Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Greatest Country Ever

Says Nancy Pelosi:

We cannot default. We are the greatest country that ever existed in the history of the world."

We have a political establishment that can not or will not do anything about mass unemployment yet they still find time to cheerlead for themselves.

Talk about living on past glory.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Again, Mexico is Not a Poor Country

It's per capita GDP is far higher than China and India.

An American stereotype of Mexico as being made up entirely of poor laborers has more to do with immigration patterns (in other words, what they see) than any type of reality.

Anita Barnes, director of La Familia Counseling Center on Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento, said she recently spoke to a high school graduate who had lost his job in a restaurant and was thinking of going back to Mexico.

"He came over with his mom, who was in the process of losing her restaurant job," Barnes said. "It's frightening, especially for the children. They feel this is their country, they don't know anything else, and they find they can't get driver's licenses or jobs."

As its economy rebounds, Mexico "is becoming a better option than it was in the past, but you still have to find a job and reconnect," Barnes said.

While the weakened U.S. economy, rising deportations and tougher border enforcement have led to fewer undocumented migrants, changes in Mexico are playing a significant role, González Gutiérrez said.

Mexico's average standard of living – including health, education and per capita income – is now higher than those in Russia, China and India, according to the United Nations.

1'Improving Mexican economy draws undocumented immigrants home from California' - Sacracmento Bee

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The End of Borders

Borders closed up shop for good this week. One wonders how all those strip malls will make a go of it without a relatively nice anchor store such as Borders around. Can't see much replacing it but Dollar General's, perhaps. And the end of Borders may be the first stirrings of the next recession; there is still a vast amount of debt and unprofitable investment left to be liquidated in the advanced economies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The U.S. Very Well May Default

Experts who think the US won't default don't understand how much politics has changed in this country in 30 years, and how the centers of economic and political power have shifted. The 'far-sighted' empire building of the Northeast Establishment has been supplanted in many respects by the short-term outlook of big business centered in the Southeast, South and near West.

The U.S. ruling class is in disarray internally.

The Skilled Immigrant Solution

Now that the American working class has been battered into submission, the ruling class has noticed that K-12 educational achievement might be suffering a bit. This is simple, if parents are under stress then kids are too.

A solution being proposed by bourgeois billionaire moderates like Bloomberg and Randian narcisists like Greenspan is to allow more skilled (i.e. upper middle class) immigrants into the country.

There's a problem with this from a purely tactical point of view.

Immigrating really sucks. Forget the paperwork, money, and spittle flecked Homeland Security thugs, the biggest cost comes in leaving your friends and family and your home. As other countries develop, and they are quickly, there is simply less and less reason for a well educated person to leave home and go a thousand miles away to be among total strangers.

The Bloomberg's etc. want to offshore the public education system, gutting it like they gutted manufacturing, while attempting to import skilled labor at another country's expense. This won't work even in the medium term.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where are the world's skyscrapers ?

In 1990, North America had 80 percent of the world's 100 tallest buildings, by 2012 it will have 18 percent. China will have 34 percent and Asia as a whole will have 45 percent.

1'China’s Skyscraper Boom Buoys Global Industry' - AP

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gates Foundation Wunderdistrict of Atlanta Implodes In Cheating Scandal

Two years ago, I (Maureen Downey, AJC education writer) asked Dr. Hall about whether there was any effort to reconcile astounding middle school performance on the CRCT with high school performance, She said that the students could not be followed to high school because they didn’t necessarily move as a group to the same school. But a system that was “data driven,” as Dr. Hall often described APS, should have looked more deeply at waves of students who soared to unprecedented heights in middle school only to crash in high school.

Hall wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to look too closely at fantastic results. Many top education foundations, including the Annie E. Casey, Gates and Broad foundations, celebrated the data coming out of APS.(1)

This is not surprising, the Gates Foundation is staffed by no-nothing twerps from Ivy League schools who have not a shred of life experience, and a condescending attitude to 'those people' living in the ghetto along with their stupid teachers. They are devoid of empathy and therefore understanding, not surprising in a schlerotic meritocracy such as ours.

Interestingly, there is another Gates Foundation supported school district - Memphis - that has seen unusually strong test score increases the last few years. In fact, Obama visited a high school in Memphis at graduation time to 'reward' them for their test scores.

1' Get Schooled Dr. Hall: I knew nothing about cheating in Atlanta schools.' - Maureen Downey, AJC
2'Investigation into APS cheating finds unethical behavior across every level' - AJC

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tut Tutting the Tea Party

It's amusing to see Krugman and David Brooks both scolding the crazy Republican Party. It's their child, bastard or otherwise. The U.S. is somewhere in the middle of an irresolvable political crisis, at the center of which is its inability to carry the weight of global arbiter in the capitalist world-system, that will strip away the many pretensions about our glorious system of 'checks and balances'. Our wonderful political system has gotten a free ride from two centuries of protected borders (oceans), free land and unlimited expansion, European implosion, unlimited natural resources (well, except when oil hit peak), all kickstarted off by slave labor. The economic collapse of the union belt, and decline of the Establishment, has given an opening to all sorts of crazy New South and Mountain West ruling class factions who have an eye towards immediate profit, but don't have the ability or means to plan for long-term imperial power.

Is Washington Forcing an Internal Devaluation ?

Given the international role of and demand for the dollar, it seems that the Obama administration is quietly carrying out a policy of internal devaluation - i.e. a driving down of wages and living standards - because they know the dollar can't fall enough to make the U.S. 'competitive'. A long period of protracted unemployment is basically the only way to make this happen. In that way, the U.S. is like Greece, with a currency it can't fully control.

Again though, how credible is a political and economic system going to be when the indispensable nation can't maintain the living standards of its population ? The bottom line is the U.S. cannot afford empire, either financial or military, anymore. It's over, and the entire global architecture is going to fail. Actually, this will create opportunities for some decent politics to take shape but the general lack of working class solidarity - Americans basically hate each other - means we could collapse into a sort of Dark Ages.

China's Shadow Banking Sector

"According to a study issued by the People's Bank of China in 2010, non-banking sector lending has expanded to 63.3 trillion Yuan, ($10 trillion), 44.4% of total lending activities of China's economy.(1)

1'The Shadow Banking Problem in China' - Credit Writedowns

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Causation and a Balanced Budget

The budget surpluses of the Clinton years were caused by a strong economy, they didn't have much to do with creating a good economy. One wonders if Washington has things backwards, attempts to balance the budget now would be catastrophic for almost everyone, excepting a tiny sliver of rentiers. Most businesses are still reliant on internal demand (even with dreams of an Asian middle class engine); the entire debate just makes one wonder how deep the stupidity of accepted dogma is.

Monday, July 4, 2011

American Pessimism

With the United States mired in three foreign wars, beaten down by an economy that shows few signs of emerging from deep recession and deeply disillusioned with President Barack Obama, his Republican challengers and Congress, the mood is dark.

The last comparable Fourth of July was probably in 1980, when there was a recession, skyrocketing petrol prices and an Iranian hostage crisis, with 53 Americans being held in Tehran.

Frank Luntz, perhaps America’s pre-eminent pollster, argues that his countrymen are much more downbeat now than in 1980. “The assumption with the Carter years was that it was a failure of the elites, not the system. We thought the people in charge screwed up. We didn’t blame ourselves.” Remarkably, many Americans think things will only get worse and the good times will never return.

A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 39 per cent think that “the current economic downturn is part of a long-term permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover”.

Only the U.S. ruling class and their sycophants have yet to face the music, the end result of their deliberate destruction of the industrial base and working class of this country. It's over.

1'Down on the Fourth of July: the United States of gloom ' - UK Telegraph

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chomsky Criticizes Chavez

Speaking to the Observer last week, Chomsky has accused the socialist leader of amassing too much power and of making an "assault" on Venezuela's democracy.

"Concentration of executive power, unless it's very temporary and for specific circumstances, such as fighting world war two, is an assault on democracy. You can debate whether [Venezuela's] circumstances require it: internal circumstances and the external threat of attack, that's a legitimate debate. But my own judgment in that debate is that it does not." (1)

At the end of the day, Chomsky is a guy who has held comfortable tenure for decades and gets his money from the US military, via his employer MIT. He could have quit years ago and lived comfortably on book sales, but apparently the taint of a bloodsoaked MIT paycheck doesn't bother him. He's a pamphleteer who doesn't have a clue about how to win power from a global ruling class that would have us living on plantations. His esteem within the U.S. Left comes mostly as a reflection of its intellectual and political weakness.

People like Chomsky prefer the purists who lost, the Spanish anarchists, Allende, etc. But was it better for Allende to remain 'pure' (and dead) than refuse to take the measures necessary to defeat Pinochet ?

1' Noam Chomsky denounces old friend Hugo Chávez for 'assault' on democracy' - UK Guardian

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Debt Ceiling

I emailed a few friends back when the Republicans won the House that the debt ceiling wouldn't get raised and the US would default. The view comes from knowing that the modern Republican Party wants to remake the United States in the image of a modern plantation, I mean, have you been to a small town in the U.S. recently ? A few wealthy fucks, empty storefronts and the big box out by the freeway hiring a lot of broken down people with bad teeth. This is not the stuff of empires because the intellectual and educational base won't be there, and the word is out on the U.S in Asia - that it's not the place of the future. So forget importing intellectual capital over even the medium term. I can't see how the current international order keeps going, and indeed, a default by the U.S. would probably be the historical marker for its collapse.

Coming of Age during the Collapse of the USSR

A big problem with the up and coming US meritocracy is that they came of age during the 'End of History' and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 90's were a time when laissez-faire had been proven right and it simply isn't in the ideological make up of the 35-55 set to think of another way of running a society. It's not just about reflecting ruling class self-interest, for the most part they have no answers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Ruling Class Mostly Views You As Sub-Human

I used to do gigs with the scion of an executive from a major Midwestern industrial company, whose workers frequently were on strike in the late 90's. As is the case with a lot of children of the ruling class, she felt the need to play artist but lacked the talent to really make it. Anyhow, she had nothing but vitrol and contempt for the workers at the plants her father oversaw from the boardroom. Not a shred of pity for their economic situation, and not a shred of respect for the work they did. It's worth remembering these incidents, the few times one gets a peak inside the mindset of the barbarians who run the United States. You - we - are less than a piece of shit to them.