People participate in the so-called “Last demonstration with illegal marijuana” on their way to the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013. (Reuters / Andres Stapff)
Uruguay is facing criticism, as the UN’s drug body, supporting the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), lashed out at the country for allegedly breaking international law, after it legalized the consumption and growing of the plant on Tuesday.
“Uruguay is breaking the international conventions on drug control with the cannabis legislation approved by its congress,” said the INCB, citing several reasons why it thinks Uruguay has made a mistake, among them the purported health risks associated with the plant’s use, the drug body said on its website.
Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalize both the sale and production of marijuana. President Jose Mujica has championed the measure as a way of combating the illegal drug industry that has decimated parts of Uruguay.
Under the new law, production of small amounts, as well as consumer clubs – both under strict supervision of the government – will also be permitted.
The country’s parliament passed the bill with a vote of 16 to 13. Senator Alberto Couriel, a member of the ruling Broad Front left-wing coalition, called the passing of the bill “a historic day” for Uruguay.
The INCB, who struck out against the new measure, is essentially an independent organization for promoting international compliance with the existing conventions on drug control.
Uruguay’s move to legalize marijuana breaks treaty: INCB
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNAWed Dec 11, 2013 1:59pm EST
1 of 2. People participate in the so-called ”Last demonstration with illegal marijuana” in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, as Senate debates a government-sponsored bill establishing state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana during a session, December 10, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Andres Stapff
(Reuters) – Uruguay’s legalization of marijuana violates an international drug control convention and fails to consider a negative health impact, a body set up to monitor compliance with the five-decade-old treaty said on Wednesday.
The president of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Raymond Yans, said the change would not protect young people but would rather have the “perverse effect of encouraging early experimentation” and lowering the age of first use.
Adding weight to the criticism of Tuesday’s move by Uruguay – the first country to take such a step – the U.N. anti-drugs office said it agreed with the INCB and that states should work closely together to deal with the global drugs challenge.
“It is unfortunate that, at a time when the world is engaged in an ongoing discussion on the world drug problem, Uruguay has acted ahead of the special session of the U.N. General Assembly planned for 2016,” David Dadge, spokesman for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.
The U.S. House passed the first bipartisan federal budget in four years, which would ease $63 billion in automatic spending cuts and avert another government shutdown. The legislation now heads to the Senate.
The House voted 332-94 today for the $1.01 trillion compromise budget crafted by Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of a special bipartisan panel. President Barack Obama said he’ll sign the final measure.
The agreement’s main accomplishments are to ease automatic spending cuts that neither party likes by $40 billion in 2014 and about $20 billion in 2015 and cushion the military from a $19 billion reduction starting next month. The accord doesn’t include changes to taxes or spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
“It’s progress,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a floor speech before the vote. “It’s doing what the American people expect us to do,” which is to “stick to our principles but find common ground.”
The budget deal replaces about half of the automatic cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary spending in 2014 and 25 percent of the reductions in 2015, which means most of the automatic cuts enacted in 2011 still take effect. It includes $23 billion in deficit reduction.
“This agreement is better than the alternative, but it misses a huge opportunity to do what the American people expect us to do, and that is to put this country on a fiscally sustainable path,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat.
The accord also spared doctors for three months from cuts in the Medicare payment rates set to start in January. The measure doesn’t extend emergency benefits for 1.3 million unemployed workers, an omission that frustrated Democrats, who say they plan to continue the fight when Congress returns in January from a holiday break.
The deal won bipartisan support because it doesn’t touch entitlement programs Democrats have pledged to protect or the corporate tax breaks Republicans favor.
It also doesn’t raise the U.S. debt ceiling, setting up a potential fiscal showdown after borrowing authority lapses as soon as February.
Lawmakers and some economists said adopting a formal budget will provide some certainty to the U.S. economy after three years of spending feuds that led to a government shutdown, rattled investors and prompted a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating.
Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist for Standard & Poor’s Corp., said in a recent newsletter that adoption of a bipartisan budget will be a boon to the U.S. economy.
“The budget would reduce a key risk, political uncertainty,” she wrote. “The private sector will probably be more confident when planning investment and spending for next year, which would directly boost growth.”
The deal is far from the $1 trillion to $4 trillion grand bargain on taxes and spending that previous budget negotiators sought. The plan would set U.S. spending at about $1.01 trillion for this fiscal year, higher than the $967 billion required in a 2011 budget plan.
Much of the deficit reduction will come in later years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The plan would lower the deficit by $3.1 billion in 2014 and $3.4 billion in 2015 and exceed $20 billion a year in 2022 and 2023, the CBO said.
A big portion of the savings is tied to extending the cuts in Medicare provider payments into 2022 and 2023, rather than letting them expire in 2021 as under current law.
The accord may help lawmakers repair their image after a 16-day government shutdown in October that caused congressional approval ratings to fall to the lowest level recorded by the Gallup Organization polling group.
House approves budget deal, handing major victory to Boehner
By Erik Wasson and Russell Berman
The House on Thursday approved a two-year budget deal that turns off $63 billion in sequester spending cuts, handing a major victory to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.).
Large majorities in both parties backed the bill in a 332-94 vote.
Only 62 Republicans defected despite harsh criticism of the deal by conservative groups that said it did too little to cut spending, compared to 169 Republicans who backed it. The Democratic vote was 163-32.
Heritage Action, the Club for Growth and other groups said they would negatively score votes in favor of the legislation, but those threats failed to create a stampede against the bill.
Instead, members rallied around Boehner, who had strongly pushed back at the criticism from the outside groups, who he charged had “lost all credibility.”
During the debate, he said the does everything conservatives want.
“If you’re for reducing the budget deficit, then you should be voting for this bill,” Boehner said. “If you’re for cutting the size of government, you should you be supporting this budget.
“If you’re for preventing tax increases, you should be voting for this budget. If you’re for entitlement reform, you ought to be voting for this budget. These are the things I came here to do, and this budget does them,” he said.
Boehner was aided by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who negotiated the budget deal with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
While the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate also came under fire from the right, Ryan’s credentials with conservatives helped GOP leaders win votes.
While the deal did not represent the “grand bargain” of entitlement reforms and tax hikes Boehner and President Obama flirted with in 2011, Ryan argued it represented a victory for conservatives since it will reduce deficits by $23 billion over 10 years.
The bill cuts the deficit, avoids tax hikes, and makes permanent reforms to save money, such as stopping welfare checks to criminals, Ryan said.
He also said it reflected the reality of divided government in Washington, where Republicans hold only the House, and that it would prevent another government shutdown.
Near the end of the debate, Ryan noted that as the GOP’s vice presidential candidate in 2012, he was part of the GOP effort to return Republicans to the White House.
“We tried defeating this president,” he said. “I wish we would have.”
“Elections have consequences,” Ryan added. “And I fundamentally believe — this is my personal opinion, I know it’s a slightly partisan thing to say — to really do what we think needs to be done, we’re going to have to win some elections.
“And in the meantime, let’s try to make this divided government work.”
In which John discusses the complicated reasons why the United States spends so much more on health care than any other country in the world, and along the way reveals some surprising information, including that Americans spend more of their tax dollars on public health care than people in Canada, the UK, or Australia. Who’s at fault? Insurance companies? Drug companies? Malpractice lawyers? Hospitals? Or is it more complicated than a simple blame game? (Hint: It’s that one.)
By Vicki Needham, Mike Lillis and Bernie Becker – 12/11/13 05:15 PM EST
The budget deal worked out by House and Senate negotiators is on the verge of unraveling over the exclusion of federal unemployment benefits, several leading Democrats warned Wednesday.
The lawmakers are outraged by a GOP move to add the Medicare “doc fix” to the package but not a continuation of unemployment benefits — a strategy they say could sink the entire package by scaring away Democratic votes.
Reps. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Sandy Levin (Mich.) said the move creates a “new dynamic” undermining Democratic support for the plan announced Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
“I think it puts at risk the whole bill, and it surely puts at risk my vote,” said Levin, the top Democrat at the House Ways and Means Committee.
Van Hollen echoed that message.
“This does now add a new dynamic that could upset the applecart that could put at risk the budget agreement,” he said.
It’s not clear whether Democrats would sink the first bipartisan budget deal in years over the unemployment insurance (UI) issue. But with GOP leaders intent on leaving town on Friday — and with GOP leaders showing little appetite to extend the benefits before they expire on Dec. 28 — the Democrats’ only real leverage is to threaten to do so.
“Obviously, once the budget passes you don’t have much leverage in terms of votes on things that remain,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. “That may be the last vehicle.”
Some Democrats on Wednesday morning appeared poised to back the Ryan-Murray budget agreement. But they also cautioned that the addition of the Medicare language without a UI extension could erode that support.
“It’s something we should do, but why wouldn’t we do unemployment insurance if we’re doing that?” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked Wednesday morning after a meeting of her caucus in the Capitol.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Backers of a narrowly drawn budget deal are selling it as a way to stabilize Congress’ shaky fiscal practices and mute some of the partisan rancor that has helped send lawmakers’ public approval ratings plummeting. But the bipartisan pact doesn’t solve long-term tax and spending issues, leaving liberals and conservatives alike grumbling.
House and Senate floor votes are being sought on the plan announced Tuesday by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, and applauded by the White House, with the aim of securing passage before lawmakers go home for the holidays.
But skepticism surfaced in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and leading deficit hawk, panned the new deal in an interview Wednesday, saying it fails to address core issues of wasteful spending in Washington. He said it was probably “the best” that Ryan and Murray could get at this time. But said he was disappointed in its failure to address core fiscal issues such as duplication and wasteful spending in Washington.
The agreement, among other things, seeks to restore $63 billion in automatic spending cuts affecting programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon. The deal to ease those cuts for two years is aimed less at chipping away at the nation’s $17 trillion national debt than it is at trying to help a dysfunctional Capitol stop lurching from crisis to crisis. It would set the stage for action in January on a $1 trillion-plus spending bill for the budget year that began in October.
The measure unveiled by Ryan, R-Wis., and Murray, D-Wash., blends $85 billion in spending cuts and revenue from new and extended fees — but no taxes or cuts to Medicare beneficiaries — to replace a significant amount of the mandated cuts to agency budgets over the coming two years.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patt …
The package would raise the Transportation Security Administration fee on a typical nonstop, round-trip airline ticket from $5 to $10; require newly hired federal workers to contribute 1.3 percentage points more of their salaries toward their pensions; and trim cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of military retirees under the age of 62. Hospitals and other health care providers would have to absorb two additional years of a 2-percentage-point cut in their Medicare reimbursements.
The plan doesn’t attempt to resuscitate earlier attempts at an accommodation that would have traded tax hikes for structural curbs to ever-growing benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security. But it would at least bring some stability on the budget to an institution — Congress — whose approval ratings are in the gutter.
“Our deal puts jobs and economic growth first by rolling back … harmful cuts to education, medical research, infrastructure investments and defense jobs for the next two years,” Murray said.
Ryan is set to pitch the measure to skeptical conservatives at a closed-door GOP meeting on Wednesday. Democrats are set to discuss it as well, but the measure won an immediate endorsement from President Barack Obama if only tepid approval from top Capitol Hill Democrats like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee.
“Tonight’s agreement represents a step toward enacting a budget for the American people and preventing further manufactured crises that only harm our economy, destroy jobs and weaken our middle class,” Pelosi said in a statement.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murr …
“This agreement makes sure that we don’t have a government shutdown scenario in January. It makes sure that we don’t have another government shutdown scenario in October,” Ryan said. “It makes sure that we don’t lurch from crisis to crisis.”
House Democrats are urging lawmakers to include a vote on unemployment insurance alongside a budget deal if Republican lawmakers insist on including a short-term fix to the Medicare payment system as well.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, standing along side Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), said Republican lawmakers have begun pushing to include a Sustainable Growth Rate fix (often called a short term doc fix that addresses a Medicare payment problem) alongside the budget proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).
Physicians who treat patients under Medicare are scheduled to take a huge pay cut in the new year if Congress doesn’t enact this “doc fix.” Many lawmakers have expressed support for reversing the pay cuts baked into current law should, but such a fix is costly.
It happened after Columbine, after Virginia Tech, and after Newtown, too. After every massacre in a school, Americans grasp at quick cures. Let’s install metal detectors and give guns to teachers. Let’s crack down on troublemakers, weeding out kids who fit the profile of a gunman. Let’s buy bulletproof whiteboards for the students to scurry behind, or train kids to throw erasers or cans of soup at an attacker.
Researchers who study school shootings say the nation has done the wrong things, again and again, to prevent these rare but frightening events. And when more promising measures that address the real causes of school shootings are tried, the money has ridden a rollercoaster, rising a year after a major attack, then falling as memories fade. Only one out of five schools currently gets money for one of the Obama administration’s signature programs to reduce school shootings.
“Many of the school safety and security measures deployed in response to school shootings have little research support,” concluded a 2010 research article in Educational Researcher, “What Can Be Done About School Shootings?: A Review of the Evidence.” The researchers called the widely adopted policies of zero-tolerance discipline and student profiling “unsound practices.”
The problem, the researchers say, is that the nation hasn’t paid attention to actual research about how school shootings unfold.
School shooters don’t “snap” or “go crazy.” They have serious grievances, and they plan their attacks. Many felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others. They engaged in behaviors that caused other students and adults to think they needed help. They showed difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures. They told others about their plan. And they had access to weapons.
Seeking ways to offer better security after a school shooting in their district, a Minnesota school system purchases portable bullet-proof whiteboards for classrooms. KARE’s Julie Nelson reports.
These patterns point to a different set of preventive measures. Instead of trying to put metal detectors at every door, which do little more than ensure that the operator of the metal detector gets shot first, schools need to do the more difficult work of creating schools where bullying is not allowed, where grievances are dealt with quickly, where students feel safe speaking up about a student they’re concerned about, where students feeling suicidal have someone to talk with. And at home, guns need to be under lock and key.
Paying attention to the evidence A landmark study in 2002 by the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education, examining the facts of 37 school shootings, identified patterns contradicting the public perception of a loner who “just snapped”:
Incidents of targeted violence at school are rarely sudden, impulsive acts.
Many attackers felt bullied, persecuted, or injured by others prior to the attack.
Most attackers engaged in some behavior, prior to the incident, that caused concern or indicated a need for help.
Most attackers were known to have difficulty coping with significant losses or personal failures. Many had considered or attempted suicide.
Most attackers did not threaten their targets directly prior to advancing the attack.
There is no accurate or useful “profile” of students who engage in targeted school violence. Some come from good homes, some from bad. Some have good grades, some bad.
Most attackers had access to and had used weapons prior to the attack.
Prior to most incidents, other people knew about the attacker’s idea or plan, and often other students were involved.
11/3/13 – (Fox News Sunday) – Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the principal architects of the Affordable Care Act, appeared on Fox News Sunday and strongly debated host Chris Wallace and American Enterprise Institute’s James Capretta over President Barack Obama’s “if you like your plan, you can keep it” pledge. The pugnacious Emanuel so loudly argued over his opponents that Wallace got tongue-tied at one point and told Capretta, “Don’t talk while he’s interrupting!” Wallace fought back against Emanuel’s argument that the grandfather clause, which allows people to keep any insurance policy acquired before March of 2010, was a fulfillment of Obama’s promise.
“Your grandfathering is so narrow,” Wallace said to Emanuel, “if your insurance company changes your co-pay by more than $5 over the course of the three years since 2010, it’s no longer grandfathered in.”
“That’s usually a 25% change,” Emanuel said. “That’s a big change…You have to ask the question: how many planks do you change in a boat before it’s a different boat? That’s the same thing here: we had a plan, we argued about it.”
“You didn’t tell the American people,” Wallace said. “You said, if this plan is in effect until March of 2010, you can keep it.”
“That’s what it said!” Emanuel said. “That’s how we fulfilled that pledge.”
Wallace continued to press Emanuel on a variety of issues, including why the government gets to mandate minimum insurance coverage for people who may not need it, and the number of large employers dropping insurance policies, effectively forcing employees onto the federal exchanges. “Simple question,” Wallace said to Emanuel. “Are those people going to be able to keep their coverage, as the President promised?”
“The law does not say, ‘Sears, drop coverage!’” Emanuel said. “Sears decides what’s good for Sears. The law doesn’t say to the insurance industry, ‘You drop coverage!’ The insurance industry decides how to make money. When the private companies decide that they’re going to drop people or put them in the exchange, you decide to blame President Obama. He is not responsible for that.”
Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA
By Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher, CBC News Posted: Dec 09, 2013 9:03 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 10, 2013 3:59 PM ET
Canada spying for the NSA 4:09
NSA also working with Britain 2:37
A top secret document retrieved by American whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals Canada has set up covert spying posts around the world and conducted espionage against trading partners at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency.
The leaked NSA document being reported exclusively by CBC News reveals Canada is involved with the huge American intelligence agency in clandestine surveillance activities in “approximately 20 high-priority countries.”
Much of the document contains hyper-sensitive operational details which CBC News has chosen not to make public.
Sections of the document with the highest classification make it clear in some instances why American spymasters are particularly keen about enlisting their Canadian counterparts, the Communications Security Establishment Canada.
“CSEC shares with the NSA their unique geographic access to areas unavailable to the U.S,” the document says.
The briefing paper describes a “close co-operative relationship” between the NSA and its Canadian counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment Canada, or CSEC — a relationship “both sides would like to see expanded and strengthened.
“The intelligence exchange with CSEC covers worldwide national and transnational targets.”
‘CSEC offers resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA’- NSA memo retrieved by Edward Snowden
The four-page missive is stamped “Top Secret” and dated April 3, 2013. That makes it one of the freshest documents Snowden was able to walk away with before he went public in June.
The briefing notes make it clear that Canada plays a very robust role in intelligence-gathering around the world in a way that has won respect from its American equivalents.
Wesley Wark, a Canadian security and intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, says the document makes it clear Canada can take advantage of its relatively benign image internationally to covertly amass a vast amount of information abroad.
“I think we still trade on a degree of an international brand as an innocent partner in the international sphere,” Wark said. “There’s not that much known about Canadian intelligence.
“In that sense, Canadian operations might escape at least the same degree of notice and surveillance that the operations of the U.S. or Britain in foreign states would be bound to attract.”
But what the latest secret document reveals for the first time is just how expansive Canada’s international espionage activities have become.
CSEC set up ‘covert sites at the request of NSA’
The NSA document depicts CSEC as a sophisticated, capable and highly respected intelligence partner involved in all manner of joint spying missions, including setting up listening posts at the request of the Americans.
“CSEC offers resources for advanced collection, processing and analysis, and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA,” the document states.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, has leaked top-secret documents into the U.S. spy agency’s activities over the past few months. (The Guardian/Associated Press)
Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive turned whistleblower, says it’s no surprise Canada would accede to the U.S. agency’s requests: “That’s been the case for years.
“Just think of certain foreign agreements or relationships that Canada actually enjoys that the United States doesn’t, and under the cover of those relationships, guess what you can conduct? These kinds of secret surveillance or collection efforts.”
The creator of The Wire, David Simon, delivered an impromptu speech about the divide between rich and poor in America at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, and how capitalism has lost sight of its social compact. This is an edited extract
David Simon, creator of The Wire, near his office in Baltimore. Photograph: Stephen Voss/Redux / eyevine
America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.
There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We’ve somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you’re seeing this more and more in the west. I don’t think it’s unique to America.
I think we’ve perfected a lot of the tragedy and we’re getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx.
I’m not a Marxist in the sense that I don’t think Marxism has a very specific clinical answer to what ails us economically. I think Marx was a much better diagnostician than he was a clinician. He was good at figuring out what was wrong or what could be wrong with capitalism if it wasn’t attended to and much less credible when it comes to how you might solve that.
You know if you’ve read Capital or if you’ve got the Cliff Notes, you know that his imaginings of how classical Marxism – of how his logic would work when applied – kind of devolve into such nonsense as the withering away of the state and platitudes like that. But he was really sharp about what goes wrong when capital wins unequivocally, when it gets everything it asks for.
That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.
We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we’re supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?
And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we’re going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed.
Capitalism stomped the hell out of Marxism by the end of the 20th century and was predominant in all respects, but the great irony of it is that the only thing that actually works is not ideological, it is impure, has elements of both arguments and never actually achieves any kind of partisan or philosophical perfection.
It’s pragmatic, it includes the best aspects of socialistic thought and of free-market capitalism and it works because we don’t let it work entirely. And that’s a hard idea to think – that there isn’t one single silver bullet that gets us out of the mess we’ve dug for ourselves. But man, we’ve dug a mess.
After the second world war, the west emerged with the American economy coming out of its wartime extravagance, emerging as the best product. It was the best product. It worked the best. It was demonstrating its might not only in terms of what it did during the war but in terms of just how facile it was in creating mass wealth.
Plus, it provided a lot more freedom and was doing the one thing that guaranteed that the 20th century was going to be – and forgive the jingoistic sound of this – the American century.
It took a working class that had no discretionary income at the beginning of the century, which was working on subsistence wages. It turned it into a consumer class that not only had money to buy all the stuff that they needed to live but enough to buy a bunch of shit that they wanted but didn’t need, and that was the engine that drove us.
It wasn’t just that we could supply stuff, or that we had the factories or know-how or capital, it was that we created our own demand and started exporting that demand throughout the west. And the standard of living made it possible to manufacture stuff at an incredible rate and sell it.
And how did we do that? We did that by not giving in to either side. That was the new deal. That was the great society. That was all of that argument about collective bargaining and union wages and it was an argument that meant neither side gets to win.
Labour doesn’t get to win all its arguments, capital doesn’t get to. But it’s in the tension, it’s in the actual fight between the two, that capitalism actually becomes functional, that it becomes something that every stratum in society has a stake in, that they all share.
The unions actually mattered. The unions were part of the equation. It didn’t matter that they won all the time, it didn’t matter that they lost all the time, it just mattered that they had to win some of the time and they had to put up a fight and they had to argue for the demand and the equation and for the idea that workers were not worth less, they were worth more.
Ultimately we abandoned that and believed in the idea of trickle-down and the idea of the market economy and the market knows best, to the point where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It’s astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don’t need anything but my own ability to earn a profit. I’m not connected to society. I don’t care how the road got built, I don’t care where the firefighter comes from, I don’t care who educates the kids other than my kids. I am me. It’s the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar.
Many have used a pyramid to describe the power structure that the bulk of humanity is subject to – in even the smallest details of our lives. I would like to use it here to address the impending economic collapse, with an eye to explaining what might be going on behind the curtain – what is being hidden and why.
The vertical axis of the pyramid is often described as power, wealth, knowledge, etc. The shape of the pyramid describes the population distribution as measured by the vertical axis. The great bulk of humanity (us) inhabits the lower levels near the base, and the Controllers/Powers That Be/Elites inhabit the lofty levels near the peak.
Control of events at the macro level is administered from the top down by inducing divisions through particular areas in the pyramid. These divisions are made through the use of lies that are designed to achieve particular ends such as war, population reduction, strengthened control, wealth redistribution, etc, right down to plain misery and suffering of the masses.
This pyramidal system of divisions works so well because, at the micro level, we are walking pyramids – telling lies to ourselves and others about the nature of our inner and outer realities. And in between the top and bottom there are all manner of corporations, organizations, states, and groups that take on this pyramidal structure. So pyramids fit within pyramids, while efforts to control and manipulate repeatedly divides people. As above, so below.
In general, most divisions that we can see clearly (sometimes well after the fact) are induced across the lower levels of the pyramid as history can attest (local wars, uprisings, protests, politics). The level in the pyramid at which such division originates may be low and motivated by some private interest gain. But on rare occasions a division is introduced vertically down the pyramid, affecting nearly all levels at the same time. One of these is coming in the form of the collapse of the US Dollar Reserve currency.
Would the collapse of the US dollar come as a surprise? History tells us it shouldn’t. On its current trajectory, it seems destined to go the way every other fiat currency in history has gone – towards destruction and collapse. Money creation via debt issuance must be balanced with economic growth. As the debt burden increases, growth increase is required, and when this growth falters, so does the entire system unless the debt is expunged. So, the only questions for the Dollar are:
When will collapse happen?
Is there a finger hovering above the “Destruct” button?
The difference this time around is that the whole world would be affected if and when a new currency Reserve is selected as a medium for the global balance of trade.
For many, the refusal of most to even consider what seems to me to be a fairly imminent and inevitable collapse, and prepare for its consequences, is an excellent example of normalcy bias – a form of wishful thinking that paralyzes rational thought processes. If yesterday was the same as the day before, then tomorrow will be the same as today.
The US Constitution clearly states that Congress shall coin money of gold and silver. So, what happened to the US dollar? Despite the best efforts of some good folks – among them past presidents – we ended up with a privately owned Central Bank, the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve notes (paper currency) originally declared direct convertibility to gold, but this was lost to US citizens when gold was confiscated by FDR and revalued upward to $35 per ounce from $20.67, devaluing the dollar by 40% (and attracting much foreign gold into the country). After World War II, the Bretton Woods Agreement among nations established the US dollar as a World Reserve currency and provided for convertibility to gold for any nation’s positive trade balance held in dollars. But by 1971 the US gold stock had plummeted from 25,000 tons (at peak) to 8,000 tons. Then Nixon closed the gold convertibility window, and the entire Dollar Reserve system became nothing more than a paper promise (Ponzi pyramid).
PANDA NV’s Anti-NDAA Resolution, step one, will be on the Agenda Dec. 3rd at the Clark County Commission Meeting @ 9AM. If you’re in the area, please attend and give her support!
The PANDA (People Against the NDAA Mission Statement:
Our Mission is to nonviolently defeat, strike down, repeal, stop, void and fight the indefinite detention provisions, Sections 1021 and 1022, of the National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year of 2012, to fight for American civil liberties, to combat laws restricting liberty in the interest of National Security, to support current government officials that are doing so and to engage a younger generation in the politics of the United States so this cannot happen again.
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Due to the social nature of this site, it may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit, to those who have expressed a prior interest in participating in this community for educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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