Saturday, April 21, 2012

United States Versus United States

Why are cops allowed to use hollow point bullets when the military can't, and why is the Department of Homeland Security stockpiling millions of rounds of hollow point bullets, the kind an 1899 international treaty forbids the military from using and which "expends its energy by expanding and ripping its way through a body?"

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Dave Lindorff asks in his latest article, "Are they anticipating a mass surge over the Mexican or Canadian border that would require ICE agents to slaughter the masses "yearning to breathe free"? Are there so many terror cells in America that they feel they need to be ready for a mass extermination campaign? Or are they worried that eventually the quiescent and submissive US population will finally decide it's had it with the crooked banks and insurance companies, and are going to start taking the law into their own hands, so that the government will have to institute martial law and start gunning down masses of citizens storming Wall Street or the Halls of Congress?"

You can call that hyperbole if you want, but the question remains, why do the federal government's domestic armed forces need all those killer bullets, and why does government allow its domestic armed forces, including the police, to use them against it's own citizens?

Economic Recovery = Obama Reelection

As I noted earlier, the economic conditions that led to Occupy Wall Street are still very much in place. As Notre Dame economics professor David Ruccio points out in this Pacifica Radio interview and at his web log, when the media talk about economic recovery, they mean the stock market is going up and corporate profits are on the rise. They don't mean wages are recovering (they're not) or that foreclosures are going down (they're going up).

 Unemployment remains so high (officially more than 8 percent; in reality it's around 20 percent when you count those who have stopped looking and those who have had to accept part time work) that employers can offer almost any kind of wage they please, and they need not provide benefits, even those required by law such as Workman's Comp insurance, unemployment insurance or SSI disability insurance.

Government isn't stepping in to stop it, either. Government is so enamored of business and so indifferent to workers, and has been so emaciated by Neoliberal Democrats and Republicans, that employers are simply converting workers to so called "contract employees," for which the employer does not have to pay for legally mandated benefits. At my last job, my wages were simply reduced. At my current job, the employer one day just stopped paying into workman's comp, Social Security, and unemployment insurance. He just stopped paying his fair share. In looking through truck driving ads on Craigslist, it's up to about half, now, of all new positions being advertised as "contract" employment.

In between those two jobs, I worked for six weeks driving in the oil fields, at a job I got through a "temp agency." Quoting the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Russio says that in a recent month, 80 percent of new jobs created by the private sector were temporary.

You can find statistics that will say anything. I've quoted them that show wages, when adjusted for inflation, have been flat since 1980. I've quoted them that show the standard of living of US households in decline.  The Wall Street Journal and Fox News will quote statistics that tell you you're doing fine. 

Here's one Ruccio mentions in his latest post:

"According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in early 2003, median usual weekly earnings (for full-time wage and salary workers) were $335. At the beginning of this year, they were just $334."

I'll add that the average US worker is now working about 50 hours per week, not 40, as we used to. The "median usual weekly earnings" still went down. I'll add that downsizing and layoffs mean the remaining workers have to do the work of those fired and laid off, necessarily, because profits for the 1 percent have continued going up the whole time.

It's Economic Recovery for the 1 percent, continuing Depression for the 99, as Ruccio says. Reader Supported News has a new page keeping track of latest Occupy Wall Street movement developments, which are many and varied and will continue as long as the 99 percent remains mired in a Depression while the 1 percent thrives.

Posted at Occupy Champaign


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