George Carlin on class structure in the USofA: The upperclass has all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes and does all of the work. The lower class is there to scare the sh*t out of the middle class to keep them doing all of the work.
…whatever problems may arise in the transition from civilian to soldier — and, later, soldier to civilian — the lessons I learn in the Army, such as discipline, responsibility, and loyalty, will help me accomplish any goal. I will be able to look back and see photos of myself making a difference, meeting challenges, living my life — which is a lot better than photos of some college kid with half-closed eyes and a red plastic cup in each hand.
I’ll be 20 when I enter basic training, a middle-class independent voter who signed up for an enlisted infantry slot in the Army. I hope to deploy to fight a war I hope ends on time in 2014; perhaps in the name of a Republican president I’d rather not have in the White House. I’ll have to get up early while my civilian friends are sleeping in before their first classes.
About the author: “Jonathan Wertheim lives in Brunswick, Maine, and attended Hampshire College for one year before deciding to join the military. He enlisted in the Army as an infantryman on Dec. 7, 2011, and leaves for basic training in the spring.”
There was Michael, once a African-American kid who went from Alaska to Iraq as a gung-ho warrior and came back from the war zone a happy-go-lucky leftist with a taste for confronting the right-wing media. There was Katie, graduate of a private school in northwest Washington who regularly facilitated the occupation’s General Assemblies and learned to try to trust the judgement of the group. There was Sam who came from Virginia with a political science degree in hand, yamulke on his head, and unshakable interest in non-hierarchical politics. There was Vic who had traveled the country for the sake of her political activism and found renewed inspiration from a man named Charles Jones, who desegregated a lunch counter in South Carolina long before any of them were born. And there were few dozen others just like them–and some not at all like them at all–who had claimed a patch of grass in McPherson Square on October 1 and called themselves OccupyDC. There was hardly a professional reformer among them.
…For the first time ever, the Internet had taken on Hollywood extremists and won. And not just in a close fight: the power demonstrated by Internet activists was wildly greater than the power Hollywood lobbyists could muster. They had awoken a giant. They had no clue about just how angry that giant could be.
The real question now, however, is whether this community recognizes the potential it has. Ours is not a Congress that has made just one mistake—almost passing SOPA/PIPA. Ours is a Congress that makes a string of mistakes. Those mistakes all come from a common source: the ability of lobbyists to leverage their power over campaign funds to achieve legislative results that make no public-good sense.
The (Internet) giant has stopped this craziness—here and now. But the challenge is for the giant to recognize the need to stop this craziness generally. We need a system that is not so easily captured by crony capitalists.
The reason the economy is not creating jobs is simply that there is no source of demand to replace the demand created by the housing bubble. With nothing to replace this lost demand, companies see little reason to expand production and hiring.
Government spending is an obvious source of demand. However this spigot has been closed due to concerns over deficits. We have thousands of people in Washington who seem convinced that if the government would just stop spending money and lay off more employees then the private sector would respond with increased output and hiring.
While this might seem implausible on its face (what business hires people because the government has laid off school teachers or firefighters?), we no longer have to speculate about the impact of budget cuts and government layoffs, the United Kingdom is showing us.
Ah, the Confidence Fairy!
How could the economy thrive when unemployment was already high, and government policies were directly reducing employment even further? Confidence! “I firmly believe,” declared Jean-Claude Trichet — at the time the president of the European Central Bank, and a strong advocate of the doctrine of expansionary austerity — “that in the current circumstances confidence-inspiring policies will foster and not hamper economic recovery, because confidence is the key factor today.”
Such invocations of the confidence fairy were never plausible; researchers at the International Monetary Fund and elsewhere quickly debunked the supposed evidence that spending cuts create jobs. Yet influential people on both sides of the Atlantic heaped praise on the prophets of austerity, Mr. Cameron in particular, because the doctrine of expansionary austerity dovetailed with their ideological agendas.
Apple is sitting on an incredible pile of cash. Read these comparisons and think:
Apple now has $97.6 billion in cash. Last year the company increased its cash hoard by nearly $38 billion. That means Apple was adding $1,200 to its cash pile every second.
In GDP terms, Apple’s cash pile alone would make it the 58th largest country. That’s ahead of global hot spots Iraq and Libya while just trailing Qatar, a country with enough economic clout that it was selected to host a World Cup. Maybe we could look forward to a 2026 World Cup in Cupertino?
At its current Forbes valuations, Apple could buy every single NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL team — and still have $31 billion left in the bank.
Of course, the numbers really get crazy if Apple hits expectations and keeps adding to its cash pile in the quarters ahead.
* After next quarter, Apple’s cash hoard will be able to pay the entire total the federal government’s costs for education in a year.
* In two quarters, Apple’s cash hoard will be able to pay for the inflation-adjusted cost of the Marshall Plan ($115 billion).
* By the end of next year, Apple’s cash hoard will be larger than all of the corporate taxes America collected in 2009 ($138 billion)!
Policymakers can help by adding antitrust scrutiny of Google’s actions in the television market with an eye on protecting labor rights in the sector as well.
The discussion on inequality coming out of the Occupy Wall Street protests is how we got to the point where so many workers are not sharing in the economic bounty of our nation’s economy. Part of the answer is that as industry after industry faced strains from emerging technologies and globalization, counsels of “do nothing” prevailed as unions were destroyed and jobs shipped overseas.
With Hollywood, we actually have a sector that is currently economically vibrant where the bottom 99% of workers in the industry share in the wealth enjoyed by the top 1% in the industry. It faces strains on its model — and the threat of Googlization is a top one — but we have time for citizens and policymakers to step up and figure out what new models can sustain both new innovation AND a robust standard of living for all workers in the industry.
Here we have the U.S. Defense Secretary, life-long Democrat Leon Panetta, telling you as clearly as he can that this is exactly the operating premise of the administration in which he serves: once the President accuses you of being a Terrorist, a decision made in secert and with no checks or due process, we can do anything we want to you, including executing you wherever we find you. It’s hard to know what’s more extraordinary: that he feels so comfortable saying this right out in the open, or that so few people seem to mind.
…I also remembered that President Obama came into office promising more transparency. And yet this president’s team has now prosecuted six current or former government officials for leaking information to reporters, which the Times’ Charles Savage reported is more than all previous presidents combined.
Near the start of his term, Mr. Obama ordered all agencies to review secret material with the goal, supposedly, of declassifying more of it. Instead, the government went on a classification binge. In 2010 alone, officials classified nearly 77 million documents, a one-year jump of 40 percent. That’s not just about national security. It’s also about keeping the public from learning embarrassing information.