War on An Economy in Crisis

With billions having been tossed into Iraq without any accountability at all, is it surprising in any way that the GOP's complete financial incompetence has left the nation in tatters?

Yesterday, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its findings on how the money was spent from a special Iraq reconstruction fund set up by the Department of Defense (DOD) between 2003-2007. The account used Iraqi oil money to fund the reconstruction of Iraq. SIGIR concluded that 96 percent of the $9.1 billion the reconstruction program cannot be accounted for by the DOD:

A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the money. Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says. [...]

The funds in question were administered by the US Department of Defence between 2004 and 2007, and were earmarked for reconstruction projects. But, the report says, a lack of proper accounting makes it impossible to say exactly what happened to most of the money.

Now we need to look at what we can do to fix some of this, right? First, let us define some of the problems:

Workers are NOT happy campers -- Here's 22 Reasons Why:

22 Statistics That Prove The Middle Class

Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America
Michael Snyder, Business Insider -- July 15, 2010

01 ) 83% of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1% of the people.

02 )
61% of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49% in 2008 and 43% in 2007.

03 )
66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.

04 )
36% of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.

05 )
A staggering 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.

06 )
24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

07 )
Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32% increase over 2008.

08 )
Only the top 5% of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

09 )
For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.

10 )
In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to 1.

11 )
As of 2007, the bottom 80% of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.

12 )
The bottom 50% of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1% of the nation’s wealth.

13 )
Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17% when compared with 2008.

14 )
In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.

15 )
The top 1% of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

16 )
In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.

17 )
More than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.

18 )
For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.

19 )
This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.

20 )
Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16% to 7.8 million in 2009.

21 )
Approximately 21% of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.

22 )
The top 10% of Americans now earn around 50% of our national income.

Wow that's some list!  

I found myself in way more of the losing ends of those statistics, than I would like to admit.

Those Economic Inequities just continue to grow deeper. While the Party of No Ideas would just continue to offer us the "faux dream" that one day -- WE too, could be Rich! ... just follow their lead.

Ummm? Yeah, it appears the middle class is in the final death throes of perpetually recycled Reaganomic failure with no end in sight.  How about we change some of that?

First we have to start kicking back at the free marketeers and their continually regurgitating crap they either don't understand OR refuse to admit the reality of.

An excerpt from a piece I wrote in June:

Right Wing Revisionist Capitalism


I'll note that right now the uber rich pay as low as a very arbitrary and paltry 15% of their money in taxes compared to the the 25 to 28% that a teacher, fireman, police officer or doctor will typically pay.

And given that Smith was also an advocate for high wages for the poor:

The bicentennial anniversary of the publication of The Wealth of Nations was celebrated in 1976, resulting in increased interest for The Theory of Moral Sentiments and his other works throughout academia. After 1976, Smith was more likely to be represented as the author of both The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and thereby as the founder of a moral philosophy and the science of economics. His homo economicus or "economic man" was also more often represented as a moral person. Additionally, his opposition to slavery, colonialism, and empire was emphasized, as were his statements about high wages for the poor, and his views that a common street porter was not intellectually inferior to a philosopher.

Do you think it is safe to assume that he believed not in a minimum wage as much as a living wage? I do. The man obviously believed in free markets to a degree, but he was as socially liberal as I am on too many issues.

In that first quote at the top of this post was a ranting and raving liberal Adam Smith clearly talking about living wages that is worth repeating:

"Servants, labourers, and workmen of different kinds make up the far greater part of every great political society. But what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged."

Because free market Capitalism needs to be balanced by the morality of taking care of others.

There are just way too many cracks for people to slip through if you had an unbridled free market without government intervention in many areas.


The next time someone throws more free market whackjobery at you tell them that Adam Smith, the guy who's theories all of them are quoting, was an advocate for LIVING WAGES, and for social safety nets too, simply because a free market does not have the morals to take care of the people that would get chewed up by an unbridled free market.

Just how bad is it for too many Americans? in as far as just the basics like shelter they are cutting back or getting booted:

According to new Census data, “[m]ore Americans say they moved because they were evicted or wanted to spend less money and now live in a worse house with more people.” The 2009 survey, also conducted in 2007, “shows the stark effect the recession and housing crisis have had on some people’s lifestyles in just two years.”

From CAP we get these notes::

Congress is finally overcoming right-wing obstruction and acting on unemployment benefits. But where is the leadership on the job creation that we need? The obsession over the federal deficit is blinding us to the real task at hand: Doing what is required to rebuild a vibrant economy of shared prosperity.

» Robert Borosage: "We Need Leaders, Not Accountants"
» Follow our latest commentary and analysis on the unemployment compensation and jobs-creation battles

Some other information from Campaign for America's Future: on a few different issues that are battlegrounds to level the playing field for the workers and the unemployed that are in dire straights:

As the next election cycle roles around remember that it is not that the GOP's repetitive repeats of failed ideology is a winning message.

Not at all. The generics and specifics of their popularity is pretty clear about all of that.

It is more that the lack of movement towards solutions, either proposed or not, that is killing the Dems.

Dems still have higher favorables in party, most politicians and policies across and yet people are going to punish them:

  1. for not doing a lot of the big things they said they would do (and/or not doing some of those things fast enough) and
  1. because they are in charge and there are not enough jobs.

#1 is coming from the left Dems and indy left base, mostly, as well as from the middle too, and #2 is an across the board kick from the reality of America's pocket book which is empty.

Whether Obama and some of the Democratic party likes this or not.... They have to bulldoze policy right over the GOP's carcass if they want to win. Especially some big money into jobs/works programs fast to win across the board support back.  And they may still have to revisit some stuff now to regain the base (ie: Public Option).

Reaching out and being bipartisan may seem noble as an effort to reconcile the deep divide between the left and the right but it has proven, IMHO, to create some pretty crappy policy and results in the real world that the voters are literally suffering through.

PSSST! Dems, do something!

And it better have nothing to do with dumping endless amounts of money into endless wars and things that don't help our financial security and, in fact, make it more dangerous for us and everyone around the world to even try to get by:

And ending the wars? Sorry GOP and others... It's all only business. We can't afford the warmongers,  war of choice or not,  anymore.

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