Higher Wages or Bubblenomics: What’s it gonna be? By Mike Whitney

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Note: new tag for the economy sucks posts: The Economy Sucks and or Collapse 2

By Mike Whitney
December 22, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

Wages, wages, wages. It all gets down to wages.

A strong economy must be built on a solid foundation of steadily rising wages. If wages don’t keep pace with production, the only way the economy can grow is through the expansion of debt, which leads to disaster.

Consider this: the US economy is 72 percent consumer spending. That means the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) cannot grow if salaries don’t keep up with the price of living. Low Income Families (LOF)–that is, any couple making less than $80,000–represent 50 percent of all consumer spending. These LOF’s spend everything they earn just to maintain their present standard of living. So, how can these families help to grow the economy if they’re already spending every last farthing they earn?

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Wealth Creation, or a Ponzi Scheme? by Michael Hudson

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by Michael Hudson
Global Research, December 23, 2008

Last week the Good Lord evidently realized that not enough people had been reading Hyman Minsky’s explanation of how financial cycles end in Ponzi schemes – the stage in which banks keep the boom going by lending their customers the money to pay interest and thus avoid default. So He sent Bernie Madoff to dominate the news for a week and give the mass media an opportunity to familiarize newspaper readers and TV watchers with just how Ponzi Schemes work. What Mr. Madoff did was, in a nutshell, what the economy as a whole has been doing under the moniker “wealth creation.”

If the media were able to wait until as late in the financial collapse as last week to provide helpful diagrams about how Ponzi schemes need to keep on growing exponentially, it is simply because bad foreign financial news is not deemed newsworthy in North America. But Europe has been having its own run-throughs, headed by Spain – which by no coincidence is now experiencing the biggest real estate bust outside of the post-Soviet economies.

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Mosaic News – 12/22/08: World News From The Middle East

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Warning

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

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“Israel Threatens Assault on Gaza,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Israel Cannot Remain Complacent to Rocket Attacks,” IBA TV, Israel
“Jerusalem: 2009 Arab Cultural Capital,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Lebanon Discusses Strategic Defense Plan,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“US Offers to Negotiate with Taliban,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Family of “Shoe-Tossing” Journalist Demands His Release,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Bosnian Detainees Held in Guantanamo Without Charges,” Nile TV, Egypt
“Jordanian Farmers Get the Short End of the Stick,” Jordan TV, Jordan
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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Charge the Political Criminals By Timothy V. Gatto

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By Timothy V. Gatto
December 22, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse

I lost my broadband connection a few weeks ago and my life has been pure hell. One of the reasons that I haven’t been writing as much lately is because I just don’t have the patience to wait five minutes for a page to load on a dial-up connection. Therefore I’m probably as uninformed as many other Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I still bite my lower lip and tap my fingers as my dial-up connection does the best that it can, after all, I can’t afford to be totally ignorant.

At the same time I lost my broadband I also lost my cable. Losing cable TV isn’t nearly as bad as being cut off from the internet. It does however; relegate me to watching Katie Couric for news. You can imagine my consternation living like this. I feel like I’m in the backwoods of Canada, near the Arctic Circle, hunting Elk or whatever it is they hunt there. Every time I tried to write an article I immediately felt as if I had morphed into Andy Rooney. He’s great at what he does, which is talking about the things he wonders about, but his style just doesn’t fit my personality.

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End of the year or end of the world (as we know it)? by William Bowles

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Creative-i
23 December 2008

Before all the Xmas BS gets in the way, an end-of-year essay of sorts is in order, especially so given the bumpy ride capitalism has bestowed on us this past twelve months. And the portents for 2009 look to be even worse as capitalism, desperate to shed over-valued assets, descends into the abyss.

Look at it this way: after the Crash of ‘29 and the launch of the New Deal, it took some six years to engineer the outbreak of WWII, the surefire way of literally burning up surplus capital in awesome quantities.

And if history has any lessons for us, some equivalent global conflagration is now in order. However, is this possible under these new circumstances and over what timescale can such a capitalist catastrophe be engineered?

Or will they ‘leave it up to nature’ as I have posited before? (see Climate Change: World War III by another name?) This is a distinct possibility, however, given the fact that the actual outcome of climate change, and over what time period it could occur is unknown, engineering yet another massive destruction of surplus capital must be seriously considered. But who to pick on? China, or maybe Russia? In a way, it matters little which country it is as long it consumes vast amounts of capital, both human and material.

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Obama, the military and the threat of dictatorship by Bill Van Auken

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by Bill Van Auken
http://www.wsws.org
23 December 2008

With his choice of Admiral Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, President-elect Barack Obama has now named three recently retired four-star military officers to serve in his cabinet. This unprecedented representation of the senior officer corps within the incoming Democratic administration is indicative of a growth in the political power of the US military that poses a serious threat to basic democratic rights.

As head of the US military’s Pacific command in 1999-2000, Blair was distinguished by his efforts to solidarize the Pentagon with the military of Indonesia as it carried out butchery in East Timor, effectively vetoing the half-hearted human rights concerns voiced by the Clinton administration.

Before tapping Blair, Obama named former Marine Gen. James Jones as his national security adviser and former Army chief of staff Gen. Erik Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs. It is also reported that the incoming administration may ask retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to stay on as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

[…]

“Our Constitution is at risk,” wrote Schweich. He warned that the elevation of an unprecedented number of former senior officers into Obama’s cabinet could “complete the silent military coup d’etat that has been steadily graining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.”

Schweich, who served as an ambassador for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan and then oversaw international law enforcement affairs at the State Department, wrote that he “saw firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much of the US government,” which in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, “was, in theory, justified by the exigencies of war.”

[…]

via Obama, the military and the threat of dictatorship.

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Using food as a weapon by Nicole Colson

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Nicole Colson explains how food–something that should be a basic human right–is instead used as a tool for profit, as laid out in the new book Stuffed and Starved.

SocialistWorker.org
December 18, 2008

IN THE midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, some companies are finding that business is booming.

Fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp., for example, announced recently that its global sales jumped 7.7 percent in November (4.5 percent in the U.S. alone)–after rising 8.2 percent in October. The sales increases were mainly based on breakfast items and an increase in purchases from the chain’s “dollar menu.”

And McDonald’s is not alone. According to the New York Times, workers at Hormel Foods Corporation have been working seven days a week since July to meet increased demand for the canned-meat product Spam. Spam “seems to do well when hard times hit,” said Dan Bartel, business agent for the union local. In this recession, he added, “We’ll probably see Spam lines instead of soup lines.”

While some economists point to these examples as bright spots in an otherwise bleak economy, the truth is that the proliferation of cheap, nutritionally dubious food is one side of a global food system that is set up not to adequately feed the world’s population but to create maximum profits–at the expense of our lives and health.

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Tim DeChristopher, hero disrupts auction of 150,000 acres of wilderness

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Posing as a Bidder, Utah Student Disrupts Government Auction of 150,000 Acres of Wilderness for Oil & Gas Drilling

In a national broadcast exclusive, University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher explains how he “bought” 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from drilling. The sale had been strongly opposed by many environmental groups. Stephen Bloch of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said, “This is the fire sale, the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry.” [includes rush transcript]

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Republican IT Specialist Dies in Plane Crash

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Democracy Now!

Republican IT Specialist Dies in Plane Crash

A top Republican internet strategist who was set to testify in a case alleging election tampering in 2004 in Ohio has died in a plane crash. Michael Connell was the chief IT consultant to Karl Rove and created websites for the Bush and McCain electoral campaigns. Michael Connell was deposed one day before the election this year by attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis about his actions during the 2004 vote count in Ohio and his access to Karl Rove’s email files and how they went missing. [includes rush transcript] Continue reading