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(Written by an American expat living in the European Union)

How is it possible that America which claims that it only has enough money to fund the weakest social safety net of any major industrialized country in the world, but can find money to fund the biggest prison system in the world. As an American expat living in the European Union I am often reminded of the words of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Dicken's tale when confronted with the request for social spending, he replies have we no work houses? Have we no prisons? Indeed American prison labor institutions have become the hallmark of modern day prison workhouses.

Indeed modern American prison workhouses may be the only place in any major industrialized country in the world where workers' wages can compete with the 22 cents an hour wages paid for workers in Bangladesh and other developing nations around the globe. This shocking reality clearly is the hallmark of a pariah system and an international badge of shame! This gives new meaning to the phrase "only in America".


Having said that American prison labor industries are the only place in America where low wage workers are guaranteed by the government to have access to medical and dental care and be provided prescription medications at taxpayer expense. The irony of this upside down pariah robber baron horror show is probably best exemplified in the for-profit American prison system. But then again what could we expect but the world's biggest prison population of any major industrialized country, stemming from a nation which is the only major industrialized country in the world not to provide universal medical access to all residents as a human right. America is also the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn't provide job protected paid maternity leave by right of law. It is the only major industrialized country in the world that provides no paid sick leave or annual leave by right of law.


This has left an estimated 59 million Americans without health insurance. An estimated 132 million Americans without dental insurance, 46 million now on food stamps, 60 million with no paid sick leave. Yet there is always plenty of money for America's military and plenty of money for America's prison systems. In fact in America today we have more Americans in prison at the federal, state and local level than we have active duty troops in the US military. In fact there are believed to be in excess of 2 million prisoners in America today. Their economic situation and that of their families is completely devastating. The taxpayer who has to pay more money each and every year to support that inmate, than it would cost to send them to Harvard University or any Ivy League school in America. What kind of a sick perversion and retrograde state has America devolved to in order to allow such a perverse reality to exist.

Basically it started back in the 1960's at which point income in excess of $1.2 million dollars was taxed at the 90 percent rate. Today by contrast that would be taxed at approx the 30 or 40 percentile provided we made the rascals pay, which too often is not the case. So it is that this sad story now has come to play itself out in what appears to be a coming second stockmarket crash. Of course that's not a problem, because the Wall Street banksters will simply turn to the Capitol Hill politicians that they've bought and exhort another bailout from you the taxpayer, pushing millions more of your homes into underwater mortgages, stealing billions more in your pensions. Enslaving your children when they graduate from college in still further debts of indentured servitude of college loan repayments.

(Quote from Der Spiegel: "From Wall Street to be thrown onto the street")
 
"The stockbrokers are celebrating the end of the crisis. While the crisis is beginning to repeat itself, the banks are just as shameless in their speculation as they were before the crash.

The lobbyists are just as powerful as they ever were. The last 2 years were nothing more than a monumental insider bank robbery, which is long since forgotten. Not a single defendant from senior management was criminally charged. Instead the US Dept of Justice would rather pursue many swindlers who are small fish whose unbridled avarice made them mini-Bernie Madoffs. Bernie Madoff whilst in jail was notified of his son’s suicide." (Block quote based on writer’s paraphrased interpretation of the German text of the German magazine Spiegel December 30th 2010)

http://www.spiegel.de/...

Concurrently millions of American expats like myself tired of being betrayed by so called progressive politicians who are bought by K Street lobbyists just as soon as they are elected, have taken matters into their own hands in a grasp for a last lifeline have voted with their feet and left America, left the national debt behind as their last way available to people without power to stick it to the man before the Tea Party led GOP class warfare sticks it to them. All of this is to say nothing of fleeing the dangers of medical bankruptcy which has become an epidemic in America. Then we are suppose to take it with a straight face when progressive politicians tell us there is hope in sight. Hope of what? Hope for whom? Writing as an expat American I hope America wakes up from the so called American dream, which must be called the American dream because the only way you can believe it is if you're asleep. Yes I agree we can all be proud Americans, but surely that doesn't mean we have to be proud of the broken American social safety net, there we could, should and must do better. Because Americans deserve a European social safety net. They are already paying for it, they're just not getting it. Isn't it time that changes?

(Der Spiegel) A Superpower in Decline: Is the American Dream Over?
11/01/2010

Gridlock as the American Status Quo
It has become a country of plain solutions. People with college degrees are suspect and intelligence has become a blemish. Manfred Henningsen, a German political scientist who teaches in Honolulu, Hawaii, calls it "political and economic paralysis." One reason for the crisis, says Henningsen, is that the American dream, both individual and national, has in fact always been a fiction.

http://www.spiegel.de/...

The MBA program that I graduated from taught me that it is not employers who pay wages, but rather it is sold manufactured products or sold services that pay everyone's wages to include the owners. By that measure most American workers are being legally robbed by their own employers who will not allow them to participate in receiving their fair share of the wealth that they themselves have created through their own hard work, and effectively speaking legally steals their 30 days paid vacation, complete medical and dental, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, company pension plans etc.. It is a legalized system of theft! This robber baron legalized system of theft in which the US Congress is complicit is destroying the American working class dream.

If you agree that real change is overdue, please post below, because your opinion matters and because we need your support. Thanks...


(Please feel invited to follow our Class Warfare group. Thank you for your support.)
http://www.dailykos.com/...

(Here's a link to another diary that deserves your attention. Thank you for your support.)
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Originally posted to Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Global Expats.

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  •  Tip Jar (207+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Im a frayed knot, McGahee220, Phoebe Loosinhouse, 4Freedom, Mary Mike, Only Needs a Beat, One Pissed Off Liberal, triv33, TomP, AndyT, jimstaro, zerelda, politik, DRo, RFK Lives, drnononono, Diana in NoVa, Dreaming of Better Days, bleedingheartliberal218, pickandshovel, concernedamerican, Debs2, Azazello, fou, bryker, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, semioticjim, Razorblade, Tanya, cfm, wayoutinthestix, bnasley, ask, Horace Boothroyd III, irate, KnotIookin, banger, AlwaysDemocrat, Meteor Blades, scooter in brooklyn, Williston Barrett, Amber6541, opinionated, Its a New Day, tommyfocus2003, marykk, deben, gulfgal98, slksfca, Habitat Vic, implicate order, Deward Hastings, damfino, run around, Oh Mary Oh, GeeBee, redhaze, Mnemosyne, Massman, seeta08, marleycat, emal, DixieDishrag, Book of Hearts, LamontCranston, LaFeminista, RWood, chuckvw, peternight, Marjmar, Johnathan Ivan, MartyM, KibbutzAmiad, Rebecca, imokyrok, aliasalias, banjolele, cassidy3, humphrey, RhymesWithUrple, NearlyNormal, greatferm, flavor411, SoCalSal, radmul, tardis10, DontTaseMeBro, bunsk, Sychotic1, Angie in WA State, Sun Tzu, Alumbrados, Brooke In Seattle, Dobber, alyosha, 3goldens, MKSinSA, Oaktown Girl, HoofheartedBC, squarewheel, Regina in a Sears Kit House, Pinto Pony, Fossil, AverageJoe42, Colorado is the Shiznit, Mr Stagger Lee, claude, PAbluestater, Had Enough Right Wing BS, neroden, Noor B, GreyHawk, politicjock, Hillbilly Dem, Eddie C, bythesea, ItsaMathJoke, LaughingPlanet, Rick Aucoin, nicolemm, bozepravde15, cybrestrike, h bridges, blueoregon, Yellow Canary, Mariken, ej25, elwior, jadt65, lotlizard, Spaghetti Western, Preston S, bronte17, Wonton Tom, Devsd, Lorinda Pike, alizard, old wobbly, Maggie Pax, Karl Rover, CTPatriot, Shockwave, cassandraX, Spoc42, carpunder, Broke And Unemployed, Alma, shopkeeper, MsGrin, expatjourno, vets74, xynz, JVolvo, vigilant meerkat, ridemybike, chimene, Pluto, FishOutofWater, supercereal, Detlef, Wolf10, cpresley, WheninRome, Hammerhand, cslewis, Glen The Plumber, Lovo, copymark, Eric Nelson, doingbusinessas, MA Liberal, WV Democrat, CA ridebalanced, DEMonrat ankle biter, petulans, nuclear winter solstice, Miggles, Chi, laidbackbilly, Lupin, oldcrow, roseeriter, lostinamerica, blue jersey mom, Sydserious, mdmslle, Ginger1, Brian B, PrahaPartizan, JonBarleycorn, Ana Thema, DiegoUK, No one gets out alive, BrooklynJohnny, corvaire, Vinnie Vegas, Turbonerd, Celtic Merlin, brainwave, Keone Michaels, BigOkie, auroreden, jimreyn, Jim R, Egalitare, Nebraskablue, Sunspots

    sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

    by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:04:47 AM PDT

  •  The sad thing is that we know we can do better (33+ / 0-)

    but we don't seem to be able to make it happen any more!

    If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when? Rabbi Hillel

    by AndyT on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:23:32 AM PDT

  •  Another call for rationality and clarity in a (53+ / 0-)

    deliberately muddied information pool. Thanks, Democrats Ramshield.

    I have my simple proposals that I post again and again, because I see no other real way out of the current political and cultural impasse our general lack of engagement and knowledge about current issues brought about.

    The efforts to dumb down our educational system have been ongoing. A recent diary here on Murdochian forays into our educational system highlights this. But Murdoch is joined by others in the elite billionaire's club in this drive. NCLB and Race to the Top are emblematic of corporate efforts to control our educational system.

    My proposals to reclaim our democracy include the overturn of Citizens United to get the money out of political campaigns, and the overturn of media consolidation, which has resulted in the outrages generated by News Corps.

    If these actions were coupled with a sales tax on Wall Street, a small per-transaction tax that would not hinder the flow of trades, but which would add hundreds of billions to the federal coffers, we would have funding to better educate and provide better health care for our people.

    These changes require a sea change in thinking from America's present focus on the issues that divide us. Media pours forth a relentless stream of disinformation. The rich can spend what they want to get whomever they wish to get elected. The consequences of ballot by bucks has been very damaging to our democracy.

    Poor quality education, poor media information, poor healthcare, poor electoral practices, and poor protections for the young, ill and elderly have made us a poorer society. The American left has a Sisyphusian task ahead of us to help re-orient American society back towards the intent of our founding fathers for our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    The supercommittee is about as likely to come to an agreement as Charlie Sheen is to become a spokesman for Focus on the Family. Michael Tomasky

    by 4Freedom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:30:13 AM PDT

  •  a rec for a rec? (9+ / 0-)

    Please stop byand support the cause and the diarists

    Hopes to be Reporting LIVE from Durban @COP17 ...

    by boatsie on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:34:01 AM PDT

  •  Think you've nailed it with this one, DR (22+ / 0-)
    ...which must be called the American dream because the only way you can believe it is if you're asleep.

    It's so heart-breaking I don't know what to say.  Just as we think things can't possibly get any worse, they do. If the Dems had the patience of the Rethugs, we'd regroup right now as the Progressive party and steadily rout the other two parties over the years.  

    How long has it taken the Rethugs--30 years to undo the American dream?  Of course they have the advantage of limitless funding.

    But we have the advantage of the Internet and other social media.  The Net has always held the potential for anarchy.  Would the Arab spring have happened without it?  I doubt it.  Or, if it had begun in Tunisia it might have ended in Tunisia without social media.

    Perhaps Wisconsin is our Tunisia and people are rallying.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:44:19 AM PDT

    •  In fairness, the American dream was not that (20+ / 0-)

      old, historically, when the republicans and anti-tax conservatives began their concerted push to destroy it back in the 1980s.  Think about it.  The kind of middle-class prosperity and security that has been systematically dismantled since Reagan's first term in office, did not exist among Americans before the 1920s.  So how old was that American dream?  Maybe 50 years old, when the Norquist-Reagan assassins got out the long knives.  That it's taken 30 years to dismantle it as far as it's been damaged, is a testimonial to its solidity and valence.  It's evidence of how hard it's been for them to knock it down.  

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:53:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  they began planning the destruction (9+ / 0-)

        while it was being born. Goldwater was their guy and they have been building ever sine

        To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

        by Tanya on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:07:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A real case might be made that the American (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, alizard, MsGrin, cpresley

        dream (as much as it entailed joining the middle class, anyway) was crafted as a response to fears that capitalism might be replaced with something like Soviet-style socialism.

        With a world wide economic depression following soon after the Russian revolution, there were well-founded fears.

        Even before the collapse of the Soviet Union the growing middle class had served its purpose and was under attack from many quarters--not the least of which President Reagan (see Michael Moore's diary of 8/5, if you missed it).

        Those with wealth and power use us against each other to protect their interests and position, but historically they always push too hard. As someone has said things may change little by little--and then all at once.

        An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

        by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:05:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That sounds correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Had Enough Right Wing BS

          and it's still throwing out the specter of Soviet-style Socialism that grabs people's psyche today.  How, then, to get folks to recognize that when we were happier in those good old days that we were less dog-eat-dog so that the pack would all get fed?

          'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

          by MsGrin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:43:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think we have to recognize that we will (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Democrats Ramshield, MsGrin

            always be at a disadvantage because we are trying to appeal to peoples' hopes. The Republicans unabashedly prey on the most basic fears.

            Hope is powerful, but fear stops us in our tracks.

            I think even people who never lived in those good old days have a certain sense of nostalgia. Our tendency to be driven by our fears is also one of the factors which compels us to be social animals. I think most people do want a less dog-eat-dog world, they do a little extra snarling just so they aren't the ones who get bit.

            In some ways the power really does rest with us. Not to go all Jerry Springer, but if we can just be a little bit kinder to each other than we think we need to         be . . .

            On a national scale we have to rely to some extent on our leaders, and we all know that some of them are the wrong tools for the job. Too many peddle a mix of fear and greed and resentment designed to keep us separated. Our best revenge is to refuse to drink it. I wish there was some quick and easy way for us to take that poisonous potion away from every ones' lips. If there is I don't know of it.

            Although I think people can sense that something is just "off" many may not have enough direct experience to know how the world can be. Like someone who has only eaten commercially grown produce tasting their first fresh fruit or veggie straight from a real garden. Just like them, when people see how things can be I think it would be hard to go back to the same old same old.

            It's not strictly political, maybe part of "the purpose of life" is to find ways to make exactly these kinds of improvements.

            An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

            by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:49:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the comment (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MsGrin, Had Enough Right Wing BS

              sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

              by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:18:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Beautifully said, thank you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Had Enough Right Wing BS

              I needed that input this week.

              'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

              by MsGrin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:48:39 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I would say that the expression (2+ / 0-)

              that "the US is trying to appeal to people's hope" is an understatetment.

              If you ask me I think it's more like they use it clearly to manipulate people and gain profit from it. This constant selling "the American Dream", the frequent reminder that "if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything in this country" is plain awful to my ears.

              Selling the "American exceptionalism" (just watch MSNBC's ad from Chris Matthews how he sells American exceptionalism bragging and padding the Americans on their shoulders for having put a black man in the White House - I don't know if it's just me, but my stomach aches if I listen to it, may be I am overly sensitive to use Obama's race for anything, but I absolutely can't stand that ad).

              Another thing which gets on my nerves is that Americans never question their own "great ideas" like the one that argues immigration is the best thing that can happen to America and that it's their open arm immigration policies that "makes America as great a nation as it is".

              You know most "immigrants" came either by force or by dire need to escape extreme poverty or extreme political persecution. All the immigrant groups had to suffer in one way or another exploitation of their labor and underwent some form of cultural imperialism with the intent to make the newcomer a real American so that they "could make it in Amerca and achieve their dream". Of course as an immigrant whose livelyhood is dependent on the host, you start singing to the choir and internalize that arguement over the years (if happen to make some progress in this country). Who dares to questions American exceptionalism if you are a poor guy from out of nowhere?  

              Sometimes I want to answer,  if a well-meaning and well-to-do American says how wonderful this melting pot is and how great that country has become because of their immigrants: "Why don't you do your dirty jobs and hard work on your own instead of using cheap labor of impoverished immigrants or instead of buying "intelligence" of engineers and scientists from abroad?"  But one doesn't say that, it's so rude.

              We will see how great the US really is when the white middle class has to work their fields and pick vegetables for the hourly rates they pay their immigrants.

              Sorry for the rant. The reason for why I seldom comment in Democrat Ramshields diaries is that if I would speak my mind the bitter words come out faster than the sweeter ones. And that of course is no good - neither for me nor for you.

              •  mimi bus. librarian advocate intellectual freedom (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Had Enough Right Wing BS

                I encourage you to practice if you would please your unrestricted intellectual freedom . You're obviously a very experienced person and your background that you bring to bear adds value to our discussion here. So I ask and encourage you to please liberally give as your conscience directs. Too many people give into the pressure of social niceties to practice self-censorship.

                Certainly outspoken Tea Party members on the other side of the fence do not give into that type of restraint. If we are to successfully compete with them in public spaces and in public dialog, then we must engage fully, because all forms of censorship from the perspective of a business librarian are counter to the practice of intellectual freedom.

                Business librarians are trained in the public discourse of business related issues to always support and encourage intellectual freedom, therefore if I may please I would humbly like to encourage you and other readers, such as yourself to please consider giving, as this promotes not only intellectual freedom but it adds value to the public discourse. As always I find myself to be quite grateful for your support and the support of the other readers. As without your support efforts of citizen journalism like this one would fail, and to that end I do continue to be grateful for the level of support that I enjoy at the Kos. I'd just like to also thank you and the other readers for extending yourself to provide such cogent commentary, as this will certainly add value to all of our lives.  

                sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

                by Democrats Ramshield on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 03:46:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thank you DR, but frankly I feel uncomfortable (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Had Enough Right Wing BS

                  commenting here much and being asked (or encouraged by your messages) to do so.

                  I have read all of your diaries, I think, (and I follow you since a long time) and you make the same valuable and correct points in each of your diaries in an almost repetitive manner. For those Americans, who don't know anything about countries outside the US, your diaries are very valuable and might trigger a lot of discussion.

                  I, though, don't want to discuss them, because I compared the US and the little bit I know from my home country in Europe my whole life and it is an unhealthy way to keep my mind busy and often turns out negatively on my mental well-bing to do so over and over.

                  So, I would rather be understood as someone who would not be asked (even if so politely asked as you do it) to comment.  You are extremely polite and without a doubt professional in your way to encourage participation in your specific diary series. I just don't feel comfortable with it.

                  Hopefully you do understand. I tried to express myself clear and hopefully polite enough. I have learned that it doesn't help to compare countries other than to learn that different people find different solutions (or not) to their social and political problems.

                  I search for something positive to do to support those policies in the US I would like to see implemented. Thinking about Europe isn't doing it for me.

                  •  Mimi, I know your comment was drected at DR, but (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mimi

                    I hope you will continue to share your perspective. You seem very perceptive and have vastly broader experiences than I (for example) do.

                    I understand it may be uncomfortable, and don't think you should feel obligated. I do appreciate whatever level of commenting works for you, though.

                    Your insights are valuable to me.

                    An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

                    by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 11:34:41 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I am a bit sorry for my answer to DR (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Had Enough Right Wing BS

                      but it reflects the truth. I easily approach the cliff to depression and dwelling in comparisons is not good for me. I always hope one day I find some outlet in my activities to support and fight for social policies I consider the right ones like public health care, public campaign finance, overhaul of the electoral college and more.

                      So far I found my day-time job so demanding that it actually prevent me from having enough strength in me to become an activist or join others from whom I could learn.

                      And I like your sig ... see I want to be an optimist and get rid of the pessimist shadow that follows me around... :-)  

                      •  I could have easily written this: (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mimi
                        So far I found my day-time job so demanding that it actually prevent me from having enough strength in me to become an activist or join others from whom I could learn.

                        And probably many others here as well feel the same way. One of the best things about Daily Kos is that none of us has to do the work alone. We all have to find our own pace. I wish I could be more involved, too.

                        I dare say, even people whose day-time job is government or activism often wish they could do more. It sounds trite, but we can accomplish much more together than any of us could alone.

                        I haven't used Daily Kos very long but I see it less as a solution than as a very good starting point. Information and links I get here can help me use the time I have better than if I tried to start working completely on my own.

                        I don't expect you to comment or compare or anything if it makes you feel bad, but I really like your "voice."

                        An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

                        by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 04:38:55 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  You make some important points, just as the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mimi

                diarist has. I'm afraid I often write without precision. The "we" I was referring to when I said, "we are trying to appeal to peoples' hopes" are progressives/liberals/Democrats.

                The United States absolutely has a record of abusing many, and allowing the exploitation of more. The "boot strap" adage and claims of "American exceptionalism" are used like Marx's famous opiates of the masses, to dull our awareness. As Democrats Ramshield points out we don't need to go back in history at all to find truly monstrous treatment.

                Denying history, or the present reality for that matter, is foolish. We are not prisoners either of the past or what now is, except as we choose to be, though.

                I have always found it strange that some of the most important things we might say or think about can tend to sound maudlin, while belligerent nonsense can come off as bold. Sometimes when I might consider an idea trite I have to ask myself if it is so basic why is it not more common. Then again I know I have a tendency to focus too much on what the future can be, and this risks ignoring truths so many can't wish away.

                It is all too easy to imagine falling through the social safety net and finding myself, as the diarist describes, in our modern day equivalent of work houses. Like some Ebeneezer Scrooge, I guess I try to make my peace by framing things in a comfortable (for me) way. Fleeing to the future as I want it to be I risk abandoning those who don't have the freedom to do the same.

                An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? Rene Descartes

                by Had Enough Right Wing BS on Sun Aug 07, 2011 at 04:06:33 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  We don't have the political sophistication (11+ / 0-)

      to do anything at this time. Progressives are the most politically immature demographic in the country. We still think that politics is about reasoning with our opponents. It's not. Power is about the use of force and unless you are willing to develop and use force, get thee to a nunnery.

      Force can only come from committed and tight communities. That goes before policies or supporting candidates. Had even half the people who claimed to be progressives boycotted the major banks in an organized way such as--here are our demands meet them or we at a specific date, take out all our money--or, in the case of other industries, stop buying your products. Because we can't do things like that we have no power. End of story.

      Organize your friends, family, find people who share your values and create networks. The system is dying and we are moving towards neo-feudalism sooner or later. The center cannot hold. The S&P downgrade is the official announcement that we are at the beginning of the end. Because there is no possibility of improvement--there's no room left to fake it.

    •  Not to take away from this terrific diary, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior

      that line is George Carlin's.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

      by accumbens on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:30:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Turn on, tune in, drop out v21 (27+ / 0-)

    Chris Hedges, who wrote The End of Liberalism, wrote an insightful short piece at AdBusters.

    “By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes that it can make their interests a priority,” Sheldon Wolin writes, “the Democratic Party pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats and the Liberals are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.

    -snip-

    Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. This is why these apologists for globalism continue to find a following.

    And he leaves us with a recommendation:

    We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to rapidly create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and cultural values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.

  •  The Overton Window has been moving to right for 30 (31+ / 0-)

    years now.  After a brief pause in 2009-10, it has continued its steady rightward march w/ a vengeance this year.

    We're slashing domestic spending in the deepest economic downturn in 8 decades while openly waging 2 wars and quietly participating in a couple of others.   State and local govts are being cut to the bone while Wall Street continues to party on like there's no tomorrow.  W's high-end tax cuts have been effectively made permanent.

    As exemplified by this recent speech, our POTUS is recycling contemporary myths:

    Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it....let's live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending. Let's cut domestic spending to the lowest level it's been since Dwight Eisenhower was President. ..For the first time in history, our country's Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet...I'm asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.

    Faced w/ economic hostage-takers, our POTUS said we needed to cut domestic spending and compromise w/ the GOP in order to avoid a credit-rating downgrade.  We did get major cuts in domestic spending, but we also got nothing remotely resembling "a balanced approach," and we did get a credit downgrade.

    Today, he tells us that extending NAFTA and having tax credits to hire returning vets will do the trick.  The issue is not whether the other side has won this "debate".  The issue is their margin of victory.  

    I'm at a loss about what to do at this point.

    Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

    by RFK Lives on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:48:45 AM PDT

    •  Join those of us who understand the future (7+ / 0-)

      Which lies in neo-feudalism and a collapsing center. Build alternative institutions based on cooperative rather than exploitative models. I'm going to start such a project in the area of information processing (in the meta sense) and education as soon as I can liquify all assets and find a place to live where people are willing to live with communitarian values.

      We will have to build new monasteries in a sense as Chris Hedges suggests. Although mine might be a lot funkier than Chris' still he's the guy we need to read and follow along with many other voices who have been right in the past who are, therefore largely banned from the mainstream media.

  •  Prisons are the New Social Safety Nets (23+ / 0-)

    A cot and 3 hots with all of the abuse you can take.

    Pay for your own incarceration with your slave labor.

    Secure Employment for the Prison Cops.

    Authoritarian Rethugs are having orgasms thinking about it.

    CRIMINAL JUST US.

    •  with healthcare. (4+ / 0-)

      My country is the world, and my religion is to do good. Thomas Paine

      by irate on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:11:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tylenol for Every Ailment = Prison Healthcare (8+ / 0-)

        Gangrene from diabetes, heart attack, punctured lung from a broken rib sustained in a fight, testicular cancer, torn retinas from coughing due to GOD awful cigarette smoke, rat bites, dehydration from diarrhea caused by GOD knows what in the food, etc.

        Tylenol is the prison cure all.
        (Advil may be sustituted -- it does more long-term damage to kidneys.

        (Sorry, you can't see the doctor.)

        Afterall, the idea of prison is to take years off of the lives of prisoners.

        I experienced this while wrongfully imprisoned in Pennsylavania's sate prison system on a fairy tale and can name names and places.

        •  this is a fact, I was in a medical ward in 2004 (8+ / 0-)

          in Texas and what gets distributed amounts to tylenol , or some other aspirin, being handed over in a cup thru the slot in the door ( the bean shooter).
          They watch thru the glass to see you swallow it, making you open your mouth, wiggling your tongue to show you haven't stashed it.

          I was there for a month but the first nite I was there my cell mate went into a seizure three times, flopping with his eyes rolled up and all I can do is hit the emergency intercom to the desk. Then a small group of people with one  Doctor assigned to the wing showed up to stabilize him ,and get him to an ambulance to be taken to the County Hospital.
          Yes I said three times the first night, because every time the hospital got him stabilized, or cognizant enuf to speak he was brought back from the hospital on a stretcher and poured into his bunk. Every time, only the third time they moved me to another cell for a few hours as two Doctors seemed to working hard to keep him alive on the spot. Then he was taken to the Hospital, and around five am he was being brought back in a wheelchair.

          This guy seriously belonged in a hospital not a County Jail, and the reason he had been in the County for three months was because a Parole Officer came for a home visit and he wasn't home. So an arrest warrant was issued , and they arrested him after they questioned relatives about his whereabouts.
          That was easy because he had had another 'stroke' and was in the emergency ward at the Hospital. That's why he wasn't home for the Parole Officer, and once he was again 'stabilized' he was moved to the County jail.

          Yes, it is not medical care in jail, it's survival care and they fail at that continually.

          ( One side note; his last cell mate was taking ALL his food that was delivered to the cell, but the evening meal was in a Day Room so he did get to eat. His cellmate did pay dearly for that once the story was out, and the others liked me because my cell mate had told them in the Day Room I helped him getting into his wheelchair from  his bunk on the floor . BTW It was on the floor so he couldn't hit his head on the concrete floor when he rolled out of his bunk during a 'stroke'.  I also am a vegetarian and until the kitchen got that right he was getting extra meat.)

          without the ants the rainforest dies

          by aliasalias on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:08:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  to aliasalias - thanks for sharing! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            aliasalias

            sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

            by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:40:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •   like I said, that guy belonged in a hospital (0+ / 0-)

              not the County Jail, and when he it finally did get it straightened out with the Parole Dept. (because he was a Vietnam vet he got some help), and was cleared for release, he had a major stroke in the 'discharge room' . He never made it out of that jail alive.

              If he were in the hospital he might have lived, I don't know I'm not a doctor, but wheeling him  to the hospital from stroke to stroke and then back to the floor in our cell sure as hell played some part in him dying during release.

              without the ants the rainforest dies

              by aliasalias on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:14:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  And the MIC is the "jobs program". (4+ / 0-)

      Taken together it's wrong in almost every possible way . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:09:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  to bleedingheartliberal218 - thanks for supporting (4+ / 0-)

      this diary.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:30:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Democracy Now! did a great show on Prison labor (6+ / 0-)

        yesterday.   http://www.democracynow.org/...

        "The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor"

        New Exposé Tracks ALEC-Private Prison Industry Effort to Replace Unionized Workers with Prison Labor

        Many of the toughest sentencing laws responsible for the explosion of the U.S. prison population were drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which helps corporations write model legislation. Now a new exposé reveals ALEC has paved the way for states and corporations to replace unionized workers with prison labor. We speak with Mike Elk, contributing labor reporter at The Nation magazine. He says ALEC and private prison companies "put a mass amount of people in jail, and then they created a situation where they could exploit that." Elk notes that in 2005 more than 14 million pounds of beef infected with rat feces processed by inmates were not recalled, in order to avoid drawing attention to how many products are made by prison labor.

                             ...................................................

        AMY GOODMAN: And let me just remind people, ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council.

        MIKE ELK: Yeah, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, started passing bills in individual states to privatize prisons. So now, state—there’s prison companies that could make money by keeping people in prisons. So then ALEC—what they did after that was they got states to pass tougher drug laws, tougher laws that would put prisoners away for a long time. In fact, one of the first bills introduced in 1995, by then-Wisconsin State Representative Scott Walker, was an ALEC bill, where he cited ALEC statistics, and he was an ALEC member, where he drew his inspiration. So they put a mass amount of people in jail, and then they created a situation where they could exploit that.
        And now what we’re seeing is the incredible rise of prison labor, where you have prisoners making as much as 20 cents an hour, making everything from the electronic components in guided missiles, that are being used in Libya, to breaded chicken patties that your children are eating at school, to, in fact, maybe even these office chairs we’re sitting in now. We have over 100,000 prisoners employed, working for private corporations. And before the 1990s and ALEC, this did not occur in this country.

        (emphasis mine)

        without the ants the rainforest dies

        by aliasalias on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:15:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  there is a Democratic version of ALEC (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          aliasalias, xynz, MsGrin, Mike Taylor, cpresley

          within the halls of Congress, something even the Koch brothers never tried.

          And make no mistake about the role of Third Way.Third Way runs the policy apparatus of the Democratic Party. In Congress, staffers attend regular Third Way policy briefings, where the group hands out pre-packaged legislative amendments in legal form, generic press releases, polling around those policy ideas, and talking points.It’s a soup-to-nuts policy apparatus.
          . . .

          The group has enormous juice. On the Congressional side, it has six honorary Senate co-Chairs, and seven House-side co-Chairs. Jim Clyburn, a co-Chair, is in the House Democratic leadership. Two current cabinet members are former co-Chairs. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, held regular briefings for the freshmen member staff in the last Congress.

          . . .

          Finally, most of the Board members are from the FIRE Sector (Wall Street and real estate), including the head of equity trading for Goldman Sachs and one of the heads of investment banking for Morgan Stanley.

          What the Naked Capitalism article does not mention is that theThird Way" Foundation is a front for the Democratic Leadership Counciland that its purpose is to capture corporate and Forbes 400 donations in exchange for neoliberal domestic policy and neoconservative foreign policy.

          If you don't own a private jet, the DLC is not your friend. But it may be even more instrumental in the end of the American Dream than the Koch brothers ever dreamed of being.

          Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:45:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's hoping (9+ / 0-)

    that I can get some Hemlock on my crappy HMO
    prescription program.

  •  My degree in American studies. . . (21+ / 0-)

    . . .caused me to reach the conclusion that our self image is sometimes widely divergent from our reality.  As an ex-pat, your perspective gives you an advantage.  Nice diary.

    I am a liberal. So, I should not expect any consideration from the guy I helped elect.

    by waztec on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 07:56:58 AM PDT

  •  thanks for the post (11+ / 0-)

    excellent as usual

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

    by Tanya on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:02:13 AM PDT

  •  The American Nightmare (21+ / 0-)

    I think of the scene in Apocalypse Now - Marlon Brando - 1/2 face in shadow - saying, "...The horror, the horror."  That is how I view the US now.  And the silly, silly fools like Alex Witt on MSNBC say things like "this credit downgrade is embarrassing."  The US has failed  its people.

    I think of my time, many years ago,stationed in a small village in Belgium while in the USAF (1967-1970).  I remember the honesty, the simplicity, the lack of consumerism or obsession with material goods, the love of good food and wine and beer, evenings with the family (my late wife's Belgian family).  People were genuine and true and that life in that village was pure and good.  

    Merci, mon cher ami, et a bientot.

    Thomas

  •  wanna revive the American Dream... (4+ / 0-)

    Pass a TERM LIMIT ammendment to the US constitution.

    we dont need to ammend the constitution to add a balanced budget.... we need to add a TERM LIMIT ammendment... including term limites for USSC justices.  I think 25 years is MORE than enough for any one person ...  after 25 years you are no longer in touch with societal  changes an therefore can no longer make relevant decisions for future Americans.   TERM LIMITS are opposed by everyone who benefits from the status quo but letting career politicans INCLUDING judges continue to control the direction America takes is why we are where we are.

    I am so tired of hearing politicans take to the respective congressional floors and start their pontificating with "in my 30, in my 40, in my 50 years in congress...."

    if you want to even begin to get rid of these career  'enablers' we need to finally get TERM LIMITS made into the law of the land.  within a generation we will see a decided DROP in the swinging door movement between congress and BIG BIZ because there wouldnt be enough room on the CORP side to keep absorbing the hundreds of politicians who must LEAVE their cushy government jobs because the PEOPLE dont want FOR LIFE deciders of their fates.

    we talk about the BELTWAY BUBBLE all the time (like the weather) but we NEVER do a thing to change it... TERM LIMITS bursts that beltway bubble every so often and we get to kick OLD STALE politicians out.

    its tricky though, NYC passed term limits for MAYOR and CITY COUNCIL but bloomberg spent tens of millions of dollars getting that LAW we passed twice pushed aside for HIM by getting the CITY COUNCIL to vote HIM and themselves the right to seek a 3rd term DISPITE what the voters said (twice)  and then we had to pass ANOTHER referendum telling NY pols that THEY cannot supercede our will regarding term limiting THEM ever again

    Politicans are totally out of touch within 25 years...and their agenda becomes something OTHER than serving the needs of 'WE THE PEOPLE" and for that reason NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO SERVE FOR LIFE.

    so IF you really want even a CHANCE to revive the American Drean start working to get a TERM LIMIT ammendment added to our constitution.

    "Orwell was an optimist"

    by KnotIookin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:16:49 AM PDT

    •  I'm on the fence on term limits (6+ / 0-)

      It seems like a necessity but the version in California put in practice is an unmitigated clusterfuck.

      Beside that - a reactionary election with a majority of baggers suddenly in power could reduce the country to rubble within a month.

      An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

      by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:04:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anthony all you are doing is insuring that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MKSinSA, Brooke In Seattle

        career politicians NEVER have to ever be accountible to the voters once in office... once there the MONEY people keep them there and our votes become meaningless.  You have to get over the hype that its better to keep things the way they are and HOPE you can convince career politicians to  vote against the better interests of their millionaire benefactors.   they DONT and wont and we keep sending them BACK to congress anyway.

        what happened in NYC when we said NO MORE FOREVER politicians was that they didnt see what you see as the outcome because they were to busy protecting their OWN careers in politics....  I will not vote for ANYONE who voted against the will of the NYC voters and gave themselves a 3rd term.... I include Christine Quinn in that group...  She could have said NO but she preferred to preserve HER place as Next Dem in line rather than stand up to Bloomberg.

        so I say again... if we want to revive the American Dream we have to pass a term limit amendment to the constitution.  :)

        "Orwell was an optimist"

        by KnotIookin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:42:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see money as a greater threat to good governance (5+ / 0-)

          ..than career public servants aspiring to positions with greater influence that require elections to serve.

          Term limits without reining in lobbyists (and now unlimited donations) would just get us a new crop of fresh-faces but still corrupt pols. The system being broken as opposed to people gradually losing touch with the electorate.

          Personally, I think it's FUBAR, and would leave in a heartbeat if financially able.

          An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

          by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:12:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  To Anthony Page - great comment (3+ / 0-)

            I think you have stated exactly how many of our readers feel.

            sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

            by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:34:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  OR we COULD get more teaparty types (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MsGrin

            by which I mean...people who are 'on a mission' but dont plan to make careers of it, especially since they would have a LIMITED BY LAW amount of time to 'git it done'  

            I agree with you that MONEY is what motivates every damn thing in DC but you wont get the MONEY out of there until you get the Corp Lackies who spend their lives doing BIG BIZ bidding term limited.  

            Money isnt interested in someone who is on their way OUT if there is a whole NEW crop on its way in... and the 'game' of buying up congress gets infinitely MORE expensive and harder to continue because the changeover would become TO FAST to keep up with...  

            sure there will be a residual crop of already OWNED F'ers who will continue to F it up for the rest of us for a decade or so but nothing changes overnight so it is important, to Americas future, to limit the time that Money has to 'buy and own' an elected official asap by term limiting congress AND the USSC and I truely believe you WILL get PEOPLE to serve instead of the corp owned career politicans we are stuck with now.

            "Orwell was an optimist"

            by KnotIookin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:16:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I reluctantly disagree (7+ / 0-)

      Term limits sound good on the face of it, which is  why I voted for them in California.  What I have learned subsequently is that:

      Politicians that serve for a limited amount of time spend even more time thinking about how to land their next job (they move from the house to the senate to constitutional positions etc.)

      Politicians that serve only a couple of terms never learn the ropes and therefore they tend to rely even more heavily on their staffers and lobbyists for information, further putting decision making in the hands of people not elected by us.

      Politicians that serve only a couple of terms have far less reason not to "kick the can down the road," since they will not be in office to weather the consequences of their decisions.

      If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

      by Sychotic1 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:36:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Term limits on staffers too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Noor B, elwior

        I know the excuse is that you need them to show the new people the ropes, but I think it's more that they need to show them the connections.

        We can't do anything about lobbyists unless we can make money in politics illegal, 'cause lobbying is in the Constitution.

        Staffers don't need to be guaranteed lifetime jobs in the same office. There are lots of government jobs they can transition to that have nothing to do with the unelected being allowed to control the levers of government.

        "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

        by Brooke In Seattle on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:44:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't agree with this either (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, alizard, cpresley

          already staffers can apply for any government job they qualify for and historically politically connected people get place in civil service positions that they didn't actually earn.  Civil service is supposed to eliminate or minimize this, but it still occurs. When staffers  have to go to civil service in big numbers, the civil service become an arm of the political and it is only a matter of time before it too is corrupted.

          If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much stupid costs

          by Sychotic1 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:09:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It would be far better (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          elwior, alizard

          if staffers could rotate in for a few years from the mid-level civil service career people in the various agencies, particularly for the House and Senate committees.  It would be a great way to get expertise in a field without relying on the revolving door to the corporate and lobbying worlds.

          "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

          by Noor B on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:37:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Term limits are NOT the answer (2+ / 0-)

      you are fooling yourself.  

      What happens when legislators are constantly overturned is that there becomes a scaffolding of aides who hold the institutional memory for those organizations.  People do not vote for aides, they vote for candidates - forcing the institutional memory behind the scenes further separates voters from those who craft legislation.

      At least as it is now, you can vote out bastards.  Empower an infrastructure behind the scenes and you can no longer vote it away.

      'Give away to the rich and punish the poor for the extravagance.....crazy' --LaFeminista

      by MsGrin on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:58:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Indeed we are paying for it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    Government spend enormous amounts of tax dollars on the medical system which goes straight to the oligarchs who spend it on the usual things. Let's be clear what those things are. Someone did a study of what people who stole massive amounts of money during the S & L crisis did with that money. They found that much of it went to prostitutes and cocaine dealers.

    The only thing that is keeping Europe from falling into the U.S. trap is that Europeans are much more politically sophisticated than Americans. They don't drink the Kool-Aid of American Exceptionalism--they know where that kind of thinking leads. Americans want to live in fantasies more than they want to face the facts--this is out of character for Americans--we have a pragmatic history--we had a can-do attitude. Now we have nothing left except to face utter ruin either in going to a neo-feudal order (our best hope), civil war, or a totalitarian system (unlikely--the martinets that would be forced to run it are just too fucking stupid).

    I had not seriously considered becoming an ex-pat myself but i'm considering it now--if I have any money left and can sell this house. If I don't, I know how to get by when things get rough--might be fun even if my life might be shorter.

  •  Its hopeless (5+ / 0-)

    I did everything I could to get Obama and Dems elected.  I dutifully worked to organize my community. I worked myself to the bone.  I don't see anything that even looks like the seeds of change.  Its not even that things are worse now than before, its that the people who were supposed to help don't seem interested in helping.

    So, screw those guys to put it simply. Fool me once...

    (Good luck finding someone to quit their job so they can work 80 hour weeks, though)

  •  Can't say I blame you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior

    but this won't fix the problem.  The powers that be don't really care if some people leave the country.  This will be fixed in the streets not the polls.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:46:09 AM PDT

  •  I would leave this country immediately (10+ / 0-)

    but that my best friends, my children, are settled in the same city as I am.
    This country has gone totally insane. I heard 39,000,000 Americans have gone to prison on drug crimes since the start of the "War on Drugs." I will work for legalization of marijuana in Colorado coming to the ballot next November.

    "How I hate those who are dedicated to producing conformity." William S Burroughs

    by shmuelman on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:02:38 AM PDT

  •  Tipped, and rec'd - You are one of the fortunate. (7+ / 0-)

    We are to tied down here with many responsibilities that we placed upon ourselves and need to hold ground here:  We will figure this out.

    We have to, as our lives depend upon it.  

    "This Space For Rent - Post Your Comment Here"

    by LamontCranston on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:14:24 AM PDT

  •  Follow the money (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    banjolele, PAbluestater, elwior

    Follow the money.

    I was curious about whether the $7 million the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. spent on last year's elections — including $2 million on Jerry Brown's governor's race alone — might have had something to do with the contract the union just scored.
  •  Slavery (11+ / 0-)

    You do not expand the point, but whole industries in the USA depend on prison labor. You are, for example, very unlikely to be able to buy any US made paints or white goods (fridges, washing machines etc) that are not made by prisoners.

    The other juicy fact is that to bolster that "prison industrial complex", the USA now has roughly the same number of prisoners as there were slaves just before the Civil War.

    "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:15:34 AM PDT

    •  8-O (0+ / 0-)

      Links?  

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:42:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure (6+ / 0-)
        According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.
        At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum. And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call "highly skilled positions." At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

        2008 data            The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

        "Israel was born out of Jewish terrorism." Sir Gerald Kaufman, British MP and son of Holocaust survivor.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 02:28:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Appreciate your diaries... (7+ / 0-)

    ...they can be quite mind-bending.

  •  Another great diary DR (9+ / 0-)

    Our own vision of ourselves is very clouded because much of the truth is obscured from us.  Often it takes someone from a distance to clearly define our current reality.  Thanks for a great diary.

    Tipped and recommended.  

    The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- Our soul is gone.

    by gulfgal98 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 09:45:06 AM PDT

  •  As Dostoyevsky said (4+ / 0-)

    "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:26:37 AM PDT

  •  Both parties shot their arrows (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    into the American dream, whilst proclaiming to care about the interests of the American people. The Oligarchy are firmly in control.

  •  Another excellent diary, DR. eom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, elwior

    The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

    by SoCalSal on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:48:41 AM PDT

  •  The amount of money the US government spends (4+ / 0-)

    that it needn't spend is staggering. A bloated military, people imprisoned at 7 or 8 times the rate of other nations, giveaways to landowning corporations aka 'farmers', giveaways to oil companies, a staggering overpriced health care system that wastes something like 5% of GDP to leave millions without insurance and who knows what else. And every time it comes time to cut spending the government cuts the part of the budget that goes to a desparately needed and grossly inadequate social safety net even further screaming 'entitlements' the whole time when the real entitlements are the items mentioned.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:49:30 AM PDT

    •  actually, it's closer to 8% (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mike Taylor

      US GDP - health ~ 17%, UK GDP - health 9.4...

      and UK coverage is 100% with the lesser percentage of GDP. So it's valid to say that any higher percentage of GDP the US spends vs the UK on health care is indeed wasted money.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:59:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary as usual. (5+ / 0-)

    The issues are so apparent and even solutions,both large and small,present themselves to us. But the USA seems to have lost the collective will to move forward. It is drowning along with functioning government in a bath of greed & anomie.  (doesn't even need Grover Norquist to hold it down) Barely anyone seems to have noticed.
    Thanks for noticing. Again & again & again.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 10:55:19 AM PDT

  •  Uh, the European Dream seems to be in trouble too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, Roadbed Guy

    Also, as we have seen recently, it is not the safe welcoming place for all people. If you are Muslim or have too dark of skin, there are people who want you out, if not dead.

    When the diarist renounces American citizenship and becomes only a citizen of Europe, then I'll believe these diaries are more than just mocking those who don't have the resources to go wherever they please to find work.

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:02:57 AM PDT

  •  right wing observation on low prison population (10+ / 0-)

    in European countries:

    they're soft on crime !

    that's why America is safe - because we have so many bad people, in prison !

    Meanwhile, European countries have about 1/3 the homicide rate of the US.

    big badda boom : GRB 080913

    by squarewheel on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:12:54 AM PDT

    •  to squarewheel - that is a great observation (4+ / 0-)

      Of course you're quite right.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:34:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember once making a phone call (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, alizard, Eric Nelson, cpresley

      to my mom from Switzerland.  I was off by myself, and I called her just after lunch.  She had just woken up, hadn't had her coffee and mistakenly thought I was out alone in the wee hours of the night.  Of course, she promptly freaked out and screamed at me to go back to my hotel.

      Later I found out that she called my uncle in a lather.  He asked where I was calling from, and when she told him he laughed.  "Switzerland?  She could walk stark naked down the middle of the street at 2AM local time and no one would harm her.  Safest country in the world."

      This happened during the same summer when two local high school girls were found raped, murdered and mutilated in a wooded area not far from a local beach.  The culprit turned out to be a sheriff's deputy from a neighboring county.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, v3, n18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 12:51:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Europe is not a good model.... (0+ / 0-)

      Europe is in big trouble too. I'm not sure we should be taking lessons from Europe on ANYTHING. If you think otherwise, you haven't been paying attention. I lived in Europe and the US for years. Different problems but just as bad.

      Let's get out of the habit of turning Europe into this mecca of love and wonder. It just is not the truth.

  •  Thanks for this diary, DR (13+ / 0-)

    You've given me some ideas for ways I can afflict Ron Johnson, (R-Knucklehead), who is one of my senators.  It's very clear from watching him in public speaking situations that he's clueless about what he's doing in Washington, DC and his understanding of the issues barely rates as "superficial".  So, I've decided that on a regular basis I'm going to write him and bring up various issues (like why we can fund prisons but cannot fund the social safety nets).  When I get replies from him---which appear to have been cobbled together very likely from the Daily Talking Points sheets he gets from the Kochs---they're quite ridiculous.  Apparently, his "shadow money" backers were able to buy him this seat but don't give him enough money to hire a communications specialist to write his constituent responses (or his speeches!).  But I can save these up, share them with others, and when he tries to run again, I will have a treasure trove of stupid comments he's made to use against him.  The IQ differential between him and Russ Feingold, whose seat he won, has got to be chasm-like!

    Objecting to our governor’s policies does not make a citizen of Wisconsin a criminal. Not yet, anyway. ~ nelangst

    by 3goldens on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 11:14:28 AM PDT

  •  I guess I can't say I'm dissapointed in the death (0+ / 0-)

    of the American dream, because I never believed it in the first place.

    Eu quero ser mais que um simples problema

    by bozepravde15 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:05:05 PM PDT

  •  the time is now..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, alizard

    There comes a time when efforts to avoid the truth begin to fail, when one can no longer go about daily life and pretend that all is okay. If you are like most of us, you are experiencing this.

    http://october2011.org/...

    The goal is not to bring your adversaries to their knees but to their senses. -- Mahatma Gandhi

    by Mindmover on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:54:15 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, DR. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Democrats Ramshield

    Wish I knew what else to say. Just too mind-f*cked by the perpetual insanity.

  •  Lose your job, you’re dead. (4+ / 0-)

    That’s what it has come down too...  

    Nudniks need not apply.

    by killermiller on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 02:53:24 PM PDT

    •  To killermiller -Thanks for the post. Pls read (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, Devsd

      Well does that make for a compliant workforce? If so, who benefits from that and to who's detriment does that work and why?

      Is it by accident or design? Thanks for the great post.

      sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]

      by Democrats Ramshield on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 03:03:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Not only brilliantly written, but as always (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Democrats Ramshield

    you inspire me to do more and write more.

  •  They’ll expand prison-labor next, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alizard

    to make the US more ‘globally competitive’ (which will instead be justified as way of covering the high cost of incarceration, much of it private, and largely unneeded, i.e. ‘war on drugs’). And the conserva-drones will fall for it too (like they have fallen for the sabotage of the US safety net, through 30 years of transferring wealth from the working-class to the rich through ‘borrowing’ from the SS trust-fund to finance tax-cuts for corporations/the rich). It’s all about tearing down the US working-class, so the oligarchs can steal our productivity, assets, resources etc., reducing the US standard of living at the altar of ‘global competitiveness’ (i.e. the multinational have been officially running the show ever since 1974 (i.e. the creation of the constitution-circumventing Fast track negotiating authority, under which a lot of bad trade deals, i.e. NAFTA, GATT  etc. were negotiated., which also transfer resources from the US working class to multinational corporations) and their power has increased exponentially ever since.

  •  Europe middle class pays for and gets a safety net (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor, alizard

    People in the US don't get a real social safety net because they don't pay for one.  They'd rather buy extra gadgets and luxury goods and supersized houses when times are good than pay for a safety net that will protect them in bad times.  This isn't just true for the rich, it's also true for the middle class -- there are far too many people living it up for most of them to be wealthy.

    In Europe, the top marginal income tax rate is typically in line with what it is in New York or Los Angeles.  But they also pay a VAT (consumption tax) of around 15-22% and in many countries, middle class people, not just the wealthy, pay the top marginal rate, which can kick in well below $100,000.  Middle class people pay a lot more taxes, and they get a lot more back in health care, child care, public transport, and education.

    People ultimately have to make decisions about what is important.  But they haven't been getting good advice from politicians.  Reagan arrived and told them they could have 90% of what you get in Europe at 75% of the cost.  Bush junior told them they could have wars, too.  When Bush senior admitted if you wanted 90%, you had to pay 90%, he was swept out of office by the promise that most people would still have to pay no more than they did under Reagan and a few people earning over $250,000 could pay it all.  Luckily, Clinton ran away from that as fast as he could after he was elected.

    dailykos has had some unusually thoughtful people who noted that all of the Bush tax cuts must expire.  That is indeed true, if you want a real social safety net.

    wealthy people need to pay a lot higher taxes on their long-term gains to begin paying down the huge debt we already have.

    but beyond that, unless the scale of government is cut back, the whole population is going to have to go back to pre-Bush junior tax rates to avoid a debt explosion in the future.

    this just hasn't been said enough for the public to get it.  elected officials can't say it by themselves, or they'll get swept out.  so people in the media have to hammer on it as often as possible.

    people need to understand how the system functions in Europe so they can see how a real social safety net can be funded.

    if we can't have a VAT here, why can't we have a luxury tax?  any yacht, and any car, house, or bottle of wine that goes for more than the average price gets taxed at 25% of the excess over average price.  the rich will pay this.  plus middle class people behaving frivolously.  

    •  The US tax-base has been sabotaged by (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      deregulated (‘free’) trade and the exportation of what used to be middle-income jobs (resulting in massive losses in US tax-revenue). If a greater share of imported products were manufactured domestically and the US had more-regulated trade policies (like in Europe), these products would be more expensive, leading to less “living it up” (on products that are less expensive to replace than repair). Increased domestic production (through better trade-policies) would also sure-up the US tax-base (so US taxpayers could more feasibly pay for a safety net).
      Supersized houses would also be a lot more expensive in the US, if it were not for deregulated immigration/undocumented labor, preventing US construction co.s from actually having to pay Americans (and American wages) for construction labor (which also sabotages the US tax-base due to un/under-reported construction-labor income).
      It’s easy to blame the American people for not paying for a safety net. But the American people are powerless against corporations that dictate (i.e. write) deregulated US tax, trade and immigration policies that wreck the US tax-base.

      •  Can the US Bar Imports, or Not? (0+ / 0-)

        Can the US bar imports?

        Isn't this forbidden under the World Trade Organization rules the US signed up for?

        I think there are good arguments that the US could benefit from some tariff protection -- but if they could never be implemented, is talking about regulating trade basically no different than pondering how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

        If the country can't bar them, then maybe there is no choice but to be competitive on wages, regulation, and taxation levels, however unhappy a choice that is, or face having one's industrial production move to China.

        If the US leaves the WTO, how much new import barriers will US exports face from other countries (the US does have to export products to pay for its energy imports)?

        What do people here think?  I really am not an expert on trade rules.  Is there anyone here who is?

  •  fund the safety net with luxury taxes (0+ / 0-)

    Why not fund the social safety net with luxury taxes?

    Any house with more square feet than average would be taxed on 25% of the excess size.

    Any car costing more than average would be taxed at 25% of the excess.

    Any large or expensive yacht or boat would be taxed at 25%.

    All of the above would improve energy usage.  Big houses cost excess energy and wreck the environment.

    Big houses are unnecessarily built in the better zipcodes to get the maximum return on the high land price.  Many wealthy buyers don't even need the large size, and a tax would help get rid of the supersized houses.

    Expensive bottles of wine, jewelry, expensive clothing, etc., all could be taxed at 25% of the amount their expense exceeds what a normal person of modest means would pay.

    I don't care if Warren Buffett has a ton of money if he gives it all the charity or pays it in estate tax.  

    But if a rich person, or an improvident person who isn't rich, wants to waste money, let them share a little with the less fortunate via the government.

  •  Some years back (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vets74, alizard

    I recall a client saying to me "I've only been to jail 3 times." To which I responded "Most people have never been to jail one time."

    What I should have said is "Most white people have never been to jail one time."

    In some parts of town, your first arrest is just a matter of time.

    I must be dreaming...

    by murphy on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:20:54 PM PDT

  •  The opposite of this reality ? (0+ / 0-)

    A system where Amendment XXVIII is for a Wealth Tax.

    Starts with an implementation at 0.1% at the $10,000,000 mark. Max out at 2% on wealth above $1-billion.

    No family trusts. No exceptions.

    This reality ?

    &^%#$%^&^%$%^&......................

    Angry White Males + Crooks + Personality Disorder psychos + KKKwannabes + "Unborn Child" church folk =EQ= The Republicans

    by vets74 on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 04:44:49 PM PDT

  •  I concur (0+ / 0-)

    Nice diary.

    Thanks.

  •  Second Class Citizen (0+ / 0-)

    ...If you're lucky thats all you are. You still go to jail for crimes, but its rare to be jailed for nothing, or harassed for nothing. You just dont get the free pass the first class citizens get.

    But it gets worse from there, we all know it. Below second class citizens are those who are imprisoned, of any race not sufficiently white or gender sufficiently male, non-christian, non-baptist, non-religious, homosexual, homeless, sick, impoverished...

    calling us the "Pariah Caste" is rather depressing but annoyingly true. I dont know how youd define all of those different classes; while all are oppressed in horrible ways, exactly what part IS oppressed is highly divergent. Some secreted away, some out in the open, all of which have horrifically eroding effects on society and individuals.

    It felt like rather a long time, but then long times get longer when you're standing around thinking about them. A curious thing, that. Long roads get longer too, if you're thinking about them, but what about long words? They don't change nearly as much

    by kamrom on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 06:50:20 PM PDT

  •  Where did you get this maxim? (0+ / 0-)
    Because Americans deserve a European social safety net. They are already paying for it, they're just not getting it. Isn't it time that changes?

    It's perfect. It works
    ................................
    This take:

    ...it is not employers who pay wages, but rather it is sold manufactured products or sold services that pay everyone's wages to include the owners. By that measure most American workers are being legally robbed by their own employers who will not allow them to participate in receiving their fair share of the wealth that they themselves have created through their own hard work...

    I'd never thought of this last paragraphs particular angle on wage levels.
    Many might defend the employers position by bringing up risk as being held only by the employer.
     I would say that is absolute BS. How many hours and days and years of a persons life does a worker add to the bargain.
    Ones life is worth infinitely more than any balance sheet/financial concern imo.

    Thx Democrats Ramshield especially for the exposure of the dangerous increase in PIC bite out of our public monies. The true welfare queens: Republicans

  •  Let's call a spade a spade here: (0+ / 0-)

    This country is NOT a democracy any more.  It is a corporatist Fascist state in all but name.  That's why the CEOs and the banksters and the hedge fund bosses and the cazillionaires cash in unimpeded.  That's why the Bible-thumping Teahadists enjoy their moment in the sun.  That's why no amount of money is too much for the military.  That's why we have flags flying every-bloody-where; that's why we have school children parroting jingoistic pledges of allegiance in classrooms.  That's also why I haven't lived here for nearly 30 years and visit only rarely.

    -7.13 / -6.97 "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." -- Edmund Burke

    by GulfExpat on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 08:25:27 PM PDT

  •  if we don't recognize the actual change in ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larry Bailey

    democracy happening in our country, at least Europe is acknowledging it....

    Jakob Augstein  8-04-2011  Der Speigel

    The US is a country where the system of government has fallen firmly into the hands of the elite. An unruly and aggressive militarism set in motion two costly wars in the past 10 years. Society is not only divided socially and politically -- in its ideological blindness the nation is moving even farther away from the core of democracy. It is losing its ability to compromise.

    America has changed. It has drifted away from the West.

    http://www.spiegel.de/...

    America is broken, politically, and socially. This change is not something the rest of the western world looks at as a good thing imo.

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