We Deny Ourselves

February 20, 2011

In the town and city squares of Tunisia and Egypt, and now Bahrain and Wisconsin people demand their right to be respected and heard —hundreds of thousands in Egypt, tens of thousands in Tunisia and Bahrain and maybe 70,000 thousand in Wisconsin.

In Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain people understand when they’re being dissed and manipulated, used and discarded; they come together in widespread solidarity. In Wisconsin, not so much. In Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain the people are clearly better educated in the reality, means and methods of suppression. They seem to understand the aim of state propaganda. In Wisconsin and much of the rest of the country too many people rely on info from Republican State Media, a.k.a. Fox News. Up until now there’s been precious little collective outrage over how the two-headed monster gov/biz has taken advantage of American workers and the middle class, but that may be changing.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin wants to rob union workers in the state of their right to collectively negotiate their terms of employment. This is not about budgets; this is about the right of free people to organize politically so they’ll be better able to counter the financial clout of business. The Governor spins his rhetoric to make it sound as if all he wants to do is to manage state expenses. He frames his beef with government workers in terms of financial responsibility, but what’s really going on in Wisconsin is a continuation of Republican/Corporate efforts to smash unions; a program that began to really roll with Ronald Reagan.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Walker’s “…budget repair bill…effectively strips public workers of their collective bargaining rights.” This has nothing to do with budget cuts. It has everything to do with workers’ legal right to associate and collectively negotiate the conditions of their employment. In fact according to the State Journal, “Top leaders of two of Wisconsin’s largest public employee unions announced they are willing to accept the financial concessions called for in Walker’s plan, but will not accept the loss of collective bargaining rights.” But this is not pleasing to a Governor whose party seems to come down on the side of corporations in any argument involving the rights of labor. The Republican Party is the political point of the corporate spear.

So, if unions are willing to concede about the money, why does the governor dig in his heels? It’s because the real issue is the legal right of the people to make choices regarding their happiness —the very right spoken of in the Declaration of Independence; the right to “… the pursuit of happiness.” In America of 2011 corporations have the right to lobby and negotiate for their happiness and governments have the right to grant it, but worker’s do not; the people do not? That’s not the country I grew up believing in.

Both Mary Bell and Marty Beil, leaders of unions for government employees, said in a conference call with reporters that workers will do their fair share to narrow Wisconsin’s budget gap. What they’re referring to is a willingness to concede on the financial aspects of Walker’s plan (for state, local and school employees to pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care premiums).

But Walker’s bill would also prohibit unionized public employees (except local police, fire fighters and the State Patrol) from bargaining on issues other than wages. Police, State Patrol, and fire-fighter’s unions —whose members coincidently support the Republican— will still be able to bargain for their rights as workers.

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes, “It strains credulity to see this as anything but a political effort to destroy organizations that are critical foot soldiers for Democratic candidates at election time.” It’s also interesting that the policing arm of government (its muscle) would be exempt from the governor’s curtailment of the liberty to negotiate.

In Egypt the hundreds of thousands who gathered in Tahrir Square and across the nation saw Hosni Mubarak and his government for what they were and demanded their rights as naturally free people, but many in Wisconsin can’t see through Walker’s Republican smokescreen —an instrument the governor uses to obscure the real intent of Republicans to further undermine the authority of the people to assure their rights as Americans and workers.

Walker has his supporters; they’ve been encouraging him not to give in. Unfortunately many of them are taxpayers who feel the pinch of our present financial debacle, but who are misguidedly looking for relief by selling-out their own rights to organize.  They seem reluctant to demand they be recognized as the peers of plutocrats in business and government.

In the 1980s Ronald Reagan began by shutting out air traffic controllers,since then corporations have continued to fight unions and outsource jobs, now in 2011 Governor Walker (another Republican union-buster) is after state and municipal employees. The question all tax-paying Walker supporters should be asking themselves is “When will I feel effects of Republican efforts to marginalize average people and workers?”

In Egypt and Tunisia the people said “No more!” to plutocracy. They said it in vast numbers.  In the USA, up till now, we’ve simply denied the reality of ours. When we do we deny our democracy; we deny ourselves.

by Jim Culleny
2/20/11
for The Greenfield Recorder

A friend sent me an email this morning that I think sums up pretty accurately what we’re facing and how detached from reality most of the media and it’s talking heads are.

I know there may be some don’t-spook-the-peasants motivation in the apparent avoidance of public honesty regarding the economic situation of the US these day, but there also might be a bit of let’s-not-start-a-class-war concern simmering underneath too. Look at the media response to what’s happening in Wisconsin  —at least some media.  Fox even has Glenn Beck blaming the Anti-Christ for the anger of Wisconsin labor at  Governor Walker’s attempt to wipe-out his state’s unions once and for all —Jeez!  Beck may be the anti-Christ if one is open to such belief and the evidence of the man’s Satanic wackiness.

As usual, it takes an enlightened average citizen to get to the truth, that’s why I can’t pass up the chance to share my friend’s very smart and insightful letter to columnist David Brooks.

Dale told me he was watching Brooks on NPR and reacted to Brooks optimistic outlook of our situation and, well, didn’t agree with the pundit. Although he didn’t give me a lot of detail, here’s the scene I imagined:

Dale, incredulous, is shaking his fist at Brooks’ TV head, wondering what planet Brooks was living on. So, he emailed him in a sudden fit of pessimism (which today is a symptom of realist brilliance). 

I’m sure Dale was aware that emailing Brooks was only a self-medicating excercise to calm himself down. Brooks is Brooks after all —a well-known brand, and changing branding in midstream is always risky, so the old aphorism goes. So my friend probably doesn’t expect to hear Brooks copping to a change of heart any time soon.

But the letter’s a good one, loaded with realism, and a worthy read for the incredulous in the face of corporately-funded talking heads. Without further ado, here’s Dale’s letter:

Hi David,
 
On the 5Feb11 NewsHours you opined a la  Reinhart and Rogoff that post-financial crises unemployment shocks “can last 6, 7, 8 years.”And this presumes, obviously, that the current downturn is cyclical and thus, based upon an historical review of past crises, an eventual upturn can be predicted, albeit a lengthy and perhaps painful  process. I very much disagree and here is why: unlike in the past there are now no economic engines available to drive such recovery.
 
Economies are like cars. Sure, you can crash them and smash them and then take them to your mechanic and body shop and pretty soon you will be back on the road “good as new” or maybe even better. But that’s not the happy scenario when you “total” your car, because in which scenario, Even all the King’s mechanics and all the Kings body shops can not….
 
Analogously, I believe that the 2008 crash brought us so close to the brink not so much because of unregulated Wall St. greed , etc., but because it betrayed the systemic text book reality that true economic recovery and eventual return to “good as new” prosperity, unlike the phony, easy debt-driven “Home Equity  = ATM Machine, Housing Boom recovery from the 2000 Dot.com debacle, can be driven only by the broad-based renewal and increase of productivity. And that is where the US economy is Capital “T” Totaled.
 
If you’ll embrace my thesis for the civility of argument, I’m sure you yourself can think of a dozen reason why this “Totaling” might be true, such as “The Great Sucking Sound, ” peak oil, unprecedented competition from China and India and the U.S. government being hobbled by astronomical debt service. But to my mind, it is the chilling, “Shiver me timbers,” disconnect between corporate profits and domestic job creation that tolls the non-cyclical death knell.
 
I mean the index breaks 12000 for the first time since 2008 because corporate profits are doing so well and the unemployment rate does not respond with any attributable decrease whatsoever! Rather it continues to insistently stagnate near 10% (and who knows the real number, some claim it’s closer to 20%!) —talk about, “What’s wrong with this picture?!  And the moribund 36,000 jobs created by the US economy this January past insults the credulity of even the most bullishly optimistic “America on the Mend'” Pollyanna.

Evidently Reinhart and Rogoff must be such die-heart “cyclo-philes” (single-minded lovers of the cyclical paradigm) that they never bothered to read the very non-cyclical, “never good as new again,” bad news contained in Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.”

So let me ask you straightforwardly, David, according to your cyclical scenario, what will our economy’s literal “deus ex machina” be this time around, that Holy-Grail -sipping Great God of Innovation? Are we seriously so naive, nay, deluded as to believe that the Chinese, now awash in cash and on their historic rise will just sit on their “yuans” and let us Americans out innovate them into the 21st Century?

Case in point: I live in Massachusetts and Marlboro-based Evergreen Solar’s 800 jobs are now just a “great sucking sound” on slow boat to China still echoing throughout the state; a reverberation, I might add, that sardonically mocks our designation as a “Commonwealth.” So the upshot is that we’ll now be buying our newly innovated solar panels from China. Terrific!

No, David, I sincerely believe that you’ve got it wrong this time. The American Empire’s economic suzerainty ” Ist kaput!” And it ain’t coming back. So America’s only real and viable option at this historical tipping point and this historic turning point is a radical paradigm shift in our values, consumption patterns and lifestyle.

And most unfortunately I am not aware of any historical precedent where same has ever been brought about but by crisis and imposed necessity.

Dale Holmes
Shelburne Falls, MA
Feb. 18, 2011

Warmer, Wetter, Wilder

February 18, 2011

While Warmer, Wetter, Wilder might be a titillating title or come-on for another sex-and-violence saturated hollywood movie, when it’s a description of the planet’s response to human heat-pollution it’s another story.

There’s nothing that amuses a global warming sceptic more than a lot of snow. Smug laughter following a remark about the absurdity of global warming when you’re standing waist-high in snow is what you often get. If not for their ignorance it might be funny. 

Mother Jones presents a more informed perspective:

“My friend the geophysicist emailed the other day to tell me his house in Connecticut was still snowed in. ‘The main hypotheses for why we have so much snow,’ he explained, ‘involve heat coming out of the now-open Arctic ocean in early winter. Once the ice cap freezes over temporarily, the wild weather calms down.'”

The next time one of your science-challenged friends makes some stupid remark about the implausibility of too much snow in a globally-warmed world you might want to memorize and hit him with this:

“Human influence on the climate system has the effect of intensifying precipitation extremes,” said Francis Zwiers, a climate researcher at Environment Canada in Toronto and lead researcher on the first study….The study found that observed increase in deluges “cannot be explained by natural internal fluctuations of the climate system alone,” said Zwiers. In other words, only the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere explains why the United States and Canada have experienced a dramatic increase in heavy downpours.

It probably won’t do any good given the bliss of ignorance, but you’ve got to peck away at peckerheads if only out of desparation.

Jim Culleny; 2/18/11

Trying to Crack Koch

February 18, 2011

Vote-buying, vote-caging, legal manipulation of the U.S. electoral system; it’s all in a day’s work for the Koch brothers. In another attempt to destroy one of the only remaining entities of organized resistance to the corporate take-over of the United States, the governor of Wisconsin, another politician supported by the Kochs, wants to pass an anti-labor Bill. But he’s meeting resistance:

“As some 30,000 protesters overwhelmed the state capitol building in Wisconsin today, Democratic state senators hit the road, reportedly with State Police officers in pursuit. The Dems left the state in order to deprive Republicans the necessary quorum for taking a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s bill to strip benefits and collective bargaining rights from state workers.”

It would not be a stretch to call the U.S. Chamber of Commerce an agent of foreign governments. It should have to register as a foreign lobbyist. Any entity that works against the interest of American workers by encouraging the outsourcing of jobs is no friend to American workers. As reported  in the Huffington Post, “The Chamber … has aggressively battled the effort to reduce outsourcing. During the debate over the stimulus, the U.S. Chamber fought efforts to include a provision that would encourage taxpayer money to be spent on products made by domestic companies.” In a nutshell, The Chamber’s position is that sending your job to China is good for you as an American patriot; as an American peasant however –well, not so much.

The Chamber says, “Replacing a job …  in another country with a domestic job does not … enhance the competitiveness of American worldwide companies.” What The Chamber really means is that replacing an overseas job with one in the U.S. does not enhance the fortunes of American plutocrats who own companies or manage corporations. The Chamber does not lobby for the interests of the United States, it lobbies for corporations and, globally speaking, corporations are not particularly concerned about where they get their labor as long as it’s cheap.

In a not-so-veiled threat The Chamber sent a letter to the Senate (one of its government arms) saying it may consider their votes to rate how business-friendly a senator is. The way they’ll assure a senator’s vote, of course, is by leveraging it with money. They’ll use the tool gifted them last year by the Supreme Court (another of The Chamber’s government arms)  which gave corporations the unlimited right to buy any congress-person who can be bought —and with the way U.S. elections are financed that’s pretty much all of them.

Not content with just threatening to send representatives back home by waving a club of dollars over their heads, The Chamber is also into providing educational opportunities to show corporations how to ditch American workers. Last year The Chamber sponsored an event to instruct U.S. firms “…how to outsource jobs to China alongside the “Chinese” branch of the American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham (Think Progress, Oct. 19, 2010).”

As I suggested before: think “foreign agent.” Raw Story reports “The Chinese AmCham has worked closely with the U.S. Chamber and the Chinese government to sponsor a series of seminars in America to teach American businesses how to outsource jobs to China (called the China Grassroots Program).”

Ok , let’s be clear: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is educating American business in how to profit at the expense of American labor by sponsoring events funded by right-wing billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson invited local businesses in Florida to get together with officials like Li Haiyan, the People’s Republic of China’s Counselor for Economic Affairs to talk about stiffing U.S. workers. Also sipping wine and sampling hors d’oeuvres while rubbing elbows was “U.S. Chamber lobbyist Joseph Fawkner, and BChinaB, a firm that specializes in helping American firms outsource their manufacturing jobs to China.”

Li Haiyan: So Mr. Fawkner, isn’t it a conflict for you, an American capitalist, to help me, a Chinese Communist, implement ways to undermine the economic welfare of U.S. Workers?

Joseph Fawkner: Not at all, Mr. Li. It’s just business. Chinese worker, American— whatever yields the best year-end tally and stokes bonuses.

National identity plays little part in The U.S. Chamber’s considerations despite the lie of its name. And the Chief lobbyist of The Chamber, Bruce Josten, added lie to lie in order to add yuan to dollar when he declared recently that The Chamber’s AmCham is “comprised of American companies doing business abroad ….”  In fact, according to Think Progress the Chinese AmCham is “comprised of Chinese firms like Northern Light Venture Capital … Russian state-run companies like VTB Bank; and … Abu Dhabi’s … UAE state-run oil companies —all companies whose machine is diddled by government’s hand, while here in the USA the “free”-market and the Tea Party demand, “Government, get lost!” Meanwhile, behind the fig-leaf of free speech, government-by business tugs our economy’s strings through the legal manipulations of politicians of both parties who in turn are guided by bucks-for-votes contributed by corporations to make sure government gets things right profit-wise.

But back to the foreign agent thing: The “U.S.” Chamber of Commerce accepts foreign money which The Chamber itself says goes into (501-c-6) accounts from which it buys huge amounts of political ads. So The Chamber operates in some capacity as an agent for China (and other countries) to influence American politicians to create laws that either help corporations send your jobs overseas or prevent the creation of laws that interfere with a corporation outsourcing practices. In one week in October of 2010 the chamber spent “… an unprecedented $10 million on advertising in competitive House and Senate districts.

What’s going on, asks Robert Kuttner of the Huffington Post?  “Very simply,” he says, “America’s corporations no longer need American workers.” It’s all about cheap labor and “…disciplining (American) workers to accept low wages at home.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to help discipline you. In another context this sort of  relationship might be considered a kinky. But from a capitalist perspective our relative positions are simply missionary. Move on people, nothing perverse going on here, it’s  just business.

by Jim Culleny
for The Shelburne Falls Independent, Feb. 18, 2011

Everybody’s Crying Mercy

February 4, 2011

 

 

 

I just picked up an Elvis Costello CD (Kojak Variety). It’s a collection of covers of R&B, jazz and rock tunes, one of which I’d forgotten: Mose Allison’s “Everybody’s Crying Mercy,” which is an apt evocation of the depth of hypocrisy to which our politics has sunk. It could be our national anthem.

“I can’t believe the things I’ve seen,” it cries.
“I wonder about some things I’ve heard.
Everybody’s crying mercy
when they don’t know the meaning of the word.

“A bad enough situation
is sure enough getting worse,” it says
“Everybody’s crying justice
just as long as there’s business first.

“People running round in circles,” it moans.
“I don’t know what we’re headed for.
Everybody’s crying peace on earth
just as soon as we win this war.”

If that’s not an on-point summation our situation, I’m an empty hat. Sure, this is nothing new, but with the Internet and 24/7 news, it’s much more in our face. “So it goes,” Kurt Vonnegut sardonically remarked after he’d chronicled some new (or mundane) atrocity perpetrated yet again by fellow humans. As a prisoner-of-war in WW II, Vonnegut survived the allied fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany  an experience that marked him for life. The world view that carried him forward after seeing such vast and senseless slaughter colored his novels from “Slaughterhouse Five” in 1969 to “Armageddon in Retrospect”  in 2008.

But that was then and this is now. Today we run wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or wherever else the techno/arms industry can make a buck. But if we expect any mainstream politicians to actually wind-down the mayhem most of us loathe we’re seriously in need of a reality check.

President Obama (bless his heart) wants us to be civil with each other. Our politicians, however, are bound to talk out of both sides of their mouths to appease our national sense of moral superiority and the financial clout of the business sector. If they don’t, we show them the door. We call them socialists. We challenge their citizenship. We call them anti-American, irreligious, alien. You name it, we and our plutocratic superstructure have ways of dealing with such morally fussy outlaws (men and women who think the Constitution was not written for the tranquility of corporations, but for blood and guts humans; Americans who believe God did not create Mobile or Monsanto in his image).

But this is exactly where we are. In 2010, the Supreme Court ratified its cynical ruling of 1886, which gave corporations the rights of natural persons in the eyes of the law. The ratification came in the form of the court’s January 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, which said that corporations may give as much money as required to bribe a congressman or president. Be it a million or a billion, the sky’s the limit the Supreme Court said. Such a perversion of rationality, common sense and democracy could only occur if the court itself was in the pocket of the business oligarchy; or is it “plutonomy”? In fact, the Supreme Court (along with a huge chunk of Congress) appears to be essentially geared to satisfying the wishes of a concentrated ruling elite; not just an American elite but a global elite whose allegiance is not to nations but to corporations and (especially) their own self-interest.

This is not liberal socialist propaganda. In 2005, analysts at none other than Citigroup reported that “the world is dividing into two blocs the Plutonomy and the rest.”

“In a plutonomy,” they say, there are no nationally identifiable consumers. “There are rich consumers, few in number, but disproportionate in the gigantic slice of income and consumption they take,” and there are “the rest … the multitudinous many … accounting for surprisingly small bites of the pie.”

The misguided Tea Party (which this elite must love for its distracting talking points) has it right when it says government is the problem, but they’re right for the wrong reason. They complain that liberal government steals their wealth and redistributes it among the impoverished and the lazy. But that’s not what’s driving us to the poor house. Conservative government is taking our wealth and redistributing it to the rich through its collusion with them in cases such as United America, the deregulation of financial institutions and subsidies to the oil industry.

For every American’s buck that finds its way through government to the poor I’d bet 10  —nay! 100 times that ends up in the fortunes of those who have no allegiance to any democracy. Even free-market apologist Alan Greenspan admitted last August on “Meet The Press that in the wake of the recession high-income individuals … and major corporations experienced a significant recovery while the rest of the economy, including small businesses and a very significant amount of the labor force is still struggling.

“What we’re seeing is not a single economy,” Greenspan said, “but fundamentally two separate types of economy, increasingly distinct and divergent.”

Long story short; money is not running downhill through government to the poor in the direction the saints prefer to see it flow. Against all that’s good and holy (and gravity), by means of theft-by-legislation and juducial activism, it’s moving in the other direction like a serpent slithering up the trunk of the tree of knowledge of good and (especially) evil.

Beat up on the poor, loathe the foreigner, castigate the socialist, under this money-grubbing regime you’ll be left with nothing but spent bags of Sleepy Time. Your Lemon Zinger days will be done.

for The Greenfield Recorder
Feb 2010

A Climate For Crooks

February 2, 2011

There’s been a lot of squawking and hand-wringing in the media over the word “socialism”. Fortunes are being made as certain political self-caricatures jet from coast to coast spitting the word as if it were a soul-and-nation-destroying instrument conceived by Satan and wielded by liberals.

The word has bad press because it become associated with socialist states that corrupted it by talking common-good while practicing elite governance. In those so-called socialist states money flowed up-hill and wealth and power congealed at the top like sludge in a septic tank. In fact socialism was probably not as destructive to those states as age-old self-interest, greed, and lust for power —kind of how “democracy” has been corrupted in the USA by the Supreme Court-sanctioned purchase of elections by corporations. So blaming “socialism” for evils that flow from human nature is as misdirected as it would be to blame “democracy” for preemptive war and the situation in which we find ourselves. Socialism and democracy are ideas implemented by humans. There’s no protection implicit in either from those who are determined to circumvent the common good; i.e. crooks.

But even in the USA there’s is socialism most of us love; socialism which, over the life of the nation, has helped even the ruggedly-individualist, capitalist, wild-west to keep chugging.

Legislators and presidents of both left and right love their socialist, government-overseen health care plan, for instance. And, according to recent polls, Americans do not want anyone messing with government-administered Social Security and Medicare; travelers and car manufacturers adore our government-created-and-state-funded highway system; the U.S. has for decades benefitted hugely from our government-run public school system which has educated successful entrepreneurs who, forgetting their roots, later abandoned and excoriated it leaving it to rot; the internet which was conceived and created by employees of government bureaucracies is wildly popular; and advances in technology, science, and medicine that flowed from our government-operated space program have helped us and our businesses become the richest and most powerful nation in the world –at least for a while.

If socialism means pooling resources and creating enterprises for the common good all the examples just cited may be described as socialist. The problem is not socialism. What has corrupted failed socialist states is the same thing that is corrupting our democracy: greed for money and power. Socialism is no more a bad word or idea than democracy. In the wrong hands a democracy-in-name-only can be an ugly and treacherous thing. What’s more, calling a system democratic when it’s not is no more intellectually honest than calling a system socialist when it’s not. And using socialist-states-that-were-anything-but as examples of why socialism is bad is just a means of ignoring the possibility that what brought them down may just as well bring us down: growing disparities of wealth between plutocrats and “the rest”.

This thread of media incantations about socialism is motivated by capitalist elites who are concerned that the economic meltdown we’re experiencing might be blamed on Capitalism (my god, why would that be?). 

“…there is growing nervousness (among the political and media elite) over the implications of the capitalist crisis and the potential for mass social opposition to the policies of the ruling class. Thus far, political discussion in the US has been contained within an extremely narrow framework. The diversity of views in the media and on the talk shows encompasses various shades of opinion within the wealthiest one tenth of one percent of the population. 

“There is an objective logic to developments. At a certain point—sooner rather than later— discussion of policy will escape their tight grasp. The masses of people who are directly affected by the global depression will become involved.” –Joseph Kishore, wsws.org

In the Tao Te Ching a Chinese poet/philosopher named Lao Tzu wrote something that applies to political or social systems anywhere:

                                If you inflate some to greatness others necessarily diminish.
                                If you covet possessions you’ll create a climate for crooks
.

It may just be that such a climate for crooks is what brought down the Soviet Union, the poster-state certain of our politicians tack to the wall as an example of the evils of socialism. The fact that the USSR became a corrupt, non-humanitarian enclave of  tyrants and self-interested elites may be what weakened and ruined it more than its so-called socialism. In an essay from the Economic Department of the University of Massachusetts, the author argues:
                              
                                 “…by the 1980s the party-state elite which ran the Soviet system no longer bore much ressemblance to the party of revolutionary socialists who had come to power in 1917. Over time they had evolved into a pragmatic elite, the majority of whom no longer took the official socialist ideology seriously and instead pursued individual power, prestige, and privilege.” –David M. Kotz, Lessons from the Soviet and Chinese Experience (Page 3)

This can happen to a so-called democracy as well. In fact it is happening. With the rapid economic slippage of our middle class into the ranks of the poor while the economy of the wealthy is apparently in recovery it’s no wonder the mouth-pieces of wealth demonize socialism. It’s an effective re-directional technique of free-market slight-of-hand artists. The motivation for conservative politicians in citing the bogey of socialism is to turn attention from corruption by the financially powerful. It may also be to keep the lid on. How long can a lid be kept on?

Ask Hosni Mubarak.

At least some economic big wigs, in Tourette Syndrome-like spurts of honesty, counter TV and radio bloviators and lecture circuit personalities who are paid to be dishonest. Former Fed head Alan Greenspan, for one, called growing income inequality in the U.S. a “very disturbing trend,” and remarked, “As I’ve often said, this is not the type of thing which a democratic society – a capitalist democratic society – can really accept without addressing.”

The truth is out there. It’s at least chest-high. Bob Dylan (tuned in as ever) alluded to it in a song on his unnervingly coincidental (and possibly prophetic) 2001 album Love & Theft:

High water risin’—risin’ night and day
All the gold and silver are bein’ stolen away
Big Joe Turner lookin’ east and west
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothin’ standing there
High water everywhere