Friday, July 10, 2009


Class war: waiting is not a useful strategy

by Larry Geller

At the end of his weekly podcast yesterday, News Dissector Danny Schechter played a version of Amazing Grace written by the late poet Allen Ginsberg, “Composed at the request of Ed Sanders for his production of The New Amazing Grace, performed November 20, 1994, at the Poetry Project in St. Mark's Church in-the-Bouwerie.

Click here for the complete lyrics.

New Stanzas for Amazing Grace
by Allen Ginsberg

I dreamed I dwelled in a homeless place
Where I was lost alone
Folk looked right through me into space
And passed with eyes of stone

O homeless hand on many a street
Accept this change from me
A friendly smile or word is sweet
As fearless charity

Reading that, I hope that people will soften their hearts and pass out a few bucks of what they donate to museums or to Slow Food to those hands on the street.

‘Cause homelessness is about to take a giant leap, with approximately 650,000 more people losing their critical unemployment benefits by this September. Add to that the displacement of renters kicked out of their homes as landlords are foreclosed. In some markets, renters had already been in trouble for several years, and now this.

Those whom Obama has put at the helm of the country’s economic recovery know nothing about homelessness. Their language is Dow Jones and credit default swaps. The reality: it wasn’t the stock market crash of 1929 that brought about the Great Depression, it was loss of jobs and resultant homelessness that knocked America to its knees. All Obama’s poeple care about is saving their banker buddies. They are re-establishing the status quo, the structures that brought about the economic crash. Even the bank regulation bill was gutted and delayed by nine months. Some help. Actually, no help.

Our government seems unable to do what it must to avoid catastrophe.

At least, after the last depression, there was an industrial base to return to. Now, many of the jobs that are lost will never come back. We make hardly anything in this country. GM will outsource the manufacture of cars, and one by one, its suppliers will go under, both parts suppliers and major steel producers.

Should we accept that our government has “taken care” of the automotive industry problem? Ignoring what Congress and Obama have done with GM will not make the sun shine again over Detroit.

(GM jobs will go first to Mexico and eventually possibly to China, which is enjoying an auto manufacturing boom even as US automakers go bust):

Auto shares led the gains after the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a 36.48 percent surge in sales of China-made automobiles to 1.14 million units in June.

A total of 872,000 passenger cars, including SUVs and sedans, were sold last month, up 48 percent from the same month a year earlier, the association said Thursday.

Tianjin FAW XIALI Automobile Co. rose by the daily limit of 10 percent to end at 9.02 yuan. FAW Car Co. advanced 9.95 percent to 18.23 yuan. SAIC Motor gained 8.63 percent to 19 yuan.

Steel producers also helped push up the index as Chinese steel mills produced about 45.39 million tonnes of crude steel, the highest amount in this year, figures from the China Iron and Steel Association showed.

So far, only the bankers have been saved. In fact, AIG is about to pay out $2.4 million in executive bonuses next week, with (are you sitting down?) $235 million in retention bonuses owed to about 400 employees of AIG's Financial Products division. No homelessness there. Sure thing, they’ll be buying more vacation homes, yachts, etc., at fire sale prices made possible by abundant foreclosures.

Back down here, there’s been no effective stimulus.

The Obama administration intended the stimulus to jump-start the economy, build new schools, and usher in an era of education reform. But since Obama signed it in February, the economy has shed more than 2 million jobs, bringing to 6.5 million the net job losses since the recession began in December 2007. Unemployment now stands at 9.5 percent, its highest in 26 years.

Outside of the Beltway, states are tightening their belts knowing that the worst is yet ahead.

…So far, 42 states have cut budgets that already had been enacted for fiscal 2009, according to the National Governors Association. More and deeper cuts are expected next year.

Already states have laid off and furloughed workers -- including, in some states, the very workers who process unemployment claims. Generally speaking, states are required to balance their budgets each year, a mandate that forces them to pull money out of the economy through spending reductions and tax hikes, counteracting the federal government's efforts to juice things up.

States don’t know what they can do. Nor does the average person know what to do. Even those with some economic reserves are concerned. You know, money in the bank. I was stunned to read this headline: FDIC Insurance Fund - It Doesn't Actually Exist. So you thought your savings were safe??

I’ll leave it at that for the moment. But the purpose of this depressing compendium is to suggest that we have choices as citizens. We can behave like sheep headed for the slaughter, or we can demand that our leaders do their jobs.

Where’s the outrage? We can and should send Obama a message that he needs to get rid of the Clinton-era advisors he put in charge of the nation’s economy and replace them with leaders who will work hard for the average citizen. How to do that? Find a way. Tags: , , ,


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