Thought for the Day

Jim Wallis: 'I See Genuine Soul-Searching Among Democrats'
ChristianityToday.com (02.07)

You can't run the economy into the ground, ignore the poor, carry out unilateral pre-emptive wars and be okay as long as you're just against abortion.
Jim Wallis. Wow. Sums it all up doesn't it?


Truth at the Washington Post?

Holes in a Web of Budget Deceit
WashingtonPost.com (02.11)
Kind of shocking. E.J. Dionne goes Krugman all over Bush Co. and the reporters too afraid to question the lies the administration puts out.

More than any of his predecessors, President Bush understands the conventions of journalism and the traditions of political debate. These require that respectful attention be paid to whatever claims the president makes. Journalists who have the temerity to question whether the claims ring true (or whether the numbers add up) can count on being pummeled as liberal ideologues, even when they are only seeking the facts.

The president's claims are thus duly reported, and most of the challenges come from the political opposition. Then the administration defends itself (as in, "administration officials dismissed the criticism as partisan carping"). Even when the most diligent and numbers-savvy budget reporters try to explain what's going on -- and bless all of them for trying -- the truth is usually lost in the cacophony of claims and counterclaims.
WOW. Can you believe that? Someone actually puts in print what everyone knows happens but never says... or at least they don't on TV where it seems it really matters. EJ, you have our thanks.

Anyways, it isn't until the very end that he says something that really caught our eye:
The whole point (and, yes, this happened in the 1980s, too) is to create deficits, followed by a "crisis," followed by demands for cuts in domestic programs, especially in those "federal outlays" for low–income people.
Yeah, go back, read that again and really think about it. Would they really manufacture a "crisis" just to get their way?

Hey, they'll fire you to save a few bucks so I wouldn't put anything past them.

Aye, There's the Rub...

India Signals Intent to Become Major Aviation Outsourcing Destination
NetComposties.com (02.11)
Oh goody, we can look forward to the loss of Aerospace jobs now too? The more the merrier. But would the good folks at Boeing & other 'merica loving companies really ship jobs overseas? We think you already know the answer to that one.

But that isn't actually our point here. The following is: During his speech, India's Defense Minister may have slipped a little...

India's strategy for self reliance in aviation had boosted in-house research and development, and resulted in breakthroughs in the fields of advanced alloys, composites and aircraft equipment, Mukherjee told a gathering that included aviation industry representatives and top defence officials from 31 countries.

During the ministers speech, Pranab Mukherjee said that companies can take advantage of India's highly skilled workers and low wages.
Yes, good ol' self–reliance that depends on low wages. We used to do that here in 'merica too but then we had to pay folks a living wage... "self–reliance" what a hoot!

Anyways, Welcome Aeronautics & aerospace workers to the ranks of the "old economy"!

Why Does Congress hate Americans?

Atrios (02.11)
Well here it is, 2 new bills in Congress, backed by Credit Card companies, to make it harder for average, working folk (like yourselves) to declare bankruptcy.

Atrios links to a story in today's Washington Post titled
Tighter Bankruptcy Law Favored

What do you need to know? (besides studies have found that medical bills & divorce were the causes of bankruptcies and the credit card cause was a myth?), how about...

"Our overall concern is that this isn't a balanced bill," said Travis Plunkett, spokesman for the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit consumer research and advocacy group. "There isn't a single curb on abusive lending practices by credit card companies in these bills."

He said he finds the industry's claim it needs bankruptcy reform puzzling because credit card issuers "continue to offer credit to Americans in record amounts" and have reported, as a group, one of their most profitable years in more than a decade.
Hmmmm, now that is odd. It seems like when we turn on the TV all we see is adds for credit cards, refinancing our homes, and a lot of drugs we're pretty sure we don't need.

Congress. Not working for you that's for sure... so who is?


Why does Rumsfeld Hate America?

Rummy's Got a Secret:
He's hiding up to $40 billion in defense spending. Let's find it

Slate.com (02.08)
Now that is a hell of a title for an article.

SO much bad craziness involved with the new Bush budget that it is really hard to know where to start. We've already touched on the Half a Billion Dollars cut from Job Training, but as we go further down the ol' rabbit hole we get this...

Two things are striking about next year's military budget, which President Bush sent to Congress Monday. First, it's a lot larger than the published numbers show—at least $20 billion and possibly as much as $40 billion larger, not including the hidden costs of the war in Iraq—and the undercounting seems to be a deliberate ploy to make the deficit look smaller and the budget less weighed down with armaments than they really are.

Second, whatever the budget totals, tens of billions in defense spending could be slashed if the president followed the principle he laid down in his State of the Union Address last week—to "substantially reduce or eliminate" all programs that "do not fulfill essential priorities."
And we know what programs that don't "fulfill essential priorities" are don't we folks? Nope, it's tax–breaks and hand outs for the wealthy and corporations (especially defense contractors) while you—the working people of this country—get cuts in services you use and depend on.

Read the rest of the article, because it should be obvious to all involved that (a) they've left out a lot of details so no one can pin them down on things (did you hear Rummy SHREIK the other day about planning & costs and how it wasn't possible?) and (b) the gloves are off and Bush Co. is going for broke to get everything their mean little hearts have ever desired


Why does Bush hate the Outsourced?

Bush's Budget: The Bad Math Is No Secret The Nation
Ho ho, those of us who have lost jobs or been underemployed aren't really gonna find much reason to cheer this year. That training to compete in the Global Economy? Forget about that:
Job Training. Cuts federal spending on job training by a half-billion dollars. Federal job training programs, including dislocated-worker training, will be cut by $200 million. Federal aid to states for job training, including funding to train veterans, will be cut by $300 million.
Well that was kind of a surprise... gee, we sure hope that they can make those tax cuts—the ones costing us bazillions of dollars—permanent. Sure they go primarily to the uber–wealthy, but isn't that what the "ownership society" is all about?

by the way, $200 million + $300 million = $500 million or (put another way) HALF A BILLION DOLLARS. Think about that for a second.

Oh, and as for honoring our veterans?
Veterans. More than doubles the co-payment charged to many veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new fee of $250 a year for the privilege of using the Veterans health care system.
At least that got that swell tribute before the Super Bowl and the thanks of that Budweiser commercial... really, that should be enough them right?

Don't believe us? Every paper in the country will tell you the same thing... read and judge for yourself.

(oh yeah, Uncle Sam? Alex Ross. You should read it... Uncle Sam by Steve Darnall & Alex Ross. Think of it as modern American fairy tale informed by Howard Zinn)


Outsource Management? Why that would be Fair...

EMU investigates outsourcing
The Ann Arbor News (02.06)
Who's always first on the chopping block? Give you 3 guesses...

Faced with a steady decline in state funding that has led to budget cuts, Eastern Michigan University is studying whether to outsource food service, housing and publications to private firms, a possibility that has workers in those areas worried about their jobs.

Two consultants were hired recently to look at the options in housing and food service. They are expected to visit campus this week, said Jim Vick, vice president for student affairs.
Ooops: you probably got that one on the first try.

We really like when they hire consultants (for lots of $$$) to figure out who to fire.

Our favorite part?
Rick Clifford, president of AFSCME Local 3866, whose roughly 210 members include food service workers, said he's been fielding calls from worried workers since mid–December.

Privatizing, Clifford said, would cost jobs. "A private company may have some people stay over, but they'd reduce their salaries and give them no benefits. They'd weed out people until all they had left was temporary people making $8 an hour," Clifford said.
And Clifford would be right. Folks PRIVITIZE to "save money" and the new company has to be able to make a profit right? So who gets screwed? The worker. Just like Mr. Clifford points out.
Privatizing food service, he said, could break the local union, which has been on campus since 1968. "This is all in the name of saving money," Clifford said, "but you never hear them talk about outsourcing management. They could save money doing that."
And we'd really like to hear more of that because it reminds us of a dream we had the other night...

There is power in a Union and workers must resist the union–busting efforts and rebuild them.

Wait, the Bush Administration would try to mislead us?

Falsehoods underlie campaign to end Social Security
BaltimoreSun.com (02.07)
Wow. Powerful article by Cynthia Tucker showing the similarities between the current plan to dismantle Social Security with what the Project for a New American Century did with invading Iraq (and, by the way, they now want to send your kids into Iran)...

The plan to topple Social Security, however, is much older – dating to the 1930s, to the very formation of the program. Conservatives have always hated it and wanted to get rid of it. So, taking the long view, they devised strategies, sat back, bided their time and waited for political circumstances to provide cover to demolish Social Security.

They have found their circumstances: the re–election of George Bush, which conservatives have claimed as a mandate to dismantle the social safety net.

As he did with the invasion of Iraq, President Bush has mounted a campaign against Social Security using half-truths, misperceptions and falsehoods. In the State of the Union speech, he declared, "By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt."
Stop. Cynthia, you had us at "hello"...

By the way, readers may remember that weird memo from Karl Rove's man that mentioned winning the Social Security fight for the first time in 60 years that we posted a little while ago (our archives are full of fun stuff like that!)
According to its actuaries – who have done a much better job over the decades in predicting the system's finances than Mr. Bush has done in predicting the deficit – Social Security will be able to pay every dime promised to beneficiaries until 2042. (The Congressional Budget Office gives it another decade.) After that, with no fixes, it will begin to run a deficit and will only be able to pay three–fourths of the benefits promised. Does that sound like "exhausted"? "Bankrupt"?

Even that crisis of diminished benefits (which won't kick in until the Bush twins are nearly old enough to collect Social Security themselves) could be headed off with a modest increase in the payroll tax, which is currently quite regressive, costing people who earn less a higher percentage of their incomes.
Oh Cynthia, you say the sweetest things... but, shhh someone might hear and people might start to think for themselves...

As always, read & decide for yourselves.