Saturday, September 6, 2014

Billionaire to Clueless CEOs: Stop Your Greedy Economic Policies

Jim Hightower
I’ve noticed several CEOs, political pundits and so-called economic experts saying they’re confused as to why Americans are so down. Consumers should be out buying stuff, they say, for the economy is humming again. Just look at the key indicators: GDP is growing, corporate profits are high, the stock market is soaring, jobs are being created, the unemployment rate is steadily dropping, and people’s disposable income is up.
Yet, as the CEO of the Container Store recently grumped, consumers are in a “retail funk.”
That’s so cluelessly wrong, sir. Consumers (unlike you platinum-card members of the CEO Club) are in an income funk, meaning we have very little of the green stuff coming in. The bottom line is that Americans are down, because … well, because most of us are down. Yearly income for the typical household is $3,300 lower today than in 2007, when Wall Street barons crashed our economy. Or look at what’s happened to the typical American family’s net worth. It was nearly $88,000 10 years ago, but today it’s down to $56,000 — that’s more than a one-third drop, even though we’re told that America is enjoying “a strong recovery.”
And the picture is not getting any brighter, because a new normal has been imposed on America’s workforce. Señor CEO has been gleefully slashing both jobs and pay, reducing the future of work to a low-wage, no-benefits, part-time, grind. One more number for you: 48. That’s the percentage of adults who now hold full-time jobs — leaving more than half of us trying to make ends meet on part-time work.
The lesson for the Powers That Be is that there is no species called “consumers.” Rather, that creature is just a worker with a decent-paying job. Eliminate the job or shrivel the pay and — poof! — consumerism goes away.
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Fracking Industry Resorts to Crude Caricatures and Economic Nationalism

Ryan McMaken
The hydraulic fracturing (fracking)  industry is fighting regulations or outright bans against fracking in a variety of states and localities. There are many reasons to oppose government restrictions on fracking, of course. If a fracking operation can arrange to frack on private land and pay market rates (not subsidized rates) for water, then there is no reason why a private company should not be free to do so. If fracking results in polluting a neighbor’s land or water, the fracking organization in question should be liable in the fashion outlined by Rothbard for dealing with polluters.
One reason to not support fracking, though, is because it is good for “energy independence” or economic nationalism. Both concepts have long been dreams of militarists and economic interventionists who believe that investors, consumers, and private citizens should be dictated to by government as to what they can buy, where they should invest, and whom they should be able to work for. Every now and then, one sees a new article coming from nationalists such as Pat Buchanan who claim that it is a matter of “national security” that the United State attempt autarky in food production, energy production, and, of course, production of the machinery of war.  Since capital and labor move constantly to better accommodate consumers and do not respect national borders, such autarky can only be achieved through government regulation, prohibition, and force.
Thus, you can understand my disappointment when I noticed this video from a pro-fracking industry group called Friends for Safe Energy that argues for freedom in fracking, not because freedom or respect for private property are good things, but because fracking is (allegedly) bad for the Russians. In other words, faced with the option of appealing to basic human rights (such as private property) or appealing to rank and crude nationalism, the fracking group decided to go with the latter:

Why bother with a pro-freedom argument when you can employ nationalistic fear-mongering and ethnic stereotypes instead?
As an argument, this is barely a step up from the “If you Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler”propaganda campaign which lectured Americans about not contributing enough to “energy independence.” They didn’t use that term back then, but that’s what they meant. Yes, it’s true that the stated goal (at least on the surface) of “Friends of Safe Energy” is more freedom for frackers and their clients, but is it necessary to make their case by employing inherently statist canards? It’s also true that there’s nothing wrong with encouraging people to carpool, but we all know that to encourage economic nationalism, whether it’s anti-Hitler or anti-Russian, is to posture against free trade, free association, and consumer freedom.
Not that we should be surprised. Numerous major industries, including the oil industry have long had a very bad record on free trade and free markets. From the sugar industry, to steel, all the way back to Jefferson’s trade embargo, many domestic industries have been more than happy to encourage xenophobia and nationalism to help the bottom line.
Friends for Safe Energy is apparently carrying on this tradition, and if they’re the best we can hope for in making the case for free markets, we are in deep trouble indeed.
This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. 

Chris Christie's Bridge Scandal -Officer: Boss told me to 'shut up' about bridge

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Police officers on the George Washington Bridge last September during lane closures apparently ordered by Republican Gov. Chris Christie's aides as political payback said they warned superiors about the hazardous conditions created and were told not to talk about it on their radios, according to a summary provided by their lawyer to a legislative panel investigating the scandal.
Attorney Dan Bibb, who works for the union representing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey officers, relayed information from 11 officers, including at least three who said they were told about the traffic change by a lieutenant who ordered them not to move the traffic cones blocking the lanes. Bibb's comments were included in a synopsis obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Bibb told the legislative panel's investigators that one of the officers, Steve Pisciotta, used his police radio to report hazardous conditions being caused by the severe traffic and was told to "shut up" by Deputy Inspector Darcy Licorish. Bibb said Pisciotta told him that Lt. Thomas Michaels and a sergeant visited him "to tell him that his radio communication had been inappropriate."
Michaels said in an earlier interview with the investigators that the Port Authority executive who ordered the closures, David Wildstein, called him the week before and asked him what would happen if three lanes were reduced to one. But the investigators said he told them that he didn't have any direct knowledge about why the lanes were changed and that he found out about the plan to change them the night before.