Austerity

July 15, 2012

There has been a lot of talk recently about austerity, and how bad it is.

First of all there remains plenty of fat to cut from the bloated budgets of the Med. countries.  Spain has spent the last 30 years padding government, building patronage networks, creating unnecessary departments, and buying off every special interest they need to get elected.  Money has so often been spent not on need or necessity, but on favoring a certain groups who help win elections, the worst of which are politicians, government workers, and public sector unions, who have acquired amazing privileges and favors…all at the public´s expense.

Of course, just because there is waste does not mean that politicians will cut it out.  In fact politicians tend to resist cutting back on favors to their most favored groups.  So we have cuts to hospitals, and overworked staff, while no one in the government is fired, and incompetent banks make off with billions of public money.  Greece has resisted tooth and nail every attempt to clean up the system and make the country more competitive.

There is too much emphasis in the government in closing the budget gap with new taxes.  All this does is hurt the economy, and the government ends up collecting less than expected, because taxes depress activities which are taxed.   Instead the government should remove the waste, bloat and duplication which abounds.  With an emphasis on efficiency and efficacy, and prioritizing spending to where it is really needed, Spain could eliminate the deficit, help the economy and still maintain the quality of vital services.

In addition the government needs to liberalize the economy, get rid of unnecessary regulations, introduce genuine competition, let banks fail, etc.  The main reason why the Spanish economy has been locked in recession for 4 years (with no end in sight) is because the economic system is over taxed and regulated and the economy is not allowed to do what it needs to do to become competitive, so it languishes for a years in an uncompetitive state and perpetual crisis.

Finally, the Socialist system in Med. countries creates a seniority system in which older more established workers are favored, while the youth bear the brunt of the recession.  Spanish youth employment is 50%, and many of the best and brightest are leaving, taking their skills with them.  They have the qualifications, but so many cannot find a job, because the older generation has monopolized so much employment.  The worst example is the public sector where incompetent civil servants, who do not even go to work, are protected.  Meanwhile, there is a hiring free in the government due to austerity.  In sum, current incompetent workers are safe, but even the most qualified new applicants cannot get a job due to the firing freeze.  Why not fire the non performing government workers to make room for bright new hires?  That would make sense, but the government does not do it.

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Why are banks getting into trouble?

July 15, 2012

Recently is seems that financial institutions are plagued by scandal after scandal, whether it is Madoff, MFGlobal, the Barclay´s LIBOR mess, MPMorgan, or the Robo signing fraud in mortgages, etc.  Actually we should not be surprised.  We have a situation where breaking the law, and taking very risky actions is profitable.  In a functioning market incompetent companies are eliminated.  But we are in the era of too big to fail, also known as the era of no consequences, and banks are not allowed to feel the effects of their malfeasance.  Bailing out incompetent banks goes back decades to at least the Savings & Loan scandal. Over time a culture of corruption has been allowed to grow and flourish with impunity.

Neither is the government effectively regulating the banks to keep them in line.  Banks can break the law, and if they get caught, they only have to pay a fine, which is almost always less than what they earned by breaking the law in the first place.  No one ever seems to go to jail anymore, at least if that person works for a large financial institution.

Spain is in austerity now, but there appears to be 100 Billion Euros laying around to save the incompetent banks.  Many of their directors earned millions in compensation, while they ran their banks into the ground, and they get to keep the money, while hospitals have to cut back.

The same is true in the UK where Cameron is cutting back on social services, but then makes a sweetheart deal with Richard Branson, to sell to him billions of pounds of quality loans, thus enabling him to make out like a bandit.

After 4 years of bank crisis, we still have not reinstated Glass-Stegal, despite the fact that almost everyone agrees that repealing the law is what set the stage for the trouble that we are in now.

It is obvious that the banks have taken control of our governments and are allowed to run riot.  The people need to stand up and let our leaders know that we have had enough.  And if we are not satisfied, we will vote them out of office.  It is time for a change in parties and a wholesale cleaning of the political class.  People need to stop the pointless partisan tribalistic bickering and focus on the bigger picture, which is corruption in government, and the need to get special interests our of the government.  Those in power love to see the people exhaust and distract themselves in endless partisan squabbling, while the elites are able to make off with the safe.  Divide and conquer.  I suspect that a lot of the rabid hatred towards the Tea Party movement by the left is a divide and conquer strategy.  If The Tea Party and the Occupy movement can spend all of their time fighting each other, then there is little energy left to fight the corruption and abuse of power by those running the country.  The Tea Party and Occupy are really just two sides of the same coin.  They are both grassroots organizations of people fed up with business as usual.  They should be united, but instead they are at each other´s throats (mostly because the left has been brimming with hated for the Tea Party since day one…for some reason).

In terms of who is screwing up the country it is not a either- or situation.  Both big business AND the government are the problem, and increasingly they are so in bed with each other, that they are often hard to tell apart.  There is a fusion between big business and government which is toxic.  But those on the left want to talk about how bad corporations are, while too often ignoring abuse and corruption in government, because big government is seen as a good ideologically.  The right is often guilty of the same but in reverse, focusing on big government, but giving corporations a pass too often.  In the end it is just two heads of the same hydra, and both need to be controlled.

Another thing that I hate are those who are so partisan that they will always excuse the mess that their own party makes with the excuse that “at least they are not the other party”.  There are lots of people who will vote for Obama, no matter how bad he is, because “at least he is not Romney”.  Any Republicans do the same overlooking Romney´s considerable shortcomings, because “at least he is not Obama”.  Politicians love these kinds of voters, because they never hold their leaders accountable.

It is time to say “None of the above!” and vote in fresh blood.  Our ruling class has failed us and needs to go.  Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of the dualolopy of our two party system, which offers little choice, and less genuine reform.  In the next election please vote for a third party candidate.


Audit the FED!

July 15, 2012

Here is the latest on Ron Paul´s efforts to audit the fed.  Please sign the petition below.

http://chooseliberty.org/auditrphf3.aspx?pid=0703

After years of fighting for a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve, Campaign for Liberty stands on the verge of turning Audit the Fed into the law of the land!

Congressman Ron Paul’s H.R. 459 passed out of committee and is scheduled for a vote THIS JULY in the U.S. House, and Senator Rand Paul stands ready to advance S. 202 in the Senate.

As Congress continues to spend TRILLIONS of taxpayer dollars, and the Federal Reserve keeps operating without any real transparency or accountability, it’s never been more important to turn up the pressure and finish this fight!

With your help, C4L can send a clear message to Capitol Hill: Pass the Audit the Fed bill!

After you complete the below petition to your representative, please also make a generous contribution to help Campaign for Liberty get more folks in this fight through email, phones, social media, and press.

Campaign for Liberty operates as government should, meaning we will not go into debt. Our efforts to Reclaim the Republic and Restore the Constitution are only possible thanks to our members’ ongoing financial support.

Pass Audit the Fed Petition to:
My Representative

Whereas:   The Federal Reserve still refuses to give a full public accounting of the TRILLIONS in recent taxpayer-backed loans; and
Whereas:   The U.S. House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 459, the Audit the Fed bill, this July; and
Whereas:   Allowing the Fed to remain out of control and shrouded in secrecy clearly allows for abuse and the continued stealing of our tax dollars through inflation and unaccounted electronic bank “loans”; and
Whereas:   The Federal Reserve’s abuses lead to constant economic crises like the current housing crisis, international banking crisis, and the resulting chaos; and
Whereas:   The Federal Reserve System forces fuel, food, housing, medical care, and education costs upward, meaning that everyone who is NOT on the government dole is forced to make do with less as the value of money slowly decreases; and
Whereas:   History shows us that riots, violence, and full-scale police states can result when people finally realize fiat money isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and REFUSE to accept it;
Therefore: I urge you to vote “Yes” on a complete and thorough audit of the Fed this July.

GMOs

July 15, 2012

Monsanto is at it again, and our government is going along.  This from NaturalNews.

naturalnews.com printable article

Originally published July 15 2012

‘Monsanto Protection Act’ to grant biotech industry total immunity over GM crops?

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) While millions of Americans were busy celebrating freedom from tyranny during the recent Independence Day festivities, Monsanto was actively trying to thwart that freedom with new attacks on health freedom. It turns out that the most evil corporation in the world has quietly attached riders to both the 2012 Farm Bill and the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would essentially force the federal government to approve GMOs at the request of biotechnology companies, and prohibit all safety reviews of GMOs from having any real impact on the GMO approval process.

The Alliance for Natural Health – USA (ANH-USA), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and several other health freedom advocacy groups have been actively drawing attention to these stealth attacks in recent days, and urging Americans to rise up and oppose them now before it is too late. If we fail to act now as a single, unified community devoted to health freedom, in other words, America’s agricultural future could literally end up being controlled entirely by the biotech industry, which will have full immunity from the law.

You can fight back now against these threats to food freedom by visiting:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm

Full exemption from the law for the biotech industry

Authored by Congressmen and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill rider, known as the “farmer assurance provision” (Section 733), specifically outlines that the Secretary of Agriculture will be required, upon request, to “immediately” grant temporary approval or deregulation of a GM crop, even if that crop’s safety is in question or under review.

In other words, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is strong-armed into approving a new GM crop that is later legally challenged in court (which is basically what happened for GM sugar beets and GM alfalfa), the Secretary of Agriculture, under the provisions of the Kingston rider, will be required to approve the cultivation and sale of that crop anyway, even if a higher court has already ordered a moratorium on that crop.

“A so-called ‘Monsanto rider,’ quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, would require — not just allow, but require — the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed,” wrote Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins in a recent piece for AlterNet.

“All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation’s food supply.”

You can read the rider for yourself, which begins on page 86, Sec. 733 of the following document:
http://appropriations.house.gov

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) introduces amendment to kill ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

According to the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations website, the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, with the Kingston rider, was already approved by the committee on June 19. (http://appropriations.house.gov) But it will move next to the House floor, where debate and further amendment proposals will take place — this means there is still time to fight it.

One amendment being proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) seeks to altogether eliminate the Kingston rider, which has now been dubbed by the health freedom community as the Monsanto Protection Act, from the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. You can urge your Congressmen to support Rep. DeFazio’s amendment to kill the Monsanto Protection Act by emailing (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm) or calling (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25778.cfm) them.

Committee Farm Bill riders would destroy safeguards that protect farmers, environment from untested GMOs

Another serious food freedom threat exists in the House Agriculture Committee’s discussion draft of the contentious 2012 Farm Bill, where Monsanto et al. have inserted key language, via corrupt legislators of course, that will dismantle existing federal law as it pertains to regulating GM crops, and replace it with a free-for-all system where biotech giants are basically free to grow and market whatever GMOs they please without resistance or legal challenge.

“Deliberately buried in the House Agriculture Committee’s voluminous discussion draft of the 2012 Farm Bill, these significant changes to the Plant Protection Act (PPA) — one of the few statutes that regulate GE crops — will counter the gains that have been made to protect our food supply and the farmers who grow it,” writes Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one of the key groups fighting back against this Monsanto sneak attack.

“The provisions (Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014) would force the rushed commercialization of GE crops, create a backdoor approval for Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ corn and eliminate any meaningful review of the impacts of these novel crops” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com).

These provisions would explicitly outlaw any review of the environmental or human impacts of GM crops under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other environmental laws as well. Only the USDA would be allowed to review the safety of GM crops, and this review process would be so severely neutered that the USDA would essentially operate as a formal “rubber stamp” for approving the biotech industry’s offerings.

Both sets of riders threaten to eliminate every remaining semblance of regulatory power that “We the People” have over our own food system. If passed, these riders will abolish virtually all remaining protections over the American food supply, and allow Monsanto and the rest of Big Ag to completely control what is grown, and how it is grown.

There is still time to fight back against these heinous threats to food freedom, but swift action is necessary to stop Congress from hammering the last few nails into the coffin of American food freedom.

Be sure to contact your Congressmen right now and demand their support for Rep. Peter DeFazio’s amendment to eliminate the Monsanto rider from the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, as well as their opposition to Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014 of the 2012 Farm Bill:
(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm)

Sources for this article include:

http://www.anh-usa.org/urgent-action-alert-on-two-gmo-amendments/

http://www.alternet.org

http://rt.com/usa/news/monsanto-bill-immunity-court-862/

http://fooddemocracynow.org

Remember you can sign the petition below.

(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm)


Just How Gree is Apple

July 15, 2012

One of the great ironies-or hypocrisies-is that the prototypical Apple computer user is a hip upper income leftist who lives in San Fransisco, and considers himself to be progressive, enlightened, noble, politically correct, pro environmental and pro human rights person.  Apple makes some great products, but they have never been especially concerned about the environment, despite the fact that they have fat profit margins.  Steve Jobs created a money making machine designed to extract maximum profits at any costs.  By now Apple is so rolling in cash that they could afford to improve their environmental credentials and workers conditions.  Instead they want to make more and more money.

Apple products have always been non modular, thus encouraging people to throw away their products when only one piece breaks.  They have also been very successful at creating a mania where a lot of people buy the latest Apple product mainly to show off to their friends and peers, and get social status.  Once a few months have passed, a new version is released and they feel compelled to go out and buy the latest version, or be left stuck with the “old” model and their self respect and dignity in tatters.  Obviously buying a new device every year or less is not smart spending and is not good for the environment either.

It makes me wonder if these of oh so progressive and enlightened individuals from San Francisco who compulsively buy Apple products maybe do it to show off and gain social status, and frankly they do not care much about either the environment or working conditions in China.  It seems like more hypocrisy from the left, just like Al Gore who wails about Global Warming, while his personal energy consumption is thru the roof.  Or the leftist celebrity complaining about how bad the rich are while continuing to live a life of wealth and luxury.  To me all of this looks like self-serving hypocrisy, to gain social status within one´s group by appearing to be “enlightened and progressive”, while in reality behaving fundamentally like most people do-self-servingly.  A further rub is that a lot of these people like to look down on the rest of the population, because they consider anyone who is not like them to be morally inferior, and not sufficiently “enlgihtened”.

Of course hypocrisy is not exclusive to the left.  The right also has plenty too.

Here is the article from Care2 on Apple and its environmental credentials.

How Green Was Apple: Products Lose Environmentally Friendly Designation

97 commentsHow Green Was Apple: Products Lose Environmentally Friendly Designation

Apple has withdrawn itself from a program granting environmentally friendly certification to electronic products. According to CNET, it was late last month that Apple announced that it would no longer submit its devices to the nonprofit EPEAT group for green certification and that it was also withdrawing its currently certified products from the organization’s registry.

The Environmental Protection Agency helps to fund EPEAT, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool. EPEAT describes itself as “the leading global environmental rating system for electronic products, connecting purchasers to environmentally preferable choices and benefiting producers who demonstrate environmental responsibility and innovation.” An EPEAT seal means that, as Joel Schechtman writes on the the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal, a product is “recyclable and designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental harm.”

So why did Apple drop out from EPEAT?The reason is the “design direction” for its products, as EPEAT CEO Robert Frisbee says in CIO Journal. To meet EPEAT’s standards, products need to be easy to take apart, so their components can be recycled. But such is not the case with Apple’s star products, the iPhone, the iPad and the new MacBook Pro with Retina display, as Schechtman explains:

One of Apple’s newest products, the MacBook Pro with a high-resolution “Retina” display, was nearly impossible to fully disassemble, said Kyle Wiens, co-founder of iFixit.com, a website that provides directions for users to repair their own machines. The battery was glued to the case, and the glass display was glued to its back. The product, released just a month ago, had not been submitted for EPEAT certification, according to the organization.

If battery is glued to the case, neither part can be recycled.

Schechtman also cites Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, who says that Apple’s intent is not to make it hard to open the cases of its devices. Rather, “they are just trying to pack as much as they can into a small space–it’s a design decision,” Wu notes. It is also a business decision, with consumers eager for smaller, thinner, lighter products.

Apple, as Wu also notes, will very likely soon devise an “alternate standard for its own products.” But should not consumers be wary of Apple using standards it creates to proclaim how environmentally friendly its own products are?

The word is out that a new, smaller, iPad Mini is in the works: How “green,” how recyclable, will this new device be?
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/how-green-was-apple.html#ixzz20hYfbxJf


Internet Freedom, Corrupt Bankers and GMOs.

July 15, 2012

The fight continues for internet freedom against the forces of control, tyranny and monopolization concerning internet freedom, banks out of control and hidden GMOs.

Please sign the petitions below:

 http://act.demandprogress.org/cms/thanks/vs_hollywood?action_id=6610291&akid=.1947785.mG6Wrg&rd=1&taf=1

Home

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Defending your rights in the digital world

Sign the Declaration of Internet Freedom

Join EFF and Internet users worldwide in calling on elected officials to uphold rights in the digital world.

The EFF community and millions of others fought together to stop SOPA and the powerful interests that sought to limit our innovation and free speech.

Now it’s time to take the next step. EFF has worked with a broad coalition of public interest groups to create the Declaration of Internet Freedom. The Declaration is simple: it offers five core principles that should guide any policy relating to the Internet.

We believe that these principles are worth fighting for.

Join us. Sign now to join a growing movement fighting for rights in the digital world and send a letter to your Congressional Representatives asking them to join you in supporting a free and open Internet.

https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8750

Declaration of Internet Freedom

internet icon

Preamble

We believe that a free and open Internet can bring about a better world. To keep the Internet free and open, we call on communities, industries and countries to recognize these principles. We believe that they will help to bring about more creativity, more innovation and more open societies.

We are joining an international movement to defend our freedoms because we believe that they are worth fighting for.

Let’s discuss these principles — agree or disagree with them, debate them, translate them, make them your own and broaden the discussion with your community — as only the Internet can make possible.

Join us in keeping the Internet free and open.

[You can interact with the following text on reddit, Techdirt, Cheezburger, Github, KeeptheWebOpen and Rhizome.]

Declaration

We stand for a free and open Internet.

We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:

Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.

Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.

Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.

Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.

Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

http://www.internetdeclaration.org/freedom

This is one of the biggest abuses of judicial power. They want to extradite a British national to the US for nothing, while bankers commit serial fraud on a massive scale, and get away with it Scott- free.

Join Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales: Protect Internet Freedom And Seek Justice for Richard O’Dwyer

Hi, I am Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and if you care about justice and the future of Internet freedom, Demand Progress and I need your help. This will only take a few seconds, but you can really help us change things for the better.

Richard O’Dwyer is a 24 year old British student at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. He is facing extradition to the USA and up to ten years in prison, for creating a website – TVShack.net – which linked (similarly to a search-engine) to places to watch TV and movies online.

O’Dwyer is not a US citizen, he’s lived in the UK all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the US. America is trying to prosecute a UK citizen for an alleged crime which took place on UK soil.

The Internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship in response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online.

Please sign on at right here to join me in demanding that British authorities refuse to extradite O’Dwyer, and that US officials cease persecuting him.

When operating his site, Richard O’Dwyer always did his best to play by the rules: on the few occasions he received requests to remove content from copyright holders, he complied. His site hosted links, not copyrighted content, and these were submitted by users.

Copyright is an important institution, serving a beneficial moral and economic purpose. But that does not mean that copyright can or should be unlimited. It does not mean that we should abandon time-honored moral and legal principles to allow endless encroachments on our civil liberties in the interests of the moguls of Hollywood.

Richard O’Dwyer is the human face of the battle between the content industry and the interests of the general public. Earlier this year, in the fight against SOPA and PIPA, the public won its first big victory. This could be our second.

This is why I am petitioning the UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the extradition of Richard O’Dwyer, and asking the United States to end his prosecution. I hope you will join me.

– Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder

Just add your name at right to sign on and email UK and US authorities.

http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/odwyer/?akid=1423.1947785.uKb7Fa&rd=1&t=2

Here is a petition to put bankers behind bars. I completely agree.

Big banks have been caught in a massive scam to rig global interest rates, ripping off millions of people on their mortgages, student loans and more! We’d go to jail for this, but Barclays bank has only been fined, and just a fraction of their profits! Outrage is mounting — this is our chance to finally turn the tide of the banks’ reign over our democracies.

The EU finance regulator, Michel Barnier is standing up to the powerful bank lobby and championing reform that would put bankers behind bars for fraud like this. If the EU goes first, accountability could quickly spread across the globe. But the banks are lobbying hard against it, and we need a massive surge of people power to drive these reforms through.

If we can get 1 million people to stand with Barnier in the next 3 days, it will give him momentum to face down the banking lobby and push governments to bring reform. Sign the petition, and our growing numbers will be represented by adding mock bankers to a jail right in front of the EU Parliament.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bankers_behind_bars_f/?bAGdrab&v=15952

Please sign the JustLabelIt petition concerning GMOs.

http://justlabelit.org/