Society's ChildS

Bizarro Earth

An Idiot's Overview of Why Western Capitalism is Crashing

economic Indicators for Dummies
© Idiot's Guides
The idiot of the headline is me in the sense that I am not an economist and have never had any formal association with study of the theory and practise of economics, but... I began to understand why what is today called Western capitalism was bound to crash way back in the early 1970's when I was researching and producing an epic documentary on the everyday reality of global poverty and its implications for all.

When I reflected on what I had witnessed and learned while researching in 120 countries (as well as at the World Bank and many UN agencies) and filming in 69 of them, I let commonsense be my guide. It led me to the conclusion that capitalism was not of itself the problem. It was the short-sighted and stupid way Western capitalism was managed.

Now I'll put some flesh on that bone.

By the early 1970's truly informed development experts were drawing attention to the fact that our one small planet was divided into two worlds - the Rich World containing about 20% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the North), and the Poor World containing about 80% of humankind (and known in development jargon as the South).


US: California Governor Jerry Brown Filing Initiative to Hike Taxes on Sales and Wealthy

© REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown speaks after vetoing the budget passed the day before by state legislators in Los Angeles, California June 16, 2011.
Warning of deeper cuts to schools and public safety without new money, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday he will file a ballot initiative to hike taxes on sales and wealthy earners.

The November 2012 proposal, as reported last week, would raise an estimated $7 billion annually over five years.

"The stark truth is that without new tax revenues, we will have no other choice but to make deeper and more damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts," Brown wrote in what he dubbed "An Open Letter to the People of California."

The broadest tax hike is the half-cent increase in the state sales tax. Based on Bee research, it would amount to a $123 annual increase for the median California joint tax filer earning $65,025.


US: For Many Women, a Prison Sentence Also Means Abuse

Artistic recreation of a woman's prison
© BeyondMediaArtistic recreation of a woman's prison cell, part of the multimedia installation Voices in Time: Lives in Limbo.
Washington - While most of the one million women in prison in the U.S. are incarcerated for non-violent offenses, many experience harsh treatment that advocates say violates their human rights.

For example, the shackling of women prisoners' arms and legs during labor and childbirth remains a common practice in many states, according to human rights organizations. Only 14 states prohibit the shackling of women when they're giving birth.

But shackling is not the only treatment that defines many women's experiences in prison in the U.S. One study found that 2.1 percent of female inmates experienced sexual misconduct by a staff member during a 10-month period, and advocates believe the real number could be much greater.

Tuesday is the twelfth day of the "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence", a campaign organized by Rutgers University, and one of the themes of this year's campaign is "sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents".


Best of the Web: Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord?

© Ilustration by Mr. Fish
Chris Hedges gave an abbreviated version of this talk Saturday morning in Liberty Square in New York City as part of an appeal to Trinity Church to turn over to the Occupy Wall Street movement an empty lot, known as Duarte Square, that the church owns at Canal Street and 6th Avenue. Occupy Wall Street protesters, following the call, began a hunger strike at the gates of the church-owned property. Three of the demonstrators were arrested Sunday on charges of trespassing, and three others took their places.

The Occupy movement is the force that will revitalize traditional Christianity in the United States or signal its moral, social and political irrelevance. The mainstream church, battered by declining numbers and a failure to defiantly condemn the crimes and cruelty of the corporate state, as well as a refusal to vigorously attack the charlatans of the Christian right, whose misuse of the Gospel to champion unfettered capitalism, bigotry and imperialism is heretical, has become a marginal force in the life of most Americans, especially the young. Outside the doors of churches, many of which have trouble filling a quarter of the pews on Sundays, struggles a movement, driven largely by young men and women, which has as its unofficial credo the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.
Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Bank Of America Sends Internal Email Exposing Where The "Occupy" Movement Is Hurting It Most

While the general media may be ignoring the latest peculiar twist on the "Occupy" theme, or in this case the "", Bank of America is taking it quite seriously. As a reminder, "Tuesday, December 6th is the National Day of Action to stop and reverse foreclosures. The Occupy Homes movement is holding actions around the country in support of homeowners and people fighting to have a home. Find an event near you and join in our day of action tomorrow!

There are actions happening in over 20 cities nationwide. Events are taking place in Brooklyn, Buffalo and Rochester New York; Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Petaluma, Sacramento, Paradise and Contra Costa California; Lake Worth, Florida; Atlanta, Fayetteville, and DeKalb Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Bloomington, Indiana; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Detroit and Southgate Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington." And if you have not heard about today's protest on the conventional media that is understandable: as BAC says internally, this event "could impact our industry."


US: Alabama Agriculture Department Advances Plan To Replace Immigrant Workers With Prisoners

ThinkProgress has been reporting on the catastrophic economic consequences of Alabama's harshest-in-the-nation immigration law. Undocumented workers are the backbone of Alabama's agriculture industry, and their exodus has already created a labor shortage in the state. Farmers say crops are rotting in the field and they are in danger of losing their farms by next season.

GOP politicians have crowed that driving immigrants out of the state will reduce unemployment by letting native citizens fill those jobs. But they've quickly discovered that Americans are simply unwilling to do the back-breaking labor of harvesting crops.


It's Your Choice, Europe: Rebel Against the Banks or Accept Debt-Serfdom

The European debt Bubble has burst, and the repricing of risk and debt cannot be put back in the bottle.

It's really this simple, Europe: either rebel against the banks or accept decades of debt-serfdom. All the millions of words published about the European debt crisis can be distilled down a handful of simple dynamics. Once we understand those, then the choice between resistance and debt-serfdom is revealed as the only choice: the rest of the "options" are illusory.


US, California: Foreclosure Exposure

© unknownAna Wilson
I can't say I'm surprised at the way the LA Times painted the story of Ana Wilson and her foreclosure nightmare. Scott, the Times on-scene business reporter (yeah, they sent a business reporter), spoke with me at length about the complexities of the nation's foreclosure crisis. Complexities, he said, that made it difficult for him to understand the nuances in cases like Ana's. How could so many people feel entitled to get out of an agreement they signed?

Scott was leaving the Wilson residence as I arrived. I was handed a sort of press release by a fellow activist in the kitchen which outlined the series of events leading up to the eviction of the Wilsons from their South Gate home. It said, in simple terms, that Ana had been born with cerebral palsy, and her family had lived at this residence since 1975. Several years ago, around the same time as the peak of the lending fraud crisis, Ana was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. In 2009, a nice, educated woman in an expensive-looking pantsuit came from Wells Fargo and assured the Wilsons that in order to keep up with her medical costs and their mortgage, the family should refinance their home loan. Their payments would be lower, said the woman, and it was the right thing to do. After all, the pants-suited woman, Tricia, was a professional loan officer from Wells Fargo. If anyone knew when to refinance, it would be Tricia.

Having discussed the foreclosure crisis with business reporters from Fox, the Times, and others, the business reporter angle seems unfaltering: those people should have known better. Entering into a loan agreement you can't afford to pay back is obviously a bad idea -- but how obviously? What each of these reporters fails to recognize -- and report on -- are several things.


US: Fire dept. watches home burn because family didn't pay fee

© U.S. Army
Firefighters in one Tennessee county watched this week as a family's home burned to the ground, refusing to take action to save the structure because the residents had not paid their yearly $75 fee.

Homeowner Vicky Bell told a reporter with NBC affiliate station Local 6 WPSD that she immediately called 9-1-1 when the fire began, and emergency crews rushed to the scene.

Unfortunately for Bell, once firefighters arrived they realized that the family had not contributed to the department this year, so they stood down - exactly as instructed to by the City of South Fulton's "pay for spray" policy.

Due to budget cuts, residents of rural areas outside the city limits have to pay the city for fire protection, or face potential disaster


US: Texas mom who shot kids, killed self in standoff was denied food stamps

© AP/Laredo Morning Times/Cuate SantosTexas Health and Human Services Office
San Antonio - A Texas woman who for months was unable to qualify for food stamps pulled a gun in a state welfare office and staged a seven-hour standoff with police. The incident ended with her shooting her two children before killing herself, officials said Tuesday.

Authorities identified the mother as 38-year-old Rachelle Grimmer and the children, who remained in critical condition Tuesday, as Ramie and Timothy. The shooting took place at a Texas Department of Heath and Human Services building in the southwest Texas border city of Laredo. Police say about 25 people were inside at the time.

Grimmer, who police say had recently moved to Laredo from Ohio, first applied for food stamps in July but was denied because she didn't turn in enough information, said Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

In addition to completing an 18-page application, families seeking state benefits also must provide documents proving their information, such as employment and residency.

Comment: Some time ago there was a paper written, which went along these lines: " Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare.." The paper, considered the corner stone of American Democracy, appears to have been forgotten. This isn't to make acceptable what this lady has done, but due to the fact that the paper is being, has been undermined, people are becoming more and more desperate for help, especially in the state the Western Worlds economy is in.