[I've sworn off reacting to the news on a daily basis, because it keeps me reactive, and that's a distraction from the 12 Point Platform, which is what I really want to work on, am working on, and is a book-length effort. However, the "theory of everything" posts to back up each point take a lot of work, as chapters in books do, and the consequent absence of posting doesn't keep the hot air balloon at the altitude I prefer, i.e., not crashing into the ground. So, I'll try to react to the news at least once daily, but framing the post so that it advances the 12 Points. New editorial formula! --lambert]
Payday loans are grossly usorious. MLive:
Using names like Check 'n Go, Cash Advance and Payday Loans, there are companies throughout Detroit and beyond that specialize in immediate, high-cost, shot-term loans with interest rates often reaching 30 percent or more.*
"Michigan is one of 35 states across the country that authorizes payday lending in some form," Michigan United said in a statement Monday. "While some states and cities have worked to put a stop to predatory lending, federal laws still largely allow payday lenders to prey on vulnerable communities and benefit from borrowers' financial hardship - with annual interest rates that routinely reach 400 percent or more."
Michigan United says the industry thrives on the poor, entraps them in a "cycle of debt."....
A Google search for of payday loan centers yields nearly 70 such businesses located in Detroit, some operating 24 hours a day. Their loans are accessible online with automatic bank deposits. In-person cash loans are available at on-site locations.
Most require proof of a steady income and establishment of a bank account before loan approval
So you can imagine the problems the precariat has, let alone the System D people, or the millions without a bank account in the first place. And lest it be though the "new economy" and "big data" haven't notices, check this out from the New York Times: Read more about With the 12-Point Platform, this won't happen: Payday loan ripoffs
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is dead. He was 90 years old. According to Bill Van Auken in "Saudi king’s death threatens to deepen US crisis in Middle East" Abdullah was “the head of one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies.” Van Auken also labels it a “theocratic dictatorship.”
This is a significant event in the mainstream corporate media as well as among the heads of state of the western imperialist nations. Read more about Bow or Bobble Respectful Heads for King Who Lopped Them Off
I'm being triply non-linear now, because "Tax the Rich" is #3 in the Twelve Point Platform:
3. Tax the Rich
and so not only am I not beginning at the beginning with #1: A Living Wage, I'm not writing part two of my first attempt on #8: Post Office Bank, either (here is part one). Soon! Moreover, I'm reacting, albeit way too slowly, to the news, seeking to use it as a hook to raise larger issues. (These posts might be better thought of as first drafts for a book, rather than as blog posting.)
Obama in State of the Union: Tax wealthy, help middle class
And that's a fair summary. But there are some problems with this formulation, among them:
- Obama's proposals are fundamentally unserious
- The concept of "middle class" is hazy
- The unstated premise is that Federal taxes raise revenue (they don't)
- There are good reasons to tax the rich, even if raising revenue is not one of them
- We don't know how much Obama will really tax the rich
- Obama's proposals are unlikely to help "the middle class," however defined
- Concrete material benefits should be our focus, not a "tax fight"
Let's take each of these points in turn. Read more about Obama's SOTU: What do Democrats mean by "middle class," anyhow?
Tuesday night Obama set up a 2015 agenda that Glen Ford in “State of the Union 2015: Lethal, Predatory, Delusional” asserts would have been a modest and easy win in 2009 and 2010 when the Dems dominated both houses, but hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell with a Republican Congress.
In 2009 and 2010 Obama fed us, the citizens who put him into office, to the proverbial wolves, or as Ford lists them, “bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma.”
Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats and identifies himself a Democratic Socialist, will hold six events over three days in and around Iowa City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Ames.
UPDATE The upgrade is done! This should make your experience much more reliable.
In the continuing effort to figure out why the blankety-blank crashes all the time, my ISP is going to do some server upgrades. (One thing that happens is that we get hit with crawlers, and newer versions of the database will let us handle that better.) Read more about Possible early morning site outage
An email today from the Green Shadow Cabinet contains a link to Fast Track Is Not A Done Deal, The People Will Stop It
The byline says, "There is bi-partisan opposition in Congress to Fast Track and a large movement of movements mobilized to stop it."
When you read the article, however, you find:
roughly 30 House Republicans are already on record opposing the trade legislation.
Christopher Brauchli in “With Friends Like These... Intolerance, Saudi-Style” chronicles some seriously unpleasant prosecutions from one of the USA’s closest allies, Saudi Arabia: Read more about Not Enuf Ado About US Ignoble Ally Saudi Arabia
A Post Office Bank is actually #8 of the 12 Point Platform, and not #1 ("A Living Wage"):
8. Post Office Bank
but who said I had to be linear? This is not, let me say at once, the definitive, "final" supporting document for the Post Office Bank, but the result of my current research, such as it is. In fact, I picked this topic because I thought it would be easy, low hanging fruit. In this part, I'll put the Post Office in political context (comments from readers very welcome; this is complicated). In the next part, I'll describe the policy, and what happened when the Post Office proposed it.
Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution enumerates the power of the United States Congress to:
To establish post offices and post roads;
Although there was considerable debate in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries over what "establish" meant, by the time that Rural Free Delivery was initiated in the 1886, and then Parcel Post in 1913, the current paradigm that we think of when we think of "the Post Office" was set: Universal service, physical plant in the form of retail branches, sorting centers, trucks, etc., and a uniformed civil service staff, unionized. Note that the Post Office was transformed by Nixon, at the dawn of neo-liberal political dominance, although this paradigm still applies: Read more about A Post Office Bank and the Democrats (Part I)
Philip Guelpa in “New York City’s housing and homelessness crisis intensifies under de Blasio” offers some very troubling statistics and analyses. Bill de Blasio, NYC Democratic mayor, has been in office a year now and the enormous problems of homelessness and unaffordable housing are worsening even from the “12-year-mayoral-tenure” of billionaire Mike Bloomberg.
Here are 15 serious considerations from Guelpa’s report and analysis: Read more about Major 'Mayor-de-Blasio-FAIL’ re NYC Homelessness & Housing
The January 7th terror attack in Paris has been the justification for French President Hollande to deploy 10,000 troops and thousands of police officers for furthering state control over all of the French citizenry.
French and empathetic global citizens are justifiably and sincerely outraged by the tragedy. However, imperialism- and fascism-bent patriarchal leaders are eager to exploit the collective outflow of concern to Orwellianly craven and cynical advantage in their erosion of democratic and socially responsible principles in their respective countries and targeted others. Read more about Paris Terror Attack like 9/11 Useful for 'New World Order'
First, let me apologize for the weird Call to undefined function tribune_menu_load() some of you were getting yesterday; I spent a few hours last night upgrading all the site modules to their most recent versions (the site itself comes next) and the tribune module was on the list of those that could not be upgraded. Unfortunately, when I uninstalled that module, it left little bits of itself lying about in caches and the database, and even though I killed it off in the database, it somehow rose from the grave. All should now be well.
More centrally, I apologize for going walkabout. I think I complained about the food poisoning, and then about the poison ivy and (I am convinced) subsequent cellulitis on my right (typing) hand and arm, but as it turns out I boasted prematurely about dodging the hacking cough, because of my clever purchase of a bellows. In fact, I got the worst hacking cough ever -- the kind where, typing, one feels that little chunks of lung are spattering the screen -- and had to go back to the Helen Hunt clinic again, for more pills of a different kind and an inhaler. I can't remember having been to the doctor twice in one month! I couldn't talk for days. My lack of comfort with this sighting shot from mortality aside, I wonder if I was telling myself something with all those photographs of rot and decay I had been taking, beautiful though they are; specifically, I wonder if all the insulation I installed had the unintended side effect of forcing me to breath fine dust and micro-organisms that would otherwise have been blown around and away by drafts! Read more about The New Year and a Change of Direction
Sorry for the long absence. Er, I'll explain later. I took these pictures on Christmas Day, when it was 50°F -- not like now! (And how foolish I was to think we would escape the cold...) So, this is the last series of garden pictures I'll take, until it comes time to start working the soil again, probably in April. I learned a lot this year!
What I saw when I walked out the door:
Snow melt everywhere! Read more about Wet Christmas