Saturday, October 30, 2021

Free Steven Donziger!

From Reddit: gordohimself says, "Not only filed but won the lawsuit representing a group of 30,000 farmers and Indigenous Ecuadorians, meaning Chevron owes them $9.5 Billion which it hasn't paid.

Instead, they targeted Steven with some bullshit charge from a corporate Judge for refusing to hand over his personal computer and phone to the Chevron legal team, kept him under house arrest for over 2 years (an unprecedented cruel and unusual punishment), and successfully convicted him to try and scare off any other lawyer for fighting worthy fights against Chevron or any other corporation functioning as an instrument of death."

Monday, October 25, 2021

Those who don't want the vaccine will be mocked mercilessly


And this response from the last page of this post at the HermanCainReward reddit site. An explanation of why the subReddit would mock those who tout their resistance to the vaccine and then die from Covid-19:

This explains the reference to the need to cut back on water usage because of the hospitals' need for oxygen.

Monday, October 18, 2021

The "We can't afford it" bullshit incoming


My take on the week ahead: Congress is back this week, so you can expect more of the “we can’t afford it” bullsh*t from every Republican member of Congress and two Democratic senators (Manchin and Sinema) — aimed against Biden’s and the Democrat’s social investment bill.
Behind the scenes, big corporations and Wall Street are paying huge bucks to feed this hokum to the public. And the mainstream media is doing their bidding. So it should be no surprise that Americans are utterly confused and many are misinformed about what’s at stake in this important legislation, which will come to a head in the next few weeks.
Let's take my Friday interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett as Exhibit A.
She started by asking me: “The big question is whether Democrats can afford all of this.” By making this her first question, she’s already framing the debate around the cost of the plan. And by phrasing it as “whether Democrats can afford,” she’s making it a partisan issue.
Let’s be clear: Every rich country other than the United States already provides childcare, pre-K, child assistance, paid family leave, subsidized college, decent housing, and health coverage extending to vision and hearing. Every other rich country is taking measures to reduce climate change. We are the richest of the rich. Of course America can afford these.
In fact, there’s a good argument that making these investments will grow the economy (childcare will free more people to join the workforce, pre-K and community college will make our workforce more productive, and so on), while not making them will create huge costs down the line (the tab from wildfires and floods due to climate change is already mammoth).
Erin Burnett’s other guest, a former Republican governor, then argued we can’t afford these things because the national debt is too high.
This is a slight-of-hand. The national debt isn’t at issue. There’s no reason for the debt to grow if we tax the wealthy and big corporations to pay for the plan, as Biden and most Democrats — and the vast majority of the public — want to. Simply repealing the Trump-Republican tax cut to the rich and big corporations would pay for almost half the cost of the plan.
Biden is asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes, but Burnett shows two slides purporting to show that they already pay their fair share (one showing the richest 20 percent of Americans pay 78 percent of the nation’s taxes, the other showing that the richest 1 percent – who pull in 20.9 percent of the nation’s earnings -- pay over 40 percent).
This is seriously misleading because the ultra-wealthy pay almost nothing in taxes. For example, Jeff Bezos, the richest person in America, didn't pay any income taxes for at least two years between 2006 and 2018.
How can the ultra-wealthy maintain their lavish lifestyles and pay almost no income taxes? By keeping their incomes small and borrowing against their vast wealth. (Bezos’s yearly income is only around $81,000.)
To give you some idea of how much wealth is now at the top, America’s 660 billionaires increased their wealth by $1.8 trillion just since the start of the pandemic. That’s half the cost of Biden’s entire plan right there.
Hence the fallacy of using shares of income rather than wealth to determine what’s a fair tax. Wealth is far more concentrated at the top than is income. The wealthiest 0.1 percent have as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together. This argues for a wealth tax or higher capital gains taxes, increased inheritance taxes, and a bar on heirs inheriting vast fortunes without paying capital gains on them.
Finally, the figures Burnett cited only look at federal taxes. State taxes – which comprise half the total tax revenue going to government – impose a disproportionate burden on lower-income people. That’s because they come largely in the form of sales taxes, which take a bigger chunk out of lower incomes.
Biden’s plan may be the last chance we get to fix what’s broken in our system. But the public knows little or nothing about it — other than it will cost a bundle. Even if Biden and other Democrats are doing a poor job explaining it, the mainstream media is doing a horrendous job. A democracy requires informed citizens. How are Americans to be informed about something as crucial to their future as this, when they’re being systematically misled?
PS: People often ask me “how do you keep your cool on these TV shows?” The short answer is I often don’t. I almost lost it with Erin Burnett.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Great Resignation

"All happy economies are alike; each unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the economy’s problems were all about inadequate demand. The housing boom had gone bust; consumers weren’t spending enough to fill the gap; the Obama stimulus, designed to boost demand, was too small and short-lived.
In 2021, by contrast, many of our problems seem to be about inadequate supply. Goods can’t reach consumers because ports are clogged; a shortage of semiconductor chips has crimped auto production; many employers report that they’re having a hard time finding workers.
Much of this is probably transitory, although supply-chain disruptions will clearly last for a while. But something more fundamental and lasting may be happening in the labor market. Long-suffering American workers, who have been underpaid and overworked for years, may have hit their breaking point.
About those supply-chain issues: It’s important to realize that more goods are reaching Americans than ever before. The problem is that despite increased deliveries, the system isn’t managing to keep up with extraordinary demand.
Earlier in the pandemic, people compensated for the loss of many services by buying stuff instead. People who couldn’t eat out remodeled their kitchens. People who couldn’t go to gyms bought home exercise equipment.
The result was an astonishing surge in purchases of everything from household appliances to consumer electronics. Early this year real spending on durable goods was more than 30 percent above prepandemic levels, and it’s still very high.
But things will improve. As Covid-19 subsides and life gradually returns to normal, consumers will buy more services and less stuff, reducing the pressure on ports, trucking and railroads.
The labor situation, by contrast, looks like a genuine reduction in supply. Total employment is still five million below its prepandemic peak. Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is still down more than 9 percent. Yet everything we see suggests a very tight labor market.
On one side, workers are quitting their jobs at unprecedented rates, a sign that they’re confident about finding new jobs. On the other side, employers aren’t just whining about labor shortages, they’re trying to attract workers with pay increases. Over the past six months wages of leisure and hospitality workers have risen at an annual rate of 18 percent, and they are now well above their prepandemic trend.
The sellers’ market in labor has also emboldened union members, who have been much more willing than usual to go on strike after receiving contract offers they consider inadequate.
But why are we experiencing what many are calling the Great Resignation, with so many workers either quitting or demanding higher pay and better working conditions to stay? Until recently conservatives blamed expanded jobless benefits, claiming that these benefits were reducing the incentive to accept jobs. But states that canceled those benefits early saw no increase in employment compared with those that didn’t, and the nationwide end of enhanced benefits last month doesn’t seem to have made much difference to the job situation.
What seems to be happening instead is that the pandemic led many U.S. workers to rethink their lives and ask whether it was worth staying in the lousy jobs too many of them had.
For America is a rich country that treats many of its workers remarkably badly. Wages are often low; adjusted for inflation, the typical male worker earned virtually no more in 2019 than his counterpart did 40 years earlier. Hours are long: America is a “no-vacation nation,” offering far less time off than other advanced countries. Work is also unstable, with many low-wage workers — and nonwhite workers in particular — subject to unpredictable fluctuations in working hours that can wreak havoc on family life.
And it’s not just employers who treat workers harshly. A significant number of Americans seem to have contempt for the people who provide them with services. According to one recent survey, 62 percent of restaurant workers say they’ve received abusive treatment from customers.
Given these realities, it’s not surprising that many workers are either quitting or reluctant to return to their old jobs. The harder question is, why now? Many Americans hated their jobs two years ago, but they didn’t act on those feelings as much as they are now. What changed?
Well, it’s only speculation, but it seems quite possible that the pandemic, by upending many Americans’ lives, also caused some of them to reconsider their life choices. Not everyone can afford to quit a hated job, but a significant number of workers seem ready to accept the risk of trying something different — retiring earlier despite the monetary cost, looking for a less unpleasant job in a different industry, and so on.
And while this new choosiness by workers who feel empowered is making consumers’ and business owners’ lives more difficult, let’s be clear: Overall, it’s a good thing. American workers are insisting on a better deal, and it’s in the nation’s interest that they get it."’

Monday, October 11, 2021

Getting older

 by Maya Angelou

When I was in my younger days, I weighed a few pounds less, I needn't hold my tummy in to wear a belted dress.

But now that I am older, I've set my body free;

There's the comfort of elastic… Where once my waist would be.

Inventor of those high-heeled shoes… My feet have not forgiven;

I have to wear a nine now, But used to wear a seven.

And how about those pantyhose –

They're sized by weight, you see, So how come when I put them on

The crotch is at my knee?

I need to wear these glasses… As the print's been getting smaller;

And it wasn't very long ago I know  that I was taller.

Though my hair has turned to gray and my skin no longer fits,

On the inside, I'm the same old me, It's the outside's changed a bit.

But, on a positive note…

I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today,

life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.

I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life".

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone.

People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.