Exceptional Exceptionalism

January 17, 2013 at 1:59 am | Posted in civil rights, Economy, Foreign Affairs, health, Historical | Leave a comment
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Some of the younger boys working in the Brazos Valley Cotton Mill at West. One, Charlie Lott was thirteen years old according to Family Record, another Norman Vaughn apparently twelve years old was under legal age according to one of the other boys there, Calvin Caughlin who did not appear to be fifteen years old himself. These and two girls that I proved to be under legal age were all working in this small mill. It was an exceptional case, but it it (i.e., is) likely that as the children become tired of school later in the year, there will be many more at work. Location: West, Texas. November 1913. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine

What’s truly exceptional about America, it turns out, is the indifference we show to our compatriots, the absence of the kind of national solidarity more evident in the nations that surpass us on all these lists.

Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

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Indefensible Priorities

August 23, 2012 at 2:56 am | Posted in Economy, elections, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Drawbridge Republicans are flesh and blood human beings peddling indefensible priorities.

Know Your Zombie-eyed Granny Starver: GOP VP Nominee Paul Ryan

August 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Posted in Economy, elections, health, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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On watch for zombie-eyed granny starver Paul Ryan

“If it weren’t for FDR and LBJ, and for the munificence of the American taxpayer, Paul Ryan would still be in Janesville, looking for a job.”  

Charles P. Pierce

Zombie-eyed Granny Starver Paul Ryan has been paid by the Koch Brothers for years, but now he’s hit the big time. Will the Koch Brothers get their money‘s worth? David Koch is going to the convention as an official Romney delegate to make sure everyone remembers who’s paying the bills.

The US Postal Service Needs You

May 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Posted in Economy, Historical, Labor, Post Office, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. PARCEL POST, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

It really annoys me to hear people speak disparagingly of the United States Postal Service. The post office is specifically authorized in Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution. It’s worked really well for more than 230 years. If not for the ridiculous budget cuts, Congressional refusal to allow price increases and hamstringing, the Post Office wouldn’t be in the sad condition it’s in today.

Santa Rosa Post Office & Federal Building, 401 Fifth Street (moved to Seventh Street), Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

What private business is going to deliver a birthday card to your sister who lives across town the day after you drop it in a box for less than $1? Not FedEx. They want $7.65 to deliver a letter across town overnight. FedEx wants almost $12 to get a letter from New England to the West Coast in five days. The United States Postal Service? Forty-five cents.

Charlie Pierce is absolutely right, people didn’t come by their ridiculous complaints about the post office without help:

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. REPAIRING MAILBAGS, 1914 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The entire modern conservative movement consists of an ongoing attempt to sever the relationship of a self-governing people to their government, to break down the concept of a political commonwealth. Many of the conservative attempts to wedge people apart through the use of an Other to be feared and despised — whether that was black people, or empowered women, or immigrants, or gay people — have been framed to attack the government’s attempts to ameliorate discrimination against the groups in question. In modern conservative thought, then, and in the mindset it seeks to ingrain on the people of the country, the government is the ultimate Other.
In doing so, the corporate masters of the conservative movement are good with all of this because they seek a wary, frightened and insecure people. Those people are too cowed to make waves, too spooked to assert their rights as citizens, too confused to demand accountability.

There is a reason why we used to build buildings the way we built the post office in Geneva, with its mural and its marble, and its great arching windows and its Doric entablature. It wasn’t because we were profligate. It was because we considered self-government, for all its faults, to be something precious that belonged to all of us, and that it should be housed in places that looked as though we valued it enough to celebrate it and protect it at the same time. They were monuments we raised to ourselves, because we deserved them.

If you think government is the problem, you haven’t been paying attention.

“Scrap The Cap”

November 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Economy, Social Security | Leave a comment
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Social Security will provide a decent income to retired working people if the income cap is eliminated. There’s no good reason not too and millions of good reasons to do it.

Occupy America

October 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Economy, Occupy | Leave a comment
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Southeast Missouri Farms. Children sitting in living room of shack home. 1938 May.. Russell Lee, photographer (Library of Congress)

(Vanity Fair) The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran.

Thanks, Down With Tyranny!

Welfare Cheats

October 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Economy, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Migrant agricultural worker's family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California. 1936 Feb. or Mar. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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One of America's new warships of the air, a mighty YB-17 bomber, is pulled up at a bombardment squadron hangar, Langley Field, Va. It is all set to taxi out to a runway and take off . 1942 May. Alfred T. Palmer, photographer. (Library of Congress)

USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs are the first line of our Nation’s defense against hunger. … In FY 2001, 17.3 million people recipients received a total of $16.0 billion in benefits. In FY 2008, average monthly participation increased to more than 27.7 million people and benefits totaled more than $31.8 billion – an increase of 60 percent in participants and 99 percent in benefits during that period.

Food stamp fraud isn’t people signing up who aren’t eligible, it’s retailers “paying EBT cardholders in cash for half of the value of their food stamp benefits, then pocketing the remainder.” But that is small potatoes compared to what the defense industry is getting away with.

Occupy The Table

October 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Posted in civil rights, Economy, elections, journalism, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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The financial/political/corporate world is running a three-card Monte table, the media acts as the ringer, and the 99% are the marks. Stop the game, occupy the table.

Want some cheese with that whine?

October 12, 2011 at 3:08 am | Posted in Economy, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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This boy has worked in Payne Cotton Mill, for 2 yrs Macon, Ga. Runs 4 sides and earns 52 cents a day. Overseer has hand on boy' s shoulder. He said this mill made 70% profit last year and expects to make 100% this year. This is owned by Bibb Mfg. Co. Location: Macon, Georgia. 1909 January. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. (Library of Congress)

It seems to me that those who are bitching about their situation over at Ewick Ewickson’s “We Are the 53%” are bitching about the same things as the Occupy protestors and their supporters.  The only difference is, Ewick’s group thinks those making $20,000/year and less are responsible for our economic mess and should just die in a fire, or at least live in fear of their house catching on fire.

It’s pretty rich that Ewick should bitch about having three jobs.  His radio job alone pays well enough to comfortably support four families. 

Farm boy with sack full of boll weevils which he has picked off of cotton plants. Macon County, Georgia. 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

The county in Georgia where Ewick lives?

Almost 22% of of his fellow residents have income below the poverty line (the threshold for a single person is $11,161; for a family of four, including two children, $21,756), an increase of almost three percent since the 2000 census.  The median household income in Ewick’s home county is $37,367.

Despite not selling the house he bought in 2001 because he would have to take a small loss, Ewick had enough cash laying around to spend over $400,000 on a second house.

The median value of owner-occupied homes where he lives? Approximately $115,000. In fact, 40% of the homes sell for between $50,000 and $100,000.

House in which cotton farmer has lived for fifty years. Macon County, Georgia, 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Ewick is not working two other jobs to put food on his family or a roof on their heads. If he’s so overburdened by his two extra jobs, perhaps he should consider quitting one or both so that someone who is looking for a job can have one. Unemployment in Georgia more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. Almost four out of five of Georgia’s children lives in poverty, one out of five of Georgia’s adults below age 65 lives in poverty. Less than one in ten Georgians over age 65 lives in poverty. Clearly, those old people are living high on the hog and Social Security benefits should be reduced, or at the least raise the retirement age to 70, so we get their numbers more in line with everyone else, so Ewick doesn’t have to pay the same or a higher percentage of his income in taxes than the moochers.

Ralph Small House, 115 Rogers Ave., Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. 1939 or 1944. Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Next time Ewick takes a flight from Georgia to wherever, perhaps he should contemplate how less safe he would be without government regulation of airplane construction, air-traffic controllers, pilots, airlines and government investment in airport infrastructure.

Eliminate all regulations and corporations can completely eliminate reports of airplane crashes. Ewick would have no idea how many passengers the airline operating his flight had killed that week, leaving the “free market” free to kill Ewick.

Gunter Field, Alabama. Loading airplane motors onto trucks. They are being shipped to Macon, Georgia for repairs. 1943 March. John Vachon, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Since poor people rarely fly, the only hazard to them would be planes falling on their houses. Certainly, a larger number of One Percenters, like Ewick, would be dead from preventable plane crashes, but if they want to live by the “free market” (except, of course, when their businesses fail and they get bailed out by the evil government), they’re going to die by preventable accident.

Let’s hope the other 99% don’t die from starvation or dangerous job conditions or curable disease or cancer caused by environmental pollution before enough of the One Percenters are dead from their beloved unregulated “free market” so that the surviving 99% can reestablish civilization.

Occupy Your World

October 11, 2011 at 11:25 am | Posted in Economy, environment, health, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Trade Union procession for Triangle Waist Co. fire victims, 1911. (Library of Congress)

(NYT) The Triangle shirtwaist factory fire, as it is commonly recorded in history books, was one of the nation’s landmark disasters, a tragedy that enveloped the city in grief and remorse but eventually inspired important shifts in the nation’s laws, particularly those protecting the rights of workers and the safety of buildings.

I’ve added a new category to the side bar — Occupy! — where you can find links to various and sundry Occupy websites. If you know of one that you think I should include, please leave me a note in comments.

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