction, free time, fresh air, clean water, and many other things as well. But these are hard to measure, so we measure what we can and call it "wealth". Unfortunately that does not make it the right measure to try to maximize or equally distribute.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 07:56:53 AM PDT

    •  How much more would these products have cost? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cnmbfa, Dirtandiron, tardis10

      Of course they would have cost more.  But then wages would not have become stagnant and people could afford more.  The downside to union busting is that good paying jobs were lost.  

      You are absolutely right that the measurement of success should not be wealth per se.  The real measure of success is how we care for human life and for nature.

      This is one of efforts targeted by the Center for Partnership Studies (working with the Urban Institute):

      http://www.partnershipway.org/

      "There's no green there, they killed their mother" -- Avatar

      by noofsh on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:14:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Product cost (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mariachi mama, coffeetalk

        For products to have been made in the US, wages would have to have come down. If they had not then few would have been able to afford the products and as a result production would have been less and the drop in prices over time, even less.

        One of the things people tend to ignore is that it is the cumulative production volume that drives price/cost decreases. The first unit is expensive to make, the 1,000th costs less, the 100,000th less still, the 10,000,000th less still. That is why manufactured products decline in price/cost over time if volumes shoot up (which of course also requires lower prices). So a product that costs $1,000 when it first comes out can drop in price to $100 over a very short period - and the fact that it only costs $100 drives even higher volumes.

        I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

        by taonow on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:23:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  cheap products (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cnmbfa, farbuska, tardis10

      Go into most American homes and ask yourself would these homes be able to have the conveniences that they do (big screen tvs, cell phones, Blu-Ray players, computers, all the Made in China stuff, etc.) if these products had been made in the US? How much more would these products have cost?

      I have a computer and a cell phone, but I have no BluRay player or bigscreen TV, and I am quite happy with what I have. Come to think of it I was quite content with what I had before I had a cell phone or a computer.
      I am lucky to have a trade I can earn money in. But for people who are unemployed and can't find work due to age discrimination, when their money runs out, all the cheap electronics in the world won't mean anything to them.

    •  One question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taonow

      If wealth changes - do the new wealth have to find a more equitable way to pay their taxes?  Maybe to balance our budget, those who can't afford money but could afford time should be reqired to pay their debt to society by such means.

      The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

      by ctexrep on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:25:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing new (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MGross

    there has always been a divide between rich and poor.  

    There will always be those who have opprtunity and those who have none.  

    On this theth of July, while our country has it's shortcomings.  Our democracy and freedom offer one of the best systems for opportunity.

    The question to me is what will we do as individuals to take advantage of the opportunities.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:20:37 AM PDT

    •  wake up (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa, farbuska, tardis10

      yes, alwasy head rich and poor, but never like this,  as for america offering a chance to climb the latter, WAKE UP, thats a fariy tale.  Go to Finland if you want that to be really true.

      As for opportunities? what opportunuities, if you financally succeed in this country now, more than likely you had to join the cause of our problems.

      (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

      by dark daze on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:29:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you don't think there are (0+ / 0-)

        opportunities in the US, I'll never convince you but why don't you ask one of the 1.5 million immigrants we get in the US each year....sounds to me like you may not know how good you have it.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:16:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think that what we are moving to is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa

    the historical norm.  The basic structure of most human society since agriculture has always been oligarchical and had large wealth inequality.

    After World War II, with the policies and ideals of the New Deal in place, technology making workers more productive, and little global competition for American workers, the United States created a society where the average worker could be in the middle class, and average workers had a larger share of the nation's wealth.  We grew up in this situation and take it to be the norm for America.  But that was an exceptional situation.  Despite all of its considerable problems, I consider the time from 1945 to 2000 to be a golden age for the average American.  Now we are returning to the oligarchical and plutocratic norm.

    I hope we can realize that we can try to regain what we are losing, if everybody works together to reverse the situation.  But I am becoming more pessimistic.

    "For the world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air."

    by Thutmose V on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:37:52 AM PDT

    •  I think you're right (0+ / 0-)

      We had a moment there where the wealth was distributed more broadly, but that moment is over.

      It's kind of a shame that what we in the U.S. did with that period of relative affluence was acquire a bunch of junk, as cheaply as possible, without regard to the costs to the people who made it. And now, we are them.

  •  Isn't it interesting how faux news tries to (0+ / 0-)

    portray union members as thugs, and completely ignore the historical fact that the Robber Barons employed real thugs.

    A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy.

    by dry heat dem on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:50:04 AM PDT

  •  This disparity must change, but how? How? How? (0+ / 0-)

    "I should have been a pair of ragged claws.." T.S. Eliot

    by collardgreens on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 08:52:53 AM PDT

  •  We need to create an... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa, farbuska

    alternative economy in which we buy and sell from other human beings, safe products, locally or regionally produced, including co-ops for insurance, even co-ops for land ownership.  It is desperately necessary that we all disconnect from large corporate structures.  We can starve them to death until they are irrelevant (keeping in mind the less they get from us the more they'll demand from the government).

    This is the only non-violent (or as the tea baggers would say; non 2nd amendment) option to change this country, and the world.

    The internet is currently an excellent vehicle for this kind of organizing.  How long it will last I don't know.

    It is also a good way for communities to prepare for large scale disruption (like the Gulf oil spill).

    Corporate PACs, not just bribery but a lifestyle!

    by rubine on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:29:46 AM PDT

  •  When you've lost my uncle, the gig's up. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa, paxpdx, fhcec, farbuska, tardis10

    My uncle is an 80-year-old retired teacher, living in a small town. He has never used a computer in his life and is totally ignorant of the Internet. He gets only the most basic cable TV and his small, local newspaper. So, really he gets a small amount of information compared to the rest of us. But he sees what is happening around him -- that the world has evolved into a small cabal of Haves and a vast multitude of Have-Nots. What he has is a good heart and whole lot of money due to a lifetime of penny-pinching and saving and investing wisely.(I wish I'd gotten out of stocks when he did.)

    He said something very interesting last week. He pays a lot of taxes quarterly. And he doesn't complain about that. He can afford to pay it. But now he said he feels like taking the tax money he usually sends to the IRS and giving it to his neighbors, local schools and young people who live around him who are having a hard time. He said he feels like just writing a letter to the IRS and saying, "I owe XXX taxes, and I don't mind paying but I've decided to distribute it myself this quarter." He asks, "What are they gonna do, throw me in jail. I'm 80 years old."

    Then I thought, what if all of us who pay quarterly did that? Could they throw us all in jail? And even if they did, we'd be in classier company than fat cats who whine about paying anything.

    "It does not require many words to speak the truth." -- Chief Joseph, native American leader (1840-1904)

    by highfive on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:41:34 AM PDT

  •  Thank you teacherken, I will share on facebook (0+ / 0-)

    and also over our local democratic talk list.  Wonderful that you took the time to diary this with your other important work waiting.  May the words flow easily so you can rest well once the job is finished, look forward to reading it one day.

    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by godislove on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:43:19 AM PDT

  •  Nice quotes on the division but (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see links to the data and not quotes.  I think you could ask the peasants that suffered under royal rulers and the colonies of the world back when they were really colonies and they would say the division was even worse.  Are times good?  Fuck no. But it sure ain't like the good ole days.  

    Nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.

    by thestructureguy on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 09:43:36 AM PDT

  •  I've been rich & I've been poor (0+ / 0-)

    "I've been rich & I've been poor. Rich is better." (Old joke; earliest I've read about is 1937, Beatrice Kaufman, but probably goes earlier.)

    Just a reminder that wealth is not a fixed-pie that can only be shared through redistribution. Value can (and must) be created. Outside of a relatively small number of state-owned enterprises, most wealth is created by the private sector. Current global inequalities are heinous. I'd like to see the rest of the world's riches unlocked -- intellectual, creative, spiritual, and monetary.

  •  Disparity-rich v poor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lisa

    This is the true shit-which side are you on? I want to be on the right side, and I'm as white middle-class as it gets. I just don't fear the idea of taking it from the bloated plutocracy and dividing it up more equitably. Free market capitalism is not just a myth, it is a myth deployed to keep the little people, the working woman and working man, down and tame. It will come to pass, the change, and it will not be pretty. Revolutions are never pretty, but they become necessary because of the piggishness of the tiny group that wields power while many, even here, barely survive. If the elite had any sense at all, the change would come through peaceful political process. But the pigs hang on to their money and power for dear life. Not very far-sighted. While I'm spewing forth, why are unions not organizing more and really getting it on with capital? Union got turned into a dirty word somehow. That ain't right, and I'm just a dumb fucking lawyer.

  •  Absolutely a "moral issue" and in (0+ / 0-)

    our so called Christian nation should be shouted from every pulpit.

  •  Having been at one time (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    in the position of a person who could ill afford to pay my taxes, I am grateful that today I can afford them.  I do believe in a progressive income tax, almost as a license to be prosperous.  It makes sense that I should pay more taxes when doing so costs me nothing but perhaps a new outfit, than the person who, in the paying of the taxes has to decide between that and dinner on the table.

    I'm only hard headed when you take me for granite

    by Im a frayed knot on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:18:45 AM PDT

  •  Great Diary! (0+ / 0-)

    The corporate cabal controls both parties, Republican and Democrat.

    FDR has left the room a long time ago.

    It's time to go back and revisit the coalition labor made with him and the Democrats in the '30s.   The working people have no representation, the union movement has been destroyed, we are leaderless, powerless.

    It's time for us to leave the room as well and form a labor party.   We live on a different planet distinct from the leaders of the Republicans and Democrats.  We are aghast at losing public option, at politicians who leave for vacation while hundreds of thousands lose thier unemployment benefits, at a government who for weeks repeats verbatim 5000 barrels lie, who pass reform legislation only after gutting it, who posture as defenders of immigrants with empty speeches.  They only seek our votes, some through demogogery and shell games.

    All of them get paid by our enemies, all of them pass their time between washington and lucrative careers in the same corporations that  oppress us.

    When will we have a true labor party?

    Check it out... the countries with national health care and a system of social services worth the title have labor parties.  

    We are in the back pocket of our oppressor.  IMHO we are wasting our precious time until we return to basics and start again organizing ourselves as working people.

  •  Amy Klein on the G20 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    farbuska

    h/t to Situational Lefty:

    Klein identifies the role of the G20, which Larry Summers was instrumental in forming at the same time he was helping get rid of Glass-Steagall, as to short-circuit other more representative organizations such as the UN on issues such as climate change and the topic of this diary.

    Are you journalists, or are you rushing a sorority? - Jon Stewart

    by geomoo on Sun Jul 04, 2010 at 11:48:30 AM PDT

  •  Food Derivatives.... they have no souls (0+ / 0-)

    How Goldman Sachs Gambled On Starving the Poor - And Won

    By now, you probably think your opinion of Goldman Sachs and its swarm of Wall Street allies has rock-bottomed at raw loathing. You're wrong. There's more. It turns out the most destructive of all their recent acts has barely been discussed at all. Here's the rest. This is the story of how some of the richest people in the world - Goldman, Deutsche Bank, the traders at Merrill Lynch, and more - have caused the starvation of some of the poorest people in the world, just so they could make a fatter profit.

    It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 percent, maize by 90 percent, and rice by 320 percent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people - mostly children - couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in over 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, called it "a silent mass murder", entirely due to "man-made actions."

    Earlier this year I was in Ethiopia, one of the worst-hit countries, and people there remember the food crisis like they were hit by a tsunami. "It was very painful," a woman my age called Abeba Getaneh, told me. "My children stopped growing. I felt like battery acid had been poured into my stomach as I starved. I took my two daughters out of school and got into debt. If it had gone on much longer, I think my baby would have died."

    << snip>>

    In 2006, financial speculators like Goldman's pulled out of the collapsing US real estate market, and they were looking for somewhere else to make their stash of cash swell. They started to buy massive amounts of derivatives based on food: they reckoned that food prices would stay steady or rise while the rest of the economy tanked. Suddenly, the world's frightened investors stampeded onto this ground and decided to buy, buy, buy.

    So while the supply and demand of food stayed pretty much the same, the supply and demand for contracts based on food massively rose - which meant the all-rolled-into-one price for food on people's plates massively rose. The starvation began.

    The food price was now being set by speculation, rather than by real food. The hedge fund manager Michael Masters estimated that even on the regulated exchanges in the US - which take up a small part of the business - 64 percent of all wheat contracts were held by speculators with no interest whatever in real wheat. They owned it solely to inflate the price and sell it on. Even George Soros said this was "just like secretly hoarding food during a hunger crisis in order to make profits from increasing prices." The bubble only burst in March 2008 when the situation got so bad in the US that the speculators had to slash their spending to cover their losses back home.

  •  class division (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    uzeromay

    The problem that these excellent comments raise is that there are not simply one class of owners and another of the deprived.  An adequate class consciousness would recognize that there are innumerable layers of wealth and deprivation and that it is hard for people of relatively modest means to take those lower layers into their conscience.  I have no solution to this: I can merely point it out as a problem that progressives should perceive and incorporate within their speech and programs.

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