Thursday, April 15, 2010
USS New Mexico, commissioned March 27, 2010. Cost: $2.3 billion. (AP Photo/US Navy - Seaman Scott Pittman).
Health care? Social Security? An economic stimulus bill? Wars? Bailing out Wall Street banks? Education? Our nation's infrastructure? Each may be a good guess based on the issues that get attention in the mainstream media.
The correct answer may be that 53% of the federal tax being collected in 2010 has already been allocated for defense spending.
The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing. Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.
That would mean the military's share of the approximately $3 trillion 2011 budget is about $1.6 trillion.
On the other hand, anyone can find a handy fact sheet posted on the white house's web site that puts the department of defense's share of the budget at a "mere" $708 billion, seemingly bringing the cost down to about 24 cents on the tax dollar.
So, who's telling the truth? The answer is that both are, depending on how one looks at federal budget allocations.
It appears that I underestimated the brazen contempt that Wall Street has for America's unemployed millions, and for the millions more working only part-time despite wanting full-time work.
Last month, in a post titled Blaming Unemployment Insurance for Unemployment prompted by a JPMorgan Chase report that attempted to do just that I wrote:
This kind of cockamamie pseudo-science would just be laughable if it weren't a potentially dangerous threat to the survival of millions of unemployed Americans. You can bet that bank lobbyists and their conservative cronies are circulating this report and others like it to gin up opposition to extending unemployment benefits.
Yesterday's Wall Street Journal editorial, titled Incentives Not to Work, which blames long-term unemployment on extended jobless benefits, amounts to Wall Street's declaration of war on America's unemployed.
Conveniently ignoring a logical foundation of rational thought that correlation does not imply causation the Journal posits that because there are extended unemployment benefits, there is more long-term unemployment.
sure enough, the share of unemployed workers who don't have a job for more than 26 weeks has steadily increased, reaching a record 44.1% in March. The average spell of unemployment is now 31 weeks, even though the economy is once again creating more new jobs than it is losing. Democrats are slowly converting unemployment insurance into a welfare program.
By extension, they might as well say that because of extended unemployment benefits, employers are more reluctant to hire.
The Wall Street Journal's editors have the incredible gall to blame record long-term unemployment levels on unemployment insurance payments. Not the Great Recession, caused by Wall Street's financial train wreck. Not the lack of available jobs, caused by Wall Street's financial train wreck. But on unemployment insurance payments, made necessary by Wall Street's financial train wreck.
The Journal fails to mention that there are nearly six jobless workers for every one job opening, and that more than half the small number of newly added jobs are temporary while another chunk are part-time jobs.
Remember when life was simple, way back in mid-2008? We all wanted the same thingsa private island, a Dassault Falcon 7X to spirit us there, and a Fonzworth Bentley to hold a sun umbrella over us as we deplaned. The brass ring was obvious, and it was more like a platinum ring.
Cut to a year later, mid-2009, and hey, life was still simple, only different. The Great Darkness was fully upon us, and we all wanted the same things, they were just other things. Like jobs, homes, hope, and our dignity.
And now? Everything's all mixed up. The recession is over, or it isn't. It's okay to indulge and spend, or it's not. Hairshirts may be so last season, but you still don't want to be the guy whining about the price of jet fuel. Luxurywhat it is, what it meanshas become a much more complicated, charged proposition. A limited-edition Cohiba is no longer just a limited-edition Cohiba.
Tasked with straddling the micron-thin border between healthy materialism and obscene self-pleasuring, your correspondent, who lives in an ordinary neighborhood in an undersize rental apartment, does not own a car, and puts his Banana Republic chinos on one leg at a time, recently subjected himself to a one-man stimulus package, a series of stamina-testing, high-life-simulating ordeals:
I got a two-hour, four-handed massage; I went heli-fishing in Patagonia; on a plane to Dubai, I drank mature, classed-growth Bordeaux and took a shower. Like any self-respecting quick-money guy, I paid full freight only if unavoidable, mooching whenever possible.
And between alternating surges of guilt (less than you might think), greed, and bliss, I found myself reckoning with a pleasing, if uncomfortable, insight: The crowds are thinner during a recession.
The Four-Handed Massage
Mandarin Oriental hotel, New York City
$782 (including tax and tips)
The minute I lied to Wafa, my masseuse, I glimpsed the new ambivalence about luxury from the inside out. She had asked whether the massage was a gift from someone, and I said yes, suddenly realizing how obscenely self-indulgent it would appear for me to have bought the experience for myself.
Wafa used the word decadent to describe the Oriental Harmony Journey, a two-hour, four-handed rubdown offered at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan. An hour-long massage performed by one person at a fancy spa costs maybe $150. This cost almost $800.
TAO of Journalism
A Commitment to
If you're a legacy journalist, a citizen journalist, an independent blogger, or anyone else practicing journalism in the broadest sense of the word, here's an idea that can help you gain credibility and earn trust:
Take the "TAO Pledge" and display the "TAO Seal" on your website, blog, printed page, newsletter, or wherever.
It's a promise to your readers, viewers or listeners that you will be Transparent about who you are, Accountable if you make mistakes, and Open to other points of view.
The TAO of Journalism Pledge
BY DISPLAYING THIS SEAL, WE HEREBY AGREE TO BE:
We will fully disclose who we are, our journalistic mission and our guiding principles. We will post information on our background and expertise, including education and experience. We will list advertisers, donors, grants, and any other payments that support our work. If affiliated with a political party or special-interest group, we will disclose that. If lobbying for any particular legislation or regulation, we will disclose that. If we are being paid to promote a product or cause, we will disclose that. If other factors could be seen as potential conflicts of interest, we will disclose them.
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We do not necessarily agree to abide by any particular code of journalism ethics or professional standards, although we may choose to do so. If we do, we will declare that publicly. If we don't, we will declare that as well. We understand that this will not be enforced by any outside organized group. It will be overseen by everyone on the Internet who wants to see high standards of transparency, accountability and openness in journalism through whatever media platform.
We understand that if someone using the "TAO Seal" starts violating its basic principles, they will be admonished, criticized, reprimanded and embarrassed in public through the awesome power of the Internet. Call it "crowdsourcing" ethics and accuracy. In summary, we believe that Transparency, Accountability and Openness are keys to our personal credibility and public trust.
by Xeni Jardin
"Hate Man," a homeless fellow who lives on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue, wears cast-off women's clothing, and eats out of garbage cans (because "It's free [and it] makes your immune system strong"), once worked as a reporter for the New York Times.
Actually, he wrote at the Times from 1961 to 1970, nearly an entire decade. Back then, he was known as Mark Hawthorne. Why the identity change? Snip from his interview with Kevin Fagan at the San Francisco Chronicle:
Q: You require people to say "I hate you" before you begin a conversation. Do you really hate everyone?This nytimes.com search query returns some of the articles Hate Man wrote for the New York Times back when he was Mark Hawthorne. They include "Long Hair and Sex Freedom: A Social Critic's Proposals for Youth" (PDF), "A Gallery of Apartment Doodles Lies Just Below the New Paint; The Artist Breaks Out" (PDF) and "Washington Sq. Singers Invent Own Instruments" (PDF).
A: I do. But it's a new way of hating. It's about being straight with people. The dictionary defines hate as hostility, but that's heavy. My idea is to be straight about negative feelings that we all have, which is what hate is, and then you can have a real conversation. Don't be threatening or angry or snotty - just straight.
By Adam Murdock, MD
All the problems related to medical care can be traced to a revised and perverse new definition of human rights. No slogan or idea has been used with greater detriment and influence than implying that there is a right to 'free' healthcare. The problem with this slogan is that it takes advantage of the general public's naïve understanding and sympathy for human rights and combines it with an emotional subject such as healthcare.
Using this slogan as a backdrop, political opportunists seeking to impose their version of universal healthcare, trot out tragic examples of individuals, who 'deprived' of their right to healthcare, will be left to suffer and die. They use these rare examples to argue that if only government provided care for everyone then these people would be provided the care they need.
Over the last century, social engineers have also trotted out images of the homeless in the streets to justify total wealth transfer through taxation and the creation of government social programs. Likewise, the Marxist revolution in the Soviet Union and elsewhere appealed to the 'oppressed' with promises of bread and prosperity for the masses. However, in practice the Marxist ideal quickly devolved into endless lines ups for, not bread, but crumbs and not prosperity, but poverty. The promise and practice of universalism in all its forms, including healthcare, proved to be untenable and a gigantic failure.
Likewise, a modern government movement to impose universal healthcare will only provide figurative 'crumbs' of care rationed out to a long line of poverty stricken conditioned citizens. Indeed, the utopia envisioned by healthcare engineers will quickly transform into a Soviet-style failure.
In order to derail this program before it takes effect, it is critical to understand the fallacy of the slogan that implies a right to free healthcare. The definition of "rights," as proposed by the Founders, are not random claims that individuals demand. Rational "natural rights" are not based on wants or even perceived needs. I cannot simply say that since my neighbor owns a luxury car, that I should have a 'right' to the same car. Most people can easily see that this proposition and use of the word 'right' is ludicrous.
What then is a true definition of a 'right'?
Rights are principles that sanction freedom of the individual to serve his/her own life. Rational rights do not provide the slovenly things they don't deserve and never worked work, but rather protect the opportunity to obtain what one has worked for or is willing to pay for. Natural rights exist so that the freedom of the individual to do as they please can be protected against the tyranny of the majority, coercion of government, or any other group that would seek to initiate physical force against him. Rational rights prevent the actions of others that would prevent people from taking actions necessary to sustain their lives. Therefore, rights act as a prohibition to the society and government. These rights in effect serve to say that nobody shall interfere where people seek to serve their own lives. In addition, it is self-evident that the individual who is serving his own life shall not infringe upon the rights of others. No individual shall initiate physical force to curtail the rights of another. Therefore, it follows that actions enlisted of others must be obtained voluntarily because no individual has the right to create a right that would involve the loss of a right or impose physical coercion of another individual. There is no such thing as a right to violate other's rights.
Arizona lawmakers on Tuesday passed one of the toughest pieces of immigration-enforcement legislation in the country, which would make it a violation of state law to be in the U.S. without proper documentation.
It would also grant police the power to stop and verify the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being illegal.
The bill could still face a veto from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. A spokesman for Ms. Brewer said she has not publicly commented on the bill. Ms. Brewer, a Republican, has argued for stringent immigration laws.
Under the measure, passed Tuesday by Arizona's lower house, after being passed earlier by the state Senate, foreign nationals are required to carry proof of legal residency.
Immigrants' rights groups roundly criticized the bill. "The objective is to make life miserable for immigrants so that they leave the state," said Chris Newman, general counsel for the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "The bill constitutes a complete disregard for the rights of nonwhites in Arizona. It effectively mandates racial profiling."
|More land and less Palestinians by any means necessary.|
By Ahmed Amr
It was bound to happen. The Israelis have decided to opt for outright ethnic cleansing. As of April 13, 2010 - the Israelis military will be accorded the power to deport any Palestinian or any foreigner in the West Bank if their papers 'aren't in order.' The IDF has already made it clear that the order will not apply to Israeli citizens in the West Bank - you know - the illegal Jewish settlers. In fact, if you are Mongolian and can produce a faded newspaper clip announcing your grandfather's bar mitzvah - that will be sufficient documentation to acquire immediate Israeli citizenship and get a red carpet reception when you relocate to the occupied territories. They'll even provide you with subsidized housing if you take them up on the offer.
However, if you happen to be of the Palestinian persuasion, the IDF won't worry if you're married to a woman from Nablus or engaged to a Palestinian from East Jerusalem. If you're not Jewish - you have to move on. Even if you were born in the West Bank but your mother made the mistake of being born in Gaza, you qualify for deportation.
But what if both your parents were born in Jaffa, but they ended up being refugees in Gaza? You still get deported to Gaza - because you're not Jewish. What if your mother was a refugee from Nazareth who took refuge in Bethlehem and your father was born in Jerusalem but ended up in a refugee camp in Gaza. You're still deportable - because you're not Jewish. There are all kinds of possibilities if you're not Jewish.