Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed

Nurse reveals the top 5 regrets people make on their deathbed
The link does not work. I retrieved a cached page of this post here. 

Apparently it came from the site _ed.

Submitted by admin on December 22, 2011 – 10:11 AMNo Comment | 3,302 views

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality.
I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never
became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical
details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end.
That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Source: Received via Email

How Law School Was For Me: Chapter 1

You asked how law school was for me. Law school was bad for me. When I came out I felt as though my brain was a hard drive that had been reformatted with errors.

Here's a taste of the first part of my law school tale.

During my first quarter at UCSB, my Labor History Prof. Antonio Zaragosa encouraged me to consider law school. I dismissed the idea for months. Then I spent 2 years researching the topic before I committed.

I took an LSAT prep course, but I had too many other things going my last quarter at UCSB to give it my full attention. I couldn't get the games part. My score on reading comprehension and analysis was good enough to get me into Hastings, along with my academic and service record. I got a "try next year" from Boalt Hall, but my 1L grades were so embarrassing I did not apply.

I was honored to be accepted to UC Hastings College of the Law. My life changed forever there.

At Hastings, they do not teach us that we need the blackletter law. I suppose that warning is for the memorizers. I am sure that many of your classmates were memorizers too. I can memorize lines for a play, but apparently cannot memorize the law. Before I applied, I asked specifically if one had to be a good memorizer before I made the decision to study law.

I asked again about memorization during the first week at Orientation. I was again told that it was OK that I was not a memorizer. I challenged the head of the LEOP Program about her comment at the end of the first year. She said, "Oh, I said that for the memorizers."

So for the next two years, I tried to memorize stuff. But I couldn't even stay awake in class 1/4 of the time the first year. I had a sleeping disorder. After three months into my first semester, visits to psychiatrists, and sleeping pills, I thought that it might be the noise in the Tenderloin, so I went to Fox Hardware and bought a white sound machine around Nov. 1. For the first time since August, I could sleep for more than four hours. It was great!

On Nov. 30 I fell and broke my leg. I cracked my kneecap and chipped the top of my tibia. I could not put any weight on the leg for two months, and crutches were not an alternative when carrying 100 lbs. of books and computer. Hastings's handicapped access elevator was broken and not repaired until my 3L year.

So I was in a wheelchair for the finals study period AND finals.

Near the end of my second semester, my apartment caught fire and was uninhabitable for a month.

So far, so good.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

women who give too much: notes

  • Friend: I see me too. In addition I noticed her guilt came from not rescuing (fixing) her brother. I actually have been labeled "the fixer" because I always fix problems (or at least try) for everyone -Gosh are we all crazy? My New Years resolution is not to "fix" anything that isn't my problem. I'm tired of it all.

  • Me: On the morning of my law school graduation, I was finishing the last of 120 Public Interest graduation sashes for the honorees. I sewed them all myself. Lilian helped me cut them out. I sewed them because I thought that they were too expensive. I didn't see the school giving us funding for them. Hastings has not had them since. So I was right, but in the long run, what diff did it make?

    about an hour ago · Like

  • Friend: scary, we take different paths and still end up the same place. this really is a bad habit that i, at least, must break. I think that every time i feel the urge to step in and fix or give, i'm going have a brownie. i will be fatter (oh well) but happier i think. hope you have a lovely Christmas. be good to yourself.

    37 minutes ago · Like

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paul Krugman: Quote of the Day -- "Will China Break?"

All economic statistics are best seen as a peculiarly boring form of science fiction, but China’s numbers are more fictional than most.
I hope that I’m being needlessly alarmist here. But it’s impossible not to be worried: China’s story just sounds too much like the crack-ups we’ve already seen elsewhere. And a world economy already suffering from the mess in Europe really, really doesn’t need a new epicenter of crisis.
Will China Break?

Consider the following picture: Recent growth has relied on a huge construction boom fueled by surging real estate prices, and exhibiting all the classic signs of a bubble. There was rapid growth in credit — with much of that growth taking place not through traditional banking but rather through unregulated “shadow banking” neither subject to government supervision nor backed by government guarantees. Now the bubble is bursting — and there are real reasons to fear financial and economic crisis.

Am I describing Japan at the end of the 1980s? Or am I describing America in 2007? I could be. But right now I’m talking about China, which is emerging as another danger spot in a world economy that really, really doesn’t need this right now.

I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on the Chinese situation, in part because it’s so hard to know what’s really happening. All economic statistics are best seen as a peculiarly boring form of science fiction, but China’s numbers are more fictional than most. I’d turn to real China experts for guidance, but no two experts seem to be telling the same story.

Still, even the official data are troubling — and recent news is sufficiently dramatic to ring alarm bells.

The most striking thing about the Chinese economy over the past decade was the way household consumption, although rising, lagged behind overall growth. At this point consumer spending is only about 35 percent of G.D.P., about half the level in the United States.

So who’s buying the goods and services China produces? Part of the answer is, well, we are: as the consumer share of the economy declined, China increasingly relied on trade surpluses to keep manufacturing afloat. But the bigger story from China’s point of view is investment spending, which has soared to almost half of G.D.P.

The obvious question is, with consumer demand relatively weak, what motivated all that investment? And the answer, to an important extent, is that it depended on an ever-inflating real estate bubble. Real estate investment has roughly doubled as a share of G.D.P. since 2000, accounting directly for more than half of the overall rise in investment. And surely much of the rest of the increase was from firms expanding to sell to the burgeoning construction industry.

Do we actually know that real estate was a bubble? It exhibited all the signs: not just rising prices, but also the kind of speculative fever all too familiar from our own experiences just a few years back — think coastal Florida.

And there was another parallel with U.S. experience: as credit boomed, much of it came not from banks but from an unsupervised, unprotected shadow banking system. There were huge differences in detail: shadow banking American style tended to involve prestigious Wall Street firms and complex financial instruments, while the Chinese version tends to run through underground banks and even pawnshops. Yet the consequences were similar: in China as in America a few years ago, the financial system may be much more vulnerable than data on conventional banking reveal.

Now the bubble is visibly bursting. How much damage will it do to the Chinese economy — and the world?

Some commentators say not to worry, that China has strong, smart leaders who will do whatever is necessary to cope with a downturn. Implied though not often stated is the thought that China can do what it takes because it doesn’t have to worry about democratic niceties.

To me, however, these sound like famous last words. After all, I remember very well getting similar assurances about Japan in the 1980s, where the brilliant bureaucrats at the Ministry of Finance supposedly had everything under control. And later, there were assurances that America would never, ever, repeat the mistakes that led to Japan’s lost decade — when we are, in reality, doing even worse than Japan did.

For what it’s worth, statements about economic policy from Chinese officials don’t strike me as being especially clear-headed. In particular, the way China has been lashing out at foreigners — among other things, imposing a punitive tariff on imports of U.S.-made autos that will do nothing to help its economy but will help poison trade relations — does not sound like a mature government that knows what it’s doing.

And anecdotal evidence suggests that while China’s government may not be constrained by rule of law, it is constrained by pervasive corruption, which means that what actually happens at the local level may bear little resemblance to what is ordered in Beijing.

I hope that I’m being needlessly alarmist here. But it’s impossible not to be worried: China’s story just sounds too much like the crack-ups we’ve already seen elsewhere. And a world economy already suffering from the mess in Europe really, really doesn’t need a new epicenter of crisis.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The bat-shoot crazy GOP

The other problem is the Dem Party itself. We have many Dems, a few recently voted into office, who also agree on the conservative/business side. I swear the former GOP candidates that do not want to be known as part of the "bat-s*** crazy" GOP, so they sign up, and run as Democrats.

Connecticut Democrats Turn Cold Shoulder on Problematic Candidate

How Ayn Rand Seduced Generations of Young Men and Helped Make the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation

By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet
Posted on December 15, 2011, Printed on December 19, 2011

Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society....To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.— Gore Vidal, 1961

Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote in a personal letter, “Am an admirer of Ayn Rand.” Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) credits Rand for inspiring him to go into politics, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) calls Atlas Shrugged his “foundation book.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says Ayn Rand had a major influence on him, and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an even bigger fan. A short list of other Rand fans includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Cox, chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission in George W. Bush’s second administration; and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.

But Rand’s impact on U.S. society and culture goes even deeper.

The Seduction of Nathan Blumenthal

Ayn Rand’s books such as The Virtue of Selfishness and her philosophy that celebrates self-interest and disdains altruism may well be, as Vidal assessed, “nearly perfect in its immorality.” But is Vidal right about evil? Charles Manson, who himself did not kill anyone, is the personification of evil for many of us because of his psychological success at exploiting the vulnerabilities of young people and seducing them to murder. What should we call Ayn Rand’s psychological ability to exploit the vulnerabilities of millions of young people so as to influence them not to care about anyone besides themselves?

While Greenspan (tagged “A.G.” by Rand) was the most famous name that would emerge from Rand’s Collective, the second most well-known name to emerge from the Collective was Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and “self-esteem” advocate. Before he was Nathaniel Branden, he was Nathan Blumenthal, a 14-year-old who read Rand’s The Fountainhead again and again. He later would say, “I felt hypnotized.” He describes how Rand gave him a sense that he could be powerful, that he could be a hero. He wrote one letter to his idol Rand, then a second. To his amazement, she telephoned him, and at age 20, Nathan received an invitation to Ayn Rand’s home. Shortly after, Nathan Blumenthal announced to the world that he was incorporating Rand in his new name: Nathaniel Branden. And in 1955, with Rand approaching her 50th birthday and Branden his 25th, and both in dissatisfying marriages, Ayn bedded Nathaniel.

What followed sounds straight out of Hollywood, but Rand was straight out of Hollywood, having worked for Cecil B. DeMille. Rand convened a meeting with Nathaniel, his wife Barbara (also a Collective member), and Rand’s own husband Frank. To Branden's astonishment, Rand convinced both spouses that a time-structured affair—she and Branden were to have one afternoon and one evening a week together—was “reasonable.” Within the Collective, Rand is purported to have never lost an argument. On his trysts at Rand’s New York City apartment, Branden would sometimes shake hands with Frank before he exited. Later, all discovered that Rand’s sweet but passive husband would leave for a bar, where he began his self-destructive affair with alcohol.

By 1964, the 34-year-old Nathaniel Branden had grown tired of the now 59-year-old Ayn Rand. Still sexually dissatisfied in his marriage to Barbara and afraid to end his affair with Rand, Branden began sleeping with a married 24-year-old model, Patrecia Scott. Rand, now “the woman scorned,” called Branden to appear before the Collective, whose nickname had by now lost its irony for both Barbara and Branden. Rand’s justice was swift. She humiliated Branden and then put a curse on him: “If you have one ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health—you'll be impotent for the next twenty years! And if you achieve potency sooner, you'll know it’s a sign of still worse moral degradation!”

Rand completed the evening with two welt-producing slaps across Branden’s face. Finally, in a move that Stalin and Hitler would have admired, Rand also expelled poor Barbara from the Collective, declaring her treasonous because Barbara, preoccupied by her own extramarital affair, had neglected to fill Rand in soon enough on Branden's extra-extra-marital betrayal. (If anyone doubts Alan Greenspan’s political savvy, keep in mind that he somehow stayed in Rand’s good graces even though he, fixed up by Branden with Patrecia’s twin sister, had double-dated with the outlaws.)

After being banished by Rand, Nathaniel Branden was worried that he might be assassinated by other members of the Collective, so he moved from New York to Los Angeles, where Rand fans were less fanatical. Branden established a lucrative psychotherapy practice and authored approximately 20 books, 10 of them with either “Self” or “Self-Esteem” in the title. Rand and Branden never reconciled, but he remains an admirer of her philosophy of self-interest.

Ayn Rand’s personal life was consistent with her philosophy of not giving a shit about anybody but herself. Rand was an ardent two-pack-a-day smoker, and when questioned about the dangers of smoking, she loved to light up with a defiant flourish and then scold her young questioners on the “unscientific and irrational nature of the statistical evidence.” After an x-ray showed that she had lung cancer, Rand quit smoking and had surgery for her cancer. Collective members explained to her that many people still smoked because they respected her and her assessment of the evidence; and that since she no longer smoked, she ought to tell them. They told her that she needn’t mention her lung cancer, that she could simply say she had reconsidered the evidence. Rand refused.

How Rand’s Philosophy Seduced Young Minds

When I was a kid, my reading included comic books and Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. There wasn’t much difference between the comic books and Rand’s novels in terms of the simplicity of the heroes. What was different was that unlike Superman or Batman, Rand made selfishness heroic, and she made caring about others weakness.

Rand said, “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible....The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.” For many young people, hearing that it is “moral” to care only about oneself can be intoxicating, and some get addicted to this idea for life.

I have known several people, professionally and socially, whose lives have been changed by those close to them who became infatuated with Ayn Rand. A common theme is something like this: “My ex-husband wasn’t a bad guy until he started reading Ayn Rand. Then he became a completely selfish jerk who destroyed our family, and our children no longer even talk to him.”

To wow her young admirers, Rand would often tell a story of how a smart-aleck book salesman had once challenged her to explain her philosophy while standing on one leg. She replied: “Metaphysics—objective reality. Epistemology—reason. Ethics—self-interest. Politics—capitalism.” How did that philosophy capture young minds?

Metaphysics—objective reality. Rand offered a narcotic for confused young people: complete certainty and a relief from their anxiety. Rand believed that an “objective reality” existed, and she knew exactly what that objective reality was. It included skyscrapers, industries, railroads, and ideas—at least her ideas. Rand’s objective reality did not include anxiety or sadness. Nor did it include much humor, at least the kind where one pokes fun at oneself. Rand assured her Collective that objective reality did not include Beethoven’s, Rembrandt’s, and Shakespeare’s realities—they were too gloomy and too tragic, basically buzzkillers. Rand preferred Mickey Spillane and, towards the end of her life, “Charlie's Angels.”

Epistemology—reason. Rand’s kind of reason was a “cool-tool” to control the universe. Rand demonized Plato, and her youthful Collective members were taught to despise him. If Rand really believed that the Socratic Method described by Plato of discovering accurate definitions and clear thinking did not qualify as “reason,” why then did she regularly attempt it with her Collective? Also oddly, while Rand mocked dark moods and despair, her “reasoning” directed that Collective members should admire Dostoyevsky, whose novels are filled with dark moods and despair. A demagogue, in addition to hypnotic glibness, must also be intellectually inconsistent, sometimes boldly so. This eliminates challenges to authority by weeding out clear-thinking young people from the flock.

Ethics—self-interest. For Rand, all altruists were manipulators. What could be more seductive to kids who discerned the motives of martyr parents, Christian missionaries and U.S. foreign aiders? Her champions, Nathaniel Branden still among them, feel that Rand’s view of “self-interest” has been horribly misrepresented. For them, self-interest is her hero architect Howard Roark turning down a commission because he couldn’t do it exactly his way. Some of Rand’s novel heroes did have integrity, however, for Rand there is no struggle to discover the distinction between true integrity and childish vanity. Rand’s integrity was her vanity, and it consisted of getting as much money and control as possible, copulating with whomever she wanted regardless of who would get hurt, and her always being right. To equate one’s selfishness, vanity, and egotism with one’s integrity liberates young people from the struggle to distinguish integrity from selfishness, vanity, and egotism.

Politics—capitalism. While Rand often disparaged Soviet totalitarian collectivism, she had little to say about corporate totalitarian collectivism, as she conveniently neglected the reality that giant U.S. corporations, like the Soviet Union, do not exactly celebrate individualism, freedom, or courage. Rand was clever and hypocritical enough to know that you don’t get rich in the United States talking about compliance and conformity within corporate America. Rather, Rand gave lectures titled: “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business.” So, young careerist corporatists could embrace Rand’s self-styled “radical capitalism” and feel radical — radical without risk.

Rand’s Legacy

In recent years, we have entered a phase where it is apparently okay for major political figures to publicly embrace Rand despite her contempt for Christianity. In contrast, during Ayn Rand’s life, her philosophy that celebrated self-interest was a private pleasure for the 1 percent but she was a public embarrassment for them. They used her books to congratulate themselves on the morality of their selfishness, but they publicly steered clear of Rand because of her views on religion and God. Rand, for example, had stated on national television, “I am against God. I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness. I regard it as an evil.”

Actually, again inconsistent, Rand did have a God. It was herself. She said:

I am done with the monster of “we,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: “I.”

While Harriet Beecher Stowe shamed Americans about the United State’s dehumanization of African Americans and slavery, Ayn Rand removed Americans’ guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Not only did Rand make it “moral” for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she “liberated” millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.

The good news is that I’ve seen ex-Rand fans grasp the damage that Rand’s philosophy has done to their lives and to then exorcize it from their psyche. Can the United States as a nation do the same thing?

>Bruce E. Levine is a clinical psychologist and author of Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite (Chelsea Green, 2011). His Web site is

© 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Problem Solved: You're Welcome!

Among the many horrors of war are the social imbalances that follow. These imbalances threaten the stability of society. Social engineering plays a part as well in this global tragedy of errors.

December 19, 2011, 9:21 AM
The Plight of China’s Favored Sons
ZHUHAI, China — In the rural Chinese town where Li Yiming grew up, the gossip mill starts to turn if a man is still single at 25. As he nears this milestone, the 23-year-old Li, an assembly-line worker in the coastal city of Zhuhai, is despondent. He knows he’ll never earn enough at any factory to win the approval of his girlfriend’s parents.

Associated Press
Finding a spouse isn’t easy anywhere. But Li (whose name has been changed) is part of a cohort of millions of Chinese men, the favored sons, whose chances of ever getting married are particularly slim. After a rapid decline in fertility rates and decades of sex-selective abortions, there are now many more potential grooms than brides in China. This “marriage squeeze,” as demographers call the imbalance, is not a historical first — Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea have all had trouble marrying off their men — but in China it may be unprecedented in scale.

According to Dudley Poston, a professor of sociology at Texas A&M University, and his colleagues, 40 million Chinese men alive today will likely be left without a wife. That’s more people than the population of California.

Uneducated men from the countryside like Li have the worst prospects because many marriages in rural China are local. Traditional family ties often mean that the first choice for a spouse is someone from the same town. But sex ratios at birth (S.R.B.) — the ratio of boys born to girls — are generally much higher in the countryside than in the cities. And so the market dynamics of marriage for men in rural areas are much worse than in the cities.

Demographers consider a natural S.R.B. to be between 104 and 107 boys born for every 100 girls. Nationally, China’s sex ratio at birth is 120 boys per 100 girls; in rural areas, where couples often have more than one child, the S.R.B. for second children rises to 145 (and in nine provinces, it’s a staggering 160, according to Poston). By comparison, the U.S. sex ratio at birth is 105 boys per 100 girls. The main reason for this gap is the use of ultrasound scanners to determine the gender of fetuses, followed by the abortion of many female ones.

The other reason Li will have a hard time finding a wife is the “no money, no honey” dynamic. Chinese brides and their parents prefer men with the highest possible income, in particular those who own property. A recent study by the China Youth Daily found that 35 percent of women of marrying age would not consider tying the knot with a man who didn’t own property or who couldn’t afford to buy some. Li earns about $3,400 a year and his girlfriend’s parents expect him to buy an apartment that costs about $47,000.

What will happen if so many Chinese men never get married? Wei Shang-jin, of Columbia University, and Zhang Xiaobo, of the International Food Policy Research Institute, predict that China’s marriage squeeze could stimulate economic growth by prodding men to work harder in order to woo a bride. But most projections are not so sanguine.

Some observers predict that disgruntled bachelors like Li will go on strike to ask for more money or may resort to crime. Texas A&M’s Poston argues that cases of H.I.V. could rise as men congregate in “bachelor ghettos” in big cities. Others still warn that China may be more likely to go to war to keep its single men out of trouble at home.

At a minimum, the marriage squeeze will widen various disparities in Chinese society today: between the rich and the poor, the cities and the countryside, those with property and those without. None of these is a good scenario for a Chinese government whose primary objective is stability.

Alexandra Harney is the author of “The China Price” and an associate fellow at the Asia Society.

Whatever happened to General McChrystal?

My Financial Times headlines yielded this nugget of information.

Siemens hires former Afghanistan general
German group acquires services of Stanley McChrystal with aim of bolstering US government business arm
Further research demonstrated that he spent the first half of 2011 establishing
The McChrystal Group.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Political Washington Abolishes Due Process Protections is a local San Francisco Bay Area affiliate of, which was established originally to provide a web presence for the Seattle WTO Protests of 1999. Kindly take a moment to learn about Indymedia, where you may publish your text, audio and video right away. Your regional Indymedia site may be of value in the near future. You can even volunteer from your home if you wish to help keep it up. ~Via

Political Washington Abolishes Due Process Protections - by Stephen Lendman

Main Street Europe and America face protracted Depression conditions. As a result, millions lost jobs, homes, incomes, and futures.

Human misery is growing. So is public anger. Rage across America and Europe reflect it. Gerald Celente explains the stakes, saying:

"When people lose everything and have nothing else to lose, they lose it."

Draconian police state provisions were enacted to contain them. Hundreds of secret Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) camps may hold them. Martial law may authorize it, claiming "catastrophic emergency" conditions. Senators blew their cover calling America a "battleground."

During WW II, loyal Japanese Americans were lawlessly detained. Today, social justice protesters and others wanting change are at risk. Political Washington's targeting them to assure business as usual continues. Obama's fully on board.

On December 14, the House passed the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). On December 15, the Senate followed suit - ironically on Bill of Rights Day.

Obama will sign it into law. The measure ends constitutional protections for everyone, including US citizens. Specifically it targets due process and law enforcement powers.

With or without evidence, on issues of alleged terrorist connections posing national security threats, the Pentagon now supplants civilian authorities. It's well beyond its mandate...


The Politics of the Top 1 Percent

DECEMBER 14, 2011, 11:51 AM
The Politics of the Top 1 Percent

A flawed article with some insights and some flaws. ~Via

There is more in the study. Here, for example, is a taste of Page, Cook, and Moskowitz’s findings regarding philanthropy:

Although many of our respondents express skepticism about government programs, and although some explicitly say that private philanthropy offers a superior approach, there is no strong tendency for those who are most suspicious of government to do more in the way of charitable activity.

What are the political attitudes of the very wealthy? How, and how much, do they differ from the less wealthy? The combination of growing inequality, a weak economy, and Occupy Wall Street’s ability to focus political debate on inequality makes the answers to these questions particularly relevant.

One answer to these questions comes from a new analysis by Gallup that made the rounds last week. By aggregating 61 polls from 2009-2011, they were able to measure the opinions of about 400 respondents with annual incomes of $500,000 or above. Gallup reports only modest (really, 57 v 44% is not modest) differences in their party identification: 57 percent of the 1 percent identify as or lean Republican, compared to 44 percent of the 99 percent. There are virtually no differences in how they identify ideologically: 39 percent of the 1 percent identify as conservative, compared to 40 percent of the 99 percent.

But the Gallup analysis may overstate the similarity of the two groups. A second study, authored by the political scientists Benjamin Page, Fay Lomax Cook, and Rachel Moskowitz and recently released by the Russell Sage Foundation, found that the politics of the very wealthy are strikingly different.

Their study, which was part of a larger project called the Study of Economically Successful Americans and the Common Good, involved something unusual: a random sample of the rich. In particular, they interviewed 104 wealthy individuals in the Chicago area between February and June 2011. The sampling frame, constructed from various sources, was essentially the top 1 percent in terms of wealth (not income, as in the Gallup analysis). The response rate among the wealthy individuals they contacted was 37 percent, which may seem low on its face but is quite respectable by contemporary standards. The median wealth of this group was $7.5 million. (Of course, the broader project is surveying wealthy people nationwide, not only in Chicago.)

What did the survey find? For one, balance of party identification in this sample is very similar to what Gallup found: 58 percent of this sample identified as or lean Republican. In several other ways, however, the political behavior of the top 1 percent diverges more strongly from the 99 percent than Gallup’s analysis suggests.

The 1 percent cares more about deficits than the economy. When asked to name the most important problem facing the country, 32 percent of respondents said the deficit and 11 percent said the economy. By contrast, in an April 2011 CBS News/New York Times poll, 49 percent of Americans said the economy or jobs and only 5 percent said the deficit.

The 1 percent wants private-sector solutions, not government solutions. Among those who considered the deficit the most important problem, 65 percent favored spending cuts and 24 percent favored a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. By contrast, a September 2011 New York Times/CBS News poll found that only 21 percent of respondents favored spending cuts exclusively. The majority (71 percent) favored spending cuts and tax increases.

The 1 percent is vastly more politically active. In the Chicago sample, 99 percent reported voting in 2008; in the 2008 American National Election Study, only 78 percent of a nationally representative sample reported voting. Both numbers are probably inflated – nowhere near 78 percent of Americans actually voted in 2008 — but it seems unlikely that misleading survey responses would fully account for the gap between the 1 percent and Americans as a whole. Other measures of participation show even larger gaps. For example, 41 percent of the very wealthy reported attending a political meeting. Only 9 percent of Americans did so in 2008. And 68 percent of the very wealthy reported giving money to a political candidate, party, or cause in the last four years. In 2008–a year in which “small donors” were numerous–only 13 percent of Americans donated to a political candidate or party. Again, there are small differences in the wording of the questions between the two surveys, but they are not likely responsible for the 55-point gap.

There is more in the study. Here, for example, is a taste of Page, Cook, and Moskowitz’s findings regarding philanthropy:

Although many of our respondents express skepticism about government programs, and although some explicitly say that private philanthropy offers a superior approach, there is no strong tendency for those who are most suspicious of government to do more in the way of charitable activity.

To be sure, this is very much a project in progress. But even these initial results, however unsurprising, are important. Other scholars have found that, when the attitudes of the wealthy and less wealthy diverge, policy is much more in line with the attitudes of the wealthy. The activism evident in the Chicago sample may explain why: they do much more to articulate their views to politicians. (Of course, politicians themselves are often in the 1 percent.) These inequalities in political voice may then give rise to policies that perpetuate unequal outcomes.

GOP ‘family values’ mayor admits he’s gay; misappropriated nearly $200K

GOP ‘family values’ mayor admits he’s gay

By David Edwards
Friday, December 16, 2011

Topics: gay adult store ♦ Greg Davis

A Republican mayor in Mississippi admitted this week that he was gay after an audit revealed that he spent taxpayer money at a gay adult store in Canada.

Greg Davis was elected as the mayor of Southaven in 1997 on a platform of conservative “family values,” but he says he recently realized that he was gay.

“At this point in my life and in my career, while I have tried to maintain separation between my personal and public life, it is obvious that this can no longer remain the case,” the mayor, now in his third term, told The Commercial Appeal.

“While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay,” he added.

Davis claimed that he has already paid $96,000 of the of more than $170,000 in expenses that state officials allege he improperly billed the city for.

War on Drugs-My Comment to the NYT

Howard G New York
There's a cartoon from the New Yorker magazine which depicts two elderly women sitting at a kitchen table, chatting over some coffee and cake.

One woman is speaking to the other, and the caption reads:

"Lately I've been feeling lethargic, listless and apathetic, and if I stand up too suddenly, I get dizzy. My daughter says she has to smoke two joints to feel like that."

And for all those who insist that smoking pot is essentially harmless, consider this...

The guy who is repairing the brakes on your spouse's car had a joint after lunch.

The broker who is in charge of your portfolio likes share a joint or two with his colleagues to "take the edge off" during those pressure-filled trading days.

The woman who drives your children's school bus takes a few puffs on her coffee break - which is okay because getting high does not dull the senses the same way as having a few beers.

Debocracy the West Coast

Huh? You mean that some people who lobby for legalized drugs actually take them?


Try to think of it this way: Every legal drug transaction starves the government of Black Ops money.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Allen West Compares Democrats to Goebbels

  • By Ryan Teague Beckwith
  • Roll Call Staff
  • Dec. 15, 2011, 7:01 p.m.

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Freshman Rep. Allen West is stirring things up by comparing the Democratic Party to Nazis again.

In an interview with several reporters today, the Florida Republican blamed Democratic messaging for a recent poll that showed Americans blame the GOP more for Capitol Hill gridlock.

“If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” he said, according to the Washington Post. Goebbels was minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany.

This was not the first Nazi reference for West, who at times seems to be the Congressional example of Godwin’s law, an Internet adage that says that any conversation will eventually end with a reference to Adolf Hitler.

During his 2010 race, West compared a Democratic tracker who was taping his campaign appearances to “Gestapo-type intimidation tactics.” His campaign refused to apologize for the remark.

In a recent interview with the conservative magazine Newsmax, he said the Occupy Wall Street movement has ties to the American Nazi Party.

West’s comments today came in response to a question about a Pew Research poll that found that independents said Republicans are “more extreme” in their positions and “less honest and ethical” than Democrats.

Romney’s missing hard drives raise questions over government records

Romney’s missing hard drives raise questions over government records

This is a near-automatic post from other sites to my Blogger account. I intend to use this facility for fast-breaking news.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Those Greedy Federal Employees

I have wanted to write about the demonic mythology of the right about government workers, and have included some succinct summation of sources.

These are the comments that followed the article. Mr. hill-marty, whose avatar seems to indicate that he is radioactive and toxic, got many knowledgeable responses to his, “why don’t they leave?” snark. My response is at the bottom of the page.


2:46 PM PST

If feds are unhappy, why don't they leave? When federal employee turnover rates approach those for comparable private sector jobs, then we should talk about fed pay. Until then, it's all swamp gas, mostly generated by feds.


Recommended by 3 readers



2:54 PM PST

Oil speculation by the wealthy takes a bigger slice out of working class incomes that it does the income of the wealthy even if they only get 6-10mpg in their gold Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys. The entire $1,000~$1,500 payroll/social security tax “holiday” is wasted on paying higher gas prices while starving the social security benefit fund. Starving social security, government services and domestic infrastructure investment so the US oil industry can make another $900 billion in profit, as they h...See More


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3:00 PM PST

The Feds are not so un happy about the pay freeze and paying more for retirement, as much as the only ones getting the hatchet are the Federal Employees. Why doesn't Congress have to cut back on it's members spending? Why are they leasing a Lexus (at taxpayer expense) while a Focus would do? Why are the taxpayers paying for Congress personal living expenses anyway? Why are we paying for their mailing costs to get re-elected? That should be limited to 2 mail outs a year, not the weekly we g...See More

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4:00 PM PST

In some jobs (short order cook, cashier) turnover poses few problems. Elsewhere it does -- among traffic controllers, accountants, geologists, statisticians, and public health workers. So, let's see, what is it that federal workers do? Are they more often short order cooks or geologists? Do you really want high rates of turnover who do these things? If so, you are simply being cranky and perverse, not thoughtful.

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4:21 PM PST

Anyone who doesn't believe there is an assault on the middle class just has to watch the daily activities of the Republican party. They pander to their government -hating base by attacking federal workers in order to divert attention away from their own shortcomings

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4:43 PM PST

ExFed1: How true it is. What these people are not hearing about Federal Employees is the complete truth. I also agree with Linda45. One thing, by increasing the amount Feds pay in to their pension is not going to increase their retirement by one dime nor is it going to reduce the budget by one dime.

Recommended by 1 reader


5:29 PM PST

Sure, lets get those feds (FBI Agents, air traffic controllers, astronauts, mine safety inspectors, CIA personnel) to quit. Then when the American people don't have these safety nets and services, let's remind them how they loved screwing Federal employees, and cutting them out of Government. Wait until thousands die from food poisoning from China, Then we will see Americans crying to reinstate FDA employees. Republican stupidity endangers America. Experienced Federal employees ARE leaving now,...See More

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6:14 PM PST

Well, Marty, here's the deal. 
Governments should not be run like businesses. Their aims are completely different. Until people start to grasp this principle, we are all in the handbasket together, left and right both. 
Federal employee salaries exceeded those of the private sector for many years, because really, don't you want the most competent people working for the government? We have to have a government whether we like it or not in a nation of 300 Million people. 
The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 mandated that Federal Employee salaries be adjusted to conform to the those of the private sector. People like you want to change the rules under which they were hired and cut their benefits more? That's not a good idea. It pushes the best and the brightest in government out the door with a shovel. 
Way to go, righties.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Eliot Spitzer: 5 Ways to Make Banks Pay for Their Secret $7 Trillion Free Ride

Via: Alternet. The CEOs of major banks maintained they were in good financial shape. Meanwhile, they secretly borrowed massive amounts from the government to stay afloat.
December 1, 2011 |

Imagine you walked into a bank, applied for a personal line of credit, and filled out all the paperwork claiming to have no debts and an income of $200,000 per year. The bank, based on these representations, extended you the line of credit. Then, three years later, after fighting disclosure all the way, you were forced by a court to tell the truth: At the time you made the statements to the bank, you actually were unemployed, you had a $1 million mortgage on your house on which you had failed to make payments for six months, and you hadn’t paid even the minimum on your credit-card bills for three months. Do you think the bank would just say: Never mind, don’t worry about it? Of course not. Whether or not you had paid back the personal line of credit, three FBI agents would be at your door within hours.

Read more here.

If Business Were Run Like Government

I mostly love Ted Rall. He usually makes me laugh so hard that I make unladylike noises. This is one of those times.

Click here to see the cartoon

'via Blog this'

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Systematic Looting of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

By Olivia La Rosa -2008

We are now in the process of re-nationalizing two public corporations that were privatized long ago. These publicly-owned corporations began to be "securitized" in the mid-1970s. I was in banking then, and for the next twelve years. I saw it happen. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are a horrifying example of what happens when government functions are "privatized".

FM (short for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are short for Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation were formed to support the home mortgage market.

Fannie Mae was created in 1938, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, at a time when millions of families could not become homeowners, or risked losing their homes, for lack of a consistent supply of mortgage funds across America.

In the mid-1970s, the character of these institutions changed because their charters changed. They were then in the beginning stages of privatization.


When I entered the banking business in 1971, each bank branch kept its own home loans on the books at the branch where the home loan was made.

When I entered the banking business in 1971, each bank branch kept its own home loans on the books at the branch where the home loan was made.

Yes, you read that twice. I did not want you to skim over it (for you skimmers).

When I went to the bank, I saw the loan officer who made my home loan twice a week. He knew what I looked like, and what my husband did for a living. He knew when we were going to have a child. He saw me every time I came into the bank and made a deposit.

In other words, this person was, if not a friend, an intimate acquaintance.

Now, lenders are completely divorced from the human being who is taking out the mortgage. And investors are lured by fictitious entities like "mortgage-backed securities" and the people who made a mint by "securitizing" the family home loan obligation. Clever Wall Street minds figured out a way to "securitize" the mortgage markets. When you hear the world "securitize", just run like heck. Do not invest in securitized instruments. At their most basic, they are scams designed to wring excess profit from financial instruments that do not usually yield excess profit by bundling together individual items and assigning risk factors to the pool of items. Usually, the risk factors are understated and the potential profit is overstated.

Examples of securitized investments include junk bonds and derivatives, both of which led to devastating losses for families in the last two decades. Now, we are witness to the biggest failure of securitization yet, and it will cause us to have to turn Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into public service institutions, which they should have been in the first place. Now, our grandchildren will be paying the bill for all those unrecoverable privatized profits.


Before you read this, please take a moment to reflect upon what you thought that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac meant before you read this article.

Freddie Mac Corporate Governance

We are committed to sound and effective corporate governance practices. We believe these practices are fundamental to maintaining a strong relationship with our stakeholders, reinforcing confidence in Freddie Mac's leadership, and achieving our mission to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the U.S. housing and mortgage markets. We review and update our governance practices from time to time to be consistent with our shareholders’ best interests and with applicable requirements.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alfermedi Cert Petition 11-10-2011


By Ritika Singh

(item 2 shifts the burden of proof from the government to the detainee. –ed.)

Contains links to the oral argument summary, April 11, government’s reply brief, the petitioner’s brief, and the government’s opening brief. 

The abstract follows below.

Almerfedi Cert Petition

by Ritika Singh

Hussain Salem Mohammed Almerfedi, a Guantanamo habeas petitioner, has filed a cert petition that presents the following questions:

1. Whether the Authorization for Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No. 107-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224 (2001) (“AUMF’), orBoumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), permits detention on the basis of three facts that are themselves not incriminating.

2. Whether the AUMF or Boumediene authorizes a standard of proof under which, if the government puts forward somecredible evidence justifying the detainee’s detention, the detainee, to prevail, must rebut government’s evidence.

3. Whether the Court of Appeals’ manifest unwillingness to allow Guantanamo detainees to prevail in their habeas corpus cases calls for the exercise of this Court’s supervisory power.

For our readers who’d like to get a complete overview of the case, here are Ben’s thoughts on the D.C. Circuit opinion from June 10, the oral argument summary from April 11, the government’s reply brief, the petitioner’s brief, and the government’s opening brief.

D. Lagutaris, ed.

Bush tax cuts and the decline of U.S. as a serious world power

Commentary: Bush tax cuts and the decline of U.S. as a serious world power

By Dennis Jett | McClatchy Newspapers

The lame ducks had not even flown the coop before the assessments of the 111th Congress started to pour in. After months of partisan bickering and foot dragging, the achievements in the final days of the legislative session were truly impressive.

There are two feats that have been generally unrecognized by the Washington’s chattering class however. Both deserve acknowledgment because they will affect the country’s future more than anything else this session of Congress accomplished.

The legislators affected the course of history by ensuring two future events will occur — the reelection of President Obama and the decline of the United States as a serious world power. That may seem counter-intuitive given that the leader of the Republicans in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said not too many weeks ago that ensuring the President did not get a second term was his highest priority.

McConnell only needed to glance at the potential Republican candidates for 2012 to discover why he had to forego that dream. While all the party’s presidential aspirants use their platforms on Fox News to ignite the Republican base, they repel pretty much everyone else. More ominous is the fact there will be little chance to oust the incumbent if the economy continues to improve. There is one statistic that will determine that &mash; the unemployment rate. If it is significantly lower than it is now, he will win. If it is not, he won’t.

McConnell could have refused to do anything to help the economy and prayed for a double dip recession severe enough to sweep his party into the White House. Republicans are about to take ownership of the other House, however, and can’t avoid some responsibility for prolonged economic stagnation without there being negative implications for the Republicans in Congress. “Just say no” would therefore be no more effective a strategy than it was in the war on drugs. So McConnell and company signed off on tax cuts that will probably stimulate the economy enough to determine the outcome of the election in the President’s favor.

The tax cuts will also ensure the decline of the United States. Republicans insisted that all those poor starving people with seven figure annual incomes and above could not possibly be asked to pay more. Given the generous provisions of the estate tax, apparently not even dead multimillionaires can be expected to ante up. To ensure tax cuts for such people, the Republicans held hostage the long-term unemployed and their favorite props for photo ops — 9/11 first responders.

The cuts that resulted will not only balloon the deficit, but will also require dismantling a good bit of government at the state and federal level. Education will be hollowed out and infrastructure left to decay as the United States becomes increasingly indebted to other countries and unable to compete in the global marketplace. Future debates on public policy will be forced to focus on how much to gut Social Security and Medicare.

Are the cuts justified by the weight of the tax burden? Studies done by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development demonstrate otherwise. The 34 countries in the OECD comprise the developed democracies of what used to be called the First World and a few successful developing countries from those in the Third World.

These studies show taxes as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product in the U.S. are at their lowest level since at least 1965 and are the lowest in the OECD except for Mexico and Chile. At the same time, income inequality and poverty are higher in the U.S. than any other country in the OECD except Mexico and Turkey. As for the accusations that socialism is sweeping the land, only in Korea does the redistribution of income by government have a smaller effect.

The griping about taxes will continue nonetheless. The ability of Americans to have a rational discussion on the subject was long ago put to death by Ronald Reagan’s sound bites. Government became evil and greed became a virtue.

No country can be great if its citizens are unwilling to pay for it. No country will remain great if it neglects the health and education of those citizens who lack lobbyists. The tax cuts may have assured the President’s reelection, but they also ensure America will grow more separate and unequal, not unlike the proverbial banana republics. As a result the U.S. will slowly slip from the leader of the First World to an honorary member of the Third, unless Americans stop believing their exceptionalism stems only from their virtue and requires no sacrifice.


Dennis Jett, a former U.S. ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, is a professor of international affairs at Penn State's School of International Affairs.

McClatchy Newspapers did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy Newspapers or its editors.

Read more:

National Police Accountability Project

National Police Accountability Project

Investigations of police misconduct occur at a rate of .01 (that's 1 percent) of the number of claims filed. Resolutions of victim's claims occurs at 1/10th of that rate. ~Deb

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Don't Need No Doctor Festival

Rustle up some barbecue, grab a beer, then kick back with me and enjoy the "I Don't Need No Doctor Festival" on my birthday.

Ray Charles's inspirations have seared the pants off generations of humanity.  Then others who come later try their own interpretations, to our global delight.

Here's the list!

Ray Charles, the Man

Blues style *sweet*

Humble Pie *mindblowing*

The newest generation’s interpretation. Whoa. Extinguish all smoking materials.


Howling metal version.

Forgive me. I was mistaken. My most humble apologies.
W.A.S.P. performed the ultimate metal version.

Prepare to be surprised by John Mayer’s interpretation

An American Idol Treat Casey Abrams *trust me*

Return abruptly to awake-alive-alert with Lawrence Gowan of Styx.

And at last, my fav!
New Riders of the Purple Sage

Friday, November 25, 2011

We Are the 99.9%

by Paul Krugman

(Dr. Krugman lays some great one-liners on us in this article.-ed)

November 24, 2011

We Are the 99.9%

“We are the 99 percent” is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general.
If anything, however, the 99 percent slogan aims too low. A large fraction of the top 1 percent’s gains have actually gone to an even smaller group, the top 0.1 percent — the richest one-thousandth of the population.
And while Democrats, by and large, want that super-elite to make at least some contribution to long-term deficit reduction, Republicans want to cut the super-elite’s taxes even as they slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the name of fiscal discipline.
Before I get to those policy disputes, here are a few numbers.
The recent Congressional Budget Office report on inequality didn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, did. According to that report, between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted, after-tax income of Americans in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. The equivalent number for the richest 0.1 percent rose 400 percent.
For the most part, these huge gains reflected a dramatic rise in the super-elite’s share of pretax income. But there were also large tax cuts favoring the wealthy. In particular, taxes on capital gains are much lower than they were in 1979 — and the richest one-thousandth of Americans account for half of all income from capital gains.
Given this history, why do Republicans advocate further tax cuts for the very rich even as they warn about deficits and demand drastic cuts in social insurance programs?
Well, aside from shouts of “class warfare!” whenever such questions are raised, the usual answer is that the super-elite are “job creators” — that is, that they make a special contribution to the economy. So what you need to know is that this is bad economics. In fact, it would be bad economics even if America had the idealized, perfect market economy of conservative fantasies.
After all, in an idealized market economy each worker would be paid exactly what he or she contributes to the economy by choosing to work, no more and no less. And this would be equally true for workers making $30,000 a year and executives making $30 million a year. There would be no reason to consider the contributions of the $30 million folks as deserving of special treatment.
But, you say, the rich pay taxes! Indeed, they do. And they could — and should, from the point of view of the 99.9 percent — be paying substantially more in taxes, not offered even more tax breaks, despite the alleged budget crisis, because of the wonderful things they supposedly do.
Still, don’t some of the very rich get that way by producing innovations that are worth far more to the world than the income they receive? Sure, but if you look at who really makes up the 0.1 percent, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that, by and large, the members of the super-elite are overpaid, not underpaid, for what they do.
For who are the 0.1 percent? Very few of them are Steve Jobs-type innovators; most of them are corporate bigwigs and financial wheeler-dealers. One recent analysis found that 43 percent of the super-elite are executives at nonfinancial companies, 18 percent are in finance and another 12 percent are lawyers or in real estate. And these are not, to put it mildly, professions in which there is a clear relationship between someone’s income and his economic contribution.
Executive pay, which has skyrocketed over the past generation, is famously set by boards of directors appointed by the very people whose pay they determine; poorly performing C.E.O.’s still get lavish paychecks, and even failed and fired executives often receive millions as they go out the door.
Meanwhile, the economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. As the Bank of England’s director for financial stability recently put it, seemingly high returns before the crisis simply reflected increased risk-taking — risk that was mostly borne not by the wheeler-dealers themselves but either by naïve investors or by taxpayers, who ended up holding the bag when it all went wrong. And as he waspishly noted, “If risk-making were a value-adding activity, Russian roulette players would contribute disproportionately to global welfare.”
So should the 99.9 percent hate the 0.1 percent? No, not at all. But they should ignore all the propaganda about “job creators” and demand that the super-elite pay substantially more in taxes.

Why Law School Makes Some People Sick

Apropos of this NYT Editorial on law school.

I did not pass the Bar the first time, so I am having another go at it. I recently met with a Bar tutor. I left our meeting sadder but wiser. Bar Examiners do not read your magnificent essays, the product of nineteen years of intense attention to your teachers and professors, development of high-quality analysis skills, and patiently-accumulated writing ability.

All the Bar Examiners want to know is: did number 6457 memorize most of the lingo for 14 areas of law we test? They have a checksheet. They skim the answers looking for key words. I know lots of people otherwise incapable of practicing law who could perform a memorization feat of that magnitude. Some of them are institutionalized.

These essays we must write should run from five to twelve pages each. The examinee is given an hour, and the equivalent of a blank piece of paper and pen, to come up with the elements of a, say, crime or tort or breach of contract, analyze each element against the facts of the case and argue both sides, then produce a sensible conclusion.

Here’s the trick that law school plays on the rational mind: Never does your conclusion matter. What matters is that the conclusion, either a or b, is supported by your analysis and argument.

Fresh from my graduation with Honors at UC Santa Barbara in May 2001, I drove up the coast directly to Hastings that August. I entered law school at the age of 51. Thing is, I was firm in my convictions and my morality at this age. I was never quite able to hide my bias towards conclusion B over conclusion A. I took an extra sentence or two to explain my reasons for supporting conclusion B over conclusion A. I took the time to support my answers with policy suggestions.

The Bar examiners don't care a fig about this.

11-18, The Day That Everything Changed

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Smart Meter Opt-Out Hearings Information

Please find following the Commission's webpage on the Opt-Out Program, which provides backgrounder, complete with document history, of this proceeding:

I encourage you to add yourself to the subscription list and consider being added to the service list. By being added to the service list, your comments will be officially included as part of the proceeding. (Note to Ms. X: I will share your comments with our Public Advisor's Office.)

Sheri Boles
Outreach Officer
Hello, Ms. X --

I understand your concerns; thank you for sharing them with me.

I've included below a link to our Public Advisor's webpage; I want to point out the section on "How your comments are processed" (I've also embedded the copy below, as I think it is very important):
How your comments are processed
The Commission has different processes in place for the various ways informal comments are made by the public. You might be interested to understand these differences.
* Written informal comments <> are circulated to appropriate decision-makers and if they pertain to a specific proceeding they become part of its official record, although they do not have the same weight as comments from parties to the proceeding <> .

* Public comments made at public participation hearings <> are transcribed and made part of the official record for that particular proceeding, although they do not have the same weight as comments from parties to the proceeding <> .

* Public comments made at Commission voting meetings <> are recorded on the webcast archives <> of the meetings posted on-line.
I've highlighted the key points to consider. I will be back in the office on Monday if you want to further discuss..

Sheri Boles

Ms. Demeanor November 23, 2011: Capitalism's Collateral Damage

By Olivia LaRosa

My comment regarding the article above:

Collateral Damage

As someone who has changed hearts and minds, may I add my 2 cents worth? Only a constant patient application of facts will work on someone who is not of an inherently authoritarian character. 

I was raised as a libertarian Republican. That ideology lasted exactly as long as it took me to enter the adult working world and find out that my dad was full of it. So I have approached this argument from all sides. 

Our natural allies are libertarian Republicans and libertarian capitalist "decline to state" voters. Kinda like Ron Paul, but without the fascist Xtian John Birch connections. Once these allies understand that:

a) there is no such thing as the "Invisible Hand" of God on the free markets
b) that free markets will never exist, because a power vacuum attracts predators

they begin to pay attention to actual events rather than "faith-based" capitalist polemics; they may come around in surprising ways. 

They come to realize that the collateral damage that globalized capitalism inflicts on people, places and things is too high a price to pay for its benefits.