Up Down Turned Around

UP DOWN TURNED AROUND

Voter’s Lament:
Social mobility; what exactly is that? Well, proper definition describes it in general terms as the status hierarchy of individuals or groups in a social system dealing with access to material wealth in the ability to climb up the social ladder. Social mobility is broad termed, so what we will elaborate on is its intra-generational vertical mobility which is more refined to changes in social status for a lifetime; in other words, the difference between a son’s social standing as compared to his father’s. After all, we all want our children to have more opportunities and a better future than we had. So, what’s currently occurring in the states?

During the era of fulfilling the American dream, just three generations ago when there was a solid three class system composed of a very strong middle class, upward mobility was an evident occurrence with the younger generation exceeding social status beyond their parents’ livelihoods. More middle class folks were able to make that jump from their rank and file to the upper, with the lower class even having a means to do so into the middle or, with access to the tools for upward mobility, even skip the middle class and advance up into the upper class. But alas, not anymore due to Republican attacks constantly denying the very instruments to lower classes in achieving vertical intra-generational mobility. Let’s see…

One of the best things this U.S. government has done for its citizenry was the GI Bill. This bill ignited a revolution of prosperity in the nation. All the military personnel returning as WW II and Korea veterans could now, no matter the class they came from, enroll into universities and colleges and further their education. This bill is what promoted and bolstered America’s middle class by allowing the GI’s an education, an essential tool to advance upwards. Thus an economic boom ensued, igniting construction and housing industries with the word, ‘suburb’ popping into Webster’s American dictionary. America was a powerhouse from the fifties into the nineties and every class was reaping the rewards. As far as social mobility went, America’s culture was thriving and was number one in social mobility from generation to generation in the entire globe. Not anymore.

Ronald Reagan’s administration really was the first to strike a heavy blow to America’s upward social mobility. Reagan was the first to eviscerate the unions, a major physical capital for the American middle class.

Reagan’s macroeconomics of a GDP based primarily on consumer consumption while simultaneously dismantling the middle class’ social net led to over-consumption, needless borrowing and zero savings. This rearranged America’s social structure by putting a much higher percentage of monies directly into the fewer hands of the wealthiest, while building up an indebted underclass. Reagan’s form of tax cuts led to a generation which was unable to invest in basic infrastructure. Reagan and George H. W. Bush’s administrations virtually ignored foreign assistance that came back to haunt us, for the unattended pandemic of AIDS reached our shorelines and geographical regions full of hunger, along with deprivation, extreme poverty and lack of education became the breeding grounds for terrorism. The William Clinton era reversed some of the Reagan errant excesses, but not enough.

The Republican controlled Houses did their darnest to deregulate Wall Street in the nineties and Bush years, with Republicans and Democrats alike linking up with Wall Street’s vast amount of wealth, pushing the common voter aside. George W. Bush’s administration promoted the biggest decline in the middle class with the sharpest rise in the fewer richest versus the mass poor. Under Bush, the average work week for the average American worker dropped to its lowest level ever at 32 hours per week and with fewer benefits. Bush and Cheney’s constant foreign over-borrowing and allowing budget deficits to soar with virtually no financial regulatory oversight, threw the country and the world into a financial crisis that hit us all very hard. But, ignoring the hurting American, Bush opts to come to the rescue of the ones at the core of the crisis by promptly bailing out financial institutions, socializing AIG, completely socializing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and literally threw freshly printed Fed money at GM.

Today, with the Republican House, guess what they are attacking? It is the very tools that greatly aid the father in handing the social baton over to the son. Republican vendettas have union bargaining rights, education, social programs and health care all on the chopping block. This definitely will erode the ladder of the social climber even further, but in turn, Republicans are also making sure the few richest remain on top and horde the wealth with all kinds of foreign investment and tax forgiveness.

So, are we the land of opportunity; not so much anymore. During the eighties and early nineties, America lost its top ranking in social mobility primarily to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, but too, Australia. During the Bush years, America took a back seat to Germany, Spain and our neighbor to the north, Canada. According to the ones who gather this data, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in their newest report, France has now superseded the U.S. We are declining.

So should the average American voter be wary enough and move off to Canada ensuring their child’s success in upward social mobility? No, not necessarily, but next time in the ballot box, just pay a little more attention in who you vote into office before pulling the lever.

Pensioner Regret:
Only 21% of Americans now have enough disposable income to invest, with the bulk of these Americans in the upper income bracket. With this in mind, retiring baby boomers are finding it really hard to retire even though they have a pension that they had paid into all their working years. According to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) at Boston College, averaged private pensions are only a quarter of what is required to adequately retire today. On top of that, between flat administration fees, management fees and the volatile market, pensions have been whittled down even more. These fees are costly over the lifetime of the pension adding every year $85 billion in profits for the financial industry. These profits amount to a quarter of the entire pension holdings. So, if someone retires with $400,000 he/she would have paid out $100,000 in service fees.

Now there are 401(k) pension plans, but their retirement benefits are even less impressive. Employers, due to being cheaper plans began switching to 401(k)’s more and more once they became available in the late seventies. The problem is, Congress created the 401(k) pension plan to strictly be a supplement to retirement income and was not intended to be the sole source of retirement income. Unfortunately, nearly 60% of households nearing retirement are on 401(k) retirement plans. In a study for Retirement USA conducted by the CRR, it would take the staggering amount of $6.6 trillion to close the gap for adequate retirement. Essentially, financial planners are asking their retiring clients not where they would like to go on their cruise but, “If one is out there, what kind of part-time job would you like to take up?

Proposal/Opposal:
Newly elected Republican governors pert near in every one of their respective states are following the same script. Look at ‘em, they’re taking away bargaining rights of working families and have cut into the social welfare of the average state citizen on the premise of their state’s debt and it going broke. But this is only after quietly giving away hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to their wealthiest citizens and largest corporations. The most famous, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker quietly reduced taxes $287 million for the top 1% of the state’s wealthiest citizens just before he began his tirade on public employees’ pension plans, wages and bargaining rights. Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, former Wall Street manager and Fox News commentator, gives $850 million in state income tax cuts benefiting primarily high-income Ohioans, then promptly passes a bill to deny teachers, firefighters, policemen and nurses their bargaining rights. In Pennsylvania, Governor Thomas Corbett defunded the state’s AdultBasic health program that was administered to low income families whom worked, but couldn’t afford costly private insurance premiums. He did this just prior to secretly giving away $833 million dollars in corporate tax breaks that according to research performed by the nonpartisan Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, will cost the state an averaged 10,000 jobs.

It’s ludicrous to allow someone who makes $350 million a day to only pay the same amount in income taxes of a married couple making $250,000 in a year. Frankly, how do you maintain a democracy by, of and for the people when taxation, health finance and retirement is more and more favoring the few wealthiest and abandoning the rest.

In the pursuit of higher profits, nurtured corporations are being accommodated by Republicans to this avarice end. In contrast, middle class demonstrators are protesting against Republican agendas not for greed, but for survival.

Aw Hell the King:
Republican New York Representative, Peter King this week held his inquisition hearings on Moslems in America. From his own admission, he is obsessed by Muslim terrorists. According to King, the hearings are to root out Islamic terrorist cells that he supposes are scattered across America, then bring them to justice. His hearings, officially with the long-winded title, ‘The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response,’ did not turn out so well.

First off, while King was claiming he will be a fair and impartial judge on Moslem activity as chairman of the hearings, he once publicly complained, “We have unfortunately, we have, a uh, too many mosques in this country, too many people who are sympathetic to radical Islam.” Now, he crowns himself as King of the Moslem hearings. Secondly, much to King’s displeasure, there was much testimony of Moslem Americans performing heroic deeds such as an Arab paramedic giving his life in responding to 9/11 after saving lives. Of countless eastern Moslems in the U.S. military saving lives while giving up their own in combat for their adopted country. For some, their final resting place is beside their fellow GI comrades in Arlington cemetery. During the hearings King’s former statement was brought up where he tried to rearrange his comment to appear more subtle, but his exact words have been recorded for historical posterity.

Many Americans of other diverse ethnic origins testified of having fond memories growing up in Moslem American communities. Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) of Italian descent, explained in how growing up in America’s second largest Moslem community, he’d spent more time eating Moslem cuisine from his neighbors than Italian food at home.

Representative Candice Miller of Michigan showed the bias and ignorance representative of her Republican colleagues by claiming she didn’t want to stigmatize her “Arabic neighbors.” What exactly does she mean by this? Her “Arabic” statement could be interpreted in many a way. Does she not know that there is distinction between the ‘Arabic’ language and the religion Islam? If she meant Arab instead of ‘Arabic,’ does she not know that Arabs are a diverse ethnic group comprising not only Moslems, but Christians, Baha’i, Druze and other religious groups?

As far as American history goes, the first Muslim to enter territory that was to become part of the USA was the Berber, Estevanico of Azamor, who, in the early 1500s explored land that is now New Mexico and Arizona. In 1790, Moroccan Moslems were granted a community in South Carolina by state legislatures. In the 1880s there was a big wave of Moslem immigration to the States and assimilated so well into American culture, it almost exempted their Islamic heritage.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin in the late 1700s, all praised Muslims, guaranteed their religious freedoms and citizen rights with Washington even personally willing to hire them.

The irony of this in exercising but yet another Republican witch hunt is that King himself has been an outspoken and strong supporter of a terrorist group. King has sponsored and praised the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and has been one of the most zealous American supporters of the terrorist group comparing Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein to George Washington. King justified this when stating, “The British government is a murder machine,” even though the IRA was the first to master the art of car bombs.

Tom Parker, a counter terrorism specialist at Amnesty International, who while attending a birthday party was injured by an IRA delivered bomb, states, “My problem with him [King] is the hypocrisy. If you say that terrorist violence is acceptable in one setting because you happen to agree with the cause, then you lose the authority to condemn it in another setting.”

When the KKK was mentioned as an extremist group, King countered that it is urgent to single out the American Moslem community by responding, “It makes no sense to talk about other types of extremism when the main threat to the United States today is talking about al-Qaeda.” Oh really, according to FBI data compiled into a January 2011 report, there are almost two times more domestic terrorist acts committed by non-Moslem extremists than by Moslem. Since 9/11, there have been 80 domestic terrorist acts committed by anti-government, anti-taxes, Christian extremists and white supremists as opposed to 45 by Moslem groups.

In justifying his obsessed stance in pursuing one terrorist group but in abetting and aiding another, King points out that it was al-Qaeda who invaded America, not the IRA. Foremost, al-Qaeda does not represent the vast majority of Moslems while secondly, all terrorist groups show no bias in who they kill, whether it be an innocent man, woman, child or infant.

Enviro Err:
With unscripted moments and blow-dried vendettas, House Republicans are attempting to take away the fundamental rights in access to fresh air and clean water from all Americans by catering to corporation higher profit margins. Polluting industries do not want to take the high road in being responsible stewards to Earth’s fragile ecosystems and are very lax in incorporating innovative actions and ingenious ideas towards greener operations. It appears Republicans concur with U.S. industry as they are accommodating polluters with their wish list at the expense and health of our well being. Their ruse is always the same broken record…take care of industry and corporation demands and whelms and they will create jobs; but it never transpires. In fact it is the opposite. American capitalism strategy has been laying-off workers right and left since the Bush years while receiving record profits. Case in point is the oil companies. After posting a record of record profits during the first decade of the 21st century, the three oil companies Exxon/Mobil, Chevron and BP had a net -5.9 lay-off/hiring ratio. That means they laid-off 5.9% more than they hired. Exxon/Mobil alone reported a net profit of $45.2 billion in 2008. To give some perspective, Exxon/Mobil’s (a company) yearly revenue exceeded Saudi Arabia’s (an oil rich country) annual gross domestic product all the while the U.S. government, driven by Republican insistence, grants the oil company millions in subsidies and tax cuts. Now, House Republicans, with the wimpy reason to relieve the polluting industry of overburdened regulations are gutting the EPA of funding by almost a third of its total budget.

What regulation is overburdening the profits of polluters when it comes to breathing the air that was meant to be breathed in? What is overburdening in protecting the majestic peaks of West Virginia mountains tops? What is overburdening in ensuring citizens the right to drink clean water? What is overburdening in preserving the natural balance of wildlife? What is overburdening in witnessing the natural beauty of our vanishing pristine environments?

We do not own this one Earth, we only inherit it during our time spent here and as accountable attendants, should pass it on to our children in its most pristine state to experience the same environmental quality of life we had.

We need to begin listening more seriously to wildlife experts and professional climatologists rather than politicians with monetary mandates, while having no experience or expertise in these fields. Politicians need to step aside. Those politicians that stick their foot in their mouth when they belch out words on a topic they dont have any knowledge of, need to take heed. Silly statements like John Boehner stating that cows emit carbon dioxide during their dirty business; we all know it is not CO2 , but methane…or Marsha Blackburn in her HR 97 insisting that carbon dioxide, hexafluorides and perfluorocarbons are not pollutants. The sadness of it all is shes not kidding. But how so asinine and callous are her actions. Just one PFC alone, hexafluoroethane, has a greenhouse warming potential (GWP) effect 9,200 times that of carbon dioxide. But without doubt the topper of them all is Oklahoma senator, James Inhofe. Though he never got a reception to pander to, Inhofe flew to the Denmark climate talks in 2009 because it was so urgent for him to proclaim to all the attending scientists, officials and reporters that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Hollywood elite.Just in 2010 alone, the Clean Air Acts programs to reduce particle and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks, while the economic benefits of those programs will reach about $2 trillion by 2020.

The EPA is called the Environmental Protection Agency for a reason...it is here to protect the environment. If the EPA becomes defunded who else with teeth ever will? The very entity that does the pollution certainly won’t. That was tried during the Bush administration’s time and has failed miserably. Through Cheney’s infamous energy task force secret meetings, energy companies were allowed by the Bush administration to put into legislation self regulation and keep issues away from the EPA. Cheney could only have this done by Bush issuing an executive order. Only 14 out of the 300 members actually enacted any type of self governing programs and as Obama had to inherit the task force legislation, it continued to operate in regulating the industry. Guess what, not only have they weakened anti-pollution power plant regulations, the BP oil spill is a direct result of the industry’s self regulation. Instead of requiring a remote controlled shut-off mechanism, which most likely would have prevented the oil spill from the Horizon rig, the task force considered it too costly and decided that BP could go with a cheaper alternative plan, which we all know now it didn’t work and have a whole polluted coastline to show for it.

In addition to eviscerating the EPA, the Clean Air and Water Acts, 693,900 jobs will be lost if the House Republican bill would pass with cut backs to the GDP to boot. A recent NBC/Wall St. poll revealed 51% wants the government to do more, while 46% do not. Also, in the same polling, jobs (56%) had priority over the deficit (40%).

On a close to finally note, if Republicans want to quit wasting tax dollars, then stop the U.S. Ex-Im Bank from financing one of the world’s largest coal polluting plants residing in South Africa. First off, the coal plant is a foreign company that has no business being financed by a U.S. bank that uses American tax dollars to do its bidding. How is that you might ask? Well, the bank is chartered as a government corporation by the Congress of the United States, so is tax dollar funded and that is how is that.

Let’s have a little pretended fun shall we. This could have funny connotations for ya, but nonetheless renders pondering thoughts. Now, honestly choose and void being coy or cute in your choosing. If you truly had to be, would you prefer being a virgin forest or would you instead defer and choose to be an industrial parking lot? I’m hopeful in your choice that the environment still has qualitative impact upon you…

Into the Mid East:
With all the Republicans clamoring to rush us into a military no fly zone around and through Libya, one is not and that is the Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates. If as Republicans profess that the U.S. is so broke that it can no longer support domestic programs that ensure an infant is properly fed and its health is taken care of, then how in the Hades can we afford initiating and maintaining another foreign military venture.

To close out, I’m going to speak of the consequences of Middle East governments governing by the motto of: 'Either I govern you, or I kill you.' These uprisings of citizen protest are a natural event in finally pushing back and saying we've had enough, we want our basic rights instituted. With that in mind, let’s conclude with a furthering thought.

It takes two kinds of people to make a human being. One, known as man has pretty much taken credit for all these uprisings. The other one, the subjugated one known as woman has been just as important in these uprising causes, but has not received much due credit.

As far as the Middle East woman factor goes, there has been a history of Arab and Persian women taking up protests and demonstrations, but this time in their profound impact in playing a role in the calls for more freedom, women are not going to be told thank ya kindly for your time maam, now go back home. No, they too are going to be liberated. Not only is women’s presence being felt during these revolutions, their rights this time are going to bear fruit.

Middle East female leadership has arrived to stay. This time they are not going to be shoved aside.


BJA
Independent
03/11/2011