Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

New Figures Detail Depth Of Unemployment Misery, Lower Earnings For All But Super Wealthy


Unemployment woesWe have become a nation divided by ideology. Community vs individualism. Pride and honor vs avarice and power. Perseverance vs instant gratification. Federalism vs Confederacy. Republic vs Corporatocracy.

Capitalism has not only reached across the border, it has straddled it. The economic model of a national economy is fundamentally broken. American workers and American corporations do not function in the same economy. That has to be fixed before we can prosper again.

Capitalism is not a form of government, no matter how many people try to make it one. It is a culture of competing and conflicting self-interests, not leadership. Under the domination of conservatism, we surrendered the initiative to others. The future went from 10 years (Space Race) to 3 months as we became fixated on quarterly profits. Economic myopia.

We need to develop new industries and oil independence, but conservatives resist. For 10 years, we tried the conservative approach in it’s extreme. Environmental law, anti-trust law, regulation, and budgetary restraint were all sacrificed in the name of conservative-style economic growth. And what did we get for it? Private sector job growth in decline for 10 years. Bush43 created only 3m net jobs, the worst performance on record. Wages stagnated, fraud flourished, the economy weakened and inevitably fell into recession.

We have a private sector that cannot get out of it’s own way. Banks rushing to foreclose on properties they cannot prove they have a legal right to foreclose on, using bogus documentation, driving down the value of the property they are ceasing – trampling due process and individual rights in the process.

If we are to recover from this recession, if we are to create meaningful numbers of new jobs, we need new industries and modern infrastructure. We need to recognize the limitations of capitalism, and adapt accordingly.

New Figures Detail Depth Of Unemployment Misery, Lower Earnings For All But Super Wealthy

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October 29, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Direction, Economics, Regulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walmart and the End of the Local Food Movement


Wal-Mart is a leading destroyer of local small business, frequently forcing their way into communities that do not want them. Their abuse of market share embodies the reason that anti-trust laws exist.

Their business model is based on high trade deficits, low domestic wages, little or no competition, and general economic deflation.

Wal-Mart has become big enough to manipulate and endanger significant portions of the economy. They are too big, and need to be broken up.

We certainly do not need to turn the local farmers from alternative suppliers into sharecroppers.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Citizens United


Citizens United.

The United States Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Building

Conservative activist judges defied precedent and judicial restraint to give unrestrained political speech to corporate entities and special interests without regard for the chilling effect on free speech for natural citizens. Roberts and Alito violated some of the very principles they claimed (during their confirmation hearings) made a good judge.

There is much I would like to say on the subject, but Justice John Paul Stevens has already said what needs to be said far more thoroughly and in greater detail than I could ever hope to. With difficulty, I condensed part of his dissent into what I devoted a whole page to.

Citizens United

Just for a taste, he  said things like:

The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation. While that glittering generality has rhetorical appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law.

and

The Court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome will, I fear, do damage to this institution (SCOTUS).

and

Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.

and

The unnecessary resort to a facial inquiry “run[s] contrary to the fundamental principle of judicial restraint that courts should neither anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it nor formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is to be applied.”. Scanting that principle “threaten[s] to short circuit the democratic process by preventing laws embodying the will of the people from being implemented in a manner consistent with the Constitution.”

It is easy to take a few sound bites out of context, stripping it of it’s full and intended meaning. In my excerpt, I strove to remain faithful to the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens,  and the length shows it. The result only covers a portion of the dissent, and I recommend reading the whole dissent. If you do not  have the time, at least start with my excerpts on my “Citizens United” page.

October 23, 2010 Posted by | Citizens United vs FEC, Government, SCOTUS Rulings, Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposed New Jersey Law Would Penalize Employers For Discriminating Against Unemployed



This law is too broad in that it makes no exception for internal transfer opportunities. As written, it could be interpreted to prohibit efforts to retain existing workers through internal placement.

This law could also be leveraged to downsize higher-paid employees and then hire lower-paid replacements.

I like the basic idea, but when I look at a law, I look for how it could be misunderstood or abused. Ambiguities and generalities are generally bad.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1.    No employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee shall publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that contains one or more of the following:

a.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the qualifications for a job include current employment;

b.    Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will not consider or review an application for employment submitted by any job applicant currently unemployed; or

c.     Any provision stating or suggesting that the employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee will only consider or review applications for employment submitted by job applicants who are currently employed.

2.    Any employer who violates this act shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

3.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

This bill prohibits an employer or employer’s agent, representative, or designee to publish, in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for any job vacancy that prohibits, announces or suggests that unemployed individuals need not apply for a job vacancy. The bill provides for the imposition of civil penalties, for a violation of the bill, in an amount not to exceed $5,000 for the first violation, or $10,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

I worked for a large company for many years, and transferred internally on several occasions. Such transfers promote job stability and reduce training costs, both of which are desirable. If the law stated that external candidates cannot be required to have a current job, then that would be a different story.

Just shuffling people from one company to another does not increase employment. I hope the tax holiday for new hires is limited to hiring the unemployed. There should be an increase in head count involved.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

An Act concerning employment discrimination and supplementing Title 34 of the Revised Statutes.

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Capitalism, Labor, Regulation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann Raises Record $5.4 Million In Three Months


Her support has nothing to do with her qualifications as a Representative and everything to do with her notoriety. She is a standard-bearer and symbol for the far right, a leader of their extremism and embodiment of their ineffectiveness and irresponsibility in matters of true governance.

She believes that we should be a theocracy, and her success is a testament to the incompatibility of theocracy and democracy. Christian fundamentalist money loves her.

She wants to dismantle government of the people in favor of corporate domination, no matter how irresponsible and destructive that is. Corporate money loves her.

Her district has the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the state. Little of her money comes from actual constituents.

She has formed a Tea Party Caucus in the House, and effectively dared republicans to join or else. She is accumulating power without any real accomplishment behind it. She says and does anything for political gain. She is the embodiment of what is wrong with American politics.

Those who vote for her fall into three categories:
1) Those who share her extreme ideology. They will vote for her no matter what.
2) Hardline republicans who vote the party no matter the candidate. Long-time republicans are starting to defect in her case as she becomes too extreme for them to accept anymore.
3) Those who don’t pay attention to politics and just vote the party or the name they remember or the ad they believe. A few facts make all the difference for them.

Michele Bachmann is antithetical to our survival as a country. She is pro-religious persecution and pro-corporatocracy, and anti-everything else.

  • Anti-worker
  • Anti-consumer
  • Anti-environment
  • Anti-freedom of religion other than hers.
  • Anti-civil rights that offend her personal prejudices.

Her economic policies have never worked, even for her, yet she clings to them like stone tablets.

She is exactly the sort of politician that we need to get out of government.

More on 2010 Elections
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Candidates, Capitalism, Constitution, Direction, Elections, Government, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of the Tunnel


Paul Krugman, Laureate of the Sveriges Riksban...

Paul Krugman - Image via Wikipedia

Once again, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, is looking at the future of his state through the eyes of a gambler. Last time, it was the gaming industry. I guess his plans for building up a tourism economy do not include access to the NYC market. This is an aspect of killing the tunnel that Mr. Krugman did not mention in his article.

He was right to criticize it as thwarting economic stimulus and recovery.

Republicans do not like to pay for anything, no matter how useful. If it had been up to them, we would never have become a world power.
NYT,Paul Krugman: The End of the Tunnel

October 14, 2010 Posted by | Direction, Economics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharron Angle Makes Light Of Media Timidity: ‘If The Press Comes Knocking, Don’t Say Anything’



The Tea Party claimed that Washington was not listening to the people. One primary victory and they fully adopt the founding justification for their party.

They have not yet been elected and they are already turning their backs on the non-sycophant majority of America.

They have already proven they will not build a responsive congress. The good news is that we do not have to throw them out, all we have to do is keep them out.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Candidates, Direction, Elections | , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan War’s 9th Anniversary: U.S. Nears Decade Of Fighting


Anniversaries should be for wars of the past, not of the present. The very word “anniversary” proclaims that this war should be over, and has fallen into a special class, like the “cold war” or “war on drugs” or the “war on crime“, a class of war with no well-defined goal.

This is not a “capture the flag” or “king of the hill” scenario. This war cannot be won by capturing a specific place or person, it is a physical manifestation of an ideological war. The path to success in Afghanistan lies even more in the social landscape than the physical.

This war could have been won early, but it was largely abandoned in favor of the side-trip in to Iraq. This bought time for the corruption to work it’s way back in. It bought time for the Taliban to regroup and rebuild. It bought time for doubt and distrust to grow.

Success now is 10 times harder than it would have been 7 years ago. Years of mismanagement and apathy may have left the Democrats with an unwinable war. That is not certain. What is certain is that this is not the war that we started nearly a decade ago. The landscape has changed over the years. The war has morphed into a whole new set of problems.

Pakistan is breaking down, Iran is outwardly defiant but inwardly fractious. Turkey is irritated with us.

The goal is a moving target subject to cultural dynamics.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Common Defense, Foreign Relations, Government | , | Leave a comment

Meg Whitman’s Campaign Rocked With More Domestic Drama As Ex-Nanny Backs Up Housekeeper


When our forefathers gained independence from England and formed the United States, they eschewed both the forms and trappings of aristocracy. We were to be a country of the people, not kings or lords or bishops. Such is the extent to which we rejected aristocracy that the Constitution explicitly forbids the government from granting titles of nobility, and designates the chief executive as “President” – deliberately rejecting the title of “Lord” or “King” as was common at the time.

Meg Whitman represents a domestic insurgence of that aristocracy so antithetical to our founding principles. The names of the titles may have changed, but aristocracy has come to America nonetheless. They are now called CEOs and COOs and Directors instead of Princes and Lords, but their grip on the levers of power is the same.

Follow the money.

Whitman is putting more of her personal wealth into this race than the vast majority of Americans will ever see in their lifetimes. Are we to believe that she is so philanthropic that she would spend such sums for the chance to help the poor and the middle class? Is there substantial evidence of this in her past actions? How much evidence to the contrary exists? How much would this contradict the principles of her party?

It is easier to believe that she seeks to subdue California, and cause it to submit to the will of the aristocracy.

This is in no respect why we had a Tea Party so long ago.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Finance, Candidates, Elections | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Joe Miller Tepid Again With Palin Endorsement, Says She’s Qualified Constitutionally (VIDEO)



Wally the Beerman is Constitutionally qualified to be president. All you need is a pulse and an old birth certificate. Although conservatives seemed to prefer a Panamanian birth certificate to a Hawaiian one.

The real question is if the republicans can field a candidate willing to put the Constitution ahead of the Bible as the highest law of the land. I don’t see that happening. Their religious test is too much a part of the party ideology.

Oops, there goes the Constitution.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Elections | , , , | Leave a comment

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