Monday, August 04, 2008

Bread lines in Paradise

By Capt. Fogg

"The numbers are going through the roof. We think we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg"
said the Salvation Army volunteer. It seems that all of a sudden middle class families aren't contributing to local food banks any more, they're showing up hungry because they have to choose between going to work, filling their prescriptions, paying bills and eating. Air conditioning is being switched off in the oppressive heat and humidity of a Florida summer. Bush's recent experiment in socialism and wealth redistribution seems to have had results as ephemeral as the prizes on Queen For a Day. The $600 was gobbled up and disappeared in a flash. Fewer and fewer economic prognosticators see any end in sight. Efforts to pretend we're not in a recession seem increasingly strained if not comical.

Donations to food pantries are down by 30% and the number of people showing up looking for food is up by 50% in some places. Layoffs, foreclosures, medical bills have to be weighed against fuel and food costs. It's a question of survival. The Florida Treasure Coast is home to some of the world's wealthiest people. Nearly all of them seem to be committed Republicans and Bush received heavy support here. There are no Democratic candidates for local offices. I can't get through a day without hearing angry remarks about liberals taking God off the money and out of the Pledge." You still see "W" and "Under God" stickers on cars.

Even more comical are the passionate screeds I receive by e-mail, warning about how Barak Obama is going to ruin the economy if elected. Higher taxes will make our economy collapse, they assert despite the lessons of history and despite this latest evidence of the idiocy of Bush's dumbed down and more crooked version of Reaganomics.

The letter I got last night had the audacity to blame our economic decline on Bill Clinton and his high taxes, Bill Clinton and his failure to attack bin Laden, Bill Clinton and his emasculation of our military. It blames Liberals for making it too hard to criticize a black candidate although it continually reminds us that Obama's father was black. It's hard to believe this is the work of a believer and not of a propaganda mill, but it was forwarded to me by someone who believes it all, hates Obama and inexplicably is a lifelong Democrat.

Election time is always slime time in America, but it's also a reminder that Americans aren't rid of racism, don't give a damn about freedom or prosperity or about their fellow citizens. We care about our taxes. We bitch about our taxes and we blame everything but the weather on the fact that we have to pay taxes topay for what we think grows on trees. We still look for a president who is a chimera composed of pieces of a South American General and a South Georgia preacher who was born in a log cabin and shares our distaste for paying our bills and loves a big military parade with marching bands. McCain is a "military man" Obama is not -- an easy decision.

Democracy is for adults. We're not and I'm finding it harder and harder to give a damn about this country's future.

Cross posted from Human Voices

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Blogger rockync said...

I think the deeper roots of the economic problems in America stem from the fast and loose, blind eye, nod the financial institutions have enjoyed from the government all these years.
The younger generation has been bombarded since childhood with the power of plastic and lending practices that just about guaranteed we would be in this disaster. Add to this parental neglect in teaching their children about fiscal responsibility along with personal responsiblity in general and -- here we are.
Our children learn to run a computer, speak a foreign language and all about sex in our schools, but there are no classes in how to manage money and balance a checkbook.

12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

Rockync, I wish it were as simple as admitting that perhaps we did not teach our children thrift, but there is a lot more chicanery and corruption that goes unnoticed, that has nothing to do with what we taught our kids.

This article by Kathy G: War on the working class continues unabated

this reverse Robin Hood strategy of raiding the pension funds of ordinary workers and handing over the loot to the most highly paid executives has for the most part been carried out in secrecy. Often, the ordinary employees potentially getting screwed out of their pensions have no idea what's going on -- and the bosses and their bottom-feeding consultant aparatchiks [sic] take great pains to keep it that way …

Or this article, Wal-Mart: Why They Suck

Wal-Mart has also set off a particularly destructive form of competition among corporations, which seek competitive advantage by pushing down the wages and benefits of employees … While a sales clerk at Wal-Mart earns only $8.50 an hour, a worker holding a similar job at Safeway or Albertson could earn $13 an hour along with full health care benefits.[11] For employees that could make the difference between minimal financial security and a life spent scraping by on the poverty line.

Mere examples of chicanery and corruption perpetrated by corporate criminals and sanctioned by government. Kathy G's blog is worth a bookmark.

1:55:00 PM  
Blogger realist said...

@rockync: " institutions have enjoyed from the government all these years....
The younger generation has been bombarded since childhood with the power of plastic"

But the latter has nothing to do with government turning a blind eye to financial institutions. The high rates on credit cards are written all over the place on the statements and applications. You have to be very stupid to make mistakes with credit cards, and these stupid people are to blame for credit card problems.

@ecophotos: "While a sales clerk at Wal-Mart earns only $8.50 an hour, a worker holding a similar job at Safeway or Albertson could earn $13 an hour along with full health care benefits.[11]"

A mom-and-pop operation pays the clerk even less, so are you going to applaud Wal-Mart for paying more? Actually, the Albertsons model of overpaying people for low-value starter jobs is not sustainable. Wal-Mart is not a "corporate criminal" for paying the real value of these jobs. It is not a destructive competition at all: artificially-maintained high levels of overpay cause inflation, offshoring, and other problems.

I worked as a clerk in a mom-and-pop place, and only made minimum wage. Sure it sucked, so I improved my skills and found a better job. That sure beats getting greedy and demanding to be paid for more than a sucky job like that is worth.

2:27:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

Realist, go to the links and read further.

3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Can we ignore the regulations put in place to prevent another great depression that have been systematically removed by Republican dogma? Corruption and greed are inextricable parts of human nature and that's why we need the kind of regulations Republicans keep telling us we don't need and don't do anything about the kind of regulations we don't need that the Republicans say we do need.

Pogo was right -- the enemy is us.

A government that seeks ever more power over the individual and yet preaches hands off free markets but still jumps in at will to subsidize market players at public expense? -- a government that nurtures paranoid fantasies about socialism yet hands out money without regard to need? -- a government that can tell you with a straight face that it opposes bigger government while expanding it beyond all previous limits? -- it's hard to go on. Reality is far too bizarre for us to blame our problems on anything but arrogant human stupidity. We are complicit in everything that's being done to us and nobody's to blame but ourselves for allowing it.

4:21:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Rocky, it's not just the kids, it's the adults that don't know how to manage money. That's partly why the mortgage meltdown is so bad. People took out HELOC's on equity they didn't have. Kids learn by example.

Eco, great links. I love Kathy G. I should bookmark her.

Fogg, we're not all complicit, just the idiots like realist.

BTW everybody, realist is just a troll. I suggest we ignore him and hope he goes away.

6:01:00 PM  
Blogger Swampcracker said...

But Libby, I like trolls. My cat eats them.

6:38:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I don't like the taste of troll, but a little cat and mouse game can be fun.

9:40:00 AM  

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