Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sigh . . .

Friday, November 21, 2014

I'm Back with some Observations

. . . for a little while at least. Went to Florida over the past weekend and it's taken me a couple of days to recover from the good times my two sons showed me . . . and from the household with eight cats I stayed in in Valrico, FL, before the wedding.

It snowed while I was gone from Oklahoma. That's news. November before Thanksgiving is pretty early for that. It's gone now, and I loved the sandals and shorts routine every day in Florida. Makes me remember what I miss. And all the birds. I miss all the sea birds that are everywhere down there. I miss veggie and fruit stands year round by the side of the road. I miss the young chickadees in halter tops and shorts. Don't miss the traffic.

Glad to be home, but Susan has talked me into launching again next week for Louisiana. Will be gone another week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out of this World

It's 300 million miles away!

How can we be such idiots on the face of the earth? I mean all the useless killing, the king's ransom countries pay for weapons and killing instead of for human needs, the heedless pollution of our planet, and our determination to destroy ourselves by continuing to heat up the Earth until it cooks us all. And then one day the news tells you that human beings have succeeded in landing a craft on the surface of a comet speeding towards the sun at over 34,000 mph. Landing a craft from an orbiter of the comet which has been there for a number of weeks. An orbiter that took ten years to rendezvous with this comet. This kind of thing truly takes my breath away. How is it that creatures who can do this--and not just do it, but have a burning desire to do it--cannot figure out how to live in peace with their fellow man on the only home we have?

This mission, carried out by the European space agency, promises to provide tons of information we don't have now about the composition, makeup, and behavior of these plenteous citizens of the solar system. They hold keys to the origins of the universe itself. Wow. Stupendous.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Eternal Divide: A Broken Record

Some things I encounter have to be put out there in toto, or much of the point is lost. When once the country rolls over and dies because of the disparity of wealth, such pieces as this will seem prescient. Every single one of these points is telling (not to mention outrageous), but I'm absolutely convinced that no one in this country is the least bit concerned. We're more intent on fiddling while the country falls down about our ears.
This article--and it's not included in its entirety--appeared on the Alternet blog. It's just variation on a theme that's been echoing through the nation's consciousness for several years now. But it doesn't seem to be striking any chords.
 A recent posting detailed how upper middle class Americans are rapidly losing ground to the one-percenters who averaged $5 million in wealth gains over just three years. It also noted that the global 1% has increased their wealth from $100 trillion to $127 trillion in just three years.
The information came from the Credit Suisse 2014 Global Wealth Databook (GWD), which goes on to reveal much more about the disappearing middle class.
1. Each Year Since the Recession, America's Richest 1% Have Made More Than the Cost of All U.S. Social Programs
In effect, a reverse transfer from the poor to the rich. Even as conservatives blame Social Security for being too costly.
Much of the 1% wealth just sits there, accumulating more wealth. The numbers are nearly unfathomable. Depending on the estimate, the 1% took in anywhere from $2.3 trillion to $5.7 trillion per year. (All numeric analysis is detailed here.)
Even the smaller estimate of $2.3 trillion per year is more than the budget for Social Security ($860 billion), Medicare ($524 billion), Medicaid ($304 billion), and the entire safety net ($286 billion for SNAP, WIC [Women, Infants, Children], Child Nutrition, Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Housing).
2. Almost None of the New 1% Wealth Led To Innovation and Jobs
In 2005, for every $1 of financial wealth there was 66 cents of non-financial (home) wealth. Ten years later, for every $1 of financial wealth there was just 43 cents of non-financial (home) wealth.
What happens to all this financial wealth?
Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate. Business startup costs made up less than 1% of the investments of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds. They come from the middle class.
On the corporate side, stock buybacks are employed to enrich executives rather than to invest in new technologies. In 1981, major corporations were spending less than 3 percent of their combined net income on buybacks, but in recent years they've been spending up to 95 percent of their profits on buybacks and dividends.
3. Just 47 Wealthy Americans Own More Than Half of the U.S. Population
Oxfam reported that just 85 people own as much as half the world. Here in the U.S., with nearly a third of the world's wealth, just 47 individuals own more than all 160 million people (about 60 million households) below the median wealth level of about $53,000.
4. The Upper Middle Class of America Owns a Smaller Percentage of Wealth Than the Corresponding Groups in All Major Nations Except Russia and Indonesia.
The upper middle class in the U.S., defined as everyone in the top half below the richest 20%, owns 11.9 percent of the wealth. Indonesia at 10.5 percent and Russia at 7.5 percent are worse off, but in all other nations the corresponding upper middle classes own 12 to 27 percent of the wealth.
America's bottom half compares even less favorably to the world: dead last, with just 1.3 percent of national wealth. Only Russia comes close to that dismal share, at 1.9 percent. The bottom half in all other nations own 2.6 to 10.2 percent of the wealth.
5. Ten Percent of the World's Total Wealth Was Taken by the Global 1% in the Past Three Years
As in the U.S., the middle class is disappearing at the global level. An incredible one of every ten dollars of global wealth was transferred to the elite 1% in just three years. A level of inequality deemed unsustainable three years ago has gotten even worse.
 This is the bad news, and it's surely bad enough, but if you continue to read the article, it goes on to suggest that a so-called transaction tax could be used to get the richest to contribute their fair share towards the cost of everything. They don't pay anywhere near that now, you can be sure.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pretty Much It

I'm no undying fan of the Democratic party, but compared to the alternative, it's far preferable. Basically I think money calls the tune in American politics, and it doesn't give a damn which party is in power. But money likes Republicans better. The Republicans like business, they like large concentrations of wealth, they hate regulation of just about any kind especially of business and industry. The Democrats--well, they're another story. They are more flexible, more in tune with the population that has to work for a living and all of their problems. I know all generalizations are unfair and not even true if there is but one exception, but I would contend that the Democrats tend to be more compassionate in their desire to have the greater society through the agency of the government tend to people's needs when they are in need. For all these reasons and a bunch more I have not enumerated, the Republican sweep in Tuesday's elections is disheartening. The common wisdom says the voters were expressing their disgust with Washington, with Obama, and the status quo, so they voted against the Democrats. But it seems to me that putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum is not quite the right move. There's more than a little truth in the cartoon below.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Bright Spot

The one bright spot amidst the carnage wreaked on the Democrats Tuesday was the thumbs up given in several states for various marijuana initiatives. Two states--Oregon and Alaska legalized weed outright, and the District of Columbia legalized possession of up to two ounces. That, brothers and sisters, is a lot of hemp. 58 percent of Florida voters approved medical marijuana (but it takes 60 percent to pass there.) In New Jersey reformed the bail system to allow low level possession arrestees out much more easily. California reclassified possession of small amounts of grass from a felony to misdemeanor. And so on. This is a train that's not going to be stopped. And this is a good thing.

Full story here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not So Fast

As somebody commented, let's not rush into anything. Let's see if this is actually going to last.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Winning GOP Strategy

Ain't this the truth?

Doesn't this just about sum up politics and indeed life in America? I cannot believe I've actually heard Republicans flapping their jaws about "restoring funding to the military"!! Words fail me.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

God Only Knows

My absolute most favorite Beach Boys song ever. Leave it to the BBC to make it even more fetching. Awesome stuff.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Map of World Wealth

Where the Fat Cats Are

The map of world wealth

This is a map of the world weighted not by land mass or navigation lines but around how much wealth each country has. As you can see, North America and Western Europe balloon to enormous proportions — even after adjusting for purchasing power, 46 percent of global wealth in 2002 was in their hands. The horror of this map is the shrunken husk of Africa. That’s a lot of people living with very little.