The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

My Photo
Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

September 25, 2014, OpEdNews

Finally, Worst Attorney General in US History Resigning
By Rob Kall

From U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

The White House has announced that Eric Holder will be leaving as soon as his replacement can be secured.

Holder has established a record that will be difficult to beat, as the worst corporate interest server in US Attorney General history-- a fabulous success at allowing corporate criminals to escape prosecution, while keeping good people, like Don Seigelman, in prison.

I would expect, that Obama, as his boss, the one who gave Holder his orders, will replace Holder with another corporatist, probably someone who has served loyally in the camp of bankers and money people.

Holder's leaving gives me little hope that things will improve. Even if in the unlikely circumstance that Obama wanted to replace him with someone better, the current composition of congress will not allow any decent, honest people not loyal to corporations to be approved.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Holder has done SOMETHING good. Correct me, please, in the comments.

And if Holder ever did anything that showed courage and the exercise principled decision making, please point it out.

Submitters Bio:

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

" Homeland" ( German :Heimat ) and All That the Word Implies :

September 25, 2014, opednews

Time for the US to Dump the Word "Homeland"
By Thom Hartmann

While Germans still won't say it, the word "homeland" (Heimat ) is everywhere in the United States.

Bush and Cheney rolled it out in a big way after 9/11, and our media managed to completely ignore the dark history of the word. Let's rename the Department of "Homeland" Security, and remove from the United States' self-description this dark, strange and creepy term.

Cross-posted from Smirking Chimp

It's time to do away with the word "homeland."

As the situation with ISIS continues to escalate, and as worries about terrorist attacks on US soil continue to spread, we're hearing the term "homeland" mentioned more and more.
Ever since it first stole the spotlight with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in the months after 9/11, the term "homeland" has become ingrained in US society.

But, as Chris Matthews pointed out on his MSNBC show recently, there's something strange and creepy about the term.
Matthews said that...
"It's a term used by the neocons, they love it. It suggests something strange to me. Like who else are we defending except America? Why don't you just say 'America'? Why doesn't [Obama] say we defended against attacks against this country? As if we're facing some existential Armageddon threat from these people. Do you buy the phrase 'homeland'? I never heard it growing up, never heard it in my adulthood. It's a new word. Why are we using it? Is there some other place we're defending? What are we talking about when we say 'homeland'? What's it about?"
While Chris has really hit the nail on the head when it comes to the term "homeland," it's important that you know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story" behind this "strange" term.
First, it's really not a new word at all.

In fact, it's been around for a very long time and has a very dark history.

As Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo pointed out, the term homeland, "really does have a deep blood and soil tinge to it which is distinctly Germanic, more than a touch un-American, and a little creepy."

That "blood and soil" that Marshall is referring to was one of the really big slogans of Hitler's Nazi Germany. "Blood and soil -- we Germans are the products of this earth, we are a race unique from all others."

Perhaps ironically, Hitler stole the term "homeland" from the 1920s and 1930s Zionist movement's goal to create a Jewish "homeland" in the Middle East, Hitler wanted to create a "racial" identity for the German people that was tied to German soil.

He wanted to create an identity that went beyond language and culture. He wanted to invent a "German race," and have Germany be that race's "homeland," all so he could sell to the German people their own racial superiority and use that to justify exterminating others.

So, in 1934, at the Nazi party's big coming-out event, the famous Nuremberg rally, Nazis introduced the term "homeland."

Prior to that, they'd always referred to Germany as "the Fatherland" or "the Motherland" or "our nation."

But Hitler and his think-tank wanted Germans to think of themselves with what he and Goebbels viewed as the semi-tribal passion that the Zionists had for Israel.

So, in that most famous 1934 Nazi rally's opening speech, Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer, said that, "Thanks to [Hitler's] leadership, Germany will become the homeland. Homeland for all Germans in the world."

Of course, that's the translated version. "Homeland" in German is "Heimat."

"Heimat" was used throughout the reign of Hitler and throughout World War II.

Nazi's loved the word, and attached it to everything they could, like the "Nazi Homeland Defense Forces," or the Heimwehr.

But, immediately after Nazi Germany was defeated and World War II came to a close, the word all but disappeared from German vernacular.

Post-war Germans were ashamed to use a word that stood for such terrible things.

Fast-forward nearly 70 years, and while Germans still won't say it, the word "homeland" is everywhere in the United States. Bush and Cheney rolled it out in a big way after 9/11, and our media managed to completely ignore the dark history of the word.

But it's a history that carries with it a danger -- the danger that we may begin to think of ourselves as an "exceptional" people, a "race apart" because of our national identification. That we may start to think of the United States as a "homeland."

It's time to retire this artifact of the Nazi era.

Let's rename the Department of "Homeland" Security, and remove from the United States' self-description this dark, strange and creepy term.

Submitters Website:

Submitters Bio:

Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class," and "Cracking The Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America�s Original Vision."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Obamacare: The Biggest Insurance Scam in History


    By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers,

(Image: <a href="" target="_blank">Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: takomabibelot, massmatt</a>)(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: takomabibelot, massmatt)The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also called "Obamacare," may be the biggest insurance scam in history. The industries that profit from our current health care system wrote the legislation, heavily influenced the regulations and have received waivers exempting them from provisions in the law. This has all been done to protect and enhance their profits.

In the meantime, the health care crisis continues. Fewer people, even those with health insurance, can afford the health care they need because of out-of-pocket costs. The ACA continues that trend by pushing skimpy health plans with low coverage and restricted networks.

This is what happens in a market-based system of health care. People get only the amount of health care they can afford, rather than what they need. The ACA takes our failed market-based system to a whole new level by forcing the uninsured to purchase private health plans and using the government to sell and subsidize them.

Sadly, most Americans are being manipulated into supporting the ACA and do not even know they are being bamboozled. That is how scams work. Even after the con is completed, victims do not know they have been manipulated and ripped off. They may even feel good about being scammed, thinking they made a deal when they really had their bank accounts picked. But it is the insurance companies that are the realizing windfall profits from the Obamacare con even as it falters.

The mass media is focused on the technical problems with getting the insurance exchanges up and running. These problems result from the complexity of the law and outsourcing of services to corporations that are often more costly and less effective than government. In comparison, in 1965 when Medicare started, everyone 65 and over was enrolled within six months - using index cards.
If all US residents were in one plan, Medicare for all, rather than the ACA's tiered system that institutionalizes the class divides in the United States, not only would the health system be fairer and improve health outcomes, but it would be less bureaucratic, less costly and easier to implement. The Medicare-for-all approach considers health care to be a public good, something that all people need, like schools, roads and fire departments.

Rather than being distracted by the problems of the exchanges, the more pressing issue is whether we want to continue using a market-based approach to health care or whether we want to join the other industrialized nations in treating health care as a public good. This conversation is difficult to have in the current environment of falsehoods, exaggerations and misleading statements coming from both partisan directions, echoed by their media supporters and nonprofit organizations.

Of course, the Republicans attack Obamacare for partisan reasons. And they are often blatantly dishonest in their criticism. Their foundational claim, calling Obamacare socialized medicine, is the opposite of reality. And, the Obama administration and its allies in the nonprofit world also have their fair share of falsehoods about the ACA. We will describe these farther below.

A Primed Public

In reality, the US health care system is the worst of the wealthy nations. We spend the most per person, have the lowest percentage of our population covered and have poor health outcomes. Forty-five thousand adults die each year merely because they do not have insurance, and 84,000 Americans die each year of preventable illnesses that would not die in the French, Japanese or Australian health systems.

Even those with insurance find it to be inadequate when they get seriously ill. Medical costs and illness are the greatest reasons for bankruptcy, and insurance does not prevent financial ruin. Every family is touched by the failures of US health care.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report in 2013, US Health in International Perspective, that documents the failure of the US health care system. In summary: "Americans live shorter lives and experience more injuries and illnesses than people in other high-income countries. The U.S. health disadvantage cannot be attributed solely to the adverse health status of racial or ethnic minorities or poor people: even highly advantaged Americans are in worse health than their counterparts in other, 'peer' countries."

The health care crisis had grown to such proportions that by the 2008 election it could not be ignored. It was a major topic of the presidential campaigns. The health industries knew this and invested heavily in the candidates. Candidate Barack Obama overwhelmingly received more in donations from health care-related industries than any of the other candidates.

The public was ready for health care reform. Knowing that the majority of the public supports a Medicare-for-all system, it was going to take serious planning to silence that majority and enact a law that protected the interests of the health industries.

Obamacare: The Insurance Scam

A scam is a fraudulent operation designed to make money. A scam unfolds over time with a team of swindlers seeking to rob the victim without the victim ever knowing they have been scammed.
In Confessions of a Confidence Man, Edward H. Smith lists the "six definite steps or stages of growth in every finely balanced and well-conceived confidence game." Let's go through these six steps and see how the process of selling the ACA to the public fits.

1. Develop the Foundation
The foundation of a scam is the preparation done ahead of time to set up the scheme. In the case of the ACA, the foundation began with the health law passed by Massachusetts in 2006. The template was created by Stephen Butler of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The law was passed under a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

The next task was to sell this idea to Democrats. The Robert Wood Johnson foundation gave a major assist when it made large grants to state health reform groups in 2008 to promote Massachusetts-style reform in their states, called the "public-private partnership" model.

To further sell the ACA, Roger Hickey, a longtime Medicare-for-all advocate of the Campaign for America's Future (closely allied with the Democratic Party), took an idea from Jacob Hacker to create a new public insurance modeled after Medicare to 'compete' with private insurance. Hickey sold the model to progressive groups, and Hacker's proposal was used by the Obama campaign.

In July, 2008, Hickey and others rallied progressive groups to create a new coalition, Health Care for America Now, which received tens of millions of dollars to build grass-roots support for the ACA. The name was similar enough to the longtime Medicare-for-all organization, Healthcare-Now, to cause confusion.
2. The Approach
The approach is the way that the con artist gets in touch with the victim. The vehicle for the ACA con was the tech-savvy political campaign of Barack Obama. The candidate promised hope and change. Obama, who had supported single payer before running for president, was able to point to all of the problems in the US health care system and excite people with the potential of a new leader who understood the crisis and would fix it.

After his election, the campaign organized Health Care House Parties in December 2008. People were encouraged to invite friends and neighbors to their homes, and the Obama transition team provided the materials. The booklet that was used was tightly scripted to build support for the ACA rather than actually elicit citizen input on what kind of health system was desired.
3. The Buildup
In this stage, the victim is excited about the prospect and is filled with anticipation so their judgment is warped and caution is thrown away, setting them up to fall for the scam.

Throughout the winter and spring of 2009, the Obama administration gave the appearance of bringing all of the "stakeholders" together to work for health reform. The president held a White House Health Summit in March 2009, which included representatives from health insurance corporations, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. The only groups that were not included, until there was a threat of protest, were those who advocate for Medicare for all. The single-payer advocates did not speak, but the insurance spokesperson opened and closed the White House summit.

Throughout the spring, the president and allies reassured the public that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it; that insurance would be made more affordable (not that health care would be more affordable); and that reform would aim for universal coverage.
4. The Convincer
The convincer for many who supported real health reform was "the Public Option." The idea was that the law would force the uninsured to purchase insurance but would include the choice of a public health insurance plan. The public was told that this option would be more cost-effective than private insurance and, thus, less expensive, which would make it more attractive.

Many were convinced that a public option would become a Medicare-for-all system, that it was a "back door" to single payer. They were told that going straight to a single-payer health care system would be too difficult and that the public option was a first step. Health Care for America Now organized grass-roots groups to put their energy into fighting for a public option, and many responded.

There was real animosity directed toward those who pointed out that from a policy standpoint a public option made no sense. It was simply adding another insurance plan to an already-complex and expensive system of hundreds of insurances and that, as had occurred time and again at the state level, it would attract those with the greatest health needs and as a result would ultimately fail because of high costs.

What most people did not understand at that point was that the public option was not only a non-solution to the health care crisis but that it was not even destined to be in the final legislation. Senator Max Baucus reported in March 2009 that it was a "bargaining chip" to get health insurers to accept regulations. Glenn Greenwald exposed this more fully when the Democratic leadership in the Senate actively worked to keep the public option from being included in the Senate health bill. The public option was just part of the con.
5. The Hurrah
The Hurrah phase of a con involves some sort of crisis that must be overcome. This phase started in August 2009, when the Tea Party, backed by Americans for Prosperity (a Koch brothers front group), came out very aggressively against the ACA at local town halls. They called it "government-run" and opposed its fictional "Death Panels." This served to energize the progressive groups to rally around the president and come out strongly in favor of the law. Rallies in favor of health reform were organized across the country.

Health reform advocates were activated further to support the law as the House and Senate struggled to come to consensus. As more aspects of the law that were important to health reform supporters were jettisoned, such as coverage for immigrants and inclusion of reproductive services, and the public option was whittled down to nothing, support for the law became a partisan statement of support for President Obama.

Members of Congress who supported the Medicare-for-all approach told us that they were going to "hold their nose and vote for it." Progressive groups and media feared that if the health bill did not become law, it would ruin the Democrats' chance to hold a majority in Congress in the midterm elections and would destroy the president's chance to be re-elected.
6. The In-And-In
The purpose of the final phase of the con is to make sure the victims do not realize they've been conned.

Obama signed the ACA on March 23, 2010. Immediately the marketing began. The three words we heard the most to describe it were universal, affordable and guaranteed. Of course, the ACA is none of those. But members told us personally that if they told the truth, they wouldn't be re-elected.
Progressive groups started the work of explaining the advantages of the new health law to the public. The few positive aspects of the law were promoted without explaining the big picture. Overall, the ACA is similar to other neoliberal economic policies; it defunds and destroys our public health insurances and further privatizes health care.

The end goal of the ACA con, to make sure people do not realize they have been conned, is ongoing. As we will see below, salespeople, often the same nonprofits who pushed the ACA, are getting big money to sell insurance with Madison Avenue marketing manipulation tactics.
At the same time, leading single-payer advocacy groups fear further marginalization in their communities and so are afraid to tell the truth about Obamacare. The public has been so hoodwinked by the partisan debate between Republicans and Democrats, based on misinformation from both sides, that single-payer advocates are afraid if they tell the truth, their allies, many whom are Democrats, will push them away. So the truth has few emissaries, while the well-funded deceivers continue the ACA con.

The Con Continues: The Product

A fundamental problem with the ACA is that it is based on continuing our complicated private health insurance or market-based system. Despite their advertising slogans, private insurers primarily exist to create profit for their investors or, in the case of "nonprofit insurers," to pay exorbitant salaries to their executives. They care about health as much as Big Oil cares about the environment.

Health insurers make their profits from charging the highest premiums they can and by restricting and denying payment for care. They want to take in as much money as they can, while paying out as little on health care as possible. They have many tools with which to do this, and they've successfully skirted regulations for decades. When they can't make a profit, they simply pull that product from the shelf and create new products.

The public has been led to believe that the ACA has changed the behavior of health insurers. In this section we briefly explain some major areas of concern and why many of the promises of the ACA are false.

More-expensive insurance premiums: A major promise was that people could keep their insurance if they liked it, but many are finding that this isn't working out. Kaiser Health News reported last week: "Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies." The Society of Actuaries released a report in March 2013 that showed insurance pools are set to see an average increase of 32 percent in underlying claims costs by 2017.
The Charlotte Observer reported: "Across North Carolina, thousands of people have been shocked in recent weeks to find out their health insurance plans will be canceled at the end of the year - and premiums for comparable coverage could increase sharply."

The increase in premiums will force more people to use the state health insurance exchanges, where prices are supposed to be more affordable, but even that is not a solution. Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action describes the dilemma he faces in West Virginia. Mokhiber received a notice that his current insurance expires January 1, 2014. If he wants to keep his plan, it will cost twice as much. In his state only one insurance company, Highmark, will be listed on the exchange. He called Highmark to find out what his choices were and got bad news: "The skimpiest plan is going to cost me more than I'm paying now and have a higher deductible and out-of-pocket costs."

There are reports of increased premiums from across the country. One reason for the increase in cost is, as USA Today reports: "About a third of insurance companies opted out of participating in the exchanges in states where they were already doing business, according to a recent report by McKinsey & Co. About half of states … will see a 'material decline' in competitors."

Decreased coverage: The ACA will increase the number of people who have inadequate insurance that requires high out-of-pocket costs and does not cover all necessary services. The ACA significantly lowers what is considered to be adequate insurance coverage through its system of tiers. The insurance exchanges offer four levels of coverage, with the least-expensive plans paying for 70 percent and 60 percent of covered services.

These plans include high co-pays and deductibles that are barriers to care - especially when 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. And insurers are restricting coverage further by limiting their networks so they do not include major medical centers or adequate numbers of health professionals.

It is important to highlight that insurers pay only for covered services because people don't usually understand that they will have to pay for uncovered and out-of-network services themselves. The use of out-of-network services is often involuntary and occurs without being known at the time of care, especially in emergency situations.

The New York Times reports:"Most of the 15 exchanges run by states and the District of Columbia do not have provider directories or search tools on their Web sites - at least not yet - so customers cannot easily check which doctors and hospitals are included in a particular plan's network."
People are likely to choose the least-expensive plans without fully understanding that a serious accident or illness could bankrupt them even though they have insurance. And the race to the bottom in coverage will affect everyone. It is already estimated that 44 percent of large employer-based plans will be high-deductible plans by 2014.

Tricks to mistreat those with pre-existing illness: One of the great selling points of the ACA con is that those with pre-existing illnesses will not be denied coverage. This is true, but insurers have many ways to avoid the ill. The ACA was written by an insurance company executive from Wellpoint, Liz Fowler, who went on to be hired by Obama's HHS to implement the law and now works for a pharmaceutical giant. So, all along the way, the insurance companies had someone protecting their interests.

One way to avoid the sick was mentioned above: excluding hospitals where people with serious health problems go, like major medical centers. Another way is by providing poor service to people who have a lot of claims so they change insurers. And a third has to do with the fact that insurance companies are allowed to charge more in geographical areas where health costs are higher. If a plan in a particular area is not making enough profit, the insurance company can simply stop selling in that area.

Insurance companies also can charge three times as much based on age. Because most pre-existing illness comes with age, this greatly undermines the protection of those with pre-existing illness. Insurance companies are excellent at gaming laws and regulations, so we can expect more creative avoidance of people who actually need health care.

Almost no reduction in youths without insurance: One of the highly touted claims of the ACA con was that youths would be covered on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old. While this is true, the percentage of 19- to 26-year-olds without insurance has merely fallen from 48 to 41. Why? Most parents cannot afford the increased premiums that are required when more family members are covered. As a result this promise has been one of little value, except to the wealthy - and to those selling the Obamacare con.

No cap on out-of-pocket spending: One of the selling points of the ACA con was that it would limit how much people pay out of pocket for health care. Of the thousands of waivers granted by HHS, one was the limit on out-of-pocket spending. The insurance companies claimed that their computers were not set up to handle this change. HHS took this absurd rationale seriously and gave them a waiver on this important provision.

The Con Continues: The Dealers

The most egregious aspect of the ACA is the individual mandate that those without health insurance who do not qualify for public insurance such as Medicaid must purchase private insurance or pay a penalty for being uninsured. The public is being led to believe that the solution to the health care crisis is to increase the number of people who have insurance. This ignores the fact that having insurance does not mean that patients will have access to or will be able to afford the health care they need.

The ACA required states to create new marketplaces for insurance called exchanges or else the federal government would create the exchange. In essence, the federal government is using billions of public dollars to finance the exchanges, hire people to sell insurance and subsidize the purchases. Imagine what a benefit it would be if those billions of dollars were used instead to hire health providers and pay for actual care.

The federal government plays a big role in running 26 of the state health exchanges but is funding all of them. The annual cost of operating the exchanges will be $15 million to several hundred million per state. In the end, consumers will pay the cost through monthly surcharges tacked on to their premiums.

Part of the federal spending will be on "navigators" and "assisters," people whose job it is to help people buy insurance. The Obama administration announced in 2013 that it would be directing $200 million to states, private groups and local health centers so that they can hire workers, called navigators, to sell insurance to Americans.

How are navigators paid? A House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a report on September 13, 2013, that examined how navigators will be paid. One problem is that many are paid based on the number of people they enroll. Obviously this could lead navigators and assisters to not merely "facilitate" enrollment but to persuade people to enroll. And navigators are not required to disclose this incentive.

This payment structure is just one problem, the House report summarizes, warning of scammers:
"… the training to be Navigators and Assisters will last only five to 20 hours and there is no requirement for a background check of Navigators and Assisters who will have access to highly sensitive personal information, such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and income for everyone in an applicant's household. Given the stories about how scammers are gearing up to take advantage of the tremendous confusion caused by ObamaCare, Americans are at an increased risk of being the victim of fraud and identify theft because of the Administration's poor development of its outreach programs."
The official navigators and assisters are only one part of the continued conning of America. The groups that advocated for Obamacare have evolved into Enroll America. The group (whose logo is incredibly similar to insurance giant Wellpoint) not only includes advocacy organizations but also interests that profit from the market-based US health care system, e.g. insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. The president of Enroll America, Anne Filipic, served in the Obama White House, the HHS, the Democratic National Committee and in Obama's 2008 campaign.

Information on the budget of Enroll America has been vague. In June Reuters reported: "In a conference call with reporters, Filipic declined to answer repeated requests for details on the group's budget. In January Congressional Quarterly reported they were eyeing a $100 million budget and quoted founder Ron Pollack, who led an NGO that lobbied for Obamacare, saying: "We keep on saying it's got to be in the significant tens of millions of dollars, and hopefully we reach another digit." Reuters reported that the cost of the public outreach campaign would range into the tens of millions of dollars, with "at least seven figures" going to paid advertising. In a press release they described the advertising campaign:
"Enroll America plans to organize a massive public education/advertising campaign about coverage eligibility and the ways people can enroll in coverage. We expect to involve well-known athletes and celebrities in the campaign. The advertising campaign will be segmented so that it effectively reaches different demographic groups, such as young adults, people in communities of color, low- and moderate-income families, etc. Depending on the availability of resources, we may be able to tailor ads to specific states."
The campaign is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on polling, focus groups, paid advertising and running its operations with a staff of a few hundred people. Americans will be subjected to all of the tools of Madison Avenue marketing through Enroll America along with sales by navigators, assisters and the insurance industry.

How is Enroll America raising money? Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has been one of the fundraisers for the organization. According to the New York Times, her fundraising has caused a political uproar, with some Republicans claiming it was illegal and two House committees investigating the activity. They report: "Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming and Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia, both Republicans, said Ms. Sebelius appeared to be 'shaking down' businesses and other potential donors." The Hill echoed this, reporting that insurance companies felt like they were being pressured by the administration to donate to Enroll America. One concern is that HHS has a lot of power over insurers as the agency can delay or deny approval of their health-insurance plans for federally approved exchanges.

Sebelius is seeking funds from groups like Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and H&R Block. And the Hill noted "Obama himself made a vague but personal appeal for a close partnership with insurers, which some in the industry saw as a precursor to direct fundraising pitches." In April 2013, "Obama reportedly sat in for an hour-long meeting he was initially not scheduled to attend and told insurance executives that the White House and the industry were now "joined at the hip" trying to make the healthcare law work."

Americans want health care, so why do they have to spend so much money to convince people to buy ACA insurance? The American people will be subjected to a sophisticated, echo chamber of marketing to sell them flawed insurance that provides insufficient coverage, huge out-of-pocket costs and limited networks of health professionals and hospitals.

Understand the Con, End It and Replace It

The ACA con is part of a broader con Americans and people around the world are having inflicted on them, the false idea that privatization is a better way to provide services than government. Even though there is virtually no evidence to support this claim and there has been a long history with many examples of privatizationcosting more and providing less, this is a centerpiece of neoliberal economics. Politicians like President Obama and the leadership of the corporate duopoly who believe in market solutions are pushing privatization at home and through big-business-rigged trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The fundamental flaw of the ACA is that it entrenches a market-based system that treats health care as a commodity and profit center for Wall Street. The big drivers of the rising cost of health care - insurance, pharmaceuticals and for-profit hospitals - continue. The wealth divide that is a major byproduct of neoliberal economics is institutionalized by law under the ACA. Some, like Senator Ted Cruz, will receive the best health care from their employer, in Cruz's case his wife's employer, Goldman Sachs. Others, forced into the individual insurance marketplace, will be divided in four classes based on wealth, and millions will be in Medicaid, the inadequate health plan for the poor. Thus, after a high-stakes partisan battle, we've made no progress in confronting the fundamental problems in US health care. Indeed we have made some of them worse.

There was an easier route and a more politically popular route. All that President Obama had to do was to push for what he used to believe in, Medicare for all. By just dropping two words, "over 65," the United States would not have needed the 2,200-page ACA. Then the country could have worked to gradually improve Medicare so that the United States moved toward the best health care in the world, rather than being mired at the bottom.

To replace Obamacare with the single-payer system, we need to be clear about the shortcomings of the law, especially its fundamental flaw of making a human right, one of many human rights Americans do not realize they have, into a commodity like a cellphone. We need to recognize that ending the corporate domination of health care is part of breaking the domination of big business over the US government and the economy. Health care is at the center of the conflict of our times, the battle between the people and corporate interests, the battle to put people and planet before profits.

No Economy For Americans ( )

Paul Craig Roberts

The Dow Jones stock average closed Friday at 17,137, despite the fact that the payroll jobs report was a measly 125,000 new jobs for August, an insufficient amount to keep up with the growth in the working age population.

The low 125,000 jobs figure is also inconsistent with the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ second estimate of second quarter 2014 US GDP growth of 4.2 percent–a figure beyond the capability of the present-day US economy.

Clearly, the economic numbers are out of sync with one another. They are also out of sync with reality.

One of the reasons the stock market average is high is the massive liquidity the Federal Reserve has pumped into the banking system since 2008. Instead of going into consumer inflation, the money went into stock and bond price inflation.

Another reason for the artificial high stock market is the multi-trillion dollar buy-back of their own stock by US corporations. Many of these corporations have even borrowed from the banks in order to drive up their share prices with heavy purchases, thus maximizing executive bonuses and the values of stock options for board members. In effect, they are looting their own firms by loading the companies with debt in order to drive up executive and board incomes.

The stock market’s rise is not because consumer incomes and real retail sales are growing. Real family median incomes have been falling, and real retail sales, at best, are flat.

Let’s look at the composition of the pathetic 125,000 new jobs, and then we will examine whether these jobs are real or make-believe. (Keep in mind that payroll jobs include part-time jobs and that the number of payroll jobs is not the number of people employed, because many Americans make ends meet by working two and even three jobs.)

As I have reported for many years, the US economy no longer is capable of creating goods producing jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics August payroll jobs report shows zero manufacturing jobs. I read the other day that the US now has four or five times more people on food stamps than in manufacturing jobs.

The jobs of the New Economy are in lowly paid, nontradable domestic services–the jobs that characterize a Third World Economy.

Perhaps reflecting the collapse of retail sales, retail trade lost 8,400 jobs in August.
“Professional and business services” accounted for 47,000 or 38% of August’s new jobs. Of these 47,000 new jobs, 49% consisted of “administrative and waste services,” largely temporary help services.

“Health care and social assistance” accounted for 42,700 or 34% of the new jobs of which 53% consists of “ambulatory health care services.”

Waitresses and bartenders accounted for 21,100 or 17% of the new jobs.

There were 8,000 new government jobs or 6% of the 125,000 new jobs.

That’s it. That is the job picture of “the world’s only superpower,” “the world’s largest economy,” “the world’s richest people.” It is the picture of employment in a Third World country.

And now for the real question: Are those 125,000 new jobs really there, or are they a statistical mirage. Statistician John Williams ( says the jobs are a mirage produced by “the changing seasonal adjustments within the concurrent-seasonal adjustment process used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics” and by the birth/death model, which assumes that many more unreported new jobs are created each month by new start-up businesses than are lost from unreported business closings. Williams says that without the gimmicks used by BLS to create jobs that are not there, the actual change in August payrolls “was a solid contraction in excess of 125,000 jobs.” In other words, the economy did not gain 125,000 jobs. It lost 125,000 jobs.

Beginning with the Clinton regime, the American economy has only worked for the One Percent, and it only works for them because the government makes the 99 percent bail out the One Percent. The American economy is an Aristocratic Economy that works for the government-privileged few, but not for anyone else. To understand this hard fact, read Nomi Prins book, All The Presidents’ Bankers.
Of course, the real figures are more like the Ten Percent and the 90 percent. The One Percent caught on, because the upper reaches of that one percent are all multi-billionaires with more money than a family could spend in multiple lifetimes.

The time has passed when American corporations had a sense of social responsibility. Two distinguished Americans writing in Daedalus, one of the few remaining publications not (yet) under corporate control, show that US corporations have become socially dysfunctional because they only serve shareholders and executives.

Historically in the US, corporations had responsibilities to their customers, employees, communities, and owners. In recent years this has been changed. Today corporations only have responsibilities to their shareholders. If profits go up, executives receive performance bonuses for serving shareholders.

Reducing executive success to one indicator has has enormous negative consequences for everyone else. Americans are suffering in many ways. Their jobs, both manufacturing and professional tradable services such as software engineering, have been moved offshore and given to foreigners. Americans have been deprived of interest income so that the former bank officials in charge of the US government can save the banks that deregulation permitted to over leverage with debt and risk.

The costs of customer service has been shifted to customers who lose large amounts of time waiting to connect with a live person who can correct the mistake the company has made. The unleashing of greed as the only business virtue and pressure from Wall Street for greater profits has caused many service providers, such as telephone and Internet, to forego maintenance and upgrade of facilities in order to hold down costs and boost profits. My telephone ceased to work on September 3, and my service provider lacks sufficient work crews to repair my line prior to the evening of September 8.

  Last year my Internet provider could not reestablish my Internet service for 10 days. If you call about a bill or a service problem, the companies keep you on the line forever awaiting a real person while they try to sell you new services even though the ones you have purchased don’t work.

Sufficient service crews to provide satisfaction for customers means higher costs, less profits, less shareholder earnings and less performance bonuses for managers. Guess who pays the price for the large rewards to owners and managers–the customers.

I remember the days of AT&T, a regulated monopoly. Everything worked. Any problem was fixed within two hours, barring a major catastrophe such as a hurricane or tornado. The telephone was answered no later than the third ring by a real person, not a voice recording, and the person who answered could fix any problem. There was no menu of a half dozen or dozen from which to select and to wait another quarter hour while being given sales pitches.

Profits made by imposing costs on customers are not legitimate profits. Profits made by
relocating American jobs offshore are not legitimate profits. Profits achieved by bailouts of managerial mistakes by taxpayers who provide the bailout funds but don’t share in the bonuses are not legitimate profits.

Profits achieved by monopoly concentration, as now exists in the financial “services” industry, are not legitimate profits.

In America, franchises, chains, and big-box stores have destroyed a wide array of independent and family businesses that allowed enterprising Americans an independent existence.
Deregulated free-market America has created an economy that serves only the few, which explains the extraordinary concentration in the 21st century of income and wealth in fewer and fewer hands–another defining characteristic of a Third World country.

American capitalism has failed. It can no longer produce jobs for the work force, and its
profits come from its political ability to impose costs on the American population.

Dr. Roberts attended four of the finest universities, studied under two Nobel Prize-winners in economics, authored 20 peer-reviewed articles in journals of scholarship. and published four academic press peer-reviewed books, including Harvard and Oxford Universities, and seven commercially published books. His recent book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution Of The West is available in German, English, Chinese, and is forthcoming in Korean and Czech.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

September 23, 2014, OpEdNews

AP Slams Obama on Press Freedom
By Sherwood Ross

President Obama not only has reversed his campaign pledge to bring greater transparency to the news business, he has acted to demolish one press freedom after another.

AP's Washington Bureau Chief, a reporter who has been illegally spied upon by the Obama regime, has just given a talk about the ways the president is trampling press freedom.

From President Obama

The remarks of Sally Buzbee to a meeting of editors and reporters, spell out how Obama is subverting the constitutional guarantee of a free press. Her speech might be justifiably titled, "Payback Time."

"As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can't see any of it," Buzbee told officials of the American Society of News Editors and the AP Media Editors.

"News organizations can't shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off and there are no embeds." Obama's aides won't even say what country the warplanes are flying from.

(Of course, if the public can't see the devastation, carnage, and killing wrought by U.S. air power it is just that more liable to condone it, a big win for the military-industrial complex.)

Buzbee also faults the Obama White House for denying access to Obama meetings with foreign officials; with denying the press access to legal filings at Guantanamo and for making video coverage of that prison "virtually nonexistent"; for threatening government employees with dismissal if they talk to reporters; for dragging its heels on Freedom Of Information Act requests; and even for "trying to control the information that state and local officials can give out."

Buzbee didn't mention how the U.S. has long employed CIA spooks dressed up as reporters to gather information that goes directly to their headquarters. Of course, this deceit causes news sources to clam up, making the work of real reporters more difficult and drying up the data an informed public needs to understand our times.

Mr. Obama's disregard for media (i.e., and thus for truth), stretches back some time. After pledging to honor our civil liberties when he ran for office, only two years later Dana Milbank could write in The Washington Post that at the nuclear summit in D.C. Obama put on "a clinic for some of the world's greatest dictators on how to circumvent a free press."

And then there's the matter of the prosecution, if not persecution, of James Risen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times who exposed so much CIA wrong-doing. That Mr. Obama worked for a CIA front organization after college and had his college bills paid by the Agency should not be forgotten at this time.

Risen "may face jail time on a federal contempt of court charge if he doesn't release the identity of one of his confidential sources," writes Matthew Rothschild, Senior Editor of "The Progressive" magazine.

Risen, citing his First Amendment right not to reveal an anonymous source he quoted in his book, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," accused the Obama administration of "aggressively investigating whistleblowers and reporters in a way that will have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press in the United States."

Under Obama's rule, "The Economist" writes, the U.S. has indicted six officials for leaking secrets under the Espionage Act, which had only previously been invoked against government officials three times since it became law in 1917.

Asked to comment on the above, the distinguished constitutional and international law authority Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, Champaign, said:

This "honors" graduate of Harvard Law School, President Obama, has continued and defended and expanded and aggravated almost every hideous atrocity that President Bush Jr. inflicted upon the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights,the First Amendment, civil rights, civil liberties, human rights and international law. America's "land of the free, and the home of the brave" is now at the tipping point of a becoming an Imperial Presidential Dictatorship. It looks like the United States of America is going the same way as the Roman Republic when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon."#

(Sherwood Ross formerly worked for major U.S. dailies and wire services. He currently operates a public relations agency "for good causes." )

Submitters Bio:

Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public relations director for a major civil rights organization.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Golden Temple, Amritsar, India

September 22, 2014, OpEdNews

US elites beginning to realize there's a problem
By Daily Kos

The elites have noticed that their asset-bubble blowing economic schemes just aren't providing enough prosperity to keep everybody happy. And unless they can find some way to keep us peasants from resorting to the pitchforks, their wet dream of a democratic market economy as the end point of human history is in danger.
Reprinted from by NBBooks

These are important reflections of how top elites in USA are thinking, so we just have to get around to noticing and discussing them.

There were two important articles in Foreign Affairs, the quarterly journal and associated website run by the Council on Foreign Relations. Yeah, yeah, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilaterals and all the tin-foil hat stuff notwithstanding, the simple fact is that some very powerful and very influential people have paid some eye-popping amounts of money to be counted as members of the CFR. And Foreign Affairs has a long, and I would even dare say, proud and enviable, history of publishing important articles that signaled major shifts or developments in USA policies, such as George Kennan's July 1947 X article explaining the new policy of "containment" of the Soviet Union.

The first article two weeks ago, "America in Decay," was written by Francis Fukuyama, the neo-conservative economics and political science professor whose 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man provided unceasing thrills and pleasure to USA elites by arguing that the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe marked not only America's victory in the Cold War, "but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." (That's what USA elites want to believe, and they get upset when we the people start showing signs that we're not happy with the new corporatist paradise they've constructed for themselves, and locked us in as their supposedly prosperous and cheerful serfs. That's a big reason why the Democratic Party's support for Occupy was so faltering and feeble.)

The gist of Fukuyama's article is that it has turned out that Western liberal democracy is not the end point of human political development, and there seems to be more history in the offing, because it has been replaced by - holy unforeseen development, Batman! - oligarchy andplutocracy. Of course, Fukuyama does not use these words, but the idea is clear enough: his subtitle is "The Sources of Political Dysfunction." His online readers certainly understood, and had no qualms about using the words oligarchy and oligarchs repeatedly.
What Fukuyama does writes, for example:
But Madisonian democracy frequently fails to perform as advertised. Elite insiders typically have superior access to power and information, which they use to protect their interests. Ordinary voters will not get angry at a corrupt politician if they don't know that money is being stolen in the first place. Cognitive rigidities or beliefs may also prevent social groups from mobilizing in their own interests. For example, in the United States, many working-class voters support candidates promising to lower taxes on the wealthy, despite the fact that such tax cuts will arguably deprive them of important government services.
And here's the important thing, as far as Fukuyama and elites are concerned:
...liberal democracy is almost universally associated with market economies, which tend to produce winners and losers and amplify what James Madison termed the "different and unequal faculties of acquiring property." This type of economic inequality is not in itself a bad thing, insofar as it stimulates innovation and growth and occurs under conditions of equal access to the economic system. It becomes highly problematic, however, when the economic winners seek to convert their wealth into unequal political influence. They can do so by bribing a legislator or a bureaucrat, that is, on a transactional basis, or, what is more damaging, by changing the institutional rules to favor themselves -- for example, by closing off competition in markets they already dominate, tilting the playing field ever more steeply in their favor.
In other words, the elites have noticed that their asset-bubble blowing economic schemes just aren't providing enough prosperity to keep everybody happy. And unless they can find some way to keep us peasants from resorting to the pitchforks, their wet dream of a democratic market economy as the end point of human history is in danger.
But it gets even more interesting, because at the same time, another article appeared in Foreign Affairs, entitled Print Less but Transfer More. This one was written by Mark Blyth, a professor of international political economy at Brown University and author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea; and Eric Lonergan, a hedge fund manager living in London and the author of - what else? - Money. The gist of their article is pretty well captured by their subtitle - and no, I am not making this up - "Why Central Banks Should Give Money Directly to the People."
...Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly. In practice, this policy could take the form of giving central banks the ability to hand their countries' tax-paying households a certain amount of money. The government could distribute cash equally to all households or, even better, aim for the bottom 80 percent of households in terms of income. Targeting those who earn the least would have two primary benefits. For one thing, lower-income households are more prone to consume, so they would provide a greater boost to spending. For another, the policy would offset rising income inequality.
Well, it's hard not to like the idea. Trying to stop the financial crash of 2007-2008, the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve gave $12.6 trillion in direct aid to Wall Street and the banks. That's just under $40,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. I don't know about you, but if I had $40,000 more in my bank account right now, there would be a lot of life's petty details I could stop worrying about. What would have happened if the Fed had given each of us $40,000 a few years ago, instead of giving $12.6 trillion to the banksters? Hmm, Goldman Sachs and Citi Group and all the other Too Big to Fail or Jail banks would have been flushed down the toilet bowl of financial history, while a few million of us probably would have moved to Canada or Costa Rica.
Of course, you will discover, as you read the remainder of the article, that this idea of throwing coins, albeit lots of coins, to the plebes is not really pure, unalloyed munificence.
To reduce the gap between rich and poor, the French economist Thomas Piketty and others have proposed a global tax on wealth. But such a policy would be impractical.There is another way: instead of trying to drag down the top, governments could boost the bottom. Central banks could issue debt and use the proceeds to invest in a global equity index, a bundle of diverse investments with a value that rises and falls with the market, which they could hold in sovereign wealth funds. The Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the Federal Reserve already own assets in excess of 20 percent of their countries' GDPs, so there is no reason why they could not invest those assets in global equities on behalf of their citizens. After around 15 years, the funds could distribute their equity holdings to the lowest-earning 80 percent of taxpayers.
Well, of course! We dare not even think of dragging down the top! Then note what a nice little scheme they propose: the central banks are not really going to mail you or me a check for $40,000 or whatever sum (which I'm sure will be much less than $40,000), but they're going to "invest ... assets in global equities" supposedly "on behalf of their citizens." I'm sure there are plenty of stock brokers and traders whose hearts are all a'flutter at the idea that the central banks of the world are about to start handing them trillions of dollars that are supposed to be invested "on behalf of their citizens." After a decade and a half, more or less, then these "equity holdings" could be distributed. The problem, of course, is the same as privatizing Social Security: there's every likelihood that most of "your" money is going to be gobbled up by management fees and commissions, if not lost to outright fraud and cheating.
And then, what are people going to do with that money? Do they actually buy a new car or repair their house? Some will, of course. But how many will immediately book a flight to Vegas, or hustle down to the local convenience store and by arms full of lottery tickets? And even if we could somehow ensure that the money handed out by central banks to citizens was actually used in economically useful and productive ways, there's this big problem the US economy has, called "imports." We don't make our own shoes or our own clothes, or our own furniture anymore. Hell, even when you buy a car that is supposedly "American-made" nearly half its content components have actually been imported. So, much of the economic boost imparted by the "central bank to lowly citizen" transfer scheme is going to be felt by China and Vietnam and whatever other cheap labor hell-hole USA corporate management has found to rip-off and exploit.

And why do the central banks have to issue debt to do this? Why not just create money out of thin air? That's what central banks do. That's what they're supposed to do. That's pretty much where much of the $12.6 trillion came from.

This is why any talk about how we need to return to Keynes and Keynesianism makes me start to pull my hair out. While Keynes' idea that government has to step in to take up the slack in aggregate demand during a depression or recession is mostly correct, the fact is, other people had the idea before him. Most notably the Mormon banker Marriner Eccles, who Franklin Roosevelt appointed as chairman of the Federal Reserve system.

But the really bad thing about Keynes is that he does not argue that the programs and projects the government funds must contribute to the general welfare. We do NOT want to simply hire people to dig holes and fill them back up again. Nor do we want to just hand everybody 40,000 bucks and wish them luck at the slots or lottery machines. Keynes does not understand or appreciate the importance of republicanism as an organizing principle of political economy. So far as Keynes is concerned, it does not matter whether or not the American Revolution ever occurred. (Much the same critique is applicable to Adam Smith, also). For Keynes, a country ruled by the people, has no intrinsic value over a country ruled by oligarchs. But there are profound implications for economic policy making here: Are you trying to sustain, uplift, and better a country of citizens? Or are you trying to buy off and placate a rabble?

This failure of Keynes is a reflection of his being a British economist, and his natural inclination to oppose and/or ignore the nineteenth century American System of political economy, in whichthe general welfare is the standard by which economic policies and results are measured.
Thus it was that in the 1960s and 1970s, the economists running things failed utterly to discern and oppose the huge flows of dirty money from organized crime that funded the mergers and acquisitions and leverage buy out booms. This was the beginning of the dismantling and looting of the US industrial base. Perhaps even more dangerous, this was this beginning of the process by which USA elites began to acquire and internalize the thinking and morals of criminals and petty tyrants. What happens when a formerly clean, legitimate company making, say, seat belt buckles, is bought out by new owners whose source of wealth was narcotics trafficking, illegal gambling, prostitution, and even arms smuggling?

What happens when 10,000 or 20,000 companies a year are bought out by dirty money, year after year, after year?

And here's another thing Keynesians blew in the 1960s and 1970s: They never understood and comprehended the technological development of a new industrial and transportation base over the previous half century, and what it all meant. From the beginning of the 1900s to the 1950s, the US economy accomplished an amazing shift from animal power, water power, and steam power, to burning fossil fuels and using internal combustion engines and electricity. Keynesians simply accepted these developments as a given, and never tried to understand them as one specific epoch in the industrial and economic development of humanity. They never attempted to ask some important questions:

How long will this technological shift last?

What could possibly disrupt this technological mode?

What new science and technologies are coming along that might possibly offer better alternatives to burning fossil fuels and using internal combustion engines?

Are there frontiers of science and technology that can be effectively promoted and encouraged?
You see, true leadership in a republic - statecraft, if you will - demands that political leaders be familiar with the cutting edges of science and technology, so as to be able to steer economic development in such a way as to assure society does not bump up against environmental and resource limitations (the limitations which Jared Diamond explains so well in his book Collapse). Part of the cutting edges of science and technology are always the attempts to identify and demarcate the environmental and resource limitations in which society's economy must operate.

In other words, Keynesians were totally unprepared to deal with the 1970s oil shocks specifically, and peak oil generally.

Which brings us back to the articles in Foreign Affairs. Last week, Jon Larson had a blog post on his website showing how poorly insulation was installed in his Minnesota house when it was built in the 1950s, and mentioning that correcting the installation and bring the house up to the highest efficiency standards would cost about $40,000. (Hmm, where have we seen that number before?)
There are 85 million single family homes in the US, and just over 30 million apartment and condo units. $40,000 multiplied by 115 million is $4.6 trillion. Sounds like a lot of money? That is just one third of what the Treasury and the Federal Reserve used to save the useless predators of Wall Street and the banking system over the past six years - and what have we got to show for that?

The Scandinavians build houses that are so well engineered and so carefully constructed that they are beyond efficient. A new Scandinavian house can keep its occupants warm from just their body heat and the heat thrown off by a pc, a few appliances, and the light bulbs in use. That's pretty damn impressive, for being only a couple hundred miles from the Arctic Circle. But they don't build such structures using the cheapest labor they can illegally import. As Larson points out:
There are reasons for shoddy insulation. Installing it can be very unpleasant. The job is usually given to the lowest guy on the totem pole. It becomes just another task to finish as quickly as possible. Worse, [USA] architects take 50 times as much time selecting the bathroom tile than designing insulation systems and rarely design sufficient space for them.
And let's be truthful here - if you were to actually make your house as efficient as possible, meeting the highest USA standards, you would have accomplished more to reduce your carbon footprint than attending a dozen marches demanding action from our corporatist overlords. What are people demanding now to stop global climate change? Cap and trade? Carbon offsets? How about a $4.6 trillion program over the next five or ten years to radically rebuild and upgrade every single damn house and apartment building in America?
I want to end by pointing back to something Ian Welsh wrote back in late March:
Political decisions are important: in 1929 Hoover, the Fed, and later FDR did not bail out the rich. They were allowed to lose their money, and thus much of their power. That was a decision: another decision could have been made, and in 2008 it was made: the rich were bailed out. It was made differently in 2008 because the rich have spent the last 80 odd years obsessing over what went wrong in 1929 that allowed FDR, the New Deal and everything which flowed from it. Ben Bernanke's entire career was "how do we make sure the rich don't lose their money so that FDR doesn't happen." He was chosen to be the Fed Chairman precisely to ensure that the next Great Crash, which everyone who wasn't an idiot knew was coming, wouldn't wipe out the rich.
Make no mistake: the articles in Foreign Affairs are clear signs that USA elites are starting to worry that more and more of us are beginning to demand solutions that will, inevitably, have to either take away the wealth of the rich, or take away the power of the rich to create and allocate new money and credit.

Submitters Bio:

articles reprinted from

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014, OpEdNews

The Coming Climate Revolt
By Chris Hedges

If the response of the corporate state is repression rather than reform, then our strategy and our tactics must be different. We will have to cease our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak in the language of ... revolution.
Cross-posted from Truthdig

From Climate Change March in New York City
Chris Hedges made these remarks Saturday at a panel discussion in New York City titled "The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?" The other panelists were Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Kshama Sawant and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The event, moderated by Brian Lehrer, occurred on the eve of the People's Climate March in New York City. For a video of some of what the panelists said, click here.
We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades -- what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d'etat in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George McGovern -- who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military -- no longer exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the Democrats have not, as Bill Curry points out, enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early '70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as "inverted totalitarianism." By this, Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent.

The old liberal class, the safety valve that addressed grievances and injustices in times of economic or political distress, has been neutered. There are self-identified liberals, including Barack Obama, who continue to speak in the old language of liberalism but serve corporate power. This has been true since the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton found that by doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money -- thus NAFTA, the destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR's 1933 Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically brilliant. It forced the Republican Party to shift so far to the right it became insane.

By the time Clinton was done, the rhetoric of self-professed liberals was a public relations game. This is why there is continuity from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Obama's election did nothing to halt the expanding assault on civil liberties -- in fact Obama's assault has been worse -- the Bush bailouts of big banks, the endless imperial wars, the failure to regulate Wall Street, the hiring of corporate lobbyists to write legislation and serve in top government positions, the explosion of drilling and fracking, the security and surveillance state as well as the persecution of government whistle-blowers.

This audience is well aware of the Democratic Party's squalid record on the environment, laid out in detail in a new Greenpeace report written by Charlie Cray and Peter Montague, titled "The Kingpins of Carbon and Their War on Democracy." The report chronicles what it calls "a multi-decade war on democracy by the kingpins of carbon -- the coal, the oil, and gas industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian billionaires."

The Obama administration, in return for financial support from these kingpins of carbon, has cynically undermined international climate treaties, a fact we discovered only because of the revelations provided by Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. It uses its intelligence agencies, these revelations revealed, to spy on those carrying out climate negotiations to thwart caps on carbon emissions and push through useless, nonbinding agreements.

The Obama administration has overseen a massive expansion of fracking. It is pushing through a series of trade agreements such as the TPP and the TAFTA that will increase fracking along with expanding our exports of coal, oil and gas. It authorized the excavation of tar sands in Utah and Alabama. It approved the southern half of the Keystone pipeline. It has permitted seismic testing for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the East Coast and in parts of Alaska, a process that kills off hundreds of sea mammals. It authorized drilling within four miles of the Florida coastline, violating one of Obama's 2008 campaign promises. This expansion of offshore drilling reversed 20 years of federal policy.

If we appeal to self-identified liberals in the establishment who have no capacity or desire to carry out the radical reforms, we will pour energy into a black hole. And this is what the corporate state seeks. It seeks to perpetuate the facade of democracy. It seeks to make us believe what is no longer real, that if we work within the system we can reform it. And it has put in place a terrifying superstructure to silence all who step outside the narrow parameters it defines as acceptable.

The Democratic Party speaks to us "rationally." The party says it seeks to protect civil liberties, regulate Wall Street, is concerned about the plight of the working class and wants to institute reforms to address climate change. But in all these areas, and many more, it has, like its Republican counterpart, repeatedly sold out the citizenry for corporate power and corporate profits -- in much the same manner that Big Green environmental groups such as the Climate Group and the Environmental Defense Fund have sold out the environmental movement.

To assume that Obama, or the Democratic Party, because they acknowledge the reality of climate change, while the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party does not, is better equipped to deal with the crisis is incorrect. Republicans appeal to one constituency. The Democrats appeal to another. But both parties will do nothing to halt the ravaging of the planet.

If Wolin is right, and I believe he is, then when we begin to build mass movements that carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience, as I think everyone on this panel believes we must do, the corporate state, including the Democratic Party, will react the way all calcified states react. It will use the security and surveillance apparatus, militarized police forces -- and, under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, the military itself -- to shut down all dissent with force. The legal and organizational mechanisms are now in place to, with the flip of a switch, put the nation effectively under martial law. When acts of mass civil disobedience begin on Monday morning with Flood Wall Street and later with Occupy the U.N., the face of the corporate state will, as it did during the Occupy movement, reveal itself.

If the response of the corporate state is repression rather than reform, then our strategy and our tactics must be different. We will have to cease our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak in the language of ... revolution. We will have to carry out acts of civil disobedience that seek to cripple the mechanisms of corporate power.

The corporate elites, blinded by their lust for profit and foolish enough to believe they can protect themselves from climate change, will not veer from our path towards ecocide unless they are forced from power. And this means the beginning of a titanic clash between our corporate masters and ourselves.

Submitters Bio:

Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges' original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay "One Day We'll All Be Terrorists."

Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times' investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.

He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is "Death of the Liberal Class" (2010)

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper's Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.