Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Money Quote

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics, on America's economic divergence
The seriousness of America’s growing problem of inequality was highlighted by Federal Reserve data released this month showing the recession’s devastating effect on the wealth and income of those at the bottom and in the middle. The decline in median wealth, down almost 40 percent in just three years, wiped out two decades of wealth accumulation for most Americans. If the average American had actually shared in the country’s seeming prosperity the past two decades, his wealth, instead of stagnating, would have increased by some three-fourths. (my emphasis)
I know I certainly saw two decades' worth of savings and investment disappear.  I know, too, that I am one of the lucky ones who didn't lose everything and, more importantly, I've been employed steadily for the past four years and able rebuild my savings somewhat.  All this tells me that I and most people in my life are more fortunate than the majority of Americans.  Drastically so compared to most human beings on this planet.

At one time in America the economic security I seem to have attained was a reasonable expectation for many.  No more.  Uncertainty is the new norm, with more and more Americans sliding from middle class to poverty and the rest of us hoping we can hang on.

As the rich get richer.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Telling It Like You Want It To Be

 Former assistant secretary of state for public affairs P.J. Crowley makes a good case for more public disclosure of government activity and information on national security matters.  He discusses the many and varied types of leaks and motivations.  But it all comes down to politics:
Are leaks about politics? Absolutely. Administrations that effectively explain what they are doing tend to be reelected; those that struggle to create a successful media narrative don’t.

 Leaks can involve crimes — as, allegedly, in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of passing classified information to WikiLeaks — but most don’t. Explaining what the government is doing to keep America safe is a vital governmental duty to be responsibly employed, not excessively controlled.
I can buy that it's important for an administration to explain what it does to "keep America safe".  What I don't buy is that what the administration tells me it's doing is actually keeping me safe.  Occupying foreign lands and indiscriminately killing civilians all while chasing a small criminal syndicate that can occasionally pull off some mass killings, few of which match the carnage inflicted by our own arms, does not add up to a safer America.

Don't take my word on it.  Go read Ranger Against War for a professional opinion.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Small, Almost Meaningless but Still Consequential Verdict

A "tribunal of conscience" in Malaysia has found George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and five other former Bush Administration officials guilty of war crimes.  
Victims of torture told a panel of five judges in Kuala Lumpur of their suffering at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Among the evidence, Briton Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, said he was beaten, put in a hood and left in solitary confinement. Iraqi woman Jameelah Abbas Hameedi said she was stripped and humiliated in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.  Transcripts of the five-day trial will be sent to the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the Security Council.
 Obama may not have wanted to look backward, but for the many who suffered at the hands of American policies during the past decade, what we like to think of as past is still all too real. 

Bravo to the tribunal for its efforts.  Lacking specific jurisdiction, the tribunal has no power to enforce or impose custodial sentence on the convicted eight but at least it reminds the world that what America claims are national security imperative are in fact war crimes.

Maybe we can't do anything to Bush, Cheney and their ilk but we can always refuse to condone their criminal behavior.

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