Friday, April 15, 2011
One click to un-jade your ears:
You get two minutes free listen to any track. Suggestions: My GF Got Freaky with a Strap-on (sex rock). Identity Crisis/Who Am I? (chamber pop). My Head Is a Fist (alt rock).
What do the Dingbots sound like? Like Gaga hooked up with Lennon and Dylan in a time machine to spawn a love child who sings 23rd century lyrics to hooks that will make you want to sex a giant.
Download single tracks or order the whole sci-fi rock opera on CD, for 80 minutes of a big fat mindfuck.
Listen to full Identity Crisis (Who Am I?), My GF Got Freaky With a Strap-on, and My Head Is a Fist at
where you can follow the band and do MySpace things (MySpace dumped us for obscenity).
Watch our video Women Who've Rocked the World at
Posted by Adam at 12:44 PM
I have a book of poems that I wrote when I was a slam poetry legend in the 90s known as Evert Eden. It contains my slam poems I Want to Be a Women, Jabulani (Ballad for My Brother), Mandela, The Hate of Love and Love Song In Case of Goodbye as well as the notorious Ritual With Chicken (my chicken fucking poem) and other poems too obscene to slam with (My Dick and Your Pussy), as well as comedic epics like Dinner with Assholes, about me, a poor poet, invited to dinner with Wall Street types. Also, dense academic poems like Portrait of T.S. Eliot as a Rapist.
I have a novel set in a dystopia. In a future America ruled by the Religious Right, one woman fights for sexual freedom.
This is the first line from the novel: "It was a bright cold April morning, but not too chilly to attend the burning at the stake."
Vagina Rebel is a political sci-fi thriller in the tradition of George Owell's 1984 and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.
Posted by Adam at 12:18 PM
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- Why Nobody, Including Obama, Will Do A Damn Thing About Them (Plus Six Common-Sense Solutions)
By Adam Ash
What with the Obama-GOP dilly-dallying dance over spending cuts, I feel I'm sort of off-topic in bringing up the more basic problem of US joblessness. I feel a bit like the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who upended the course of Western philosophy by bringing up the very basic problem of our existence (he also screwed Hannah Arendt's considerable brains out, and praised Hitler, but those stories are way off-topic here). Heidegger had a word for our existence: Dasein. This has been mistranslated as Being, a snotnosed Brit coinage not nearly as down-to-earth as Heidegger's German. A better translation would be There-ness. We are here, the universe is here, we have There-ness. Our There-ness is the basic philosophical question. However, having now upended Heideggerian scholarship of the last eighty years, I will get on with the basic American problem:
The non-there-ness of millions of US jobs.
Here are my six common-sense solutions to our unemployment crisis. Of course, because they're down-to-earth and commonsensical, nobody -- including Obama -- will think of applying them; you'll find more sense in a flea's sphincter muscles than in the cerebellums of our government.
1. Shorten the work week. Start with a four-day work week. That means we can get 20% more people into the job market. With around 20% people currently out of work, or working part-time, that solves our jobless problem in one stroke. If that's too big a wrench, cut down daily work hours at firms instead of firing people. That's what they do in Germany, where they don't have our job loss (they do everything better in Europe, but don't get me started).
2. Launch a program of job-sharing. That means you're allowed to share your job with someone else. They do something similar in Germany, too. So if you have a friend out of work, you can have her come in one or two days a week to share your job. Of course, you're also putting her on your salary, so you will be earning less, but at least your friend will be earning something.
3. Slap an import tariff on all Chinese imports. Make it 20%. Suddenly, when Chinese imports become more expensive, American CEOs will have a big road-to-Damascus moment: hey, we can make our stuff here in America instead of in China. There are these people in America, they call themselves American workers, and they can actually work for us and make things. They're like Chinese workers, except they actually live here in our country. Wow.
I know, it's not free trade, but here's one thing that free trade means: 60% of what we import from China is made by American subsidiaries there. So let's agree about something: our livelihoods are more important than free trade, which has freed American corporations to export our jobs. Let's fellate free trade with a mininuke. It's not as if China doesn't put up barriers against our exports to them either, chief among them undervaluing their renminbi.
4. Invest massively in green energy, like China and Denmark have already done (Denmark!? why are those damn Scandinavians always the first to do something sensible?). I mean MASSIVE investments in green energy, as massively and transformatively as the Marshall Plan that put a bombed-into-rubble Germany back on its feet, or the Manhattan Project that gave us the atom bomb, or JFK's NASA that gave us a man on the moon in ten years. Obama already put $27.2 billion towards green energy in his February 2009 stimulus bill. But this was akin to a gnat piddling in a waterfall. A few hundred billions behind green energy: now that could solve our unemployment problem as quick and easy as you can overthrow some Arab dictators.
In fact, Obama got a second chance to do something big about green energy when the BP oil spill came along, and everyone walked around hating oil companies. But he blew that opportunity, too. Obama is a lot like what Abba Eban said about Yasser Arafat: Obama never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
5. Lower the retirement age. Yes, you read me right. The reason we need to lower the retirement age, say to 60 for a start, and maybe 55 later on, is to make room for new young workers to enter the job market. Those new workers coming in -- they'll be paying into Social Security so our retirees can retire early.
I know people are saying we should raise the retirement age to save Social Security, but that's BS. Social Security is fully funded for the next 30 years at least. This is what it says in the flyer that Social Security sends out to Social Security recipients:
“Since the mid-1980s, Social Security has been collecting more in payroll contributions each year than it pays out in retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.
“Surplus funds are invested in U.S. Treasury bonds, which represent an implicit promise by the U.S. government to repay Social Security when and if additional money is needed to cover benefits.
“According to Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Trust Fund holds more than $2.5 trillion in government bonds and is projected to grow to $3.8 trillion in 2020. This money will be sufficient, along with current tax revenue, to pay all scheduled benefits through the year 2043.”
In other words, Social Security will be fit and healthy right through the big bubble of the boomer generation collecting it. Plus, anytime you need to, you can get more money by raising the annual income limit beyond which you don't pay into Social Security, now pegged at $90,000. Anybody who tells you Social Security is in trouble, is trying to steal your money so they can go play with it. It drives Wall Street absolutely nuts that there are all those trillions they can't get their hands on. Their hands itch worse than Nietzsche's foreskin when he was going crazy with syphilis. It drives retired Wall Street billionaire Peter Peterson so nuts, he's spending a billion dollars of his personal stash to attack Social Security through his foundation and his America Speaks program.
6. Start a public works program a la FDR's WPA (Works Progress Administration), which produced eight million jobs between 1935 and 1943. It worked great then. But today, it depends on Obama. And he ain't no FDR. He likes to read books about Reagan, the poodle of the rich. FDR stood up to the rich. Obama can't: he needs their money to get re-elected. It's odd how everyone in America cops that our crumbling infrastructure needs fixing, while millions are jobless, but no one can muster the wherewithal to solve these two problems at one stroke. Not even Obama, whose job it is. We've got people who need work, we've got infrastructure that needs repair. Put the two together and voila! problem solved. Simple, right? But our common sense and our let's-do-it gumption, and the nous of our President, are flying somewhere weightlessly in space like astronaut's poop floating wherever the heck they deposit their waste.
Instead, Obama is only interested in window-dressing. Sure, he would like for there to be a slight upwards tick in employment in the three or four months before his re-election. But that's next year, not now.
Take Obama's latest bit of window-dressing. It's called his new “Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” And Obama appointed the CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, to head it up.
This is nothing but a big suck-up to big business for campaign dollars, just like Obama's Catfood Deficit Commission was a big suck-up to our professional debt and inflation worriers.
Appointing Immelt as head of a Jobs Council is a cosmic joke, because Immelt is a master at losing American jobs. That's what he and GE have been doing since the days when CEO Jack Welch started mass firings at GE. Back then Welch was known as Neutron Jack because, like a neutron bomb, he annihilated the people while he left the buildings standing. When Immelt became the CEO in 2000, GE employed 340,000 workers. Today he's cut it down to 304,000 workers, with fewer than half in the US.
1. GE IS THE WORLD'S BIGGEST MANUFACTURER BUT PAYS NO U.S. TAXES
In fact, Immelt has turned GE's operation in the US into a Wall Street-like bank (GE Capital Services) built on a hollowed-out manufacturing base that gets most of its business from the government, and allows GE to use its government manufacturing contracts -- corporate welfare -- to leverage its financial arm into another Wall Street casino. Today, GE is the perfect US corporation: a hideous combination of Wall Street skullduggery, government handouts, and tax avoidance. Its main manufacturing, which makes it the biggest manufacturer on the planet, happens overseas. GE Capital Services is not classified as a bank, but loopholed its way into TARP, and received tens of billions in bailouts, because it owns two small banking institutions in Utah. Along with Exxon, GE didn't pay taxes in 2009. Yet GE is #4 on the Fortune 500. In 2010, GE earned $14 billion -- $5.1 billion from US operations (all that corporate welfare) -- and paid no taxes again. In fact, it claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit straight out of your pocket.
For Obama to put CEO Immelt of GE in charge of an American jobs commission is a little like God putting Satan in charge of heaven.
But then God doesn't need Satan's money to keep getting himself elected God.
There are some other things Obama could do but won't. Since small start-ups are our sole engines for job creation (cutting taxes sure aren't; the Bush tax cuts for the rich lost jobs), and since most start-ups are done by folks in their 40s, he could invest in work-study programs for older people, which will also help retrain people in their 40s for the new kinds of jobs that new technology creates. He could also make college education free for those who can't afford it, since kids without a college education have a tough time finding jobs (heck, kids with a college education have a tough time, too).
Obvious solutions, don't you think? Here's the thing: all big problems have obvious solutions. You want to solve our big debt problem, for example? Simple. The first obvious thing: raise tax rates on anyone's earnings above a million a year to 50% or 60% (the top tax rate under Eisenhower was 90%, and those were the golden days of capitalism, when there was one earner per household -- the Dad -- and he could own a house, put two kids through college and retire graciously with his wife, all on his one factory job salary). Getting rich people to pay more taxes is a solution that has the country behind it. A 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asked what the "first step" to balance the budget should be: 60% of Americans said "increase taxes on the wealthy." Or how about this idea Donald Trump had in 1999 -- a onetime net worth tax on individuals and trusts worth upwards of $10 million, affecting less than 1% of Americans. Trump calculated that a 14.25% levy on this net worth would raise $5.7 trillion. In case you feel sorry for the rich, let's not forget that our top 1% got 65% of all household income growth between 2002 and 2007. As far as I'm concerned, they can go trade in their diamond-encrusted dildos for plain rubber ones tomorrow.
The second obvious thing: slap a minimal tax of as little as 0.5% on every financial transaction on Wall Street -- the so-called Tobin Tax.
A third obvious thing: get out of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, shut down our more than 800 military bases all over the world, and slash the Pentagon budget. Years ago, in 1953, President Eisenhower said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
A fourth obvious thing: get private enterprise out of our healthcare system and extend Medicare to everyone, which will cut our healthcare costs in half down to what it is in the rest of the industrialized world. Any two or three of these four things would have us out of debt tomorrow. Obvious, right?
In the same way, a deft combination of two or three of my common-sense solutions could solve our unemployment problem overnight. Obvious, right?
But will any of these solutions happen? Probably not in your lifetime. Why not?
2. AMERICAN BUSINESS DOESN'T NEED AMERICAN WORKERS
Here's the point about our unemployment problem that everyone seems to miss: it's not a problem for anyone except the poor sods who don't have jobs. Like herpes is not a problem for anyone except those herpes carriers still in the market for a bonk.
Nobody in business or government has a stake in solving our unemployment problem. They don't give a damn, and they don't have to give a damn, which is why the unemployment percentage hasn't come down significantly since 2008. Only the people who are jobless give a damn, and they're too poor or too worried or too discouraged or too ashamed or too suicidal to do anything about it.
It's not a problem for business, that's for sure. For them, our unemployment problem is actually a solution. American CEOs love cheap Chinese workers; they hate American workers. Their allegiance is to money, not country. They love exporting our jobs, especially after Clinton generously gave them the Democratic Party seal of approval with NAFTA. They get tax breaks for exporting jobs (yeah, Satan is getting extra roasting spits from the Archangel Gabriel). Our business elite can even get all humanitarian about US joblessness -- as one hedge fund manager told journalist Chrystia Freeland: “If the transformation of the world economy lifts four people in China and India out of poverty and into the middle class, and meanwhile means one American drops out of the middle class, that's not such a bad trade.”
So if you've just lost your job, or you know someone who has, console yourself: four foreigners have gained from your loss. Think of your joblessness as an act of charity. Or your contribution to foreign aid. Stop whining and suck it up. You're luckier than an Afghan -- at least some vicious foreign government didn't come and bomb your family to smoking bits of hamburger.
Currently, big business in America is doing so well, they have two trillion bucks in hard cash which they've saved from firing people, with which they could hire people, but for one thing: they like hoarding cash more than they like hiring people. So they will continue to create more joblessness. Forrester Research predicts US employers will move 3.4 million white-collar jobs and $136 billion in wages overseas by 2015. A University of California at Berkeley report finds 14 million US jobs are at risk of being sent offshore, and predicts job losses will exceed the Forrester study's projections.
US unemployment is a gift to US business. The unemployed scare the employed to the point they'll work harder and longer for less. It's what big business always wanted: an employers' paradise.
3. UNEMPLOYMENT IS NOT A PROBLEM FOR OUR GOVERNMENT
Our government will do nothing about our unemployment problem either. Heck, they created it. Under Clinton, our government supported the export of American jobs. Under Clinton, our government deregulated Wall Street and removed all oversight from derivatives, which enabled Wall Street to cause the Great Recession, which is another way of saying that Clinton gave Wall Street the tools and the elbow room to loot us and make us lose our jobs and our homes. It took the two worst presidents in history, Clinton and Bush Two, working in a double-punch follow-up sequence, to punch out the US economy completely flat on its back, where it now lies out-of-breath and bleeding freely from its bloodied proboscis.
Remember how Obama used to talk about “green shoots” in our economy? Then the White House talked about “the summer of recovery.” Now he's saying our economy is “moving in the right direction.” Soon he'll claim our “economy is on track to come back.” Whatever. I measure our economy by how many Americans have jobs and can afford not to live in a tent city. If you believe in Obama's ongoing spin about our downgoing economy going up, I've got a pound of crap I dropped this morning that I've painted a radiant gold to sell you.
OK, Obama saved maybe a million jobs with his 2009 stimulus bill, and 50,000 jobs with his Detroit takeover, but he hasn't created any NEW jobs.
He could create new jobs with a public works program. The government is already paying out millions in unemployment, so why not use that money to employ people and give them something to do while they're collecting their unemployment, so to speak? Like, for example, fix our crumbling infrastructure, which badly needs doing. Many of the lost jobs are in construction anyway.
But Obama hasn't done that, which means he won't do that. He just doesn't have the imagination or the balls for it. He's no FDR, not even an LBJ. Ever since Nixon, every president we've had has been a screwup, and Obama is one of them.
As for us growing fast enough to add more jobs, we don't even grow fast enough to accommodate young people entering the job market, let alone making up for our lost jobs. The U.S. economy, which is supposed to be rebounding, added 36,000 jobs in January 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 125,000 are needed just to keep up with the increase in the population of Americans wanting and needing work. And 300,000 a month are needed for at least five years straight to get back to the employment we had before the Great Recession. So the 192,000 new jobs created in February is not nearly enough. Plus, they're crappy jobs with crappy pay. The Great Recession's biggest losses were jobs paying $19.05 to $31.40 an hour. And the past year's biggest gains? Jobs paying $9.03 to $12.91 an hour. The good jobs aren't coming back. And even if you have a good job, and do something socially useful -- like teaching -- you're going to get demonized by Faux News, who like to create scapegoats for their Tea Party morons to hate, so the Tea Party idiots won't get pissed with the real culprits milking us dry: our overpaid CEOs.
Moreover, we're in so much debt, we'll never spend enough to create more demand to create more workers to create more stuff for us to demand.
Also, technology has brought us to a point where it not only replaces and reduces labor, but also puts us in a position where we're able to produce much more than we can buy. Capitalism has kind of run itself to ground. Unless workers here and everywhere else get paid more, they can't afford everything they can produce. Unless our elite spreads more of the surplus value around, there will be constant under-demand for our constant over-capacity. (The latterday Marxist scholar David Harvey usefully defines the ongoing capitalist crises as “surplus capital and surplus labor existing side by side with seemingly no way to put them back together.”) And we know our elite are not in the mood to pay us more. That old anti-Semite Henry Ford was the first and last capitalist who realized you have to pay your workers enough for them to be able to buy the products they make. Our owner class has finally gotten so greedy they're undermining their own system. US capitalism is snacking its own tail.
To sum up:
(a) We'll never grow fast enough to outgrow our unemployment problem.
(b) We'll always be in debt.
(c) Big business will keep exporting US jobs.
(d) Technology will keep making more jobs redundant.
(e) Obama won't do a WPA program.
(f) Labor will never be paid enough to buy what they make.
That's our problem in six nutshells. And here's the main reason nobody will do a damn thing about solving any of it.
4. THE BIG REASON WHY NOBODY WILL DO A DAMN THING ABOUT OUR UNEMPLOYMENT
There's one big reason why our big problems won't get solved in any big hurry: America is dumber than the rest of the industrialized world. We the people are dumb, and we our leaders are dumb. From being the smartest nation on earth a mere 30 years ago, we have steadily slid downward in national IQ to the dumbest. It started with Ronald Reagan, our first totally dumbfuck president, and steadily trended downward with the decline of our public schools and the dramatic dumfuckification of our GOP leaders (surely the biggest dumbfucks since Marie Antionette), and then accelerated to warp-speed with the advent of Rupert Murdoch's moronically dumbfuck Fox News for cretinously dumbfuck viewers, guaranteed to make them catatonically dumbfucked, if they started out being merely moronically or cretinously dumbfucked.
We are now the world's leading dumbfucks (let's forget for a moment that we are also the world's leading killers of ourselves and of foreign people, and the world's leaders in making our planet unfit for human habitation; as Sarah Palin likes to say, we are the exceptional nation).
Ours is the nation of five-star blue-ribbon dumbfucks deluxe who've raised a celebrity airhead like Sarah Palin into a position of great political influence, and who've elevated a lunatic motormouth like Michele Bachmann into our actual government, and a deranged raging moonbat like Glenn Beck into the position of our National Teacher-in-Chief, Complete With Blackboard and Pointer, with a classroom of millions of dumbfucks sucking up the Beck Curriculum of numero uno dumbfuckery consisting of Bizarro Dumbfuck Anti-American Liberal Conspiracies with extra credit for Dumbfuck Bigotry 101.
We are so dumb, we are currently letting a nation that still largely consists of damn peasants for chrissake, China, eat our lunch. That's dumber than a baboon who pulls his own entrails out of a bullet wound in his stomach (yeah, they do that).
Our leaders are the dumbest on the planet, too. I wouldn't let most people in Congress run a toilet concession at a high school sports meet, let alone a country. Since we are a nation of dumbfucks, we vote for a Congress of dumbfucks, and are stuck with a majority of dumbfucks on the Supreme Court, too, on whom you can rely to always rule against America and for some special interest.
We also vote for a dumbfuck president, or at any rate, our dumbfuck politicians give us only a choice of dumbfucks to vote for. Now I'm not saying Obama personally is a dumbfuck -- he was smart enough to marry Michelle -- like John McCain is personally a dumbfuck, or Sarah Palin is personally a dumbfuck, or any Republican you care to name is personally a dumbfuck (these days, you've got to be either a dumbfuck or a loon to be a Republican -- the old-style smart Republicans like Rockefeller and Eisenhower and Nixon must be drowning from their own puke in their spinning graves: just imagine what they'd think of today's GOP).
But as a politician, Obama is just like any other politician. In other words, the Compleat Dumbfuck, in his particular case with a vast region of dumbfuckery between his two big sticking-out ears.
Obama is such a dumbfuck, people thought their taxes had gone up under him. He's such a dumbfuck, he forgot to remind the American people that he had cut their taxes, or otherwise -- a case of even bigger dumbfuckery -- he didn't have the smarts to give it to them in a form they could see with their own dumbfuck eyes, like sending them a dumbfuck check, like that dumbfuck President Bush did.
Don't get me started.
Furthermore, dumbfuck Obama let the Republicans take the House away from his party in the midterm elections on two issues, both of which he was too dumbfucked to counter: that (a) his healthcare bill was a “government takeover” and that (b) $500 million would be cut from Medicare, which scared the piss out of older Prevail Diaper-wearing voters, who unlike the young Obama supporters, went to the polls and voted. None of this was true (the $500 million is actually savings that'll put Medicare on a sounder footing), but Obama was too much of a fucking dumbfuck to fight black lies with golden truth. And this is the silvertongued smart fuck who is supposed to be able to orate Cicero into a state of dumbfuckedness, the finest political performer since fucking Disraeli or fucking Hitler or fucking Virgin Queen Elizabeth the fucking First.
OK, now you've got me started.
To lose an election because your opponents lied bigger and better than you could tell the truth ... oy vey is mir across the universe ... that is dumbfuckery of the most utterly utmost dumbfuckery ... solid-gold dumfuckery that follows a timeline of dumbfuckery that outlives the biggest dumbfuckery in the history of the evolution of all dumbfuckery since dumbfuck fishes crawled out on land to become dumbfucking mammals ... on a scale of dumbfuckery more supremely dumbfucked than every instance of planetary dumbfuckery that's ever been committed on Earth in the most globalized sense of dumbfuckery ... stretching forth from our planetary system into an intergalactic dumbfuckery that embraces every galaxy of our expanding universe in a cosmic dumbfuckery to the ends of the twelfth multiverse squared by an infinity of dumbfuckery ... containing and extending and implying and multiplying all and every dumbfuckery since the first split second of dumbfuckery when all that is dumbfucked came into creation with one Big Bang of Be-Dumbfucked Fucked-Dumb Dumbfuckery.
I warned you not to get me started.
So yes, dumbfuckery is definitely at the root of all our problems, but there is another factor -- what one might call the sap in the roots of our dumbfuckery, the actual lifeblood of our dumbfuckery, if you will.
5. BESIDES SMARTS, WE'VE RUN OUT OF GUTS, TOO
We have no guts. That's the other thing wrong with us. It's not as big as the fact that we've evolved into cellularly ingrained dumbfucks from our very genetic code inside out, but it's definitely a factor. It's kind of the gravy on the meat of our dumbfuckery.
We the people, the American people, have no guts. Shame on us. Or maybe the Wisconsin protests are a sign of some vigor in the American corpse. Maybe 100,000 nurses and teachers and firefighters -- the heartland middle-class being punished for the sins of the rich -- will ignite the nation.
You think? Fat chance, people. The American Dream is dead. The land of the free and the brave is the land of the slave and the wuzz. And Obama won't stop the boots of Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce and the GOP from kicking us down, down, down, and when we finally hit rock bottom, giving us a few more kicks just for the heck of it. In fact, Obama is incahoots with them. He's actually licking the boots that are kicking us: he's got bail-out king Tim Geithner and ex-bankster Tim Daley working for him. Now maybe Obama is just being realistic, and he needs to get re-elected to protect his healthcare reform bill from going down. Still, everyone should realize that in the eternal stand-off between the middle class vs the rich, where the middle class is always called upon to pay for the disasters created by the rich, Obama has sided with the rich, no matter what you might hope his future agenda will be.
At this point in time, in year three of the Obama administration, we the American people have become the biggest sucker nation ever. We're having the wool pulled over eyes in five shades of midnight blue. We're being snookered and conned and diddled like nobody's business. We're being played like some latter-day Chopin is tickling our accommodating ivories to the tune of "Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see, que sera sera, what will be, will be."
Somewhere, someone is laughing, and that someone is not us. My fellow mindless and gutless and jobless Americans, the rich have won the class war, and the rest of us, aka we the dumbfucks, including you, dear reader ... you lost.
Posted by Adam at 11:33 AM
Thursday, March 31, 2011
The Cheese Party: Is Wisconsin The Start Of An American Revolution (Or Will You Always Be Ruled By Goldman Sachs)?
Whenever I pay taxes, I think of the fact that GE and Exxon paid no taxes in 2009, that Goldman Sachs pays under 2% taxes, and that billionaire hedge fund managers pay a tax rate of 15%. As Warren Buffett says, his secretary pays taxes at a higher rate than he does.
The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas talks about the face-to-face encounter with the Other that induces empathy and morality. Well, I feel like my little face is going face-to-face with the gnarly butt of big business. And there's about as much empathy to be gotten from that butt as a mouse gets from a snake.
Bizarrely, I hear everyone walking around saying America and its states are broke, while Wall Street is coining billions and criminally under-paying their taxes. I hear the GOP saying we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. I see Obama extending the Bush tax cuts, which created no new jobs in eight years. And I'm thinking, I have so little hair left, what's the use of tearing out the last few?
Then it occurs to me that Americans must be one of four things, or a combination of all four:
b) stupid victims of learned helplessness.
c) stupidly apathetic to the point of cowardice.
d) stupid masochists.
d) plain stupid.
That includes you and me, dear reader.
Then I think of GOP governors giving tax breaks to big business and claiming teachers have to give up benefits so these governors can balance their state budgets. Teachers are getting paid too much. Not CEOs. Not Wall Street bankers. Not lawyers. Not doctors. Teachers.
Meanwhile, one teacher does more important work in one day than the entire board of vampire squid Goldman Sachs fraudsters do in their entire socially useless lives. Teacher should be paid more, not less.
Then I see the polls say Americans are concerned about jobs, jobs, jobs, but Washington is fighting over deficits, deficits, deficits. The GOP deficit-cutting plan will cause a job loss of a million. Nobody in power is actually listening to what actual Americans want. The big guys are stuffing down Marie Antionette layer cake while one in six of West Virginia's population is on food stamps.
I watch 100,000 public service labor union members in Wisconsin protest to keep their collective bargaining rights, as they bargain away their benefits.
And I think: how pathetic.
They're not asking for rich people to pay more taxes, or for corporations to pay ANY taxes; they're asking to keep their collective bargaining rights.
That's like a guy being skinned alive asking his torturer not to skin his penis.
1. SHE WANTS TO TAKE YOUR COOKIE
Middle-class wages have remained essentially flat since the Reagan Revolution, while our productivity has improved dramatically. But CEO compensation has gone up by the hundredfolds. Between 2002 and 2007, the top 1% captured two thirds of income growth.
You've heard the big joke these days. A CEO is sitting down with a Tea Partier and a teacher, and there's a plate of 12 cookies on the table. The CEO takes 11 cookies for himself, and says to the Tea Partier: "Watch out for that teacher. She wants a piece of your cookie."
Given the fact that Americans are really stupid, really cowardly, really masochistic and really helpless, how can we save ourselves from our predatory elite?
I don't think the Wisconsin protests will do it (what might help a little, is if they recall Governor Walker next year).
What this country needs is some kind of miraculous transplant of smarts and guts, which might lead to our citizens actually organizing themselves into a Cheese Party to take over the Democratic Party and scare them to act progressive for a change -- like the Tea Party has taken over the GOP and scared them hard right.
But do we have the innate guts and smarts for this? For a little genetic contrast: if, for example, what is happening to us were happening to the French, what would be happening?
Let me tell you. We'd have Americans marching by the millions on Wall Street and burning Lloyd Blankfein in effigy. We'd have angry jobless people occupying the offices of Goldman Sachs from top to bottom. We'd have CEOs sitting locked up in their offices by their employees until they stopped outsourcing jobs. We'd have Tahrir Squares on the front lawns of Wall Street partners.
Unlike we Americans, the French people aren't cowards. They've got guts. They don't swallow crap on their knees on a hourly basis like we do, while our elite butt-bang us every minute of our waking days as we stoop to be conquered. When the French government screws up, the French citizens start tearing up the sidewalks and pelt the noggins of their cops with berets made of concrete.
If only we had a little French sass in our genetic makeup. But we don't. We're Americans. We just lie down and take it. For how long, how long, how long?
2. OBAMA HAS THE GUTS OF A FEATHER DUSTER
Forever, it seems.
Our leaders have no guts either. Obama didn't have the guts to go for the big stimulus of $1.3 trillion that his own economist Christina Romer told him was needed, and that Nobel-winning economists Krugman and Stiglitz said we needed in 2009. He settled for less than $800 billion with almost $300 billion wasted on tax remedies which were as stimulating as a road-killed armadillo is to a bunny rabbit on heat. So he came in with a third of what was needed, like a guy trying to impress a date by shlepping her to the local Burger King.
Then Obama didn't have the guts to start a WPA program to employ our unemployed construction workers to repair and rebuild our infrastructure, like FDR did when he created eight million jobs. Then Obama didn't have the guts to call off the costly war in Afghanistan immediately (a war that props up the second most corrupt state on earth after Somalia) but like a typical coward, he sucked up to the Pentagon by sending in more troops, and then he tried to brown-nose the rest of us by promising to pull the troops out in a year or two, or well ... sometime. This July maybe. Soonish. Depends on what people think at re-election time in 2012. Whenever. Never mind the Wikileaks revelation about the $52 million of our money in cash that Afghan Vice-President Ahmed Zia Massoud was caught with when he visited the Arab Emirates where the banks are; $52 million which we let him keep.
Then Obama didn't have the guts to turn the BP oil spill into a national cause for green energy investment.
But don't blame just him. He's following a hallowed American tradition of no guts, no imagination and no smarts. A tradition stupendously honored by the gutless dumbasses we've consistently voted into the presidency for the last 30 years. Reagan, Bush One, Clinton, Bush Two and Obama ... these gutless dumbasses combined don't add up to one cell in FDR's brain or one ab in FDR's guts.
3. THE ONE PLACE THAT OUR SMARTS AND GUTS COULD COME FROM
There's only one place that our guts and smarts might come from. And that's from our unemployed. Yes, being unemployed, like the prospect of being hanged, concentrates the mind wonderfully. And it makes you desperate, too, which can make you gutsy.
You never know what could happen when people get desperate.
In Tunisia, one guy set himself on fire because the government fined his little sidewalk fruit stall, confiscated his equipment and wouldn't give it back ... and a short one month later, after some furious Facebook organizing and protests in which the oppressed populace suddenly grew balls, the dictator president who'd been in power for 23 years, fled the country to save his own suddenly-spooked-spermless balls. (He fled to our good friends the Saudis, whose citizens flew two planes into our World Trade Center, and who also took in Idi Amin.)
This amazing revolution happened in Tunisia without a single word about it in their media: the revolt happened exclusively via Facebook, until Al Jazeera TV got word. Now finally many of the Arab dictators, including the Saudi princes, are shitting bricks like ants trying to pass elephant turds, and making sure they've got a private jet standing by fueled up 24/7 with enough ready Swiss bank money to scarper the heck out of Dodge toute suite, just in case the same thing happens in their oppressed corner of oppressed Muslim Arabia. As has happened in the biggest Muslim nation in the Middle East, Egypt, where Mubarak didn't leave the country, leaving himself open to possible prosecution.
All this came about because one no-account dude got upset when the government swiped his fucking fruit stall.
Here in America, we have a jumped-up-from-nowhere-in-no-time Tea Party movement that has spooked all the GOP leaders to the lunatic right, to the point that John McCain claims he never was a party maverick.
These Tea Party people complain bitterly about Obama's spending. Funny, they never complained about Bush's spending; they didn't even exist then. So where did they spring from so suddenly? Who are these Tea Party people? Here's who: they're simply older white Republicans with time on their hands who had enough money to retire and watch Fox News, and who got worried that a black president was going to take their money and give it to poor people. A black guy got inaugurated and wham! that's all it took for the Tea Party to spring up like maggots on a dead dog, and change the moribund GOP overnight from a party of seemingly slightly unhinged run-of-the-mill lunatics into a party of off-the-wall gibbering crazed-from-sternum-to-cranium lunatics (the GOP's new vaunted brainiac, Paul Ryan, believes in privatizing Social Security, proving him more crazily brainless than a flatworm's anal orifice).
Change can happen real fast in today's internet-connected world.
4. HERE COME THE 99ERS
Here in America the fastest-growing new subgroup of Americans to watch out for isn't the Tea Party, but the so-called 99ers. These are folks who've been unemployed for 99 weeks, so their unemployment insurance has run out.
I'm thinking they could be our saviors -- our Tunisians, so to speak. Listen up as I marshall my facts.
In June 2010, the Labor Department reported that there were an estimated 4.3 million 99ers. It's been estimated that there were 7 million at the end of 2010, and perhaps 4 million will be added in 2011. These are people who have no income: they are drawing down all their savings and losing their homes, and they will become tent city dwellers if they aren't already. If I were George Soros, I'd give them all tickets to go to Washington D.C. so they can make a huge tent city of millions right under the snot-nosed noses of our rulers.
You have to wonder what's going to happen when there are say 20 million of them. 20 million unemployed, desperate, penniless, homeless Americans. Or 40 million. Many of them will be young people who can't find a job, and have moved back in with their parents: young people in much the same position as can't-find-a-job young people in Tunisia and Egypt. Like the Tea Party people, these 99ers will have time on their hands. These 99ers already have their own websites.
Meanwhile, right on time, our punditry is currently banging on about the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in America. Like the top 1% own 35% of our wealth, while the top 20% own 85% of our wealth, leaving the bottom 80% to squabble for the last 15%, which is rapidly moving away from them into the hands of the folks at the top.
Enough to give the 99ers some food for thought. Enough to turn their natural paranoia and fear of survival onto an enemy out there.
5. THE COMING CLASS WAR IN AMERICA
To make a long story short, the stage is being set -- courtesy of our dumbass elite -- for a good old-fashioned class war. The unemployed against the rest of us. And if the rest of us don't join the unemployed in a class war against the actual greedy-to-the-max 1% -- no more than 1.3 million fat cats out of our working population -- America will tear itself to pieces. Let's hope it will be 99% of us against 1%. That gives us a fighting chance of reversing the class war that the top 1% of don't-care fat cats have waged upon the rest of America -- and won big with the help of our oh-so-caring government.
In the Great Depression -- our only valid comparison point -- there was indeed a class war. Same as now: the downtrodden against the greedy-to-the-max. The downtrodden were so trodden down, when the unemployment rate rose to over 19%, millions of Americans actually died of starvation. Yep, starvation ... while businesses and the government were destroying “redundant” food.
Back in those days, in the spring and summer of 1932, there was a march on Washington of the so-called Bonus Army of 43,000 marchers (17,000 WW1 vets and their families and affiliates). The Bonus Army demanded immediate cash redemption of bonus certificates issued to the WW1 vets in 1924, that were to be paid out in 1945 (maybe the government figured they'd all be dead by then).
Think about the 99ers marching on Washington as the Bonus Army did, and in their case demanding immediate reinstatement of their unemployment benefits. Those 100,000 Wisconsin labor protesters will be a petite storm in a porcelain teacup compared to a tsunami of millions of marching 99ers.
Here's what happened to the Bonus Army. First the Washington Police tried to drive the Bonus Army out of their encampment. Two vets were killed, but the protesters stayed put. Then President Herbert Hoover called in the army. The Army Chief of Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, commanded a bunch of cavalry and six tanks. In the ensuing battle, he drove the vets out of their encampment, killing another two of them. Their shelters and belongings were burnt to ashes. Yes, children, this happened in America, in our capital, when the closest thing to our present circumstances obtained in our dear land.
Finally, in 1936, Congress overrode FDR's veto and the Bonus Army got paid early.
6. THINK OF THE UNEMPLOYED AS GODZILLA
All this, plus other unrest, especially big strikes in 1934, led to the big changes of the New Deal, which was essentially a successful power grab by the people, wresting power away from our then-greedy-to-the-max elite. The people were significantly helped by the fact that a leading member of the upperclass switched allegiance, betrayed his class and joined the underclass in their power grab. He happened to be the President, and from his high perch FDR heard and heeded the voices of the damned. So huge changes happened -- like Social Security, like the Glass-Steagall Act that hogtied the banksters, like labor unions getting strong enough to give workers a decisive voice, etcetera. And after the class war got settled in favor of the people, we had a good long comfortable ride, full employment for forty years after WW2, until that rich man's poodle Ronald Reagan started the comeback of the privileged rich, which led to trade unions being weakened, and immense productivity gains by workers not coming to them but going to the already rich, and the gutting of Glass-Steagall so the banksters were free to fleece us, and the removal of oversight over derivatives -- both under that dumbass Clinton -- and the lifting of the 12:1 leverage limit on Wall Street speculation under that even bigger dumbass Bush Two. Suddenly our economy went into boom-and-bust mode again after growing steadily for fifty years, and the Reagan Revolution turned the loss of the elite during the New Deal into a clear win for them.
Now our fat cats are occupying the fat catbird's seats again. And with the exception of Bernie Madoff, not a single big-time Wall Street bankster is in jail for Wall Street's worldwide Ponzi fraud. If just one of them -- say, Lloyd Blankfein or Dick Fuld -- was having his Hershey canal invaded on a regular basis by some over-muscled prison inmate, Wall Street would behave themselves ASAP. Instead, they're back to making million-dollar bonuses while their victims go jobless and homeless. Result: today our democracy is a fully-fledged plutocracy: government by the rich, of the rich, and for the rich. Wall Streeters have bought themselves a lifetime stay-out-of-jail-free card.
Not that Wall Street should rest all that easy. Their rip-off schemes have become more evident to more of the ripped-off. And when they wreck us again ... well, folks, we may end up living in interesting times.
As our main competition, the Chinese, like to curse their enemies.
I'd say there's a fifty-fifty chance that within the next ten years, if a few good demagogues get on a few media-covered soapboxes, the unemployed may rise up like a mightily pissed Godzilla, and then the national fan could be hit by the sizable excrement like no fan has been hit by any excrement, and there will be bits and pieces of excrement flying flotsam-and-jetsam-like all over the place, all over you and me, dear reader, all over America, from sea to shining sea.
Even a worm like America can turn.
Personally, I can't wait. What with 400 channels and nothing on TV, I could do with an interesting time in my life. I wouldn't mind seeing the 99ers loot the headquarters of Goldman Sachs. I wouldn't mind seeing some of our rich crooks jump on their private jets and flee. In fact, I'd like to see some social and economic justice in our country for a change. How about you?
Posted by Adam at 12:30 PM