Friday, November 16, 2007

Deregulating the Dream

Deregulating the Dream

America is close to being a 3rd world country when it comes to class and wealth.

My take:
Americans (mostly republican) constantly brag about how we are the BEST at everything, the problem is that we are not.
Its time we faced facts and started actually DOING something about it, instead of hiding our head in the sand not wanting to believe it.
If you talk to most republicans, they will DENY that our educational system isnt the BEST, instead of realizing it, and wanting to god something about it.
Fighting the truth gets us no-where.

Our educational system is comparatively marginal at best.

Our health care system hardly gives any help at all to low income people.

Our prison system is VERY overcrowded, and we have more people in jail per-capita than any other country on earth.

We spend 288,000,000 a DAY on the war in Iraq.
Army "deserters" are up over 80%

Our military is stretched to far in case we need them for a REAL threat,
OR, a natural disaster.

More Arabs and Muslims hate us than they did 5 years ago.

1 million Iraqis are dead.

We have lost many of our civil rights.

We are being spied on (probably right now)

We haven't invested (fast enough) on clean renewable energy.

Oil prices can bring this country to its KNEES,
and nothing is being done about it.

Global warming threatens our future, and not only are we EXTREMELY unprepared, but some people actually believe its not a threat.

We trot along in our daily lives with memories of "Leave it to Beaver",
thinking that our world will not change as long as we follow goos Christian morals and defend our country from the "terrerasts".
We don't realize that 1 of 100 things could put a damper on our dreams, like the Yellowstone caldera blowing and destroying 80% of our country.
Not only is our military not here, or prepared to help us, but we are not prepared for it physically, OR mentally.
What if we go to war with Iran, the biggest Saudi refinery blows up,
and send oil prices to 15$ or $20 a gallon ?

With $20 a gallon gas, the country WILL shut down as we know it.
Food prices would soar, companies would shut down, people couldnt leave their homes, the Gov would have food lines, there would be martial law, and all chaos would break out.

We are already in a class warfare, and only 1 side is waging the war.
Most of us are totally complacent thinking that as long as our daily lives are not too disrupted, like loosing cable TV, or our cell phone, that our Government is taking care of us.

But what if its not ?
If some major change happens, and its very possible, it could throw this class "warfare" in a spin, leaving only the top 1% of the country able to live comfortably.

I read a report the other day saying the 1/2 of all the BEES in the U.S. have died.
If not stopped, this could leave no fruits or vegetables in our grocery stores, and could have much farther reaching implications.

This is one small example, but MANY things could happen.
Our society is very fragile, and we need to realize this and prepare for it.
Spending 288 million dollars a day on an illegal war isn't helping much.

Its time we stop bragging about how good we are,
and start ACTUALLY DOING something about it.

Hopefully a DEM will do that.


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Of God and All


Deregulating the Dream

No natural disaster has hit the American middle class, scholars and activists who gathered in North Carolina last week agree, just a series of political decisions that have privileged the powerful.

November 12 , 2007

Just 1 percent of Americans currently hold about half the financial wealth of the entire United States.

Meanwhile, notes Washington University sociologist Mark Rank, the nation’s bottom 60 percent hold less than 1 percent of that wealth, and 75 percent of Americans, sometime in their adult lives, can now expect to “experience a year either in poverty or near poverty.”

How much more unequal can the United States become? Plenty

If the United States keeps to its present course, Rank predicted last week at an insight-rich national conference on inequality in North Carolina, the nation could “begin to reflect the bifurcation patterns more typical of third-world countries,” with the privileged opting to “physically separate themselves from the middle and bottom.”

That separation, Rank added, has already begun — via everything from gated communities to growing private school enrollments.

The good news? Inequality amounts to an unnatural disaster. Conscious political decisions have helped make the United States deeply unequal. Conscious political decisions can, by the same token, help undo that inequality.

That theme sounded repeatedly last week on the University of North Carolina campus as Mark Rank and dozens of other academics, activists, and policy makers converged for two days of discussion and debate on “Wealth Inequality and the Eroding Middle Class.”

The conference — hosted by the university law school’s Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity — didn’t make many headlines. The conference had perhaps a more important role: helping Americans make sense of the headlines we already see.

Headlines, for instance, on the subprime mortgage market collapse. The subprime market, University of Connecticut law professor Patricia McCoy explained last week, didn’t even exist a quarter-century ago.

But in 1980 “waves of federal deregulation” began reshaping the banking industry, stripping away meaningful limits on mortgage terms and rates. Lenders soon became able, for the first time, to “segment the mortgage market between stronger and weaker borrowers” — and manipulate the weaker into paying through the nose.

By 2006, American families were carrying adjustable rate mortgages with interest rates that could double at the first reset. And if these families went to refinance those mortgages, they faced prepayment penalties that could hit as high as $9,000 on a $150,000 loan.

All this deregulation would prove spectacularly lucrative for the nation’s biggest lenders — Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo, for instance, pocketed $295.7 million over a five-year span — and spectacularly devastating for struggling families.

“By year-end 2008,” notes the University of Connecticut’s McCoy, “over 2 million subprime loans are expected to go into foreclosure.”

The inequality that deregulation has nurtured could, in theory, be offset by tax policies that target extremely high incomes. But current tax policies, University of Oklahoma law professor Jon Forman pointed out last week, are doing precious little to redistribute excess.

We now have, Forman noted, “hardly any taxes on wealth and investment income.” Taking just one small step to change this situation — by eliminating the current tax break for capital gains and dividends — “could raise about $130 billion a year.”

Lawmakers could take all sorts of other steps, conference presenters made clear, to broaden the distribution of America’s wealth. You can check them out outline, where the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity is this week posting conference highlights.

— Sam Pizzigati

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