Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business Saturday

The Nectar Hills Farm Store in Cherry Valley, NY

If you've recovered from being pepper sprayed, shot, stampeded, trampled, corralled, gouged, or head-butted at the hands of cops or fellow shoppers, we suggest you take a little time to patronize a small business today--Small Business Saturday.

Despite the crap you hear from Republicans about uncertainty and too many regulations being the reason businesses aren't doing too well in this post-George-Bush world, small business owners are overwhelmingly saying that it is lack of customers that is hurting their businesses.

So get out there and buy something from a small business. And try to make it a regular thing, would you? Small businesses will not succeed without customers, and Wal Mart and China could spare a few.

If you're up here in Central New York, our little village of Cherry Valley is full of small businesses that could use some help, like the Nectar Hills Farm StoreGoldpetals Natural Body Care products, or the Rose and Kettle restaurant.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Job and How Much?

To this:

Gingrich said his message to the Occupy Wall Street protest movement is: “Go get a job right after you take a bath.”

I say Newt's living in the past with his hippie punching.

What job and how much?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Can Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Get Along?

My old buddy Mort Mather is a great organic gardener and we usually almost always agree on politics, but in his recent post he wonders whether the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement could get along and agree on a few things. I doubt it.
Example: A constitutional amendment putting some limits on congress is a possibility that both TP and OWS people could support.
I'm afraid Mort would have to be a lot more specific on what limits to put on congress. Later in the post, he suggests that term limits might be one such point of agreement. I doubt that because many liberals, like me, don't like term limits. If I managed to get someone I like in congress, who I think does a good job, then why in the hell would I agree to some Teabagger demand that that person be automatically disqualified after a certain amount of time. If I had Sherrod Brown as my Senator, or Bernie Sanders, or Al Franken, why would I want to give that up? Well, I wouldn't.

Mort also suggests that we take Warren Buffet's advice on the budget, and "... pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election." Well, if I was a teabagger with Ron Paul as my representative, why would I want to replace him because a bunch of other freewheeleers were spending money like drunken sailors (cough, George Bush). But my big problem with this one is that as a progressive, I would actually like to see a bigger budget deficit right now.

The federal government can currently borrow money at negative interest rates. Rich people are practically begging the government to take their money and invest it in infrastructure and people. It would actually be cheaper to do it now, borrowing at negative interest, than to do it later with tax dollars. Thousands of construction workers are out of work, and materials for infrastructure are really cheap right now. And yet, because the right wing has dominated economic and monetary policy debates since Reagan, we are all talking about reducing the deficit. Despite the fact that conservatives cannot show us one example of austerity pulling a nation out of a recession, that's where we are.

I'm reading The End of Loser Liberalism by Dean Baker right now. It's an eye opening experience to learn that because of the way Fed directors are appointed, the central bank is essentially run by a bunch of bankers who want to protect rich people's money. They do this by ignoring their dual mandate to keep inflation and unemployment low. They only care about inflation. Right now we have 2% inflation and 9% unemployment, and the Fed is fiddling around with little quantitative easing programs that won't make much difference, despite the howling lies from the right that they're going to create runaway inflation. If inflation expectations of bond traders was high, they wouldn't be buying bonds at extremely low interest rates. If inflation was 9% and unemployment was at 2%, the fed would be slamming on the breaks by raising rates. So why aren't they pushing on the gas now?

Baker mentions plenty of other things liberals could demand that would help us out, but none of his ideas are anything the Tea Party would be interested in. For example, the Treasury Department could take steps to lower the value of the dollar.  A weaker dollar would make our products cheaper overseas and would lead to the creation of millions of good manufacturing jobs here in America. But a lower dollar would make imports more expensive and rich people hate that idea because they'd have to pay more for their imported cars and European vacations. And Tea Party types would see the price of cheap crap from China go up at the Wal Mart.

Well, because they're run by bankers who have convinced people like the Tea Party (mostly well-off white people) that inflation, not unemployment, is their enemy. And now, thanks to people like Dean Baker, the left is starting to learn that these bankers are not interested in helping the vast majority of Americans who's incomes stopped going up with their productivity, starting when Ronald Reagan won the Presidency.

Ultimately, the reason the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement won't work together is that they agree on basically nothing. The Tea Party is mostly an astroturfed group of well-off white people who are extremely religious, want to force women to have their rapists babies, don't believe in global warming or evolution, and who think corporations suffer from the weight of too many restrictive regulations (like not polluting the air and water). They want to eliminate the EPA, and the Education Department, and the Department of Energy. In short, they're just Republicans too embarrassed after 8 years of George Bush to admit that they're Republicans.  The Occupy Movement wants government to work for the people and not corporations.

Hell, even on the subject of getting money out of politics, the two sides couldn't be further apart. The Tea Party is run by the junction of corporate money and politics, while the Occupy Movement is all about ending that junction. So, sorry Mort. While, as usual, your heart's in the right place, I won't hold my breath for any kind of agreement between the Teabaggers and the Occupiers. But I will give you one small, shining ray of hope. Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul have a bill to audit the Fed. While Paul would like to get rid of the Fed altogether, and Sanders would rather see it follow the dual mandate and help the unemployed, they at least both agree that we should be looking into what they've been doing in secret. And that, at least, is a start.

Friday, November 04, 2011

More BS That Distracts Us From the Slow-motion Global Disaster Happening Right in Front of Us

My old friend Blaise sent me a link to a site of dubious origins, which usually means he wants me to debunk it. This time (I won't link but it's easy to find) it's "NASA Upgrades Solar Storm Warning - Learn How to Prepare."

My first problem with this is that the first mention of the "Award winning astrophysicist Alexia Demetria" there is no link or mention of what award. Then, his name is spelled "Alexei Dmitriev" near the bottom.  That spelling brings up an IMDB result: Short films...

The next closest thing I can find for that last spelling is a hockey player.

I find a lot of other results on that search that are parrots of the site you sent me. Nothing points me to an award winning astrophysicist with a name anything like that.

Snopes has nothing. So, I searched NASA, since all the sites talking about this either claim that NASA has put out a warning, or that NASA is hiding this (that dichotomy alone tells me something's up), and whadya know, nothing at all from NASA. So, either the guys saying NASA is hiding this are right, or, it's all bunk. Also, note that they want you to download the survival guide, which probably has all kinds of good stuff to purchase, like gold and freeze-dried food, a kind of Glenn Beck vision of the future.

What I do find interesting, though, is that if you go to NASA's home page, you'll find that the first item in their slide show right now is this: NASA Airborne Mission Maps Remote, Deteriorating Glaciers.

A slow-motion disaster of global proportions happening right before our eyes while Republicans want to force women to have their rapists' babies and eliminate the EPA.

I agree that we should all learn to prepare for a world with major problems and governments less likely to be able to do anything about it. I read Global Guerrillas, by John Robb.

He talks a lot about Resilient communities, which are the way to go on general principal anyway (more environmentally correct). He recently turned me onto this cool project, the Global Village Construction Set, to which we donated $8.

That kind of thing will be very important in the future.

The older I get the more I realize that one thing is extremely true: a few assholes really screw it up for the rest of us.

Whenever I hear anyone saying how it's a shame that we're so polarized, and that it's both sides fault, like Tom Brokaw's been going around saying while promoting his new book, I just want to point out to them that it's not both side's fault. One side is screwing it up for all of us. Most of our problems come from Republicans and rich people wanting to get richer. The FED could be flooding the country with money, allowing more inflation to get unemployment down, but rich people hate inflation. The Treasury Department could take action to lower the value of the dollar in the world, but rich people hate a cheap dollar because it makes their imported cars and European vacations more expensive. But a lower dollar would boost exports and put Americans to work in good jobs. The president has been trying to get a jobs bill passed that even conservative economists say would help, but Republicans would rather trash the economy and keep Americans out of work than hand the president a victory that might lead to his re-election.

Then I hear Very Serious People say we should stop fighting with each other and get along, be less partisan, and I wish I could be there to say to them: we have some very real differences in this country. For example, a very large and angry (and often violent bunch of people ) want to force women have their rapists' babies. This isn't me being partisan. This is fact. Next week in Mississippi, they're going to vote in a personhood amendment that will say a fertilized egg is a person. These same fanatics vote for Republicans who do their damndest, while people need jobs, to make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion in this country. Now, how do you propose we hold hands and get along with people like that?

Further, when I watched Enron, or Iraq, or the latest Disaster Capitalism in action (a bunch of crooks packaging crap loans and saying they were candy) I watch people get ruined, jobs lost (750,000 a month during the last months of Bush), A GDP contraction of NEGATIVE 8.9% in 4Q2008, all that and then someone says we should all just get along. Well, sure. If you're the people who got us into Iraq, let a thousand people drown in Katrina, or ignored warnings about Bin Laden being determined to attack the US, who want to deny gay people the right to marry, or continue with 50 million people not getting health care, or force women to have rape babies, well, sure, you'd want to hold hands with the liberals and "all get along" now wouldn't you?

And when those same forces would rather tank the economy than let Obama have another term, I think it's a crock to say we need to get rid of political parties. What we need is more and better Democrats. The parties represent people with actual views. The Republicans have made it quite clear what their views are. They want more war, less taxes, no safety net, no abortion, health care only for those who can afford it, and a 1% that has more wealth than they could ever need telling us the country is broke.