Tag Archives | Recession

Life In The California Desert’s Slab City

Reuters offers a hypnotic glimpse inside a desert community which blurs the line between homeless encampment and off-the-grid utopian commune. Populated by hippies, the blue collar elderly, and families with young children, it features a golf course, a 24-hour library, an internet cafe, and plenty of good times:

Somewhere on the edge of reality is this place. A former military base that was closed after World War II, Slab City is a place on the fringe both geographically and philosophically. It attracts a variety of people, including jobless and financially struggling recession refugees who can no longer pay for food and housing.

slabcity

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‘We Are Drowning’ On A Road To Nowhere

240px-Frederick_Douglass_portraitFrom Military Resistance: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.” —Frederick Douglass, 1852

Oil prices are rocketing. Iranian warships are moving into the Mediterranean to shadow the US warships already there. Propaganda news is growing with rumors of Al Qaeda links with Iran, and, then, less speculative news about real links between the terror groups and the armed opposition in Syria.

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi puts it, the smell of war is in the air and on the air,

“You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.”

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Can’t Pay Your Mortgage? Turn Your House Into An Ad

The latest manifestation of the broken housing market and the thousands of homeowners who can’t afford their mortgage payments is an eye-grabbing advertising scheme from marketing company Brainiacs From Mars. If you let them paint your house like this…

brainiacsfrommarshome

… they’ll pay you up to $2,000 a month. Here’s the deal:

We’re looking for houses to paint. In fact, paint is an understatement. We’re looking for homes to
turn into billboards. In exchange, we’ll pay your mortgage every month for as long as your house remains painted.

Here are a few things we’re looking for. You must own your home. It cannot be rented or leased. We’ll paint the entire outside of the house, minus the roof, the windows and any awnings. Painting will take approximately 3 – 5 days. Your house must remain painted for at least one month and may be extended up to a year. If, for any reason, you decide to cancel after one month or if we cancel the agreement with you, we’ll repaint your house back to the original colors.

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Degrade This!

200px-Standard&PoorsWe live in an increasingly degraded country.

Our politics are degraded and a laughing stock to the world. Our military is demoralized and degraded with soldiers urinating on dead civilians and awaiting deployment orders for the next illegal intervention.

Our education system has been degraded with standards falling and pervasive defunding. Our transportation system, ditto.

I could go on, but I don’t have to. We are all living the decline with downward mobility, joblessness and foreclosures, to cite a few trends that make life so miserable for so many.

Now, our godlike financial ratings agencies have decided to degrade nine countries struggling to fix their financial crisis. The decision by Standard and Poors (Best renamed, “It is now Standard to Be Poor”) to downgrade credit ratings for France, Italy, Austria and six other European countries signals those nations that Wall Street has them by the cojones. Their costs for borrowing will go up.… Read the rest

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Chris Hedges On The End Of The American Empire

“Brace yourself, the American Empire is over, and the descent is going to be horrifying.” Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges conducts an illuminating if depressing discussion on politics, poverty, and everything else regarding the way we live today and where we are headed:

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Pope Benedict Peace Message Calls For Wealth Redistribution

Pope BenedictWait a second — does this make Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich a couple o’ them “Cafeteria Catholics”? From Francis X. Rocca at the Huffington Post:

VATICAN CITY (RNS)— Noting a “rising sense of frustration” at the worldwide economic recession, Pope Benedict XVI said that a more just and peaceful world requires “adequate mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth.”

The pope’s words appeared in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012, released on Friday (Dec. 16) at the Vatican.

The message laments that “some currents of modern culture, built upon rationalist and individualist economic principles, have cut off the concept of justice from its transcendent roots, detaching it from charity and solidarity.”

Authentic education, Benedict writes, teaches the proper use of freedom with “respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one’s own.”

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One Half Of Americans Are Poor Or Low Income

Photo: C. G. P. Grey (CC)

Photo: C. G. P. Grey (CC)

Shocking statistics courtesy of AP via CBS News:

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that’s shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too `rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

“The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said.

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Five More Countries For Goldman Sachs To Take Over

octoNow that Goldman Sachs has achieved coups d’etats in Greece and Italy, DJ Pangburn at Death and Taxes lays out five additional countries ripe for bankdom to install leaders:

We present five other countries where Goldman Sachs could install bankers as heads of state.

Where to begin, though? Originally, I considered Ireland to be a prime candidate for some Goldman Sachs coup d’etat action, but it seems that Ireland already got the old Goldman Sachs in/out in the form of Peter Sutherland, a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs, as well as a non-executive at BP. Here are five countries that could use a little Goldman Sachs in/out.

Spain: With concerns in Italy lessening amidst the installation of ex-Goldman man Mario Monti as PM, bankers and investors in the eurozone and abroad are looking to Spain, which the BBC is calling the “weaker link in the eurozone chain.”

This is obviously the first country that requires a Goldman Sachs premiership.

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Occupy Minneapolis Forms Human Chain To Defend Foreclosed Home, Police Retreat

Shocking police confrontations with the Occupy movement are not limited to the coasts, don’t ya know. Protesters in Minneapolis challenged the police directly to protect a woman’s home and won:

November 19th, 2011: Following two arrests and an incident in which a police officer tried to run down an occupier with a squad car, Occupy Minneapolis formed a human chain around Sa’ra Kaiser’s foreclosed home, preventing the officers from boarding it up, and ultimately forcing the police – who had no legitimate legal pretense for preventing occupiers from being there in the first place – to give up and leave.

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