Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Snake Oil Meteorological Prognostication Medicine Show

It boggles the mind that weather forecasters are able to earn a salary with their 10% success rate at predicting the weather. after our big storm on saturday, it was 'sunny all week until maybe thursday.' it's tuesday, and now they say it will rain all week, sunny 1 day, and then rain for the next 5 and a half years. these people are con artists! soulless gypsies! how do I become one of them? I want a job at which it doesn't ever seem to matter how often you are totally wrong, not because you bet lower by a few degrees what today's "high" was (obviously, it was an opiate of some sort!), but because you can claim sunny all week and then back track to "you f*ckers will never see the sun again in your lifetimes!"

let me do it! i'll tell your weather lies with a pizzazz heretofore unseen in your snake oil meteorological prognostication medicine show!

Sam N. You could always go into politics, those guys don't even have a 10% success rate......................unless you are grading them on SCREWING us that is

So you think I'd make an ugly prostitute, eh? Because that's all you get with politics: a brothel full of ugly whores...with beards, all claiming to be virgins and none of them giving their name. They're similar to weather forecasters, that much is true! They dress horribly, smell like Old Spice and urine, and are drunk before the winter, which they will fail to see. Because weather forecasters are like blind, uneducated, smelly, tasteless, prostitute gypsies doing strange things to elephants and donkeys--in order to perpetually disagree on everything. You say tomato, I say 'FUCK your tomato, you soulless gypsy! I'll bet you can't even tell time or put your shoes on by yourself! I didn't vote for you! I didn't vote at all.'

It's not like forecasting the weather, the choices are worse. The only thing they have in common is the ability with a straight face to tell whole counties they are about to die in a tornado...and then name the wrong county so the poor bastards who are really about to die aren't warned in time...or at all! half of them sitting on toilets or committing some other equally embarrassing act at which they will be found dead with the act half done. Politicians make better weathermen than weathermen. Weathermen make unforgivably insulting politicians and deserve to be run out of town on a rail they bought with taxpayer money! meanwhile, where are the stinkin' prostitutes!?!?!

P.S. I have many head bones. when they vibrate they lull me into a false sense of stupor, and there is nothing dumber than that! like being paralyzed and drunk while being hit repeatedly in the head with a sledgehammer, all while popping pills you neither know what they are or where they came from or who gave them to you! you've been roofied by the weather gypsy sons of bitches! press the ejector button, dear god, man! quick! before it stops raining and roofies the whole city!
Carolyn B. Gypsy is a derogatory term for certain ethnic groups. Let's use GINGERS instead. You can't trust them at all.
Sam N. ^I like your use of ethnic group over race for there is only one race and a bunch of folks who are hung up on their skin pigmentation, religion, sexual preference, politics and ad infinitum.
Carolyn BExactly.It's hair color that will divide us.
Sam N. and you can't trust the Clairol babies for sure lol
So, when Cher sings "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" is she or isn't she being redundant? If the only people I offended were just the weather gypsies, then by god, I haven't done my job! Did I offend any prostitutes? How about pill poppers? I was going for the trifecta. Now, about this end of the world shitstorm that was supposed to hit at 5:00: at 5:00, to prove those weather sonsabitches wrong, I stood in my front yard naked with a windsock hanging from my manly manhood and a propeller cap atop my ample headbones. Do I have to tell you what didn't happen? I was dry, my propeller cap sat motionless, and the only thing filling my windsock was my manly manhood. Once again, the weather gypsies, gingers, maryannes and professors, whatever the hell pc term you crossbred, hybrid driving, WE network watching, crunchy granola liberals want to force me to use, have lied. I advocate assassination of anyone who calls itself a meteorologist. They have sunk even below the lowly astrologists who at least know how to generalize their claims so that their softheaded followers can find a tidbit on which to latch, like a hungry baby to a fingerlong nipple.

and just how the hell did my brilliant expose on the weather lies get turned into a discussion on hair products? what kind of bathsalts are you devils smoking?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fast Track to Hell: Trade Bill Officially Introduced in Congress

'Congress shouldn’t throw Americans under the bus by giving up its authority over this unprecedented giveaway to multinational corporations.'
by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer
"This bill is a climate disaster, and amounts to nothing more than a taxpayer-funded handout to corporations," said May Boeve, executive director of, in response to the announced deal.
The fight over Fast Track just got real.

U.S. House and Senate leaders announced Thursday afternoon that they have reached a deal on legislation aimed at jamming the Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress.

"Congress shouldn’t throw Americans under the bus by giving up its authority over this unprecedented giveaway to multinational corporations." —Murshed Zaheed, CREDO

The so-called Fast Track bill (The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, TPA-2015), which would make it easier for President Barack Obama's administration to negotiate trade deals by preventing Congress from amending them, includes compromise provisions added in order to "win over" Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

According to the New York Times:
Senator Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, had to agree to stringent requirements for the trade deal to win over Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the finance panel. Those requirements included a human-rights negotiating objective that has never existed in trade agreements, according to lawmakers involved in the talks.
The legislation would also make any final trade agreement public for 60 days before the president signs it, and up to four months before Congress votes. If the agreement, negotiated by the United States Trade Representative, fails to meet the objectives laid out by Congress — on labor, environmental and human rights standards — a 60-vote majority in the Senate could shut off “fast track” trade rules and open the deal to amendments.
In a statement, Wyden—who watchdog groups had targeted as a key vote on Fast Track—defended his support for the bill.

"Opening foreign markets, where most of the world’s consumers reside, is critical to creating new opportunities for middle-class American jobs," Wyden said. "I'm proud this bipartisan bill creates what I expect to be unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions, and safeguard the environment."

The legislation is expected to pass the Senate Finance Committee and land on the Senate floor next week. The House Ways and Means Committee will formally draft its version of the bill next week.
Timing is important. As Reuters noted before the deal was announced on Thursday:
Introducing the bill this week would send a positive signal about the Trans-Pacific Partnership ahead of a planned visit to Washington in late April by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japan and other TPP partners have said having fast track—which gives trading partners certainty agreements will not be picked apart—is vital.
But clearing committees doesn't guarantee the bill's success. The Hill reported earlier this week that Democratic support for Fast Track is falling away in the House, and senators like Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have argued vehemently against the legislation. 

Looking forward to what it predicts will be "one of the toughest legislative battles" of Obama's final 19 months in office, the Times reports that even with the reported concessions, "the fight to get the trade promotion bill to the president’s desk will be difficult and emotional, badly dividing the Democratic Party’s labor base and putting Hillary Rodham Clinton in a quandary. Many prominent Democrats have come out against one of the biggest priorities of their president. Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, was notably absent from trade negotiations."
"[TPP] is nothing more than a taxpayer-funded handout to corporations... and would be a giant step backwards in the fight against climate change." —May Boeve,

Those who oppose Trade Promotion Authority say it would help advance industry-backed trade deals like the TPP, which experts charge would have negative impacts on everything from public health to workers' rights to climate change.
"This bill is a climate disaster, and amounts to nothing more than a taxpayer-funded handout to corporations," executive director May Boeve said Thursday. "We've seen leaked text showing that TPP would allow fossil fuel companies like Exxon to sue any member country that dares to act on climate, and hold up any law or regulation that hurts their bottom line. That's an irresponsible giveaway that lets Big Oil handcuff our political systems even more, and would be a giant step backwards in the fight against climate change."
Critics like Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, said the deal unveiled Thursday is merely a spiffed up version of the "old unacceptable Fast Track process."

Noting that the bill would still make it easier for corporations to offshore American jobs, undermine U.S. wages by forcing Americans to compete with Vietnamese workers making less than 60 cents an hour, and expose consumer and environmental safeguards to attack by foreign corporations in extra-judicial tribunals, Wallach explained further:
Instead of establishing a new "exit ramp," the bill includes the same impossible conditions from past Fast Track bills that make the mechanism to remove an agreement from Fast Track unusable. The bill's only new feature in this respect is a new procedure that would be usable only after an agreement was already signed and entered into and that would require approval by 60 senators to take a pact off Fast Track consideration, even though a simple majority "no" vote in the Senate would have the same effect on an agreement. In contrast, the 1988 Fast Track empowered either the House Ways and Means or the Senate Finance Committees to vote by simple majority to remove the pact from Fast Track consideration with no additional floor votes required, and such a disapproval action was authorized before a president could sign and enter into a trade agreement.
Now that the bill has officially been introduced, progressive advocacy groups, and labor organizations opposed to Fast Track and the TPP are gearing up for a full-court press in opposition to the corporate-friendly trade policies.

In addition to a national Stop Fast Track day of action—spearheaded by the AFL-CIO and taking place this Saturday, April 18—groups are calling on constituents to demand their elected officials vote against the legislation.

"Congress shouldn’t throw Americans under the bus by giving up its authority over this unprecedented giveaway to multinational corporations," said Murshed Zaheed, deputy political director for CREDO, which has played a key role in the fight against Fast Track and the TPP. "Like the Trans-Pacific Partnership itself, the deal to grant the White House Trade Promotion Authority was negotiated in secret behind closed doors. It is time for Democrats in Congress to stand up to corporate shills in Washington and do everything in their power to stop this secretive corporate power grab."

Largest Ever Low-Wage Worker Protest Sweeps United States

'I Know We Will Win'

Day of action calling for a $15 minimum wage and the right to organize reached far beyond US borders
by Sarah Lazare, staff writer
"Fast-food workers are joining together and standing up for what’s right, and with students, #BlackLivesMatter activists, adjunct professors, home care, Walmart, child care, and airport services workers standing with us, we are stronger than ever," said Terrence Wise, fast food worker in Kansas City, Missouri.
In what is being called the largest low-wage worker protest the United States has ever seen, tens of thousands of fast food, laundry, home care, child care, retail, and education employees walked off the job or staged rallies on Wednesday in more than 200 cities across the country.

They were joined by workers in 35 countries on six continents, from New Zealand to Brazil to Japan.
The mobilization was part of the movement for a $15 dollar minimum wage in the U.S., which has touched off a nation-wide conversation about poverty and inequality since fast food workers began a series of rolling strikes and workplace actions more than three years ago.

"Fast-food workers are joining together and standing up for what’s right, and with students, #BlackLivesMatter activists, adjunct professors, home care, Walmart, child care, and airport services workers standing with us, we are stronger than ever," said Terrence Wise, a father of three who works at McDonald's and Burger King restaurants in Kansas City, Missouri, in a press statement. "I know we will win."

Backed by the Service Employees International Union, Wednesday's rallies were timed to coincide with Tax Day in the U.S., in a bid to highlight the fact that low-wage workers are forced to rely on public assistance to get by.

Under the banner "We are worth more," protesters are calling for living wages, as well as the right to organize in their workplaces without intimidation and retaliation.

In the streets on Wednesday, protesters made connections between social and economic justice. From Charleston, South Carolina to Ferguson, Missouri, protesters memorialized the lives of unarmed people of color killed by police and brought the message of the growing Black Lives Matter movement.

"We joined the Fight for $15 because, for us, racial justice is economic justice. We believe that Black workers have paid undeserved debts to greedy corporations for far too long," said Charlene Carruthers, national director for the Black Youth Project 100.

A report released on Monday by the National Employment Law Project finds that women and people of color are dramatically overrepresented in the underpaid work-force, with over 50 percent of African-American workers, and nearly 60 percent of Latino workers, making less than $15.

Wednesday's protests called for worker justice far beyond U.S. borders.

"The fast-food industry is dominated by a handful of multi-billion-dollar global companies, so we need to have a strong, global movement of workers pushing for better wages, better treatment and better rights," said Massimo Frattini, international coordinator for the International Union of Food workers in a press statement.
Participants say that this movement is a matter of urgency, amid rising inequality and plummeting wages in the U.S. and world-wide.

As Andrew Olson, McDonald's worker in Los Angeles put it in an interview with The LA Times, "Just because I work in fast food does that mean I should have to just scrape by in life?"

Looking to the future, journalist Rana Foroohar argued in Time that the Fight for $15 is proving a powerful force. "Politicians are going to have to grapple with this in the election cycle," wrote Foroohar, "because as the latest round of wage protests makes clear, the issue isn't going away anytime soon."

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why America’s inequality conversation is such a farce

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
“It’s your own damn fault!” The upcoming campaign is supposedly going to be about inequality. Here's why it's just another plutocratic charade
Elias Isquith

As I’ve noted previously, one of the stranger recent developments in American politics has been the swift arrival of a bipartisan consensus over economic inequality. For years and years — decades, even — the left and the right have quarreled over inequality’s very existence. But now, worrying about the maldistribution of income and wealth in the U.S. is utterly mainstream. Noting the widening chasm between the 1 percent and everyone else has become so anodyne, in fact, that even would-be presidents like Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are doing it. It’s enough to make a longtime class-warrior think she’s winning.

That would be a mistake. Because although the political value of inequality is different today than was the case before the Great Recession, it’s mainly been rhetoric — and not policy — that has changed. We may talk more than we once did about the rich are, as Fitzgerald wrote, “not like you and me.” So far, very little’s been done on the national level to explicitly confront the problem. On the contrary, the economic recovery has been so full of McJobs that there’s reason to suspect the issue may only get worse in years to come.

But if the U.S. economy is just as iniquitous as ever, and if the near-total gutting of campaign finance regulation has made the U.S. political economy almost as plutocratic as ever, then how do we explain the rise of inequality as a mainstream topic of conversation? If the 1 and .01 percent still wields such a massively disproportionate degree of influence over our culture as well as our politics, wouldn’t talk of class remain verboten? Shouldn’t the super-rich be telling voters and the public in general to pay no attention to the moneybags behind the curtain?

You might think so; but that would only be true if the wealthy’s control of American politics was more direct (and ham-handed) than it actually is. As Noam Chomsky has argued, the way the wealthy and the powerful operate in a formal democracy is significantly different from how they act in an illiberal society. The discourse has its regulators and gate-keepers, of course. But rather than outright censorship, the powers-that-be in the U.S. tend to head-off opposition by setting the parameters of the debate — and doing so in such a way as to ensure their interests are never really threatened.

Noam Scheiber’s New York Times piece on Monday shows us what that process looks like in the real world. What we see in his report is a donor class that’s acquiesced to inequality being a major 2016 issue, partially because they’ve succeeded so far in rendering any serious responses to the problem out of the question. As Scheiber notes, strong majorities of Americans — including Republicans— are in favor of the government taking action to address the crisis, with redistribution from the 1 percent to the rest being an especially popular response. Yet for all their talk of inequality and opportunity, none of the declared or soon-to-declare presidential candidates of consequence have provided even a general endorsement of such a plan.

Unsurprisingly, their hesitation is shared by one significant group — donors. Citing the invaluable work of Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright and Larry Bartels, Scheiber notes that although a majority of the wealthy Chicago-area persons these researchers interviewed professed concern over inequality, too, they were dramatically less interested in any public policy solutions. “Only 13 percent of wealthy interview subjects” want to see government work to address the problem, Scheiber writes. And only 17 percent are supportive of policies that involve raising taxes on the rich.

And it’s not just tax hikes that the wealthy are keeping off the table. While two-out-of-three Americans think the government should help citizens find a job, provided they’re willing and able, fewer than one-out-of-five of wealthy respondents agree. “Forty percent of the wealthy,” Scheiber writes, want the minimum wage to be high enough to support a family; among the general public, support for that idea nearly doubles, coming out at 78 percent. Perhaps even more telling, though, is the way the overall philosophy of the very rich permeates the public discourse at large.

For example: According to interviews with the wealthy conducted by Fiona Chin, a Northwestern graduate student whom Scheiber describes as a Page “protégé,” the 1 percent is much more likely to believe that inequality is a byproduct of virtue and hard work, rather than any flaws in the U.S.’s economic system. The wealthy, Chin says, think inequality is “a story about individual hard work, effort and character.” Sure, the rich have some built-in advantages, they say. But they’re disadvantaged too; being born with means, after all, can make you less inclined to work.

If you didn’t strike it rich in America, these 1 percenters told Chin, it’s most likely because you “didn’t take advantage of the education system.” That, of course, is a euphemistic way of saying it’s your own damn fault. And while Scheiber’s report doesn’t bring up this angle directly, it’s not hard to see how there might be a connection between the 1 percent’s focus on education and the burgeoning movement to “reform” public schooling. A grand experiment in charter schools is fine. But reducing inequality by giving money to the people who need it? Not okay.

So we may now hear Bush — or Cruz, or Rubio, or Paul — talk about “opportunity” gaps; and we may soon listen as Clinton rails against cutting hedge fund managers’ taxes. But given the constraints the 1 percent establishes upfront, you can expect that most of the ideas to come from Bush, Rubio and, eventually, Clinton will differ little from what they would’ve proposed in the years before the Great Recession. And until they stop trying to sell the same-old policies under an inequality-themed banner, the politics of the issue will not be appreciably different. We’ll merely have transitioned from denial to a charade.

Low-wage jobs drive the recovery

By Ned Resnikoff -msnbc

It’s not uncommon to hear economics writers dismiss post-recession job growth as evidence of a “McJobs Recovery.” Sure, jobs may be slowly coming back, the argument goes, but not good jobs. Instead, employment growth seems to be largely concentrated in the sectors of the economy where wages are lowest.

That argument received some empirical ballast with the release of a report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) that finds low-wage industries have grown at a disproportionately high rate since the end of the recession. The report’s author, policy analyst Michael Evangelist, finds that 44% of job growth since the end of the recession has been concentrated in industries where the median wage is $13.33 or less. That includes food service, retail, and administrative services (which includes jobs like security, maintenance, and janitorial work).

This is only the most recent in a series of NELP reports on the McJobs Recovery, all of which have found similar results. Evangelist told msnbc the consistency suggests this might be more than a hiccup on the road back to relative prosperity.

“Early on when we were doing these reports, we just speculated cyclical factors,” he said. “So one year into the recovery, consumer demand was growing and you’d see more growth in the restaurant food service industry.” But as food service continued to grow at a disproportionately high rate, NELP analysts came to see unbalanced growth as a more stable feature of the economic landscape.

“Now we’re five years into this and these are still the industries that are growing quickly,” said Evangelist.

Food service isn’t just one of the economy’s most fecund sectors: It’s also its most unequal, according to another report released last week by the left-leaning think tank Demos. In that study, Demos policy analyst Catherine Ruetschlin found that food services and retail had bigger worker-to-CEO compensation gaps than any other sector of the economy.

The steady encroachment of low-wage jobs may help to explain why median income in the United States has begun to stagnate even as the wealth of the country’s economic elite soars into previously unexplored altitudes. Last week, The New York Times reported that America no longer leads the world in median wealth, having been surpassed by Canada for the first time in at least decades.

Arizona enacts law requiring doctors to tell patients abortions can be reversed

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
The law also limits public insurance coverage for abortion 
Jenny Kutner

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed a controversial bill to require doctors to tell women who undergo medication abortion that the procedure can be reversed, despite no medical or scientific evidence to substantiate the claim. The law also bans abortion coverage for insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act, except in cases of rape or incest.

“The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it’s no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars,” Ducey said in a statement.

Arizona is already one of several states that requires doctors to acquire admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinics where they perform abortions. The new law, however, also dictates how physicians interact with patients, and was criticized by just one Republican for requiring that doctors indicate to women that medication abortion is reversible. Reproductive rights advocates have also challenged that provision of the law, calling it infantilizing.

“It is just insulting to her intelligence to imply that she isn’t capable of making a decision and following through with that decision,” NARAL Arizona board member Gabrielle Goodrick told RH Reality Check. “We trust women can make their decisions as consenting adults.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

“A malign force in American history”: Why you should be terrified of the Supreme Court

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Ridiculous theories, destructive effects and evil tragedies are SCOTUS trademarks, expert Ian Millhiser tells Salon 

Elias Isquith

Throughout his years as a national politician and in the White House, President Barack Obama has had many antagonists and foes: John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Eric Cantor and John Boehner come to mind. But despite their greater public profile, one could argue that none of these men have been quite as formidable a source of opposition and frustration as the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court.

Indeed, the closest Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, ever came to destruction was not in the House or in the Senate. It was behind the closed doors of the justices’ chambers, where it survived in 2012 by just one vote, and where, due to King v. Burwell, the latest case against Obamacare, it finds itself imperiled once again. The greatest threat to the Obama agenda, in other words, has manifested in the form of a purposefully opaque institution, and in the persons of five unelected conservative men.

Unsurprisingly, this state of affairs has led many a liberal or even moderate Democrat to pull their hair and grind their teeth out of aggravation. And when compared to the Supreme Court of the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, which most progressives think of as a source of comfort and power for society’s downtrodden, the Roberts court looks anomalous indeed. But what if it’s the mid-20th century court, and not that of today, which stands as the exception to the rule? What if the Roberts court is more in keeping with U.S. history than liberals tend to think?

That’s the argument that Ian Millhiser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the editor of Think Progress Justice, makes in his new book, Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted.” As Millhiser sees it, the Supreme Court has spent most of its existence standing athwart history, yelling, Stop! From gutting the civil rights acts of the post-Civil War era to attacking business regulations to weakening protections for children, minorities and immigrants, the court Millhiser describes has much more often than not worked to return power to those in society who need it least, and abuse it most.

Recently, Salon spoke over the phone with Millhiser to discuss his new book as well as his thoughts on the Obamacare case currently in front of the court, the legitimacy of the institution, and why the next presidential election will have such a large impact on whether the court of the foreseeable future is one that fights progress, or acts as its shepherd. Our conversation is below and has been edited for clarity and length.

The Supreme Court has been a source of controversy for a long, long time. But what was it in particular that you wanted to get across with this book?

The notion that the Supreme Court has been a malign force in American history is by no means a new one. It dominated President [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt’s rhetoric on the Supreme Court; it was the reason why many of the liberal justices on the Supreme Court were reluctant to to vote the right way on Brown v. Board of Education, because they were so fearful of judicial power that they were afraid to exercise it. It’s only fairly recently that liberals have come to think of the Supreme Court as something we shouldn’t view with extraordinary trepidation.

I wrote this book in large part because I think people — and not just liberals, not just people who think we should have things like child labor laws and Medicare — have lost an important understanding of our history. Meanwhile, people who want to dismantle a lot of the progress of the 20th century are busy building an alternative mythology about the Supreme Court that is very harmful and that we have not yet been effective in countering.

You mentioned how conservatives like to claim or imply that the Constitution prescribes a libertarian government. Why is that narrative mistaken?

The conservative mythology I keep referring to is basically a mythology of original sin. Their narrative is that government is something that the Constitution was very skeptical of and everyone understood this until Franklin Delano Roosevelt came along and tried to pack the court with up to 15 Justices in order to break the back of this understanding of the Constitution. That moment where the court gave in and allowed the New Deal to exist, that is the original sin in the conservative narrative.

The reality could not be more different. The reality is that George Washington, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, was tossing off angry letters saying that Congress didn’t have enough power to act and he wasn’t going to win this war if they didn’t have a more responsive national government. He and others pushed for a more expansive role of government. At the Constitutional Convention, the framers passed a resolution saying that a national government has to have full powers to do everything that the states are not competent enough to do on their own — and one thing the states aren’t capable of doing on their own is regulating a national economy.

Let’s move away from history for a moment to talk about the present court. Granting that the court, historically, has much more often been an enemy of progress rather than a friend, where would you rank the current Roberts Court?

I think what the Roberts Court is going to be remembered as is a transitional court. The Roberts Court is really bad; Citizens United is terrible, and striking down the Voting Rights Act is terrible. But compared to what has come from most of the Supreme Court’s history, it’s actually a lot better.

There are two things at play right now that are going to impact the future of the Supreme Court. At the last national conference of the Federalist Society, a very influential conservative legal group, there was a panel on rolling back anti-discrimination laws and repealing the minimum wage. This is the place where lawsuits like attacks on the Affordable Care Act, like Hobby Lobby, etc., are incubated and where conservative lawyers get together and refine their ideas before they get their friends on the Supreme Court to turn them into law.

The Federalist Society, which is going to have a tremendous impact on who the next Republican president nominates for the Supreme Court, is raring for a return to the bad old days, to the era where the Supreme Court viewed its job as engaging in wholesale skepticism of business regulation. If they succeeded in getting the ear of the next president — and they did have the ear of President George W. Bush and previous Republican presidents — we’re going to be in for a wild ride.

Why else do you see this court as being transitional?

The second thing to keep in mind is that there are four justices right now over the age of 76: Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg and Breyer are all in their late 70s or early 80s. When the next president is sworn in, there will be three sitting justices in their 80s — assuming none of them leave before then— so there’s a very real chance that the next president of the United States could replace four justices.

There’s already a fifth justice on the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, who has said that he agrees with [the pre-New Deal court's worldview] and the legal argument that was used to attack the Civil Rights Act of 1964; so if he got his way, we probably couldn’t have a ban on whites-only water fountains. Right now, the fact that there’s one justice who embraces this radical anti-government vision doesn’t seem all that scary. But if four more get up there, we could be on the bridge to the 19th century right now.

At the same time, if those four justices are replaced by someone who thinks more or less the same way our current president thinks, then we could have, for the first time in my lifetime and for the second time in the Supreme Court’s history, a court that is very much interested in letting individual rights flourish, in letting voting rights flourish, and in allowing our democracy to function without having ideological justices second-guessing the decision that are made by the people and their representatives.

One question that occurs to me now, and which has been in the discourse about the court for the past few years, is the idea of “legitimacy.” If the current court ends up tarnishing the institution’s legitimacy, that might affect how the next court can operate. But legitimacy is pretty vague concept. Do you think it’s real? Or is it one of those messy ideas we use without adequate interrogation?

That’s a very timely question because there’s this King v. Burwell case in front of the Supreme Court seeking to gut the Affordable Care Act. If that case prevails, an estimated 10,000 people are going to die every year who otherwise would have lived. In addition to that, the legal theory they would use to gut Obamacare is not a bit of a joke; it’s a huge joke; it’s a ridiculous theory. People are very much talking right now about this question of whether we even want the Supreme Court to have this kind of power and whether they are truly legitimate if, based on such a ridiculous legal theory, they could produce such an evil result.

How unprecedented is it that people are talking about the court this way?

The one other time when you saw serious talk about that question come up was during the Roosevelt administration, when you had this huge national crisis, the Great Depression, going on. Roosevelt was doing everything he could think of to restore economic order, and the Supreme Court kept striking it down. In the midst of that tragedy, not only were there serious questions about the court’s legitimacy, but Roosevelt went so far as to propose adding Justices to the Court in an effort, basically, to neutralize it.

Do you think that kind of pressure works? That the court is less radical if it feels like it’s being closely observed and will come in for significant criticism if it’s seen as overstepping its bounds?

I do think it’s the case that at least certain members of the court in the past have become reluctant to do things that are both immoral … when they realize that people are looking over their shoulder — and that people are more likely to look over their shoulder when the results they would produce are particularly tragic.

That’s why I want people to be aware of the consequences. I want people to be terrified of the Supreme Court because we’ve seen over and over again throughout history that when they go off the rails, the results are absolutely disastrous for ordinary Americans.

How do you feel about proposals for reforms to the Supreme Court, like changing it so justices don’t serve in perpetuity but have fixed term limits? Do you think that’s a workable solution? Or is it not really adequate to the task?

I don’t think term limits are going to solve the problem, even if we manage to get them through; I think there is sort of a backhanded way to do it without a Constitutional amendment, but it would take a really long time. The fact remains that Justice Scalia is the longest-serving member of the court and he’s pretty terrible; but Justice Alito hasn’t been there very long, relatively speaking, and he’s even worse. I don’t think there’s a correlation between the tenure of the Justice and whether they’re a good or a bad Justice.

One of the main things you focus on in the book is that Supreme Court decisions have real-world consequences for regular people — and they’ve often been bad. What do you think of the argument raised by some, perhaps most prominently Dahlia Lithwick, that the court would be more likely to understand the human stakes if it weren’t comprised of so many law school all-stars, and had more politicians, as used to happen, instead?

I love Dahlia Lithwick; she may be the single best writer in the Supreme Court issues space. I disagree with her on this point, though. The reason why is because the court has almost always been terrible; it was terrible when you had brilliant scholarly and very dastardly men like Stephen Field leading the charge to dismantle the regulatory state, and it’s been really terrible when you had ignorant bigots like James Clark McReynolds.

Scientology Documentary "Going Clear" debuts on HBO (videos)

Wall Street’s new student loan scheme: Subprime loans are coming to financial aid

Monday, Mar 30, 2015

Slimy new loan options proliferate, as Wall Street looks to do for education what it did to the economy 

Jeff Bryant

Wall Street wants to own your education destiny.

To the old saying about “death and taxes,” you can now add another: debt.

In fact, in contemporary America, debt is likely becoming at least as all-encompassing as the other two.

An increasingly powerful force behind the debt explosion is not what you might expect: not cars, not homes, not healthcare. It’s education.

Since the Great Recession, federal and state authorities have been disinvesting from their obligations to educate the citizenry. So now, nearly every state spends less on higher education than it did in 2007. And most states continue to spend less on K-12 education than they did in 2007. Federal government expenditures on education are also in decline.

So the burden of financing education has increasingly fallen on local governments and individuals, who have responded by borrowing money to pay for schooling.

Education debt is rapidly becoming a cradle to grave omnipresence – from parents taking out kindergarten loans, to taxpayers shouldering the ballooning costs of exotic school bonds, to senior citizens staving off bankruptcies caused by college debts.

With edu-debt levels mounting higher and higher at every turn, cash-strapped parents, municipal governments and education institutions have turned to solutions from Wall Street.

According to at least one investment news source, banks are increasingly reluctant to back infrastructure investments like schools, so the financial industry is rushing in to fill the void. “The severely restricted capacity of banks to provide long-term debt for infrastructure deals comes at a time when the need for infrastructure spending across the globe is soaring,” the report notes. “A great deal of debt will go to the bond markets. But they will not be the full solution by any means.”

Instead, an emerging “private loan space” is introducing “a number of new vehicles.”

An alphabet soup of new financial vehicles – SLABS, CABS, PPPs, ISAs – that’s been created in the edu-debt sphere spells disaster, as Wall Street tightens its control of how – or even whether – the nation educates its future workers and citizens.

Turning Students Into SLABS

A lot has been written about college student loan debt, now nearly $1.2 trillion and counting. But too little attention has focused on Wall Street’s role in the run-up.

Recall, when Wall Street speculators wanted a market for subprime mortgages, they created high-risk derivative securities that bundled the mortgages to sell as investments. The speculators have done the same for student loans.

These student loan asset-backed securities, or SLABS, have a performance history that has “been very good, and investors’ rate of return has been excellent,” according to an article in Wikipedia.

SLABS are “hot,” a Wall Street Journal headline exhorted its readers in 2013. “Investors are flocking to SLABS,” a more recent article on the Huffington Post reports.

A post on the blog for left-leaning advocacy Demos explains, “Before the SLABS binge, most private student loans were actually made in connection with the college financial aid office, which helped ensure students weren’t taken for a ride, or weren’t borrowing more than they needed to. Between 2005 and 2007, the percentage of loans to students made without any school involvement grew from 40 percent to over 70 percent.”

It’s not hard to see the allure of SLABS. Student loans seem to be an endless stream of revenue as colleges and universities continue to increase tuition, economic conditions and employment transience feed the unemployed back into continuing education, and political leaders urge everyone to attend college. The income stream is nearly guaranteed to pay off because the loans are next to impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.

A Huffington Post article by Chris Kirkham states, SLABS offer “seemingly unlimited growth potential at virtually zero risk. The burden of college loan repayment falls entirely on students’ backs, shielding corporations from the consequences of default.”

Indeed, any attempt to write off the massive student debt would not only have to contend with government reluctance to lose such a profitable revenue source, but would also meet deep-pocketed opposition from the financial industry.

But SLABS are only a subset of Wall Street’s continuously expanding man spread in the edu-debt sector.

Selling Schools on CABS And Charters

Much less attention has focused on how government and education institutions are becoming more and more saddled with debt.

According to the website, “Many local governments across the U.S. face steep budget deficits as they struggle to pay off debts accumulated over a number of years. As a last resort, some filed for bankruptcy.”

School district bankruptcies are occurring with alarming frequency, USA Today reported last year. “California saw a record number of school districts in fiscal distress in 2012; currently, eight school districts have negative certifications, meaning that based on current projections, the school districts will not meet their financial obligations for fiscal 2014 or 2015. Another 41 school districts may run out of money by fiscal 2016.”

California schools trying to stave off insolvency have increasingly turned to the financial sector for help. Writing at the Web of Debt blog site, Ellen Brown explains how financial brokers have promoted “something called ‘capital appreciation bonds’ (CABs) as a tool. … CABs have now been issued by more than 400 California districts, some with repayment obligations of up to 20 times the principal advanced (or 2,000 percent).”

Adding to the edu-debt burden is the rush to finance charter schools. Recently, the Bloomberg news agency reported, “US charter schools are issuing a record amount of municipal debt … The institutions, privately run with public funding, have sold $1.6 billion of securities in 2014.”

Charter schools are notorious for closing suddenly, often on very short notice, leaving school districts holding the bag for the remaining costs and outstanding debts. Over 65 percent of the time, charter school closures are due to financial problems or “mismanagement,” according to research quoted in the Huffington Post.

A Plague Of PPPs

In higher education, the recent announcement that Sweet Briar College in Virginia would have to close due to financial insolvency stunned current and former students. But Sweet Briar’s imminent demise is likely just the first of many more college financial failures to come, according to a recent Op-Ed by a former Department of Education official Dennis Cariello in The Hill.

Cariello points to a recent study by Bain & Co. that concludes over 60 percent of American colleges and universities are on an “unsustainable financial path” or at financial risk.

To a considerable extent, Sweet Briar was done in by bad loan arrangements made with the private financial sector. As an expert for the Roosevelt Institute explains, “It is closing because it signed some terrible deals to get what must have felt like ‘needed’ money at the time.”

Is Sweet Briar “the canary in the coal mine?” the Roosevelt piece asks, and points to the University of California system, the University of Michigan, and American University that are also examples where “banks are certainly making obscene profits … and passing debt on to students through increased costs.”

A report from Inside Higher Education explains the extent of the financial wheeling-and-dealing in public higher ed. “Burdened by aging campuses, several years of backlogged maintenance projects, increased competition for students (and the tuition revenue that comes with them), and little hope that states are going to fund the construction they need, either through appropriations or by issuing their own debt, public colleges and universities are likely to issue their own debt to finance the renovation of their facilities.”

Among the many options public universities are considering for funding are more “public-private partnerships [PPPs], whereby private developers get the capital to construct facilities and then universities strike long-term leases to occupy the space.”

No doubt, these long-term PPPs present other opportunities for the financial industry to divert public money to private debt holders who can further capitalize on the venture by securitizing the debts, sticking education institutions – and therefore, students and taxpayers – with unsustainable levels of debt.

With SLABS, CABS, PPPs already in the mix, it’s hard to see how the plague of edu-debt schemes could get any worse. But it can.

Investor Impunity Enforced by ISAs

The ultimate solution in the private edu-debt sphere emerged recently when conservative ex-governor of Indiana, now president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels proposed to the U.S. Congress that, “Instead of taking out a traditional college loan, students would have the option of finding an investor – possibly a Purdue alum – to finance their degree in exchange for a share of their future income.”

Daniels is not the only proponent of these arrangements. According to the reporter, Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former House Rep. Tom Petri from Wisconsin introduced legislation last year to help create the legal framework for these kinds of schemes. The bills did not advance.

But like what so often happens, quirky proposals from conservatives that appear like blips on the outer edge of the crazy radar, actually have a huge think tank machinery behind them. As a report from an Indiana news outlet explains, the financial vehicles Daniels alluded to are what’s known in the biz as Income Share Arrangements (ISAs). The reporter sourced the concept of ISAs to 1955 and University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, the god of right-wing privatization advocates.

Beth Akers, a fellow with centrist think tank Brookings, has argued ISAs should “play a role” in financing student loan debt. She posits that the central problem with higher education is there is “almost no incentive” for students to choose schools and courses of study that pay off down the road in terms of lucrative salaries. A broad market for ISAs could change that by enabling students to “collateralize their financing with future earnings, just as home buyers collateralize their mortgage with the house itself.”

“Income share agreements … are quietly gaining a following among critics of the nation’s staggering student-debt problem,” Slate’s Alison Griswold observes. “New companies such as Upstart, Pave, and Lumni have turned to the investing-in-people model.”

Griswold points to a study from the conservative American Enterprise Institute which argues, “Because ISA investors earn a profit only when a student is successful, they offer students better terms for programs that are expected to be of high value and have strong incentives to support students both during school and after graduation. This process gives students strong signals about which programs and fields are most likely to help them be successful.”

It’s not at all hard to imagine what this would lead to – academic programs where students are financially “incentivized” to pursue what investors prefer rather than follow their imaginations and ideas. Even if they do take the incentive route, they run the risk of a lifetime of indentured servitude to their financial backers should the market for their chosen career turn sour after they graduate.

The consequences of such a financial arrangement are harmful to businesses too. Want to be that creative writing major that ends up in the marketing field, or that botany student who pursues food and wine retailing? Forget it. The system run by ISAs will likely never incentivize outliers in our employment system that often end up being the drivers of problem solving and creativity in business.

What’s worse, instead of student debt getting “collateralized,” as the Brookings fellow put it, what really becomes the collateral is not a thing, like a house, but a person: the student herself.

One can easily see how a speculative market where math or science majors are tossed onto the gambling table with students who pursued art or humanities studies would play out, and what could have propelled a student’s choices when they’re still teenagers – a quest for personal development and intrinsic reward – becomes a lifelong liability regardless of personal attributes.

The ramifications of a higher education system financed by these kinds of debt mongers would be catastrophic as it worked into K-12, as it surely would.

Are Children Just Numbers?

When Wall Street influence trickles down to K-12, there’s certainly a market opportunity awaiting.

Advocates in the K-12 arena who insist on running every student through a battery of standardized tests every year have given – either unwittingly or intentionally (does it matter?) – the financial industry a huge gift by decreeing that student scores on standardized tests should define students’ learning “output.” Now, everything monetarily related to a child’s education – operations budgets, teacher salaries, classroom costs, government funds, grant money – can be related to a test score output.

This in effect turns student learning – and by extension, the students themselves – into a commodity that can be speculated on. In a financial environment populated with ISA investors, students then become like pork bellies or yen, and schools get turned into test-preparation factories, ignoring subjects and skills that are not assessed.

That could be what Wall Street wants, an education system focused on spitting out products that fit into pre-conceived business models, while less money goes toward educating those “other kids.” But is that really what the rest of us want?

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Police Gadget Tracks Phones? Shhh! It’s Secret

MARCH 15, 2015

A powerful new surveillance tool being adopted by police departments across the country comes with an unusual requirement: To buy it, law enforcement officials must sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from saying almost anything about the technology.

Any disclosure about the technology, which tracks cellphones and is often called StingRay, could allow criminals and terrorists to circumvent it, the F.B.I. has said in an affidavit. But the tool is adopted in such secrecy that communities are not always sure what they are buying or whether the technology could raise serious privacy concerns.

The confidentiality has elevated the stakes in a longstanding debate about the public disclosure of government practices versus law enforcement’s desire to keep its methods confidential. While companies routinely require nondisclosure agreements for technical products, legal experts say these agreements raise questions and are unusual given the privacy and even constitutional issues at stake.

“It might be a totally legitimate business interest, or maybe they’re trying to keep people from realizing there are bigger privacy problems,” said Orin S. Kerr, a privacy law expert at George Washington University. “What’s the secret that they’re trying to hide?”

The issue led to a public dispute three weeks ago in Silicon Valley, where a sheriff asked county officials to spend $502,000 on the technology. The Santa Clara County sheriff, Laurie Smith, said the technology allowed for locating cellphones — belonging to, say, terrorists or a missing person. But when asked for details, she offered no technical specifications and acknowledged she had not seen a product demonstration.

Buying the technology, she said, required the signing of a nondisclosure agreement.

“So, just to be clear,” Joe Simitian, a county supervisor, said, “we are being asked to spend $500,000 of taxpayers’ money and $42,000 a year thereafter for a product for the name brand which we are not sure of, a product we have not seen, a demonstration we don’t have, and we have a nondisclosure requirement as a precondition. You want us to vote and spend money,” he continued, but “you can’t tell us more about it.”

The technology goes by various names, including StingRay, KingFish or, generically, cell site simulator. It is a rectangular device, small enough to fit into a suitcase, that intercepts a cellphone signal by acting like a cellphone tower.

The technology can also capture texts, calls, emails and other data, and prosecutors have received court approval to use it for such purposes.

Cell site simulators are catching on while law enforcement officials are adding other digital tools, like video cameras, license-plate readers, drones, programs that scan billions of phone records and gunshot detection sensors. Some of those tools have invited resistance from municipalities and legislators on privacy grounds.

The nondisclosure agreements for the cell site simulators are overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and typically involve the Harris Corporation, a multibillion-dollar defense contractor and a maker of the technology. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone.

“It’s scanning the area. What is the government doing with that information?” said Linda Lye, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which in 2013 sued the Justice Department to force it to disclose more about the technology. In November, in a response to the lawsuit, the government said it had asked the courts to allow the technology to capture content, not just identify subscriber location.

The nondisclosure agreements make it hard to know how widely the technology has been adopted. But news reports from around the country indicate use by local and state police agencies stretching from Los Angeles to Wisconsin to New York, where the state police use it. Some departments have used it for several years. Money for the devices comes from individual agencies and sometimes, as in the case of Santa Clara County, from the federal government through Homeland Security grants.

Christopher Allen, an F.B.I. spokesman, said “location information is a vital component” of law enforcement. The agency, he said, “does not keep repositories of cell tower data for any purpose other than in connection with a specific investigation.”

A fuller explanation of the F.B.I.’s position is provided in two publicly sworn affidavits about StingRay, including one filed in 2014 in Virginia. In the affidavit, a supervisory special agent, Bradley S. Morrison, said disclosure of the technology’s specifications would let criminals, including terrorists, “thwart the use of this technology.”

“Disclosure of even minor details” could harm law enforcement, he said, by letting “adversaries” put together the pieces of the technology like assembling a “jigsaw puzzle.” He said the F.B.I. had entered into the nondisclosure agreements with local authorities for those reasons. In addition, he said, the technology is related to homeland security and is therefore subject to federal control.

In a second affidavit, given in 2011, the same special agent acknowledged that the device could gather identifying information from phones of bystanders. Such data “from all wireless devices in the immediate area of the F.B.I. device that subscribe to a particular provider may be incidentally recorded, including those of innocent, nontarget devices.”

But, he added, that information is purged to ensure privacy rights.

In December, two senators, Patrick J. Leahy and Charles E. Grassley, sent a letter expressing concerns about the scope of the F.B.I.’s StingRay use to Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general, and Jeh Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security.

The Harris Corporation declined to comment, according to Jim Burke, a company spokesman. Harris, based in Melbourne, Fla., has $5 billion in annual sales and specializes in communications technology, including battlefield radios.

Jon Michaels, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies government procurement, said Harris’s role with the nondisclosure agreements gave the company tremendous power over privacy policies in the public arena.

“This is like the privatization of a legal regime,” he said. Referring to Harris, he said: “They get to call the shots.”

For instance, in Tucson, a journalist asking the Police Department about its StingRay use was given a copy of a nondisclosure agreement. “The City of Tucson shall not discuss, publish, release or disclose any information pertaining to the product,” it read, and then noted: “Without the prior written consent of Harris.”

The secrecy appears to have unintended consequences. A recent article in The Washington Post detailed how a man in Florida who was accused of armed robbery was located using StingRay.

As the case proceeded, a defense lawyer asked the police to explain how the technology worked. The police and prosecutors declined to produce the machine and, rather than meet a judge’s order that they do so, the state gave the defendant a plea bargain for petty theft.

At the meeting in Santa Clara County last month, the county supervisors voted 4 to 1 to authorize the purchase, but they also voted to require the adoption of a privacy policy.

(Sheriff Smith argued to the supervisors that she had adequately explained the technology and said she resented that Mr. Simitian’s questioning seemed to “suggest we are not mindful of people’s rights and the Constitution.”)

A few days later, the county asked Harris for a demonstration open to county supervisors. The company refused, Mr. Simitian said, noting that “only people with badges” would be permitted. Further, he said, the company declined to provide a copy of the nondisclosure agreement — at least until after the demonstration.“Not only is there a nondisclosure agreement, for the time being, at least, we can’t even see the nondisclosure agreement,” Mr. Simitian said. “We may be able to see it later, I don’t know.”

Nearly At ‘Full Employment’? 10 Reasons Why The Unemployment Numbers Are A Massive Lie

On Friday, we learned that the official “unemployment rate” has fallen to 5.5 percent. Since an unemployment rate of 5 percent is considered to be “full employment” by many economists, many in the mainstream media took this as a sign that the U.S. economy has almost fully “recovered” since the last recession. 

In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, some Federal Reserve officials believe that “the U.S. economy is already at full employment."  But how can this possibly be?  It certainly does not square with reality.  People that have been struggling with unemployment for years and that still cannot find a decent job. 

So what in the world is going on?  How can the government be telling us that we are nearly at “full employment” when so many people can’t find work?  Could it be possible that the government numbers are misleading?

The official “unemployment rate” (U3) has become so politicized and so manipulated that it is essentially meaningless at this point.  The following are 10 reasons why…
#1 Since February 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people, but the number of full-time jobs has actually decreased by 140,000.

#2 The percentage of working age Americans that have a job right now is still about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession.  Posted below is a chart that shows how the employment-population ratio has changed since the beginning of the decade.  Does this look like a full-blown “employment recovery” to you?…


#3 The primary reason for the decline in the official “unemployment rate” is the fact that the government now considers millions upon millions of long-term unemployed workers to “no longer be in the labor force."  Just check out the following numbers
The number of Americans participating in the labor force has been on a decline for the past few years. Nearly 33 percent of the Americans above age 16 are not part of the workforce, the highest number since 1978. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report issued recently has found 92,898,000 Americans above age 16 not a part of the labor force of the country as on February 2015. When President Obama took over the office in January 2009, nearly 80,529,000 Americans were not a part of the labor force. The number has increase by nearly 12 million over the last few years.

#4 Over the past couple of years, the labor force participation rate in this country has been hovering near mutli-decade lows
The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013. Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.

#5 When you add the number of “officially unemployed” Americans (8.7 million) to the number of Americans “not in the labor force” (92.9 million), you get a grand total of 101.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now.  Does that sound like “full employment” to you?

#6 The quality of our jobs continues to decline.  Right now, only 44 percent of U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week.

#7 Millions upon millions of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because that is all they can find, and wages for American workers are at depressingly low levels.  The following numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration
-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.

-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.

-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

#8 The average duration of unemployment for an unemployed worker is still about twice as long as it was just prior to the last recession.

#9 Most Americans feel as though the Obama administration has done little to nothing to help the middle class.  Just consider the following poll numbers
According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, Americans see government policies under the Obama administration as having mostly benefited wealthy people, large corporations and financial institutions.

Seventy-two percent of respondents said government policies have done little or nothing to help the middle class, and 65 percent said they have done nothing to help the poor. Sixty-eight percent said the policies have done nothing to help small businesses.

Meanwhile, 45 percent said the policies have done a “great deal” to help large banks and financial institutions, 38 percent say they have helped large corporations, and 36 percent say they have helped the wealthy.

#10 If the unemployment rate was calculated honestly, we would all be talking about the horrific “unemployment crisis” that we were currently enduring.  According to John Williams of, the real unemployment rate in the United States right now is above 23%.

U.S. politicians and the corporate mainstream media are attempting to convince us that everything is just fine. But what they are telling us simply does not match the cold, hard reality on the streets.

And since the talking heads on television are proclaiming that we are nearly at “full employment," that just makes millions upon millions of Americans that can’t seem to find work no matter how hard they try feel even worse than they already do.

If jobs are “easy to get," then those that are chronically unemployment must have “something wrong” with them.  That is the message that we are being given.  If the mainstream media says that unemployment has gone way down, then anyone that is still unemployed must be really “lazy," right?

When you are unemployed for an extended period of time, it can really suck the life right out of you.  It can be really tempting to believe that you are viewed as a failure by your family and friends.  And for the government to lie to us like this just makes things even harder.

If you are unemployed and can’t find a job right now, I want you to understand that you are caught in the midst of a long-term downward economic spiral which is going to get a lot worse.

When the government tells you that we are in a “recovery," they are lying to you. And when the government tells you that things are about to get a lot better, they are lying to you.