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Once upon a time…

12:25 pm in Uncategorized by dakine01

(image: wildlifebiologyguy, flickr)

(image: wildlifebiologyguy, flickr)

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Once upon a time not so very long ago and a place right close by, there was a land conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal. Now, reality is, this land was never really the shining city upon a hill as some folks liked to claim but even with all of its problems, it still managed to make the phrases “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” enough substance to be a bit more than a slogan on a statue.

Now? Eh, not so much.

Back just a few decades ago, the US had the reputation for Social Mobility, helped greatly after WWII by the GI Bill. The basic access to a public education also helped this mobility (contrary to Rick Santorum’s belief.) Nowadays, this has “turned on its head” (via the New York Times):

WASHINGTON — Benjamin Franklin did it. Henry Ford did it. And American life is built on the faith that others can do it, too: rise from humble origins to economic heights. “Movin’ on up,” George Jefferson-style, is not only a sitcom song but a civil religion.

But many researchers have reached a conclusion that turns conventional wisdom on its head: Americans enjoy less economic mobility than their peers in Canada and much of Western Europe. The mobility gap has been widely discussed in academic circles, but a sour season of mass unemployment and street protests has moved the discussion toward center stage.

It is not just education and Social Mobility where the US has problems nowadays. The World Health Organization ranks the US Healthcare system 37th just behind Costa Rica and Dominica and just ahead of Cuba and Slovenia.

The US also has a much larger income inequality than most of hte rest of the so-called developed countries (via CNN): Read the rest of this entry →

Here Is Class Warfare

11:20 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

"Class Warfare" Javier Hernandez-Miyares on flickr

"Class Warfare" Javier Hernandez-Miyares on flickr

Author’s Note: Please take a few minutes and Join the Firedoglake Membership Program today. FDL provides the tools that help me and others extend our reach with our rants so we need to support FDL when we can.

So apparently, the phrase of the week from Republicans is “Class Warfare!” as a response to President Obama’s proposal for a new Millionaire’s Minimum Tax. Paul Ryan and Lindsey Graham both used the phrase yesterday on the Bobble head shows. The proposed tax has also become known as the “Buffett Tax” in honor of billionaire investor Warren Buffett who has long noted the irony of his paying a lower tax rate for his investments (aka Unearned Income) than the rate paid by his secretary (Earned Income). Of course, the folks at Forbes Magazine and the Murdoch NY Post think it is a bad idea to do such a thing.

The reality is, and Buffett noted years ago, we are in a class war:

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” 

Today as I was surfing through the various news sites, I saw a real example of the class warfare in action, although in a more subtle fashion than the whining about possible taxes on millionaires. It was this article from the NY Times on possible cuts to military retirement benefits.

Military pensions and health care for active and retired troops now cost the government about $100 billion a year, representing an expanding portion of both the Pentagon budget — about $700 billion a year, including war costs — and the national debt, which together finance the programs. 

…snip…

“We’ve got to put everything on the table,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said recently on PBS, acknowledging that he was looking at proposals to rein in pension costs.

One way to decrease those healthcare costs might be to end the occupations of Irak and Afghanistan and all the other adventurism around the world. Traumatic Brain Injury tends to have a significant increase to costs as does dealing with the need for prosthetic devices and rehab services. Read the rest of this entry →