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  I think it is always useful to see the threads connecting what might seem to be things that happen independently. The big picture is this: we live in a dysfunctional economic system which has created the greatest divide between rich and poor in a hundred years--and that is a global point. Here, for your consideration, are three strands--which you can add to.

  Hunger is at record levels:

With food stamp use at record highs and climbing every month, a program once scorned as a failed welfare scheme now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children.[emphasis added]

  Let me underscore this: in the richest nation in human history, one in four children live in families that cannot afford to buy them adequate food. Pause for a moment to consider that.

  As for shopping [The Wall Street Journal]:

Many more shoppers turned out for the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season over Thanksgiving weekend than a year ago, but they spent less each and favored lower-priced items.[emphasis added]

  And over in Dubai, from the Financial Times:

How exposed the world’s financial system is to Dubai’s debt woes remains unclear. Large banks have been keen to play down their exposures. But even after the announcement on Sunday of liquidity support from the United Arab Emirates central bank, fears of contagion and a broad shift in global market sentiment are taking root.

"It’s a much bigger story than most investors are willing to let on," said Gary Kleiman, of emerging markets consultant Kleiman International.

  So, how are these connected?

  We got into the short-term mess we are in--short-term, meaning the past few years--because we let a small group of greedy, incompetent financiers, backed by policymakers around the world, build a disastrous pyramid scheme. The scheme was built on hype and inflated egos and unsound economics--and Dubai is just the latest example of the destruction.

And it should put to rest any thoughts that the "green shoots" are here, that we are out of the woods--this is just another tremor of a whole series of tremors that will continue to shake the global system. We are not even close to being out of the woods because the system is still choking on the trillions of dollars in foolish gambles made.

  And that is one reason people won't open up their wallets. Now, there is a good argument to be made against shopping and over-consumption. But, that is not the point here. People can't spend because their credit is gone--no more plastic and no more home equity. Poof. Empty. Done.

  And that is the product not simply of greed over the past few years but the final act in a 30-year process where people worked hard but wages stayed flat. Paychecks just did not grow to keep up with the cost of living--rising health care costs, to give just one example.

  And for those who say people bought McMansions, please. You don't get to the immoral picture--in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA--where one in four children need food stamps because people lived in luxury. Recite that once again: ONE IN FOUR CHILDREN are on food stamps and would go hungry but for that government support.

  So, we cannot work ourselves out of the mess that we are in until we have a serious debate in the country about the economy--a debate that we are not having. Until we are willing to face the incredible contradiction that we produce plenty of food in the country yet one in four children need food stamps to live and, but for the government, millions of children would starve in this country of the rich and bountiful--we cannot fix our country.  

  Until we are willing to be clear that we cannot have a privately-owned government--populated by elected representatives who, because they are awash in corporate contributions, do the bidding of the people who created pyramid schemes and looted the bounty produced by the the workers of the country who did not get their fair share--then, we can not have a vibrant economy.

  Until we return a sense of fair play at work--meaning, if you work hard, you get a decent wage, health care and a pension--then, we cannot claim to be the strongest economy in the world. A "strong economy" is not measured by statistics of Gross Domestic Product. It is measured by the shared prosperity of the people. And, friends, when one in four children would go hungry but for the government, we are no sharing prosperity.

Originally posted to Tasini on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 07:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I remember reading an article, (07 ?) about the (4+ / 0-)

    Afghan poppy warlords, moving money down into the secretive UAE banking system, then using those proceeds to control warehouses full of rice, waiting for crises prices to maximize profits.

    I tried to google it, but typing in "RICE" only brings up Condi, dammit.

    A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer. Robert Frost

    by bamabikeguy on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 07:51:03 AM PST

  •  aig is to goldman sachs as iraq was to dubai (4+ / 0-)

    meaning that each dollar that went into protecting aig cameout and went into goldman sach's coffers and the thieves at goldman sach thought this is how capitalism works.

    the same is true as to the money that went into destablizing iraq went into the coffers of the saudi royal family - thru high priced oil and governmental payoffs like the shipping deal that got so much attention for a moment. there were all kinds of logistical deals that were made and because the saudi family was awash in cash, they allowed one of their thug sons to build dubai - a playground for the super rich. where you can have slaves and debtors prisons

    •  And why is Saudi awash with cash? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because the US consumes (and imports)more gasoline than the total production of Saudi Arabia.

      If the Mid East producers are rich now, you have only yourselves to blame, as your automobiles suck up around 12-15% of world oil production, and the rest of your economy sucks up another 10%.

      Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost. L Cohen

      by senilebiker on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 09:27:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  goldman sach thought (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "if we can get our inside man (Paulsen) to cooperate, we can make the Goldman econ crisis into a looting opportunity." The rest is history with no investigation by Mr. Let's Not Look Backwards.

      Q: What do you call 500 Congress-slugs at the bottom of the ocean? A: Divine intervention. (with apologies to the couple dozen honest ones.)

      by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 09:29:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dubai is the Home (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CitizenOfEarth, Powell

    of some the most expensive Real Estate on the Planet.
    They dumped millions of dollars (Literally)
    into the ocean to create artificial Islands for Vacation estates.
    Being "Underwater" might also be
    a literal definition for the Buyers. Ha Ha. Sorry to
    LAUGH at someone Else's Misfortune, but the GREEDY
    BASTARDS deserve a pile of PAIN for what they have done to the Poor.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 09:07:17 AM PST

  •  I'm still waiting to hear a full accounting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of what taxpayers bought when we guarenteed all the toxic debt (CDOs) and insurance on that debt (CDSs). Seems like Obama's econ team doesn't want us to know. And will there be riots in the streets once it becomes known.

    There are lots more econ shoes to drop.

    Q: What do you call 500 Congress-slugs at the bottom of the ocean? A: Divine intervention. (with apologies to the couple dozen honest ones.)

    by CitizenOfEarth on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 09:23:22 AM PST

  •  My local paper reported the story (0+ / 0-)

    about Dubai with a picture of their ruler and his wife at a Kentucky horse auction. We have a race track here and the county it is in is having a vote 5DEC, St. Nicholas Eve, on adding table games to the casino that already has video slots. There goes the Fetivus money, kids.

    This of course was after a week of reporting about the need for the food pantries needing even more donations this year. And the Thanksgiving dinner at my church served a few hundred more this year than last, just like 2008 was 200 more that 2007.

    Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

    by CA Berkeley WV on Mon Nov 30, 2009 at 08:56:06 PM PST

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