posted June 15, 2008 10:36 AM
Got this in an email and I'm merely passing it along
the Pyramid Now that the economic crunch is reaching those near the top of the pyramid, there is finally a sense that the U.S. is facing a real crisis.
Forget about a soft landing. The subprime mortgage debacle has morphed into a full-fledged panic. And Joe Stiglitz is telling us the war in Iraq will cost $3 trillion.
Maybe now we can stop listening to the geniuses who insisted that the way to nirvana was to ignore the broad national interest while catering to the desires of those who were already the wealthiest among us.
We have always gotten a distorted picture of how well Americans were doing from politicians and the media.
The U.S. has a population of 300 million. Thirty-seven million, many of them children, live in poverty.
Close to 60 million are just one notch above the official poverty line. These near-poor Americans live in households with annual incomes that range from $20,000 to $40,000 for a family of four.
It is disgraceful that in a nation as wealthy as the United States, nearly a third of the people are poor or near-poor.
Former Senator John Edwards touched on the quality of the lives of those perched precariously above the abyss of poverty in his foreword to the book, “The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near-Poor in America,” by Katherine S. Newman and Victor Tan Chen. Mr. Edwards wrote:
“When we set about fixing welfare in the 1990s, we said we were going to encourage work.
"Near-poor Americans do work, usually in jobs that the rest of us do not want — jobs with stagnant wages, no retirement funds, and inadequate health insurance, if they have it at all.
"While their wages stay the same, the cost of everything else — energy, housing, transportation, tuition — goes up.”
The economic pain and anxiety felt for so long by the poor and the near-poor has been spreading like a stain in the middle class as well.
It’s hardly been a secret. But neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have stepped up to this fundamental long-term challenge, and that includes the three remaining candidates for president.
No one will tackle the crucial issue of employment in a serious way. The cornerstone of a middle-class life in America (and that means the cornerstone of the American dream) is a good job.
The American dream is on life support because men and women by the millions who want very much to work — who still have in their heads the ideal of a thriving family in a nice home with maybe a picket fence — are unable to find a decent job.
For years, families have been fighting weakness on the employment front with every other option imaginable. Wives and mothers have gone to work. People have been putting in more hours and working additional jobs.
And Americans have plunged like Olympic diving champions into every form of debt they could find.
As Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, told me some months ago: “Workers are incredibly, legitimately scared that the American dream, particularly the belief that their kids will do better, is ending.”
It is. The dream is in grave danger because the ruling elite stopped looking out for the collective interests of the society and all but stopped investing in the future. We are swimming in a vast sea of indebtedness, most of it bringing no worthwhile return.
Former Senator Bill Bradley, in a conversation the other day, described the amount of public and private indebtedness in the U.S. as “ominous.” In his book, “The New American Story,” Mr. Bradley said:
“For almost a generation, America has cheated our future and lived only in the here and now. Economic growth depends on the level of investment in both physical capital — machines, infrastructure, technology — and human capital, which consists of the combined skills and health of our work force.”
Instead of making those investments, we’ve neglected our physical and human infrastructure, squeezed the daylights out of the work force (now a fearful and demoralized lot) and tried to hide the resulting debacle behind the fool’s gold of debt and denial.
Americans save virtually nothing. They have looted the equity in their homes and driven their credit card balances to staggering heights.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has claimed colossal new standards of fiscal irresponsibility. At some point, to take just one example, someone will have to pay the $3 trillion for the war.
This craziness is not sustainable.
Without an educated and empowered work force, without sustained investment in the infrastructure and technologies that foster long-term employment, and without a system of taxation that can actually pay for the services provided by government, the American dream as we know it will expire.
America Is Totally Unprepared for the Coming Catastrophe
How will Americans react when their economy collapses? The story of the coming crisis is barely being told because the corporate media's information bubble gets thicker by the day.
Very few people know or understand the depths of the coming crisis. There is talk of recession, and falling home prices, but there has been little if any explanation of the havoc that will be played out across the country when the day of reckoning comes.
Banks all over the world are taking "write downs" in the billions of dollars. In plain English, a write down is a loss.
The average American knows about the subprime mortgage crisis and knows that the neighbors lost their house.
They think the problems were created by greedy banks and gullible home buyers who thought interest-only mortgages actually made sense.
They don't know much else. They don't know that the subprime mortgage crisis is part of a larger crisis in the derivatives market that has enveloped the entire world.
Neither the corporate media nor politicians are telling the country the true extent of our economic troubles. The country will be wholly unprepared for the coming catastrophe.
While foreigners are waiting for an opportune moment to drop the dollar like a bad habit, the presidential candidates say nothing and the people won't know what hit them when the hammer falls.
The three trillion dollar cost of the Iraq occupation, and giveaways to corporate cronies have sucked the treasury dry.
Bush will have won the day, and left the next president with no money for any new initiatives, regardless of any campaign promises.
What will be the human cost when the bottom falls out? Americans have no safety net, no job security, and no health insurance without the jobs they are about to lose.
There will be wide spread human misery among the people less prepared than any other to cope with the crisis.
"The response to the loss of domination will be more wars."
As always, black Americans will suffer more. The little wealth we had, real estate, has been taken away by the banking industry derivatives schemes that are at the heart of this crisis.
Those who were barely in the middle class won't be any longer without assets or jobs to sustain them.
Trouble will spread outside of the nation as well. America produces nothing but warfare with a military budget larger than that of every other country on earth combined.
The very existence of an Iran oil market, based on Iran's currency, not dollars, may be enough to instigate Uncle Sam to do the only thing it still can: wage war and kill many human beings. The response to the loss of domination will be more wars.
The most basic understandings that Americans had of their country are about to shaken to the very core.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, most still believe they have the best standard of living and the strongest economy.
Those beliefs have not been true for a long time and those foolish ideas will be put to the test in a painful way.
"The economic upheaval will create crime,
family disruption and untold psychic damage."
The crisis will not just be financial. The economic upheaval will create crime, family disruption and untold psychic damage.
Think New Orleans on a grand scale. If the corporate media function as they usually do, they will mislead and misdirect with useless distraction.
What of the new president? In all likelihood that person will not make any attempt to confront the situation honestly, but instead will drop bombs in a futile effort to win a losing battle.
Americans will be left to their own devices without knowing what has happened or why. That will be the true meltdown.
by max blunt
(there wasnt a link attatched)