The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing. —Ralph Peters
Reality Check: Wisconsin Governor Walker claims that public employees salaries and pensions are responsible for the budget crisis, and that crushing the unions is the only possible solution. But, the budget “crisis” is a $200 million shortfall over two years, $117 million of which is due to three bills Walker and the GOP passed last month. The $3 billion shortfall he cites is of his own making. Wisconsin state employees do not have his alleged “extremely generous benefits packages”, and in fact get paid about 5% less than equally experienced and educated private sector workers.
Match The Following:Pair up the country with the type of violence used to put down pro-democracy protests: Bahrain, Iraq, Libya, Wisconsin and Yemen, with Batons, Grenades, Shotguns, Tear Gas and Water Cannons. Which are not US allies?
Rhetorical Question: Could rising food prices spark an Egyptian-style upheaval in Africa?
There You Go Again: Just as the stock markets are reaching post crash highs and the only way is up, up, up, along comes those Gallop poll folks reporting that unemployment is up to 10% in mid-February, and underemployment has reached 19.6% again. Plus the percentage of people 55 and over in the work force (42%) is the highest level in 35 years – they don't dare retire as long as the long knives are threatening Social Security.
Easy Does It: "The Solution in Afghanistan: Get Out"
The Wording: A new study concludes that human activities have "likely made intense precipitation stronger, on average, over the second half of the 20th century,” explaining that "The observed change cannot be explained by natural fluctuations of the climate system alone."
Kinder, Gentler: Complaining that “all currently fielded non-leathal ammunition is single shot”, the US Army says it “has a requirement for rapid-fire non-leathal” weapons and is seeking bids for a “rubber bullet” machine gun.
Vocabulary Test: Use the word 'agnotology' (culturally-induced ignorance) in a sentence. Extra credit for working in the word 'shibboleth'. Usual prizes.
Now They Tell Me: The question: Why Does College Cost So Much? The answer: “The service often is the time of the service provider, and you cannot use less of the provider’s time without compromising the quality of the service. Also, the service providers … are highly educated, highly skilled workers. In the last quarter of the last century, economic forces generated rapidly increasing wages for highly educated, highly skilled workers. The combination of these two factors, slow productivity growth and rapidly expanding wages, results in rapidly rising prices.” Translation: Because they can get away with it.
Parallels: Do some members of the American Capitalist Financial system make as much off illegal drugs as they do from war and ongoing Pentagon contracts?
Baby It's Coal Outside: A Harvard professor reports that if public health costs are included in the cost of coal, along with the environmental damage done by mining – and ignoring the eventual costs to us all from global warming – the coal industry inflicts a $345 billion in hidden costs on the public every year.
Disconnect:Part of the problem with the US economy is that large numbers of Americans believe “that the government is responsible for what happens” to them. As sophisticated investors know, this is incorrect. The government is responsible only for what happens to AIG and Goldman Sachs.