Wednesday, October 14, 2009

America: An Apathy Story

Capitalism: An Apathy Story by Cindy Sheehan:
"Most Americans don't even give a poop, which is incredible to me since almost 1 out of 4 of us who want work can't find any and every 7 seconds someone in this country will lose their homes . . .

Congress will make some squeaks in Goldman Sachs' direction and The Laureate will say something like: “This is not acceptable,” then he will go forward in total acceptance and obsequiousness to his masters that put him in power.

What will the American Public do?

I am afraid that Goldman Sachs doesn't even have to make the empty gesture of one billion dollars in charity because no guillotine brigades will march down Wall Street.

When Goldman Sachs wins the Nobel Prize in Economics next year, we will become mildly annoyed and then yawn in the best American tradition and go on allowing the Robber Class to steal us blind, hoping that there is another juicy divorce or celebrity death that can distract us from reality.

The Robber Class doesn't frustrate me nearly as much as the Robbed Class. Robbers will be Robbers only as long as we in the Robbed Class let them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Atrios at Eschaton: "People may think of themselves as independent for all kinds of reasons, but in my experience many of the people who do so just don't pay too much attention to politics. When ideology is the reason it's because they're fed up lefties or libertarians."

America has third and fourth Parties, but they're called "independents". One of these days I want to do a post, analyzing the psychology and political functions of "independents" -- electorally, psychologically and in the Media.

A lot of Media pundits assign themselves to the "independent" Party, as a matter of role -- sometimes cynically or dishonestly, sometimes with idealistic notions about a journalist's commitments to objectivity. And, the Media's political "independence" and "objectivity" becomes a model for the political "independence" of much of the politically under-informed and under-involved general electorate.

digby at Hullabaloo asserts: "The number of independents out there is quite large and all national politicians need to reach them in elections in order to win. But the knee jerk assumption that they are always more moderate than everyone else is probably wrong. They might just be more cranky, more cynical, more uninformed, more skeptical or more impatient. There are a lot of reasons why someone might be an independent in American politics but I suspect that ideology is at the bottom of the list."

I don't know that "ideology" has much to do with American politics, or partisan alignment, so it is difficult for me to assign a meaning to digby's use of the word. But, identifying with a political Party does have consequences for people's opinions: it's not unlike the way people tend to start coordinating their strides, when they walk in a group. And, being an "independent" also has consequences, in attitudes and opinions and openness to persuasion and openness to compromise or alliance.

"Moderate" might not be the right word in every respect, but there's legitimacy in believing that most self-proclaimed "independents" -- even though they do not share opinions with each other, do, in fact, by virtue of their identification as "independents" do have in common -- again not opinions themselves -- an alignment of opinions and attitudes oriented "between" the positions of the two Parties. Whether its an alignment of hostility to both, or of middle-of-the-road compromise and "some truth in both positions", it is still an alignment. On the open political issues -- the issues of active controversy and choice -- this is just the way it is going to be.

On the latent issues, it is harder to tell. The tendency of many of the independents to be politically disinterested and uninformed will be more telling. But, there are a lot of latent issues -- most issues are latent at any one moment.

It is in the transition from latency to active, that propaganda has its biggest impact. The Right is much better prepared to exploit latent issues becoming active, and the Media, and its nominally "independent" punditrocrisy, is part of the apparatus for making the exploitation of ignorance among the "independents" possible and cheap.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Great Recession Marches On

Calculated Risk: "the current employment recession was already the worst recession since WWII in terms of percent of job losses"

And, then, they revised the data.
Percent Job Losses During Recessions

There are two scary things in this chart.

One is how deep goes the employment loss in the current recession.

The other is how prolonged was the job loss in the previous recession.

The long rot of the structure of the American economy is showing, here, in collapse.

Shall I continue?

Consider this item from "Despite signs that the economy has resumed growing, unemployed Americans now confront a job market that is bleaker than ever in the current recession, and employment prospects are still getting worse. Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one . . . "

And This!
"The recession has hit middle-income and poor families hardest, widening the economic gap between the richest and poorest Americans as rippling job layoffs ravaged household budgets.

The wealthiest 10 percent of Americans -- those making more than $138,000 each year -- earned 11.4 times the roughly $12,000 made by those living near or below the poverty line in 2008, according to newly released census figures. That ratio was an increase from 11.2 in 2007 and the previous high of 11.22 in 2003.

Household income declined across all groups, but at sharper percentage levels for middle-income and poor Americans. Median income fell last year from $52,163 to $50,303, wiping out a decade's worth of gains to hit the lowest level since 1997.

Poverty jumped sharply to 13.2 percent, an 11-year high."