Because you’re a cripple, Verbal. Because you’re stupid. Because you were weaker than them. Because you couldn’t see far enough into him to know the truth

When Americans No Longer Own America

The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called “conservatives” and “flat world” globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.

Through a combination of the “Fast Track” authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving “most favored nation status” for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we’ve abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.

The old concept was that if there was a dollar’s worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we’d level the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.

Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with those tariffs, they said, because they “restrain trade.” Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out.

These policies have kneecapped the American middle class. Our nation’s largest employer has gone from being the unionized General Motors to the poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 – meaning that they’re going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their lifestyle.

At the same time, federal policy has been to do the same thing at a national level. Because our so-called “free trade” policies have left us with an over $700 billion annual trade deficit, other countries are sitting on huge piles of the dollars we gave them to buy their stuff (via Wal-Mart and other “low cost” retailers). But we no longer manufacture anything they want to buy with those dollars.

So instead of buying our manufactured goods, they are doing what we used to do with Third World nations – they are buying us, the USA, chunk by chunk. In particular, they want to buy things in America that will continue to produce profits, and then to take those profits overseas where they’re invested to make other nations strong. The “things” they’re buying are, by and large, corporations, utilities, and natural resources.

Back in the pre-Reagan days, American companies made profits that were distributed among Americans. They used their profits to build more factories, or diversify into other businesses. The profits stayed in America.

Today, foreigners awash with our consumer dollars are on a two-decades-long buying spree. The UK’s BP bought Amoco for $48 billion – now Amoco’s profits go to England. Deutsche Telekom bought VoiceStream Wireless, so their profits go to Germany, which is where most of the profits from Random House, Allied Signal, Chrysler, Doubleday, Cyprus Amax’s US Coal Mining Operations, GTE/Sylvania, and Westinghouse’s Power Generation profits go as well. Ralston Purina’s profits go to Switzerland, along with Gerber’s; TransAmerica’s profits go to The Netherlands, while John Hancock Insurance’s profits go to Canada. Even American Bankers Insurance Group is owned now by Fortis AG in Belgium.

If the internet had ears I could probably hear the cries of pro globalization neo-liberals and unreformed Reaganites screaming xenophobia. Respectfully I submit that the neo-liberals are in danger of knocking themselves out from the dreaded knee jerk response. While the Reaganites have never for one minute engaged in actual free trade and claims to care about some woman in Pakistan’s economic well being is laughable. The debate to many people has been reduced to what will fill up a bumper sticker – pro-business, anti-globalization, pro-workers, anti-globalization, etc. if we must deal in the language of one and a half word issue framing here’s my contribution- Smart Globalization. If we’re going to engage in a global economy doesn’t it seem like there should be a balance of benefits between nations. Its truly bizarre that in the eyes of the right the there is nothing to be said for international institutions, yet international corporations either get a free pass or the right refuses to admit the relationship between the actions of international coporations and the ripple effects on America. How those corporations and thier cozy congressional relationship effect working class Americans, how it effects land use and natural resources, how it effects our security. The ties on global trade and business can not be based on projections of profit margins for the next quarter, but how they will effect middle America for the next decade. I’m not against free trade/globaliztion. No, there are obvious benefits to Americans that are struggling to make ends meet that cheap goods are available because of cheap imports, but thats a kind of slight of hand. Lower middle and low income Americans might be able to afford slightly higher prices if they had better higher educational and economic opportunities. Our import policy should have strings attached whereby we get as much benefit as we give. Imported goods should be tied to the rights of the workers that produce those goods in addition to progressive political policies and environmental regulations to the country that the goods are imported from. China is a great example of a country that assimalted a form of capitalism yet did so sans democratic reforms.
HT to The Slide Show for this link, Lies, Damn Lies and Poverty Statistics

Census data released this past August suggests that the number of Americans in poverty grew slightly in 2004 (the most recent year for which data is available) to 12.7 percent from the 12.5 percent recorded the previous year, representing about 37 million Americans. Since 2000, the number of people living in official poverty has increased by 5.4 million. But according to experts, that number vastly underestimates the real total. Duke University sociology professor David Brady puts it this way: “Each August we Americans tell ourselves a lie. The entire episode is profoundly dishonest.”

Brady says that based on his calculations the real number is closer to 18 percent—or 48 million Americans currently unable to afford the most basic necessities. Less conservative estimates have put the numbers of poor at 25 percent, or more than 70 million Americans.

Christopher Moraff, the author of this piece looks at the reluctance of politicians to make a shift in new measuring standards because it’ll make them look bad. Another below the radar aspect of this is the reluctance of people to admit that they’re not doing well. Just antedoctal, but over the course of the years I’ve noticed that most poor working class folks self identify as middle class; the poor, but working, claim lower middle class. There’s two reasons I can think of for this phenomenon, one is the stigma attached to being poor, the other is the tendency to blame or self-blame one’s low economic status on one’s personal failure as a human being. This last part becomes cyclical, I’m not doing well so I’m not worth much, no sense in someone who isn’t worth much setting high goals, then the underachievement which plays into the low self-worth. Personal independence is great, self reliance is great, but people that get caught in this cycle, and certainly no one is immune ( remember the old anecdote that a Democrat is a Republican that has been through some hard times) are like people lost in a cave without a flashlight. Some people manage to break the cycle, but not nearly enough and it doesn’t help that we’re increasingly an economy that focuses on transferring wealth between the wealthy and on specialized technical training.

This sounds great, but these jobs do require skills and training, 20 great jobs that don’t require a degree

National Review’s John Derbyshire is an out of the closet John Murtha supporter, we’re all liberals now. There is also an update on the warrantless domestic spying issue.

As you may already know the city of New Orleans was buildt on marsh and is actually below sea level ( one of the reasons for the large number of above ground crypts). Bush has been saying for over four years he’s waiting for the evidence on global roasting, by the time he faces reality New Orleans might be one giant wading pool. Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly

The new Antarctic measurements, using data from two NASA satellites called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), found that the amount of water pouring annually from the ice sheet into the ocean — equivalent to the amount of water the United States uses in three months — is causing global sea level to rise by 0.4 millimeters a year. The continent holds 90 percent of the world’s ice, and the disappearance of even its smaller West Antarctic ice sheet could raise worldwide sea levels by an estimated 20 feet.

Filed under the comical, yet tragic logic of right-wingers. The right-wing link of the day that proves Muslims are surely going to destroy America, Attempted Murder Charges in UNC Hit-and-Run

The driver of an SUV that plowed into a group of pedestrians at UNC-Chapel Hill on Friday told police it was retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world, sources tell Eyewitness News and ABC News.

which is linked to by all the usual shrill suspects, but ironically includes this young man, Queer Conservative, the Queer Conservative didn’t link to this story, Gay Man Beaten and Left For Dead; 2 Are Charged which shows without a doubt that white heterosexual homophobic rednecks pose a terrible threat to innocent Americans, the Queer Conservative and his fellow conservatives also didn’t link to this story of a white male heterosexual Republican and software engineer who raped and murdered a little girl, Westerfield guilty of Danielle van Dam’s murder. I’m just trying to see the logic here; if we find a member of a group that has committed a terrible crime then that means all members of that group are guilty and a danger to western society. So now we all know who to look out for, all Muslims, all white males, all software engineers, all homophobes, and all Republicans. I hope we don’t have to gather up all these people today and put them in stocks in the courtyard I’m a little tired.

VERBAL
I knew him. He would never –

KUJAN
He programmed you to tell us just what he
wanted you to. Customs has been investigating
him for years. He knew we were close. You
said it yourself. Whereis the political
pressure coming from?
Why are you being protected? It’s Keaton
making sure you tell us what you’re
supposed to. Immunity is your reward.

VERBAL
BUT WHY ME? WHY NOT HOCKNEY OR FENSTER OR
McMANUS? I’m a cripple. I’m stupid. Why
me?

Verbal hears the weight of his words and falls back in his
chair, Kujan looks at him with some pity,; but he is too far
in to stop.

KUJAN
Because you’re a cripple, Verbal. Because
you’re stupid. Because you were weaker
than them. Because you couldn’t see far
enough into him to know the truth.

Verbal is crying now. He shakes his head, eyes closed.

KUJAN (CONT’D)
If he’s dead, Verbal – if what you say is
true, then it won’t matter. It was his
idea to hit the Taxi Service in New York,
wasn’t it? Tell me the truth.

VERBAL
(Sobbing)
It was all Keaton. We followed him from
the beginning.

Kujan smiles with triumphant satisfaction.

VERBAL (CONT’D)
I didn’t know. I saw him die. I believe
he’s dead. Christ

KUJAN
Why lie about everything else, then?

VERBAL
You know what it’s like, Agent Kujan, to
know you’ll never be good? Not good like
you. You got good all fucked around. I
mean a stand up guy. I grew up knowing I
was never going to be good at anything
’cause I was a cripple. Shit, I wasn’t
even a good thief. But I thought the one
thing I could be good at was a keeping my
mouth shut – keeping the code. I didn’t
want to tell you for my dignity, that’s
all, and you robbed me, Agent Kujan. You
robbed me.

from the screenplay for The Usual Suspects written by Christopher McQuarrie

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