Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The bad and the ugly... is there any good news out there? Nah

Some random things I found today. The information from Alternet is not complete, I seem to be having great difficulty accessing Alternet at home. Wonder if GVTC is blocking access or if there is another reason? It's the only site I have trouble getting to load.
Any way, these items are just a sampling of the things that are bugging me. It's just tougher and tougher to get our salaries to stretch through the month, and we have even decreased expenses. We don't go out, we don't rent or buy movies, and rarely buy more than groceries. What the hell will retirement be like? I shudder to think.

The American Dream is Alive and Well ... in Finland!
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet.

But new research suggests the United States' much-ballyhooed upward mobility is a myth, and one that's slipping further from reality with each new generation. On average, younger Americans are not doing better than their parents did, it's harder to move up the economic ladder in the United States than it is in a number of other wealthy countries, and a person in today's work force is as likely to experience downward mobility as he or she is to move up.

Moreover, the single greatest predictor of how much an American will earn is how much their parents make. In short, the United States, contrary to popular belief, is not a true meritocracy, and the American worker is getting a bum deal, the worst of both worlds. Not only is a significant portion of the middle class hanging on by the narrowest of threads, not only do fewer working people have secure retirements to look forward to, not only are nearly one in seven Americans uninsured, but working people also enjoy less opportunity to pull themselves up by their bootstraps than those in a number of other advanced economies....
Americans enjoy significantly less upward mobility than citizens of a number of other industrialized nations (some of the studies can be accessed here, here and here). German workers have 1.5 times the mobility of Americans, Canada is nearly 2.5 times more mobile and Denmark is 3 times more mobile. Norway, Finland, Sweden and France (France!) are all more mobile societies than the United States. Of the countries included in the studies, the United States ranked near the bottom; only the United Kingdom came in lower....
Roughly speaking, the decrease in relative mobility from generation to generation correlates with the rise of "backlash" conservatism, the advent of Reaganomics and the series of massive changes in industrial relations and other policies that people loosely refer to as the "era of globalization."...
Sawhill looked at the relationship between education and mobility (PDF) and concluded that "at virtually every level, education in America tends to perpetuate rather than compensate for existing inequalities." She pointed to three reasons for that.

First, we have a relatively weak K-12 system. "American students perform poorly on international assessments," she wrote. "Colleges are forced to provide remedial work to a large share of entering freshmen, and employers complain about workers' basic skills." A society with a weak education system will, by definition, be one in which the advantages of class and family background loom large.

Second, the U.S. education system is largely funded through state and local property taxes, which means that the quality of a kid's education depends on the wealth of the community in which he or she grows up. This, too, helps replicate parents' economic status in their kids.

Finally, Sawhill notes, in the United States, unlike other advanced economies, "access both to a quality preschool experience and to higher education continues to depend quite directly on family resources."...The decline in organized labor and solid, good-paying manufacturing jobs is another factor. Those jobs once represented a ladder;...


The article below is true and sums up my feelings that we are being had by ALL the politicians.

Why the Democrats Could Lose

But the smug Democratic hierarchy may be inviting defeat, again, by ignoring the fact that many Americans want leadership that appeals to them on the higher plane of principle. Instead, Democrats often treat Americans more like consumers than citizens, selling them new social programs rather than articulating an uplifting national cause.

Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York summed up this consumer-over-citizen approach when she announced her health care plan on Sept. 17:

"We can talk all we want about freedom and opportunity, about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but what does all that mean to a mother or father who can't take a sick child to the doctor?" [Boston Globe, Sept. 18, 2007]

Perhaps a different question might be: why would a presidential candidate see the founding principles of the United States as somehow at odds with the desire of parents to want health care for their children?

With her dubious dichotomy, Sen. Clinton suggests that it’s an either-or situation – and that the founding principles must take a backseat to health-care policy.

One outgrowth of this pragmatism-not-principle approach is that national Democrats have shied away from rallying the American people around the ideals of the Republic, even when they have been under assault by Bush and his administration.

These Democratic leaders don’t seem to think that ephemeral notions – like checks and balances, the rule of law, and inalienable rights – matter that much to the average Joe. In this view, health insurance and other social benefits should trump all.

And then this....and I am old enough to remember recession.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks sank on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve trimmed interest rates rather than slashing them, letting down investors who fear the economy might slip into recession unless the central bank becomes more aggressive.

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