5.04.2005

Steven Grant Tells It Like It is...

... and ties it all together. Really worth your time and effort:

Thirty years ago, the push was on for: developing alternative energy sources; switching from monster gas guzzlers to small, fuel efficient cars; energy conservation; and various other practices. The overall term was appropriate technology, which somehow got confused with the Luddite notion of abandoning technology and going back to dirt farming. It was known then that known oil supplies would likely last no more than 100 years; today they're saying 50, and that's without factoring in the industrial designs of the two most populous countries in the world, China and India, which recently entered an alliance to challenge the West's technological dominance. (Specifically, China intends to dominate computer hardware and India software.) If two billion people - and, admittedly, that's assuming every one of those countries' citizens, so that's likely to be a little high but even if a quarter that many - suddenly consume energy at the same level that the US population consumes energy, that drastically cuts the time frame. One of the arguments against appropriate technology was that new oil fields would be found and opened, but in the last 30 years that hasn't been the case. None have been found, no significant fields have been opened. All that's happened is improvements in getting the stuff out of the ground from existing fields, which won't significantly extend the life of the fields.

Since we knew all this was going to happen, what did we do? Come the Reagan era, when the first surge of the radical religious right spread the concept that since the Second Coming was imminent it was wasteful to not use up the resources God gave us before that event (and I'm not being facetious: Reagan Secretary of the Interior James Watt said exactly that on at least one occasion), all that "austerity" stuff became a thing of the past. Republican science declared there was no energy crisis. Oil conservation was declared no longer an issue; auto manufacturers decided small was bad and (not coincidentally more expensive) big cars were where America wanted to do. (Because, hey, it's the public that drives the market, and they want to feel positive about America again!)

Next stop, lots of SUVs.
Lots and lots of SUVs.

And 2 Billion folks to compete with. So what are we doing? Arguing about Evolution, 'gay marriage' and abortion (answers: fact; as we told the nice lesbians, as long as we don't have to marry another dude it's cool with us; and if men could get pregnant this would not be an issue).

It's all connected folks... so start connecting the dots.

We're #1!

We're #1! Google 'outsourced' and we're the first hit you get.

Just saying is all...

All That Talk About Class Warfare?

Well the Rich & Big Business declared it on the poor & middle class a long time ago and this is just the latest battlefront. The sad thing? Most folks either don't understand it (because they're so busy) or they think they're just a bazillionaire-in-training and not one of the masses.

Good old E.J., coming out swinging on the Bush's latest Social Security "solution" puts it all in perspective:

Bush has refused to put his own tax cuts on the table as part of a Social Security fix. Repealing Bush's tax cuts for those earning over $350,000 a year could cover all or most of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. Keeping part of the estate tax in place could cover a quarter to half of the shortfall. Some of the hole could be filled in by a modest surtax on dividends or capital gains.

But Bush is resolute about protecting the interests of the truly rich by making sure that any taxes on wealth are ruled out of the game from the beginning. The Social Security cuts he is proposing for the wealthy are a pittance compared with the benefits they get from his tax cuts. The president is keeping his eye on what really matters to him.

The real costs of progressive indexing as currently conceived would be paid by middle-income earners -- those with incomes in the range of $35,000 to $60,000 a year. Eventually, such earners would face benefit cuts of 20 percent to 30 percent from what they are promised under the current program. And it gets worse: Rising Medicare premiums are eating up an increasing share of middle-class Social Security checks. Even without the cuts, Social Security payments will, over time, barely cover an individual's Medicare costs.

Last, there are the trillions of dollars that Bush would have us borrow to cover the transition to the private accounts he wants to set up. It's far from clear that cutting future Social Security benefits for younger members of the middle class and saddling them with mounds of new indebtedness will make either them or the country better off. Anyone who is truly conservative might have a question or two about whether this "solution" is worse than the problem it is purportedly addressing.
Hey, most of us get antsy when someone wants to borrow $10 or $20 bucks, so remember: WE'RE gonna be the ones borrowing thos TRILLIONS...

"India Needs to Churn Out More Skilled Workers"

Hmm, that's weird: India is feeling the offshoring pinch too...

India might have achieved global IT leader status in software services despite having one of the lowest IT investment levels compared to other economies. However, it is the impending shortage of skilled IT professionals in the country which is causing deep concern to Microsoft India chairman Ravi Venkatesan. “Nasscom has estimated that there will be a deficit of 250,000 IT professionals in the country by 2008. This will result in a significant portion of offshoring work being transferred from India to countries like Philippines, China and Vietnam.” His message: There is an urgent need to create IT manpower, both in terms of quality as well as quantity.
Wow. Inida needs to invest more in education? What does that say about the U.S. where we're busy moving backwards as fast as we can?

Look folks, with regards to Evolution, the whole thing is pretty simple: Evolution is both a Fact & Theory. There is no question that Evolution happens, the questions are about how fast, what the mechanisms are and other nuances (too bad America doesn't seem to do nuance).

By "debating" this (read: undermine) opponents of Evolution are just hurting this country: if it is true that 48% of Americans believe that the judeo-christian God created this planet less than 10,000 years ago then we will no longer be able to lead the world in technological innovation in any field. You can't undermine education in one area and not expect it to harm others.

It is all connected.

5.03.2005

Predatory?

You know, we've been seeing more and more ads for companies that advance $$$ to folks who have received "structured settlements" from law suits... and they make our spider-sense tingle. Something to keep your eye on because no one rides for free (except, oddly enough, the uber-wealthy).

5.02.2005

Goodbye Hamster

Seems the Hamster has gone and gotten himself a job with Al Franken and we wish him good luck (please tell Al about our blog!)

Oh, and KTLK in LA? Thanks for taking Morning Sedition off... now we we can listen to the Mighty Morning Show with Dickie Barrett again. At least until we get XM in our car. Thanks... jag-offs.

Sirotablog: When Companies Leave Communities for Dead

Poor Butte

The Los Angeles Times today has a fascinating piece on Butte, Montana – better-known to locals as "Butte, America." If you haven't been there, you really should go. It is a case study in contrasts. Its citizens are a tribute to the wonderful, hard-scrabble spirit of Americans. But its history is a reminder of the tragic consequences of corporate greed and negligence. As the Times details, mining companies now owned by British Petroleum have essentially left a giant hole in the earth called the Berkeley Pit, where highly-toxic water is filling up at an alarming rate. As the piece notes, "the wine-dark water is as acidic as Pepsi, filled with heavy metals." The water is so toxic that when birds migrating from Canada to California set down on the lake, they never took flight again. Autopsies "showed burns and sores in their esophaguses and stomachs from drinking and feeding in the water." And the water is rising to a level where it "could begin seeping into a nearby aquifer," contaminating the town's drinking water.
But Big Business always looks after Heartland America... doesn't it?

Yes, but only on the Bizzaro World.

By the way: the "Runaway Bride"? NOT F@#KING NEWS. Just another distraction to keep you from really paying attention.

5.01.2005

American Politicians Are Cowards

Question Time: Brilliant! If you aren't famailiar with this little program it is amazing: basically the leaders of their parties have to face a crowd of voters... and they won't take spin for an answer.

You would never catch an American politician, especially George W. Bush, even remotely near an event like this and that is a sad commentary on our democracy. Watch and tell me I'm wrong.

C-Span
BBC